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4thly, Sins against the saints and people of God are more hainous than against others, because of their relation to God, as being those in all the world dearest to him, Matth. xviii. 6. " Whofo fhall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” Such are fins against weak saints, as being more liable to get harm by them than those who are strong, Rom. xiv. 15. “ If thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died.”.
Lastly, Sins against the common good of all, or of many; for the wider the effects of one sin go, it is still the worse, Josh. xxii. 20. “Did not Achan the son of Zerah commit a trespass in the accursed thing, and wrath fell on all the congregation of Israel ? and that man perished not alone in his iniquity.” “ One finner,” says Solomon, “ destroyeth much good ;” and the more, the greater is his sin. 3. From the quality of the offence. A sin may
be vested with such qualities, as will make it much more hainous than when divested of them. These evil qualities are many;
I will reduce them to two heads.
(1.) Intrinsic qualities. Thus fins against the letter of the law are more hainous than others; mother-lins, which are big and bring forth many others, than simple ones; fins confummated by action, than while merely in the heart, Jam. i. 15. ; fins that are scandalous, than others not fo; fins the injury in which to men admits of no reparation, than that of others, in which it does. This was the reason why death was the punishment of adultery, not of fornication, because in this last case the man was obliged to marry the woman.
(2.) Extrinsic qualities; which again are of two sorts.
[1.] Being done against means whereby one might be with-held from fin, Matth. xi. 21, 22. “ Wo unto thee, Chorazin, wo unto thee, Bethsaida : fór if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in fackcloth and ashes. But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you.” Thus one's finning against mercies drawing them from their sin, judgments and rebukes from the word or providence, from God or
men, sinning against the light of one's own conscience, do all of them aggravate fin.
[2.] Being done against bonds one has taken on him against the fin, when men sin against purposes and resolutions of amendment, against their covenants and engagements to the Lord, whereby they are bound to stand off from fuch courses, Ezek. xvii. 19.
4. From the manner of committing it. Who can imagine, but fin done deliberately, and wilfully, and presumptuously, is more hainous than sin committed through inadvertency and weakness ? If one be impudent in his sin, delight in it, and boast of it; if he go on in it obstinately, fall in it frequently, and relapse into it after convictions and humblings for it; every one of these aggravates the guilt.
5. From the time of it, as in the case of Gehazi, 2 Kings v. 26. where Elisha says to him, “ Went not mine heart with thee, when the man turned again from his chariot to meet thee? is it a time to receive money, and to receive garments, and olive-yards, and vine-yards, and sheep, and oxen, and men-servants, and maid-fervants ?" Thus fins committed on the Lord's day, immediately before or after divine worship, are more hainous than at other times. And so is finning just after reproofs, warnings, engagements; or in a time when the anger of the Lord is going out against the land, family, or person, as Ahaz in his distress.
Lastly, From the place of it. Thus in a place where the gospel is preached, sin is more hainous than elsewhere, If. xxvi. 10.“ Let favour be shewed to the wicked, yet will he not learn righteousness; in the land of uprightness will he deal unjustly, and will not behold the majesty of the Lord.” Sins done in public before others, are more hainous than those in secret ; for in the former many may be defiled, as in the case of Absalom, lying with his fathers's concubine on the house-top:
A few inferences shall conclude this subject.
Inf. 1. Never think light of fin, nor slightly of Christ, and your need of him, since all fin is hainous in God's fight, and exposes the finner to his just vengeance.
2. There will be degrees of torment in hell, though the least degree will be dreadful, Matth. xi. 21. since there are degrees of finning.
3. No wonder God's anger go out against us, and the VOL. III. No. 25.
land wherein, and the generation amongst whom we live. For hainous are our sins beyond those of many, and a frightful look may we get of them in this glass. Magistrates, mi. nisters, parents, the aged, professors, fons and daughters of the Lord, have corrupted their ways, as well as others. Our sins have struck immediately against God, and against those who are vested with his authority in the state, in the church, and in families, against his people, and the common good, Sins against the letter of the law, scandalous offences abound, over the belly of light, mercies, and judgments, covenants national, facramental, and personal; and thefe continued in obstinately, in a time when the Lord's hand has oft been stretched out and drawn in again, in a land of light.
