The Servants of God, have Chose the most dreadful Afflictions rather than the least Sin.
FIrst, Those Servants of God that have been guided by the Wisdom of God, to make their Choice, they have rather chose the sorest and most dreadful Afflictions in this world than willingly to commit the least sin: as now, if you would but turn your thoughts to what you have read or heard of the Martyrs, what hideous, and grievous torments did they suffer; the boyling of their bodies in scalding Lead, laying of their naked backs upon hot Gridirons, and •ending and tearing their Members a pieces with Horses, the pulling of their flesh off from their Bodies with Pinchers, and others by red hot burning Tongs, their enduring their flesh to be scorched with broyling of it, first on the one side, and afterward on the other side; Yea, weak Women have endured this, To have their Page 6 flesh harrowed with stones and sharp irons, to have their bodies flayed, and then thrown into rivers of cold ice; and a thousand more what∣soever Hel and wicked men could devise: they were content to endure al this, and certainly could they have devised ten thousand times more exquisite torments then they did, they would have been content to have endured that, and whatsoever else, rather than to act against their Consciences the least sin, and they accoun∣ted this to be a good Choice, when as they saw Sin against their Consciences on the one hand, and al their torments on the other, they did ra∣ther embrace these tortures, then embrace that sin; and for this their Choice they are renowned in the hearts of the Saints to al generations: yea, the holy Ghost doth witness, That they have a good Report, Heb. 11. Those that suffered saw¦ing asunder, and scourging, and went up and down in Sheeps-skins and Goats skins, in leather Breeches and Doublets, and suffered the spoy¦ling of their goods and of al that they had, these had a good Report, and the Holy Ghost com∣mends them for their Choice. Many of you when it comes to it wil be loather to loose a groat than commit a sin, loather to endure the least shame or a nick-name, than to commit a sin: Are there not many Servants here, or Chil∣dren, wil tel a Lye (when they have done an e∣vil) rather than suffer a little shame in the Fa∣mily from their Parents, or Masters, or fellow Servants, and Children. What a difference is there between thy heart, and the heart of the Page 7 Martyrs? they could endure al tortures on their Bodys that could be devised, rather than to com∣mit any known sin against their Consciences; and thou wilt venture to commit a known sin a∣gainst thy Conscience, rather than to be found out in some fault, and have an angry word, or a little shame: If it be but to gain two pence they wil tel a Lye, and are willing to chuse sin rather than endure the least trouble; a mighty differ∣ence between thee and them. You know how it was with Paul, when he speaks of Afflictions these be his Expressions, but light and momentary, but for a moment, but they work an exceeding weight of Glory: (mark) light Afflictions, what were they? you would account them heavie if they were upon you. Blessed Paul (that great vessel to bear the name of God as great an instrument of Gods glory as any in the world except Christ himself, and yet this Paul) was whipt up & down as if he had been a Rogue, put into the Stocks, had not Cloaths to cover his nakedness, had not Bread to eat, and was accounted the off scouring of the world; and yet he accounts all this but Light: But when he comes to Sin, that is heavie, Oh wretched man that I am! Thus he gives a dreadful shreek at sin; see what a difference he makes between Affliction and Sin, and accounts it abun∣dantly more evil to be in sin, than in affliction. And so Christ himself▪ that is the Wisdom of the Father, and therfore could not chuse but judge right, and yet he was content for the sake of poor Souls, to come and under go al kind of Af∣fliction, and Pain, and Sorrow, so as to be made Page 8 a man of Sorrows, according as the Scripture speaks; How was he content to have his Body whipt and scourged, was laughed at and scorned, and though he was possessor of Heaven and Earth, yet had not a house to put his head in; yea, to bear the wrath of God for the Sin of man, to be made a Curse for man, under the Curse of •he Law, and to be under that pain & extremity through the wrath of his Father, when he sweat great drops of Bloud? all this Christ would en∣dure: But now if it had been to have commit∣ted the least sin to have saved al the World, Christ would never have done it: though Christ could be content to suffer all kind of Miseries, yea, the wrath of his Father; yet had it been to have committed the least sin, Christ would have let al the World be Damned eternally rather than he would have done that, there is so much evil in it. Afflictions taken in the strength and latitude of them, yet they have no greater evil in them then Christ is capable of. I say, take them in the strength and latitude of them, cer∣tainly there was never any Affliction since the world began endured like Christs, and yet these be no other than Christ, God and Man, is capable of; and it may stand with the blessedness of his Divinity, That that person, both God and Man, could be under such Afflictions: Christ was con∣tent with these, He made his Soul an offering for Sin: But sin is so great an evil, that Christ is not ca∣pable of it; Christ never entertained the least thought of it, but cast it off if it came to him: therfore certainly there is more evil in the least Page 9 Sin, than there is in the greatest Affliction: The Afflictions that Christ indured, though they were not every way the same with the damned in hell, yet certainly there was the wrath of God as really and truly upon Christ, as truly as upon the damned in hell, as really though I say not in every kind in the same way and manner; and therefore see, Christ was Capable of that evil, of the wrath of the Almighty upon his Soul, and yet not capable of Sin, he was willing to undergo that, and yet not to have the least guilt of Sin applied to him; and therefore certainly there is more evil in the least Sin, than in the greatest Affliction.