The just vindication of the Law of God, and no less just accusation and condemnation of the sin of man.

Ralph Venning


Section Two:


We now proceed to lay open in what especially the sinfulness of sin consists, which is easily and readily known from the description or definition just now set before us. Sin is a transgression of God's law, which is not only holy and just, as made and given by a holy and just God, but also good, as it respects man, for whom God made it, according to our text and its context, and as it is in Deuteronomy 5.29 and 6.24, and many other places. I say, sin being a transgression of God's law, which was made for man's good, the sinfulness of sin must needs lie in this, that it is contrary (1) to God, (2) to man. These then are the two heads I shall dwell upon, to declare the malignity and wicked nature of sinful sin. These are both evident from the law, for by it, as our text says, sin appears sin, and by the commandment sin, clearly and undeniably, becomes most exceeding, hyperbolically, or above measure sinful, i.e. extremely guilty of displeasing and dishonouring God, and of debasing and destroying man. On both accounts, it is justly obnoxious to, and deservedly worthy of the hatred of God and man. And I heartily wish that the outcome will be that man may hate it as God does, who hates it, and nothing else but it; or (to be sure) he hates none but for it.


The sinfulness of sin not only appears from, but consists in this, that it is contrary to God. Indeed, it is contrariety and enmity itself. Carnal men, or sinners are called by the name of enemies to God (Romans 5.8 with 10; Colossians 1.21); but the carnal mind or sin is called enmity itself (Romans 8.7). Accordingly, it and its acts are expressed by names of enmity and acts of hostility, such as, walking contrary to God (Leviticus 26.21), rebelling against God (Isaiah 1.2), rising up against him as an enemy (Micah 2.8), striving and contending with God (Isaiah 45.9), and despising God (Numbers 11.20). It makes men haters of God (Romans 1.30), resisters of God (Acts 7.51), fighters against God (Acts 5.39 and 23.9), even blasphemers of God, and in short very atheists, who say there is no God (Psalm 14.1). It goes about to ungod God, and is by some of the ancients called Deicidium, God-murder or God-killing.

Though all these things are not done by every sinful man, yet they are not only in the nature of sin, and that of every sin more or less, but are all of them in the heart of all sinners in their seed and root (Matthew 15.19) So what is done by any man would be done by every man, if God did not restrain some men from it by his power, and constrain others to obedience by his love and power (2 Corinthians 5.14; Psalm 110.3). Here then is the desperately wicked nature of sin, that it is not only crimen laesae Majestatis, high treason against the Majesty of God, but it scorns to confess its crime. It is obstinate and will not that he reign over it. It is not only not subject, but it will not be subject, nor be reconciled to God; such is its enmity! But to show this more particularly:

1. Sin is contrary to the nature of God. God's name is holy, and as his name is, so is he and his nature, all holy; he is so, and cannot but be so. Therefore God takes it worse that men should think him wicked like themselves (Psalm 50.I6-22), than that they think him not to exist (Psalm 14.1). It is said to weary him when men say that evil is good in his sight (Malachi 2.17). This is the thing God glories in, that he is holy, even glorious in holiness (Exodus 15.11).

Holiness is the attribute which frees God, not only from evil itself, but from all appearance or suspicion of evil. If God were not holy, many of the things which God does would look unlike him: his justice and judgments would look not only like severity, but tyranny, were not it and they holy; his love in its conduct and behaviour to some people would look like fondness and respect of persons, but that it is holy; his patience would look like a toleration, if not approbation of sin, but that it is holy patience. Thus many acts of God, were it not for holiness, would appear as seemingly evil as they are really good, and would be as much suspected by all, as they are unjustly censured by some.

God is holy, without spot or blemish, or any such thing, without any wrinkle, or anything like it, as they also that are in Christ shall one day be (Ephesians 5.27). He is so holy, that he cannot sin himself, nor be the cause or author of sin in another. He does not command sin to be committed, for to do so would be to cross his nature and will. Nor does he approve of any man's sin, when it is committed, but hates it with a perfect hatred. He is without iniquity, and of purer eyes than to behold (i.e. approve) iniquity (Habakkuk 1:13).

On the contrary, as God is holy, all holy, only holy, altogether holy, and always holy, so sin is sinful, all sinful, only sinful, altogether sinful, and always sinful (Genesis 6.5). In my flesh, there dwelleth no good thing (Romans 7.18). As in God there is no evil, so in sin there is no good. God is the chiefest of goods and sin is the chiefest of evils. As no good can be compared with God for goodness, so no evil can be compared with sin for evil.

2. Sin is contrary to all the names and attributes of God. It sets itself in opposition to them all. (1) It deposes the sovereignty of God as much as in it lies. It will not that the King of kings should be on the throne, and govern this world which he has made. It was by this instinct that Pharaoh said, Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know no Lord above me; I will not let Israel go (Exodus 5.2). The voice and language of sin is, 'Our lips are our own, who is Lord over us?' (Psalm 12.4). It was from hence that the Jews of old said, 'We are lords, we will come no more to thee' (Jeremiah 2.31). Thus it attempts to dethrone God.

(2) It denies God's all-sufficiency. As if there were not contentment and satisfaction enough to be had in the enjoyment of God, but that vanity and wickedness had more of pleasure and profit than he, whose ways are all pleasantness, and whose service is the health of man! Every prodigal who leaves the Father's house says in effect, It is better to be elsewhere.

(3) It challenges the justice of God, and dares God to do his worst (Malachi 2.17). It provokes the Lord to jealousy, and tempts him to wrath.

(4) It disowns his omniscience. Pooh! they say, God does not see, nor does the most High regard.

(5) It despises the riches of God's goodness (Romans 2.4).

(6) It turns his grace into wantonness (Jude 4) It will make bold with God, and sin because grace abounds.

In short, sin is the dare of God's justice, the rape of his mercy, the jeer of his patience, the slight of his power, the contempt of his love, as one writer prettily expresses this ugly thing. We may go on and say, it is the upbraiding of his providence (Psalm 50), the scoff of his promise (2 Peter 3.3-4), the reproach of his wisdom (Isaiah 29.16). And as is said of the Man of Sin (i.e. who is made up of sin) it opposes and exalts itself above all that is called God (and above all that God is called), so that it as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing itself as if it were God (2 Thessalonians 2.4)

3. Sin is contrary to the works of God. It works contrary to God, and it is contrary to God's works, and is called the work of the devil (1 John 3.8). All God's works were good exceedingly, beautiful even to admiration; but the works of sin are deformed and monstrously ugly, for it works disorder, confusion, and everything that is abominable. Sin may be arraigned for all the mischiefs and villainies that have been done in the world; it is the master of misrule, the author of sedition, the builder of Babel, the troubler of Israel and all mankind. So contrary is sin to the works of God, that it sought and still seeks to undo all that God does, that there might be no seed, nor name, nor root left him in the earth. Everything works according to its nature; as the root is, so is the fruit; and thus every tree is known, whether it is a good tree or a bad (Matthew 7.17-I8). God is good, and does good (Psalm 119.68). Sin is evil and does evil, indeed, it does nothing else. So sin and its works are contrary to God and his works.

4. Sin is contrary to the law and will of God, to all the rules and orders of his appointment. There is not one of his laws which it has not broken, and endeavoured to make void and of none effect. It is not only a transgression of, but also a contradiction to the will of God. When the Son of God came into the world to declare and do his Father's will, he was encountered by, and underwent the contradiction of sinners (Hebrews 12.3) who would have made men believe that neither he nor his doctrine was of God.

Sin is an anti-will to God's will; it sets itself to oppose preaching, prayer, and all the institutions of God. And it does this, not only out of envy to man, that he should not be the better for them, but out of enmity to God, that he should not be worshipped in the world. Now to act contrary to the will and statutes of God is to act contrary to God himself, as may be seen by comparing Leviticus 26.14,15 with verses 21,23, and 27 of the same chapter, and many other places. David, in fulfilling the will of God, was said to be a man after God's own heart (Acts 13.22); and they who obey the will of sin are said to walk after the heart of sin (Ezekiel 11.21).

5. Sin is contrary to the image of God, in which man was made. God made man in his own likeness, viz. in righteousness and true holiness (Ephesians 4.24). Now sin is clean contrary to this image, as much unlike it as deformity and ugliness is unlike handsomeness and beauty, as darkness is to light, as hell to heaven. Yes, and there is more too: sin is the Devil's image. When God made man, he made him in his own image; so when the Devil made man sin, he thereby made him his own image and likeness. In this sense I conceive the Devil meant that phrase, 'Ye shall be like gods', Elohim (Genesis 3.5). He did not say or mean that he should be like the Elohim, the Creators, as the word is in Job 35.10 and Ecclesiastes 12.1, the God who made them; but like Elohim, gods, viz. such as I and my angels are, who once knew good, but now know evil, both by doing it, and suffering the sad effects of it. The word Elohim is used not only of God and good angels, but of fallen angels or devils (1 Samuel 28.13). And under the covert of this ambiguous word, he craftily abused our first parents; for he well knew that by sinning they could not become like Elohim, God above, but would become like Elohim, the gods below. And alas! are we not like Elohim-devils, knowing good by loss, and evil by its sad and dismal effects? Thus he that runs may read the picture, image, and likeness of the Devil in sin; sinners are as much like the Devil as anything. He that sinneth is of the Devil (1 John 3.8), not only a servant but a child of the Devil: 'Ye are of your father the devil' said holy Jesus to the sinful Jews (John 8.44). Never was child more like the father than a sinner is like the Devil; sin has the nature, the complexion, the air, the features, the very behaviour of the Devil.

6. Sin is contrary to the people and children of God. It is true, sin cannot hate them as much as God loves them, nor do them as much hurt as God can do them good. Yet, out of spite and envy, it will do its worst, and hate them because God loves them. God's children are his darlings and favourites, as dear to him as the apple of his eye. In all their afflictions he bears a part, and is afflicted, and looks upon it as if he himself were treated as they are in this world (Acts 9.4-5; Matthew 25.41-45). Now the nearer and dearer they are to God and the more God's heart is set upon them for good, the more sin sets its heart against them for evil. Sin is always warring against the seed of God in them, the flesh lusts against the spirit (Galatians 5.17) and wars against their souls (1 Peter 2.11). So, by sin's ill-will, God's people should neither enjoy nor do any good in this world. It is always provoking the serpentine race to make war upon, to imprison and persecute, even to destruction, the little flock and remnant of the holy seed. It will not, further than it is rebuked by grace, let them have one quiet day. It disturbs and interrupts them, so that they cannot attend upon God without distraction. When they would do good, evil is present with them, either to keep it undone, or to make it ill done. It endeavours to spoil all they take in hand, and to turn their holy things into iniquity, by reason of which they cry out as greatly oppressed: 'Wretches that we are! Who shall deliver us from this body of death?' (Romans 7.24).

This evil and envious sin is bent also on hindering, all it can, the comfort, welfare and happiness of the saints. Sin, like the Devil, has not such an evil eye or aching tooth at all the sinners in the world, as it has at the saints in the world. It is true, the Devil is a man-hater, but more a saint-hater. Watch! for your adversary the Devil seeks whom (of you) he may devour, as St. Peter tells us (1 Peter 5.8). And this he does to cross and thwart God and his design, who and which is set upon the happiness of his people.

7. Sin is contrary to, and set against the glory of God, and all that should and would give glory to him, or has any tendency to do so. Confession of sin and repentance gives glory to God (Joshua 7.19), and sin endeavours to obstruct and hinder this. It began to practise upon Adam and Eve, and still carries on this trade among the children of men (Revelation 16.9). Faith would give glory to God; so, in order that men may not believe, sin employs the Devil to blind their eyes (2 Corinthians 4.4). Good men would do all they do to the glory of God, but sin will let them do nothing at all, and is ever throwing one dead fly or another into their most precious boxes of ointment. Sin is so malicious, that it will not only displease and dishonour God itself, but labours to defeat and frustrate the endeavours of all who attempt to do otherwise. If sin's desires might take place, there should not be a person or thing by whom and by which God should be pleased or glorified. It gives out false reports of God and goodness, lays prejudices and rocks of offence and stumbling in men's ways, that they may be out of love with all that is good. So desperately is it bent against the honour of God.

8. Sin is contrary and opposite to the being and existence of God. (This was hinted at before.) It makes the sinner wish and endeavour that there might be no God, for sinners are haters of God (Romans 1.30). As he who hates his brother is a murderer (1 John 3:15), so, as much as in him lies, he who hates God is a murderer of God. Sin keeps garrisons and strongholds against God (2 Corinthians 10.4,5). It strives with and fights against God, and if its power were as great as its will is wicked, it would not suffer God to be. God is a troublesome thing to sinners, and therefore they say to him, Depart from us (Job 21.14), and of Christ Jesus, Let us break his bands in sunder, and cast his cords far from us (Psalm 2.3) And when the Holy Ghost comes to woo and entreat them to be reconciled, they resist and make war with the spirit of peace (Acts 7.51). So that they are against every person in the Trinity, Father, Son and Spirit. In short, and for a conclusion, sin is contrary to God and all that is dear to him or has his name upon it; and though it is against all good, yet not so much against any good as against God, who is, and because he is the chiefest good.

Before we pass on, let me beseech you, whoever you are who read this, to pause a little and consider what is said. For what is said of sin is to be considered by the sinner, and is meant of your and my sin. Shall I not plead for God and your soul, and entreat you to be on God's side, and to depart from the tents of wickedness? Poor soul! Can you find it in your heart to hug and embrace such a monster as this? Will you love that which hates God, and which God hates? God forbid! Will you join yourself to that which is nothing but contrariety to God, and all that is good? Oh, say to this idol, this devil, get hence, what have I to do with you, you (Elymas) sorcerer, you full of all malignity and mischief; you child, yea father of the Devil, you who are the founder of Hell, an enemy to all righteousness, who ceases not to pervert the right ways of the Lord, and to reproach the living God! Away! away! Shall I be seduced by you to grieve the God of all my joy, to displease the God of all my comfort, to vex the God of all my contentment, to do evil against a good God, by whom I live, move, and have my being? Oh no!

