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his goodness, and bid defiance to his vengeance. And they are so much against him, that were their influence and power sufficient to carry the point, they would soon take the field. The tendency of their common conduct is, to dethrone his majesty, to overturn his government of the universe, to bring him into the deepest contempt, and every thing that is right and good into the utmost disgrace, and to introduce disorder, confusion, and misery into his dominions, and rebellion which should spread like a contagious pestilence throughout all his kingdoms, until all his subjects should revolt, and all join to treat him with hatred and contempt, and even wish him not to be.
And if the sun in the natural system should be extinct, and all the light turned into darkness, and the whole natural word flung into the utmost confusion, every orb displaced, every thing turned upside down, it would not represent half so dreadful and distressing a scene, as would immediately be opened to view, could sin, without control, and with power irresistible, bear down all good and right before it, and rise up to all to that height of wickedness and ruin, to which it naturally tends. And would not such a moral system of intelligences exhibit to view a sight infinitely distressing to such a Being as God is, were it beyond his power and wisdom ever to regulate things? But to such a pass sin tends to bring the moral world.
So far as we are able to conceive, it seems essential to every intelligent being, to be liable to mental pain and distress, when they are crossed in the most tender point; when their nature and will, interest and honour, and every thing that is dear to them, is counteracted and despised, and, as it were, trampled under foot and they in the mean time unable ever to regulate things. So it is evidently with mankind; with bad and good. Ahab took to his bed, and refused to eat, because Naboth denied him his vineyards. Haman was grieved to the heart, because Mordecai would not bow to him. The chief priests were in anguish, because the apostles preached Jesus, and the resurrection, and filled Jerusalem with their doctrine. And rivers of waters ran down
s 1 Kings xxi. 4.
t Esth. iii. 5.
Acts iv. 2. and v. 28.
David's eyes, because men kept not God's law; for that was a tender point with him. And Jeremiah was ready to be so afflicted, if the Jews would not hearken to their duty, as in secret places to weep for their pride. And so it was with the man Christ Jesus: he was grieved, and distressed at the hardness of men's hearts, and wept over the obstinate Jews 2.
And it is remarkable, that in Scripture, God is constantly. represented as being affected in the same manner as men are; and such words and phrases are used, as denote painful and distressing sensations, in order to set forth how he is affected with the vile conduct of his creatures. He is said to be grieved, wearied, to be made angry, to be provoked to wrath, to be vexed; forty years long was I grieved with this generation, says God, referring to the perverse conduct of the Israelites in the wilderness; unto whom, says he, I sware in my wrath, that they should not enter into my rest. And again, I am broken with their whorish heart a. And I am pressed under you, as a cart is pressed that is full of sheaves*. All which are strong expressions, as used among men, to denote and set forth pain, and distress of heart, at the sight of something exceeding grievous.
Not that we are to suppose, that he, who is over all, God blessed for ever, is indeed really pained and distressed at the sight of the shocking conduct of his rebellious creatures.— For, although he has a full comprehensive view of the whole of it; yet, at the same time, he as plainly foresees to what a result and issue all things will finally be brought, by his infinite wisdom and almighty power: whereby his authority and government will be but the more established throughout all his dominions, and his name and his law but the more revered. And although a number of obstinate rebels will be eternally miserable, under the punishment they justly deserve; yet, in the whole, God will be more glorious, and perhaps the system more happy too, than if sin had never been permitted, and misery had been for ever unknown. Such power and authority has he over all things to order and over-rule, and such is his wisdom, and such his holiness, justice, and
Psalm exix. 136. y Jer. xiii. 17.
z Mark iii. 5.
a Luke xix. 41. e Amos il. 13
goodness, that he both knows he can, and knows he will, finally bring good out of evil, light out of darkness, order out of disorder, and holiness, harmony, and peace, out of all the sin, confusion, and uproar; and all that has happened shall, through a long eternity, serve as a means, in the sight of all worlds, to establish his throne, confirm his government, make his law honourable, his justice appear tremendous, his grace glorious, and sin an exceeding great and dreadful evil.~ Therefore he enjoys a perfect tranquillity, and an undisturbed felicity, although a world of wickedness lies open to his view, and millions of things are transacted, which have a natural tendency to grieve him, (and that not merely forty years long, but from age to age, ever since the world began,) to weary him; to vex his holy Spirit; to break his heart; to press him as a cart is pressed that is full of sheaves.
