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Pusey at his desk
Continuing with our short series of Pusey sermons, here he considers the effects of what the Church calls venial sins and directs us towards the need to deal with them. Too conscious, perhaps, of the effect of the great sins, we can relax our guard against those others which tend, over time, to undermine our faith and character.
1 Corinthians 3:12-15
Now if any man build on this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;…

You know well what would become of a house of wood or of a rick if fire was kindled around it, on however good and solid a foundation of stone it might be raised. The foundation upon which it was built would not save it. So then there are works, done by those who do not yet forsake Christ, which shall not stand in the fire of the great day. What are they, then? Are they great, deadly sins, such as the apostle elsewhere speaks of, “Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, hatred, drunkenness, revelling, and such like”? No. Such works are not and cannot be built upon the foundation; they, as far as in us lies, destroy the foundation, and the soul itself. They who do these things do not build upon “the Rock which is Christ”; they “build their house on the sand; and the ruin of that house,” our Lord says, “is great.” What, then, are these things done by a Christian which bring upon him such terrible loss for eternity? They are heaps of little sins; little self-indulgences against the law and will and mind of God, which do not extinguish the love of God in the heart, yet chill it exceedingly; little vanities; little envies; little self-seekings or selfishnesses; little detractions of a neighbour; little unseriousnesses; little contemptuousnesses; idle imaginings; petty angers; little deceitfulnesses or self-praise. Sins they are of which people make very little, because one by one they think them little sins, but which, weighed together, become very heavy. These encrust the soul, as it were, with habits of mind, in thought, word, and deed, with which they cannot enter heaven. In heaven there cannot be the slightest thought of vain-glory; no petty repugnance or mislike of one another; no suspicion; no comparison of ourselves with others; no discontent; no repining; no thought that we are not cared for enough or loved enough; no grudge; no remembrance of unkindness. And if all these things must be left and laid aside at the very portals of heaven; if none of these things can stand the fire of the day of judgment; if the slightest feeling of unlove would be a dark spot, seen through the whole brilliancy of heaven and unbearable in its transparent purity and brightness; what are any of us doing if we are not using our utmost strength, all the power of our souls, to lay them aside now?