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

Ralph Venning


Section Three



If sin is so exceeding sinful that it is extremely and notoriously guilty of contrariety to God and man, I have a cloud of witnesses to produce. These include God himself, angels and men both good and bad, the law and the gospel, the whole creation, sins' names and actions. Even sin's own confessions bear witness to this charge that sin is an exceeding sinful thing. From heaven, from earth, even from hell, will we bring witnesses against sin.



He does not leave us without witness that he is good and neither does he leave us without witness that sin is sinful, that it is against him and that it is against the good of man.


(1) God has forbidden sin and made a law against it

All the laws and every command of God are his witnesses against sin. He who does not believe the testimony God bears of his Son makes God a liar, who is true and cannot lie, and so does he who does not believe God's testimony against sin. The law written in man's own heart, the law written in tables of stone and the gospel also (I John 2.1) which is the law of faith, are written as witnesses against sin.

Now surely God would not have prohibited sin had it not been an abominable thing, abominated by him and to be abominated by us. God has given man room and scope enough, a very large allowance. Of all the trees of the garden man might eat, only one being excepted. Whatsoever things are true, honest, just, pure, lovely; whatsoever is of good report, if there be any virtue, any praise, these things think on and do (Philipplans 4.8). Now sin comes under none of these names but is contrary to them all and therefore it is forbidden. God has not forbidden man honours or riches, nor any pleasures except the pleasures of sin. Surely then, seeing God does not delight to grieve the children of men but rejoices over them to do them good with all his heart and all his soul, as he is pleased to express it (Jeremiah 32.41), he would never have forbidden anything to man but what was prejudicial to him, as well as being displeasing to himself. But I shall speak more of this when I show how the Lord God witnesses against sin.


(2) God will not allow us to do evil that good may come

Thus God witnesses against sin. As pleasing a thing as good is to God, yet he will not allow us to do the least evil for the greatest good. We see how angrily and with what indignation the apostle speaks against those who said the contrary (Romans 3. 8). Indeed, it is a damnable doctrine to teach that we may do evil for a good end, or that good may come of it. This doctrine was first broached by the Devil and ushered in the first sin (Genesis 3:1-6).

1. We may not do evil that good may come to ourselves. God allows man to love himself, and he has made self-love the rule and measure of our love to others: 'Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself'. God is not against man being rich, only he will not let men grow rich by sin (Jeremiah 17.11). God is not against man's pleasure so long as it is not attained by displeasing or dishonouring him. God well knows that good gained by evil will do man no good but only hurt. To gain the world and lose a man's soul has more of loss in it than of gain; and there is not a single sin which does not wrong and hazard the loss of a man's soul. God would not allow Adam and Eve to eat of the forbidden tree, even though it was good for food, pleasant to the eye and to be desired to make one wise (Genesis 3).

2. We may not do evil that good may come to others. God indeed has commanded us to do good to all, but he forbids us to do evil to that end. He that provides not for his family is worse than an infidel, but so is he that provides for it by a sinful way, by covetousness, lying, cheating or oppressing (Habakkuk 2.9-12). Paul, like Moses before him, could wish himself dead and anathematised to save the Jews, but he did not dare to sin for their sakes. When someone asked St Augustine whether he might tell a lie for his neighbour's good, Oh no, he said, you must not tell a lie to save the world. There is such a malignity in sin and it is so contrary to God, that it must not be done for any good. It is our duty to honour our father and mother, but this must be in the Lord; though it may be a duty to disobey, if not to hate father and mother, rather than obey them if to obey them will be disobedience to God. 'Whether it be better to obey God or man, judge you.' So God will not allow us to sin to gratify the greatest persons or our nearest and dearest relations.

3. God will not allow us to sin even though we should professedly do it for his glory. Sin can never directly glorify God, and though he knows how to bring good out of evil, yet he does not wish that we should sin for him. He does not need us, much less our sin. God will take vengeance and is righteous in doing so, even though our unrighteousness commend and enhance the righteousness of God (Romans 3.5). Though the truth of God has more abounded through your lie, yet you will be found a sinner (Romans 3.7). So for this good, evil must not be done (verse 8).

Those who cast out their brethren, saying, Let God be glorified, God will put them to shame (Isaiah 66.5). Though they thought in putting them to death that they should do God good service, yet God reckons it as their serving the Devil (John 16.2 with Revelation 2.10). When Saul excused his sin under a pretence of sacrifice, it was called rebellion and reputed as witchcraft, a most abominable thing (1 Samuel 15). Job upbraids his friends with this irreligious piety: 'Will ye speak wickedly for God? And talk deceitfully for Him?...He will surely reprove you' (Job 13.7-10). Sin is so much the worse for being committed in the name of the Lord. Men thereby make God serve the Devil's designs.

It will be no excuse that men like Herod, Pilate and Judas fulfil the counsel of God, if they sin against his revealed will, which is the rule by which men are to walk and to which they are to be obedient. So by all this it plainly appears that God witnesses against sin, that we may not sin for the good of any, nor for any good, not even for God.


(3) God witnesses against sin by threatening man

In case men sin he makes penal statutes against sin. If thou eatest the forbidden fruit thou shalt surely die. If sin were not an abominable thing, surely God would not have forbidden it on such peril, on pain of death. More will be said of this when we consider the execution of these threatenings and the just judgment of God on sinners.


(4) God is angry with the wicked

God is angry with the wicked every day (Psalm 7.11) and that proves that God is angered by them; for he is displeased with none save those who displease him, and nothing displeases him but sin. Is that not an evil thing then that tempts God, provokes him to jealousy, to anger, to wrath, and even sometimes to swear in his wrath (Hebrews 3)? Though judgment does not come every day, yet God is angry every day. David prayed that God would not rebuke him in anger (Psalm 6.1) for who knows the power of his anger (Psalm 90.11)? If his anger and wrath be kindled but a little, how happy are those who trust in them (Psalm 2.12)! 'If God will not withdraw his anger, the proud helpers do stoop under him' (Job 9.13), all the helpers of pride, as it reads, for man is apt to be very proud and has helpers of pride. Now it is noticeable that the word which we read as 'pride' signifies strength also, to denote that man is very apt to be proud of his strength. But all the strong helpers of pride must stoop if God does not withdraw his anger. The strength of riches (Proverbs 10.15), the strength of friends and family (Psalm 49.7), strength and stoutness of spirit, must all stoop if his anger break forth, if he take but one of his arrows and discharge it against a sinner, if he strike him with only one blow of his sword (Psalm 7.11-14). 'Kiss the Son, lest he be angry and ye perish from the way' (Psalm 2.12). Perishing is at the heels of his anger. The fear of a king is as the roaring of a lion; whoso provoketh him to anger sinneth against his own soul' (Proverbs 20.2). How dreadful then is the anger of the King of kings! When God sets our iniquities before him, we are consumed by his anger and troubled by his wrath (Psalm 90.7). We know therefore that if God's anger is so terrible and that it is sin which makes God angry, then certainly sin is extremely sinful and contrary to God. Otherwise the God of all grace, the God of patience, whose name is love, would never be so angry at it and for it.


(5) Sin alone made God repent that he had made man (Genesis 6.5,6)

God saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually, and it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. And so in verse 7, God says, It repenteth me that I have made them. Now the repentance of God argues a very great dislike of and displeasure against the wickedness of man. There was a time, although it lasted only a little while, when there was no sin, and when God looked on what he had made, he was very far from repenting, and was infinitely pleased. But when sin had spoiled the fashion and beauty of his work, then indeed, speaking after the manner of men, he grieves and repents. So it is not the work of his own hand but the work of man's heart that makes God repent. Is God man that he should repent? What a horrible thing must that be which makes the unchangeable God change! For such a thing is repentance, a change. It repented the Lord that he set up Saul to be king (1 Samuel 15). When men do wickedly God repents that he has done them good (Jeremiah 18.7-10). If men do evil against God, God repents of the good he has done men. But such is his goodness that If men repent of their evil God will repent of the evil he thought to do to them. Now just as anything which makes God repent of the evil must be very good, so undoubtedly anything which makes God repent of the good he has done to man must be very evil.


(6) God witnesses against sin by many great and severe judgments

He has threatened judgments to sinners and will in all ages execute them on many. On some sinners he will do so to all eternity. For what God has done shows what God will do, as the Apostle Peter infers (2 Peter 2.3-6). Sinners greatly mistake God when they say that evil is good in his sight, or Where is the God of Judgment? (Malachi 2.17). They no less forget themselves and what God has done when they say, All things continue as they were, and so go on to scoff, Where is the promise of his coming?, that is, his coming to judgment(2 Peter 3.3-4). It is true, if God were to judge as fast as men sin, the world would soon be depopulated and at an end. But his patience now is an argument of his judgment to come (2 Peter 3.9,10). At that time when God sends men to hell and damns them, they will know and acknowledge what an evil thing sin was and what bitterness it brings in the latter end.

Since damnation is such a dreadful thing, no less than the pouring out of God's wrath for ever on sinners, we must conclude that sin is extremely displeasing to God because it is contrary to him. That can be no little matter for which God brings on men such grave damnation. The next judgment to this consists in being left alone or given up to a reprobate judgment and a hardened heart. But that, though a present judgment, is invisible, and eternal damnation is future and so I shall not further speak of them, but will show that God has visibly judged this world for sin from age to age.

He is a God that judges in the earth, as he is a God who will judge the earth. 'The Lord is known by the judgment which he executeth: the wicked is snared in the work of his own hands' (Psalm 9.16); he is known to be against sin. So notable a text is this that it has a double note added to it--Higgaion, Selah. I do not remember any other text where this happens.

God has testified his displeasure against sin by executing judgment on sinners, saints, and his Son.

1. God has executed judgment on sinners. Usually the first person to commit any particular sin has been punished with eminent and remarkable punishment. Not to mention Adam who was all men in one, and who underwent a punishment and a curse for his sin, Cain, the first murderer, was as it were hung up in chains as a terrible warning to others. Judas, the first apostate, was made an example under the law, as were Nadab and Abihu, the first breakers of the ceremonial law after the establishment of Aaron's priesthood. Ananias and Sapphira, the first who lied to God in the beginning of the Christian church, were miraculously punished. God has made heaps of witnesses this way. God has set up monuments for pillars of salt, like Lot's wife. The flood that drowned the old world, the fire which burnt up Sodom and Gomorrah, and the many things that befell Israel for an example, were all types, as the Apostle says in 1 Corinthians 10.11 God has punished all sinners more or less. He spared not the angels that sinned; they were all doomed to darkness. He consumed almost a whole world at once; only eight persons were saved. He has cut off cities and nations not a few, as well as the things that have happened to individuals. Therefore men cannot say that all things continue as they were, and that God is not a God of judgment or that he is an allower of the evil of sin.

There is no age in which God does not really and actually judge sinners. Perhaps this may not be so clear to prejudiced and partial observers, who think that nothing is a punishment except what is miraculous or extraordinary. As if the earth must always swallow men up, or God strike men down with thunderbolts continually, and nothing less be called a punishment! How often is God's hand lifted up but men will not see, indeed, felt yet not acknowledged! God has his deputy in men's bosoms, their own conscience which often accuses and condemns them so that they cannot stand before its judgment. When their hearts smite them they sink, and their countenance and courage falls, as was the case with Cain and Judas and Spira. If men were only honest and would only tell what stings of conscience they feel, there would be witness enough how God lashes man within, and executes judgment upon their spirits. But God often inflicts corporal punishment visibly and before the eyes of others. Before the flood this was most commonly done directly and in person. But it may also be through an intermediary, sometimes by angels, and sometimes by magistrates who are human and mortal gods, deputies to the God above. You could say that by these God rides circuit and holds assizes very frequently. Judgment is now a strange work and does not seem so appropriate to this day of patience as to the day of wrath which is to come. Yet even so, God often makes examples and though he does not make as yet a full end of all nations, yet he leaves none altogether unpunished.

2. God has executed judgment on his own people when they have sinned, to show how hateful sin is, even in those he so dearly loves. One would think that if God would spare any, he would spare his own; and indeed, he pities them and spares them as a father pities and spares the son who serves him. But though he forgives them, yet he takes vengeance on their iniquity (Psalm 99.8). God forgives many a sinner, as to punishment, in this life, who will not be forgiven in the world to come; but since God fully resolves to forgive his people for ever, he will not wholly forgive them, that is, he will not leave them altogether unpunished here in time. God has been very severe with his people when they have sinned; it has cost them dear. King David's adultery and murder cost him broken bones: 'Heal the bones that thou hast broken', he says in a penitential psalm (Psalm 51.8). When Peter had sinned it cost him a bitter weeping. Repentance is a costly thing. It is disgrace, sorrow and pain to a man, even though it is a grace and duty.

If God's children go astray and play truant they must feel the rod. It is the rod of the Covenant, for chastening and correction of wantonness are in the Covenant as well as the supply of wants, threatening of judgment as well as promises of mercy. Sometimes sin brings such sorrow on the very members of the Church that they are in danger of being swallowed up with overmuch sorrow, if not of despairing altogether and giving up hope of mercy (2 Corinthians 2.7). God is gracious and merciful, yet he is a God visiting iniquity, and will sometimes punish those whom he has known and loved above all the people of the earth. Though he will not take his loving kindness from them, yet he will visit their transgressions with the rod and their iniquity with stripes (Psalm 89.30-33).

3. God did not spare his Son, when he came in the likeness of sinful flesh. He was no sinner except by representation. God was ever well pleased with his Son, yet when he stood in the place of sinners it pleased the Lord to bruise him. It was as if no one else could strike a stroke hard enough, and though he cried with strong cries, yet his Father would not take the cup out of his hand. He did not suffer for sinning himself, for though he was tempted to sin yet he was without sin, but he suffered for the sin of others. In the glass of his suffering we may clearly see the sinfulness of sin. This leads me to the last and great testimony of God against sin.


(7) God sent his Son into the world to condemn sin and to destroy it (Romans 8.3; 1 John 3.8)

God did not spare his Son but delivered him up for us all, which clearly witnesses for God how odious sin is to him. It ought also to be odious to man for whom Christ suffered and died that sin might die, and man might live; indeed, that he might live to him who died for us, for his love constrains us to no less (2 Corinthians 5.14,15).

To prove this more clearly and fully I shall show that Christ's sufferings were for sinners, that they were exceedingly great, and that the greatness of his suffering is a full witness on God's part of sin's sinfulness against God and man.

1. Christ's sufferings were for sinners. Jesus Christ himself suffered but he did not suffer for himself, for he was without sin (Hebrews 4.15, and 7.26). Neither was guile found in his mouth, nor any unbecoming word, when he suffered, although this was a most provoking time (1 Peter 2.22,23). It is a faithful saying that Christ came into the world to save sinners (1 Timothy 1.15). This was the errand and the business upon which he came. He had his name Jesus because he was to save his people from their sins (Matthew 1.21). And he himself confesses that he came to seek and to save that which was lost (Luke 19.10). Now dead and lost is the sinner's motto (Luke 15.32). Accordingly, when Christ was in the world he suffered and died that He might save sinners. He died for our sakes and so loved his church that he gave himself for it (Ephesians 5.25). It is not only often said that he died for us but that he died for our sins (Romans 5.8; 8.32). He died not only for our good as a final cause, but for our sins as the procuring cause of His death. He was delivered for our offences (Romans 4.25). Christ died for our sins according to the Scripture (1 Corinthians 15.3); that is according to what was typified, prophesied and promised in the Scripture. One remarkable passage, not to mention many others, is: 'He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed' (Isaiah 53.5). To this the Apostles bear witness in the New Testament. He gave himself for our sins (Galatians 1.4); who his own self bare our sins (1 Peter 2.24). Now this dying for us and our sins signifies several things:

a. That he died and gave himself as a ransom for us. I came to give my life a ransom for many, said our sweet and blessed Saviour (Matthew 20.28). He gave himself a ransom for all (1 Timothy 2.6). Christ's dying was the paying of a price, a ransom price. Hence we are said to be bought, redeemed, and purchased: 'Ye are not your own, for ye are bought with a price' (1 Corinthians 6.20), that is, the price of his blood. 'Ye were redeemed with the precious blood of Christ' (1 Peter 1.18,19). And the church is purchased with his own blood (Acts 20.28). He gave himself as the redemption price, and we are a purchased people (1 Peter 2.9).

b. He died for us as a sacrifice for our sins. He became sin for us (2 Corinthians 5.21). In the Old Testament the sin offering is called sin; so here Christ Jesus, as an offering for sin, is said to be made sin for us. It is said in the Holy Scripture that Christ offered his body, his soul, himself. 'We are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all' (Hebrews 10.10)--there is the offering of his body. He made his soul an offering for sin (Isaiah 53.10). 'And he has given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God' (Hebrews 9.14). He offered himself without spot to God, and he put away sin by the sacrifice of himself (verse 26). Now just as we were redeemed by the price, so we are reconciled by the sacrifice of his death. For we are reconciled by the death of his Son (Romans 5.9,10).

c. Christ laid down his life for us, bearing the curse due to our sins. Therefore it is said, 'He was made a curse for us', (Galatians 3.13). He bore our sins, that is, the curse due to our sins. He shall justify many, for he shall bear their sins (Isaiah 53. 1 1, 12). He became a curse for us that the blessing of Abraham might come upon us, and that is justification by faith as you may see from the context (Galatians 3.13,14 with verses 8 and 9).