But no thanks to the sinner, that God is happy. He is no friend to God's felicity. His ways tend to grieve and distress the HOLY ONE of Israel; and that which is God's comfort is a terror to the sinner. He dreads the day when all things shall be set to rights: and when the ALMIGHTY will ease himself of his adversaries, and avenge himself of his enemies. Thus we see how sin is against GOD: it is against his nature, law, authority, government, being, honour, happi
II. I am to show how GREAT the evil of sin is on this account. The evil of sin, as has been observed, arises from our obligations to do otherwise. And therefore, the greater our obligations are to God, the greater is the evil of sinning against him. Our obligations to love, honour, and obey God, originally arise from his worthiness to be loved, honoured, and obeyed by us. But he is infinitely worthy to be loved, honoured, and obeyed by us: therefore our obligations to do so are infinite: and so, to sin against him, must be esteemed an infinite evil.
But it is quite beyond our capacity to comprehend the vilethere is in treating God as the sinner does; unless we as he can, comprehend all his greatness and glory, f Isai. i. 24.
and fully see all the grounds and reasons there are for us to love, reverence, and obey him, and feel all their binding force. God is fully conscious to himself, that he is infinitely worthy of all love, honour, and obedience, for what he is in himself: besides that he is the Maker and Lord of the universe; the maintainer and upholder of the world, and rightful king, and sovereign over all. He is fully conscious, there is infinite reason for us to rejoice in him, exult in his government, and be glad in his service; and that the contrary temper and conduct of his creatures, is infinitely unreasonable and wicked. And although we cannot comprehend the exceeding vileness of rising in rebellion against the MOST HIGH; yet we may be easily convinced, that it is an infinite evil. Yea, if we are but really convinced that God is infinitely great and glorious, it will be to us self-evident, that he is infinitely worthy of all love, honour, and obedience : and that consequently, to disesteem, despise, and disobey him, is infinitely vile. It is low and mean thoughts of God, which cause secure sinners to be insensible of the great evil of sin. Those heretics who deny the infinite evil of sin, do but, by the means, proclaim to the world their ignorance of the DEITY. Had not God known sin to be au infinite evil, he would never have threatened an infinite punishment, even the eternal pains of hell; where the worm shall never die, and the fire shall never be quenched & And were not Christ, our compassionate Redeemer, sensible of the infinite evil of sin, he could never find it in his heart, at the day of judgment, to say to the wicked on his left hand, Depart, ye cursed, into EVERLASTING fire1. And were not all the hosts of heaven in the same sentiment, they would never join to say, Hallelujah, salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God: for true and righteous are his judg ments; Hallelujah, for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth; when they see the smoke of their torments ascending for ever and everi. Yea, were not the punishment apprehended to be justly deserved, it could not answer any of the good ends of punishment in the moral world: but would for ever appear a great and dreadful blemish in the divine conduct, in the g Mark ix. 44. 46. 48. h Mat. xxv. 41. 3 Rev. xix. 1-6. VOL. 111.
sight of all intelligent beings. God himself could not approve of it, and would never do it. And therefore, notwithstanding it is so contrary to the natural sentiment of a heart secure in sin, yet we have sufficient matter of conviction, that there is really an infinite evil in sin, as it is against God. And when these heavens and this earth, which are now "kept in store, and reserved unto fire, against the day of judgment, and perdition of ungodly men," shall all be in a flame, and melt with fervent heat, and the whole material system be dissolved and wrapped together, hurled into one general heap, (perhaps,) to be everlastingly a lake of fire and brimstone for the punishment of the ungodly : I say, when God comes thus to show his wrath, and make his power known in the destruction of the wicked'; it will make all intelligent creatures, in earth and hell, effectually sensible what an evil sin is, and how God stands affected towards it ". This visible emblem of his wrath, this immense lake of fire and brimstone, will give an exact and infallible comment upon God's law, and show, beyond dispute, what the threatening means": nor will it any more, throughout eternal ages, at all be doubted whether sin be an infinite evil.
And thus we have taken a brief and general view of the evil of sin, as it is against God. We might indeed here enter into a great variety of particulars, and largely show how sin, as it is against God, is aggravated on many accounts; not only considering merely what he is in himself, but the relation he stands in to us, and we to him, our dependance on him, his right to us, his authority over us, the greatness of redeeming love, the freeness of Gospel-grace, &c. And it might be distinctly considered, how amazingly vile it is for such as we be, to treat such a one as God is, in such sort, under such circumstances, and notwithstanding such additional bonds and obligations lying upon us. But I must
omit this, and pass on,
III. To prove, that the GREAT EVIL of sin, consists in THIS, that it is against GoD. And this may easily appear. For a few words may soon make it evident, that although sin may really be a very great evil, as it is injurious to our fellowmen, or to ourselves; yet it is not so aggravated and heinous
Pet. iii. 5-12. / Rom. ix. 22. m Rom. ii. 5. n Gal. iii, 10.