Thirdly, Sin is opposite to the Life of God in Man.
A Third Particular to discover the evil of Sin as opposite to mans good is this, Be¦cause sin is opposite to the Life of God in Man. Before I shewed sin strikes at the Life of God in Himself: now I am to shew you how sin strikes at the Life of God in Mans Soul: For Brethren, certainly this is the happiness of the Children of men above other Creatures, that God did make them to be of such a Nature that they should live that life the Lord himself lived, in a kind; and so the Scripture is very plain, Ephes. 4. 18 the text saith there, That they were alienated from Page 252 the life of God through the darkness of their minds: it was the sinfulness of their hearts that did alie∣nate them from the life of God; therefore it is apparent that they were capable of the life of God; and the life of God is the excellency of the Children of men: now the sin of their hearts alienated them from the life of God.
Quest. Now you will say, What do you mean when you speak of the Life of God, and that the Soul of Man is capable of the Life of God, and shew how sin is opposite to God? Certainly if I should come and tell you of the flames of Hell, and torments of Hell due to sin, per∣haps I might scare some more that way: but for those that have any understanding, and truly know the excel∣lency of man, their hearts will more rise upon the ope∣ning of this, than if I should spend many Sermons to open the torments of Hell to you: well then, what is this Life of God?
Answ. 1. That everlasting Principle of grace in the souls of men united unto Christ by his Spirit, whereby men come to act and work as God doth act, and as God doth work for his own glory as the utmost end. As life is a Principle whereby the Creature moves within himself un∣to perfection, unto that which tends to perfe∣ction; an active Principle within it self to move towards perfection, that we account life. Now that Principle whereby a man shall come to move and work just as God moves and works (still speaking after the manner of man) that is, to have the likeness of God; not in the very same thing, but the same in proportion of like∣ness, Page 253 as the Creature is capable of: How is that you will say? Thus; This is the Life of God (so far as we can conceive of him) that God is a continual act alwaies working for himself, and willing of himself as the last end of all: the ve∣ry Life of God consists in that, and in that con∣sists the nature of Holiness. Now then when a man hath such a Principle within him as that he can work unto God, as his last and highest end, and obey God as his chiefest good, he works as God himself doth. Now Brethren, this is the Life of God that the Children of men be capable of above all other Creatures; and it is this that makes them fit to converse with God himself; I say, it is that which makes the children of men to be fit to converse with that infinite, glorious, eternal first-Being of all things: and here is the happiness of man, That he is of that Nature that he is capable of this excellency, to have to do with the infinite eternal first-Being: For many know no more excellency than to converse with meat and drink; that Swine, and Dogs, and o∣ther Peasts do: but know, you be of more No∣ble Natures than so; God hath made the mea∣nest and poorest in this Congregation, God hath made you of so Noble a Nature, that you may come to converse with the infinite, glorious, first-Being of all things. As we know the ex∣cellency of men, that which puts a difference between man and man is this; that this man that lives in a mean condition, their meanness consists in this, that they spend all their daies in converse with bruit Beasts, and turning the Page 254 clods of the Earth; but Noble and great men are busied in State Affairs, they be raised higher because they converse with Princes, and great Affairs of State; the things they converse about are higher, and therefore they are more noble and higher than other men. As some children of men know no other excellency than to eat and drink, and play, and be filthy, and have no∣thing but that which the Beasts have: but o∣thers, to whom God hath revealed himself, and hath made them of such a noble Nature, that when others be in base acts of uncleanness, that know no other way of rejoycing in time of Joy, but laughing, and eating and drinking, and fil∣thiness: but others can get alone, and there contemplate of the glory of the great God, and their souls be opened to God, and God lets in beams of himself to them, and they let out beams of their love to God, and their desires to God, there is an intercourse between Heaven and them; God opens himself to them, and they open their souls to God, and so enjoy communi∣on from God; and they because they have the Life of God in them, they be fit to converse with God: For mark, those things that converse one with another, they be such things that must live the same life; as now, man can converse with man; why? because he lives the same life that man lives: but man is not so fit to converse with beasts, because they live not the same life; though some men live even the very life of beasts: as a beast cannot converse with plants (but only devours them) because they live not Page 255 the same life; but those that live the same life be fittest for converse. So if man did not live the same life God doth, he could not converse with God: Hence wicked and ungodly men cannot converse with God, because they live not the same life of God: When you talk of conver∣sing with God, it is a riddle to many men; why? because they are strangers to the Life of God, they have nothing of the Life of God in them, but it is strange to them; therfore they cannot converse with God. But now that which strikes at this Life, and is the death of the soul, is sin (for sin is the death of the Soul) therefore Ephes. 2. beginning, You be dead in trespasses and sins, sin brings death; he means not a bodily death, though that be a truth, but there is this death, the Life of God is gone: all men by na∣ture have the Life of God gone; and if ever it be renewed, it is by a mighty work of Gods Spi∣rit: but sin strikes at the Life of God in us, at this Candle of the Lord in this Earthen Pit∣cher.