Thus consider these things, and do not go on to provoke the Lord, lest a worse thing befall you than any hitherto. Do not contend with God who is stronger than you are, who is able when he will (and he will one day be found both able and willing enough) to turn the wicked into hell, the element of sin and sinners, who shall go into it as into their own place, as Judas did (Acts 1.25). Oh, learn to pity your own soul, for he who sins offends and wrongs God, but also wrongs and destroys his own soul, or, as some read the text, despises his own soul (Proverbs 8.36). Oh, think of it! what! have you no value, no regard for your soul? Will you neglect and despise it, as if it were good for nothing, but to be damned, and go to Hell? Will you be felo de se, a self-soul-murderer? Shall your perdition be of yourself? Oh, look to yourself, for sin, notwithstanding all its flattering pretences, is against you, and seeks nothing less than your ruin and damnation. And this brings and leads me to the second thing to be treated of, which is, sin's contrariety to man.


This is the thing which our text (Romans 7.13) especially means and intends, and it must therefore be more copiously spoken of. Sin is contrary to the good of man, and nothing is properly and absolutely so but sin. This results and is evident from sin's contrariety to God: just as there is nothing contrary to God but sin (for devils are not so but by sin), so sin in being contrary to God, is and cannot but be contrary to man. Inevitably, that must be evil to man, which is evil against God, who is the chiefest good of man. Communion with, and conformity to God is man's felicity, his heaven upon earth and in heaven too, without which it would not be worth his while to have a being. Now since sin is a separation between God and man, an interruption of this communion and conformity, it must needs be prejudicial and hurtful to him.

Besides, the commandment of which sin is a transgression was given not only for God's sake, that he might have glory from man's obedience, but for man's sake, that man might enjoy the good and benefit of his obedience, and find that in keeping the commands of God there is great reward. These two were twisted together, and no sooner is the law transgressed but God and man are joint-sufferers, God in his glory and man in his good. Man's suffering follows at the heel of sin, indeed, as he suffers by sinning, so in sinning; suffering and sinning involve each other. No sooner did sin enter into the world, but death, which is a privation of good, entered by it, with it, and in it, for sin is the sting of death. So sin says, Here is death, and death says, Here is sin. No sooner did the angels sin, but they fell from their first estate and habitation, which they had with God in glory. There was not a moment between their sin and misery; as soon as man had sinned, his conscience told him that he was naked and destitute of righteousness and protection, and consequently an undone man, who could not endure God's presence or his own (Genesis 3.7-8). So apparent is it that sin, in being contrary to God, is contrary to man, for what crosses God's glory is opposed to man's happiness.

To proceed more distinctly, and in detail, I shall show that sin is against man's good, both present and future, here in time and hereafter to eternity, in this life and world which now is and in that to come. It is against all and every good of man, and against the good of all and every man.

I. SIN IS AGAINST MAN'S PRESENT GOOD, IN THIS LIFE, against the good of his body and the good of his soul. For on both it has brought a curse and death.

(1) Against the good of man's body. It has corrupted man's blood, and made his body mortal, thereby rendering it a vile body. Our bodies, though made of dust, were more precious than the fine gold; but when we sinned, they became vile bodies. Before sin our bodies were immortal (for death and mortality came in by sin), but now alas they must return to dust. It is appointed to all men once to die, and it is well if they die but once, and the second death have no power over them. They must see corruption, or the equivalent of death, i.e. a change; for this flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God, as that with which we were created might possibly have done (1 Corinthians I5.50). Our body is sown in corruption, in dishonour, in weakness (I Corinthians 15.42-43), and is therefore called vile (Philippians 3.21). Before this body is laid in the grave, it is languishing, in a continual consumption, and dying daily, besides all the dangers that attend it from without.

(2) Against the good of man's soul. The soul is transcendently excellent beyond the body, and its good is beyond that of the body; so that a wrong done to the soul is much more to man's hurt than a wrong done to the body. Therefore our Saviour says, Fear not them that can kill the body, and do no more (which is little in comparison of what God can do to the soul, if it sins), but fear him that can destroy, i.e. damn, soul and body in hell (Matthew 10.28). It is not very ill with a man if it is well with his soul. We can more easily and cheaply die than be damned, and may better venture our bodies to suffering than our souls to sinning, for he that sinneth wrongs his soul (Proverbs 8.36). Nothing but sin wrongs a man's soul, and there is no sin which does not do so.

Thus we see in a general way that sin is against the good of man's body and soul. But in order to exhibit this more clearly and fully, I shall consider and speak of man {1) in a natural sense, (2) in a moral sense.

(1) In a natural sense

If we consider man in a natural or physical state, we shall find sin to be (i) against the well-being, and (ii) against the very being of man. It will not suffer him to be well or long in the world, nor if possible to be at all.

(i) It is against man's well-being in this life. Well-being is the life of life, and sin bears us so much ill-will, that it deprives us of our livelihood, and of that which makes it worth our while to live. Man was born to a great estate, but by sin, which was and is treason against God, he forfeited all. Man came into the world as into a house ready furnished; he had all things prepared and ready to hand. All the creatures came to wait on him and pay him homage; but when man sinned, God turned him out of house and home, and all his lands, goods and chattels were taken from him. Paradise was man's inheritance, where he had everything pleasant to the eye and good for food (he needed no clothes while innocent). But when he sinned, God dispossessed him of all, and drove him out into the wide world, like a pilgrim or a beggar, to live by his own hands and to earn his meat by the sweat of his brow, as you may read at length in Genesis 3.

Thus, by sin, man, who was the Emperor of Eden, is banished from his native country, and must never see it again but in a new and living way; for the old is closed up, and besides that, it is kept against him with flaming swords. Ever since, it has been every man's lot to come into and go out of this world naked, to show that he has no right to anything, but lives on the alms of God's charity and grace. All we have or hold between our birth and death is clear gain and mere gift. God might choose whether he would allow us anything or not, and when he has given he may take back again, and none of us has cause to say anything but what Job did: 'Naked came I into the world, and naked shall I return; the Lord hath given, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord' (Job 1.21). All we have, our food and raiment, is only lent to us. We are only tenants at will, and therefore, seeing we deserve nothing, we should be content with, and thankful for anything (1 Timothy 6.7,8).

To show that man by sin had lost all, when our Lord Jesus came into this world for the recovery of man, and stood as in the sinner's stead, he had not where to lay his head. 'Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head' (Luke 9.58). This plainly shows that the sin of man had left the Son of man nothing. Though Christ were Lord of all, yet if he will come in the likeness of sinful flesh, he must not go like the Son of God, but the Son of man, and be a man of sorrows, destitute, forsaken and afflicted. Though we fare the better for his suffering, he fared the worse for our sin; and among the other miseries he underwent, he had not where to lay his head.

To add yet another evidence of the venomous nature of sin in this matter, it is not a little remarkable that God did not take the full forfeiture, nor strip us so naked and bare as he might have done, but allowed us a competent subsistence and accommodation. Also, as the first fruits of his goodness, he made the first suit of clothes which Adam and Eve wore. Yet sin is against that good which God left us, and fills it with vanity and vexation, with bitterness and a curse. God left Adam many acres of land to till and husband, but he has it with a curse, sweat and sorrow; many a grieving briar and pricking thorn stick fast to him (Genesis 3.17-19). God left him ground enough (v. 23), but, alas, it is cursed ground! So sin is against man's temporal good, either in taking it from him, or cursing it to him. Sin is so envious, that it would leave man nothing, and if God is so good as to leave him anything, sin's eye is evil because God is good, and puts a sting in it, viz. a curse. To be more specific:

a. Sin is against man's rest and ease, of which man is a great lover; and, indeed, he needs it as a great part of the well-being of his life. It is a sore travail which the sons of men have under the sun. What hath man of all his labour, and the vexation of his heart wherein he laboured? for all his days are sorrows, and his travail grief (Ecclesiastes 1.13; 2.22,23). This is so whether he increase wisdom and knowledge, or pleasure and riches. He takes no rest in the night, but is haunted with vain and extravagant, if not terrified by frightful dreams; and his fancies, which are waking dreams by day, are more troublesome than those of the night. Man's ground is overgrown with thorns, so that he has many an aching head and heart, many a sore hand and foot, before the next year comes round, to get a little livelihood out of this sin-cursed ground. Man's paradisical life was easy and pleasant, but now it is labour and pain, such as makes him sweat. Even his recreations fall short of his labour, for pain and sweat (Ecclesiastes 2.1-2). The old world was very conscious of this, as may be gathered from Genesis 5.29: 'He called his name Noah, saying, This same shall comfort us concerning our work, and toil of our hands, because of the ground which the Lord hath cursed.' Sin, curse and toil keep company.

b. Sin is against man's comfort and joy. In sorrow shalt thou eat all the days of thy life (Genesis 3.17). Not one whole merry day! It would be some comfort to a man, after he had toiled and moiled all day, if he could eat his bread with joy, and drink his wine with a merry heart. But sin will not allow him to do so; if he laughs, sin turns it to madness (Ecclesiastes 2.2), or else it is no better music than the crackling of thorns (Ecclesiastes 7.6). In Paradise, the blessing of God on Adam's diligent hand made him rich, and there was no sorrow with it (to allude to Proverbs 10.22); but now man's sweetmeats have sour sauces--'in sorrow shalt thou eat'--and his bread is the bread of affliction.

The female, the woman, has a peculiar sort and share of sorrow, for the time of conception, breeding, bearing and birth are tedious. Yet, alas! many who feel the pain which sin brought are not sensible of the sin which brought the pain, though their sorrow and pain also is greatly multiplied, as we find it expressed in Genesis 3.16, and the more so for the want of faith and sobriety (I Timothy 2.15).

c. Sin is against man' s health. From it come all diseases and sicknesses; till sin there were no such things. For this cause, in general, many are weak and sickly among you. Let man take the best air he can, and eat the best food he can, let him eat and drink by rule, let him take ever so many antidotes, preservatives and cordials, still man is but a shaky, sickly thing for all this. Verily every man in his best estate is a frail and brittle thing yea altogether vanity (Psalm 39.5); this text is spoken with reference to diseases and sickness. Take him while his blood dances in his veins, and his marrow fills his bones; even then he is a brittle piece of mortality.

d. Sin is against the quiet of a man's natural conscience. It wounds the spirit and makes it intolerable: 'A wounded spirit who can bear? (Proverbs 18.14). While that is sound and whole, all infirmities are more easily borne, but when that is broken, the supports fail, which has a great influence on the body: 'A merry heart doeth good like a medicine (there is no cordial like it) but a broken spirit drieth the bones' (Proverbs 17.22); it sucks away the marrow and radical moisture. 'Heaviness in the heart of man maketh it stoop' (Proverbs 12.25). A good conscience is a continual feast, but sin mars all the mirth. When Cain had killed his brother, and his conscience felt the stroke of the curse, he was like a distracted man, and mad. When Judas had betrayed his Master, he was weary of his life.

e. Sin is against the beauty of man. It takes away the loveliness of men's very complexions; it alters the very air of their countenance. 'When thou with rebukes dost correct man for iniquity, thou makest his beauty (or, as it is in the margin, that which is to be desired in him) to consume (or melt) away like a moth: surely every man is vanity (his beauty vain)' (Psalm 39.11). There was no such thing as vanity or deformity till sin entered; everything was lovely before, and man above anything in the inferior world.

f. Sin is against the loving and conjugal co-habitation of soul and body. They were happily married, and lived lovingly together for a while, till sin sowed discord between them, and made them jar. There is now many a falling out between body and soul, between sense and reason; they pull in different directions; there is a self-civil war. Even in this sense the flesh lusteth against the spirit; the poor man is dragged and pulled this way and that, tossed to and fro as with several winds. Man is full of contradictions: time was when the mind commanded the body, but now this servant rides on horseback, while that prince walks on foot. Man is inverted: his head is where his heels should be; his soul is become a prisoner to the body, rather than a free man, far too often. The beast is too hard for the man, and the horse rides the rider. Sense lords it, and domineers over reason.

g. Sin is against man's relative good in this world. Man's comfort or sorrow lies much in his relationships; the weal or woe of his life is as his relationships are. That which was made for a help proves only too often a hindrance. Sin has spoiled society, so that one man is a wolf, even a devil to another. Sin will not let husband and wife, parents and children live quietly, but sets them at variance, and many times a man's enemies are they of his own house and bosom; they who eat bread at our table lift up the heel against us, and familiar friends become enemies. Lust makes wars (James 4.1), and from pride comes contention (Proverbs 13.10). It breeds divisions and factions in Church and State, so that there is little union or order, harmony, society or friendship in the world.

Thus sin sets itself to oppose man's well-being,

(ii) Sin is against the very being of man. Sin aims not only that man should not be well, but that man should not be at all. How many it strangles in the womb! How many miscarriages and abortions it causes! How many it sends from the cradle to the grave, who have run their race before they can go! Others die in their full strength, beside the havoc it makes by war, and some always eat their bread in darkness (Job 21.23,25). Man no sooner begins to live, but he begins to die; and after a few days, which are but as a span, and pass away more swiftly than a weaver's shuttle, sin lays all in the dust, princes as well as beggars. Sin has reduced man's age to a very little pittance, from almost a thousand to a very uncertainty, not only to seventy, but to seven, for among men no man's life is valued at more. Man's time is short and uncertain: he that is born today is not sure to live a day. And what is our life but as a vapour, which soon passes away. I could enlarge here, but this may suffice, to show that sin is against all the good of man in this life, considered in a natural sense.

