The eighth book of Mr Jeremiah Burroughs. Being a treatise of the evil of evils, or the exceeding sinfulness of sin. Wherein is shewed, 1 There is more evil in the least sin, than there is in the greatest affliction. 2 Sin is most opposite to God. 3 Sin is most opposite to mans good. 4 Sin is opposite to all good in general. 5 Sin is the poyson, or evil of all other evils. 6 Sin hath a kind of infiniteness in it. 7 Sin makes a man conformable to the Devil. All these several heads are branched out into very many particulars.
Burroughs, Jeremiah, 1599-1646., Goodwin, Thomas, 1600-1680.
Page  308

CHAP. XXXIX.

He that Sins, wrongeth, dispiseth, and hateth his own Soul. Use 1. Then see the malitiousness that is in Sin. Use 2. To pitty those that go on in sinful wayes. Use 3. Let Sin be dealt hardly with.

THus we have Discovered how Sin makes more against our good, than Affliction doth. Now there be divers things which follow hence as Consequences: I spake of one or two before, I will name them no more: But only thus far, Hence we see that sin makes more against our selves, than any thing else; There∣fore it is the worst way for any to provide for themselves by giving way to live in any sinful course. And for this I shall ad Two or Three Scriptures I spake not of before, to shew how men go against themselves, and those men that think to provide best for themselves, the truth is in the wayes of sin, they go most against them∣selves: You have these Three notable Expressi∣ons for this in Scripture:

  • First, That men by Sin, wrong their own Souls.
  • Secondly, That they Dispise their own Souls.
  • Thirdly, They Hate their own Souls.

If I should Charge these Three things upon the most vile sinner at this present before the Page  309 Lord; Oh thou dost wrong thy own soul, Thou dost despise thy own soul, Thou hatest thy own soul, he would be loth to yeild to it; and yet the Scripture chargeth this upon sinners, Prov. 8. 36. He that sins against me, wrongs his own soul: he doth not only wrong God, that was in the first thing we opened; but by sin he wrongs his own soul: You will say somtimes, I do no body wrong, I thank God none can say I wrong them; but thou wrongest thine own soul, and certain∣ly it is as great an evil to wrong thy own soul, as to wrong the Body of another, and a great deal more. Nay further (mark) All they that hate me (that is, Wisdom and Instruction, the Rule of Lise) they love death: It is a strange expressi∣on; if any Minister should say thus to you, you love death, you would think it a rash speech from us: the Holy Ghost saith so of al that hate Instruction; if there be any Truth of God re∣vealed against sin, and thy heart rise against it, thou lovest death, thy own ruine, and thy own destruction: And what pitie is it for men and wo∣men to die? who can pitie them that die eter∣nally, when as they love death? if they love death, they must have it: So the Holy Ghost saith, they wrong their souls, and they love death; and Prov. 15. 32. He that refuseth Instructi∣on, destiseth his own soul: when you come and hear any Instruction against any sinful way, and refuse it, you despise your own souls; as if your own souls were worth little. Hence it is that men and women, though they hear Sin tends to the death of their souls, to their eternal Page  310 ruine, yet if they have but any temptation, but to get a groat or sixpence, they will venture up∣on it: what is this but to despise thy soul? that is to despise a thing, to account it little worth: though thy soul be worth a whol world. There is none so poor in this place, the meanest boy, servant; or girl, but hath a soul more worth than Heaven and Earth; but though the meanest here hath a soul more worth than the World, yet we see it ordinarie, that to get twopence or a groat, they will venture the ruine of their souls: Is not this to despise their souls? as if they were not worth a groat or sixpence; and they will lye or steal to get that which is less: Nay, not onlie so, but they are haters of their own souls; and this you have Prov. 29. 24. He that is partner with a Thief, hates his own soul: there is an instance in that one sin, but it is true of e∣verie sin; for this must be taken as a rule to help you to understand the evil of sin, Know what is said of any one sin, is vertually true of all; that evil which is in any one sin, is vertually in any sin, he hates his own soul that goes on in anie one sin: therefore if you will provide for your own good, you must abandon sin.

Object. But it may be said, Is that Lawful for a man to abstain from sin out of self respects? for this I am upon, I am shewing how sin is against our selves, and therfore urge you to abandon, and take heed of sin as it is against our selves; then this Question ariseth, What should we abstain from sin out of self respects? what good is in this? is that from grace?

To that I answer three things.