2. The sufferings of Jesus Christ were exceedingly great. I shall omit what might be gathered from the types under the law, and what is spoken by the prophets concerning the suffering of Christ, though many things might be collected thence. But they are all fulfilled in him, and I shall therefore confine myself especially to what is related in the New Testament. He was a man of sorrows, as if to say that he was a man made up of sorrows and nothing else, just as the man of sin is as it were made up of sin. He knew more sorrow than any man, indeed, more than all men ever did. For the iniquity, and therefore the sorrows of all men, met in him as if he had been their centre. He was acquainted with grief--indeed, he was acquainted with little else. Grief was his familiar acquaintance. He had no acquaintance with laughter: we never read that he laughed at all when he was in the world. His other acquaintance stood afar off, but grief followed him to his Cross. From his birth to his death, from his cradle to the Cross, from the womb to the tomb he was a man of sorrows, and never were sorrows like his. He might say, Never was grief or sorrow like my sorrow. Indeed, it is impossible to express the sufferings and sorrows of Christ, and so the Greek Christians used to beg of God that for the unknown sufferings of Christ he would have mercy on them.

Though Christ's sufferings are abundantly made known, yet they are but little known. Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor has it nor can it enter into the heart of man to conceive what Christ suffered. Though it is impossible to declare all Chrlst's sufferings, it is useful to take a view of what we can. I shall therefore consider Christ's sufferings under three heads: (a) He underwent all kinds of sufferings, (b) He suffered by all kinds of persons, (c) All kinds of aggravating circumstances met in his sufferings.

(a) Jesus Christ suffered all kinds of sufferings. It is said that he was tempted in all things like unto us (Hebrews 4.15), and among other things meant by temptations, sufferings are not the least. He suffered being tempted--he suffered while he lived, but especially a little before and when he died. All his life was a suffering, not to mention his self-denials which were voluntary. He was no sooner born but suffering came upon him. He was born in an inn, even a stable; he had only a manger for his cradle. As soon as his birth was noised abroad, Herod sought his life, so that his supposed father was forced to flee into Egypt. He was persecuted before he could, after the manner of men, be aware of it, and have understanding of his sufferings. When he returned his sufferings grew up with him. Hunger and thirst, travel and weariness, scorn and reproaches, false accusations and contradictions waited on him, and he had not where to lay his head. But his special sufferings took place just before and at his death. Then he suffered in his body and in his soul.

1. In his body, which was wounded and crucified, he suffered in bearing his cross, as Isaac, who typified him, did. And he suffered in his body on the cross (1 Peter 2.24). He not only suffered unto death but in the manner of his dying: it was a shameful, a painful and an accursed death; indeed, he bled to death. Christ Jesus lost blood several times: at his circumcision, in his agony when he sweat drops and clots of blood, when he was whipped and scourged, when he was nailed to the cross, and probably when they plaited a crown of thorns (the earth's curse) on his head. And lastly when they thrust the spear into his side, with which he bled out his life and gave up the ghost.

He suffered in every part and member of his body from head to foot. His head, which deserved a better crown than the best in the world, was crowned with thorns, and they smote him on the head. His face suffered being spat upon. His back was turned to the smiters, was stripped and whipped; indeed they even ploughed upon his back and made deep and long furrows. His hands and feet were pierced and nailed to the crass. Indeed, he says through the prophet: 'All my bones are out of joint', as if he had been on the rack (Psalm 22.14). He suffered also in his senses, his feeling; could he be smitten, wounded, nailed and pierced without feeling? His taste suffered, for instead of strong drink and wine of consolation, which was usual for men ready to die (Proverbs 31.6), they gave him vinegar and gall to drink. His sight suffered, and among other things the sight of his mother and other grieving friends could not but affect his heart (Luke 23.27). It was a grief to him to see them grieve for him. Did it not afflict him to see his enemies wag their heads? His hearing suffered many a scoff and jeer, many an ill word and blasphemy. His smell could not but suffer when he came to Golgotha, the place of skulls, where filthiness and putrefaction lodged, the very stinking sink of the city. But this is not all.

2. Christ Jesus suffered in his soul. We read of his sighing and groaning, but let us consider him especially in his agony and upon the cross. In his agony he began to be sorrowful and very heavy (Matthew 26.37), for these were but the beginnings of sorrows. Sorrow is a thing that drinks up our spirits. And he was heavy as if feeling a heavy load upon him. And he is exceeding sorrowful unto death (Matthew 26.38). Sorrowful! Exceeding sorrowful! And unto death! It was such an extremity that it made him cry out, Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass. And this was with strong cryings and tears (Hebrews 5.7). When he was upon the cross he was under a desertion which made him cry again, My God, my God, why, or how, hast thou forsaken me? Now to cry, and to cry with a loud voice, argues an extremity of suffering. And after this he gave up the ghost, he poured out his soul an offering for sin. And so he suffered all kinds of sufferings both in soul and body.

(b) He suffered from all kinds of persons. Christ Jesus suffered from the Devil, for though Christ bruised his head yet he bruised Christ's heel. No sooner had Christ the testimony from heaven that he was the Son of God, but he was immediately carried into the wilderness to be tempted of the Devil. The thing which was questioned and disputed about was whether he was the Son of God or not, and though Christ worsted him and beat him out of the field, yet he departed but for a season. So when Christ was about to suffer, the Prince of this world mustered up all his forces again and came upon him with much violence. He made men of all types his agents to add to the sufferings of Christ. For as is stated in Scripture (Acts 4.26) he did not suffer from bad men only, which was a fulfilment of prophecy (Psalm 22). He was often tempted by the Pharisees, and he endured the contradiction of sinners. Yet this was not all, for he suffered from his own disciples and his nearest relations. Peter was once a Satan to him, and denied him thrice. The rest grieved him with their slowness and littleness of faith. Judas betrayed him. His brethren did not believe on him. And the heaviest of all was that he suffered from his Father: he put the cup into his hands and took pleasure to bruise him, and he laid upon him the iniquities of us all. God did not spare him nor abate him anything, but hid his face from him as if he had been angry with his only and most beloved Son.

(c) He had all kinds of aggravating circumstances united in his sufferings. He was made of a woman; now, that he who made the woman should be made of a woman, and become and be made a son to the work of his own hands, was a degree of suffering. He who was Lord of all was made in the form of a servant, and though equal to God, came in sinful flesh and so obeyed as a servant. It is this that is referred to as Dr. Jackson points out, when he says: I came not to do my own will but the will of him that sent me. He also suffered as a sinner, for so he was judged and as such put to death, though his judge confessed he found no fault in him. Indeed, more than this, he became a curse (Galatians 3.13) and which is the worst of words, he became sin for us (2 Corinthians 5.21).

There are still more circumstances which added to his sorrow and suffering. He came to his own and they received him not, he had least honour among his own in his own country. Indeed, he was wounded in the house of his friends, and one of his own betrayed him, devil that he was (John 6.70). He did good to many but had little thanks from any. Of ten lepers cleansed only one returned to give him thanks. What insincerity and ingratitude! And what aggravating circumstances there were at the end! He was taken and apprehended as a sinner. They came against him with swords and staves, as they would to take a thief. They charged him with blasphemy for speaking the truth. They preferred Barabbas, the son of their father the Devil, before him. The disciples left him and his Father forsook him, as was mentioned before. Who can reckon up the aggravating circumstances of his sufferings? He was crucified between two thieves and upbraided by one of them. His death was painful and shameful. Thee is much more, but I will pass on.

3. The greatness of Christ's sufferings is a full witness against the sinfulness of sin. What an odious thing sin must be to God! He will pardon none without blood (Hebrews 9.22). God would accept no blood but the blood of his Son; not that of bulls and goats (Hebrews 9.13), but that of his Son (1 Peter 1.18,19). God would not abate one drop of his blood, but he must pour out his life. His very heart-blood must be spilt and spent for sinners. And, wonder of wonders, all this was a pleasure to God, for it pleased the Lord to bruise him. That it should please the Lord to bruise the Son in whom he was well pleased is to us men an inconceivable mystery. Thus God has borne great witness against sin in that he sent his Son to die for sinners.

What a hell of wickedness that must be which none but God can expiate and purge! God does not do it except by taking human nature. The God-man could not do it without suffering. No suffering will serve but death. And no death but an accursed one. What an evil odious evil is sin that must have blood, the blood of God, to take it away!

So we conclude the witness of God against sin.



Both good angels and bad angels do so.


(1) Good angels

The angels of God and heaven, as they are often called, bear witness against sin as an exceedingly sinful thing.

a. Their very title as holy angels shows that they have an antipathy against sin and are at enmity with it. That which is meat and drink to wicked men--to do the will of the devil--is poison to holy angels whose meat and drink it is to do the will of God. They are all holiness to the Lord and cannot endure iniquity. They often contend and fight with evil angels and so witness against sin (Jude 9). In that they are holy, love holiness, and contend against the Devil, they witness against sin.

b. In being God's heralds, to proclaim the law which is against sin. It is the aggravation of the sin of the Jews that they did not receive the law which was given by the disposition of angels (Acts 7.53). The law which was added because of transgressions was ordained by angels (Galatians 3.19). Every transgression of this law received a just recompense of reward, for the word spoken by angels was steadfast (Hebrews 2.2). So angels, in proclaiming the law, have openly declared against sin as being exceedingly sinful.

c. They will not sin even to be revenged on the Devil himself. They will not rail at a devil because railing is sin; it is said of Michael that he dare not bring a railing accusation (Jude 9). One would have thought that he would have answered the Devil back and told him plainly, but he durst not bring a railing accusation, nor give the Devil bad language. We hotspurs and hotheads that we are, are apt to render evil for evil and railing for railing, to pay men in their own coin; but angels dare not do so for it is a sin. Railing is language that holy angels cannot speak.

d. They will not allow men to sin who would do it to honour them. When John fell at the feet of one of them to worship him, the angel said: 'See thou do it not' (Revelation 19.10); Do not that to me which is to be done to God alone. And again, John said: 'I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which showed me these things, but he said unto me, "See thou do it not, but worship God"' (Revelation 22.8,9). The angels are so holy that they cannot endure the least reflection being cast on God or the least duty neglected towards God.

e. They rebuke sin when they find it in God's own people, and that sharply and severely. Though the hard treatment that she had received made Hagar run away, yet the angel said to her, 'Return to thy mistress and submit thyself to her' (Genesis 16.8,9). It is as if he had said, 'Hagar, Hagar, it is better to suffer than to sin.' When Sarah laughed at the news of a son, and then being afraid denied having done so, the angel said: 'Nay, but thou didst laugh'; he told her her fault bluntly (Genesis 18.12-15). When Zacharias believed not the angel, he was made dumb (Luke 1.13-20). Thus the angels rebuked for sin.

f. They rejoice at the conversion of sinners. To be converted is the recovery of a soul from a dead and lost condition; and then the angels rejoice (Luke 15.7-10). There is a kind of joy in hell among the devils when one who is converted sins and when sinners are not converted: and so there is joy in heaven at the conversion of a sinner. The Rabbis say of this, While sinners rejoice in their sins, the angels are grieving for them; when and while men live in sin they dishonour their and the angels' God. But when they are converted they give glory to God which is the angels' work and joy. This is their song: Glory to God on high. And when men bear a part with them in this song, it is their joy.

g. They constantly oppose wicked angels and wicked men. Good and holy men are committed to the charge of good angels. He gives his angels charge to keep them in all their ways (Psalm 91.11); and the angels are ministering spirits for the good of them that shall be heirs of salvation (Hebrews 1.14). They encamp round about them that fear the Lord (Psalm 34.7). And when wicked men or devils would hurt this charge, they rise up in their might. Gabriel and Michael join against the Prince of Persia (Daniel 10.20). Michael and his angels fought against the dragon and his angels and overcame them (Revelation 12.7). When Balaam hankered after the wages of unrighteousness to curse Israel, the angel of the Lord withstood him (Numbers 22.32). Thus by their protection of the good the angels show their detestation of sin in them that would touch God's anointed or do his prophets harm.

h. They are ready to execute God's judgment and vengeance on sinners. The angel that was merciful to Balaam's ass was ready to slay Balaam: but he was reserved to fall by other hands. When Herod was wicked enough to assume glory to himself which of right is God's, the angel of the Lord smote him because he gave not glory to God (Acts I2.23). When God judges men, the angels will execute the judgment spoken by him. The angels executed destruction from the Lord against Sodom and Gomorrah because their sin was great (Genesis 19.13). When Israel sinned, God sent destroying angels among them. They made great havoc among the armies of the aliens. They pour out the vials of God's wrath upon the earth and praise God as they go about their work because God is just in judging ungodly men (Revelation 16.1,5). At the end of the world the angels will be the reapers and will gather out all that doth offend (Matthew 13.39-4I). The Lord will come with his holy and mighty angels and take vengeance on them that know not God and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Thessalonians 1.7,8).

I could give other examples of how the angels bear testimony against sin. They are present at our worship and observe us, which is a great obligation to reverence and a witness against immodesty (1 Corinthians 11.10). They take account of our vows: it is better that you should not vow, than vow and not pay, because it is before the angel (Ecclesiastes 5.5,6). The Apostle charges Timothy not only before God but before the elect angels, to be strictly conscientious (1 Timothy 5.21). They are witnesses of what we do, and shall be witnesses of what God will do; for he who confesses Christ shall be owned by him, and he who denies Christ shall be denied by him and that before the angels (Luke 12.8,9). It will be one part of glory hereafter to be like angels; then let us be like them here in witnessing against sin, and doing the will of God on earth as they do it in heaven.