2 Again, The excellency of the Life of God will consist in this, as to make a man converse with him, so in this, That God must needs take infi¦nite delight in the souls of those that live his life: as before in looking upon his Image, now much more when he can see his Creatures work as he himself works: this is the delight of God to see his Creatures work just as himself. As a man takes delight to see his Pictute, but abundantly more to look upon himself in his Child, and to see his life in his Child that comes from him, to Page 256 see it able to work as he works. As suppose a∣ny Artificer, or one skilled in Navigation, sup∣pose he see a Picture drawn of Navigation, he takes delight in that because there is somthing of himself in it; but now suppose he hath a Child, and he puts skill into him and he seeth him work as he works, and discourse about Naval Affairs as he discourseth; this is wonder∣fully delightful to him. So when God shall see the same life in his Creature that is in himself, that he works and wills as he doth, this takes the very heart of God; and this shews the ex∣cellency of grace. But sin is that which strikes at this Life of God, and brings death to the soul, wholly takes away this life: and were it not for the Covenant of grace even one sin would take away this Image of God; for sin did it in Adam, and so would in the Regenerate, if it were not for the Covenant of grace. My Brethren, Life is the most excellent of any thing: as Augustine saith, The life of a Fly is more excellent than the Sun (it is his expression, not mine) because the Sun though an excellent Creature, hath not life, but a Fly, though little, yet it hath life; though we know little of it▪ yet it shews the excellency of God to make a living Creature: but if the life of a Fly, or a Beast be so excellent, much more the life of Man. Now then, what is the life of God! now if that be evil which strikes at the natural life of the Body, the life of Man; we ac∣count those Diseases most grievous that are mortal; as if a man have a Disease only painful, this is not so much if they be painful if not mor∣tal, Page 257 as those that be mortal. If a Physitian come and tell one, you must endure pain, but be of good cheer, your life is sure; this com¦forts him: but take a Disease that he feels no pain of, it may be the sence of pain is gone, but if the Physitian come and tell him, Oh you be dangerously ill, because your distemper is like to prove mortal: we account that without pain that strikes at life, more than that with a great deal of pain that doth not strike at life: Skin for skin, and all that a man hath will he give for his life. Now that which strikes at the highest life, even the life of God, and makes the Crea∣ture appear so vile before God, as certainly sin makes the Creature more vile than any dead Carrion that lies stinking in a ditch; sin is more vile in Gods eyes than any dead Dog on the Dunghil is in your Eyes. This is the third Par∣ticular, How sin is most opposite to mans good more than affliction; therefore a man were bet∣ter bear the greatest affliction, than commit the least sin, because affliction never strikes at the life of God: nay, many live not the life of God so gloriously as they do in affliction; many seem to have their hearts dead in times of prosperity, but when afflictions come then they manifest a glorious life of God.