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Father which is in heaven is perfect.’ Instead of which we have a bent of soul quite contrary to the law, Rom. viii. 7. “The carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” 3. The first motions of sin, and the risings of that na, tural corruption in us, before it be completed with the con. sent of the will to the evil motion, are truly and properly sin. The apostle calls this lust, and distinguishes it from sin, i. e. the sin of our nature, and from the consent to it and execution of it, which he calls “obeying these lusts' Rom. vi. 12. and tells us that it is condemned by the law, Rom. vii. 7. Therefore a thing may be our sin, though we know it not to be so, 1 Tim. i. 13. and though it be not our will, yea though against our will, Rom. vii. 16. For it is neither our knowledge, or opinion, nor our will, but the law of God, that is our rule. 4. All consent of the heart to and delight in motions to. wards things forbidden by the law of God are sins, though these never break forth into action, but die where they were born in the inmost corners of our hearts, Matth. v. 28. * Whosoever shall look on a woman to lust after her, hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” Specu. lative filthiness is a disconformity to the law. There is heart murder as well as actual murder, ver, 22. 5. All omissions of the internal duties we owe to God and our neighbours are sins, as want of love to God or our neighbours. Want of due fear of God, trust and hope in him, &c. are internal sins of omission. 6. Hence a man sins both by undue silence and undue speaking, when the cause of God and truth requires it; seeing the law bids us speak in some cases, but never speak what is not good. 7. Hence also a man’s sins, when he omits outward duties that are incumbent on him to perform, as well as when he commits sin of whatever kind in his life, 8. Lastly, The least failure in any duty is sin; and what: ever comes not up in perfection to the law is sinful. And therefore we sin in every thing we do, and our best duties deserve damnation, and cannot be accepted according to the law. Wherefore the duties of wicked men are absolutely rejected, seeing they are under the law; and the duties of the godly are no otherwise accepted, but as washed in the blood of Christ, which takes away the sin cleaving to them. Further, nothing can be a sin but what is a transgressing of the law of God, who only is Lord over the conscience. Therefore, if there be no law of God in the case, there is no transgression affecting the conscience. But it must be considered, that the law of God commands some things expressly, and other things by good consequence. No law of God commands a servant expressly to do such and such a particular piece of work that is lawful, which he is bidden do by his master; but the law of God says, “Servants, obey your masters;’ and therefore it is sin if he do not that work. The case is the same as to men's laws. Therefore the apostle says, Rom. xiii. 5. “Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.” Now, men's laws are either contrary to God’s laws, or agreeable and subservient thereto, as being for the glory of God, or the good of the nation in general. As to the first of these, ye cannot obey without sin, as if the Queen and Parliament should command you to receive human ceremonies in the worship of God. As to other things which are good and just, we are obliged to obey, as is clear from Rom. xiii.; and therefore the conscience is not altogether unconcerned in the laws of men. And therefore, if ye would be tender Christians, before ye go against the laws of the land, consider well whether their commands be unlawful, or whether they be such as are good and just; for doubtless magistrates have a power to make laws for the good of the land in general; and what they so make we are obliged to respect, otherwise we contemn the ordinance of God, and regard not the good of our neighbour, and thereby sin against God; as is acknowledged in the case of those that now export grain, to the gene. ral distress of the country. And I apprehend, that if we would lay the case home to ourselves, we would have less liberty than we have in some things that are not scrupled at. III. I come now to shew wherein the evil of sin lies. It lies, 1. And principally, in the wrong done to God, and its contrariety, (1.) To his nature, which is altogether holy. Hence the Psalmist says, Psal. li. 4. ‘Against thee, thee only have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight, David had
exceedingly wronged Uriah in defiling his wife, and procuVol. I. O o ring the death of himself; yet he considers his great sin in that matter as chiefly against God, and contrary to his holy nature. (2.) In its contrariety to God's will and law, which is a sort of a copy of his nature. And God being all good, and the chief good, sin must needs be a sort of infinite evil. 2. In the wrong it doth to ourselves: ‘He that sinneth against me,’ says the personal Wisdom of God, ‘wrongeth his own soul,” Prov. viii. 36. For, (1.) It leaves a stain and spiritual pollution on the soul, whereby it becomes filthy and vile ; and therefore sin is called filthiness, and is said to defile the soul, whereupon follows God's loathing the sinner, Isa. i. 15. and shame and confusion on the sinner himself, Gen. iii. 7. (2.) It brings on guilt, whereby the sinner is bound over to punishment, according to the state in which he is, until his sin be pardoned. This ariseth from the justice of God and the threatening of his law; which brings on all miseries whatsover. - But more particularly upon this head, when men pass the bounds and limits which God hath set them in his law, then they transgress it. All the violations of negative precepts are transgressions of God's law. The design of the moral law is to keep men within the bounds of their duty; and when they sin they go beyond them. Sin is indeed the