Seventhly, Sin is more opposite to mans good than Affliction, because sin brings guilt upon the soul.
SEventhly, There is more evil in sin than in affliction, Because sin is more opposite against our own good than affliction, and that in this seventh respect, Sin brings guilt upon the soul, it makes the Creature stand guilty in the presence of God: Now guilt upon the soul is a greater evil than any affliction can be: that is the thing I am now to open. Guilt, what is that? it is the binding over of the sinner to Gods Justice, and to the Law, to answer, and be liable unto what the Law requires as punishment due to the sinner: so that then for a Creature to stand bound over to Gods infinite Justice, and the Law, hath more evil in it against mans good than all the afflicti∣ons and miseries in the world; this is the thing I am to make good. A sinner goeth up and down with the chains of guilt upon him; Iron chains grating upon the sore flesh of a man, is not so tedious and grievous as the chains of guilt upon conseience. Certainly this is one especial reason why many wicked men and women are so froward as they are, because they have much guilt upon their spirits, that as Iron ch•ins would grate the raw flesh, so doth that guilt lie Page 270 upon Conscience, and that makes them so fro∣ward & peevish as they are; froward against God, and against man. Many men that you are to deal withal, you shal find them against the Word ex∣tream froward, & pervers against their acquain∣tance, neighbors, & family, & neerest friends, & we cannot imagine somtimes what is the reason: Certainly this is one especial reason, there is much guilt upon their consciences, and spirits; and this doth so disquiet and vex them, that they fling out at God, and his Word, and every one; they can have no quiet they be so vexed and gauled with that guilt upon their spirits: there is a great deal of cause to suspect much guilt to be upon those that be so outragious, and can bear nothing; that have their hearts rise a∣gainst the Word especially. Brethren, if you see any one that hath any light of Conscience, and hath made profession heretofore, if such an one shall frowardly flie out against the Word, and those that be godlie, you may conclude there is some woful guilt upon that mans spi∣rit, he is so froward, and peevish, and disquiet as he is: And so we find it in Saul, he was a man at first of a very quiet spirit, and very moderate; but after, Saul being a man much enlightened, and had forsaken God, and had contracted abun∣dance of guilt upon his soul, he was a most fro∣ward perverse spirit as any we reade of in the Book of God; then how froward was he with David, and the Priests of God, and so outragious as that he slaies them all; a bloody man after he had contracted much guilt. Do you see men Page 271 so froward, and outragious, and bloodie? Oh there is much guilt within upon their spirits, great breaches between God and their souls, and the guilt of sin within grates upon their hearts, and that makes them so outragious as they are: if guilt be upon the soul, it takes a∣way al the comfort of every thing; that man or woman that hath an enlightened conscience, and hath guilt upon them, there's little comfort such a one can take in any thing they enjoy. No affliction in the world can take away the comfort of what we enjoy, as guilt can do; if you have afflictions one way, you have comforts another: if a man go abroad and meet with hard dealings, he comes home and hath com∣fort it may be in his wife, a comfortable yoke-fellow, this rejoyceth him; or may be he hath comfort in his Children, or in such or such a friend: But now let a man or a woman have guilt upon conscience, abroad he hath no com∣fort, at home he hath no comfort; yea, the more comfortable things he doth enjoy, the more trouble there is in his spirit: As thus, Take a guiltie conscience, and when he comes and looks upon a comfortable familie, comfor∣table estate, means coming in, a sweet yoke-fel∣low, good friends; Oh but if I had not some guilt upon my soul, I could rejoyce in these; but that guilt that lies upon his conscience take away all the comfort of these; and if he sees o∣thers that enjoy these, Oh saith he, this man may have comfort in a comfortable yoke-fel∣low, children, or friends, and a good estate; but Page 272 he hath not guilt upon his spirit, and that breach between his God and he as I have. May be the world knows not where his •hoo pincheth him, and what sadens his spirit: many men that have comforts about them (though they cannot be said to enjoy them) yet their hearts be troubled and disquieted, and no bodie knows the mat∣ter; Oh there is guilt upon their spirits: they think within themselves, Oh, if it were with me as it is with such a one, it would be well, sure they have not that guilt I have, if they had they could not but be disquieted as I am.
