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argues he is under the power of grace; so when a man is at his duty, and his sin comes and calls him off from his duty, it argues he is under the power of sin; so it is with men unconverted, they are under the power of their sin.
As a man unconverted is full of sin, and under the power of it, so he knows it not; for sin doth not appear to a man to be sin until he convert and turn unto God; it doth not yet appear, as the apostle says in another case, 1 John iii. 2, 66 It doth not yet appear what we shall be, but it shall appear;" so say I in regard of sin, It doth not yet appear, but it shall appear to a man's self, and others; before a man convert and turn to God, it doth not appear; but to such a one it shall appear: when a man comes to die, and all his hoops be knocked off, then it will appear how full of sin he is: as a vessel that is full of liquor, and the liquor issue through the hoops, you see there is liquor in it, but you do not know how full it is till the hoops are knocked off. But then you will say, Oh, how full was this vessel. Ah, now our hoops are on, and it doth not yet appear how full of sin men are; only it comes issuing through the hoops, through their duties, but a day is coming when all our hoops shall be knocked off, and then it will appear how full of sin men are.
But again, If this be true, that when a man doth convert and turn unto God, then his sin doth appear in the sinfulness thereof unto him; then why should we not all labour to get the true sight of sin, to be sensible of sin? It is the property of a man converted to be sensible of sin; "then sin revived." As therefore you desire to have upon you the character of a man converted, labour to be sensible of your sin, that it may appear in the sinfulness thereof.
It is the mind of God, that all his converted ones should think much on, and be very sensible of the sins they committed before their conversion. "Such and such were some of you, but ye are cleansed, but ye are washed." 1 Cor. vi. 11. say it is the mind and will of God, that those that are converted should be very sensible of their sins which they committed before conversion. For,
Thereby they pity others that are in their sins.
Thereby they are kept from future sins: what is the reason that men are not kept from future sins, but because they are not sensible of their former sins.
Thereby also they are kept in the sense of free grace towards them, and so they magnify the free grace of God; I was a blasphemer, a persecutor; such and such a one I was; but I am washed, but I am cleansed, and through grace justified; oh, the freeness of the grace of God. Thus they magnify free grace. Therefore I say it is the mind of God, that those that are converted should be still very sensible of their sins committed before their conversion: and this is a character of a man converted, sin appears to him to be sinful. Now therefore as you desire to have the character of a man converted, labour more and more to see sin in the sinfulness of it.
Well, but then the question is, What shall we do, whether converted or not; what shall we do, that we may be able to see sin in the sinfulness thereof?
Be sure of this, that you look much upon Christ crucified. Christ on the cross is a glass wherein you may see the sinfulness of sin. Study Christ crucified much.
Labour more and more to walk in the presence of God, the shines of God's countenance; for as when the sun shines into the room, you see little motes, so when God shines into your heart, you see little sins: the beams of God's countenance do discover sin in the sinfulness of it; therefore labour to walk more in the presence of God, and in the shines of his countenance.
Labour more and more to examine your own souls; be much in private examination: hardly an ungrowing christian. that is much in private examination; hardly a proud man that is much in private examination. Do you desire to see sin in the sinfulness of it? Go alone, call yourself often to account, be much in private examination.
Take as much pains to keep the sense of sin upon your heart as ever you did to get it: some take pains to get themselves into a good frame, but take no pains to keep themselves in it when they have gotten it. As the apostle speaks, they view themselves in the glass of royal liberty, and go away and forget what manner of men they were.
In case you find any particular sin, go round about it; consider the circumstances thereof, aggravate it upon your own soul.
Improve your afflictions this way. God sends afflictions.
sometimes to give you the sight of some sin that lay hid before; and sometimes your afflictions have your sin written on their forehead. Improve then your affliction for the discovery of the sinfulness of sin.
Be sure you judge of sin as the scripture judgeth of it, and not as men judge of it: the Scripture judgeth of sin by the consequence thereof, as our Saviour Christ says, "I was an hungred, and ye fed me not; I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink; naked, and ye clothed me not." How so? "Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of these, ye did it not to me," Matt. xxv. 42-45. Christ judgeth of sin by the consequence of it; therefore if you would see sin in the sinfulness of it, judge of it as Christ judgeth of it, and as the Scripture judgeth of it, and not as men judge of it.
If you desire to see sin in its own colours, in the sinfulness of it; then look upon the commandments of God as great things; the more the commandment of God is greatened to you, the greater will sin be in your eye; if the commandment of God be great in your eye, the sin, contrary to the commandment, will be great in your eye too.