greatest of evils; it is directly opposite to God the supreme good. The definition that is given of sin expresses its essential evil. It is the transgression of the divine law, and consequently it opposes the rights of God's throne, and obscures the glory of his attributes, which are exercised in the moral government of the world. God is our King, our Lawgiver, and our Judge. From his right and propriety in us as his creatures, his title to and sovereign power and dominion over us doth arise and flow. Man is endued with the powers of understanding and election, to conceive and choose what is good, and to reject what is evil; is governed by a law, even the declared will of his Maker. Now, sin, being a transgression of this law, contains many evils in it. As, 1. It is high rebellion against the sovereign Majesty of God, that gives the life of authority to the law. Therefore divine precepts are enforced with the most proper and binding motive to obedience, I am the Lord. He that commits sin, especially with pleasure and design, implicitly denies his dependence upon God as his Maker and Governor, and ar
rogates to himself an irresponsible liberty to do his own will. This is clearly expressed by those atheistical designers, who said, “Our lips are our own; who is Lord over us?” Psal. xii. 4. The language of mens actions, which is more convincing than their words, plainly declares, that they despise his commandments, and contemn his authority, as if they were not his creatures and subjects. 2. lt is an extreme aggravation of this evil, that sin, as it is a disclaiming our homage to God, so it is in true account a yielding subjection to the devil; for sin is in the strictest propriety his work. The original rebellion in paradise was by his temptation; and all the actual and habitual sins of men, since the fall, are by his efficacious influence. He darkens the carnal mind; he sways and rules the stubborn will; he excites and inflames the vitious affections, and imperiously rules in the children of disobedience. He is therefore styled the prince and god of this world. And what more contumelious indignity can there be, than to prefer to the glorious Creator of heaven and earth, a damned spirit, the most cursed part of the whole creation? More particularly, sin strikes at the root of all the divine attributes. (1.) It is contrary to the unspotted holiness of God, which is the peculiar glory of the Deity. Of all the glorious and benign constellations of the divine attributes which shine in the law of God, his holiness hath the brightest lustre. God is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works: but the most precious and venerable monument of his holiness is the law. This is a true draught of his image, and a clear copy of his nature and will. It is the perspicuous rule of our duty, without any blemish or imperfection. See what a high encomium the apostle gives it, “The commandment is holy, just, and good, Rom. vii. 12. It enjoins nothing but what is absolutely good, without the least mixture and tincture of evil. It is a full and complete rule, in nothing defective, and in nothing superfluous, but comprehends the whole duty of man. The sum of it is set down by the apostle, Tit. ii. 11. We are to live soberly, i. e. we are to abstain from every thing that may blemish and stain the excellency of our reasonable nature. We are to live righteously. This respects the state and situation wherein God hath placed us in the world for the advancing of his glory. It includes and comprehends in it all the respective duties we owe to others, to whom we are united by the bands of nature, of civil so. ciety, or of spiritual communion. And we are to live godly, which takes in all the internal and outward duties which we owe to God, who is the Sovereign of our spirits, whose will must be the rule, and his glory the end of all our actions. In short the law is so contrived and framed, that abstracting from the authority of the Lawgiver, its holiness and goodness lays an eternal obligation upon us to obey its dictates. Now, sin is directly and formally a contrariety to the infinite sanctity and purity of God; consisting in a not doing what the law commands, or in doing that which it expressly forbids; and God cannot look upon it, but with infinite detestation, Hab. i. 13. He cannot but hate that which is opposite to the glory of his nature, and to the lustre of all his perfections. (2.) Sin vilifies the wisdom of God, which prescribed the law to men as the rule of their duty. The divine wisdom shines resplendently in his laws. They are all framed with an exact congruity to the nature of God, and his relation to us, and to the faculties of man before he was corrupted. And thus the divine law being a bright transcript both of God's will and his wisdom, binds the understanding and will, which are the leading faculties in man, to esteem and apK. to consent to and choose, all his precepts as best, ow, sin vilifies the infinite wisdom of God, both as to the precepts of the law, the rule of our duty, and the sanction annexed to it for confirming its obligation. It taxes the precepts as an unequal yoke, and as too severe and rigid a confinement to our wills and actions, Thus the impious rebels complained of old, “The ways of the Lord are not equal: they are injurious to our liberties, they restrain and infringe them, and are not worthy of our study and observation, And it accounts the rewards and punishments which God has annexed as the sanction of the law to secure our obedi. ence to its precepts, weak and ineffectual motives to serve that purpose. And thus it reflects upon the wisdom of the Lawgiver as lame and defective, in not binding his subjects more firmly to their duty. (8.) Sir is a high contempt and horrid abuse of the divine goodness, which should have a powerful influence in binding man to his duty. His creating goodness is hereby contemn which raised us out of the dust of the earth unto an excel.