Page  311Answ. 1. That at first when God doth be∣gin to work upon the soul, God doth usually move us from self most; and these self grounds works most to take men and women off from the acts of their sin (from outward acts at least) and to stop them from the commission of sin and bring them to the means of grace; self motives God makes use of at first: but yet the work is not done till the soul goeth beyond these: it is good for men and women to abstain from sin up∣on any grounds; there is so much evil in sin, that upon any grounds men and women abstain∣ing from sin, it is well, but only except it be such a ground, that the ground it self be a grea∣ter sin than the sin I abstain from. But yet the work is not done: Therefore

2. Know, That though when grace is come into the soul, God useth self arguments, and self motives to further the abstaining from sin (and it is Lawful to do so) yet self motives, and self arguments be not the chief and highest of all. But

3. That which I most pitch upon, and most fully answereth this Question is this; That if we did but know wherein our self good consists, which is certainly to live to God; our self good is in this, not only the glory of God, but our own good and happiness; our self good is in our living to God, that infinite first-Being of all things. Now if we understand this, I say, that thing which is our self good, we may make to be our highest aim in abstaining from sin, and in doing any good; that thing wch is our self good: Page  312 but we must not make it our highest aim as it is our self good, we must look to God above our selves; but still the same thing that is our self good, our own good, may be made our highest aim of all, which is our living to God and his praise. Thus God hath connexed our good and his glorie together, that the same thing which is the highest end of all I must aim at, to wit, Gods glorie and his praise, that is also our highest good; and so we may aim at it in our chief aims.

Secondly, If sin make so against us, I shall give you Three uses of it.

Ʋse 1. Then we from hence see the desperate mali∣ciousness that is in sin. It follows thus: What for a Creature to sin against the blessed God, and to get no good to himself neither, yea, to do hurt to himself too; this is horrible mischief and malice. We account it horrible malice a∣gainst man, if any man be so notoriously malici∣ous, that he seeks to do mischief to another man though he get no good, yea, though he hurt himself by it, yet he will do another man a mis∣chief: certainly if this be maliciousness against man, then there is certainly malice in sin against God: for when thou sinnest against God; sup∣pose thou shouldest get never so much good, suppose thou by sin, one sin, couldest get the the greatest good that ever any Creature had, yet thou must not commit it; it were wicked∣ness to do it: But what sayest thou to this, that when thou sinnest against God, thou mischiefest thy self; not only gettest no good, but doest Page  313 that which is the greatest wrong and evil to thy self, and yet wilt thou go on in sin against God? Oh what dost thou think of God? and what hurt hath God done to thee that thou shouldest be so malicious against him? that thou wilt dishonor him, and strike at him? though thou gettest nothing thy self, nay, though thou doest undo thy self by it: men will rather go on in that way that is dishonorable to God though they venture their own damnation to do it. It is one of the highest expressions we can have against our Enemies, I will be even with him, I will have my mind of him, or I wilspend al I have to a groat; this is desperate malice in man, we account it so. Thou dost more against God, though thou saiest not so, it may be, in word, yet God sees that there is this language in it, well, I will do that which the Word forbids though I undo my self, I will venture my own perishing, my own eternal destruction, rather than that shall not be done that I hear God will not have done: there is this in every Sin. Bre∣thren, because we do not examine what is in sin, we think it but a little, we see but the outside; but when God comes to unravle out Sin, and to pick out all that his Omniscient eye seeth in sin, then it will appear to be evil, transcendantly evil.

