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His noble Soul, his Reafon, and his Wit:
The bafe commands and pleasure of her will:
Dear Lord, thy Mercy surely muft o'erflow,
1 attend servilely,
FOLLY AND MISCHIEF OF SIN.
1. Ir is a moft unprofitable and foolish thing: The content that is in it, is but imaginary, and dies in the compass of a thought; the expectation of it is nothing but difappointment, and the fruition of it perifheth in
2. It is the infallible feed of fame and mischief, which, without it be intercepted by repentance, and the mercy of God, doth as naturally and infallibly grow from it, as bemlock and benbane do from their proper feeds: And though the nature of fome fins is more fpeedy and visible in producing that fruit; yet more certainly, fooner or later, every fin yields his crop, even in this life. The beft fruit it yields is forrow and repentance, which though it be good in comparison of their fruit enfuing, if omitted, yet certainly it is not without much trouble and discompofure of mind; and the bitterness even of repentance itself, infinitely overbalances the contentment that the fin did yield.
3. Sin doth not only produce an ungrateful fruit, but there is alfo a certain fpite and malignity in the fruit it yields, carrying in it the very picture, refemblance and memorial of the fin for the most part, which dogs a man in the punishment of it, with the very repetition of the guilt, a lex talionis 1.
4. It poison and envenoms all conditions. If a man be in prosperity, it either makes it an occafion of
1 law of retaliation.
new fins to cover or fecure them that are paft; or it fours and infefts the very ftate itself with fad pre-apprehenfions of the fruit due to his fin; or haunts him in his jollity, like as I have feen an importunate creditor, a young gallant, which blafts all his comfort and contentment. If a man be in adverfity, it adds affliction to affliction. The beft companion of afflictions is a clear confcience: but when a man hath outward troubles, and a mifgiving guilty foul, it makes his affliction black and defperate.
5. It difcompfes and disorders, and unqualifies man for any good duly either to God or man: I pray, but I bring along with me a fenfe of fin, that makes me ungrateful to myself, and how can I expect to be acceptable to God, the pure and holy God, who hates nothing but fin? I beg bleffings, but how can I expect to receive a bleffing from him, whom I but lately prefumptuoufly offended? If my fon or fervant hath offended me, and comes to ask a benefit of me, I look upon it as a faucy prefumption; and can I expect to have a better entertainment from my Maker, than I think fit to allow my fellow-creature? The truth is, there is no petition comes feafonably from a man under the guilt of fin, but pardon, forgiveness and mercy.
If I do a good work, the fin, that I ftand guilty of, makes the comfort I take in it, or in other commendations of it, infipia and empty: my heart tells me there is a fin in my confcience, that makes me afhamed to own the good that is in the action.
If I fee a fault in another, that my place or condition requires me to reprove, the fenfe of my own guilt makes me either backward to reprove, or condemn myself, while I am reproving another, with fuch thoughts as thefe: I am reproving a fin in another, where I ftand as guilty in the fight of God as the perfon reprehended: if he knew my fin, how juftly might he throw my reprehenfion into my own face; and if he knew it not, yet the God of heaven, before 'whom I ftand, and the confcience which I bear ' within
within me, makes my reprehenfion of another, a condemnation of myself. If I go about any action of my life, though never fo honeft, juft, and lawful, yet my mifgiving thoughts make me either inactive in it, or fill me with pre-apprehenfions of mischief or disappointment in it; how can I expect a blefling from God, whom I have offended in any bufinefs I undertake? I carry along with me, in all I do, the curfe that the Lord threatened. The Lord fhall fend upon thee curfing, vexation and rebuke in all that thou fetteft thy hands unto '.' And, Thou shalt not profper in thy ways.' And, So that thou shalt be 'mad for the fight of thine eyes which thou fhalt fee 3." And, In the morning thou fhalt fay, would God it 'were evening; and at the evening thou fhalt fay, 'would God it were morning, for the fear of thine heart wherein thou fhalt fear, and for the fight of thine eyes which thou fhalt fee+.'
And certainly all this grows from the incongruity and diffonancy that is between fin and the true right conftitution of the nature of man, that is thereby made unufeful for his proper operations; juft as a fore, or a bone out of joint difables the proper ferviceablenefs of a limb; or, as a noxious humour diforders the ftomach, liver or fpleen, in its proper office; or, as a difeafe, or ill difpofition of the body, makes it unferviceable to its proper actions; fo do the fins, and defilements, and guilt, the refult of it upon the foul, difable it in its works and offices: and this is the evidence of it; every thing is then in its right constitution, when it is in that ftate that the wife God of nature ordered it; and fo far as it declines from that position or state, so far forth it lofeth its usefulness and proper happiness; and therefore it is confequently evident, that every thing that lofeth its ufefulnefs and happinefs, is out of that conftitution that God Almighty meant for it; and therefore, inafmuch as apparently all fin doth introduce this diforder and irregularity, it is plain that mankind there
Deut. xxviii. 29.
Deut. xxviii. 34.
'Deut. xxviii. 20.
* Deut. xxviii. 67.
by is in another condition than God at first made him, and intended he fhould be in.
Hence therefore it is apparent, that all fin is against nature, and a violation and breach even of the law and order of nature; which is nothing elfe but the ftation, courfe and frame, that God, with most admirable wifdom and goodness, framed for man. Man ftands in a double fubordination: 1. A fubordination within himfelf, viz. Of the faculties inferior to the fuperior: and 2. A fubordination to fomething without himself, viz. To the will of his Creator, which though it seems extrinsical, yet, in truth, it is effential and neceffary.
The internal fubordination is of the inferior parts and faculties to the fuperior; viz. The fenfual appetite and paffions to reafon and to judgment. God hath committed the body of man, and thofe faculties that are fubfervient to it, unto the government of the light of judgment and understanding that he hath put into the foul: and because, as it is most just that the foul and its fuperior faculties fhould be fubordinate to the will and direction of God, fo the foul stands in need of that direction, in order to the government of his little province committed to him; and therefore, as it happens in government, when the people break the fubordination to the intermediate magiftrate, or the intermediate magiftrates break the fubordination to the fupreme, presently there enfues diforder, and mifchief, and confufion: fo when the body, or thofe faculties that are exercifed in order to it, as the natural lufts and inclinations of the body, or thofe that refult much from it, as the paffions prevail upon the judgment or reafon, either by their violence or want of due vigilance and feverity in the foul in its administration; or if the reafon and judgment do neglect or cross the commands of God, or make not ufe of the Divine directions to affift and guide her in her administration, this is fin, and presently brings confufion, and disorder, and difcompofure in the whole man, and makes it unferviceable for the ends to which it was ordained.