A Second Ʋse from the whol Treatise, shewing that a man may be in a most miserable condition, though he be delivered from outward affliction. First, If a man be prosperous by sin, if a man raise himself to a prosperous condition by any sinful way, let such men consider three things: 1 What is got by sin, it cost dear. 2 What is got by sin, is accursed to thee. 3 What is got by sin, must be cast away, or thy soul is cast away. Secondly, When men come to be more sinful by their prosperity: explained in three Particulars: 1 When prosperity is fuel for their sin. 2 When it gives men further liberty to sin. 3 When it hardens in sin.
WE are yet upon the great Doctrine of the Evil of Sin, shewing that there is more evil in Sin than in any affliction. Many things you know have been de∣livered in the Explanatory part of it, wherein I have endeavored to set before you, the vileness of sin, to paint it out unto you in the true colors of it, as I was able: And having set Sin before you in the vileness of it, we have begun the Applicatory part of this Point, to draw some Collections by way of Use from what hath been said concerning the dreadful Evil of Sin. I have finished the first Use: I shall now proceed to the Second.
Page 426Ʋse 2. And that is this, If there be such dreadful evil in Sin above all Evils of Affliction, Hence then it follows, that a man or woman may be in a most miserable condition, a miserable estate although they be delivered from affliction: I say, It is possible for a man or woman to be a most miserable crea∣ture, though they have no outward affliction; yet their condition may be very miserable, be∣cause there is evil enough in Sin to make one miserable without affliction. Most people in the world know no other miseries than that miserie that comes by affliction, and they make afflicti∣ons to be the only rule and measure of a misera∣ble condition: so much afflicted, so miserable is their estate; and so little afflicted, so happie is their estate: They think that those people that are delivered from affliction, are happie people; and those people that are under affliction, are miserable people; Oh he hath lost his estete, suffered shipwrack, hath grievous diseases in his bodie, is put in prison, and so lives miserably all his daies: thus people look upon men and wo∣men in affliction, as if they were only miserable. Before I have done with this Use, I shall I hope, convince you, That it is not affliction, yea, all afflictions, miseries, troubles outwardly, do not make us miserable, but only sin; where there is most sin, there is most miserie, though less af∣fliction. It is a great mistake in people to judg of happiness or unhappiness by these outward things: You shall have many people when they see men and women very poor, that have no houses, nor clothes, nor meat and drink, that are Page 427 fain to work hard for their livings, that are sick∣ly and weak, Oh they be in a pitiful condition: but when they see others provided of houses and land, that have attendance, and are gorgi∣ously attired, brave diet, and good trades; these be happy men. Now the Point that hath been opened to you, will serve to rectifie your Judg∣ments in these things, and not to make afflicti∣ons or no afflictions to be the rule of happiness; but to make sin, or no sin; or less sin, to be the rule of judging of the happiness of our con∣dition. It was the Speech of Luther, One drop of an evil Conscience is enough to swallow up all the joyes in the world, all the prosperity in the world: There is so much evil: in sin, that though a man or woman had all the joyes and prosperitie that possibly the world can afford, yet one drop of an evil conscience, the guilt of one sin in an evil consci∣ence, is enough to swallow up all, and make this man miserable in the height of all prosperitie. Let a man be raised up as high as the world can raise him, set upon a Throne, having a Scepter in his hand, and a Crown upon his head, having all the Pomp and Glorie the world can afford; yet if sinful, yea, if he have but the guilt of any one Sin upon his Spirit, this man is a miserable man. But let any one be as poor as Job, and sit∣ting upon the dunghil scraping his sores, if deli∣vered from the evil of sin, this man is a happie man. I remember a Speech of Anselm that I have read; That he had rather be in Hell without sin, than in Heaven with sin: looking upon sin as so great an evil, as if to be rid of sin would make Page 428 a man happy under the torments of Hell: and being under the guilt of sin, it would make a man miserable, though in Heaven. Certainly then the guilt of Sin, makes a man miserable in al outward prosperity; and the deliverance from Sin, will make a man happie under all outward afflictions and miseries. So though a man be pro¦sperous in his worldly estate, yet if Sinful, that hath enough in it to make a man miserable: especially considered in this, if there be these two Branches in it:
- First, If a m•n be prosperous by Sin. Or,
- Secondly, Be sinful by his prosperity.
Then he is indeed a miserable Creature not∣withstanding all his prosperity, I beseech you observe it, and it follows from the Point that hath been opened, that there is so much evil in Sin.