(2) Sin is also against the good of man in a moral sense

(i) It has degraded man, by defiling him, and has almost unmanned him; for, as our text speaks of sin as a man, so the Holy Scripture speaks of man as if he were sin, and every man were a man of sin (i.e. a man made up of sin) whether we consider the outer or inner man. Man was a very noble thing, made little lower than the angels (Psalm 8.5). But, alas, by sin he is made almost as low as devils. Man was once a companion for God himself, but sin has separated between God and him, and has robbed man of his primitive excellence. From being a lord he is become a servant, indeed, a slave to creatures, to devils, and lusts of all sorts. Now this debasement came by defilement, which cleaves

a. To his body, for the flesh is filthy (2 Corinthians 7.1), and the body needs sanctifying and cleansing (1 Thessalonians 5.23). The body is a body of sin, the members are servants to uncleanness and to iniquity (Romans 6.19). Take him from head to foot, from the crown of the one to the sole of the other, there is no whole (because no holy) part of him; but all is filthy, and full of putrefactions and sores. If we dissect and anatomize man, we shall find this only too true, for without naming every sin that cleaves to the whole or every part, but speaking in a more general way, it is thus said of sinful men: their mouth is full of cursing and bitterness, with their tongues they use deceit, the poison of asps is under their lips, their throat is an open sepulchre (Romans 3.13,14); eyes full of adultery (2 Peter 2.14); the eye-lids haughty (Proverbs 30.13) ears dull of hearing (Hebrews 5.11), yea, deaf as the adder {Psalm 58.4); the forehead is as impudent as a brow of brass (Isaiah 48.4); both hands are employed to work iniquity (Micah 7.3); the belly is an idol-god (Philipplans 3.19); the feet are swift to shed blood (Romans 3.15); and if we look within, their inward part is very wickedness--the Hebrew is 'wickednesses' (Psalm 5.9); the gall is a gall of bitterness, in a moral, as well as in a spiritual sense; the spleen is affected, indeed infected with envy and malice. What part is there which is not the seat of one or other evil?

b. This defilement also cleaves to the soul, which is the principal subject of it. It is not only flesh, but spirit that is filthy (2 Corinthians 7.1). God's image was more in and on the soul than the body of man, and sin's ambition and desire is to deprive the soul of this image. Righteousness and holiness were stamped on man's soul, but sin has blotted this image and superscription, which once told from whence it came, and to whom it belonged, so that man is fallen short of the glory of being God's. It must be new created or renewed ere God will own it for his, because till then his image is not legible, if, in this sense, it is his at all, for there is none righteous, no not one (Romans 3.10).

It is not any one faculty only that sin has defiled, but, like a strong poison, it soaks and eats through them all; so that whereas all was holy, and holiness to the Lord, it is now evil, and evil against the Lord: Every imagination (figment or creature) of the heart is only evil continually (Genesis 6.5), Even the Flood, which washed away so many sinners, could not wash away sin; the same heart remains after the Flood as before (Genesis 8.21), and as it was with the heart of man from his youth, so it has continued to be to this old and decrepit age of the world. For to this day, there proceed out of the heart the same evil thoughts, words and deeds that then did (Matthew 15.19) From this unclean fountain issues forth all that defiles the man.

Sin has made the heart of man deceitful, and desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17.9), and it is hardened in impenitence through the deceitfulness of sin (Hebrews 3.12,13), although thereby man does nothing but undo himself, and treasure up wrath against the day of wrath {Romans 2.5). It makes man obstinate, that he will not be saved, but will be damned: 'Ye will not come to me, that ye might have life' (John 5.40). As for the Word of the Lord, we will not hearken, 'but we will certainly do whatsoever thing goeth forth out of our own mouth' {Jeremiah 44.16-17). It is out of the abundance of folly and madness that is in men's hearts and bound up there, that they thus speak; not only vain thoughts and words, but villainous ones bubble and break forth from this corrupt fountain, which sets the tongue on fire of hell, so that the Devil could not broach and belch out more horrid blasphemies against God, than do the tongues and hearts of sinful men. It has defiled and spoiled man's memory and conscience also. How treacherous is his memory as to good! but alas it is too tenacious as to evil! The conscience is become an evil conscience, and in many a seared conscience.

Thus all over, without and within, man is defiled and polluted. I may speak more of this later, but at present I will show a little more fully how sin has almost put out man's eyes, and even extinguished the candle of the Lord:

The effects of sin on the understanding. It has dimmed and benighted man's leading faculty, the understanding, which should show a man the difference between good and evil, and guide him in the way in which he should walk. Now it is too often an ignis fatuus (will-o'-the-wisp) which leads men into bogs and ditches, into errors and immoralities. Sin has blinded man's understanding, and made him ignorant. It has depraved his understanding, and made him a fool.

(ii) Sin has darkened man's understanding. Poor man is wise to do evil, but to do good he has no knowledge (Jeremiah 4.22). There is none that understandeth, viz, as and what he ought (Romans 3.11). All the workers of iniquity have no knowledge (Psalm 14.4). Poor man is covered with Egyptian thick darkness; he is said to be not only dark, but darkness in the abstract (Ephesians 5.8), and, sadly, he is in love with darkness (John 3.19), and his light is darkness (Matthew 6.23).

That man is in darkness by sin is as clear as the light of the sun by the light of Scripture truth, beside that of sad experience. For, in general, when men are converted, they are called out of, and turned from darkness to light (Acts 26.18; 1 Peter 2.9). Our Lord Jesus came to be, and to give light to them that sat in darkness (Luke 1.76-79). Indeed, none but he can open the eyes of them that are born blind (John 9). He was the light of the world, which without him is a dark dungeon. It may be seen in various ways that man is dark:

a. By his groping, which, in the Scripture, is constantly attributed to blindness and darkness. Peruse Deuteronomy 28.29; Job 5.14, and 12.25; and Isaiah 59.10. Man, like Solomon's wise man, had his eyes in his head, and clearly saw his way before him. The door and way of peace and happiness lay wide open to him. But now, like the blind Sodomites, he gropes to find the door of hope, and wearies himself in vain pursuits. Man has lost his way, since he lost his eyes. Poor man catches at every straw, grasps every trifle, if he can only find out what is good for him. Oh, how did Solomon seek and search this and that, tiring and vexing himself, till the true light guided him into the true way! How he groped after happiness, but felt none, till he came to fear God (Ecclesiastes 12.13)!

b. Though the light shines, yet man's darkness comprehends it not (John 1.5). Ah, how blind is the man, who at mid-day, when the sun shines in full strength, cannot see it! It was no great wonder that the law was darkness to man, for Moses had a veil on his face. But that the Gospel, the clearest light that ever shone in the worlds, that Christ himself, the brightness of his Father's glory, should not be comprehended--oh, marvellous darkness!

In the innocent golden-age, man could have comprehended the least hint that came from God, and have seen day through a little hole or crevice. He could have looked on the sun, and his eyes not blink. But now the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit, nor can he discern them. No, the wisdom of God, the preaching of the Gospel is foolishness to him (1 Corinthians 2.14). This Gospel, while revealed, continues a hidden thing to this blinded world (2 Corinthians 4.3,4) And to know Christ Jesus requires as great a power as was in the creation, when God commanded light to shine out of darkness, as the Apostle tells us in the same place (2 Corinthians 4.6,7).

c. By his walking in all kinds of wickedness, which are called the works of darkness (Ephesians 5.11). Good and holy works are of the light, and give light, for they shine (Matthew 5.16); but wicked works are from darkness. Who but blind men would walk in dirt up to the ears, indeed over head and ears? Solomon, speaking of wicked men, says they leave the paths of uprightness, and walk in the ways of darkness. This is a clear evidence of their darkness, especially when we consider the boldness of men in sinning. Who is more bold than the blind? They rush like horses into the battle, without fear or wit. Did men see the danger that attends sin and wickedness, would they follow it to destruction? Oh no! he goes after her as a fool to the stocks, till a dart strikes through his liver; as a bird hasteth to the snare, and knows not (or sees not) that it is for his life (Proverbs 7.22,23). For in vain is the net spread in the sight of any bird (Proverbs 1.17), or of a seeing man.

d. Man knows not whither he goes. (John I2.35; 1 John 2.11). Men are busy in this world, like a company of ants, creeping up and down from one mole-hill to another; but they are not so wise, for the ants know, but poor blind men do not know whither they go. Whether forward or backward, from home or to home, they are in a maze and bewildered. They think they are going to pleasure and profit, honour and happiness, but, alas, they are mistaken, and are going to pain and loss, to disgrace and death. They are like the Syrians, who thought they were going to Dothan as conquerors, but were found in Samaria at the mercy of their enemies; they were hoodwinked with blindness (2 Kings 6). In the same way, men think they are going heavenwards, when alas, sin leads them to hell, while their eyes are shut and they do not know where they go.

e. He stumbles, and does not know why (John 11.9,10; Proverbs 4.19). Sinners are ever and anon stumbling at Christ Jesus; they are offended at him, but cannot tell for what. They would complain of something, and find fault with it, if they knew what; but they seek faults where none are to be found. Yet rather than not be offended with Christ, this shall be his crime, that he is guilty of none. The reason why they find so much fault with God is because he finds out their faults, and finds fault with them. Man's waspishness and touchiness, his being so captious and ready to take offence at God and godliness, are clear manifestations of his darkness. Did they know him, they would never crucify, nor be offended with the Lord of life, light and glory. Blessed is he that is not offended with Christ.

f. Man knows not his time, nor how to order his thoughts, words and actions. He does not know how to order any of his affairs in season, which is the beauty of all. Thus it is evident that, ever since the Fall, his intellect is bruised, and he has a soft place in his head. Man, like Job, could have said, 'His candle shined upon my his light I walked through darkness...the secret of God was upon my tabernacle' (Job 29.3-4). But, alas, now he must say, 'Because to every purpose there is time and judgment, therefore the misery of man is great upon him. For he knoweth not that which shall be: for who can tell him when it shall be?' (Ecclesiastes 8.6,7). Man knows not his time; it is not in man to direct his way (Ecclesiastes 9.12; Jeremiah 10.23). We cannot order our speech by reason of darkness (Job 37.19). We know not what to pray for as we ought (Romans 8.26). Ah! what a poor, silly thing sin has made man!

g. He can be content to be led, even by a dog. This is our last evidence that sin has blinded man. A half-eyed man may reign among the blind. Would a man be led by a dog if he were not blind? he would scorn it. Our Saviour tells us that the blind lead the blind (Matthew I5.14); and if men were not blind, they would never be led by blind guides. But, being in the dark, they are best pleased by suitable guides: 'Like people, like priest', as God complains (Hosea 4.9) 'The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so' (Jeremiah 5.31). Falsehood and flattery was their business, and the people's choice and pleasure. God and godliness, righteousness and holiness were troublesome; they must have smooth things and soft pillows. And alas, they were fitted to a hair, this suited their tooth and pleased their palate. But all this argues undeniably that men are dark and blind, who can be content with such dogs to lead them; and not only dumb dogs, but blind guides, yes, and false prophets too, who lead them into the ditch of sin and dungeon of Hell. What does all this prove but man's darkness? and what does that infer but sin's sinfulness in darkening the understanding of man? Is not light good? God who made it saw that it was so. But now, that the soul be without knowledge, it is not good (Proverbs 19.2).

So sin is against the good of man in that it has put out the sight of his eyes, which, in a spiritual sense, is worse than if it had put out the eyes of his body. Man's eyes are very dear to him. God expresses the tenderness he has for his people by this, that they are to him as the apple of his eye (Zechariah 2.8). And the Apostle sets out the love of the Galatians by this, that they would have pulled out their eyes for him (Galatians 4.15). To show our love to God, we are to pull out our right eye, if it offend (Matthew 5.29). Israel took great indignation at Nahash the Ammonite, when he would have put out their eyes (1 Samuel 11). Herein then lies the malignity of sin, that it has so darkened the eyes of man's understanding, and left him in this condition for a reproach.

(iii) Sin has depraved man' s understanding, and made him a fool, a sot, a very brute; ignorant, foolish and beast are joined together in Psalm 73.22. Folly is the common name of sin, and so is fools the name of sinners in the Scripture: 'Ye fools, when will ye be wise?' (Psalm 94.8), i.e. O ye sinners, when will ye fear God? The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom, indeed, it is wisdom (Job 28.28), the height of wisdom (Proverbs 1.7). Till a man fears God, he only plays the fool. Indeed, he is unmanned, and beside himself, for when the prodigal, the representative of sinners and converts, repented, and was converted, it is said that he came to himself, and then quickly went to his father. In the recovery of man, our Lord Jesus Christ is made of God to us not only righteousness, but light and wisdom (1 Corinthians 1.30). We were without that ourselves which Christ is made to us.

That this is the common case of Jew and Gentile, i.e. all men, the Apostle assures us (Romans 3.9-11); indeed, men themselves declare it to be so. I may say of man as Solomon does of the fool: 'When he walketh by the way...he saith to every one that he is a fool' (Ecclesiastes I0.3); the way and course he takes, his carriage and behaviour show him to be a fool. Like a child, a man is known by his doings (Proverbs 20.11). As he that doeth righteousness is righteous, so he that doeth folly is a fool.

Man's folly is shown to be great in three ways:

a. In relation to his chief and ultimate end, the summum bonum. Man should seek greatly for happiness, in what to place it as well as how to obtain it. Oh the variety of opinions that men have had about happiness! Varro tells us of a great many, but who can tell us of all? So many men, so many minds, for when man goes from unity, he falls into multitude. He has found out many inventions. Time was when man had light and wisdom enough to know that God was the kuriotaton agathon, the supreme and chief good, and that his happiness lay in knowing and enjoying God. But since sin, man has become such a fool as to say, in his heart, There is no God, at least no happiness in knowing God; for if sin does not make men such atheists as to believe there is no God, yet it makes them such as to wish that there were no God, and to say that it is no happiness to know him, or profit to serve him. Let us eat and drink, is the voice of men rather than, Let us seek and serve God. Who will show us any good, viz. corn, wine and oil, is the voice of man (Psalm 4.6), indeed of all till regenerate.