(2) Evil angels witness that sin is sinful

Evil angels, that is, the Devil and his angels. They do this not only in being devils by sin and suffering for it, but in many other ways as I shall show. We have a saying that virtues confessed by foes, and vices confessed by friends, are true. Surely then, by the Devil we shall find that vice and sin is as we have declared it to be. And if such a friend of sin as the Devil is will confess it to be sinful we may believe him. For though he is the father of lies, yet in this he speaks truth, a great and clear truth.

a. The Devil witnesses against sin by his trembling. A devil trembles that there is a God (James 2.19). Now God was never terrible to the angels until they sinned; then they saw and trembled at the terror of God. Sin brought judgment on the devils {2 Peter 2.4); judgment is what they tremble at. So sin is the first cause of the devils' trembling. So I conclude that whatever makes devils tremble at the belief of a God, who will be a God of Judgment, is exceedingly sinful.

b. However great that judgment, they acknowledge it to be just and so, by consequence, sin to be unjust and sinful. The justness of judgment confessed is a confession of the vileness of the sin which brings the judgment. The devils say 'Art thou come to torment us before the time'? (Matthew 8.29). They confess that the Son of God was to consign them to torment and they had no exception to make against their being tormented except as to the time. They are reserved in chains to judgment (2 Peter 2.4; Jude 6) and they say 'Art thou come to torment us before the time?' that is, before the Judgment of the great day to which we are reserved. And they do not deny that they are worthy of this death or that their damnation is just, and therefore they confess the ugliness and filthiness of sin.

c. They tempt men to sin. In so doing they witness that sin is sinful. It used to be said that surely they must be good men whom Nero hated and persecuted. In the same way we may say, that that must be evil which the Evil One tempts men to, just as that is good which he hates and persecutes. I ask you, can that be good which the Evil One tempts us to? Can any good come out of this Nazareth? Can any good come from hell? It is enough to prove sin to be sinful, that it is of the Devil, and it is a clear proof of the evil of sin that the Devil tempts us to it.

d. The Devil turns himself into an angel of light that he may more effectually lead us into darkness. In this way he tells us that sin is an ugly thing. If he were to come like a devil, like an enemy, everyone would be shy of him, but he comes disguised and puts on the face of a friend and so tricks and cheats us. Indeed, he prevails more by his wily subtleties than by his power. If the Devil had come to Eve and spoken to her as follows: 'I was once a glorious angel and lived above in the Court of Heaven, but I have sinned and am cast down to hell. Eat the forbidden fruit and you will be like me.' Would this have succeeded? Surely not! Thus if he came and tempted men to sin, telling them that this is a ready way to hell, would this prevail with them, to swear and fornicate? No! The Devil is subtle and an old serpent; he covers and paints sin; he covers his hook with a bait and draws men in before they are aware of it. He is a deceiver, but lest he should be known, he puts on a good garb and clothes himself with false light (2 Corinthians 11.13,14). Now this disguise and subtle transformation proves that sin is an ugly and monstrous thing. Why otherwise does the Devil paint it up? Why does he pretend good when he intends evil? This proves the sinfulness of sin that the Devil does not tempt in his own name or shape. He dare not say, I am the Devil, I am a deceiver, I will lead you to hell, for that would spoil his project.

e. All the affliction and misery which the Devil brings upon men is to make them sin more. So in the Devil's account, sin is worse than suffering. God brings evil upon us to do and make us good, and cure us of the evil of sin by the evil of suffering, and this proves the goodness of God. In the same way it proves the sinfulness of the Devil and of sin too, that he brings evil on us to make us worse. He takes care not to afflict us too much for our sins, lest we sin no more. The end of the Devil in persecuting Job was not only to make him smart but to make him sin, that he might curse God. In bringing suffering the Devil aims at something beyond suffering, and worse than suffering, and that is sin.

f. When anyone is awakened to see his own vileness, the Devil tries everything he can to drive him to despair. At first he wishes that the man should presume to sin, and afterwards that he should not hope for but despair of pardon. He belittles sin or makes nothing of it before commission, and aggravates it afterwards. When sin revived the apostle died (Romans 7.9). It wrought in him apprehensions of death and hell. When Christ Jesus convinced him of his sin of persecution it made him tremble and struck him almost dead (Acts 9). Conviction of sin pricks men to the heart and makes them cry out like undone men: what shall we do? what will become of us? is there any pardon? is there any hope? Now is the time when the Devil strikes in and tells them that their sin is greater than can be forgiven. When the poor penitent was sorrowful, the Devil made use of his devices that he might be swallowed up and drowned in sorrow (2 Corinthians 2.7 with 11). It is as if he told him, If these do not forgive you, much less will God; the church has cast you off and so will God. His great design is to persuade men that the mercy of God and merit of Christ is not enough to save them, and so the Devil speaks out fully that sin is exceedingly sinful.

g. He is the accuser of the brethren (Revelation 12.10). What stories he tells God about the brethren, how sinful they are! And so doing he confesses to God himself the ugliness of sin, for on this alone does he base the arguments of his accusation. Christ ever liveth to make intercession for us, and so the Devil lives to make accusations against us day and night. When God asks the Devil if he has considered his servant Job, Yes, he says, I have, and I accuse him as a hired servant, one who serves you merely for wages, and would, if but touched by you, curse you to your face. When Satan accused Joshua, it was for his filthy garments, his iniquity (Zechariah 3.1-4). He is always tale-telling, and sometimes true stories of the miscarriages of believers. He registers their pride and wantonness, their vanity and folly, all their unworthy walkings, and accuses them to God for these things, and even moves God to destroy them for their sinfulness (Job 2.3). Sometimes as in Job's case it is without a cause, but whatever he says, surely he says to God that sin is an exceeding and out of measure sinful thing, when he accuses the brethren. So much for the witness of the Devil.



(1) Good men bear witness against sin

To which of the saints shall we turn? They all with one consent, as one man, with one voice, and one mouth cry out against sin as a sinful thing. And they all say that even if there were no other hell it would be damnation to be a sinner. Another says that it would be better to be in hell with Christ than in heaven with sin. Another says that sin is more ugly than the Devil. They all subscribe to this, that sin is the most odious of all evils. Hell itself is not more odious, for it would not have been had not sin made it. Good men bear witness both against other men's sins and against their own.

a. Against other men's sins. Indeed, if it is possible they seek to prevent them; if not, then to convince men of their sinfulness.

(i) They give advice and counsel to men against sin. This proves that sin is an abominable thing in their esteem. The sum of what is spoken by way of commendation of Abraham amounts to this, that he would advise and charge his posterity not to sin (Genesis 18.19). Samuel did the same to Israel (1 Samuel 12.24,25) and David to Solomon (1 Kings 2.1-3); indeed to all his children; therefore he says, 'Come, I will teach you the fear of the Lord' (Psalm 34.11) and it is by the fear of the Lord that men depart from evil. Similarly in the New Testament this is the general advice that good men give to everyone--Do not sin (1 Thessalonians 2.11,12; 1 Peter 2.11; 1 John 2.1

(ii) They reprove sin, if they find that their advice is not being followed, and that men have sinned. Reproofs are arguments of sinfulness, for men do not reprove anyone for what is good. Were it not that sin is odious to them, good men would not go to the expense or run the hazard of reproving others for it. Reproving others is a thankless office and an unwelcome work for the most part; men take reproofs for reproaches, yet since God has laid it on good men as their duty to rebuke and not suffer sin to lie upon their brother (Leviticus 19.17), they dare not omit it. Though Eli reproved his sons for their sins, yet he is sharply reproved for not reproving them more sharply (1 Samuel 2.27-36). We find Samuel reproving King Saul. Elihu may say, Is it right to say to a king, you are wicked? (Job 34.18); yet the prophet says to the king 'Thou hast done foolishly and wickedly' (1 Samuel 13.13), and he calls his sin rebellion and stubbornness (1 Samuel 15. 22,23). Thus Samuel touchingly reproved King Saul. John was not afraid to tell Herod of his wickedness, and to his face too (Luke 3.19). St. Paul would not spare St. Peter when he found him erring and dissembling, but withstood him to the face (Galatians 2.11). What does all this teach but that sin is an odious thing to good men and that they judge it extremely sinful against God and man.

(iii) They withdraw from sinners and their company. They must have no more to do with them. Now this separation from their persons is only because of their sins. If good men are forced to converse with them, yet they cry out, 'Woe is me that I dwell in Mesech, in the tents of Kedar' (Psalm 120.5). The society of the wicked is very burdensome to the godly. Lot was in a kind of hell when he was in Sodom, for their wickedness was continually vexing his soul (2 Peter 2.7,8). By withdrawing from or groaning under the company of the wicked, good men testify against sin and do so in obedience to the command of God (2 Corinthians 6.14).

(iv) They mourn over other men's sins. This shows that in their eyes sin is an abominable thing, though only the sin of others. 'Rivers of waters run down mine eyes' -why? 'because they keep not thy law' (Psalm 119.136). Thus we see how dear is the law of God, and how vile is the sin of men, to holy David. The prophet Jeremiah expresses this same zeal for God, 'Hear ye, and give ear, be not proud, give glory to the Lord...but if ye will not hear, my soul shall weep in secret places for your pride, mine eyes shall weep sore and run down with tears' (Jeremiah 13.15-17). When the apostle Paul speaks of the sins of men, he does so weeping (Philippians 3.18). Other men's sins cost good men many a tear and an aching heart because sin is so contrary to God and to the good of men.

(v) They pray and endeavour to get pardon for the sins of those who hardly seek it for themselves. Sinners little think how much they are beholden to good men who pray for their salvation even when the wicked seek their destruction. Thus Stephen asked God to forgive them: 'Lord, lay not this sin to their charge' (Acts 7.60). How earnestly did Abraham pray for mercy on behalf of Sodom, that if possible it might not be destroyed! When Israel had sinned a great sin and provoked the Lord, Moses mediates and intercedes for them and offers to die that they might live (Exodus 32.30-32). Now if they did not know that sin was a sinful thing, offensive to God and destructive to man, would they interpose in such a way? No, they would not. Thus good men witness against sin as the worst of evils.

b. Good men witness against their own sin, as well as against other men's sins. They do not only wish for the reformation of others, but they endeavour their own. If possible, they would be so innocent as not to sin at all. It is their ambition and prayer that their thoughts, words and deeds may be all acceptable to God (Psalm 19.14). If they could avoid it they would not even dream extravagantly or allow a vain thought to lodge within them. It is indeed possible that some men may declaim bitterly against other men's sins and yet indulge their own, as if they would rather see other men reform than themselves, and as if virtue were a more pleasant thing to talk of than to be possessed of. But godly men dare not do so; they are against sin in others and against sinning themselves. This is apparent in several ways:

(i) They will not sin even when they have opportunity. Though they might do so with pleasure, honour and profit as the world counts these things, they dare not. Some men are kept back from sin for lack of opportunity; if they had it they would sin. They do not lack the heart but the occasion, not the inclination but the opportunity. If tempted to sin they would sin. Others avoid sins that would bring disgrace, but they can easily embrace pleasant, fashionable and profitable sins. But godly men dare not sin; on this point they all concur. Take for example Joseph: when he was courted into pleasure, even then he said, How, how can I find it in my heart? Can I do this? how shall I do this wickedness and sin against God! (Genesis 39.7-9). It is, he said, sin against my master, sin against you, sin against my own soul, but the worst is, it is sin against God; how shall I do this wickedness and sin against God! There is another instance in relation to his brethren: what evil they deserved from him and what opportunity he had to be revenged is well known; yet he generously forgave them and provided for them, and this was the reason: I fear God, he said (Genesis 42.18). Job too, in his defence gives a full account of how odious a thing sin of all sorts was to him, even in his prosperity when he might, according to the course of this world, have done whatever seemed good in his own eyes, and none should have said to him, What doest thou, or why are you doing thus? On the other hand you find Balaam after the manner of hypocrites talking and pretending like an angel but acting and intending like a devil; it was a kind of trouble to him that he could not sin. 'I cannot go beyond the word of the Lord' (Numbers 22.18), but it seems he would have done if he could. A saint, however, would say, Neither can I, nor will I go against or beyond or short of the word of the Lord, if I can help it.

(ii) They will rather suffer than sin. Many men make a bad choice such as Elihu charged on Job, 'This (that is to say, sin) hast thou chosen rather than affliction' (Job 36.21). But godly men make Moses' choice who chose affliction rather than the pleasures of sin (Hebrews 11.24-28). As precious a thing as life is, a godly man would not willingly sin to save his life. Though the mouth of a fiery furnace heated seven times was open to devour the three children, as we call them, yet they would not sin (Daniel 3.18). Daniel would rather adventure on the lions than neglect a duty to his God (Daniel 6.10). Though bonds waited on St. Paul everywhere, yet he could not be restrained by fear of them from preaching the faith of Jesus (Acts 20.23-24 with 21.11-15). You find in Hebrews 11 a long catalogue, a little book of martyrs who chose all manner of deaths before any kind of manner of sin. They would not accept deliverance on ignoble terms but would rather die holily than live sinfully. These all declare that it is better to suffer to avoid sinning, than to sin to avoid suffering.

(iii) They will not sin though grace abound or that grace may abound (Romans 6.1,2). No! God forbid! Though they have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous, who is the propitiation for their sins (1 John 2.1,2) they will not do so. The very doctrine of grace and their interest in the death of Christ is the great obligation upon them not to sin (Romans 6; 2 Corinthians 5.15; Titus 2.11,12). The assurance of glory is a reason for mortification: 'When Christ who is our life shall appear, then shall ye appear with him in glory' (Colossians 3.4,5). What then? May we therefore gratify corruption and live as we list? No! 'Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth.' Though there are promises of forgiveness to him who confesses his sin, a godly man dare not sin and buy repentance at so dear a rate. After St. John had said that if we confess our sin, God is faithful and not only merciful but just to forgive us our sin, and that the blood of Jesus Christ shall cleanse us from all sin, yet he adds, 'these things are written that you sin not' (1 John 1.9 with 1 John 2.1). They dare not sin that good may come of it, nor tell a lie that the truth of God may thereby abound unto God's glory (Romans 3.7,8).

(iv) They take care and use means to prevent sin.

(a) They maintain a continual war against the Devil, world and the flesh because they would not sin. As much as they love peace they live in war. Indeed, they must live in war to preserve their peace, on which sin would make a breach. Godly men would not hate the Devil except that he is a sinner and tempts them to sin. They would not hate their own flesh or father and mother except to prevent sinning. You may read of this war in Scripture (Galatians 5.17). They have to fight their way to heaven from day to day and duty to duty and are at great expense and pains to keep this war on foot; and all this, that they might not sin.

(b) They are always praying that they may not sin. 'Lead us not into temptation' they pray, 'but deliver us from evil.' Temptations are not sins but they are the way to sins, and therefore they pray that if possible they might not be tempted. 'Let not any iniquity have dominion over me' said good king David (Psalm 119.133), and keep me from presumption that I may be upright (Psalm 19.13). Indeed at the same time they make this supplication: 'Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.'

(c) They hide the word of God in their heart as an antidote that they might not sin (Psalm 119.11). When princes persecuted David without a cause, yet he dared not mediate revenge, but his heart stood in awe of the word which he had hid there (Psalm 119.161).

(d) They abstain from the appearances and occasions of evil. Job made a covenant with his eyes (Job 31.1). King David said that he would take heed to his ways that he might not sin with his tongue (Psalm 39.1); that is to say, that he might be perfectly holy in the sense of the Apostle James: 'If any man offend not in word the same is a perfect man and able also to bridle the whole body' (James 3.2); this is the very expression used in the Psalm we have just quoted. When Joseph met with a tempting mistress, it is said of him that he hearkened not unto her, not only not to lie with her but not to be with her, and fled as from a plague or a devil (Genesis 39.IO,I2).


From all these things, to mention no more, it is quite dear that in these records of good men, sin is an exceedingly odious and pernicious thing. But I am aware that two objections will be made against the witness of these men. (1) From what may be. Sin and sinners will say it is true these men reprove sin, condemn it in others and endeavour to prevent it in themselves. But is this because of the ugliness of sin or of some inconvenience that might befall them? Is it because sin is sinful or for some other reason? 2) From what is. You would make us believe that godly men are such ermines,*[men of purity] so nice and tender that they cannot endure any uncleanness. You make them so shy and strict that they would not come near a sin. Yet it is apparent that they have sinned; even the very men whose examples you delight in, and whom you make patterns for everyone else!

Before we can proceed, these objections must be removed out of the way. To remove the first, I answer that though good men make use of all kinds of arguments to keep themselves and others from sin, yet it is sin as sin that they abhor as ugly and abominable. Even though there were no afflictions, no hell or no wrath, they cannot abide it, and newborn men would exclaim against and hate sin. This is seen in several ways:

(a) The main thing which keeps them from committing sin, or for which they repent when they have committed it, is that it is against God. When Joseph had mustered many arguments, this was the one that prevailed with him: 'How can I do this wickedness and sin against God' (Genesis 39.9), that is, sin against the will and glory of God. Job tells us he dare not sin; and why not? Because it was against God as well as against himself (Job 31.1-4). In their repentance after a sin, this goes most to the heart of godly men, that they have sinned against God: 'Against thee, thee only have I sinned' (Psalm 51.4). How is this so? Surely David had sinned against Uriah and against Bathsheba and against himself--his bones as well as his conscience felt it! Yes, but this goes most to his heart, that it was against God; it grieves him more that God was displeased by him, then that God was displeased with him. He puts in twice as much of that as of any other ingredient. And as to others, his tears run down like rivers, not so much because men did not keep his laws as because they kept not God's laws.

(b) They abhor all sin, all kinds and all degrees of sin. Surely we may conclude that they who hate all sin hate sin as sin. This godly men do, and only godly men do it, and godly men always do it, in so far as godliness acts in power in them. Their prayer is, 'Order my steps (all and every one of my steps) in thy word and let not any (that is none) iniquity have dominion over me' (Psalm 119.133). From the greatest to the least, from the highest to the lowest, let not any one iniquity have dominion over me! Some men abhor certain sins such as atheism, blasphemy, idolatry and murder, but pride and wantonness are as pleasant to them as meat and drink. This is the proof that they do not hate sin as sin. He who hates sin as sin hates all sin, and I think it may be inverted with truth, he who hates all sin hates sin as sin.

(c) They abhor all their secret sins. They hate sins which no one knows but themselves, even such as they do not know by themselves, that only God knows of. They hate that which no one can accuse them for or lay to their charge as being guilty of. Lord, who knows the error of his way (Psalm 19.12). St. Paul confessed 'I know nothing by myself (1 Corinthians 4. )The heart of man is such a maze that man himself cannot find out all its windings; such a deep that man himself cannot fathom it; so deceitful that man himself does not know it; only God searches it.

If this is so, Lord, cleanse me from my secret errors undiscerned and unknown, from errors and extravagances unknowable by me. We should say to God, that which I see not (that is, in what I have done amiss) teach thou me' (Job 34.32) A man does many things amiss which escape his own notice as well as that of others, and a good man would be cleansed even of these. They create no trouble to his conscience and are only against God, but he would therefore be rid of them that they might not lodge in his heart. although strangers and unknown.