As First, If there be so much evil in Sin, Let a man be never so prosperous, if prosperity be furthered by sin, or sin furthered by prosperity, he must needs be a m•st wretched miserable Creature. If prosperity be furthered by Sin: as thus; If any man raise himself to any outward prosperous estate in a sinful way, although the world may judg such a man happy, having his hearts desire satisfied yet it is most certain, this man is a wretched man. As suppose a man get preferment by a sinful way, Oh his heart is eagerly desirous to get up to Preferment, to get Livings and Estate in the world, and he doth strain his Conscience for it; and when there is a Sin between him and his Preferment, he will get over the Sin he wil Page 429 climb and scamble over this Sin to get the Pre∣ferment; rather than lose the Preferment, he will scamble over Sin, and go through Sin unto his Preferment: so eagerly desirous are men of Preferment, that though Sin be between them and their Preferment, they will break through; they will break through the hedg but they will gain it. Oh how many Schollers, and others, especially such whose Educations have been mean, when they see any way of Preferment, Livings, or Estates, though they have some Sin between them and Preferment, how have they got it, and think themselvssafe when they have got Livings and Preferment: Oh these men be miserable, and therefore miserable because pre∣ferred, because prospered in their hearts desire. And so for men that get riches and estates other∣wise than by right, by deceit and oppression; in any sinful wicked way; it may be now they have got fair houses, and well furnished, and means coming in, and they bless themselves, and think now they be happy; yea, and others also, they think them happy, and live bravely in the world: but if you knew all, you would look upon these men as most wretched cursed Creatures. Certainly those men will one day curse the time that ever they had such an estate, and will wish rather, that they had begged their bread from door to door, than have got their e∣state by sin. Seeing there is so much evil in Sin, let these men consider these things. Such as have Prosperity by Sin, let them consider,
1 This thy Pros•… it cost dear▪ exceeding dear; Page 430 of thou make up thy reckoning, and put all in that it cost thee, you will find you be no gainers at all. When men have got any thing in possession, they usual∣ly reckon, I but, what did this cost me? thus much, or thus much; and if they see that the costs and charges comes not so high as the bene∣fit, then they applaud themselves as gainers. Well, you have gotten Estates, Preferments, Honors, be it what it will in the world; but what did it cost you? Some sin or other, did you not strain your Conscience in that benefit you have got? And if did so, certainly if this be put in the reckoning, if there were any sin in it thou hast got nothing by the bargain: What hope hath a hipocrite though he hath gained? though he may seem to have gained his own hearts desire, yet if all be reckoned, put in what Sin it cost, and there is no gain at all. If any of you should go to Sea, and when you come there, you suffer shipwrack, and yet thou makest a shift to get home, by boat or some other way, saving your life, and when you come home, you have brought a toy or trifle to your wife; now hath this been a good voyage? do you reckon this a good voyage? perhaps it was for a toy you suffered shipwrack, and you bring this home; do you think this will make the voyage good when you have cast up your reckoning? How many men and women in the world for trifles and toyes, suffer shipwrack of a good Con∣science? when you look upon that you have got, it is but a trifle and a toy; you might have been happie without it, and you have ventured Page 431 shipwrack of a good Conscience for this; do you think your prosperitie to be delighted in that you have got in sinful, and vile evil waies? I remember the Prophet when he came to Ahab, when he had gotten Naboths Vineyard by most cursed, sinful, wicked waies, 1 Kings, 21. 19. God bad him go and meet Ahab, and say, What hast thou killed, and gotten possession? As if the Prophet should say, Oh wretched man that thou art, thou hast gotten possession of the Vinyard, but hast thou killed, and gotten possession? So may I say to anie wicked man or woman in the world that hath got by waies of sin; What hast thou sinned, and gotten possession? lyed, and gotten possession? cozened and cheated, and gotten possession? Dost thou think good will come of this? art thou happie in the enjoyment of this? Well,
2 Know, Whatsoever thou hast gotten by sin, it is accursed to thee: Thou maiest look upon every bit of bread thou eatest, that thou hast got by sinful waies, look upon it as having death in it; and everie draught of beer, & wine, thou drin∣kest, thou maiest look upon it, as having the wrath of the Almightie mixed with it. You have got an Estate, perhaps you were poor, and mean before; but now you have wronged, and cheated, and cozened others in sinful waies, and now you have your tables furnish't, and can go to the Tavern, and drink: in this meat and drink of thine, there is the wrath and curse of God. Suppose a man had stollen a garment, and it proved to be in a house that had the plague; Page 432 suppose a theef got into a house that hath the plague, and hath got cloathes, and perhaps the bed-cloathes of one that died of the plague, and if one tel him what they be, can he have delight in them? perhaps he hath them upon his bed, but the plague is in them. Certainly whatsoe∣ver any of you in all your lives, have got by any way of sin, the plague is in it: that is a certain truth, there is the plague, the very curse of the Almightie in it.
