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Caution. Abuse not this do&rine, to think light of sin because of it. It is the worst of diseases which most men die in, and no man is perfe&ly cured of until death.
Make not your way to hell the easier, because of the difficulties in the way to heaven: for they that strive towards perfection here will
get it at death, when ye fitting still at your ease will be carried down the stream to destruction.
Keep not ye some particular luft, because none are perfect : for all the faints are perfect in parts, though not in degrees; so far perfe&, as to “ hate every known fin," Psal. cxix. 128.
Inf. 1. There is no justification, favour, and peace with God, by our own works, Psal. cxliii. 2. “In thy fight shall no man living be justified.” Far less can there be works of fupererogation. We must be justified by the righteousness of Christ received by faith, or not at all.
2. Whatever your attainments be, be not proud of them; your wants and defects may always keep you humble. The barren branches are towering ones, while the fruitful boughs hang down their heads.
3. Inexpressibly miserable is the case of unbelievers. They are without Christ; they must stand or fall by the law, and it is quite beyond their power to keep it.
4. Bear one another's burdens; for every man offends. We are in a hospital, where most are dying of ther disease, and the best but in the way of recovery.
Lastly, Let the struggling saints long for heaven, for there the perfection they would fain be at shall be attained, and not till then. And this may comfort them under all their failures, which they mourn over, that in the other world they shall arrive at full perfection in holiness.
OF SIN IN ITS AGGRAVATIONS.
Ezek. viii. 15.-Turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater
abominations than these.
F we look on sin absolutely, and in itself, as it is a trans
gression of the divine law, no fin is small, but a great evil, greater than any evil of suffering, which men can be exposed to: but if we look on sin comparatively, one sin compared with another, all are not alike, but some greater than others, as we see from these words. Wherein may be observed,
-1. Great fins which the prophet had seen, shewn to him in vision by the Lord himself, who knows the sins of all men, with their nature and qualities, ver. 5. 11. 14.
2. Greater sins he was yet to see. He had seen the image of jealousy, namely, the image of Baal, set up at the gate of the altar, ver. 5.; the chambers of imagery in some of the courts, and the ancients of Israel, at their idolatrous service, ver. 10. 11.; the women weeping for Tammuz in the court of the women, or of the priests, by which the Lord's courts were turned into stews. These were great abominations, and yet greaterth an any of these was their worshipping of the fun, ver. 16. and that in God's account; for it was done in a more facred place, at the very door of the temple ; it was more public, and had greater contempt of God in it, than the rest.
The text affords this doctrine :
Doct. “ All sins are not alike;" but “ some fins in them.
selves, and by reason of several aggravations, are more hain, ous in the fight of God than others.”
In discoursing from this doctrine, I shall shew, I. What is understood by the hainousness of sin.
II. In what respects some fins are more hainous than others.
I. I am to shew, what is understood by the hainousness of sin. Its great offensiveness is hereby understood. Sin may be offensive unto men; but we consider it here as fin, and offensive to God. So for sin to be hainous in the fight of God, implies,
1. That it is offensive to God, displeasing to him, and grieving to his Spirit, Jer. xliv. 4. “ Oh! do not this abominable thing that I hate.” He cannot away with it, he cannot endure it before his eyes, but shews his indignation against it. It is an abominable thing before the Lord; hence it is called filthiness, uncleanness, vomit, &c. all which provoke loathing; so Rev. iii. 16. it is said “ I will fpue thee out of my mouth.” It is contrary to his nature and will, and gives him displeasure and offence; and, if it were possible, it would disturb his repose, as smoke doth to the eyes, Il. lxv. 5. “ These are a smoke in my nose, a fire that burneth all the day.”
2. It is greatly offensive to God; for that also is implied in the notion of hainousness; every fault is offensive, but some faults are hainous offences. Such an offence is sin to God. It gives him great offence, Psal. v. 4, 5. “ Thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness: neither shall evil dwell with thee. The foolish shall not stand in thy fight; thou hatest all workers of iniquity." Hab. i. 13. “Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity.” There is no sin that God is indifferent about, none that he can pass without a mark of his indignation on it: He “ will by no means clear the guilty," Exod. xxxiv. 7.
Now here mark well two things.