(d) They are against all inclinations to sin, against the very conception of sin. They do all that they can, not only that sin may not bring forth, or breed, but that it might not even conceive (James 1.14,15).

(e) They cannot content themselves not to do evil, unless they also do good. This is the final proof that they oppose sin as sin. They do not think it enough that they do not displease God, unless they please God. It is not enough for them to be negatively good, unless they are positively good. They will not only not commit evil, but they will not omit good. Many men will do no hurt, but neither will they do any good; the charge against some is not that they defrauded or oppressed or were cruel to the members of Christ but that they did not actually do them good by clothing, feeding and visiting them. Good men, however, are for being good and for doing good. Not only do they say, Cleanse me from secret sins, or Keep me from presumption, but O that the thought of my heart, the words of my mouth, and consequently the works of my life, may be acceptable to thee, O Lord (Psalm 19.14). In the name of all the household of faith the apostle speaks thus: 'Wherefore we labour (the word is, we are ambitious or we affect this honour like heavenly courtiers), that whether present or absent (that is living or dying) we may be accepted of him (2 Corinthians 5.9). The end of this verse may be read (and the Greek will well bear it), 'that we may be acceptable to him', even to all well pleasing.

The second objection we mentioned is as follows: It is matter of fact that godly men have sinned. Now if sin was as odious to them as you said, would they sin? But before I answer this objection, let me first make one or two things clear.

(a) I concede and confess that they do sin.

(b) There is this to be said, that the sins of good men are more usually sins of captivity than sins of activity. Thus the apostle says that they are rather led into sin by temptation than that they go into it by choice and inclination. It is indeed possible that a good man may plot and contrive a sin, as David did the death of Uriah. We may notice, however, that this is the only thing of which God himself says that David sinned (1 Kings 15.5).

God covers all his other sins as being those of the man overtaken by temptation rather than as sins committed of deliberate purpose. So for the most part, good men are captivated rather than active as to sin. And David himself could say that he had not wickedly departed from God (Psalm 18.21) that is, he had not departed after the manner of the wicked (Jude 15).

(c) God may sometimes lead a good man to this saddest of trials, to know all that is in his heart, as he left the good King Hezekiah (2 Chronicles 32.31). We are not over-forward or over-willing to believe ourselves to be so bad as we really are in our hearts. We do not know what seeds of evil are sown there. 'Is thy servant a dog', said Hazael when his sin was foretold. St. Peter himself could not believe it possible that he should deny Christ his master; yet when left to himself he did it.

Now notwithstanding all that we have said, we still maintain that godly men hate sin. Indeed they hate it the more for having sinned. For several reasons then, the witness of the godly man against sin is still true, good and firm:

(a) He abhors sin committed, and himself for committing it. (Job 40.4 and 42.6). Sin is the burden of every good man's soul. When the author of Psalm 73 had sinned, he was so angry with himself that he could not forgive and pardon himself (though God did so), but calls himself fool and beast. Good men condemn not only their sin but themselves; and sin is the more hateful to them for having been done by them.

(b) They are restless until sin is purged as well as pardoned. King David could not content himself to have sin blotted out by a pardon unless it was washed and cleansed away (Psalm 51.1,2). The mending of his heart without it being made new by creation would not content him (verse 10).

(c) They justify God when he chastises them and afflicts them for having sinned. Whoever justifies a punishing God condemns sin, for if the sentence is just the sin is unjust. They speak in this way continually: 'I will bear the indignation of the Lord because I have sinned against him' (Micah 7.9). I make this confession in prayer, they say, that Thou, O Lord, mightiest be justified when thou judgest (Psalm 51.3,4). This also testifies against sin.

(d) They take a holy revenge on themselves and become more zealous for God. St. Peter not only wept bitterly but was made willing to feed sheep and lambs, to do any and every service for Christ. The penitent says: 'Restore to me the joy of thy salvation and I will teach the transgressors thy ways' (Psalm 51.12,13). So too, when the apostle had made the Corinthians sorry with his sharp epistle, he did not repent of it, because it wrought such sorrow in them as wrought repentance to salvation not to be repented of (2 Corinthians 7). This appeared in their indignation against sin, their revenge upon themselves, and their zeal for God.

(e) They desire to die only to be rid of sin. They do not wish to die for any other reason than that they may sin no more, but be holy as he who has called them is holy. They groan for a change for this reason (2 Corinthians 5.4); mortality and corruption are joined together (1 Corinthians 15.53,54), and one is not laid aside without the other. Therefore they desire not only to be in Christ where there is no condemnation (Romans 8.I), but to be with Christ (Philipplans 1.23), which is best of all, for in his presence there is no sin nor even temptation to it. There was never a temptation to sin in heaven since the Devil was cast out, and there never will be, for the Devil shall never be there, neither shall corruption, for that shall cease when mortality is swallowed up of life.

So then, all in all, the witness of godly men is unexceptionable, notwithstanding their having sinned.


(2) The witness of wicked men

Wicked men themselves are witnesses of and against the sinfulness of sin. They say that it is an ugly, shameful and an abominable thing which they are ashamed to own. Let us hear some of the heathens give their opinion of it. Cicero tells us that he did not think that man worthy of the name of a man who spent one day in the pleasures of the flesh. Indeed, he goes on to say that, after death, he thinks that there are no greater torments than sin. Another thought it one of the greatest torments that men should have in another life to be bound to the sins they most delighted in in this life. Socrates preferred to die rather than to consent to a sin of injustice, and one writer says, Socrates was not unhappy in being put to death, but they were unhappy who put him to death; he suffered but they sinned. Another says of men living in pleasure, very much like St. Paul says concerning the wanton widow: 'she that lives in pleasure is dead while she lives' (1 Timothy 5.6).

Now the reasons why they said these things concerning sin was because sin degraded man and was a degeneration. Men who delight in sin live the life of a beast and not of a man, which is a life of reason and virtue. Thus Plotinus says, "The pleasures of the body do so interrupt the happiness of the soul that it is the soul's happiness to despise the body's pleasures.' Sin, say the Stoics, is the worst kind of suffering, and he who is wicked is the only miserable man; the greatest punishment of sinners is sin (Seneca). I could produce many more sayings to this effect, but I shall not only take in the witness of these and other brave, magnanimous and well-bred heathens. The herd of wicked men, the very dregs of them, shall give a testimony (whether they will or not) by their thoughts, words or deeds and sad experiences that sin is an ugly, because a sinful thing. They are ashamed of sin when and before they commit it and after they have committed it.

a. Sinners are ashamed of sin before they commit it and when they commit it.

(i) Though they are sufficiently daring and impudent as to sin, they have not got the courage to consider what they are doing or at least to speak openly what they think concerning sin. They know that when they sin their conscience will accuse them, and that they will find regrets which they are loath to feel, much more to utter and declare. Therefore they dare not ask themselves what it is they are about to do, or are doing; they dare not catechize themselves and say, 'Is there not a lie in my right hand?' (Isaiah 44.20). When men are loath to give themselves the benefit of a few forethoughts, and rush like horses into the battle, it suggests that they are afraid they shall find what they have no desire to find. The Scripture speaks as though it were impossible for men to be as wicked as they are, if they only considered; failing this they do not act like men. If they think of it and still sin, they dare not speak out their thoughts but would rather conceal their shame and pain as well as they can, than tell anybody what fools they have been and how foolishly they have acted. If sin had anything noble or honourable in it, why do they not proclaim its virtues and thereby their own in loving it? If they think it good, why do they not call it by its name? If they think it evil, why do they think it so? It is surely because they are ashamed of it and ashamed that anybody should know what they think. The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God' (Psalm 14.1). It seems he did not have the hardiness nor the heart to say it with his mouth; he whispered and muttered or wished, but was loath to be heard. When they speak thus within, then it speaks out this, that they are ashamed of what they think and dare not utter it.

(ii) Sinners dare not commit sin until they have given it a new name. They do not sin under the name and notion of sin. Now, woe unto them! Just as they call good evil, so they call evil good (Isaiah 5.20). Revenge they will not own; they term it a vindication of their honour, a doing right to their reputation. Covetousness, they say, is a sordid thing; theirs is only frugality and good husbandry. Drunkenness is unmanly, it is bestial, they confess; but theirs is only good fellowship in the liberal use of the creature. Pride must be called decency and being in the fashion. Fornication is only a trick of youth, or gratifying nature. Thus men disguise sin, for surely, were they to call it by its own name and look it in the face, they know they should find it such an ugly hag as was not fit for the embraces of men, no, not even of devils. This practice of giving new names to sin condemns it.

(iii) They do what they do as much as possible in the dark. Indeed, as they foolishly think, they do it in the dark from God's sight also. Thereby they implicitly confess that if men or God saw them they should be ashamed of what they do. The time was when they that were drunk were drunk in the night, it being a business of shame. The apostle tells us that it is a shame to speak of what is done by some in secret (Ephesians 5.11,12); and therefore it seems that they themselves do it secretly because they are ashamed lest it be known and talked of. Indeed, it is a general rule given by Christ himself that he who does evil hates the light; because his deeds are evil, and he cannot endure that they should be manifested, for then they would be reproved by the light (John 3.19,20). The abominations of the ancient people of Israel were so abominable that they did them in the dark and they thought that that hid them from God himself (Ezekiel 8.5-12).

(iv) They are tormented while taking their pleasure. It is clear that sinners find sin a painful thing and are ashamed of it. They are stung with eating the honey; their conscience accuses them when it takes them in the very act (Romans 2.15). 'Even in laughter the heart is sorrowful' (Proverbs 14.13) --it is not only at the end of laughter, but in it, while at it. While men are taking the pleasures of sin they hear, 'But remember thou must die and go to judgment', which chills and cools their heat (Ecclesiastes 11.9). We little think what secret sighs and groans are within, when wicked men are merry or seem at least to be so from the teeth outwards.

In 2 Samuel 13 you will find no less a person than a King's son vexed and tormented with his own passion. He was in a burning fever with lust; it made him sick and lean, even to being consumptive. But it may be said, This was because he could not have his will; was he the same when he had it? Yes, and worse too by his own confession, for the hatred wherewith he hated her was more than the love wherewith he had loved her. This is as much as to say, that he was more tormented now than he had been before. Sin disappoints men; they have false joys but true miseries, and they suffer rather than enjoy any pleasure from sin. They are vexed to see how they are cheated. Thus Amnon, to whom we have just referred, was one moment in a hot fit, the next in a cold one; he was as one tossed from a fever to an ague, cast into the fire and into the water, sick of love and sick of loathing, sick for want of her company and sick of having it, discontented at not having his will and then at having it. Sin does not please men whether they are full or fasting.

How sinners are tormented! Their desires are great and their enjoyments little, indeed, contradictions to what they had thought of. They expected pleasure and find pain, they sought joy and met with grief. Hence sinners are so weary of time, and not only of business but of recreations. But that they change so often proves that they have no satisfaction. Hence the Pythagoreans place the wicked on a rolling pin to show they have no quiet or peace, but as the prophet says, they are like the raging sea (Isaiah 48.22 and 57.20-2I). The soul, says Tacitus, is lashed with guilt as the body is with stripes. Even Tiberius, impudent as he was, could not protect himself from those inward scourges which are such horrid and hideous furies and torments that hell has no worse.

(v) Sinners must sin under a form of godliness. They paint it and seek to make it look well, although it is so much the more ugly for being coloured and complexioned with a form of godliness, the thing itself and those who do it being witnesses. Though sinners are like devils yet they would be thought saints. Saul's sin must needs concern sacrifice, and so God must be the patron of the sin that was committed against himself (I Samuel 11). Absalom covers his rebellion and treason with the devotion of a vow (2 Samuel 11.7,8). Herod smooths over his murderous intentions with the pretence of worship; he will murder John the Baptist lest he should be perjured, as if forsooth he dares not sin unless he does it conscientiously. This shall suffice to show that wicked men are ashamed of sin, that is, ashamed to own it as such. They are ashamed of it before and when they commit it.

b. Sinners are ashamed of sin after they have committed it. Good men are ashamed of what only looks like a sin, and of what may be interpreted to be meant for a sin, although not so, as when David cut off the skirt of Saul's garment. This proves that they are loath to and averse from sin. We shall find also that wicked men, when they have done evil, are ashamed that they have done it, which is a witness what an ugly because a sinful thing sin is.

(i) Sinners dare not own their sin. This clearly shows that they are ashamed of it and are not satisfied with what they have done, although, as I shall soon show, they may excuse it. When the thief, bold and sturdy sinner as he may be, is taken, he is ashamed. So the house of Israel is ashamed (Jeremiah 2.26); they cannot plead sin's cause to justify it.

(a) They cannot endure to be called by the name of the sin which they have committed and which they practise. No drunkard likes to be so called, but takes it for a disgrace. No liar will receive the lie given him but as an affront. No adulterer will own that name. Now whoever follows a lawful and honest trade or calling is not ashamed of its name though it is never so mean, as for example a shoemaker. But sin is such an ugly base employment, that those who commit sin will not endure being called sin-makers, though that is their trade. Sinners charge God with slandering them when he complains of their sin (Malachi 1.6; 2.17; and 3.8,13). When God accuses them they put him to the proof and say, when and where? So impatient are sinners of being called sinners!

(b) They palliate, excuse and disavow sin. This shows that they are ashamed of their sin and dare not own it. When sin was but young, yet Adam and Eve were ashamed of this their firstborn, just as lewd women are ashamed of their base-born children; they cloaked and hid their sin (Job 31.33). If they do well what need is there of excuses; if wrong, excuses plead against it and are accusations of its wrongness. Those who were invited to the wedding made excuses, which were indeed proofs of their denials, and that they would not come (Matthew 22.3). Their seeming civilities and apologies were arguments that they were criminal. All our fig leaf aprons and coverings are proof that we are ashamed of what we have done. Many times sin is laid at the wrong door. Nature is blamed as if the fault were in man's constitution. The Devil is blamed because he tempted and beguiled. And indeed, God Himself is blamed for permission, or even for more: 'the woman thou gavest me' (Genesis 3). What does all this prove but that in the eyes of sinners sin is a very ugly and abominable thing?

(c) They deny that they have sinned. They commit a sin to cover sin. It is a hard and difficult thing to bring sinners to confession, for sin is such a shameful thing. It is said of the adulterous woman: 'She eateth and wipeth her mouth and says, I have done no wickedness' (Proverbs 30.20); she will sin to avoid the scandal of her sin. When Gehazi, by lying in his master's name, had taken a reward from Naaman the Syrian and returned, his master asked him where he had been; he said 'thy servant went no whither' (2 Kings 5.25-26). He was so ashamed of what he had done that he dared not own it. This is a clear evidence that sin is an ugly thing, that sinners will not, dare not admit and justify it.

(ii) Sinners dare not look into their actions nor call themselves to account. Thus it is further apparent that sin is an unpleasing thing which sinners are ashamed of. It is as troublesome for sinners to look into themselves to examine their lives as it is for men whose business is declining to look into their books and cast up their accounts. 'Why is this people of Jerusalem slidden back by a perpetual backsliding? No man repented him of his wickedness saying, what have I done?' (Jeremiah 8.5,6). Such men would never look behind them or within themselves. They do not care to be alone lest the thoughts of their sins should stare them in the face. They study diversions and pastimes and run into company lest their sins, like ghosts and devils, should haunt and lay hold of them. And when these are over they sleep away the rest of their time. They cannot endure to be at home lest an upbraiding conscience, which is a worse thing than a scolding woman, should fall upon them. They can afford no leisure to think how they have idled and sinned away, and thereby have worse than lost, so much of their time. We read of people on whose hands time lay heavy, like a burden, who therefore studied arts and methods of laying it aside, that they might put the thoughts of the evil day far from them. Sometimes they lay on their beds, and being weary of that they would stretch themselves upon their couches, and then fall to eating and drinking, and so rise up to play and dance (Amos 6.3-6). What does all this speak of but an unwillingness to have any sense of sin or even to look on its picture, so hellish a thing is it!

(iii) They will decry and punish in others sin which they themselves are guilty of, the better to conceal their own, or to compensate for it by being severe to others. When a thief has stolen and robbed he is the first that makes a hue and cry; they are loath to be found guilty themselves. Though Judah was guilty of incest himself, how forward he was to punish fornication in Tamar his daughter-in-law (Genesis 38). When our Saviour put the case to the Pharisees, what the lord of the vineyard would do with husbandmen who had abused and beaten his servants and, which was worse, slain his son, they could readily answer: 'He will miserably (that is, with a punishment as great as their sin) destroy those wicked men' (Matthew 21.41). Thus when they did not know whom they condemned they condemned themselves and their own sin--out of thine own mouth art thou condemned, 0 sinner! It is true the case was altered when he said that they were the men; but by this we see that when men are not concerned or seem not to be so, how severe they are against sin! And indeed, they do so to hide their own wickedness (John 8.7-9).