Man has become so sottish and brutish that he lives by sense. Now sense will never look to God who is invisible--that is for faith--but to the creatures, which are visible, and the objects of sense. How Solomon has set this out to the life, in his Ecclesiastes, viz. that sense seeks for happiness below God; man is fond of toys and trifles, and seeks contentment where there is nothing but vexation, as if he could find ease in the place and element of torment, viz. in hell! He sets his eyes and heart upon that which is not (Proverbs 23.5). The lust of the eye, the lust of the flesh, the pride of life is the trinity, the god of this world, and excludes the love of God (1 John 2.15,16).

All things of sense are only for one, and that the worse half, of man, viz. the body. Now when all a man's labour is for this, with neglect of the soul, which is the principal man of the man, what folly is it! To mind the less, and neglect the greater, to be troubled about these many things, and neglect the one thing necessary is folly with a witness, and will be followed with a vengeance. What is it, to labour for the back and belly, as if it were God, to mind earthly things and neglect, even despise heavenly, but folly in the extreme! it is to glory in shame (Philipplans 3.19). He who bade his soul take ease, in eating, drinking, and being merry, was called a fool, and so is every one that lays up treasure for himself, his sensual self, and is not rich toward God, as our Saviour tells us (Luke 12.16-21). I have discoursed elsewhere on this text, to show the folly of such men, and, if God please, it may in due time come to view. Therefore, I shall wholly waive, and omit to speak of it here, though I did treat of it when I preached these sermons on the sinfulness of sin.

But before I proceed to the other manifestations of man's folly, in relation to the ways and means that lead to happiness, let me briefly show by three things, among many others that might be named, that man's happiness cannot be made up of any or all creature-enjoyments, of having the world for a portion, even all of it. For, beside what has just been said:

(1) It was not so when man was in paradise. Not only man, but all the creatures were in a better condition then, and not subject to vanity, as they are now. All that God made was very good, and Adam had all that God made-- yet that was not his happiness. Now if the creatures in their best estate were not man's happiness, much less are they so in this their worst estate. So our sin, in placing happiness in creature-enjoyment now, is worse than Adam's sin was; for the creatures were then far more alluring, attractive and taking than they are now. A worthy person expresses it as follows: Though the old walls and ruinous palace of the world stand to this day, yet the beauty, gloss and glory of the hangings is soiled and marred, with many imperfections cast on every creature. What is only outside us cannot be our happiness.

(2) That cannot be our happiness which is below us. God's design in making the creatures was that they should serve us, and not that they should be served by us. God put Adam colere*, to till the earth, not colere,* to worship the earth and make a god of it, as earthly-minded men do, for covetousness is sin. *[The same word (in Latin) bears both meanings.] Not only did God place them below man, but man reckons them below himself; for skin for skin, or skin after skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life--which is a great truth, though spoken by the Father of lies. By this it is evident that man reckons all below himself. Though old Jacob's life was bound up in the life of young Benjamin, yet he would part with him rather than starve. Now, without further amplification, it is as clear as the sun, that what is inferior to us cannot be our happiness.

(3) That cannot be our happiness which is not so much as a token of the love of God. If you had all the cattle on a thousand hills, and never so many thousand bags of gold in your chest, though all the beauty and honour in the world centred in you, yet I must tell you what a very wise man has told me: Man knows not love by prosperity, any more than hatred by adversity (Ecclesiastes 9.1). Indeed, the world, great and good as it is, or was, is not good enough for a love-token. God sent his Son, and nothing else but him, and what is in him, for a love-token.

Well then, from all this we conclude, that seeing happiness is of a higher nature than the creation, and is not in less than God himself, man is a fool in seeking it elsewhere, and sin is very pernicious to man, in making him such a fool.

b. Man's folly appears to be great in relation to the means and way leading to happiness, as well as in relation to his end and happiness; he mistakes them both. The enjoyment of God is our happiness, and religion, viz. rightly serving and worshipping God, the means of enjoying God, and therefore of our happiness. Alas! here man is a very fool. Though in general men acknowledge that there is a God, and that God is to be worshipped and obeyed, yet who this God is, and how he is to be worshipped--man is full of darkness, doubt and perplexity about it. Hence we have expressions in the Scripture concerning sinners, such as: 'Ye worship ye know not what' (John 4.22). Surely they who worship they know not what, worship also they know not how, as there follows. The Athenian altar had this inscription, To the unknown God (Acts 17.23), and the world by wisdom knew not God, viz. God manifest in the flesh (1 Corinthians 1.20. Though nothing is more knowable, yet nothing is more unknown than God. It is visible to all the creation, by the creation, that there is a God (Romans 1.20); but who and what he is, and what his will is, who hath known the mind of God? (1 Corinthians 2.16).

Sin has made men worship either (1) a false God, which is idolatry; or (2) God falsely, which is superstition. Man has become such a fool that his worship, till enlightened and converted, is either a breach of the First or Second Commandment. He fails as to the object or the manner of worship, and both speak man's folly, that his religion is either idolatry or superstition.

(1) Idolatry is man's folly. To worship no God, or that which is not a God, but an idol, is folly. Therefore the Gentiles are called not only atheists, but a foolish people, and with this the Apostle upbraids them (Galatians 4.8; Romans 1.21,25). Man is such a fool that he neglects to serve the God who made him, and serves gods of his own making, though the fact that they are made proves that they are not as their name is, but gods (like their knowledge) falsely so called, as is in detail imputed to them of old (Isaiah 44.14-16).

The world has been guilty of most abominable idolatry. The Romans made diseases gods, such as the fever. And sinners make not only creatures, like gold and their belly, their God, but sins--this was the case among the aforementioned Romans. Even the Devil himself has been made a God and sacrificed to. He is called the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4.4), and the Apostle says, the Gentiles sacrificed to devils (1 Corinthians 10.20; cf. Deuteronomy 32.17), and sacrificed not only their children (Psalm 106.37) but their souls, for in all services, the soul is the sacrifice. Oh, sinful sin!

(2) Superstition is man's folly, also, as to religion. This is the younger brother to idolatry; it is of the same womb with idolatry. Superstition is not worshipping a false God, but worshipping the true God falsely, in a way not commanded by God. It teaches and practises for doctrines the devices and commandments of men; that is to say, it worships, not according to the will of God, but to the will of man. This is called the sacrifice of fools (Ecclesiastes 5.1). They mind the matter more than the manner, and are taken up with the work done, though it is not well done. They mind the outside more than the inside, yes, and worship God more because they fear him, than because they love him.

This must suffice to show man's folly, and how sin has duped man, as to his end, happiness, and the means to it, religion. I now proceed to show

c. Man's folly as to the non-improvement or mis-improvement of means, when made known in truth and clearness. Though the will of God as to worship is revealed, yet sin makes men fools still, either in that they do not use, or in that they make a bad use of the revelations of God. A treasure is put into their hand, but they are such fools as not to know how to use it (Proverbs I7.I6).

God has been pleased in and by Christ Jesus to declare his mind to us (1 Corinthians 2.16). His Gospel and grace have appeared, teaching us (Titus 2.11,12). But alas! how men pervert the Gospel, turn grace into wantonness (Jude 4), and sin abundantly because grace abounds! What strivings and strugglings, reluctances and oppositions against the Gospel! How men stumble, and kick at and against Christ Jesus, instead of building on him as the corner-stone, as a rock and sure foundation! How angry they are when Jesus Christ comes by his Word and Spirit to bless them, in turning them away from their iniquity! When God comes in Christ Jesus and the ministry of his Gospel to reconcile them, and make them happy, they take up arms and make war against him. When the Gospel comes with the weapons of its warfare, to pull down the strongholds, and to reduce men to obedience, how they fortify themselves! When God stands at the door and knocks, and woos men for entertainment, how they lock themselves up, bar and bolt up their hearts against him, that the King of grace and glory may not enter in! It is no less a power than that which raised Christ from the dead, that makes men willing to believe and obey the Gospel (Psalms 110.3; Ephesians 1:19).

Christ's messengers make glorious reports, but who believes them? (Romans 10.16): They stretch out their hands, but to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? They beseech and entreat, but men harden their hearts. And among the many who seem to profess the Gospel, how few practise it! In words they confess God, but in works deny him. They are lovers of pleasure, and themselves, more than of God; and though they have a form of godliness, they deny the power thereof. All these ways of theirs of not improving or mis-improving the means which God has vouchsafed, I say, all these their ways are folly.

It would be almost endless--if it were possible--to enumerate the follies of man. He thinks like a fool, unsteadily and rolling, independently and broken, inconsistently, and to no purpose, at random and rovers; many run waste, like waters beside the mill. He builds castles in the air; his imaginations are like vagabonds, and his contrivances romantic. This is not to mention the more wicked and sinful thoughts, which, if they were known, would make one man ashamed and afraid to converse with another. For not only vain, but vile, injurious, adulterous, murderous thoughts lodge in the hearts of men. Thus when anyone comes to be awakened, and made sensible of the sinfulness of his heart, it makes him say, as St Paul says of himself, I am the chief of sinners. Never was any heart such a shop of vanity, such a den of thieves, such a cage of unclean birds, such a Newgate of murderers, such an inn and thoroughfare of travelling lusts, such a court of flattery, ambition, pride and envy, such a sink and common draught of filthiness, such a hell of blasphemy as mine is!

As man thinks, he often speaks, quicquid in buccam (anything that comes into his head), foolishly, idly, and proudly, and as he speaks he acts; out of the abundance or fulness of the heart the mouth speaks, and out of the heart are all the issues of life. All the follies of his life are just the untying and letting loose of that folly which is bound and bundled up in his heart. They are there in gross, and are retailed out as he meets with customers, occasions and opportunities in the course of his life and conversation.

Let us consider some examples, and only some, of man's folly:

(1) Man is so heady, hasty and rash in his undertakings. Nothing more becomes a man than deliberation and consideration. This is his pre-eminence above the beasts; they act but do not consider. And herein is a great part of man's foolishhess, that he does not consider the end of his actions. 'O that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would consider their latter end!' (Deuteronomy 32.29). People often say, I never thought of this, and it is the property of a fool to say, I had not thought of this, in something which, maybe, it most concerned him to think of. 'The simple believeth every word (which he would not do but that he is simple and a fool) but the prudent man looketh well to his going. A wise man feareth, and departeth from evil: but the fool rageth, and is confident' (Proverbs 14.15,16). Did men consider what they are doing when they sin, they would abhor it; for who would rush to his own ruin? Who would drink poison? None but fools or madmen! Did men consider that the wages of sin is death, that wrath and hell attend sin, they would surely be more wary. Men go on and on, and never consider what the end of these things will be; will it not be bitterness in the latter end? His lack of consideration is a proof as great as it is clear that man is foolish.

(2) Man laughs at, and sports himself in his sin and misery. It is a sport to a fool to do evil (Proverbs 10.23), and this sporting and jesting at sin shows him to be a fool in earnest. Fools will laugh at the shrewd turns and mischiefs which they do, and sinners are such fools that they make sin their trade (they are sin-makers) and their recreation too. It is their pastime to pass away, to spend and lose their time and souls in sinning. 'Fools make a mock at sin' (Proverbs 14.9). When they have cheated others, they laugh at them as fools, though they themselves are the greater fools for cheating others. They sport themselves in their own deceivings (2 Peter 2.13). Though they know that they who do such things are liable to the judgment of God, yet not only do they do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them (Romans 1.32). But they are fools for so doing, for professing themselves to be wise they became fools (v. 22.), and they were without understanding (v. 31). But when God shall laugh and mock at these mockers, then it will appear what fools they were, who sported at that which should have been their greatest sorrow and grief.

(3) Man says, It is vain to serve God. What greater folly can there be than to call religion and the wisdom of God foolishness, vanity and unprofitableness, when beside them there is no profit under the sun? This is the whole of man; all the rest is vanity and vexation of spirit. The author of the seventy-third Psalm concludes himself a fool for having almost said this: foolish, ignorant, and as a beast (v. 22); so much a fool that he could not emphasize it enough. What fools, then, are they who say it openly? Because Job merely hinted at such a thing, Elihu reckons him among the foolish; 'Hearken to me, ye men of understanding (for fools will not); far be it from God that he should do wickedness' (Job 34.9,10). Oh no! the work of man will he render to him. There is a day coming in which a difference will be put between them that fear God and them that fear him not (which is spoken in connection with this very matter, Malachi 3.14,18) and then it shall appear that no man's labour is in vain in the Lord. I speak to wise men; let them judge what I say and I know they will conclude that it is egregious folly to say that it is vain to serve the Lord.

(4) Man is so ungrateful to God, who has put him under an infinite obligation. No matter how many courtesies you do a fool, it is like throwing pearls before swine, who return evil for all the good turns which are done to them. Moses upbraids Israel with this: 'Do ye thus requite the Lord, O foolish people and unwise?' (Deuteronomy 32.6). None but fools would do so. And men are like swine in this, that they gather up the fruit that falls and never look up. 'Were there not ten cleansed? where are the nine?' said our 5aviour. Scarcely one of ten proves thankful! Men take God's corn and wine and oil to make a feast for Baal, for their Bel and the Dragon, for their belly and lusts. Instead of giving God thanks and glory, they return him sins. They kick with the heel when fat and full, and say, Who is the Lord? as if they were not beholden to him and did not owe him any acknowledgements. What fools!

