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SER. LXXIII. fay you of your words? If in word you have offended, know, that by your words you fhall be condemned. Why, fay you, Who are they that want their faults of that fort? But, whatever words efcape me, yet, I hope, I have a good heart to God. Alas, man! will you examine that heart of yours with the good law of God, and see if it be a good heart or not; and if it be found a tranfgreffor of the law, then the fountain is defiled, and never call it good again. If you be chargeable with any of thefe tranfgreffions of the law, that I have named, whether in your works or words, know, that the heart is the very fountain of thefe evil words and actions; for, out of the heart they proceed, Mat. xv. 19.; and if the fruit be evil, the root cannot be good if the ftreams be bitter, the fountain cannot be fweet. The fmoke of vain words and evil actions, that comes out at the chimney of your daily converfation, declares that there is a fire within doors, a furnace of corruption in the heart.
But more particularly, will you fet your heart and the law together a little, and fee what it is.-Compare your heart with the first command, and you will find it to be nothing but a throne of iniquity, a receptacle of falfe gods, where a thoufand other gods are worshipped. -Compare it with the fecond command, and then you will fee it to be nothing but a chamber of imagery, filled with fo many images, and mifrepresentations of God. Compare it with the third command, and you will find nothing else but a bench of blafphemy, iffuing forth indignities and affronts to the name of God.Compare it with the fourth command, and you will find it to be nothing but a dunghill of profanity, a play-house of idleness, and a facrilegious wafter of holy time.-Compare it with the fifth command, and you will fee it to be nothing but a palace of pride, and a tower of selfexaltation, setting yourself above all others.-Compare it with the fixth command, and here it will be found to be nothing but the devil's fhambles, and a flaughterhoufe of malice and murder; for, He that bates his brother in his heart, is a murderer.-Compare your heart with the feventh command, and you will find it nothing but a cage of unclean birds, unclean thoughts, vile af
How the Law is fo, opened.
fections. Compare it with the eighth command, and med then you will fee it to be nothing but a tabernacle of robbers, though your hand fhould be free of theft and robbery: but if you have flolen all that your heart went after, many a horfe and cow hath it ftolen; yea, many a fine houfe and yard hath your heart robbed your neighbour of.-Compare it with the ninth command, and you will find it to be nothing but a fountain of calumny, either inventing ill tales of your neighbour, or exaggerating and magnifying any falfe report; or tickled with, and glad of any occafion to caft a blot upon his name.— Compare your hearts with the tenth command, and you will find it alfo to be nothing but a temple of idolatry: for, Covetousness is idolatry, fays the apoftle. As many objects as the covetous heart purfues after, fo many idols does it fall down before,-And now, tell me, after all, Is that a good heart? Nay, alas! every imagination of it is evil, and evil continually; yea, it is deceitful above all things, and defperately wicked.
Thus fin is a tranfgreffion of the law, whether in heart, fpeech, or behaviour; and thus we are all tranfgreflors: yea, though we could free ourselves of actual fins, which is impoffible, and fay that we are clean in thought, word, and action: yet as we have finned in Adam, Rom. v. 12; fo our very natures are finful and corrupt, and deftitute of conformity to the law; as void of righteoufnefs, as Chrift was free of fin ; and altogether filthy, as Chrift is altogether lovely. The law requires holinefs of nature, heart and way, and curses every one that continues not in all things required therein, Gal. iii. 10. Why then, the meaning of that word to a finner, If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments, is as much as to fay, O finner, you have forfeit eternal life by your not keeping the commandment, and thou art doomed to eternal death, which, as fure as God lives, will be your everlafting lot, if the law get not a better keeper than you in your room and ftead: the reafon then, why I declare you tranfgreffors of the law, is, that I may recommend Chrift the more to you as the end of the law for righteoufnefs. "Sin is a tranfgreffion of the law."
