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by infinite odds, in these respects, as on account of its being against GOD. To injure our fellow-creatures is wrong, very wrong; but what is a worm of the dust, compared to the LIVING GOD? If one man sin against another, the judge shall judge him; (and some recompense may be made,) but if a man sin against the Lord, who will entreat for him? (or make any atonement for his crime?) Yea, if by some act of sin we could do the greatest injury to the whole creation; yet what is the whole creation compared with GOD, the ALMIGHTY CREATOR? It is all but as a dust of the balance, or a drop of the bucket P. We may ruin ourselves by sin; we may plunge ourselves headlong into destruction; but what are we, compared with the GREAT JEHOVAH? Less than nothing, and vanity 9. And what is a guilty rebel worth, compared with the MAJESTY of HEAVEN? To rise up in rebellion against the GREAT GOD, go contrary to him, affront him, and treat him with contempt, is evidently the most wicked and heinous thing that possibly can be done. For here the GREATEST and BEST of Beings is insulted: yea, a BEING who is infinitely better than all other Beings put together. This is therefore the greatest evil there is in sin, by infinite odds.
And accordingly, thus we find the matter stands in Scripture-account. When men are guilty of such wicked deeds, as are injurious to themselves, or to their fellow-creatures; yet, by God, the righteous judge, they are blamed and punished for these sins, principally and chiefly, under the notion of their being committed against the LORD. Thus, when the Israelites were disheartened by the evil report of the spies, and refused to go up against the Canaanites, and talked of making captains, and returning to Egypt; although this conduct tended to disinherit themselves and their posterity of the land of Canaan for ever, yet it is not on this account, chiefly, that they were blamed, and so dreadfully punished; (nay, it is not so much as once mentioned, to aggravate their crime, or to show the justice of their punishment :) but it was all because they had sinned against the LORD. God had said, that he would drive out the nations before them but they q Isai. xl 15.
1 Sam. ii. 25.
Isai. xl. 17.
would not believe him. God had commanded them to go up and take possession; but they would not obey him. They did not believe he would be as good as his word; they were afraid to run such a venture, as to trust his fidelity; they had rather rebel against his command, and return to Egypt. Wherefore God is represented as being greatly affronted and provoked, and as swearing in his wrath, that they should never enter into his rest". As truly as I live, saith the Lord, your carcasses shall fall in this wilderness. But why was God so angry? Because they had rebelled against the Lord, would not believe him ", nor hearken to his voice *: i. e. Not because their conduct was to their own damage, but because it offered an affront to God. Although it does not appear, that they had acted with a design to affront the ALMIGHTY; but,rather from a principle of self-preservation. Just as sinners now a-days do, who turn their backs upon the heavenly Canaan, and lust after the leeks and onions of Egypt, the pleasures of sin; not with any design to affront God, but from self-love, and to gratify the desires of their hearts, all in pursuit of happiness. But yet really in fact they turn their backs upon the ALMIGHTY, and despise his commands; jand for their offering this affront to the DEITY, damnation is threatened; and not so much because they go contrary to their own interest. And so again, there is the instance of David, who, it is plain, had no design to affront the MOST HIGH: but first he meant to gratify his lust with Uriah's wife; and afterwards contrived to save his credit by taking away Uriah's life: yet observe his charge and his doom, from the mouth of the Lord; "Because thou hast despised the Lord, and despised the commandment of the Lord, and given the enemies of the Lord occasion to blaspheme;" therefore so and so will I punish you. Therefore says David to God, Against thee, thee only, have I sinned. See also that confession in Daniel ix. 9-12. And that large representation of the nature of what passed between God and his people of old, and the reasons and grounds of the judgments inflicted upon them, in Ezek. xx. throughout. The Scrip
r Psalm xcv. 11. s Numb. xiv. 28, 29. t ver. 9. u ver. 11. x ver. 22. 3 2 Sam. 12.