(5) If God corrects man, or afflicts him for his sin and folly, he soon grows angry with God. Such is the nature of fools that they cannot endure those who chastise them. Though man is punished only for his iniquities, yet he complains (Lamentations 3.39). Though God's judgment is just, yet the foolishness of man perverteth his way, and he fretteth against the Lord (Proverbs 19.3). Man's sin brings God's judgment, and then, when God hedges up his way with thorns which prick him, he frets and fumes. When Job was sorely afflicted, his wife said, Curse God and die--which was a cursed speech. But Job said, Thou speakest like one of the foolish women. Men and women never speak more foolishly than when they speak against God. They are fools who quarrel with God and charge him with folly.

(6) Man's folly is apparent in that he is unteachable. One may better deal with seven men of reason than with one fool who is not only ignorant but conceited and stubborn. Fools despise wisdom and instruction (Proverbs 1.7). They scorn to be instructed. They are in love with folly. 'How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity?' (Proverbs 1.22). A fool will not hearken to counsel (Proverbs 12.15). Even though instruction comes from a father, yet a fool despises it Proverbs 15.5). Though you add correction to instruction, yet one 'reproof entereth more into a wise man, then an hundred stripes into a fool' (Proverbs 17.10). Though you bray a fool in a mortar, yet will not his foolishness depart from him (Proverbs 27.22). Thus it is that though Christ's messengers labour so much, they profit so little, for sin has made men such fools that they will not receive instruction.

(7) Some men are such fools as to apostatize, even after they have received the truth and have gone far in the profession of it, which is no small folly. 'As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly' (Proverbs 26.11 compared with 2 Peter 2.20-22). The Word of God works on some men like a medicine: it makes them vomit, makes them confess their sin, which one of the old writers calls vomitus animae, as if it lay hard and heavy on their stomachs and they were sick of it; but after a while they lick it up again. They repent, and sin again as if they repented of their repentance. For this reason the Apostle calls the Galatians fools: 'O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey (that is, go on to obey) the truth?' They had begun to obey, and so he adds: 'Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?' (Galatians 3.1-3)This is folly with a witness! An apostate is a double fool, a tree twice dead. His latter end is worse than his beginning. Thus we see how sin has duped men. But this is not all:

(iv) Sin has degraded man and made him a beast. It is true, he has the shape of a man, but, alas! he is degenerated into a bestial and beastly nature. I may begin, as Ovid began his Metamorphoses: 'In nova fert animus' (Strange things come to mind). I must show you a monster, indeed, many monsters in one: a dog-man, a goat-man, a wolf-man, a fox-man and so on. It would be better to be a beast than to be like a beast, living and dying like one. It would be better to be Balaam's ass than such an ass as Balaam himself was. But to set this degeneration and degradation of man by sin before you more clearly and fully, I shall deal with it under three headings: Sin has made man (a) like a beast, (b) like the worst of beasts, (c) worse than the beasts.

a. Sin has made man like a beast, and not only like one, but, indeed, a very beast! The Man of Sin, the great Antichrist, is called a beast, and the great ones that Daniel saw in his vision are called beasts. In Scripture, sinners are ten or eleven times called brutish; and what some men are all would be if left to themselves, if common or special, restraining or renewing grace did not interpose and prevent. Three things will indicate this likeness:

(1) Sinful man is like the beasts in ignorance and stupidity. 'So foolish was I, and ignorant: I was as a beast before thee' (Psalm 73.22). Man, though a man in honour, that understandeth not, is like the beast that perishes (Psalm 49:20); he is of no more value or honour, though he sits at the upper end of the world as the Antichristian beast does. 0 ye brutish, when will ye understand? O ye fools, when will ye be wise? (Psalm 94.8). Brutish and foolish are synonymous and parallel expressions, as was hinted before. A heart void of understanding is the heart of a beast, as is clear from Daniel 4.16 with 34-36.

(2) Sinful man is like the beasts in sensuality, as if he were only belly-wise, and had no soul to mind, or a soul only to mind his body. He places his happiness only in sensual and bodily enjoyments and satisfactions. In this sense some understand that saying: 'I said in mine heart concerning the estate of the sons of men, that God might manifest them, and that they might see that they themselves are beasts' (Ecclesiastes 3.18). Solomon does not use a gentle or courtly compliment, but calls them (in downright and plain English) beasts. They live and die like beasts, make no provision for eternity, and have no mind for the world to come, which is the world of eternal good or evil.

(3) Sinful man's likeness to the beasts consists in, and is apparent from his unfitness and unsuitableness for society and communion with God and man. The sinner's society is but societas belluina, the society of beasts, and good men are as shy of it as of conversing with beasts. In the state of innocence among all the beasts there was not found a meet help, anyone for man to associate himself to and keep company with; and ever since, sinful man is as unfit for pleasing and profitable converse as the beasts were then. Job's friends took it as great scorn and disdain that they should be counted as beasts and reputed vile in his sight, that is, not fit or worthy of his conversation. God and sinful men do not walk together; they are not agreed. And good men are enjoined by God himself not to be unequally yoked, for 'what communion hath light with darkness?' (2 Corinthians 6.14). Thus by their ignorance, sensuality and unfitness for society sinful men have become like beasts.

b. Sinners are like the worst of beasts. They are not only like beasts in general, but such as are called in Scripture, evil and hurtful beasts. Sinners are not likened to the dove or the sheep, the harmless creatures, but to lions, tigers, boars and bears, the ill-qualitied and ill-conditioned creatures. If at any time they are likened to a creature that is harmless, it is not for that good quality but for some bad one in the creature. For example, Ephraim is likened to a dove, not for innocence but silliness (Hosea 7.11). So when sinners are likened to serpents it is not for their wisdom but their venomous and poisonous nature, or the enmity that is in them against mankind. But usually sinners are set out and painted like the worst of animals; like a dog, an angry dog, a creeping dog, a howling dog, a back-biting dog, a greedy dog, a dumb dog; by lions, devouring lions, roaring lions; by a raging bear; by a deceitful fox. So man is like the evil and hurtful beasts, for as one lion will devour many beasts and one wolf will devour many sheep, so one sinner devours much good (Ecclesiastes 9.18) and his tender mercies are cruel (Proverbs 12.10).

c. Sin has made men worse than the beasts; more beasts than the beasts themselves and worse than the worst of beasts. Sinful man is not only as ignorant as, but more ignorant than the beasts. He is more sensual and more unsociable than the sensual and unsociable beasts. This is apparent in several ways:

(1) The beasts do not transgress the law of their nature, but man has done and does so over and over again. The instinct of these creatures is their law, and they constantly observe it. The characteristic of a beast, which is condemnable in man, is not condemnable in the beast: ignorance and stupidity is no crime in an ox or ass, but it is in man. It is no fault in a lion to be devouring, but it is sin in man to be like a devouring lion. The beasts fulfil the law of nature, but men transgress it when they act like beasts. So sinful man is worse than the beasts.

(2) Sinful man is worse than the beasts in the very quality for which he is likened to them. The ox and ass have no understanding, and sinful man is compared to them for ignorance and stupidity; but they are more knowing than he (Isaiah 1.3). The same is spoken of the stork, crane and swallow, by way of rebuke to man (Jeremiah 8.7). These foolish creatures have more understanding than sinful man. And as to sensuality man is worse than the beasts. Things of sense are the proper objects of an animal's appetite, but not of the natural appetite and inclination of man. It is no sin in an animal to be sensual, but it is so in a man, who though created to higher ends and purposes, is so degenerated as to be in many things more sensual and carnal than the animals are. Sin has made man so unsociable and cruel that bears are more kind to one another than men are; it were better for a man to meet a bear in her rage, when robbed of her whelps, than to meet a fool in his folly (Proverbs 17.12). Man is more hurtful to man than the animals are to man.

I could give a long list or catalogue of the animals sinners are likened to, showing where the parallel or similarity holds. The wicked tyrannical rulers of the world are compared to a roaring lion and a ranging bear (Proverbs 28.15): they have no pity, but make a prey of all to whom they come near. Hypocrites are like vipers (Matthew 23.33). Herod was called a fox, not only for his craft and cunning, but for hunting after the life of the Lamb, Christ Jesus. Thus some sinners are like some animals and some like others, but there are two animals to which all sinners are likened: the goat and the dog.

a. Sinners are called goats (Matthew 25.32,33): He shall set the sheep, that is, the godly on his right hand, and the goats, that is, the wicked on his left. There are two or three things which naturalists observe concerning goats, in which the wicked are like them.

(1) Goats are very lascivious, wanton and lustful. Sinners are so too: the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eye are the things they are taken with (1 John 2.16). To these they give themselves up. The Apostle says, Among whom we all had our conversation in the lusts of the flesh (Ephesians 2.3), and served divers lusts (Titus 3.3). In this they are like goats.

(2) Goats are stinking animals. A goatish smell is a stinking smell, and to smell of or like the goat is to have a very strong, unsavoury and stinking scent. Likewise the wicked are in abomination to the Lord, a very stink in his nostrils.

(3) Goats are very bold and adventurous animals. They climb rocks and precipices to browse and feed on what they can get with hazard. In this sinners are like them too; they run risks and many dangerous adventures for a little, indeed, no satisfaction. They venture peace, conscience, life, soul and all, to get that which is not bread (Isaiah 55. 2).

b. Sinners are likened to dogs. I shall not make divisions in this nor pursue the metaphor into details, of which a little was said before. I will only show that though it was more usual with the Jews to call the Gentiles dogs, and our Saviour spoke in their language when he told the woman that it was not meet to take the children's bread and cast it to dogs (Matthew 15.26), yet it is a common name for sinners, whether Jews or Gentiles, to all without God and Christ; for without are dogs (Revelation 22.15).

All in all then, it is only too clear and evident what mischief sin has done man in thus degrading him, by making him a fool, an animal and a monster. And still this is not all.

(v) Sin has separated man from God in a moral sense. Though by nature we are his offspring and 'in him we live, and move, and have our being' (Acts 17.28), yet morally and spiritually sinners are separated from God and are without God. This is a great injury; indeed, it is the greatest. For since God is man's chiefest good, to be separated from him must be his greatest evil and loss. There was always a very great disproportion and distance between God and man, God the Creator and man the creature, God Infinite and man finite, but this was no misery to man. It is sin, only sin that has made a difference and separation between God and man. Therefore sinners are said to be afar off (Ephesians 2.13) for they depart from God and like the prodigal go into a far country (Luke 15.13). In particular, sin has separated man

a. From the sight of God. Man could talk with God face to face, as a man converses with his friend, but alas! man cannot see his face and live. One of the first evidences of man's sinfulness and misery by it, was that he could not endure, but hid himself from the sight and the voice of God (Genesis 3.8). Our happiness lies so much in the sight of God that it has the name of 'beatific vision', a sight which passes all sights. When our Saviour prays for the happiness of his own, he not only prays that they may be where he is but that they may see his glory (John 17.24) And this is the glory which doth not yet appear, that we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is (1 John 3.2).

They who are regenerate and enlightened from above, and who are refined and clarified, have some glimpses and gradual sights of God, and yet it is, comparatively, called darkness: we see but darkly (as it were, his back-parts) through a glass, which is short of seeing face to face (1 Corinthians 13.12). We live by faith now rather than by sight, as the Apostle expresses it in 2 Corinthians 5.7. It is true, faith is to us instead of our eyes, for it is the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11.1), and by it we look, as Moses did, to him who is and to his things which are invisible (2 Corinthians 4.18). Seeing then that man's happiness lies so much in seeing God, what a great mischief has sin done to man in separating him from the sight of God! Man cannot see God and live, whereas the best life is in seeing God.

b. From the life of God. Sin has separated man not only from living to God and with God but from living the life of God, that is, such a life as God lives, which is a life of holiness and perfection. Therefore it is said of sinners that they are alienated from the life of God (Ephesians 4.18). Indeed, they are dead in sins and trespasses (Ephesians 2.1). They are so far from living that they are dead; so far from living to God that they live against God; so far from living the life of God that they live the life of devils. They live according to the prince of the power of the air, that is, the Devil (Ephesians 2.2). What an injury sin has done in separating man from the divine life and nature and sinking him into the dregs and death of sin! It has made him dead in sin.

c. From the love of God. I am not speaking now of the love and goodwill which is in God towards man, but of that love and the actual communication thereof which man once had and enjoyed. Now sin has not only deprived him of this but made him the object of his wrath, for God is angry with the wicked every day (Psalm 7.11), and they are by nature the children of wrath (Ephesians 2.3,4), and therefore are said not to be loved (Romans 9.25). Man was once the object of his love and delight: when man came into the world in the likeness of God, God looked on him with delight and was enamoured of this his image. But sin has made him the object of his wrath. Oh, injurious sin!

d. From communion with God. While man and holiness kept company God and man kept company, but when man and holiness parted, God and man parted, and the restoration of any to this relationship is on a new basis. They could not walk together because of this disagreement (Amos 3.3) When man left walking in the light of holiness and walked in the darkness of sin, fellowship ceased (1 John 1.6,7). It is true, there is reconciliation and recovery by Jesus Christ, but sin did what in it lay to cut man off from all communion with God for ever. Oh this spiteful and pernicious sin!

e. From the covenant relationship in which he stood to God. As a result God had no obligation upon him to own man or look after him or to have anything to do with him except to sentence him. And what sin did at first, if not repented of and pardoned, it will do to this day. Therefore sinners are called 'Lo-ammi', not my people, which is worse than not to be a people (1 Peter 2.10). They are without God, promise and covenant (Ephesians 2.12). Man can claim nothing of God as of right, having sinned; and therefore men are said also to be without hope that is, hope in themselves. What a separation sin has made! When it robs man of God it robs him of all things, for all things are ours only so far as God is ours (1 Corinthians 3.21).