4. Repent, and flee to the blood of Christ for pardon, if fo be our hainous fins may not be our ruin. 5. The means of grace which we enjoy will either
promote our salvation, or they will aggravate our damnation.
6. When ye examine yourselves, and think on your fins, consider the several aggravations of them ; and lie deep in the dust before the Lord on account thereof; and, through the grace of God, abstain from every sin, and all appearance of evil.
OF THE DESERT OF SIN.
Gal. iii. 10.-It is written, Cursed is every one that continueth
not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.
is no fin but deserves damnation, which we can no where better learn than from the voice of the law, which is the verdict of a juft God upon the demerit of sin. This verdict in the text is found written, Deut. xxvii. ult. “ Cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them.” And herein consider,
1. The party. condemned by the law; every sinner. The law condemns him for omissions as well as commissions, for breaking off from obedience as well as never entering upon it; for every sin, even the least fin, the least breach of the law : as well as the greatest : Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things, &c.
2. The doom pronounced in all these cases, is God's wrath and curfe; Cursed is he that continueth not in all things, &c. This curse binds over to wrath in this life and that which is to come. It is God's own voice in his law, whose justice will not allow him to fix a punishment on sin greater than it deserves. Hence the doctrine is,
Doct. “Every fin deserveth God's wrath and curse, both in
this life and that which is to come.”
Here I shall shew, I. What is God's wrath and curse, which every fin deserves.
II. What this wrath and curse is.
III. That there is no sin which does not deserve God's wrath and curse.
IV. Deduce some inferences.
I. I shall shew, what is God's wrath and curse, which every sin deserves.
First, God's wrath is no passion, nor is there any pertura bation in God, though an angry God. His wrath is a fire without smoke, and may be taken up in these two things.
1. God's displeasure against the finner, Pfal. v. 4, 5. " For 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.” Sin makes the soul loathsome and hateful in God's sight, kindles a holy fire in his heart against the finner. Were the sun continually under a cloud, and the heavens always covered with blackness, none of these would be comparable to the state of a sinner under wrath, Pfal. xc. 11. “ Who knoweth the power of thine anger ?”
2. God's dealing with finners as his enemies, whom he is incensed against, Neh. i. 2. “ God is jealous, and the Lord revengeth, the Lord revengeth and is furious, the Lord will take vengeance on his adversaries; and he reserveth wrath for his enemies." If. i. 24. “Ah! I will ease me of my adversaries, and avenge me of mine enemies." The wrath of a king is as the roaring of a lion; what then must the wrath of God be, an enemy, whom we can neither fight nor flee from, neither outwit nor outbrave? Of this wrath it is said, “ It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”
Secondly, His curse is his separating one to evil, Deut. xxix. 21.' “ And the Lord shall separate him unto evil, out of all the tribes of Israel, according to all the curses that are written in this book of the law.” It is a devoting the finner to destruction, to all the direful effects of the divine wrath. It is the tying of the finner to the stake, setting him up
for the mark of God's vengeance, that a broken law and offended justice may disburden all their arrows into him, and that on him may meet together all miseries and plagues, flowing from the wrath of God *,
II. I shall shew, what is God's wrath and curse in this life, and that which is to come.
1. In this life they comprehend all the miseries of this world which one meets with on this side of time, miseries on thebody, relations, name, estate, employment; miseries on the foul, as blindness, hardness, vile affections, horrors of conscience, &c.; and, finally, death in the separation of soul and body. Thus they make a flood of miseries in this life.
2. In the life to come, they comprehend eternal death and damnation, and an eternal being under the punishment of loss and sense in hell. So they make a shoreless fea of mi- . series in the life to come. But of both these I spoke largely in a former part of this work. [Vol. i.]
III. I proceed to shew, that there is no sin which does not deserve these, but that every sin deserves this wrath and curse.
1. The wages of every sin is death, Rom. vi. 23.; that is, eternal death, as is clear from the opposition to eternal life, Rom. v. 12. “ As by one man fin entered into the world, and death by fin; and so death passed upon for that all have sinned.' Job xxiv. 19. “ The grave confumes those which have sinned.”
* See a more particular account of the curfe, in the author's View of the Covenant of Works, part 4. published in 1772.