(iv) They usually fly to the horns of the altar, to some fits of devotion and forms of godliness. They act as if they would compound with God to save them. What is the meaning of all the purifications, sacrifices and atonements which the heathens used, but that their sense of guilt was too heavy to be borne; and what is more common among men of a better profession than to say as soon as they have sinned, Lord have mercy upon me, God forgive me! They kiss their crucifix, tell over their beads, and go to confession, and what does all this denote but that they have, they themselves being witnesses and judges, been injurious to God and to their own souls. Without reconciliation and pardon or at least an imagined pardon, they cannot be quiet.

(v) They desire to die the death of the righteous. Balaam and others who did not live the life of the righteous but accounted it madness, even so reckoned their end to be happy, and therefore desired that their own might be as that of the righteous. By this we see that no wicked man cares for sin's wages. Surely that work cannot be good for which the wages are so bad that no man cares to receive them, but says, O that my after-state may be with the righteous (Numbers 23.10). The wages of sin is death and the end of sin is death; but Balaam wants no such death and no such wages. Though they go hellward while they live, yet they wish that they could go to heaven when they die. What are we to deduce from this but that sin is a damnable thing. Though sinners seek their happiness in their misery yet it is happiness that they seek and whenever they find their disappointment they grow angry with themselves, with sin, the devil and all.

One objection may be made against this witness of wicked men against sin: true, it will be said, there are some pitiful sneaking sinners, cowardly and timorous ones, who are daunted at and ashamed of sin, but there are others past shame, fear and sense, roaring boys, ranting and rampant sinners, rodomontade*[* Boastful, bragging.] blades who boast of their sin and glory in being wicked. They take pleasure in things worthy of damnation and yet scorn to be frightened by terrible preachers. They will sin in the face of the sun without a blush. We will hear what these have to say and be judged by these brave sparks and bold fellows.

We must confess with sorrow for such as have none for themselves that there are some hardened sinners who are sunk into the image, the practice, and it may be the condemnation (as well as the snare) of the Devil himself. Indeed, they seem to outdo the devils, for they believe and tremble, which is more than some sinners do. Godly men rejoice with trembling, but some ungodly men sin without trembling and rejoice at it too.

There is a sad and dreadful judgment upon them, worse than any affliction that could befall them; it is of all judgments the most terrible, for it belongs to the suburbs of hell itself. To be punished for sin by sin is the worst of punishments. When God says of a person or people, that he will let them go, that they shall take their course and not be punished, that is by bodily and felt plagues, then he punishes them most and worst of all. To denote the greatness of it, it is three times said in Scripture that God gave them up, and gave them over (Romans 1,24,26,28). It is no wonder that men act the Devil's part when they are under the Devil's doom.

This therefore is no more a commendation of sin than a madman's going naked and enduring the pricks of a pin in his flesh without feeling anything, commends his condition. Is it any par of handsomeness to have a whore's forehead! Shall we make blind men judges of colours, or dead men judges of the affairs of the living and their concerns? Who would accept the judgment of those who are void of judgment and are given up to a reprobate mind? If men have lost their senses and will say that snow is black or that honey is bitter, shall we believe them?

But even so, there is none of these hardened sinners who will not at one time or another bear witness against sin, and blush at their own impudence. We hear Pharaoh saying, who is the Lord? And yet, hardened as he was, the same Pharaoh says, I have sinned against the Lord. God has ways enough to bring them to confession. They who once were so wild as to call the saints' lives madness were at last tame enough to call themselves fools for it. There is a time coming when all such impudent and daring sinners will sneak and be ashamed. Either the grace or the judgment of God will awaken them out of their dead sleep; and then, though they dreamt of a feast, they will be hungry; and the mouth will confess, the eyes weep, the cheeks blush, the hands smite on the thigh, and the heart bleed and break. Cain felt little till he heard God calling from heaven and telling him he was cursed, and then sin became heavy in its punishment, even intolerable (Genesis 4.9-13). Judas makes merry a while and chinks his thirty pieces, but soon cannot endure the money nor himself but went to his own place. The prodigal lived wantonly for a long time but yet at the last cries, I have sinned. And I find three occasions when hundreds of sinners have confessed their sins.

(a) In a day of affliction. When the plagues of God have taken hold of them and the judgments of God have been heavy upon them, then they confess. The story of Pharaoh is too long to rehearse; likewise that of Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 4). But how God made their stout hearts stoop and brought them to their knees! Sinners who are shameless, and seem to dare heaven and challenge God himself and scoff at his threatenings, will then be made to change their tune, and to weep instead of singing. Joseph's brethren who were shameless in Canaan were ashamed in Egypt, and cried out, 'Verily we are guilty concerning our brother'. The cruel Adonibezek acknowledged the justice of God's retribution. Tell me what your desperadoes will say in distress and on a deathbed!

(b) In the day of judgment. Even if sinners do not awake and repent before, yet in the great and terrible day of the Lord they will be ashamed. They who now run to all excess of riot will not be able to stand then. The wicked shall not stand in judgment; they will then quake and tremble, for horror will take hold of and arrest them. They will not stand to justify themselves nor to be justified by anyone else. They will be found speechless, without a word to say for themselves or their sins, like the man who came to the wedding feast without a wedding garment. If the righteous be scarcely saved, or with difficulty, where shall the sinners and ungodly appear (1 Peter 4.18)? See how they run away and would fain hide themselves (Revelation 6.15).

(c) In the day of eternity. In that long, everlasting day when they are in hell they will confess the sinfulness of sin. The place of torment will extort the confession of sin as it did from Dives (Luke I6). Where is the rustling of silk and satin now! Where are the dainty bits, the generous wines, and all the deceitful pleasures of sin now! Alas, although they have no pity shown them they will pity others, and wish that none might come into that place of torment. Then they will cry out, O sinful sin! O devilish and hellish sin!

This must suffice to show the sinfulness of sin from the confession of wicked men and I now proceed to call other witnesses.




There is not one creature in heaven or earth or under the earth, whether animate or inanimate, but proclaim the sinfulness of sin. And not only the sensible, but insensible creatures also can find a tongue and language to speak against sin. They do this with respect to themselves, and with respect to God and man.


(1) The whole creation witnesses against sin as having done it a great deal of wrong and injury

It witnesses that sin has deprived it of its privilege, so that it is not now as when it came out of God's hand and was made by him. When God looked on all that he had made, behold it was very good (Genesis I.31). But how are things altered since sin came into the world! The angels he has charged with folly (Job 4.18). The heavens are not clean in his sight (Job 15.15). Man in his best estate is altogether vanity (Psalm 39.5). The earth is under a curse (Genesis 3.17,18). Indeed the whole creation groans (Romans 8.21,22). By the whole creation the learned Grotius understands the whole universe, as do many others. The apostle had three times spoken of the creature (verses 19,20,21) and yet now speaks more fully in verse 22: the whole creation, or every creature, is subject to vanity and under the bondage of corruption, which makes it groan and puts it to pain as a woman in travail. It is as if it cried out, 0 sinful sin! I was freeborn and though under dominion, yet not under bondage. Once I served man freely but now from fear (Genesis 9.2). Every creature which is under the power of man may say to him, I did nothing of myself to make me liable to bondage, but being your goods and chattels, I suffer a part of the penalty of your treason. If you had not sinned, I would not have suffered. But now I groan and wait to be delivered from the bondage of your corruption. 0 sinful sin!


(2) The creation witnesses against sin with respect to God and man


It teaches man many duties and it convinces him of many a sin.

a. The creatures teach man his duty. They do so in general as well as showing him many special duties. In their courses and places they all praise God and fulfil his word, as you may read in Scripture (Psalm 148.8; Revelation 5.13). And no creatures, except the fallen angels and man, ever transgressed the law or disobeyed the word of their Creator. They are such good servants that when God bids them go they go, when he bids them come they come, when he bids them do this they do it. By this they teach man to do what God bids him, and what a sinful thing it is to break his law and to disobey his word. The creatures cry shame on us when we sin; they do this in several particular ways:

(i) They teach man dependence upon God. They depend on God and teach man to do so too. It is as our Saviour says, Take no anxious and soul-disturbing thought for your livelihood, but learn of the fowls of the air and lilies of the field, to trust God (Matthew 6.25-34).

(ii) They teach man to pray. They call upon man to call upon God. For they cry to God and observe their morning prayer before they break their fast. The ravens do not forget it: 'He giveth to the beast his food and to the young ravens which cry' (Psalm 147.9). This cry is made to God, 'who provideth for the raven his food; when his young ones cry unto God they wander for lack of meat' (Job 38.41). They are no sooner hatched but they cry unto God. All the creatures do the same. 'These wait all upon thee, that thou mayest give them their meat in due season' (Psalm 104.27). Indeed, beside their waiting they petition as well: 'Thou openest thine hand and satisfiest the desire of every living thing' (Psalm I45.16). Now if you are a prayerless or distrustful person these creatures witness against your sin, for they teach you to pray and trust.

(iii) They teach us to be weary of the bondage of corruption. They are weary of it; they groan under it. And will ye not cry out, O wretch that I am, who shall deliver me from this bondage of corruption and this body of death! If not, the creature witnesses against you and teaches you to wait and long for a better state, and to long for the glorious liberty of the Sons of God.

(iv) The creatures teach us to be fruitful. They teach us to repay the trust and charges that God bestows on us. The earth which drinketh in the rain which cometh oft upon it, bringeth forth herbs, meet for them by whom it is dressed (Hebrews 6.7 with Isaiah 55.10). The ox knows his owner and the ass his master's crib (Isaiah I.3). The flock feeds the shepherd (1 Corinthians 9.7). If you then are barren and unfruitful, your gardens and your fields will rebuke you. If you are disobedient, your ox and your ass will upbraid you. God himself appeals to heaven and earth against you (Deuteronomy 32.I; Isaiah 1.2).


b. The creatures convince men of many sins, as well as teaching them many duties. In both respects they are schoolmasters to man. The way in which we now use the creatures bear witness against sin. When we eat flesh we do so, for there was no such grant in the 1st blessing; since sin our appetite has been more carnivorous. Our clothes witness against sin, for in the Hebrew the same word signifies treachery or prevarication and a garment; the clothes that cover our nakedness tell us that sin despoiled us of better robes, that is, of our innocence. The dust tells us that, having sinned, we must return to dust. Also the vanity and disappointments, and hence the vexations we meet with from things created, witness against sin.

(i) The creation witnesses against atheism (Romans I.20). He that has said in his heart that there is no God is called a fool by every creature. The very idea of a creature supposes a God, and we may more reasonably argue that there is nothing than that there is no God. The fact that the creatures are made proves the First Cause, and who is that but God? It is so clear from the creation, says the apostle--that is, the eternal Godhead--that men are left without excuse (Romans 1.20). Rain from heaven is God's witness of his being and of his being good. as the apostle infallibly concludes (Acts 14.I5-18). Creation and providence. which is creation upheld and continued, are witnesses for God, so that we may say with Job: 'Ask now the beasts and they shall teach thee; and the fowls of the air and they shall tell thee; or speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee: and the fishes of the sea shall declare unto thee that the hand of the Lord hath wrought this' (Job 12.7-9). If there is any being, there is a God, says the creation.

(ii) The creatures witness against ingratitude. They witness against man's failure to acknowledge how indebted he is to God. Even the dullest among the creatures witnesses against this (Isaiah 1.3). God upbraids the ingratitude and rebellion of Israel with the gratitudes and services that the ox and the ass pay their owners. The rivers of waters return continually to pay their acknowledgments to the fountain-general, the sea (Ecclesiastes 1.7). These waters upbraid those who make no returns but bad ones to God. They say in effect, what Moses did in words, 'O foolish people and unwise, do ye thus requite the Lord evil for good!'

(iii) The creatures bear witness against the idleness of man, and the sinfulness of that state. Man was not to be idle in paradise, and every man should have a calling to follow and should follow his calling. The apostle says, he that will not labour must not eat. From idleness comes no good, yet alas how many busy-bodies there are who do nothing but idle away their days! To these the creatures speak by their industry, and Solomon refers the sluggard to the ant to learn (Proverbs 6.6-11). It is not only, Go to the infidel (for he that provides not for his family is worse than an infidel); but it is, Go to the ant. Perhaps your wife and children lack certain conveniences, even necessities, while you are idle. Go to the ant, thou sluggard!

(iv) They bear witness against ignorance and its sinfulness; against man's failure to observe divine appointments, and the judgments of God (Jeremiah 8.7-8). The stork in the heaven knoweth her appointed times; the turtle, the crane and the swallow observe the time of their coming, but my people (however wise they think they are) do not know the judgment of the Lord? Though they pretend skill in discerning the face of the sky, yet they discern not the signs of the times; they scarcely know what time of day it is, nor that it is the day of their visitation (Luke 12.56;19.44)

(v) They witness against oppression and covetousness as very sinful. The stone shall cry out of the wall, and the beam out of the timber shall answer it (Habakkuk 2.11,12). But what do these strange witnesses say? This: Woe to him ...! And Woe to him ...! Some men's lands and the furrows of their fields cry against them (Job 31.38). Perhaps the poor labouring man who ploughed and reaped has not yet received his wages (James 5.4). The gold and silver also, even the canker and rust thereof, the moth-eaten garments also, are a witness against these sins (James 5.1-3). The ass rebuked the madness of the prophet when he was hastening after an evil covetousness (2 Peter 2.15,16).

(vi) They witness against the sinfulness of refusing the offers of the Gospel and of grace. There is a saying, Who but fools refuse gold when it is offered them? But there are such fools as refuse Christ and heaven and happiness when they are offered them, and will not be entreated to be reconciled that they may be saved. But they are set against the glory of God and their own salvation. Against these the stones of the street and the dust of the apostles' feet bear witness (Luke 19.40; 9.5;10.10,11). Indeed there is not a sin which the creation as a whole and in its various parts does not bear witness against. The very dullest and worst-natured creatures, the ox and ass have excelled man. Even Dives's dogs had more humanity than Dives himself, and were witnesses against his cruelty. In short, whatever duties the creatures teach they thus convince of and bear witness against the sins which are contrary to those duties, and whatever sins they convince of, they teach the duties contrary to them.


(3) The creatures are instruments in the hand of God to punish sinners


This is another proof by them of the sinfulness of sin. And they do this with great readiness, as if they were avenging themselves as well as vindicating God. Witness the plagues of Egypt. The four elements have often borne their testimony: fire burnt Sodom; water drowned the old world; the earth swallowed up Korah; and the air has conveyed infection in the time of plague. And the sun, moon and stars have been warriors and fought in their courses against sin. The beasts of the field and fowls of the air have done likewise. But I will only hint at these things. There are two ways in which they show their displeasure and his, whose creatures they are, against sin in punishing sinners:

a. By withdrawing their influences. The heavens shall be brass and the earth iron; the one shall neither rain nor drop dew, the other shall not bring forth fruit {Deuteronomy 28.23; Hosea 2.18,22).

b. By acting contrary to their ordinary course and nature. For waters to stand as a heap (Exodus 15.8) and for fire not to burn (Daniel 3) are unusual and unnatural things. They do this to witness against the unnaturalness of sin, and both these were witnesses against the sin of persecuting God's Israel. On occasions the creatures continue to bear witness of this kind to this day. They are always bearing witness, though men do not observe it, which only infers their greater sinfulness.

This must suffice for the witness of the whole creation. But notwithstanding all these witnesses it may be said that we cannot put sin to death without a law, and if there is no law to condemn sin, we cannot condemn it. Therefore I shall proceed to show that there is a law against sin which condemns sin as worthy of death; for it is guilty of the death of many and of attempting the death of all. So legally and by the requirements of law, we ought to condemn sin and put it to death.




The law of God is without sin in itself and is against sin in others. Since the law is holy, just and good, that which breaks the law must be unholy, unjust and evil. In its primary intention and promulgation the law reveals the authority, wisdom, will and goodness of God, for it was unto life. Sin must therefore be exceedingly sinful, for it is against all this. The law revealed man's duty and man's happiness. How evil then is sin, which is a contradiction of and opposition to the duty and happiness of man! Since sin is a transgression of God's good law, the sinfulness of sin appears by the commandment. The law is against sin both before it is committed and after it has been committed.