Ʋse 2. If Sin have so much evil in it more than Affliction as against our selves, Then it should teach us all to look with pity, and abundance of commis∣seration upon men and women that go on in waies of sin. Ah poor Creatures, they undo themselves, their waies are against themselves, and they wil work Page  314 their own ruine and misery by these waies of theirs: You that are Tradesmen, if you see a man going on in way of Trading, so that you know certainly that he will undo himself, you look upon him with pitie; poor yong man, he goeth on in such a way as he will undo himself; you pitie him upon that ground, because he un∣does himself: the more hand a man hath in do∣ing himself hurt, the more he is to be pitied: As you Marriners, if you see one at Sea, go through ignorance, so that he will be by and by split into the Sea, or you know he will be by and by upon the Rocks and Sands, and he is wilful in his way, you pitie him, he is an object of pitie Doest thou see any man or woman, thy father or mother, brother or sister, husband or wife, or any thou lovest dearly, going on in wayes of sin, Oh pity them; let thy heart bleed over them poor wretches, they will undo themselves, split themselves eternally. If thou shouldest see a Company of men stab and murder themselves, and lying dead in the streets, if it should be asked how came they dead? and it should be answer∣ed every one of them murthered himself; were it not an object of pity? if you see men & women go on in sin, every one stabs, and mur∣ders, and mischiefs themselves, and cuts their own throats, this is the way of sin: and though they do not see it themselves, yet if God open their eyes they will see it; and certainly they shall see it ere long, and they will be forced to cry out in the bitterness of their souls, Wo to me, wo to me, I am lost and undone, and I have Page  315 uddone my self. Therefore Brethren we should not look upon sinners now as they are in the height of their prosperity and the rufe of their pride, but look upon them as within a little time they will be; look upon them in their end, and then learn to pity them. Although sinners go on conceitedly, and boast themselves in their evil wayes for the present, pity them so much the more, for the more any sinner is conceited and boasts in his way, the more dangerous is his con∣dition, the more dangerous sign the seal of God is upon him to seal him to destruction. The more conceited any man is in any thing that will ruin him, the more lamentable is the object ther∣fore. Though we many times when we see men under grievous Afflictions, you go to your neigh∣bors and see them lie under Gods hand, griev∣ous pains and tortures of body, Crying out dol∣fully, it makes your hearts bleed, and drawes tears from your eyes; and you say, Oh the la∣mentable condition this man or woman is in; you pity them in affliction, because they are in such grievous pain. But now you have another neighbor by, and you hear him swearing, cer∣tainly though you pity the other neighbor un∣der affliction, yet to hear him swear is more pi∣tiful than to hear the other roar out in the most grievous torture that any man or woman was e∣ver in▪ When we hear them in torture, we have our hearts bleed, and are not affected with their sinning, this is a sign we know not the e∣vil of sin. Further, if you should hear one in the anguish of Conscience crying out, I am undone, Page  316 I am damned, I am damned; in the anguish of his Conscience thus crying out, of hell, and of the devil, you look upon such with pity: Now this I say, Those that are in the greatest torment of Conscience for their sin, they are in a better Case than those that go on most conceitedly, and boasting in their sin. Do you see one that is your neighbor, or in your family, or friend, when he is rebuked or reproved for any sin, that is careless and hardened in sin; I say, This man or woman, servant or child, is in a worse condition and a more lamentable object than if you should see another in the greatest horror, and anguish, and trouble of Conscience, crying out most bit∣terly of sin: For there is a great deal more hope of this man or woman that cryes out in an∣guish of Conscience for sin, he may be saved, and not eternally ruined by sin, there is more hopes a great deal; therefore learn who is to be pitied; for sin is more against our own good, than any affliction.

Ʋse 3. If Sin be so much against our selves, Then learn to have sin hardly dealt withal: For thus it follows, That which we look upon as our own enemy, we are willing should be hardly dealt withal: Now, nothing such an enemy to our good, as sin is. If you apprehend any one hath done you hurt, or intends to do you hurt, you think you may take liberty to let out your self to the utmost to revenge your self; but this is sinful, and the distemper of your hearts to do so: But you men and women that have your hearts filled with revenge, because you conceive Page  317 others have done you hurt; here is an object God gives you leave to let out your revenge to the full upon; other men do you hurt, there∣fore you think you may let out revenge, that is your wickedness, for vengeance belongs to God; but sin doth you hurt more than any man can, and in this God lets you have leave to revenge your selves upon sin. Revenge your selves as much as you can; look upon it as most mischie∣vous. There be some such spiteful and reveng∣ful men, revengeful and spiteful dispositions that have it lie mouldring at their hearts, be∣cause they cannot let it out upon objects, so much as they would; now here is an object you may let it out as much as you can, to revenge your selves, and to seek the ruine and destructi∣on of sin; and to labor to use it as hardly as pos∣sibly you can: yea, it is made in Scripture a sign of true Repentance to be willing to revenge ones self upon sin, 2 Cor. 7. 11. when they had committed sin, what revenge was there, saith the Apostle; they manifested their repentance by revenge upon sin: follow thy sin with a deadly hatred if thou wilt; thou hast a hateful disposi∣tion against others, follow sin with as deadly a hatred as thou canst. It was an Argument of Davids heart cleaving to Absalom when Joab was to go against him, Ʋse the yong man kindly for my sake, saith he; this was an argument Davids heart was with him: So when you would fain have sin used kindly, gently, it is an argument your hearts are not set against sin so much as they should: No, you should not say, use sin kindly, Page  318 but roughly and hardly; as the Prophet said of one that came to destroy him, use him roughly when he comes at the door: so when sin comes to the door, when temptations be seeking to have entrance, use them roughly at the door, and say, Let the righteous smiteme, Oh that the Word might come as a two edged Sword to stab and slay my sin; Oh that when I go to hear the Word, I might meet with some hard thing a∣gainst sin. Thus we should come when we come to the Word, and when sin hath got a blow by the Word of God, bless God, and say, blessed be God, my sins this day have got a blow; this sin of mine that hath done me so much hurt, and so pestered me, and so hindred my peace and com∣fort, blessed be God this day it hath got a blow: thus we should do because Sin makes so much against our selves. And thus we have finished the Two First Heads of Sins being against God, and against our selves. Now there be Four more.