Sin Sermon Illustrations

Sin Sermon Illustrations

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Shame of Sin

In the early part of the American War a young woman of 22 years died at the Commercial Hospital, Cincinnati, one morning in the dead of winter. She had once possessed an enviable share of beauty and had been greatly sought after for the charms of her face, but had become a prostitute. Highly educated and accomplished in manners, she had spent her young life in shame and died friendless as a broken-hearted outcast of society.

Among her personal effects was found, in manuscript, the poem `Beautiful Snow', which was taken to the editor of National Union and appeared in print the morning after the girl's death. When the poem appeared in the paper, the girl's body had not been buried, and the American poet, Thomas Buchanan Reed, was so impressed by the stirring pathos of the poem that he followed the corpse to its final resting-place.

Some of the stanzas of the poem entitled `Beautiful Snow' are as follows:

Oh! the snow, the beautiful snow!
Filling the sky and the earth below:
Over the housetops, over the street,
Over the heads of the people you meet,
Dancing, flirting, skimming along—
Beautiful snow!—it can do nothing wrong;
Flying to kiss a fair lady's cheek,
Clinging to lips in frolicsome freak;
Beautiful snow, from the heavens above,
Pure as an angel, gentle as love!

Once I was pure as the snow, but I fell,
Fell like the snowflakes, from heaven to hell,
Fell, to be trampled as filth in the street,
Fell, to be scoffed, to be spat on and beat,
Pleading, cursing, dreading to die;
Selling my soul to whoever would buy;
Dealing in shame for a morsel of bread,
Hating the living and fearing the dead.
Merciful God! have I fallen so low,
And yet—I was once like the beautiful snow!

Once I was fair as the beautiful snow,
With an eye like its crystal and heart like its glow;
Once I was loved for my innocent grace—
Flattered and sought for the charms of my face;
Father, mother, sister and all,
God and myself I have lost by my fall;
The veriest wretch that goes shivering by
Will make a wide swoop lest I wander too nigh:
For all that is on or above me, I know
There is nothing so pure as the beautiful snow.

How strange it should be that this beautiful snow
Should fall on a sinner, with nowhere to go!
How strange it should be, when night comes again
If the snow and the ice struck my desperate brain;
Fainting, freezing, dying alone,
Too wicked for prayer, too weak for a moan
To be heard in the streets of the crazy town,
Gone mad in the joy of the snow coming down—
To lie, and to die, in my terrible woe,
With a bed and a shroud of the beautiful snow.

The following verse has been added by another pen:

Helpless and foul as the trampled snow,
Sinner! despair not; Christ stoopeth low
To rescue the soul that is lost in its sin,
And raise it to life and enjoyment again:
Groaning, bleeding, dying for thee,
The Crucified hung, made a curse on the tree;
His accents of mercy fall soft on thine ear—
'Is there mercy for me? Will He heed my prayer?
O God! in the stream that for sinners doth flow,
Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow!'

(Isa. 59. 2; James 1. 15; Ps. 51. 7)


Sheila O'Gahagan was a factory girl in Ireland. Broken down in health, she was advised to try the effect of a holiday by the seaside. In her heart of hearts she was perplexed by a problem that struck much deeper than that of her health—the problem of her sins.

One day she sat, with her Bible on her knee, looking out on the waves breaking on the Giant's Causeway, and came upon the passage in Micah: 'Thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.' As she surveyed the horizon, she said to herself: 'My sins are all cast into the depths of the sea.'

A few months later she died, and the following verse was found in her desk:

I will cast in the depths of the fathomless sea
All thy sins and transgressions, whatever they be;
Though they mount up to heaven, though they sink down to hell,
They shall sink in the depths, and above them shall swell
All the waves of my mercy, so mighty and free:
I will cast all thy sins in the depths of the sea.

(Ps. 103. 12; Isa. 38. 17; 44. 22; Mic. 7. 19; Heb. 10. 17)

The more thou wouldest try to hide a sin, so much the more dost thou expose it; for sin is not hidden by the addition of sin, but by personal repentance and divine forgiveness.—Chrysostom

The worst of all diseases
Is light, compared with sin;
On every part it seizes,
But rages most within.
' Tis palsy, poison, fever,
And madness, all combined;
And none but a believer
The least relief can find.—Newton

When Nicephorus Phocas had built a strong wall about his palace for his own security, in the night-time he heard a voice crying to him, "O emperor! though thou build thy wall as high as the clouds, yet, if sin be within, it will overthrow all."—Selected

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