1. The law is against sin before it is committed. The committing of sin is against the being of the law. It is holy and wholly against sin, for it forbids sin. That is, all sin, whether of omission or commission, whether in thought, word or deed, whether against God or against man--the voice and cry of the law is this: Thou shalt not sin. So that in this sense, by the law is the knowledge of sin; it shows what is sin, as well as what sin is. 'Is the law sin?, God forbid--nay I had not known sin but by the law, for I had not known lust or concupiscence to be a sin except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. Thou shalt not lust' (Romans 7.7). The law shows that lust is sin by forbidding it. Indeed, the law not only forbids sin but forbids it upon great and severe penalties, upon no less than the pain of death, on the peril of a curse. It says, cursed be everyone that doeth not, and continueth not to do all things that are written in the law (Galatians 3.10). So the law is utterly against the commission of sin.

2. The law is against sin after it is committed. By the commandment sin appears to be exceedingly sinful after commission.

a. The law reveals what sin is, just as before it revealed what is sin. It shows how displeasing to God and how destructive to man it is, as a transgression of the law of God which was made for the good of man. The law is so far from indulging or justifying sin or the sinner or from concealing it, that no sooner is it committed than the law reveals it, and God's displeasure against it (Romans 3.20).

b. It condemns the sinner. The law is not against the righteous, for against such there is no law or condemnation. But this law, like a good magistrate, is an encouragement to them that do well, but a terror to evil-doers. The apostle Paul says, When the commandment came and showed me sin as in a magnifying glass, sin revived; it got the victory over me and was too strong for me, for the law strengthened it against me (1 Corinthians 15.56) and I died (Romans 7.9). I was dead in law. I have this sentence of death within me; as he says in another place. The law, when transgressed, works wrath (Romans 4.15); it sends out terrors, thunderings and flashes of wrath. It reveals wrath to them who by sin have made work for wrath.

Thus we see that the law is against sin before and after it has been committed. Yet we may show further how the sinfulness and the malignity of sin appears by the commandment.

1. Sin takes occasion from its being prohibited and forbidden by the law, to sin against and transgress it the more. There is in it such a malignity and an enmity that it will not be subject to the law of God (Romans 8.7); It tries to break this bond asunder and to cast this cord far from it (Psalm 2.3). The law stands in its way, and therefore it rushes to break it with the more violence. Sin grows angry and swells like a river which has been pent up and stopped in its course. The Apostle speaks of it in this way: 'Sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence' (Romans 7.8). The law said, Thou shalt not lust; at this, lust grows mad and provokes to sin the more. Sin is proud and impetuous, so that it scorns to be checked or to have any chains put upon it. Such is the sinfulness of sin, we are apt to be the more proud, the more covetous, and the more wanton, because it is forbidden us.

2. The law takes occasion by the commandment to deceive us. The Apostle says that it did so to him (Romans 7.11). It deceives us just as the Devil took occasion from the commandment to deceive our first parents; as if God were envious of us, or at least we mistake his meaning. Sin first corrupts our understanding, and by that our affections, and by that our conduct. The Devil and sin put their interpretations on God's text; they gloss and comment upon it and put queries: Hath God said? (Genesis 3.1 and 2 Corinthians 11.3). You need not fear, they say, there is no such danger, this command has another meaning. Such are the sly and cunning tricks that Satan and sin use with us to harden us by deceit (Hebrews 3.13).

3. Sin makes use of the commandment to kill us. It works our death and ruin by it (Romans 7.11-13). Sin at first makes us believe, as the serpent did Eve, that if we sin we shall not die but live better and be like gods. But we are tempted, enticed and drawn the way of our own lust, and when lust hath conceived it bringeth forth sin, and sin when it is finished bringeth forth death (James 1.14-15). It brings forth every kind of death--natural, spiritual and eternal; for this is the wages and the outcome of sin (Romans 6.21,25).

Man no sooner sinned but he became mortal, dead in law; and by living in sin man becomes spiritually dead in sin (Ephesians 2.1,2). If grace does not prevent, man will die in sin and be damned for sin, which is eternal death. Thus the Apostle says; While sin flattered me and deceived me, as if I should go unpunished, it has brought me under condemnation and death. Even now upon some men God lets sentence of death pass, that he might raise them from the dead, yet these people find themselves dead first, before they pass from death to life, as was the case of the Apostle in this passage.

Conversion is a resurrection from the dead. Sin kills men, grace revives men; so, like the prodigal, they that were dead are alive. But by this we see the sinfulness of sin, that it makes use of the law which was ordained to life, to condemn and pass sentence of death upon sinful men. That which was made to be our strength against sin is become the strength of sin (1 Corinthians 15.56). Death would be weak without its sting, which is sin, and sin would be weak without its strength, which is the law. So sinful is sin, exceedingly and beyond measure sinful, it works death by that which is good and which was ordained to life.

Even from the mouth of the law several things proclaim the sinfulness of sin. Do we not hear the law? (Galatians 4.21); what dreadful things it speaks against the transgressors of it:

1. The law will not pardon the least sin. It allows us no favour. If we break it in one thing though we observe it in many things, if we do not keep it all, it is as if we did not keep it at all. There is no compounding with the law nor compensating for a sin by doing a duty. 'Circumcision verily profiteth if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law thy circumcision is made uncircumcision' (Romans 2.25); it does not profit at all. Just as one sinner destroys much good, so does one sin; it is like a dead fly in a box of ointment Whosoever shall keep the whole law and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all' (James 2.10); for the nature of all sin is in every and any sin. If a man sins once, though only once, the law overthrows him, for the law is only the one will of God in various particulars. If any one of these is transgressed, it is against the will of God which runs through them all like a silken string through many pearis, for if that is cut or broken in only one place, the whole is broken. Wherever there is only one transgression the law pronounces the curse (Galatians 3.10). Had not God provided a city of refuge, a new and living way, we should never have found any favour from or by the law (Romans 8.2,3).

2. The law cannot justify any man. Since sin entered it has lost its power and grown weak (Romans 8.3). Even if it were pitiful, compassionate and friendly, yet it lacks the power to justify us. The law cannot give life, though it was made to that end. If there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. But the Scripture has concluded all under sin that the promise (of life) by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe (Galatians 3.21,22). 'If the law could have given life'--implying that it was not in the power of the law. But why not? It could at first! True, but it is weak through the flesh, for all are concluded under sin, the law is transgressed and therefore it cannot give life. Sinful sin has weakened the law as to the justification of sinners, but it has strengthened it as to their condemnation.

3. The law makes sin abound and aggravates it greatly. Of what use is the law? 'Wherefore then serveth the law--it was added because of transgressions' (Galatians 3.19); to make sin appear in its own colours. The law written in man's heart was so obliterated that men could not discern sin by it as they had been wont to do. The Apostle says: 'I had not known sin but by the law' (Romans 7.7), that is, as it was newly promulgated and written. I did not know it by the law in my heart for that let me alone. So the law was added to revive the sight and sense of sin, that men might see what an ugly thing sin is, infinitely worse than men are generally aware of until the commandment comes. 'The law entered that the offence might abound' (Romans 5.20); not that men might sin more, but that they might see their sin more. It is that men might take a full measure of sin in all its dimensions, in its height, depth, breadth and length. The holiness, goodness, justice and severity of the law all show sin in its ugly shape and colours.

4. The law has become as a schoolmaster to us (Galatians 3.24). We would scarcely ever have looked at Christ had not the law whipped and lashed us like a severe school-master. For this, not to exclude other meanings, is as I conceive it, chiefly the meaning of this text. The law kept us in awe and bondage by its severity until Christ came. Compare this text with Galatians 4.1-3): 'The heir, as long as he is a child, differs nothing from a servant but is under tutors and governors... so we were in bondage.' To be under tutors is the same as to be under a school-master and that is to be in a condition of bondage. Many go to school with an ill will, for they go to the rod, the whip, to bondage, to fear and torment. The law does nothing but frown upon us, gives us hard tasks and lashes us for not doing them, till Christ comes or until we come to Christ, just as the Egyptians did to the Israelites (Exodus 5.14). The law is the state of bondage and fear; the very children are all subject to bondage through fear of death (Hebrews 2.14-I5).

This shows the sinfulness of sin, that it made the law such a dread and terror to us. For so it is to all till Christ come, who is the end of the law for righteousness (Romans 10.4). He takes away the terrors of the school-master by taking us into the University of a higher and better state, that of believing on him for righteousness. By this we come to have a spirit, not of fear, but of power, of love, and of a sound mind, as St. Paul says (2 Timothy 1.7).

5. The law silences man from making any complaint, however great the judgment of God upon him. Mark what and to whom and to what end and purpose the law speaks: that every mouth be stopped (Romans 3.19). All the world must be silent when God speaks judgment, for all are guilty. If living man complains he has his answer soon and in short: it is for his sin (Lamentations 3.39). There is no room for one who has sinned to complain when he is judged--a sinner and yet complain! O, I am punished, he says; yes, it is for sin--now this stops his mouth. Man has no reason to enter into judgment with God when God enters into judgment with man. What a wicked thing is sin, which has brought man into such a condition that he cannot speak one word for himself! If he were to open his mouth the law would stop it by saying to him, Thou hast sinned. The law tells man that he is without excuse and therefore it is in vain to plead. Everything on this side of hell is mercy, for it is the Lord's mercy we are not consumed; and hell itself is just judgment. Under this or that, any or all judgment, man under the law has no cause to complain. He must be silent for he has sinned.

6. The law leaves a man without hope. When once it has passed sentence on a man, there is no reversing it by the law. Hope is one of the last succours, and when it fails the heart breaks and sinners are broken-hearted. Christ came to save sinners and to heal the broken-hearted, that is, men without hope (Isaiah 61.1), men who are in a desperate and despairing state. The law condemns without mercy (Hebrews 10.28); it leaves no place for hope from it. No matter how many petitions you present it with, and seek a pardon with tears, yet the law is inexorable. The sinner is cursed and shall be cursed, says the law. Now if there is to be any reprieve or hope of pardon, that comes from the grace of heaven's prerogative, which is above the law. This can revoke and disannul its sentence, indeed bestow blessing where the law pronounced a curse. But the law itself admits of no altering; it is like that of the Medes and Persians, peremptory and unalterable. What I have written, I have written, says the law.

Thus in all these ways, sin by the commandment and the law becomes and appears exceedingly sinful. But it may be said by someone that, though the law is severe to sinners, yet the Gospel is propitious and merciful to them. Therefore sin does not seem to be so vile a thing as before. To this I must answer, and make it evident that the Gospel also bears witness against sin.




Truly it is the greatest and purest testimony against sin. Though sinners find favour from the Gospel, sin finds none. The Gospel is not in the least indulgent to the least sin. The whole voice of the Gospel is, 'These things are written that ye sin not'. The Gospel is the declaration of the life and death, the design and doctrine of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was and is wholly against sin. The design of Christ was indeed to save sinners (1 Timothy 1.15) but to destroy sin (Romans 8.3; 1 John 3.5,8). He came to save his people from their sins; not from the petty and contemptible evils of reproaches and afflictions, but from the great and formidable evil of sin; from the guilt for time past, and from the power for time to come. He came to redeem us from all iniquity (Titus 2.14). And this is the blessing with which he blesses us: to turn us every one away from every one of our iniquities (Acts 3.26). Thus whoever names and calls upon the name of the Lord, that is, makes a profession of being a Christian, is thereby obliged to depart from iniquity (2 Timothy 2.19). How the life and death of our holy and blessed Saviour witnessed against sin I showed before. I shall now deal with the doctrine of the Gospel which so fully comports with and is adequately fitted to his aim and design, which is the taking away of sin.

The sum of Gospel doctrine preached by Christ himself, and confirmed to us by them that heard him, was and is repentance and faith (Mark 1.15); under these, the Apostle comprises the whole counsel of God (Acts 20.21,27). Now both these doctrines speak loudly against sin as being exceedingly sinful. Repent, says the Apostle, for the remission of sins. What an evil then is the thing which man must repent of, and which none but the God of all grace who is rich in mercy can remit and forgive! This forgiveness proves him to be a God of great love and rich mercy, or else sin could not be forgiven. For as our Saviour tells us, it is easier to heal diseases than to forgive sins (Matthew 9.5,6). To forgive sins is a manifestation of power, as Moses said in his prayer: 'Let the power of my Lord be great to pardon' (Numbers 14.17-20). Repentance takes in many things. It is made up of sorrow and shame, confession and reformation, all of which speak of sin's sinfulness. Repent, that your sins may be blotted out' (Acts 3.19); if sin is not blotted out then man is undone, and his name will be blotted out of the book of life.

Faith also, like repentance, speaks against sin. Faith says men are void of righteousness and life, for these are both only by faith. If men do not repent, they will not be forgiven. Likewise, if they do not believe, they will be damned; for not only those who do not know God, but those who do not obey the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ will have vengeance taken on them, and be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord (2 Thessalonians 1.8,9). And how can they escape (that is, there is no possibility of escaping) this great damnation who neglect the great salvation (Hebrews 2:3)?

If we take the doctrine of the Gospel apart, it is in every part against sin. There is not one Gospel doctrine that in its application does not strike against sin. The grace of God bringing salvation (the saving grace of God) hath appeared to all men (and so it is against the sin of all men and against all sin), teaching us that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts (without exception) we should live soberly (as to ourselves) righteously (as to others) and godly (to God) in this present world (that is, all the days of our life, as in Luke 1.74,75)' (Titus 2.11). The Gospel is a witness against the old man with all his corrupt affections, passions, lusts, and deeds, and is all for new light and knowledge, new love and affection, new life and conduct. Its design is that man should be no longer an old, but a new creature (Ephesians 4.17-25; 2 Corinthians 5.17). It is against all sin and for all righteousness and holiness; against hypocrisy and for truth; against formality and for spirit and power.

The several parts of the Gospel are against sin, as we shall show.

1. The doctrinal part of the Gospel. This is the part which flesh and blood is inclined to interpret as an encouragement to sin, and from which it takes occasion to abuse the Gospel:

i. The doctrine of God's free and abounding grace (Romans 5.20-21). St. Paul had taught that where sin abounded grace did much more abound, and that grace did reign to eternal life. From this some are apt to take occasion to sin, as if they were encouraged to do so by grace (Romans 6.1). But with what detestation and abhorrence the Apostle speaks against it! Shall we sin either because grace abounds or that grace may abound! God forbid! And when men would do evil that good might come of it, he speaks like a son of thunder, and tells them that their damnation is just (Romans 3.8). St. Jude writes an epistle expressly against such people as turn the grace of God into wantonness, thus perverting the end of grace. He calls them ungodly men, and men ordained to this condemnation (Jude 4).

ii. The doctrine of redemption by the blood and death of Jesus Christ. Christ Jesus died for our sins, and some wicked wretches are apt to conclude that they may live in sin because Christ has died for sin. But he died for sin that we might die to sin (Romans 6). He gave himself for us to redeem us from all iniquity and to purify us to himself (Titus 2.14). The death of Christ calls for us to die to sin and to live to him that died for us (2 Corinthians 5.15).

iii. The doctrine of privileges is against sin. God has dignified his people and given them titles of honour compared with which the names of Caesar and Emperor are but trifles. Behold, as a matter of wonder, what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God! (1 John 3.1). And you, says St. Peter of believers, are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood and, which is more glorious, a holy nation (1 Peter 2.9). Therefore, he says, abstain from fleshly lusts, and show forth the virtues and thus the praises of him who has called you out of your marveIlous darkness into his marvellous light.

iv. The doctrine of judgment to come is against sin. Wicked men scoff at this (2 Peter 3), and think that if they are let alone until that day, then they will do well enough. But remember that for all things we must come to judgment, and therefore learn to fear God and keep his commandments, as the wise man teaches us (Ecclesiastes 12.13,14). Speaking of the day of judgment, the Apostle says: 'Knowing the terror of the Lord, we persuade men' (2 Corinthians 5.11); we persuade them, not to sin, but to live in righteousness and holiness. Seeing this must be, what manner of persons should we be in all holy conversations and godlinesses! (for the Greek is plural). We must take heed not to fall into the errors of the wicked but to grow in grace, as St. Peter concludes (2 Peter 3.11,17,18). Thus all the doctrines of the Bible from the beginning of Genesis to the end of Revelation are a continual preaching and witnessing against sin.

2. The mandatory part of the Gospel witnesses against sin. By this we mean the commanding and exhorting part of the Gospel. What are men commanded and exhorted to do but to serve God in righteousness and true holiness all the days of their lives? To depart from iniquity, as from the way to Hell, and to walk holily in Christ Jesus, as in the way to Heaven? Indeed God condescends so far as to implore men to be reconciled that they may be happy (2 Corinthians 5.20). What does this show but that sin is both displeasing to God and destructive to man? That is, it is sinful sin.

