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the descent of God's blessing upon them, bringing a curse instead of it upon one's posterity, to the third and fourth generation, and turning every house where it is predominant into a kind of hell! How does it render conversation and business a temptation and a snare, and make every man that is possessed and acted by this foul fiend become a villain and a traitor, and even a devil to his neighbour! How does it corrupt the innocency of our children, the fidelity of our servants, and turn our bosom friends into our mortal enemies; and introduce rebellion and a state of war among those of the same blood and interest, each striving who shall first bring ruin on the other! What hereditary diseases does it produce, to the equal shame and misery of the wretched offspring of vile, debauched progenitors! and how does it sink many a plentiful fortune, adorned with authority and honour, into beggary and shame and contempt! And as for the public, as righteousness exalteth a nation, so sin is not only the reproach, but the ruin of any people 8.

What a just reproach is it to any nation, Christian especially, to have debauchery, irreligion, and profaneness go barefaced and unpunished, and even applauded and caressed ; and to have excellent laws, for want of due execution, made a jest of by those, who, with the fools that Solomon mentions, make a mock at sin h! And how much greater reproach is it to any Christian church, to be full either of pious frauds and juggles to advance its temporal grandeur more than the good of souls, and the honour of its divine Founder, or else lukewarm, cool, and indifferent, lax in its discipline, overrun with heresies,

g Prov. xiv. 34.

h Verse 9.

or torn in pieces by schisms, and abominably defiled by the filthy conversation of those that profess the most pure and holy religion in the world!

And what a ruin will such egregious wickedness at length bring down upon so vile a church and people, wherever it is found! What distractions, what judgments, and finally, without a public national repentance, what utter desolation !

All these, and innumerable more, are the bitter fruits of sin, and which ought to make it infinitely odious to us; as for the same and the following reasons it likewise is to God.

For, with respect to him, it is a direct confederacy with the Devil in his rebellion against him ; a turning aside after Satan in his apostasy i; and there is so great a likeness between every wilful sin and that of Satan's, so much of base ingratitude, despite of God's authority, and arrogant shaking off his government, and setting up our own wills against his, that no wonder if it provoke the divine Majesty to the like resentment, and brings upon the incorrigible sinner the dreadful condemnation to that lake of fire and brimstone prepared for the Devil and his angels. It is moreover, when obstinately persisted in, the highest contempt of God's justice, a kind of daring him to do his worst, and inflict what he has threatened, as if we scorned the expresses of his displeasure, and were resolved to follow our own inclinations, in defiance of all that he can say or do to scare us, as we call it, to his obedience; which we thereby declare that we hate, more than we fear hell and damnation. Now this is so utterly destructive of all authority and rule,

i i Tim. v. 15.

that a wise Governor cannot but be highly incensed by it, and animadvert severely upon it. And accordingly we are often told in the holy writings, how jealous he is of his honour, how apprehensive of any contempt of his laws, and how resolved to vindicate them against all opposers.

But it is still more hateful and provoking to him, as it is a vile abuse of his goodness, longsuffering, and forbearance, his wonderful patience and condescension to sinners. How great this has been, no Christian can be to learn; and every day, to every one of us, gives fresh demonstration of it. Now to grow the worse for all this, to be the more obstinate and hardened and resolute in our wickedness, the kinder God is to us, the more unwilling he seems to punish us, and the oftener he entreats us to a reconciliation; this is so base, and argues such an incorrigible vileness in us, that it cannot but be infinitely hateful in the sight of God. And indeed sin is so directly contrary to the holiness and purity of the divine nature, that it cannot but be extremely odious to him. And accordingly, though infinite in mercy and compassion, slow to anger, and of great lenity and goodness, yet how severely has he all along punished it here in this world, and threatened an eternity of misery to it in the next! And when, in amazing goodness, he sent his divine Son into the world to make atonement for us by his sufferings and death, that we might not come into that place of torment prepared for the apostate spirits, and all their accomplices in wickedness, what did that blessed Son of his endure! what anguish of body and mind! what a life of sorrow, and a tormenting death! And all this, because he was made sin for us, and the iniquities of us all were laid on him.

And still, notwithstanding this so costly and prevailing a sacrifice for sin, it is so perfectly and eternally odious to God, that to relapse again into it, and obstinately to persist in it, will render all ineffectual that the most compassionate Jesus has done and suffered to save us, and inevitably bring upon us the severest expressions of God's wrath for ever; and he who died to redeem us will then himself so hate us, as at the final judgment to banish us from his presence for ever. So infinitely hateful, upon all accounts, is sin.

SECT. II.

That nothing but sin should be hated by us. And indeed, if we heartily hate this greatest of evils, we shall have but little inclination to hate any thing else; we shall be so full of enmity to this deservedly most odious thing, and so taken up in expressing our hatred to it, and prosecuting it with those constant, vigorous resentments, which the hateful idea we have of it has excited in us against it, that other things will have but a transient touch of this passion, and that every day less than other, as our aversion to sin increases in our souls, which it ought to do continually still more and more, for it can never be hated too much.

All other evils, as I observed before, have some mixture in them of good, and may be improved to our benefit and advantage; and therefore, though they may be less desirable than those things that have more good in them than evil, yet are by no means the due object of our hatred : and as every

created good has its alloy, and nothing is altogether desirable but God and virtue; so every evil, except sin, has something in it, that upon some account or other may be the object of our choice: and therefore, as I said, though some things may be much preferred before others, yet nothing should be hated but sin, which has nothing in it of good, but is perfect, unmixed evil.

Thus sickness and pain, affliction and poverty, though in themselves not joyous, but grievous, as the apostle expresses it, and therefore not directly to be desired or chosen as such, but rather to be shunned and avoided by us; yet, as they may tend, in some respect or other, to our greater good, and are generally designed to do so, by him who is the great Disposer of all things; we should not set ourselves against them with too great an aversion, which would be of exceeding ill consequence to us, and hinder their good effect upon us, and engage us in unjustifiable courses to remove them; but rather suffer patience to have her perfect work, in expectation of the happy consequence at last. And accordingly our holy religion teacheth us, not only to be submissive and resigned under such evils as these, but even to rejoice when God shall please to exercise us with them; because they will afterward yield the peaceable fruits of righteousness to them that are exercised thereby k.

And so, as for the troubles and ill treatment we may meet with from wicked and unreasonable men, the authors of them are not to become the object of our hatred, because, as in themselves they have a mixture of some good, and which in some degree

k Heb. xii. II.

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