2. Confider it as it is an oppofition to God, the Law-giv. er: it is called enmity against God. Some have a notion of fin, that it is a tranfgreffion of God's law, and yet not a due fenfe of fin in the intrinfical,evil of it, as it is an oppofition to God's nature: as every actual fin, whether of omiffion or commiffion, is a walking contrary to God, Lev. xxvi. 27.; fo fin, in its nature, is a contrariety to God's nature, and a defpifing of him, as well as difpleafing to him, I Sam. ii. 30.: yea, nothing is fo oppofite to God, as fin. God is wifdom, fin is folly; God is. holiness, fin is filthinefs; God is juftice, fin is iniquity; God is goodness itfelf, fin is badnefs itfelf; God is faithfulness, fin is treachery; God is light, fin is darknefs; God is life, fin is death; God is beauty, fin is deformity; God is majefty, fin is bafenefs; God is love, fin is enmity. Sin is fo oppofite to God, that if the leaft drop of it fhould get into his nature, he would ceafe to be God. The wicked think, becaufe God is patient and long-fuffering, therefore he approves of their fin, and is of the fame judgment with themselves; "Because I held my peace, thou thoughteft that I was altogether like thyfelf; but I will reprove thee, and fet thine iniquities in order before thee," Pfalm 1. 21. Know, when you have any fuch thoughts of God as this, you do blafpheme God; for, if God did approve of your fin, he would ceafe to be God, he would be God no longer : why fo, think you? Even becaufe then God would not be infinitely holy: now, holiness is his being; therefore, if he fhould ceafe to be infinitely holy, he would ceafe to be God: fo oppofite is fin to God, that if he did not hate fin as much as he does, he would ceafe to be God. If his hatred of fin were lefs than it is, then he would not be infinitely holy; and infinite holinefs muft needs have infinite hatred against fin. This is the very thing that makes fin to be an infinite evil, objectively confidered : and whatever fome may think of fin, furely we cannot fpeak enough of the evil of it. You that have but light thoughts of fin, you have light and flight thoughts of God; and you that have light thoughts of fin, have light thoughts of Chrift; it cannot be a light matter, that the eternal God gave his eternal Son to be a facri
II. The fecond thing propofed here is, to enquire a little into the ftrength of fin. The devil is called the ftrong man, yet he is without; but fin is the ftrong man within; or, as the apoftle calls it, the old man, Eph. iv. 22.; where he exhorts even the faints to put off the old be man. Sin is no child, but a man: it is no young ftripling, but an antient, ftrong, old man; one that is grown in years, and carries power, command, authority with it in the beft of God's children: and if it many times powerfully prevails in and over them, how powerfully does it reign in the reft of the world? But, that the ftrength of fin may be farther opened, I fhall lay before you, 1. Some of the qualities of the ftrength of fin. 2. The degrees of its ftrength, pofitive, comparative, and fuperlative.
fice for, otherwife we had been eternal facrifices to his incenfed juftice. The more difhonourably that we speak of fin, the more honourably must we speak of Chrift, the Saviour that faves from it. Nothing expofes fin fo much as the gofpel of Chrift, declaring him to be the facrifice for fin; which fays, that the infinite hatred that God bears to fin, is equal to the infinite love that he bears to his own Son; and that his hatred to fin is as deep, as his love to Chrift is high; and that the depth of the one, and the height of the other, are both equally infinite. As Chrift's death is the great facrifice for fin, that we commemorate at this occafion; fo the view of the infinite value thereof, relates to the infinite evil of fin. As there would be no need for Chrift, as a Saviour, if there were no fin; fo there would be no need for fuch a Saviour as he is, if fin were not fuch an evil as it is: and as the guilt of it cannot be expiated without fuch an infinite ranfom as he gave; fo the power of it cannot be deftroyed but by fuch an almighty arm as he hath, who alone is able to fave to the uttermoft.--But this leads me, having thus far touched the nature, to fpeak next of the ftrength of fin..
1ft, As to the quality of the ftrength of fin: what fort of a strength it hath, may appear in thefe ten qualities and bad properties of it.
1. Sin hath a commanding ftrength, requiring obedience, and obliging its fervants, to obey it in the lufts thereof, Rom. vi. 12. 16. Indeed, the commands of fin are very unlawful and unreafonable; yet it commands. men to go, and they go; to come, and they come and men obey the commands of fin, by difobeying the commands of God; for, when they do not what God injoins them, they do what fin requires them.
2. Sin hath a condemning ftrength: as fin is a great commander, fo the commanding power of fin, when yielded to, delivers us over to the condemning power of fin. Now, what this condemning power of fin is, the apotle fhews plainly, Jam. i. 15. "Sin, when it is finifhed, bringeth forth death." Sin is a faithlefs and fhamelefs tyrant and tempter; for, at firft it promifes life and immunity from death, faying, like the devil that finned from the beginning, "You fhall not furely die :" yet, no fooner does a man obey the command of fin, than it condemns him to death; "The wages of fin is death," Rom. vi. 23. Hence,
3. Sin hath a deceiving strength. See Heb. iii. 13. Exhort one-another while it is called to-day, left any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of fin: hence the lufts of the flesh are called deceitful lufts, Eph. iv. 22. Sin powerfully deceives, by blinding the mind, corrupting the judgment, hardening the heart, alluring the affections, and perfuading the finner that there are some things forbidden in the law that are good and profitable, and may be done without any fcruple of confcience. Sometimes it will perfuade the greedy-minded worldly man, that is thinking how to enrich himself, that to do it by the fubtilty of his pate, the forgery of his tongue, the villainy of his hand, and by violent means, is an eafier and fweeter way than to toil and labour to inrich himfelf by honeft means. Sometimes it will perfuade the finner, that there is no hell, no fear of punishment; or, if there be, yet he may afterwards repent, and prevent it; and fo he is emboldened to fin, and deceived.
4. Sin hath a working ftrength; When we were in the flesh, the motions of fin that were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death, Rom.vii.5.