1. That all sin is hainous in the fight of God, viz. greatly offensive. There are are no small sins before God, though some are greater than others; but the least of them is great in itself, and great in his fight, Hab. i. 13. forecited. This is plainly implied, while it is said, “ Some fins are more hainous than others."
2. That there are degrees of hainousness. Though the fin which the blinded foul acounts but a mote, is a mountain in the eyes of God and of an enlightened conscience, yet all are not alike for all that; but as some mountains, fo fome fins, are greater than others.
II. I shall shew, in what respects fome fins are more hainous than others.
First, Some fins are in themselves, and in their own nature, more hainous than others. There are some capital offences, as it were, which God's wrath does in a special manner burn against, and which are most provoking to the eyes of his glory : such as murder, Gen. iv. 10.; oppression, Hab. ii. 11. ; which are noted to be crying sins; blasphemy and contempt of God, Exod. v. 2. ; idolatry, Ezek vü. ; unbelief, rejecting of Christ, and disobeying the gospel, Matth. xxii. John ii. 19. 2 Theff. i. 8. But of all fins the most hainous is the fin against the Holy Ghost, Matth. xii. 31.
Secondly, Some fins are more hainous than others by their aggravations; and the greater and more numerous the aggravating circumstances be that attend any fin, it is the more hainous. Now, fins are aggravated, or made greater or more hainous than others,
1. From the persons offending; the 'more notable they are, the more hainous are their fins ; as the greater the fire is, the more mischief will it do, if it go out of its place; the greater the tree is, the more mischief will it do by its fall. Thus one and the same fin is greater in magistrates, ministers, parents, and the aged, than in subjects, people, children, and the younger fort. For men's places and offices, which respect the government of others in the way of holiness and justice, aggravate their fins, Rom. i. 21. “ Thou which teachest another, teachest thou not thyfelf? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal.” And so do the greater gifts and profession that one hath, Luke xii. 47. 48.
" That servant which knew his lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required : and to whom men have committed much, of him will they ask the more. And so doth the greater experience of God's goodness which they have had, as in the case of Solomon, of whom it is said, 1 Kings xi. 9. “ The Lord was angry with Solomon, because his heart was turned from the Lord God of Israel, which had appeared unto him twice.' For such advantages make their fins more pernicious, in refpect of the influence of their example on others, as in the
effect of Peter's dissimulation at Antioch, Gal. i. 13. of whom it is said, “ And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him ; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their diffimulation." And these advantages carry them over greater obligations they are under to the Lord.
2. From the parties offended. Let men consider whom their fins strike against, if they would see how hainous they are. For as a thrust in a leg or arm is not so much grievous as one at the heart, so is it in this case.
1st, Sins immediately against God, his Son, and his Spie rit, are more hainous than such sins against man, any man whatsoever, 1 Sam. ii. 25. “ If one man sin against another, the judge shall judge him: but if a man sin against the Lord, who shall intreat for him ?” Thus lying and dissembling to God, is more hainous than lying to men, as appears in the case of Ananias and Sapphira, Acts v. 4. because of the infinite distance of the immediate objects of the sin. Thus, whereas in all fins of the second table, there is a fault against God, and against man too; yet the fault against God, and the injury done to his glory, is the bitterest ingredient in it. Thus David's sin in the matter of Bathsheba and Uriah was a great sin in respect of these persons; but see how he confeffes it, Pfal. li. 4. “ Against thee, thee only have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight.”
2dly, Sins against superiors in the church, state, and family, are more hainous than the fame fins are, if done against persons of their own rank and condition. The reason is, because superiority given of God is such a divine impress on a man, that it makes his character in some sort sacred, as in the case of moses, Num. xii. 8. Hence it is that disobedience to parents is so hainous a sin, Prov. xxx. 17. “ The eye
that mocketh at his father, and despiseth to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the
young eagles shall eat it.”
3dly, Sins against those whom we are under special engagements and obligations to, are more hainous than such fins against others we have no fuch concern in. Religion teaches gratitude, and sets a black mark on ingratitude, Pfal. lv. 12. “ For it was not an enemy that reproached me, then I could have borne it; neither was it he that hated me, that did magnify himself against me, then I would have hid myfelf from him.”