First, Sin make a man evil, but no affliction can make him so: 1 Those that are in affliction are not the worse, 2 But those that are wicked are vile persons, though they be the greatest Princes.
FIrst, more Generally thus, Sin is against Man more than any Affliction. For,
First, Sin makes a man to be evil: no Affliction makes him to be evil but only Sin: I beseech you observe it, a man or woman is not a worse man or woman because afflicted, not worse than they were before; but sin makes the man or the woman to be worse: and there is a great deal in this to shew the evil of sin to be beyond the evil of affliction. Take a man that is never so sorely afflicted, suppose the affliction to be as Page 141 grievous as the afflictions of Job, suppose a man scraping off his Sores upon the dunghil as Job did, this Affliction makes him not a worse man than he was before; only it may occasion sin somtimes, and so make him worse: but take Job, considered in his afflictions only, and he was not a worse man than in the greatest prosperity, when the Candle of the Lord shined upon him, and all his parts, only it occasioned some sin in Job, otherwise he had not been the worse; and in conclusion he was not the worse, for as it oc∣casioned some sin, so it stirred up a great deal of grace; as the Apostle saith 1 Cor. 8. 8, 9. For nei∣ther if we eat, are we the better; neither if we eat not, are we the worse: So I may say of all outward things in the world: If a man have riches, it makes him not the better; if he be in poverty, it makes him not the worse: if he have honor, he is not better; if disgrace, he is not worse, his condition may be worse, but himself not at all the worse: Therfore you shall observe it, that when the Scriptures speaks of Gods people afflicted, yet it speaks of them as most honora∣ble, and in a most excellent condition notwith∣standing their afflictions: but when it speaks of some in great prosperity, but wicked, it speaks of them as most contemptible and vile. I will give you an example of each, the most remar∣kable in all the Book of God.
1 Those that are most sorely afflicted, yet to shew that they are not the worse for their afflictions, see the 11. Heb. 36, 37, 38. verses; I suppose you that are acquainted with the Word of God, know the Page 142 story, that the Christians went up and down the world in Sheep Skins and Goats Skins, Persecu∣ted and afflicted, and dwelling in the Caves of the Earth; they had tryals of cruel mockings, and scourgings; yea, moreover, of bands, and imprisonment: they were sto∣ned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword; they wandered about in sheep skins and goat skins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented. What can be said be more of affliction? if affli∣ction can make a man miserable, surely these must needs be miserable: They were mocked and slouted, and made the off-scouring of the World; driven from house and home, and went in sheep skins and goat skins: many think themselves miserable if they cannot go fine and brave; these went in sheep skins and goat skins, and were sawen asunder, miserably tormented and afflicted: It may be some will say, certainly these were in a most miserable condition: now mark the next words of the holy Ghost, Of whom the world was not worthy: they were under such sore afflictions, and yet they were such excellent persons as the world was not worthy of them in their worst condition, they were so excellent that the world was not worthy of them: They were thought to be such as were not worthy to live in the world, thus the evil world thought of them; but mark the difference of the Judg∣ment of God from the Judgment of the World; the World thinks they are so vile that they are not worthy to live in the World; and God thinks they are so excellent that the World is not worthy that they should live amongst them. Page 143 I remember Chrysostom hath this upon it, That they were so excellent, as all the men in the world were not worth one of them; put all the other men in the world together, and they were not worth so much as (at least) a few of these afflicted, per∣secuted, tormented Christians: as if he should say, do you see a company of poor Creatures walking in sheep skins and goat skins, and live in caves and dens of the Earth; look upon them, and take all the men of the World, Kings, Princes, and Monarchs, rich men, and mighty Captains of the World, all other men, and put them all together, they are not all worth these few poor Creatures that go up and down in sheep skins and goat skins. Thus afflictions make not a man a pin the worse: Man he is ex∣ceeding glorious in Gods eyes notwithstanding Afflictions.
2 But now secondly, Come to Sin, let there be Sin, although a man have never so much outward pro∣sterity and glory in the world, he is a most vile abomina∣ble Creature, when sinful. See one famous example for this parallel to this on the other side, in the Prophesie of Daniel, 11. Dan. verse 2. And there shall stand up a VILE Person: Now who is this Vile Person that the holy Ghost speaks of? It is according to Interpreters Antiochus Epiphanus, the great King of Assyria; and his very name signifies Illustrious, so the word Epiphanus signi∣fies, Illustrious, Famous, Glorious; so that he hath these two Titles, the great King of Assyria, and the great King, Famous, Illustrious, Glorious. And Josephus writing of this man, hath this story, Page 144 That the Samaritans when they saw how he per∣secuted the Jews, they sought his favor, and would not own themselves Jews; and they writ to Antiochus the mighty God, this was their Title in a Letter they sent to him, Antiochus the mighty God: Well, now see here is one that hath outward glory enough; the great King of Assyria; Antiochus, Famous, Illustrious, that hath the Title of the mighty God; but now be∣cause he is a wicked man, the Scripture saith, there shall a vile Person arise; a vile Person not∣withstanding his greatness; let him be never so glorious a King, and called the mighty God, yet a vile Person. I beseech you in your thoughts put these two Scriptures together, these that go up and down in sheep skins and goat skins, are such that the World is not worthy of; and Antiochus the gloriousest King in the World, in Gods Judgment is a vile Person. Thus you see Afflictions make not a man worse, but under them he may be as good as he was before; and prosperity makes not a man better, but he may be as vile in prosperity as he was before: ther∣fore though a man may have his Estate encrease, and his Estate bettered, yet he is not better: We speak of such or such, Oh he is the best man in the Parish, or the best man in the Town: What do you mean by that? Oh he hath so much by the year, and so great a stock at Sea, he is Owner of Ships, and hath part of so many Ships; and he is a great man, worth so much: true, his E∣state is worth somthing, but he (if he be a wic∣ked man) is worth nothing: In the mean time, Page 145 Oh he is worth so much: Yea, but you are de∣ceived, his Mony or his Land is worth so much, or his Ships are worth so much, but he is worth nothing himself: therfore the Scripture speaks of the wicked, Prov, 10. 20. The heart of the wicked is little worth: Now the Heart of a man, that is his Soul, and that is the man; the Mind of a man, is the man; the Spirit, that is the man: now the heart of the wicked is little worth; his house and his Land may be worth somthing, but the heart of the wicked, he himself, is worth nothing. So that Sin makes a man an evil man, but Afflictions doth not make him Evil: there∣fore Sin is more against the good of a Man, than Afflictions possibly can be. This is the first.