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TO THE READER.
CHRISTIAN READER,-Thou art desired to take notice that these two Sermons are not exposed to public view by the Author's own hand, but were taken as they fell from his lips in his ordinary preaching: nevertheless the style, method, spirituality, conciseness and depth of them, give in ample testimony to all that have acquaintance with him that they are his genuine offspring; and being suitable and useful to all persons, in all conditions, thou mayest, through the blessing of God, reap much advantage by them.
SINFULNESS OF SIN AND THE FULNESS
THE SINFULNESS OF SIN.
But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful."-ROM. VII. 13.
My purpose is now to speak something concerning the evil and sinfulness of sin, and therefore have made choice of these words. In this chapter the apostle Paul doth give us some account of the way and manner of his conversion. Before I was converted, says he, "I was alive without the law," verse 9; but "when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died;" for without the law, sin was dead, and "I was alive without the law once." I thought myself a jolly man, I was very brisk and jolly, had good thoughts of my condition: "I was alive without the law once, but when the commandment came;" when the word of the Lord came in power unto my soul-for I had the law and the commandment always with me, "concerning the law I was blameless," Phil. iii. 6; the letter of the law was not absent from me-but when it pleased God to set on the word of the Lord in power upon my soul, then, whereas I was alive before, now sin revived; sin that lay dead before, and was hid, now revived, and did appear to be sin; for that in the 9th verse, and this in verse 13, are the same: verse 9, "Sin revived, and I died;" "But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me;" in this 13th verse. But how did sin revive and appear? By the coming of the law, by the coming of the commandment, thereby it broke out the more, and so was discovered; as by the coming and shining of the sunbeams upon the dunghill, the filth stinks the more, not that the sunbeams are the cause, but the occa
sion thereof. And sin revived by the coming of the commandment, and appeared to be sin, appeared more to me in its own shape, and struck me dead with the apparition thereof; whereas before, sin was dead and I alive, now sin alive and I dead.
From whence then I take up this observation :
That there is a great deal of evil and sinfulness in sin which doth not appear to a man until he doth convert and turn unto God. Look when a man doth convert and turn unto God, then sin appears to be sin indeed, and not before.
For the clearing and prosecution whereof I shall labour to shew,
First, That there is a great deal of evil and sinfulness in sin. Secondly, That this evil and sinfulness of sin doth not appear to a man until conversion work pass upon his soul.
Thirdly, Look when a man doth convert and turn to the Lord in truth, then sin appears in the sinfulness thereof unto him.
There is a great deal of evil and sinfulness in sin.
To make it out in the general, and then more particularly: In the general. This may appear by the names of sin, for sin hath taken up all the names of evil, of all evils. The Scripture doth not nickname sin; and yet what evil is there incident unto man, but sin is invested with the name thereof in Scripture?
Is it an evil thing for a man to be unclean and filthy? Sin is called filthiness: "I will wash you from all your filthiness," Ezek. xxxvi. 25.
Is it an evil thing for a man to be naked? Sin is called nakedness: "That your nakedness may not appear," Rev. iii. 18.
Is it an evil thing for a man to be blind? Sin is called blindness: "The blind shall lead the blind," Matt. xv. 14.
Is it an evil thing for a man to be foolish? Sin is called folly: "That you may no more return unto folly,” Psalm lxxxv. 8.
Is it an evil thing for a man to be mad? The prodigal returned unto himself, Luke xv. 17; and, "I was mad," says Paul, Acts xxvi. 11.
Is it an evil thing for a man to be dead? Sin is called death: "Dead in trespasses and sins," Eph. ii. 1.
It is called an abomination, Prov. viii. 7; and because there is no word that can express the evil and sinfulness of sin, the apostle in this place says, "That sin might become. exceeding sinful." Why? Because there is no word of evil that can reach the evil of sin. Now look what that is that doth engross and take up all the names of all evils, that must needs be exceeding evil; so it is with sin.
Look what that is that doth separate betwixt us and God, who is the chiefest and universal good, that must needs be the greatest evil. Now says the prophet, " Your iniquities have separated between you and your God," Isa. lix. 2.
Look what that is that doth unite us to Satan, and make us the children of the devil, that must needs be very evil. Says our Saviour, "You are of your father the devil:" why?" for his works you do," John viii. 44. Sin makes us the children of the devil.
Look what that is that did put Christ to death, that was the cause of his death, that must needs be exceeding evil. So sin did: " He was made sin for us," 2 Cor. v. 21. "He bare our sins upon the cross," 1 Pet. ii. 24. "And the Lord made the iniquity of us all to meet on him," Isa. liii. 6.
Look what that is that doth bring a general curse upon the whole creation, that must needs be evil. So sin hath done: "Cursed be the ground and the earth for thy sake," Gen. iii. 17.
Look what that is that doth soil and stain all our glory, and the image of God in us, that must needs be great evil. Sin hath stained the beauty of the image of God that was stamped upon us, and by sin, saith the apostle, Rom. iii. 23, we come short of the glory of God, " For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God."
Look what that is that doth bring such horror of conscience, that a soul is not able to bear, and cannot be allayed but by the blood of Jesus, that must needs be a very great evil: sin, and the eating of the forbidden fruit, hath bred this worm that never dies.
Look what that evil is that is the fuel of hell, that feeds hell-fire to all eternity; that must needs be great evil: take sin away, and hell-fire dies; sin is that brimstone that hellfire feeds upon to all eternity.
Look what that evil is that is worse than the worst of
afflictions, that must needs be very evil: the least sin is worse than the greatest affliction. For,
Take an affliction, and though it be never so great, it doth not defile the man; "for that which is from without doth not defile the man, but that which is from within," Mark vii. 15. Sin is from within. Affliction is not from within, but from without; but sin is from within. Therefore if I give a reproachful word to another, it more defiles me than a hundred reproachful words from another, because my word comes from within me, his words from without me. Now affliction is from without, and doth not defile; but sin is from within, and doth defile. Therefore the least sin is worse than the greatest affliction.
Take an affliction, and though it be never so great, yet notwithstanding, God is the author of it. "Is there evil in the city, and the Lord hath not done it?" Amos iii. 6. God bade Shimei curse David: "Let him alone, God hath bidden him," 2 Sam. xvi. 11. I send famine, and I send pestilence, and I send mildew, says God. God is the author of affliction, but God is not the author of any sin. Indeed it is said God hardened the heart of Pharaoh, and others, but that is, non infundendo maliciam sed subtrahendo gratiam : not by infusing malice into their hearts, but by withdrawing his grace. God is not the author of sin, but God is the author of all affliction.
Take an affliction, and though it be never so great, yet it is not contrary to God; but sin, though never so small, is contrary to God.
Take an affliction, and though it be never so great, yet notwithstanding it is but the fruit and the claws of sin. What are the claws to the lion? If the lion be dead, the claws can do us no hurt, but if the lion be alive, his life puts strength into his claws. Afflictions are but the claws of sin, "The sting of death is sin," 1 Cor. xv. 56, and the sting of affliction is sin; but as for afflictions, they are but the bare claws, and it is sin that puts life and strength into these claws.
Take an affliction, and though it be never so great, yet God doth not hate affliction, neither doth affliction make a man hate God; but God hates sin, and sin makes a man hate God.