Arising out of this separation from God two great miseries come upon sinners as judgments upon it:

a. God hides his face. This follows on the separation, as is expressly stated in Isaiah 59.2: 'Your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, or, as the margin reads it, have made him hide his face from you. It is his face which makes heaven, and a smile of it or the lifting up of the light of his countenance upon us refreshes us more than corn, wine and oil (Psalm 4.6-7). His loving kindness is better than life--we would have done better to have parted with life than with that! Man's sin is expressed by this, that he turns his back to God and not his face. His punishment is expressed by God turning his back to him and not his face. God behaves not like a friend but a stranger. Indeed, this hiding of his face signifies many more miseries than I can now stay to mention in detail.

b. Another and no less misery is that God does not hear his prayers. This follows in the aforementioned text (Isaiah 59.2) and it accompanies the hiding of God's face (Isaiah 1.15). God is a God hearing prayers, but sin shuts out our shouting, and the prayers of the wicked are an abomination unto the Lord who calls them no better than howlings (Hosea 7:14).

There are two or three further miseries, not to name many more that result from this separation, which continually attend poor sinful man.

c. Man is without strength. Man's great strength is in union with God. Separation weakens him, for without God, apart from him, out of him, and separated from him we can do nothing. To be a sinner is to be without strength (Romans 5.6,8). Man was once a Samson for strength, but having parted with his locks, his strength is departed from him, so that of himself he is not sufficient to think one good thought (2 Corinthians 3.5). He was strong while in the Lord and in the power of his might, but now his hands are weak, his knees feeble, and his legs cannot bear him up; he has got the spiritual rickets.

d. Man becomes afraid of God and ashamed to come before him. While he was innocent, though naked, man was not afraid or ashamed to approach God, or of God's approaching him. But when he had sinned he was ashamed to show his face and afraid to see God's face or to hear his voice (Genesis 3.9,10). When righteous he was as bold as a lion, but now he runs into a bush.

e. This separation and departure hardens his heart against God. When God comes to talk with man about his sinning, he will lay it anywhere, even at God's own door as Adam did, rather than confess it. It is three times said in one chapter: 'Harden not your hearts', 'lest any of you be hardened', 'harden not your hearts' (Hebrews 3.8,13,15). All this is in relation to hearing the voice of God. For when God comes to convict man he cannot hear of it but hardens his heart. And as it was in the beginning, so it is now among the sinful children of men.


It has brought on man that eternal death, damnation. In this life, man, by reason of sin, is in deaths often, but in the life to come he is in death for ever. If sin had only wronged man in this life, which is but for a moment, it would not have been so serious. But sin's miserable effects are everlasting: if mercy does not prevent, the wicked will die and rise to die again, the second and a worse death. There is a resurrection to life for the righteous, the children of the resurrection; and for the wicked a resurrection to condemnation or to death--for this is opposed to life (John 5.29).

But before I show what damnation is and thus what mischief and misery sin has brought on man, I shall first state a few things which will make our passage smooth and easy:

(1) God damns no man except for sin

Damnation is a punishment (Matthew 25.46), and all punishment presupposes guilt and transgression. God, the Judge of all the earth, will do right and he lays not upon man more than is right, that man may not enter into judgment with God (Job 34.23) or quarrel and find fault with him, which man would quickly do if God's judgment were not just, for even sinners themselves are judges. Death is but sin's wages (Romans 6.23); that which sin has merited. Man's undoing is only the fruit of his own doing. Man's perdition is of himself (Hosea 13.9). His own wickedness corrects him (Jeremiah 2.19), and that not only in this life, but in the life to come (Matthew 7.23,25).

(2) By sin all men are liable to condemnation

We were all of us children of wrath by nature (Ephesians 2.3), and the wrath of God cometh upon the children of disobedience (Ephesians 5.6). He that believeth not is condemned already (John 3.18); he is in a state of condemnation beside that which unbelief will bring upon him. And he that believeth not, the wrath of God abideth on him (John 3.36). He was a child of wrath by nature and continued so in unbelief; the wrath of God seizes on him as its habitation and abode. Every mouth must be stopped for all the world has become guilty; all have sinned and come short of the glory, and are obnoxious to the judgment of God (Romans 3.19-23).

(3) Some men have been, are, and will be damned for sin,

all but those who have condemned, do condemn and shall condemn sin and themselves for sin. If we judge ourselves we shall not be condemned of the Lord; otherwise woe be to us! When our Saviour sent his disciples to preach, he said, 'Go, preach the Gospel; he that believes shall be saved' (Mark 16.16). Yes, but what if they will not believe? What shall we say then? Why in that case tell them, 'He that believes not shall be damned'. Now this is as great a truth of the Gospel, that he who believes not will be damned, as this is, that he who believes shall be saved. Heaven and salvation is not more surely promised to the one than Hell and damnation is threatened to, and shall be executed on the other. Broad is the way that leads to this destruction; there are as many paths to it as there are sins, but impenitence and unbelief are the highroad, the beaten path in which multitudes go to Hell.

(4) Damnation is the greatest evil of suffering which can befall a man

It is the greatest punishment which God inflicts. This is the wrath of God to the uttermost; it is his vengeance. Who knows the power of his wrath? None but damned ones. To be damned is misery, altogether misery and always misery. This will be more evident when we examine what damnation is. It may be considered in two ways: 1. Privatively as a punishment of loss (poena damni). 2. Positively as a punishment of sense (poena sensus). We have an instance of both of these in Matthew 25.41: 'Then shall he say to them on the left hand, Depart from me'--there is privative damnation--'into everlasting fire'--there is positive damnation. As sin is negatively not doing good and positively the doing of evil, so damnation is a denial of good to, and an inflicting of evil upon, sinners. Salvation is ademptio mali, the taking away of evil, and adeptio boni, the obtaining and enjoying of good. It is expressed in both ways in John 3.16: 'God so loved the world that he gave his Son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish'--there is negative salvation--'but have everlasting life' --there is positive salvation. Similarly the damnation of sinners is negative and positive.

From the above text (Matthew 25.41) we may observe:

1. Who are to hear and undergo this doom, that is those on his left hand, the goats, the sinners or the workers of iniquity as it is in Matthew 7. 23.

2. The sentence or doom itself: 'Depart from me.' Woe unto you, says God, when I depart from you (Hosea 9.12); but it will be woe, woe, woe when sinners must depart from God. It is worthy of comment that the punishment answers to and is called by the name of sin. What is sin but a departure from God? And what is the doom of sinners but departure from God? It is as if God should say to them, You liked departing while you lived; now depart from me. You would none of me nor my company; now I will none of you or yours. Depart from us, is the cry of sinners to God (Job 21.14). Depart from me, will be the cry of God to sinners.

3. The state in which sinners will be when they receive this doom--'cursed'. God will not send them away in peace or bless them before they go, but away they must go with a vengeance and a curse at their backs. They loved cursing, and cursing shall be unto them. All the curses in the Book of God shall light on them.

4. The torment they are to undergo: 'fire'. Indeed it is everlasting fire, kindled and maintained by the wrath of God.

5. The company they are to have. This will be none but 'the Devil and his angels'.

To comment on this briefly, it is as if sinners should say to God in the day of judgment, Lord have mercy upon us! Have mercy upon you! says God. No, I will have no mercy on you. There was a time when you might have had mercy without judgment, but now you will have judgment without mercy. Depart! Depart! If they should then beg and say, Lord, if we must depart, let it be from thy throne of judgment but not from thee. No, says the Lord, depart from me; depart from my presence in which is joy. Depart and go to Hell. Lord, they say, seeing we must be gone, bless us before we go so that thy blessing may be upon us. Oh no, says God, go with a curse; depart, ye cursed. Oh Lord, if we must go from thee, let us not go into the place of torment, but appoint some place, if not of pleasure, then of ease. No, depart into fire, burning and tormenting flames. Oh Lord, if into fire, let it be only for a little while; let the fire soon be out or us soon out of it, for who can dwell in everlasting burnings? No, neither you nor the fire shall know an end; be gone into everlasting fire. Lord, then let it be long before we go there. No, depart immediately; the sentence shall be immediately put in execution. Ah! Lord! let us at least have good company who will pity us though they cannot help us. No, you shall have none but tormenting devils; those whom you obeyed when they were tempters you shall be with as tormentors. What misery sin has brought on man! to bring him to hear this dreadful doom!

I come now to consider in detail privative and positive damnation.

1. Privative damnation. This penalty of loss will not be the least plague of the sinner's Hell. He shall be deprived of all good, never to enjoy a good day or a good thing more. When once a man is damned he may bid adieu to all good (Luke 16.25). But we will go on by degrees, step by step.

a. Damned sinners will be stripped naked and deprived of all the good things they have had in this life. Wicked men are called the men of this world (Psalm 17.14); they have their portion and consolation in this life (Luke 6. 24;16.25). Many of them fare well and prosper in this world. They have stately houses, lavish tables, full cups, soft beds, pleasant walks, and delightful gardens filled with fragrant fruits and flowers. They sit at the upper end and they have the grandeur and finery of this world. But when they come to be damned, neither riches nor honours nor pleasures will go with them. Wicked men would be content with the good they have if they could have it always. If, like Dives, they might be clothed with purple and fine linen and fare deliciously for ever, they would say 'Happy is that people, that is in such a case' (Psalm 144.15). But this vain petty happiness, such as it is, they must part with for ever, and bid adieu for good and all to all their good. When devils carry away their soul, whose shall all these things be (Luke 12.20)? None of theirs, for all must be left behind. They cannot carry with them a drop of water to cool their tongues. To have a portion of this world may be a mercy, but to have the world for a portion is a misery. To have all good things in this life and only for this life is a misery indeed! You shall be clothed with silks no more. You shall eat the fat and drink the sweet no more.

Objection: Saints themselves must part with these things too.

Answer: This is true, but they shall have better things in lieu of them. The impenitent sinner goes from all his good to all evil, but the saint goes from all his evil (and a little good) to all good. Who would not part with counters for gold? or with a world for Heaven? This a saint does and it is a good exchange, I think. But when a man must part with all his jewels, all his fine things, his wine and music and the delights of the sons of men, and have no good thing left him, how sad is his condition!

b. Sinners must part not only with these things but with the joy, pleasure and delight they had from them. These good things of which they will be deprived are most valuable for the use and comfort of them. The rich man in Luke 12 did not cheer himself in having much goods but because he expected ease and mirth from them. The wicked spend their days in mirth (Job 21.12), and have a fine time of it, as they think. They sing care away all the day long and refresh themselves with requiems and placebo songs;*[* Placebo songs=songs that please.] they chant to the viol. And though this frolic and joy is a misery in itself (for what truer misery is there than false joy?) yet it is the best they have in this world.

But even this must be parted with. This crackling of thorns will go out and their mirth will end in woe, their joy in sorrow and their light in darkness. It will add to their grief in Hell that they were so merry on earth. When this evil day comes they will say that there is no pleasure in remembering their old days. It seems Dives was loath to think of this, and so Abraham said, 'Son, remember'; but it was a sad remembrance to remember good things as being lost and gone for ever! They will say then as Adrian did, Oh my poor soul! Thou wilt laugh and joke and jest no more.

c. They must suffer the loss of all their peace. It is true, the wicked have no real and solid peace here, for there is no peace to the wicked, saith my God (Isaiah 48.22; 57.2I). But they have that which they call peace, and which is to them instead of peace, that is, security and stupidity, a seared and benumbed conscience; because of this they think that they are in peace. But when they come to Hell all will be different. Conscience which was seared as with a red-hot iron here will feel the flames there and be alarmed by it. They who met with no trouble here will be consumed with terrors there. There are no seared consciences in Hell; they are all tender and sensitive there. Conscience will awake and rise up like a lion or gnaw like a worm. They shall no longer have the small comfort of concealing their pain as they used to do here.

d. Sinners then must lose the hopes they had of Heaven. Wicked men have no reason to hope for Heaven and yet they will hope, though against hope, as Abraham and good men hope against hope when they have God's promise. Notwithstanding God's threatenings the wicked will build their hopes as high as Heaven even though they build on the sand and without a foundation. But their fall will be great (Matthew 7.22-27), from the hopes of Heaven into Hell. The hope of God's people keeps their heart from breaking and it shall never be ashamed, but this hope of sinners will break their heart in Hell, for there it will be ashamed. When the wicked dies, his expectation shall perish and the hope of unjust men perishes (Proverbs 11.7). Their hope shall be as the giving up of the ghost (Job 11.20). The hypocrite's hope shall perish and his trust is but as a spider's web. He shall lean upon his house but it shall not stand. He shall hold it fast but it shall not endure (Job 8.13-15). Where will the hope of the hypocrite be when God takes away his soul? Will God hear his cry when trouble comes upon him? (Job 27. 8 and 9). No, he will not.

e. They must suffer the loss of all good company. They shall no longer have the company of a single good man. In this world the wicked fare the better for God's people being among them. Though they despise and scoff at them and think them not worthy to live, yet God assures us that the world is not worthy of them (Hebrews 11.38). Truly they are too good for this world. Now though the wicked count good and holy men's lives to be folly and madness, when they come to die they would be glad with all their hearts if their souls were in as good a condition as those of the righteous after death. Balaam, that wicked wretch, who loved the wages of unrighteousness and lived in unrighteousness all his days, even he could wish to die the death of the righteous and that his latter end--the Hebrew is his afterward or after state--might be as theirs (Numbers 23.10).