3. The promising part of the Gospel is against sin. God has given to us exceeding great (in the Greek, the greatest) and precious promises, that by these we might escape the pollutions of the world through lust, and be made partakers of a divine nature (2 Peter 1.4); and that, having these promises, we should cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of flesh and spirit, to perfect holiness in the fear of God (2 Corinthians 7.1). Promises of good are against the evil of sin.

4. The menacing and threatening part of the Gospel is against sin. God threatens before men sin that they may not sin, and he threatens after men have sinned that they may repent of sin. Not only the law, but the Gospel also threatens sinners, and with no less than damnation (Mark 11.16). When any have sinned, God threatens the execution of threatenings if they do not repent (Revelation 2.5,16,22; 3.3,19). This also witnesses against sin.

5. The exemplary part of the Gospel witnesses against sin. The examples recorded in the Gospel, as are those in the Old Testament, are registered as witnesses against sin. The examples of good men and good things are set up as signposts to show us what to avoid. The good examples are given that we may not sin by omission of good (Hebrews 12.1); the bad that we may not sin by commission of evil (1 Corinthians 10.6-11) Abraham's faith, Moses' meekness, and Job's patience are examples for us to follow. We should tread in their steps. On the other hand, Ananias and Sapphira's lying, Judas's covetousness and apostasy, and similar cases, are written for our example, that we might hear and fear and not do so wickedly.

6. The experimental part of the Gospel witnesses against sin. Any experiences that men have had of God's goodness, and of their own deceitful and evil hearts, and what they have suffered by sin, all bear witness against sin. Has God been good in this and that way, and are you so foolish as to requite the Lord evil for his goodness, which should have led you unto repentance (Deuteronomy 32.6)? God was angry with Solomon because he departed from the Lord God of Israel who had appeared to him twice (1 Kings 11.9). We should draw inferences as Ezra did: 'After all that is come upon us for our evil deeds, seeing thou hast punished us less than our iniquities deserve, and hast given us such deliverance as this...' (Ezra 9.I3,14). What then? What use is to be made of this? 'Should we again break thy commandments? Wouldest Thou not be angry with us till our lusts consumed us?' Yes, we could expect nothing else. What, have you had so many experiences of your deceitful heart, and yet are so foolish as still to trust it (Proverbs 28.26)?

It is sad and dangerous to sin after experiences. It is impossible, that is, very difficult and at least morally impossible, for those who have been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift, to renew them again to repentance if they fall away (Hebrews 6.4-6). You have had many an aching heart for sinning already. So sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee. Having such a cloud of experimental witnesses, let us lay aside the sin that so easily besets us. If you sin against these witnesses, these witnesses will witness against you, and aggravate your condemnation. Let us therefore say to our sins, as Ephraim did to his idols, with great indignation--'Get ye hence, what have we any more to do with you!'

That I may conclude, I have only one more witness to produce against sin:




I shall show that sin proclaims its own sinfulness both by its names which it cannot disown, and by the arts which it uses to disguise itself.

(1) Sin's names. These it cannot deny, but confesses that they belong to it. I shall give only two examples:

I. It is called the work of the Devil (1 John 3.5,8). This is not to say that man's sin is not from himself, or that it is only of the Devil; but sin is what the Devil does and what he tempts others to do. Thus to sin is to act and work like the Devil; he who sins is of the Devil. Man indeed is of God, but the sinner or sinful man is of the Devil. The Devil was the first sinner, and he that sins is of him as if he were his child (John 8.44). He who does the Devil's work is of the Devil; sinning is the Devil's trade and he who follows this trade is of the Devil; he lives a devil's life. The Devil does nothing but sin; this is his business, and those who tread in his steps are of him and like him: they are devils incarnate.

a. To sin and to live in sin is to do as the Devil does. It is to be like him and conformable to him. Sin is his work. He is so evil and wicked that he is called emphatically and by way of eminence the Evil and the Wicked One (I John 2.13; 3.12); as if no-one were evil or at least as evil as he. Truly the devils are not only wicked, but they are called wickednesses in the abstract (Ephesians 6.12) and abstracts denote essences. He sinned from the beginning and continues sinning to this day; and they who imitate him in his work are his children as much as if they were begotten of him: 'Ye are of your father the Devil, and his works (or his lusts) ye will do'; he was and is a murderer: he attempted it upon God, but effected it on himself and man (John 8.44). He is the Abaddon and Apollyon, the murderer to this day (Revelation 9.11). It is true that he is a liar, a deceiver and a tempter, but he does all these in subservience to his reigning sin (for he is called a king in Revelation 9.11), which is that he is a destroyer or murderer (1 Peter 5.8). Now exactly the same is said of those who sin: they destroy their own souls (Proverbs 8.36); they are felones de se, self-murderers. Sin is devil's work.

b. He who sins works for the Devil. Not only does he do such work as the Devil does; he is the servant and slave of the Devil. The Devil works in the children of disobedience and they work for him. He is their prince and their god, whose servants they are, and whose works they do. 'His servants ye are whom ye obey', the Apostle says (Romans 6.I6). So that they who serve and obey the Devil are his servants, and sin is the work sinners do for him. What wages then are they who serve such a master likely to have!

Though sinners defy the Devil in words, yet they deify him in works, and at last he will devil-ize them and bring them into the same nature and misery as himself. Sinners are led by him at his will: they are like his dogs on the end of a string. When men are converted they are delivered from his power (Acts 26.18) and they who apostatize or who are excommunicated are delivered again to Satan. Thus in whatever state a sinner is a sinner, whether an infidel, a formalist or an apostate, he is under the power of the Devil, doing the Devil's work for the Devil's wages.

c. He who sins is a devil. So much does he belong to the Devil and do his work that he has the name of a devil. He is a devil to God, to himself and to others. For one sin St. Peter had the name of Satan (Matthew I6.25), but wicked men are called devils: Judas was a devil (John 6.70). Sin made angels devils, and it makes men devils, traitors, as Judas was, to their Lord and Master. It is said, 'The Devil shall cast some of you into prison' (Revelation 2.10); surely the Devil did not appear in person to do this, but by his instruments and agents, devils incarnate. O sinful sin, the work of the Devil!

Let me here take the opportunity to show you some sins which are especially said to be the Devil's sin. They who do them are of the Devil, work for him, are like him, and are called devils:

a. Murder, especially soul-murder. Anti-Christ, the Devil's son, is most guilty of this making merchandise of souls (Revelation 18.13). So also are lying prophets that hunt souls (Ezekiel 13.18-20) and devour and destroy souls (Ezekiel 22.25,27). The Devil was a murderer from the beginning (John 8.44), and they who murder are (as Cain was) of the Devil (1 John 3.12). Murder originates in anger and hatred: 'Whoever hates his brother is a murderer' (1 John 3.15). Therefore the Apostle says, 'Do not be angry so as to sin; let not the sun go down upon your wrath, for that is to give place to the Devil' (Ephesians 4.26,27). Pride is all for contention, and contention for murder. Pride produces discontent, and discontent envy, and envy hatred and malice. Hence comes murder. If you have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, this is not only earthly and sensual but devilish (James 3.14,15). Originally the Devil's sin and his condemnation was from pride (1 Timothy 3.6). Pride made him discontented, envious, angry, and a murderer; and so it did Cain, his eldest son. The proud spirit lusteth to envy (James 4.5-7). Thus when St. Peter teaches us how to resist the Devil he tells us it must be by submission and humility (1 Peter 5.5-8).

b. Lying is the second sin that calls the Devil father, and marks out those who do it as his children. The Devil is a liar and the father of lies (John 8.44). When Ananias told a lie, the Apostle said that Satan had filled his heart (Acts 5.3). They who lie are of the synagogue of Satan, members and sons of the synagogue of Satan (Revelation 2.9 with 3.9). God says of his children that they will not lie (Isaiah 63.8). They who love and make lies are without among the dogs and devils (Revelation 22.15); they are without the gates of the City of God, and they have their portion with the Devil in the lake of fire (Revelation 21.8).

c. Deceivers and seducers are of the Devil. He is the deceiver (Revelation 12.9; 20.2-3), the old serpent who deceived Eve and who deceives the whole world. They who deceive the souls of men are like the Devil, whether it be done by calling the truth into question as the Devil did at first, and against which the Apostle speaks (2 Corinthians 11.2-3); or by the abusing and wrestling of falsely quoted Scripture .(2 Peter 3.16) as the Devil did (Matthew 4.6); or by transforming themselves into angels of light as the Devil does (2 Corinthians 11.14). There are deceivers who sin in the name of the Lord, and attribute that to the Spirit which is only their own fancy, if not a falsehood. They may even deceive by false and pretended miracles after the manner of Satan (2 Thessalonians 2.9,10).

d. Tempting man to sin. They who do this come under the Devil's name and do his work. He is the tempter (Matthew 4.1; 1 Thessalonians 3.5); he tempts all men to one sin or another. The Devil had a hand in Cain murdering his brother (1 John 3.12); in Judas's treason (Luke 22.3); in Ananias's lie (Acts 5.3); in David's numbering the people (1 Chronicles 21.1); in Peter's denying his Master (Luke 22.31,32). He tempted to the first sin, and ever since he has tempted all men to sin and to commit every sin. It is the Devil's work and sin to tempt others to sin, and they who do this do the Devil's work.

e. False accusing. Slandering, evil speaking and back-biting others is of the Devil and like him. He is the accuser of the brethren (Revelation 12.10). He accused Job and Joshua, and he accuses others very often without cause. The tongues of those who do this are set on fire of hell (James 3.6). Breeders of strife, slanderers, and calumniators are called by the Devil's name, Diaboloi -- so we read in three places in St. Paul's Epistles (1 Timothy 3.11; 2 Timothy 3.3; Titus 2.3). To carry slanders is the work of the Devil.

f. Hindering others from believing and closing with the truth of the Gospel. This is another sin which is the work of the Devil and which makes them who do it like the Devil. This may be done in several ways:

(i) By keeping them in ignorance, and blinding them (2 Corinthians 4.4). This may be done either by stealing and taking away the Word (Matthew 13.4,19), or by hindering and keeping away the means of grace from them (1 Thessalonians 2.I8).

(ii) By sowing tares among the wheat (Matthew 13.25,27,38,39).

(iii) By perverting the ways of the Lord (Acts 13.10) which are represented as tedious and dangerous. Whoever keeps means from men, or men from means, or makes false representations of the ways of God is of the Devil.

g. Apostasy (John 8.44). The Devil did not abide in the truth but left his first love, life and state (2 Peter 2.4; Jude 6). Hence Judas is called devil (John 6.70) and apostates are said to turn aside after Satan (1 Timothy 5.15). As converts are turned from Satan to God, so apostates return from God to Satan. He who does not abide in the truth is like the Devil. I will mention only one more sin in this list:

h. Persecuting the righteous for righteousness' sake is the Devil's work (1 John 3.12; Matthew 25.35). They who do it are of the Devil and are called devils. Some he oppresses, some he possesses; and where he is dispossessed there he turns persecutor: 'The devil shall cast some of you into prison' (Revelation 2.10); this was a persecuting devil incarnate.

Thus sin is the work of the Devil, which is a great witness against it. I may add at this point that in some ways the sin of man is more horrible and heinous than that of devils. I do not mean the first sins of either, but the sins since the time when God revealed his pleasure concerning the disposal of devils and men. The devil has some sort of gratification in tempting man, for it is a kind of victory or revenge; but men only wrong and torment themselves. Moreover the devils are past hope and have grown desperate, being rejected of God (2 Peter 2.4); for Christ Jesus did not take them on him (Hebrews 2.16). They are hardened against God who punishes them, and have grown so envious that they will be avenged on man seeing they cannot be on God. If only they had a door of hope opened, it is probable they would not be so wicked as they are. When there is no hope, persons are more resolute (Jeremiah 2.25). But for men to sin whom God has spared, for whom indeed he spared not his own Son, whom he calls and woos and even begs to be reconciled and happy--for these men to sin, what horrible ingratitude is this! What an aggravating and inexcusable sin it is! It is worse than the Devil's sin, for devils do not sin against second mercy and offers of grace as men do. But I must hasten to sin's second name:

2. Sin is all filthiness of flesh and spirit (2 Corinthians 7.1). This denotes its loathsomeness and its infectiousness.

a. Sin is a loathsome thing. This is clear when we begin to consider that which sin resembles, unto which it is likened, as the most offensive and most loathsome diseases: a canker or gangrene (2 Timothy 2.17). Now men are loath to eat and drink with those who have these diseases. Sin is likened to the rot, to the filth and corruption of the foulest disease, which is so foul and rotten that one would not touch it with a pair of tongs, as the proverb goes. The Apostle tells us that some, like Jannes and Jambres, resist the truth; he calls them men of corrupt or rotten minds. And Solomon would have us know that just as a sound heart is the life of the flesh, so envy (anything opposed to the sound heart) is the rottenness of the bones (Proverbs 14.30). Indeed, sin is likened to the plague from which everyone flies. It is so offensive and loathsome that it separates the nearest relations. Now sin is called the plague of the heart (1 Kings 8.38, 39) which is much worse than any sore of the body.

And this is not all. Sin is not only likened to the most loathsome diseases, but also to the other most loathsome things there are. It is likened to the blood in which infants are born, which is loathsome (Ezekiel 16.5,6). It is likened to mire and dung, to the very excrements that lie in ditches and sewers in which sows and swine wallow, and even to the vomit of dogs (2 Peter 2.22). It is compared to the putrefaction of graves and sepulchres (Matthew 23.27, 28), which stink, as Martha said of Lazarus when he had been some days dead (John 11.39). It is also likened to poison (Romans 3.13). All these things, and others which I shall not name, are loathsome things at which men stop their noses and from which they hide their eyes. Yet sin is more loathsome than all of them if we consider that nothing but the fountain open for Judah and Jerusalem to wash in, nothing but the blood of Jesus can cleanse from this filthiness. All the nitre and soap in the world cannot get it out. Besides, it is not only filthy but filthiness, not only corrupt but corruption, in the very abstract. All the things to which sin is likened fall far short of sin; they are only shadows which are very imperfect representations of the reality.

Now all the former examples reach only to the body and do not defile the man. But sin reaches to and seizes on soul and spirit, and defiles the man (Matthew 15.19,20). This is the canker, the rottenness, the plague, the poison of the soul, and sin is not only worse than any, but than all of these. What is more, if our righteousness is but as a menstruous rag (Isaiah 64.6) how filthy must our sin be! The Apostle Paul counted his righteousness which was of the law to be but dung (Philippians 3.8); what then did he reckon his injuriousness, persecution and blasphemy to be--surely as bad as death and hell. If not only our righteousness, but our righteousnesses, indeed all our righteousnesses, are as filthy rags (Isaiah 64.6), what is our sin, our sins, and all our sins? Truly filthy beyond expression or imagination.

b. Sin is a polluting and infectious thing. Since sin is of a pestilential and poisonous nature, it has caused not only corruption, but pollution and defilement (2 Peter 2.20). Many things may make a man foul and loathsome, such as leprosy and ulcerous tumours, and yet the soul of a man may be still pure and fair, as Job's was when his body was all over a scab or sore, and he sat on the dunghill. But as we suggested before, sin defiles the man, and soaks into his very spirit and infects that. We will attempt to take a clearer and fuller view of sin's pestilential and infectious nature and operation, and so consider it in various ways:

(i) In its universality. See how it has extended and spread itself over all the world; there is no land or nation, tribe, language, kindred or people where it has not been known from the rising of the sun to the going down thereof. All climates, hot and cold, all quarters of the world, American, African, Asian and European, have all been infected. Not only Sodom and Samaria, but Jerusalem and Sion were infected and ruined by it. It is here, there and everywhere, except Heaven!

Besides this, it has infected all ages; it is almost as old as the world. It has run in the blood from Adam to Moses, and so on to this day. It is the plague which has lasted almost six thousand years. Indeed, what is more, not one man has escaped it; all kinds of men, all ranks, high and low, rich and poor, kings and beggars have been infected by it (Romans 3.9,10); the wise and learned as well as the foolish and illiterate. Who is there that has lived and sinned not, our Saviour excepted? If any man says he has not sinned, he sins in saying so. By one man sin came into the world, but since, not one man but every man has sinned. All have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3. 23), and death came upon all, inasmuch as all had sinned (Romans 5.12). All men have died of this plague; indeed our Lord and Saviour would not have died if he had not been made sin for us. Moreover, this leprosy has not only spread itself on mankind as a whole, but on the whole of man; every part of man is infected. It has made flesh and spirit filthy (2 Corinthians 7.1). From the crown of the head to the sole of the foot, there is not one sound part in him, for all his members are servants to sin. It is no better within, for his heart is evil; the thoughts of his heart are evil; the imaginations of the thoughts of his heart are evil; the very thoughts of his thoughts are evil. Indeed every creature of the heart is evil (Genesis 6.5). I showed above how the understanding is darkened and depraved. That the heart is desperately wicked and deceitful beyond any knowledge but God's the prophet assures us from God himself (Jeremiah 17.9). The mind and conscience is defiled (Titus 1.15,16). The world has become perverse and stubborn; and worse, it is wilful and mad, set upon sin and Hell (Ecclesiastes 8.11). The affections which are lustful are inordinate, and the passions which are irascible, are unruly. Man is more headstrong than the horse which rushes into the battle. Sin has made some men so restless that they cannot sleep unless or until they have done mischief (Proverbs 4.16).