Again, Guilt brings woful fear upon the Conscience; no affliction can bring such fear upon the Conscience. Though there should be never such troubles and fears, and confusions in the world, alas this is not so terrible and fearful as that fear the guiltie conscience hath. Take a man or woman whose conscience is delivered from the guilt of sin, such a one, though Heaven and Earth should meet, is not so much troubled. Certainly Bre∣thren, in these great fears amongst us, that you be skar'd at everything, it is partly because you have not throughly made up your peace be∣tween God and your souls, and some guilt lies upon your spirits and consciences; and this in∣deed will make every thing terrible to you, if that lie there: Guilt upon the conscience makes God, the thoughts of God seem terrible. Now it is a greater evil for the creature not to be able to look upon God, & to have thoughts of God with∣out being pierced with terror, than to be under any affliction in the world; sorrows, fears, and dis∣grace Page 273 and persecutions are not so terrible as this, that I am in such a condition that I cannot look up to God, nor think upon God without having the thoughts of his Majesty to be terrible to me A guilty Conscience cannot endure to have a thought of God, it is terrible to him, and there∣fore he labors by going into company, and sports, and business in the world, to take off the thoughts of God, because the thoughts of God peirce his heart. And so the presence of God is very terrible where guilt is upon the Consci∣ence, and the Conscience of such a one cannot endure to come into Gods presence; nor into the Communion of Saints where Gods presence is. And he cannot endure to pray, the thoughts of that strike his heart; to go alone to pray, the presence of God when alone is extream terrible. And this is a sader condition than to be under a∣ny affliction: better be under any affliction than in such a case, as that the presence of God is terrible: the presence of God in Prayer, and so the pre∣sence of God in his Word; Oh the Word is ter∣rible to such a one, the Word of God speaks no∣thing but terror so long as guilt remains upon the Conscience. This is worse than Affliction that that Word which is a treasure of sweetness, and goodness, and comfort to those that are gra∣cious and godly, should be filled with terror to the soul of one that is full of guilt. Yea, to such a one all the wayes of Gods Providence are full of terror; if there be any Judgment of God a∣broad, Oh the terror that this brings upon his foul. Brethren, Sin is committed quickly, you Page 274 have a temptation comes, and you fall upon the Sin and act it; the Sin, the act of it, is transient and quickly gone; the guilt that sticks to you. When a man or woman hath satisfied their Iust in a sinful way, the guilt sticks behind: may be the time is gone for the pleasure of it; it was perhaps yesterday, or such a night or time thou hadest the pleasure of it, but now the sin is gone the pleasure of it, but the guilt sticks, and that abides upon thy Spirit to all eternity if thou look not to it. Nay, certainly it must stick upon the Spirit, it is not in the power of any Creature in heaven or in earth to deliver thee from it: yea the guilt so remains, that though thou feel it not now for the present, it may stick terriblely many years after. But Affliction is terrible only for the present, not for afterward; but guilt and sin laies a foundation of Mis•… for many years after. Nay, many times it is grievous painful to the Soul long after it is committed: as it was in Josephs Brethren, we reade of them that they committed that great Sin against their Brother, and it troubled them not a great while; but twenty two years after when they were in an affliction, then the guilt of their sin comes a fresh, Oh then we sinned against our Brother; when they were in prison there: now it was twenty two years from the time they commit∣ted that sin to that time when they were in trouble there. So you that have committed sin and think some slight sorrow may wash it a∣way, know the guilt may abide upon your spi∣rits perhaps twenty, may be forty years after. Page 275 And you that are yong take heed and know that sin is more evil than any affliction, for the sin that you commit when you are yong in your Masters Families, the guilt may abide upon you, and youthful sins may prove ages terror. It may be with you as with a man that gets a bruis, when he is yong he feels it not, but when he is old than it ach in his bones, and puts him to ter∣rible pain many times; so many yong people feel not sin when their bloud is hot, but after∣ward, the guilt of sin abides upon them, and is the torment of their souls when their bloud is cold. Now what evil is there in sin that may do a man mischief perhaps twenty or forty years hence. As it is with some poyson, there are some poysons men have skill in, that they can give poyson shall not work in three or four, per∣haps not till seven years afterward, and yet they know certainly, That if that man be not cut off before (except God work extraordinarily) he shall dye at the seven years end of that poison he took seven years before. So sin is such a thing that it wil do a man a mischief many years after.
Again, The guilt of sin hath this evil further in it, which appears in that difference between men that come to suffer with guilt, and those that come to suffer without guilt: Take them that have come to the most grievous sufferings in the world, and had not the guilt of sin upon their Consciences, who had all cleer between God and their souls; their sufferings be joyful, and they can rejoice in tribulation and troubles, Page 276 as the Martyrs in Persecution, how did they re∣joyce and glory in their sufferings? with what a Spirit of magnanimitie did they come to their sufferings? But take those who suffer through guilt, as Malefactors, when they come to suffer, what shame and confusion is upon them! Thus Affliction is nothing to them that have no guilt, but those that have the guilt of sin upon them when they come to suffer their guilt is a thou∣sand times more than their affliction. There is a great deal of difference between a man guilty of treason when he come to suffer for it, there is shame and confusion, and dismal darkness in the spirit where there is guilt: but let one be accused for treason, or any such horrible crime, and no guilt upon the spirit, such a one can go on with joy, and comfort, and peace; whatso∣ever can be done to him is very little or no∣thing when guilt is removed. The truth is, there is no suffering can countervail the suffering that guilt makes. The guilt makes the suffer∣ing evil, otherwise not. If one man come up∣on another man with suffering, it is nothing without guilt; so it is true, when God comes it is nothing if God and we be at peace: but now when God comes with any such affliction as the very affliction shall have the mark of the sin up∣on it, and so shall stir up Conscience to accuse you for it, then the heart is ready to sink when the affliction shall bear the name of the sin toge∣ther with it. I remember the difference of Da∣vids Spirit at several times; one time, Though an Host incampe about me, yet will I not fear, and though I Page 277 walk in the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; Psal. 23. Another time he is afraid when he flies from Absolon; and when there was a breach between God and his soul, when he had brought guilt upon his spirit, then David was quickly cooled; and upon any occasion of trou∣ble, David was quickly frightened. This is a seventh thing wherein sin appears to be a grea∣ter and more evil thing than Affliction, because it makes the soul guiltie before God.