At that time the wicked would be glad to take hold of the skirt of a Jew, that is, one who is so inwardly (Romans 2.28 and 29), and say, 'We will go with you, for God is with you' (Zechariah 8.23). But they will find a great gulf fixed between them. Heaven will not hold any of the wicked, nor shall Hell have any of the righteous to hold. 'The ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous' (Psalm 1.5). Here below they may throng in, the bad among the good, but hereafter God will find them out and separate them. Though now many a sinner may separate from the world to join with saints, then God will separate them from saints and join them with sinners and devils. They shall be excommunicated from the society of saints and be delivered up to Satan, the executioner of God's wrath and vengeance, and have no company but the damned crew.

f. They must be without Heaven which they hoped for; not only without their hopes of Heaven. To have parted with their hopes for possession of Heaven would have been no loss, but gain; but to part with their hopes and with Heaven as well is a double loss. Whatever shall be the portion of the saints, they must go without it and not share in it in the least degree. And though perhaps, as some think, the wicked may be permitted to look into Heaven, as Dives saw Lazarus in Abraham's bosom, it will only be to heighten the depth of their misery by letting them see what they have deprived themselves of by their sin. To lose Heaven is to lose a kingdom and glory, more worthy and more glorious than all the kingdoms of this world, and their several glories put together. It is to part with rest, or Sabbatism as it is called: Sabbaths they cared not for while they live, and Sabbatism or rest they will have none when they die. They gloried in their shame in this world and in the world to come they shall have shame enough, but no glory. The thought that they were happy, though only in imagination, and that others are really happy for ever while they themselves are excluded from any share in any happiness--this will cut them to the heart.

g. They must suffer the loss of God himself, who is the Heaven of Heaven. All good things are like a drop in the ocean in comparison with him. 'Whom have I in Heaven but thee' (Psalm 73.25). as if all the rest were nothing. If a saint went to Heaven this very day he would say like Absalom: 'Why am I come up from Geshur if I may not see the King's face' (2 Samuel 14.32). This will be the misery of miseries for the damned, that they must depart from God, in whose presence only there is joy and pleasures for evermore. They must see his face no more except as they shall see it frowning upon them for ever. The good people sorrowed most for the words that Paul spake, that they should see his face no more (Acts 20.38). This will prick and wound sinners to the heart that they must see God's face no more, no more of his goodness, no more of his patience, no more of his mercy. When Cain, who is a type of this, was turned out of and banished from the presence of the Lord, he cried out that his punishment was intolerable (Genesis 4.13).

h. They shall continue utterly incapable of any alteration for the better. This makes Heaven so much Heaven, that it is always so, and likewise what makes Hell so much Hell is that it is always so. In this world there is a door of hope, a day, an offer, and means of grace, space for repentance, a Mediator in Heaven, a patient God, and a possibility of being blessed. But once damned, the door is shut and it is in vain to knock. The day, offers, and means of grace are at an end. No room is left for repentance. God's longsuffering will suffer no longer. The mediation of Christ Jesus is over. There is no possibility of mending one's condition. We should hear the words of the wise: 'Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work (no working out salvation) in the grave, whither thou goest' (Ecclesiastes 9.10). Think of it, poor sinner, think of it in time before it is too late; for if you die in your sins, though you should weep out your eyes in Hell it will do you no good. God will not know you nor hear your cry, but will laugh at your calamity and mock you in the midst of your torments (Proverbs 1.25 and 26).

I have now briefly shown you the privative part of damnation, that wicked men must part with all their goods, joys, peace, hopes, and good company, all of which stood them in good stead in this world, and with Heaven. And what is more and worst of all, they must part with God himself and be utterly incapable of ever being in a better condition. And what do you think now? Is not sin exceeding sinful, which separates man from all good, past, present and to come? If it were only from past good, what Adam enjoyed in Paradise, or only from present good, such as men have in this world, it could be better endured. If the future and eternity were secured it would be well. But sinful sin has cut off Paradise, so that none of us were ever in Eden since we came into the world; it has spoiled, embittered and poisoned with a curse all present temporal enjoyments so that they prove satisfactions to none but vexations to all. Yet of so spiteful and malignant a nature is sin that it reserves its worst until last, namely Hell and damnation. And it will be worse to us in eternity than it was in time. In order to make this still more evident I proceed to consider the second part of damnation.

2. Positive damnation. This the schools justly call poena sensus, the punishment of sense. If it were not for this, that men will then feel both their loss and their gain--the pain which they have gained by their sins--damnation would seem to be but a dream or an imagination. But their senses as well as their understanding, feeling as well as fancy, will tell them what a dreadful thing it is to be damned. It is a thing which I wish with all my soul that none of you may ever know save by hearing of it, and I wish that hearing of it may be a means to prevent your feeling it. But what shall I do? Who that has not been in Hell can tell what Hell is? Who would go there to find out what it is? Surely eye hath not seen nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man to conceive what God hath prepared for them that love him, and likewise for them that hate him, that is for impenitent sinners.

It is the design and work of sin to make man eternally miserable, and to undo him, soul and body, for ever. The better to represent this doleful state and woeful misery I shall search the Scriptures and endeavour to fathom the depth of expressions used there. Thus we may learn what damnation is, and from that the sinfulness of sin. I will first lay down three propositions:

a. The punishment that sinners must undergo will be such a state of misery that all the miseries of this life are not to be compared with it. They are nothing to it. If you take the dregs of all the miseries of this life and extract from them an essence, the very spirit of miseries, as men take the essence from the lees and dregs of wine and beer, it will fall infinitely short of this misery which is damnation. The gripings and grindings of all the diseases and torments that men do or can suffer in this life are like flea-bites to it. To pluck out a right eye or to cut off a right hand would be a pleasure and recreation in comparison with being damned in Hell (Matthew 5.30) A burning fever is nothing to burning in Hell. Indeed--to make a sweeping but true statement--if all the miseries which have been undergone by all men in the world were united and centred in one man, it would be nothing to Hell. Hell would be a kind of paradise if it were no worse than the worst of this world.

b. It will be a state quite contrary to that which the saints shall enjoy in eternity. Their different states are expressed in different terms: 'He that believeth shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be damned' (Mark 16.16). Damnation and salvation are contrary states. One is a state all of evil and of all evil; the other all of good and of all good. 'The wicked shall go into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into life eternal' (Matthew 25.46). The life which saints obtain, sinners go without; and the misery the saints are delivered from, sinners are delivered to. As different as grief is from joy, as torment is from rest, as terror is from peace; so different is the state of sinners from that of saints in the world to come (Romans 2.6-10).

c. This damnation-state of sinners will admit of no relief. It will be punishment without pity, misery without mercy, sorrow without succour, crying without comfort, torment without ease. The sinner can look for no relief from God, for God judges and condemns him; none from conscience, for that accuses and upbraids him; none from the devils, for they torment him; none from hope, for that is departed from him; none from time, for this state is for ever. It is a state of all misery and it has no consolation, not so much as a little drop of water to cool the tongue. It is misery, more misery, nothing but misery, just as sin is all sin, and nothing but sin.

I will consider the damnation-state of sinners in detail under six heads: (1) The torments themselves and the kinds of them. (2) The quantity and quality of them. (3) The duration of them. (4) The tormentors or inflictors of them. (5) The aggravations of them. (6) The effects of them. By the time that I have set these before you, I expect you will conclude and cry out, oh sinful sin! What a thing is sin! And who would sin at this rate, and go to such great expense to damn himself!

1. The torments of Hell Under this heading I shall consider the place with its names, and the thing itself.

a. The place with its names. In general, and most frequently, it is called Hell, the place and element of torment (Luke 16). This is the general rendezvous for the wicked after the day of judgment. It is common to express the dreadfulness of any condition or thing by joining the name of Hell to it, just as to signify excellence of a thing the name of God and Heaven is joined to it. For example, the cedars of God.

(1) Hell is a place and state of sorrow. The greatest sorrows are called 'the sorrows of hell' (2 Samuel 22.6). Just as the joys of heaven are the greatest joys so the sorrows of hell are the greatest sorrows.

(2) It is a place and state of pains and pangs far beyond those of a woman in travail. 'The pains of hell gat hold upon me' (Psalm 116.3). There is no ease in hell.

(3) Destruction is joined with it. To be in hell is to be destroyed. 'Hell and destruction are before the Lord' (Proverbs 15.11). He can destroy body and soul in hell (Matthew 10.28).

(4) It is a place and state of fire, of fiery indignation. He that calls his brother fool without cause and in rash anger is in danger of hell fire (Matthew 5.22), the worst of flames (Luke 16).

(5) There is damnation in it and ascribed to it: 'How can ye escape the damnation of hell?' (Matthew 23.33).

(6) Torment is attributed to it. It is called the place of torment (Luke 16.28).

Thus you see what kind of a place and condition hell is. It is all these and much more than these words can express or than you can conceive from these expressions.

Let us now consider the names given to the place hell:

(i) Hell is called a prison. Heaven is set out by attractive and delectable things and similarly hell is set out by what is distasteful and loathsome. A prison is one such thing and so hell is called a prison (Matthew 5.25; 1 Peter 3.19). Prisons and common jails are the worst places to live in, but hell is worse than the worst of prisons.

(ii) Hell is called 'the bottomless pit' (Revelation 9.11). The devil is the angel of the bottomless pit. This is a pit into which sinners must fall and be ever-falling, for there is no bottom.

(iii) Hell is called a furnace of fire. That is a terrible thing: Nebuchadnezzar's furnace was terrible, especially when heated seven times more than usually, yet hell is a worse furnace of fire (Matthew 13.41-42) Those who do iniquity (who are sin makers by trade) shall be cast into a furnace of fire which shall not devour them but shall torment them and make them wail and gnash their teeth.

(iv) It is called a lake which burneth with fire and brimstone (Revelation 21.8). Certain people there named shall have their part and portion in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone. They shall always be over head and ears in this lake, yet never drowned; always burning but never burnt to ashes. They will in this be like the burning bush which was burnt with fire but was not consumed. As the church was on earth so will sinners be in hell.

(v) It is called utter and outer darkness; even though it burns with fire and brimstone, those flames will administer the heat of wrath but not the light of consolation. Darkness is a dreadful thing, but to be in the fire in darkness, to be tormented in flames and still in darkness, how dismal must this be? 'Bind him hand and foot and cast him into outer darkness' (Matthew 22.I3). Thus it will be in vain to think of making resistance, for you will be bound hand and foot and be in darkness too. Indeed it is called chains of darkness (2 Peter 2.4), and blackness of darkness for ever (Jude 6,13).

b. The thing itself, Hell. We shall consider the thing itself with its names, for as its name is so is it. The most common and usual name of this punishment is damnation, which is a dreadful word. Who knows how much it means? It will make the stoutest heart tremble, the most confident countenance to fall, the most daring courage to fail, when they feel it. If His wrath be kindled but a little, it is terrible; how much more is it so, then, when it shall be wrath to the uttermost? For it is contrary to being saved to the uttermost. In particular it is called

(i) Destruction. That is to say, it is a moral destruction, not of man's being but of his well-being. They shall be taken, destroyed and utterly perish (2 Peter 2.12). And they shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord (2 Thessalonians 1.8,9). It would have been better for them that they had never been born, or if born, that they had never died, or if died, that they had never risen again, than to be thus destroyed. To be banished from God and the Divine Life is the worst death (Hierocles).

(ii) It is a curse. It is to be in an accursed state, under the curse of God. God not only says, 'Depart from me', but 'Depart, ye cursed' (Matthew 25.41). There is not the least dram of blessing or blessedness in this state. If so many curses hung over the Jews while on earth when they continued in their impenitence (Deuteronomy 28.16-20), how full of curses is this state of damnation! This valley of Gehinnom is a Mount Ebal, the Mount of Curses (Deuteronomy 27.I3).

(iii) Damnation is called the second death (Revelation 21.8). It will be a strange and miraculous kind of death, a living death, a death which never dies, an immortal mortality. They whose portion this death is will live, and death will be their portion all their life.

(iv) It is a state of shame and contempt. There is scarcely anything in this world that we are less willing to undergo than shame. Although a thief is not afraid to steal, when he is arrested he is ashamed. Shame and confusion and contempt will be their lot. 'Many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life and some to shame and everlasting contempt' (Daniel 12.2,3).

2. The quantity and the quality of the torments of hell and damnation. These will be exceedingly great and terrible; they will be universal; and they will be without intermission.

a. They will be exceedingly great and terrible. They are such as will make the stoutest hearts to quake and tremble. If the writing on the wall caused a change in Belshazzar's countenance, and trouble in his thoughts, so that the joints of his loins were loosed, and his knees smote one against the other (Daniel 5.6), what a commotion and heartquake will the day of God's wrath and vengeance produce! You will find an instance of this in Revelation 6.15-17, where not only bondmen, that is, persons of little and puny souls, but great and mighty men, chief captains and kings of the earth, that is, persons with great souls who have made the earth to tremble, shall hide themselves in dens and rocks and say to the mountains, Fall on us and hide us from the face of him that sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of his wrath is come and who shall be able to stand? For bondmen to be faint hearted and flee is no great wonder, but for men of might and power to run away and hide, that is strange! but you see it is from wrath, even though only the wrath of a Lamb. So what will they do when he shall rise up and roar like the Lion of the tribe of Judah?

It is the day of wrath, which is the terrible day of the Lord. It is the day of vengeance which is implacable. For God who is now hearing prayer will not then spare for their crying; not even though they cry, Lord, Lord. God always acts like himself, like a God. When he shows mercy it is like the God of all grace who is rich in mercy and loves with a great love: so when he executes wrath and vengeance, he makes bare his arm and strikes like a God. Who knows the power of his anger? None but damned ones! The sense of it here, the fearful reception of judgment (as it is in the Greek, Hebrews 10.27) and fiery indignation, make a kind of hell; so fearful a thing is it to fall into the hands of the living God when he acts like a God of vengeance, as the apostle speaks in verses 30 and 31. How dreadful a thing then would it be to be in hell itself under the tortures of his executed wrath for ever?