Sin spreads its infection by defiling man's duties and holy things. It defiles his natural and civil actions so that the ploughing of the wicked is sin (Proverbs 21.4). Man should do everything from the highest to the lowest duty to the glory of God, but which of his deeds is not ill-done and to the dishonour of God? Sin infects men's prayers. The prayers of the wicked are an abomination to the Lord (Proverbs 28.9), even though offered up with incense to perfume them (Isaiah 1.13). Under the law, Aaron was to bear the iniquity of the holy things (Exodus 28.38). Israel brought God many a present, but sin, like a dead fly in a box of ointment, spoilt everything (Isaiah 11.11,16).

Sin also infects all that belongs to man. When man was created, God furnished his house for him, gave him the world and the fulness thereof. It was good then, but alas, how it has changed, for sin has made everything that belongs to man vanity, that is, empty and unprofitable (Ecclesiastes 1). The fulness of the creature cannot fill a man: the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear with hearing, for all is vanity. The gloss and beauty, the pleasure and profit of creature enjoyments have become vanity; indeed, what is more, sin has made them vexation too. Sin has embittered man's enjoyments. Man, among his comforts, lives but a vexatious life. In the fulness of his sufficiency he is in straits, and likewise, in the fulness of his comforts he is in sorrow, and in the midst of laughter his heart is sad. Man's enjoyments are disappointments; they fail his expectations and so are not to his contentment, but to his vexation. Neither the length nor the comfort of his life is in the abundance of these things (Luke 12.15). What is even worse, his sin has not only made things very vexatious, but a snare and temptation to man; they are sin's baits by which it catches men. What are honours, pleasures and riches but snares to the children of men (Proverbs 30.8,9).

(ii) How suddenly sin infects, increases and multiplies! Sin is not barren, but all too fruitful to beget and bring forth more; it is not lazy but gains ground continually. How great a fire hath a spark kindled! Adam's posterity has not been so numerous as his sins. A little cloud, no bigger than a man's hand--so it seems at first--grows and spreads to cover the whole hemisphere. The water that at first seemed little and shallow, swells more and more from the ankles to the knees, from the knees to the loins, from there to the head until it grows into such a great river that it cannot be passed over. In this way grows sin; and it is a very monster for its growth. Let us notice how it increases in our own selves and then how in others:

(a) How it increases in ourselves. Sometimes the same sin increases from little to great, growing from an infant to a man. It is as a snowball that grows bigger by rolling it in the snow. The little grain of mustard grows to a great tree. A little seed of sin becomes a big tree. Adam's sin was only one but it was a breeding and pregnant sin, and the mother of all abominations. One sin transgresses the whole law (James 2.10). When lust has conceived it hastens to bring forth, and when it has brought forth, it brings it up until it comes to its full stature (James 1.14,15). It is at first only a lust, an appetite, inclination, or motion; from there it proceeds to enticement; by that to draw us aside; and then to tempt and impregnate us. By this temptation it conceives, and there is an embryo; this grows in the womb and when it is brought forth it is a sin; and this being finished or perfected proves deadly. The tongue is a little member, but as a little spark of fire, but when kindled it becomes a world of iniquity and defiles the whole body and sets on fire the whole course of nature (James 3.5,6).

Just as a little leaven leavens the whole lump, so sometimes one sin begets many more sins, not only of the same kind, but others also. God had forbidden his people to take the accursed thing (Joshua 7.11), but when they had taken, they disassembled also and put it among their own stuff. You may see how one sin led to another when Achan confesses his sin (verses 19-21): he says 'When I saw, I coveted, and when I coveted, I took, and when I had taken, I hid them'; thus one sin begat another.

This thing grows into a greatness and multiplies itself. If we do not abhor the garment we may be spotted with the flesh. If we do not withdraw from occasions of evil we may by the occasions be drawn to evil; and not abstaining from appearances of evil, be brought to apparent evil. There is one chapter in Scripture that gives us two sad examples of this, Genesis 34. Dinah, out of curiosity, must make a visit to the daughters of the land and while going to see the daughters the son saw her; and having seen her, he took her; having taken her, he lay with her; and by lying with her defiled her. When the report of this came to Jacob's sons they were grieved, and being grieved, were wroth, and being wroth they mediated revenge; meditating revenge they spoke deceitfully; having deceived, they slew, and having slain they fell upon the spoil. How hard it is then to sin once, and only once. Sin grows upon us.

(b) How sin increases in others and infects them. It went from one man to every man. How soon the world got the name of un-godly world or the world of the un-godly (2 Peter 2. 5)! And after the Flood, how soon the world became overspread with sin from seven or eight persons! One root of bitterness defiles many (Hebrews 12.15). Man's bad examples are very pestilential and pernicious; a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump. Or, as our country proverb has it, one scabbed sheep infects a whole flock. The world grows worse and worse; the latter days are most perilous because most sinful. And as if there had not been sin enough already, some set up projects and trades of new sins, being inventors of evil things (Romans 1.30). How spreading and catching is this infection, for others will very soon follow these newly-found fashions of sin and sinning.

(iii) The infection of sin is almost incurable. The cure is impossible to us and only possible with God, and that, at a costly rate, by the blood of Christ himself. The reason why it is very hard to be cured is that sin is within us and dwelleth in us (Romans 7.17,20). An ulcer in the flesh is more easily cured than one in the lungs. A disease that is within cannot be so well reached. Indeed, sin is not only in us but is riveted in us; it has got into the flesh and spirit as if it were one with us, like the leopard's spots and the Ethiopian's blackness. Under the law there was a leprosy so inveterate that though they scraped a house outside and inside and threw out the dust, though they took other stones and mortar, yet it returned again (Leviticus 14.42-44). When diseases become, as it were, natural, they are hard to be cured. It is not easy to obliterate that which is written with a pen of iron and the point of a diamond. It is difficult to soften a heart of stone.

Besides, this filthiness has long been in possession, even time out of mind. It pleads prescription: a custom of such long standing has become a law and, as it were, the course of nature (Jeremiah 13.23). To show how hard it is for sin to be cured and rooted out, we now observe that very forcible means have been used for cleansing it, and even so, it has not been removed. God poured out a whole flood of water which washed away most sinners; yet sin, as I may say, kept above water, and was found alive and strong after the flood. When God sent fire and brimstone or Hell, as one old writer put it, from Heaven, on Sodom, that centre of sin, still sin escaped with Lot and his daughters. Now fire and water are very cleansing and purifying things, and yet you see that even they cannot do it. When some others sinned, the earth swallowed them up, yet sin remained, it did not die. After all these judgments the same sins are still in the world. Even in the saints themselves, with all the forces that faith can muster, sin is scarcely kept under, but the flesh will be lusting against the spirit. The victory is by Christ Jesus; it is death which kills sin.

(iv) Sin lives in its effects when we are dead and gone. It follows us to the grave and there rots our bodies. When it can no longer reach our souls to make them vile, still it does not refrain from making our bodies putrid and vile. He who did no sin saw no corruption, but we who have sinned see corruption, and stink within a few days as Lazarus did, so sinful and infectious is sin!

Thus we have seen the names of sin and how they witness against it. There remains only a second aspect--the witness of sin against itself, namely,

(2) The arts that sin uses to disguise itself. If sin were not an ugly thing, would it wear a mask? If it did not have evil designs, would it walk in disguise and change its name? Truth is not ashamed of its name or nakedness; it can walk openly and boldly. Sin, on the contrary, is a cheat, a lie, and therefore lurks privily and puts on false names and colours; for if it were to appear like itself--as it sooner or later will do to all, either for conversion or confusion--it would frighten men into dying fits, as it did the Apostle, and when they come to themselves they would abhor and hate it, as Paul and the Prodigal did. Men would never be so hardy in sinning but that sin hardens them by deceiving them; so the Apostle says, 'Take heed lest any be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin' (Hebrews 3.11). Sin uses all manner of arts, methods and devices to attract us and inveigle us. It uses many tricks on us and has all the knacks of deceiving and cheating us. So I may with truth say that sin has not learnt but taught all the deceits, dissimulations, flatteries and false diplomacies that are found in courts; the stratagems of war; the sophisms and fallacies of the schools; the frauds of tradesmen, whether in city or country; the tricks of cheaters and jugglers, the ambushes of thieves, the pretensions of false friends, the various methods of false teachers--these and every other kind of cheat and deception in the world, sin teaches and practises upon us all to make us sin.

It is impossible to count up all the ways in which the deceitful hearts and sins of men abuse them. I will, however, give a few examples as a warning to sinners and a witness against sin, and so conclude this section of our book.

(1) Sometimes sin persuades us that such and such a thing is not a sin, though it looks like a sin. Thus the Devil dealt with Eve in the beginning and so deceived her. She was a little suspicious and shy, that what the Devil urged her to do was evil, but he cunningly insinuated that however it seemed to her, yet it was not so. In this way the pride and wantonness of people is maintained--that though these things appear to be evil, they are not evil. But, alas, it is the next thing to being a sinner to look like a sinner; appearance in good is too little and in evil it is too much. It is a very hard thing to look like a sinner and talk and dress like a sinner and not to be one. It is more than likely that what the Devil grants to be like a sin, is a sin. Those who are persuaded otherwise are deceived by him, as Eve was. If we like the picture, the odds are great against us not liking the thing. Though an idol is no God, nor even like him, yet God has utterly forbidden graven images for they are of the Devil's carving.

(2) Sin would persuade that what may be sin in another cannot be sin in you, all things considered, because you are necessitated. For example, a poor man is forced to steal. But no man is necessitated to sin, even though under necessity; sin is sin in any or in all. Though temptations may mitigate and excuse somewhat, yet they cannot excuse totally from its being a sin, and they cannot un-sin sin.

(3) It is one sin only, and this only once, says Sin. But if sin is good, why only once, and if evil, why once? One sin though committed but once is one and once too much. Besides when the Serpent's head is in, it is hard to keep out the whole body; one makes way for the other. It is almost impossible to sin once and only once.

(4) It is only a little one, says Sin. But that which is against a great God and deserves so great a punishment as death cannot be a little sin; for the wages of sin and of every single sin is death (Romans 6.23).

(5) It is in secret and no-one will see it, says Sin. But this is a cheat, for it is impossible to sin so secretly but there will be at least two witnesses. God and conscience know all the sins that man can commit.

(6) Yes, but you will hate it and dread it ever after, says Sin. Thus some go to Mass to show their distaste of it, and to plays to see the folly of them. But who would be a burnt child to learn to dread the fire? Such costly experiments may indeed cost us the loss of out souls. It is dangerous to meddle with that which is an appearance and may be an occasion of evil, and much more to parley and tamper with sin itself.

(7) But I promise you that you shall gain by it, says Sin. You will have so much profit, so much pleasure and so much honour. Sin's gain is loss, however; for he who gains even the world by sin pays too dearly for it. It means the loss or at least the hazard of his soul. The pleasures of sin are grievous, and its honours are disgraces and shame. Did not our first parents find it so, and do not we (Romans 6.21)? The precious substance promised by sin ends in a pernicious shadow, and the spoils we get by sin only spoil us. Sin promises like a God but pays like a Devil. Sin tells us that we shall not die but live like gods, but we find nothing but death and such a life as they have in Hell. Sin's performance is altogether contrary to its promises; it promises gold and pays dross. If any man, then, has a mind to have true miseries, let him pay heed to sin's false promises.

(8) But others do it, says Sin, and why may not you? It is not what others do, however, but what they ought to do that we are to follow. We must not follow any man or a multitude of men to do evil. If others will risk their damnation, what is that to us? It will be no comfort to have had companions in sin and to meet them again in Hell.

(9) But you have only to repent, says Sin, and God will forgive you. To this we must say that he who promised forgiveness to them that repent has not promised repentance to them that sin. Besides, even if sin were to cost no more than repentance, anyone in his right mind would be loath to buy repentance at so dear a rate; for repentance, though it may free them from greater, puts men to more grid and pain than ever sin could afford them pleasure.

(10) Yes, but you have escaped well enough hitherto, says Sin. No evil has befallen you. If this is so, however, it may be so much the worse for us. Not to be punished may be the worst punishment (Isaiah 1.15; Hosea 4.14,17). What will it cost if God does awaken me, and if not, what will it cost when God shall damn me?

(11) It is only your infirmity, says Sin. You cannot help it. Tell sin that this is a thing that none but fools and children can accept. Besides, to plead for infirmities is more than an infirmity. That which is only an infirmity today may become a disease tomorrow, if not prevented. Once the will is engaged, it is past an infirmity and has become a sin.

Now if these and other arguments do not succeed, then Sin speaks more openly. It says, there is no such thing as sin. There is no difference between good and evil. As all things come alike to all, so all things are alike. And also, says Sin, evil is good in God's sight, or he would judge it (Malachi 2.17); his silence makes you think that he is such an one as yourself (Psalm 50.21). But tell Sin that this defeats and refutes itself and proves nothing so clearly as that sin is exceedingly sinful. If there is no sin, and no difference between good and evil, to what purpose are these different words used by Sin to prove that there is no difference? To say that it is only in imagination and not real is to deny that there is any such thing as sense and conscience, which every man admits, and no-one can deny without denying himself and God. Between good and evil there is more difference than between light and darkness, life and death, ease and pain, food and poison, and these are real, and not differences made by our fancy only. That all things come alike to all is not always true; there are contrary examples. To say that all things are alike is never true but is a manifest contradiction. To say that evil is good in God's sight and that he is such an one as a sinner is to deny God to be, for if he is not good and just, he is not God. But this bespeaks man to be woefully ignorant, for the flood which drowned the old world, the fire which fell from Heaven on Sodom, the judgments which God executes in the earth continually, witness that God is displeased with and the avenger of sin, just as his giving us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons is witness that he is good and does good. The fact that his sun shines and his rain falls on the unjust as well as on the just is to persuade men of his goodness which calls for repentance and which also witnesses that sin is evil.

But if sin were not exceedingly sinful, what need would it have to use all these tricks and subterfuges? If it and its deeds were not evil, why does it seek to avoid the light? Why, like a maker of counterfeit money, does it put the King of Heaven's stamp on its base metal? Why does Jacob call himself Esau and counterfeit his brother if sin were not abominable? Why did the Gibeonites pretend to have come from afar if they did not wish to be unknown? If sin were not false and a robber, why does it creep in unseen, climb up a narrow way and avoid the door? Why does it flatter and deceive? Why does it never keep its promises, but break all it ever made? It is because it is sinful sin.

I have now shown what sin is and in what its sinfulness consists, and proved it by many witnesses including sin itself. But before I come to the next thing, that is, to the application of this doctrine, I shall briefly sum up the charge against sin. That which sin is accused of and proved to be guilty of is high treason against God. It attempts nothing less than the dethroning and un-god-ing of God himself. It has unmanned man, made him a fool, a beast, a devil, and subjected him to the wrath of God, and made him liable to eternal damnation. It has made men deny that God is, or affirm that he is like themselves. It has put the Lord of Life to death and shamefully crucified the Lord of Glory. It is always resisting the Holy Ghost. It is continually practising the defiling, the dishonour, the deceiving and the destruction of all men. What a prodigious, monstrous, devilish thing is sin l

It is impossible to speak worse of sin than it really is, or even as badly of it as it really deserves, for it is hyperbolically sinful. There are not enough words; we need more, and stronger ones to speak of its vileness. And if we were to say that it is worse than death and the Devil, the very Hell of Hell, this would not be to rail at it, but tell it only the truth about itself. Sin is the quintessence of evil; it has made all the evils that there are and is itself worse than all the evils it has made. It is so evil that it is impossible to make it good or lovely by all the arts than can be used. A poison may be corrected and made medicinal, even if it is not nourishing. But sin is sin, and can be nothing else; its nature cannot be changed, not even by a pardon. It is not only ugly but ugliness, not only filthy but filthiness, not only abominable but abomination. There is not a worse thing in Hell itself; it has not its fellow there. All this and much more may be said of and against sin. Having laid this groundwork, then, I shall now build upon it, and proceed to the application and usefulness of the doctrine of sin's sinfulness.

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