ture ever supposes, that all manner of sin, of what kind soever, is committed against the Lord, who is constantly considered as GOVERNOR of the world; and therefore the sinner is viewed as a rebel. But to rebel against the Lord, is to despise him, and to despise his commands, in Scripture-account. But to despise GOD MOST HIGH, is infinitely more vile, than to injure such worms of the dust as we mortals; because God is infinitely greater and better. This therefore, is the great evil in sin, which is respected, when tempo-. ral judgments are threatened in the Old Testament, and when eternal damnation is threatened in the New: so that it is evidently a point, every where in the bible, taken for granted,
z To despise God most high, is infinitely more vile than to injure such worms of the dust as we mortals; because God is infinitely greater and better.Therefore, 1. We are under infinite obligations to virtue, antecedent to any selfish considerations. And so, 2. There is an infinite evil in sin, over and above its natural tendency to promote the misery of ourselves or neighbours. And, consequently, 3. It deserves an infinite punishment to be inflicted over and above that pain which naturally results from it. And hence, 4. A rational account may be given of the eternity of hell-torments. And, 5. We may see why such an atonement for sin was needful, as the blood of the Son of GOD. And now also, 6. We may see the true nature of the modern scheme of divinity. They say, our great obligation to virtue arises from its tendency to make us happy; therefore, the great evil of sin consists in its tendency to make us miserable : and so sin is not an infinite evil; nor does it deserve an infinite punishment, nor will hell-torments be eternal: nor was an infinite satisfaction to divine justice needful; nor indeed, strictly speaking, any satisfaction to divine justice at all: So, no need of a GOD for our Redeemer: hence, Christ Jesus was but a mere man; and the Gospel, only the religion of nature, republished and reinforced, &c. &c. It is all because they know not the Lord. As it is written, the foot saith in his heart, there is no God: corrupt are they. For, having no sense of God upon their hearts, or of the importance of his honour and glory; they are prepared to imagine, that the happiness of the creature is of the greatest importance of any thing in heaven or earth. As though the creature were better than the Creator; which is to make a God of the creature; which prepares the way, in their scheme, to make a creature of God, i. e. of Jesus Christ, who is over all GOD blessed for ever; who yet, say they, is but a mere creature. For valuing themselves so high, and GoD so low, hence they see but little or no evil in sin as it is against God: and so feel little or no want of a Redeemer, or of an atonement: so no need of a GOD, to interpose and die in their behalf; a mere creature might answer all the ends needful: therefore they are prepared to think Jesus Christ was no more and it is not what the Scripture says, but what suits with their own notions, which to them, will appear true, or by them be believed.
that the great EVIL of sin consists in its being committed against GOD.
Having thus gone through with what was proposed, some • remarks may be made, and then the whole be applied to our
REMARK 1. How different a thing is SIN from what an apostate rebellious world naturally imagine! How blind are we naturally to the infinite greatness, majesty, and glory of GOD! How insensible of the honourableness of the almighty Lord of heaven and earth, and of his worthiness to be loved, honoured, and obeyed! If any of our fellow-mortals despise, affront, or injure us, they touch, as it were, the apple of our eye: but God may be abused, and we take little or no notice of it. A thousand times men break his laws, and a thousand times they despise and affront him by their sinful doings; while they are possessed of such a prodigious degree of stupidity, as not to pass a single thought upon it. And should any charge them with despising the Lord, there are many would be ready to say, (with those, Mal. 1.6.) Wherein have we despised him? "You despise God in your closets, in your family worship, in your public worship, and at the Lord's table and yet, O secure sinner, will you still say, Wherein do I despise him? You give your choicest affections to idols, and offer the blind and the sick to the Lord: yea, a blind and a dead heart. Is it not burdensome to maintain secret prayer? and more tedious to spend an hour alone with God, than a whole day with vain company? And is not this to despise the Lord? Offer such treatment to your companions: let them see that you are weary of their company; even then when you are waiting upon them with pretences of the greatest respect; and will they accept it at your hands? or be pleased with your conduct? Besides, you are continually despising God in your daily course, by a disposition to take greater delight in the things of the world, and in the way of sin, than in the ever blessed God: and by a disposition to love yourself more than him; and be more concerned for your honour and interest in the world, than for God's glory, and the interest of his Son's kingdom. And you despise the Lord, and despise the commandments of the Lord,
in every one of your thoughts, words, and actions, that are in any measure injurious to your fellow-creatures." But such is the sottishness of a secure sinner, that he scarce passes a single thought upon it, for days, and weeks, and months, and years, how the infinitely glorious and ever blessed GOD is by him continually affronted and despised.
But, turn the tables; let the secure sinner meet with abuses from his neighbours : let him be despised: let him be scorned let even his inferiors treat him with contempt: let his name be cast out as evil by all men: let every man's hand be against him, to defraud him in their dealing with him, to disappoint him, and vex him and now he will feel it; it will reach his heart; he will think of it night and day; aggravate it continually; and be ready to cry out, “Never was mortal abused as I am! Never were there such wicked doings in the world before!"
If God is despised, affronted, and abused; the sinner's heart is a heart of stone he cannot feel it: for he does not care for God. But let it come to his own case; and his heart is a heart of flesh, very tender; as tender as the apple of one's eye: every thing touches him to the quick: for he loves himself dearly. If God is abused and injured, an apostate world care little about it: but if themselves are wronged, it is highly resented. Hence, this is the doctrine of ungodly selfish hearts, viz. THE GREAT EVIL OF SIN CONSISTS IN ITS BEING AN INJURIOUS THING TO US. Nor, indeed, is it very strange that a rebellious world care so little for God's honour. For this is the nature and way of rebels in earthly kingdoms; when they have cast off their rightful sovereign, and turned enemies to him, they care not what becomes of him, nor how he is treated. Their only concern is about themselves, and to secure their own welfare. In order to which they may do many toilsome and heroic deeds, and call them by the name of virtue 2, which virtue of theirs they may
a Call them by the name of VIRTUE. When MILTON has represented satan, the mighty chief among the powers of darkness, as willing, at all adventures, to undertake a voyage from hell to earth, in order to seduce man, and find out for themselves a habitation more comfortable than that burning lake; he introduces all the infernal crew, as paying a public honour to his VIRTUE.