As the man is so is his strength. It is only a game to be whipped by a child. But to be whipped and lashed by a man or a giant whose little finger is heavier than another's loins, How painful must it be! The rod is for the back of fools, but when it shall be turned into scorpions and God himself shall lay on strokes without mercy or pity, how tormenting will it be! A stone thrown from a weak arm will not hit very hard, but when the hand and arm of God shall throw down that wrath from heaven which is now only threatened against ungodly men, and turn them into hell as a mighty man throws one over his shoulders, how will it sink them deep into hell!

b. The torments of hell will be universal.

(i) The torments themselves will be universal. It will not be merely one or two torments but all torments united. Hell is the place of torment itself (Luke 16.28). It is the centre of all punishments, sorrow and pain, wrath and vengeance, fire and darkness; they are all there as we have already shown. If a man goes through so much with one disease, what would a complication of diseases mean? If one punishment, the rack or some other torture, is so tormenting, what would all be at once? What then will Hell be?

(ii) The persons on whom these torments will be inflicted will be universally tormented. Not merely one or two parts of the person, but all over. The whole man has sinned and the whole man will be tormented; not the soul alone, or only the body, but the soul and the body, after the resurrection and the judgment. All the members of the body have been instruments of unrighteousness, and therefore all the members will be punished. As man is defiled from the crown of his head to the sole of his foot, so will he be plagued. The senses which men have indulged and gratified will be filled with pain and torment. This will be clean contrary to those pleasures with which they were gratified in this world. The eye which took so much pleasure in and was enamoured of beauty shall then see nothing but ugly devils and deformed hags of damned wretches. And the ear that was delighted with music and lovesongs, what shall it hear but hideous cries and gnashing of teeth, the howlings of damned fiends. The smell that was gratified with rosebuds and sweet perfumes shall have no pleasing scents but unsavoury brimstone and a stink. The taste that refreshed itself with eating the fat and drinking the sweet must have nothing but the dregs of the cup of God's wrath. The touch and feeling shall then be sensible, not of fine and silken things, but of burning flames and scorching fiery indignation.

The soul and all its faculties will fare no better. The mind will be tormented by understanding the truth with terrible force. That which it laughed at as foolishness it will then find true by the loss of it, that is, gospel happiness. The conscience will be like a stinging adder, a gnawing worm. The will will be vexed because it has had its own way for so long. Here men think it is a princely thing to have their wills, but there they will find it a devilish thing.

c. These torments will be without intermission. They shall be tormented day and night (Revelation 14.11). They shall have no rest. In this life our sleep is only a parenthesis to care and sorrow and pain, but there, there will be no sleeping. The God who executes wrath and those upon whom wrath is executed neither slumber nor sleep. Here they may have some intermission and some sane moments in their madness, but there, there will be night continually for vexations of heart.

I cannot go any further without pleading with you, whoever you are, who are reading this. Do you need anything more to dissuade you from going on in sin which is the way to damnation than the thought of damnation, and what a damnation, which is at the end of the way of sin? For your soul's sake hear and fear and do no more wickedly. What! Will you be damned? Can you think calmly of going to hell? Have you no pity on your precious soul? If you were to go from reading of hell, into hell, you would surely say, There was a prophet, and I would not believe it, but now I feel it. Think of this and also of what follows.

3. The duration of these torments. They will be for ever. Even though they were great, universal and for a time without a break, yet if you knew that they were to have an end, that would be some comfort. But here lies the misery of it, they will be today as they were yesterday, and for ever. As they were in the beginning so they will be all along and for ever; always the same, if not increasing. This is the world's woe, the hell of hells, that it is woe and hell for ever. After the sinners have been in hell millions and millions of years, hell will be as much hell as it was at first. The fire that burns will never go out and the worm that gnaws will never die--these things are three times repeated by our Lord and Saviour in one chapter (Mark 9.44,46,48). It will be a lasting, indeed an everlasting misery. It is everlasting punishment and everlasting fire (Matthew 25.41,46).

4. We must now consider the tormentors or inflictors of these torments. These are the Devil, conscience, and God himself who will torment the damned.

a. The Devil. The tempter will be the tormentor; they will not only be tormented with devils but by devils. They will be delivered to the jailors, the tormentors: 'So likewise shall my Heavenly Father do also unto you' (Matthew 18.34,35); that is, deliver you to the tormentors. When the church excommunicates, which is a symbol of this, it delivers to Satan; and when God excommunicates he gives up to the Devil, saying, Take him, jailor, and torment him, tormentor. The apostle thought it a great misery to fall into the hands of unreasonable men and therefore he prays and begs the prayers of others against it. But if the tender mercies of wicked men are cruelties, what are the cruelties of the Devil and his angels, especially when God delivers men up into their hands? What a misery it is to fall into the clutches of the Devil! To be tormented by the Devil! If he does so much now by permission, what will he then do by commission, when he shall be under no restraint! By what he now does we may very well guess what he is likely to do, and will do then.

There are many instances of his malice, rage and power; let us take one or two. We read of one possessed of a dumb spirit; 'Wheresoever this spirit taketh him, he teareth him that he foameth, gnasheth with the teeth and pineth away' (Mark 9.17-22) When he came into the presence of Christ Jesus he tore him, that he fell on the ground and wallowed foaming. Oftentimes he cast him into the fire and the water to destroy him. You know also how the Devil dealt with Job and went to the utmost extent of his commission, and almost prevailed, for he brought him to curse the day of his birth, though he did not curse God. If now while he is still in chains and under restraint the Devil can do so much to torment a man, how sad is it likely to be with men when the Devil shall have them in his hands by commission from God! When God shall say, Take him, Devil, Take him, jailor! Into the fire with him! Do your worst with him! Who can stand before the Devil's rage and envy when it has been whetted by a commission from God! Sinful sin which thus gives a man up to the Devil!

b. Conscience is the second tormentor. I mean a reflecting, an accusing, and an upbraiding conscience. In some ways this is a greater torment than any the Devil can inflict, because conscience is within us whereas the Devil is outside of us. What is within has the greatest influence upon us, whether for comfort (1 John 4.4) or for torment (Mark 9.44). The worm that never dies is within a man. It would be a dreadful thing to be eaten up of worms, to be continually fretted and vexed with the gnawing of worms, but this worm gnaws the spirit, which is more tender than the apple of one's eye. A wounded spirit who can bear! Judas sank under the weight and burden of it and so have many more. But if conscience is so terrible when awakened here, what will it be when a man shall be fully convinced and have all his sins set in order before his face (Psalm 50.21)? How will conscience lash men then? It will be as when schoolmasters reckon up their boys' crimes: first for this, and then a lash; next for that, and then another lash, and so on. So conscience will say, salvation was held forth, grace was offered, and then it will lash you for neglecting so great a salvation and turning grace into wantonness. Then follows the next charge. Says conscience: You knew that the wages of sin was death and that the judgment of God is just, and yet you would do such things; and then conscience pricks and torments, whips and lashes. The next point: after you had vomited up your pollution and had been washed from your filthiness, you returned like the dog to your vomit and like the sow to your wallowing in the mire. And then it lashes you again. If a man were falsely imprisoned, that would be some mitigation, some relief, but when a man is self-condemned and finds that his perdition is of himself, and that his own wickedness comes home to him, this will be the sting of death and damnation.

c. God will torment them; not only the Devil and conscience, but God himself. Though in this life God allows himself to be pressed with their sins just as a haycart is pressed down with sheaves, yet at the last he will show his power in avenging himself upon all wicked men. Now he seems to have leaden feet and to be slow to wrath; but then he will be found to have iron hands. Here God is patient, and if he does judge, yet in the midst of judgment he remembers mercy; he does not deal with men as their wickedness deserves. But then he will be extreme in punishing; the Lord himself will rain upon wicked sinners fire and brimstone and an horrible tempest (Psalm 11.5,6). This shall be the portion of their cup from the Lord. They shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God which is poured out without mixture in the cup of his indignation. They shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb (Revelation 14.10,11). Sometimes when judges suspect that their officers will not execute the judgment properly, they will have it done in their presence, with the whole court and company looking on. So it shall be with the sinner, 'and the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever, and they have no rest day nor night.'

5. The aggravations of these torments must now be considered. Sin has been aggravated and so will the torments be. There will be degrees of torment. Though it will be intolerable for all, yet it will be more tolerable for some than others (Matthew 11.21-24). In certain cases the torments will be aggravated:

a. Those who have lived long in sin. The longer men have lived in sin on earth the greater will their torments be in hell. 'The sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed' (Isaiah 65.20). He has for a long time been treasuring up wrath against the day of wrath. He has a greater count to pay for all the patience and forbearance of God. Some people grow rich by having other men's goods; men leave their money in their hands and do not call it in, and so they grow rich by it. In the same way wicked men grow rich in wrath by abusing the goodness and patience of God. God forbears them and does not enter into judgment with them and so they grow rich. But alas, they are rich in wrath.

b. Men who have had more means. The more expense God has been put to and the more pains he has taken with men, if they still continue impenitent, the more severe will their judgment be. If Christ had not come they had had no such sin. This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world and men love darkness. Capernaum that was exalted to heaven, that is, in terms of the means of grace it enjoyed, will be thrown to hell in the end (Matthew 11.23). To fall from earth to hell will be a great fall, but to fall from heaven to hell will be a greater. To go from Turkey to hell will be sad, but to go from England to hell, and from London to hell, ah, how ruefully sad!

c. The more convictions men have had, the greater will their condemnation be; that is, the more knowledge they have attained to without practice and improvement (Luke 12.47)That servant which knew the Lord's will and did not according to his will shall be beaten with many stripes. And it were better they had never known the way of righteousness than, having walked in it, to depart from it (2 Peter 2.21). To him that knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin, that is, great sin or sin with a witness and condemnation with a vengeance. How can they escape the great condemnation who neglect the great salvation? Such people will become inexcusable under the judgment of God (Romans 1. 32 compared with Romans 2.1,2,3).

d. The further men have gone in the profession of a religion the greater will their condemnation be! They have gone far but without the power of godliness. Formalists and hypocrites will know the worst of hell: 'how can ye escape the damnation of hell' (Matthew 23.33)? Not only hell but the damnation of hell, the hell of hells! The form of Godliness and the power of ungodliness will fare alike at that day (Matthew 24.51 compared with Luke 12.46).

e. Apostates will meet with aggravated torments in hell. The back slider will be filled with his own ways; his latter end will be worse than his beginning (2 Peter 2.20). It would have been better for them had they died in their sins at first than to be twice dead as they are now (Jude 12).

6. So much for the aggravations of torment. We must now consider the effect of these torments.

a. Inexpressible sorrow. There will be sighing and groaning that cannot be uttered, weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 8.12). Anger, indignation and vexation, even to madness and rage, will be the effects of this torment.

b. Intolerable sorrow and pain. If thunder, lightning and earthquakes make men afraid and shrink together, what will hell do! If the throbbing of toothache or the gnawing of gout puts men to such excruciating pains, what will hell do! If sickness makes us fear death, and the fear of death is so dreadful, what will hell be! If you, like Felix, tremble to hear of this judgment to come, what would you do if you were to undergo it! If to see ugly and devilish shapes frightens us, what will it do to be with the Devil and his angels!

c. Final and eternal impenitence. This will be the sad effect of these torments and despair, even to cursing and blaspheming. He who dies impenitent continues so for ever; and impenitence brings with it blasphemy. 'They shall pass through it hardly bestead and hungry, and it shall come to pass that when they shall be hungry, they shall fret themselves and curse their king and their God' (Isaiah 8.21). I quote this to show what a fretting and vexing heart is like under torments. This is very common with people who are despairing and therefore desperate. When men are scorched with great heat, they blaspheme the name of God and repent not to give him glory. 'And they gnawed their tongues for pain and blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores' (Revelation 16.10,11). When the plagues of God are on impenitent sinners, there are cursings. Though they may be sorry for the plagues, yet they are not sorry for the cause of them, which is their sins. And so many infer that if these plagues, which are far inferior to those in hell, provoke men so much, the plagues of hell will do so much more. Thus we see what a dismal and miserable condition it is to be damned and what a sinful thing sin is which brings this damnation.

I have now dealt with the way in which sin is contrary to the good of man in this life and in the life to come. But before I go on, to bring in the witnesses to prove this charge against sin to be true, let me urge you, Reader, to consider what has been said. I do this so that you may be more afraid of sin than of hell; for had it not been for sin, hell should not have been, and you will never be in hell if you repent and believe the gospel, for righteousness is not by repentance but by faith. So believe and love faith as you love your souls and heaven. Hate sin and avoid it as you would hell and damnation. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto you, lest the rod be turned into a scorpion, lest the next loss be the loss of heaven, lest the next sickness be unto death, and death unto damnation. For if you die in sin you are damned irrecoverably. It would be sad to die in a hospital or a prison or a ditch; but it is worse to die in sin, just as it is worse to live in sin. If you go on in sin, this book will witness against you as much, if not more so, than if one had risen from the dead. If two or three devils or damned wretches should come from hell and cry Fire, Fire, it might startle you, but if you do not believe Moses and the prophets and Christ and his apostles, it will do you no good.

Therefore, mind the good of your soul and do not bring on yourself this great, universal, intolerable and eternal damnation. Take heed lest, when your flesh and body are consumed and your soul damned, you should say too late: 'How have I hated instruction and my heart despised reproof; and have not obeyed the voice of my teachers nor inclined my ear to them that instructed me!' (Proverbs 5.11-13). You will say, how I have rewarded my own soul with evil by doing evil against God! I scorned these things and mocked at sin, but now when I would hear, and when I would return, hope is perished. Such will be the terrible cry of sinners one day. Take heed therefore, for if you have not the wedding garment on, you will be cast out (Matthew 22.11). And if you are found a worker of iniquity, you must depart accursed.

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