XV. Sin is worse to us than Affliction, because Sin brings more shame than Affliction.
XV. THere is more evil in Sin than in Affli∣ction as against our selves, In regard of the shame that it doth bring; Sin brings more shame than any Affliction brings, Rom. 6. 20. What profit, or what fruit had you in those Page 304 things whereof you be now ashamed? Sin, it is that which brings shame, not only to a man or wo∣man in particular, but likewise to a whol Nati∣on, when sin prevails. Prov. 14. 34. Righteous∣ness exalteth a Nation, but sin is a reproach to any Peo∣ple. Afflictions are not a reproach any further than as they be the fruit of sin, and then there is shame in them (but this we shall speak of af∣terward) but sin is the proper cause of any re∣proach and shame: and certainly this Scripture hath been fulfilled concerning us; our sin hath been a reproach to this Nation: there was a time, this Nation was honored among other Nations, and a terror to them; but of late since we have sinned and grown Superstitious, and come neerer unto Poperie, since there hath been more wickedness among us. This Nation hath been an exceeding reproach: we may ap∣ply for that, that in the 13, of Hosea, according to the Interpretation of most, When Ephraim spake, trembling, he exalted himself in Israel; but when he offended in Baal, he died; thus Interpreters carrie it: There was a time when Ephraim spake, then was trembling in all Nations about him, and he exalted himself above other Nations: but when he sinned in Baal, then he died, his Honor died, he was a dead Nation, and no body regarded him. True, time was, when England spake, there was trembling, and England exalted him∣self above other Nations; but since we sinned in Baal, and there hath been so much Idolatry and Superstition, we have been a dead Nation in respect of what we have been before. Sin is Page 305 a reproach, to any Nation a shame: There is no such shame in Affliction as there is in sin; that brings shame. That which argues worthlesness in any, that which argues there is little good or worth in any: or if any one should do any thing unbeseeming either his own excellency, or that supposed to be in him; as to lie in the mire, or to go naked, or in their carriage, or by any de∣portment, to behave themselves besides that excellency supposed to be in him, this brings shame. Job 30. 7. Those that went up and down braying among the bushes, it was contemptible, and it was a shame: So for any man to do any thing beneath the excellency of a man, is a shame. Now there is nothing so below the ex∣cellency of a man as sin, no Affliction brings a man under his excellency as sin doth, therefore no Affliction can be such a shame to man as sin.
Now the Rational Creature that is guided by Counsel in his actions is the proper subject of shame: Bruit beasts cannot be capable of shame, because they have no Counsel to be the cause of their Actions, but the reasonable Creature fail∣ing in that which is his aim, coming short of the rule of his work, through his unskilfulness this causeth shame. As now, Take any workman, if he do any work beneath the rule of the work through unskilfulness, it causeth shame, he comes to be ashamed of it. Now sin must needs bring shame, because it comes beneath the Rule of eternal Life, and therefore must needs cause shame. It is true, in natural things to fail through ignorance is a greater shame than to fail through Page 306 wilfulness; but in spirituals, the greater shame is to fail through wilfulness. And the greater the Art, the greater the shame to come short of the Rule of that Art: As suppose a General; it is a greater shame for him to fail, and come short of the Rules of Military Art, than for a Country-man to come short of his Rules of Husbandry, because one is more noble than the other. Now Brethren, The Art of Divinity to guide to eternal Life, is the most Noble of any Art; and for any Creature to fail and come short of this Art, is the greatest shame that can be. Though men be ashamed of any thing else, take a Painter, or any Workman or a Husband∣man, if he come short of the Rule, he is a∣shamed, but if men fail of the Rule of eternal Life, they are not ashamed then. I Remember Augustine hath this Expression, saith he, A Scholler if he fail in pronouncing a word and pronounce it amiss, if he pronounce Omer for Homer (he instanceth in that) he is ashamed of that; but men be not ashamed of breaking the Rules of Divinity: And there is more failings in the Breach of the Rule of Divinity and in failing there, than in any Art whatsoever. Now sin is the greatest shame, and the Reason why sinners be not ashamed, is, Because they know not the Excellency of man; they know not wherein the excellency of the Rational Creature consists, and therefore they are not ashamed of that which brings them under the excellency of the Rational Creature. Besides, They know not Gods infinite Holiness, therefore are not asham∣ed; Page 307 They be now among other sinners, and they think though some seem to be Religious, yet they think others are as bad as themselves in their hearts at least, though not in Practice: As Nero, because he was bad, he thought others were as bad as himself. So a wicked man, when he cannot see others break out in such great sins as he doth, yet he thinks they are as bad some other way, and have some other sins as great. And because they live among them that are as bad as themselves, and live in the same sins, therefore they are not ashamed: For as a Col∣lier living among Colliers is not ashamed, but if he lived among Princes and Noblemen, he would be ashamed. So wicked men in this world because they live in this world among sinners, they conceive to be sinners like themselves they be not ashamed; but when God shall come to open what sin means, and what the Holiness of God means, and they see themselves stand in the presence of the holy God, then they will be ashamed. But certainly sin is a greater-shame than Affliction; none need be ashamed of Affli∣ction any further-than it hath a Connexion to some great sin; but sin in the greatest prosperity hath shame with it.