Never think any thing small betwixt God and you; there is nothing small betwixt God and us, for God is an infinite God.
Never look upon sin in the time of temptation; for then you are in the dark, and not fit to see the greatness of sin: labour to know the difference betwixt temptation and corruption, and betwixt the sins of God's people, and others; but never look upon sin in the time of temptation, for then you are in the dark, and cannot see the sinfulness of it.
If you would see sin in the sinfulness of it; then go unto God for the coming of the commandment, that God would set on the commandment upon you, as Paul here; says he, "When the commandment came, sin revived, and I died." Some, it may be here, never yet had the commandment set on upon their hearts; Oh then go to God, and pray for the setting on of the commandment upon you; then shall you see sin in the sinfulness thereof.
Now let me add two or three cautions to this, and so conclude.
Take heed that you do not so think on sin as to forget Christ: if you think on sin without Christ you will despair,
if you think on Christ without sin you will presume; never think on sin without Christ: labour to get the sight of your sin, but never think on sin without Christ; but look on your sin in the wounds of Christ, and read your sins written out in Christ's blood.
Humble yourselves for sin, though it be never so small; but do not question your condition for sin though it be never so great; I do not speak this to those that are unconverted, for they have cause to question their condition for every sin, though never so small; but being converted and turned unto God, I say, humble thyself for every sin, though never so small; but never question thy condition for any sin, though never so great.
The more sense you have of sin, and the sinfulness thereof, the more labour to maintain your assurance of the pardon of it and the more assurance you have of the pardon of your sin, the more labour for a sight and sense of it: let not your sense of sin quench your joy of pardon; let not your joy of pardon hinder your sight of sin: if both these be true and genuine, the one is an help unto the other.
And, to conclude, the more sense you have of sin, the more do you come to Christ: for in Scripture you shall find, that every good work is not for itself, but some good works are in order to others; as for example, to instance in the keeping of the Sabbath, you are to rest on the Sabbath, and it is a good work, but not for itself, but in order to prayer, hearing, sanctification, and other duties. So here, sense of sin is a good work; but it is not for itself, but in order to going to Christ; therefore now go to Christ, and say, Lord, now I see the sinfulness of sin, let me also see the graciousness of grace, and the fulness of Christ; yea, now I do come to thee for righteousness, because I see my sin is out of measure sinful.
THE FULNESS OF CHRIST.
Nevertheless, the dimness shall not be such as was in her vexation, when at the first he lightly afflicted the land of Zebulun, and
the land of Naphtali, and afterward did more grievously afflict her, by the way of the sea beyond Jordan in Galilee of the nations.
The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined," ISAIAH ix. 1, 2.
THESE words do relate to the former chapter, as you may see by the word, nevertheless; in the end of the former chapter the prophet shews, that great trouble and misery should befal the people of, God, "It shall come to pass, that when they shall be hungry, they shall fret themselves, and curse their king, and their Ged, and look upward; (verse 21) and they shall look unto the earth, and behold trouble and darkness, dimness of anguish; and they shall be driven to darkness: nevertheless the dimness shall not be such as was in her vexation," &c.
So that in these words you have a greater affliction mentioned, and the mitigation of that affliction: the affliction, or trouble, is more easy, and more heavy; it hath two parts, a more easy part, and a more heavy part: "at the first he lightly afflicted the land of Zebulun, and the land of Naphtali, and afterward did more grievously afflict her by the way of the sea." The story whereof you have in 2 Kings xv. 19,
"Pul, the king of Assyria, came against the land; and Manahem gave Pul a thousand talents of silver, that his hand might be with him to confirm the kingdom in his hand, and Manahem exacted the money of Israel: so the king of Assyria turned back, and stayed not there in the land." There was the more light afflction: but in verse 29, there you have the more heavy affliction: "In the days of Pekah, king of Israel, came Tiglath-Pileset, king of Assyria, and took Ijon, and Abelbeth-Maachah, and Janoah, and Kedesh, and Hazor, and Gilead, and Galilee, all the land of Naphtali, and carried them captive to Assyria." Here was the affliction wherewith they were vexed, both more light, and more heavy.
The mitigation follows at verse 2: "The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light, they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined." Here is an alleviation of this affliction by the promise of Christ, which is interpreted of Christ, in Matt. iv. 12, "Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into