3 Therefore, Whatsoever is got by sin, it must be cast away, or else thy soul is cast away: It must be re∣stored again, there must be restitution made to the utmost of thy power, for any thing got in a sinful way; for there is so much evil in the way of sin, that God will not have any man by any means in the world, enjoy comforts that come that way; God himself doth so hate Sin, and he would have all his people so hate Sin, that he would not have any one in the world have any comfort by Sin. Therefore as soon as ever anie ones Conscience comes to be enlightened, to un∣derstand what Sin means, if they find that there be any thing in the house, got in a sinful way, they can never be quiet til they have render'd it back again; the sight of it strikes terror into them, they cannot endure to come into the room to see that got in a sinful way. There have been some have got much by waies of Sin, and when they have lain upon their sick and death beds, and conscience awakened, Oh they have cried for Gods sake take them from my sight; they could not bear such things in their Page 433 sight, that they have got in the waies of sin. As •udas got thirtie pieces, out of a covetous hu∣•or he would have money, and not be so poor as the other Disciples, but he gets mony in a sin∣ful way: but when Conscience came to be a∣wakened, and terrified, he goeth, and a kind of vengeance goeth with him, he goeth and throw∣eth it to the Scribes and Pharisees; he throws them down, they were to hot for him, he could not indure the scalding of them in his Con∣science, they were even as it were melted in his Soul, he could not keep the thirtie pieces, they were so terrible to him.
So certainly that's thy 30. peeces, any houshold stuffe, any thing thou hast got in a sinful way, oh it will be terrible to you one day I beseech you brethren take notice of it, any one that hath got by waies of sin anie thing, it is not enough to the salvation of that soul that it hath been never so much sorrowful; all the sorrow in the world, and repentance thou canst have for sin, will not save thy soul, except thou dost restore, except restitution, to the utmost of your abilitie be made, you can never have comfort and assurance that sin is pardoned. It is an old speech of an ancient, The Sin is not remitted, till that taken away be restored. There are many men and women▪ they think if they can get anie thing by sinful waies, they will repent, and pray to God for forgiveness, and be sorrie, and yet keep that gotton in a sinful way. No, that will not serve the turn, all thy praying to God with never so much sorrow, yet there must be restitution of Page 434 what you have sinfully gotton to the utmost of your abilities, though the partie be dead, you must not keep it: Suppose whomsoever you have wronged are dead, you must not keep it if they have anie heirs, or executors; suppose you know not them, then you must give it to the poor, you must be rid of it. So much stain and evil is in sin, that anie thing that comes by way of sin must not be kept. And this is not so strange a thing but that the heathen have been convinced of it: I remember a storie of a hea∣then that did but owe to a Shoomaker for a pair of Shoos, and no bodie knew he owed it, when the Shoomaker was dead, he thought to save it; but his Conscience was so troubled, though the man was dead, and no bodie could charge him with it, that he could not sleep, or rest, and be quiet, but riseth with amazement and trouble in the night, and runs to the Shoomakers house, and throws the Money in, and saith, Though he be dead to others, yet he is alive to me. If a heathen had such convictions of Conscience, that he must not keep that which was gotton by sin, if he could see sin so sinful, that what was gotten by sin must be cast out; surely you Christians must be so wise; Oh consider this, you are a multi∣tude, come together, is there never a man or womans Conscience now in the presence of God, that tells them, That there is something that they have gotten by such a sinful way. Now this is the charge of God to you upon your spi∣rits, That as ever you do expect to find Mercie from God, that you do forth with and immedi∣atelie Page 435 restore that which you have gotten by anie sinful way, it will be your bane, and your ruine, you will venture your souls else; that must be restored, or your souls must go for it; and all your sorrow and trouble, will not do, ezcept these be restored, these be restored to your power; either that, or some other thing in lieu of it, you must not think to live upon sin. It may be servants, in their Masters service, pilfered and purloined; whatsoever you got for your selves, perhaps you have spent it, but hereafter, either your souls must perish, or else you must, if God have made you able, restore it, though it be all your estates, you be bound to cast up those sweet morse•s you have taken. There was once one that had wronged a man in five shillings, and it was fiftie years after that wrong was done, that he sent to these hands of mine, those five shillings, and desired me to re∣store it; Conscience now did so sting him, that he could not injoy it. So though it be fortie, fiftie, or threescore years ago, when you were yong, that you did the wrong, you be bound, as you do expect mercie from God, to restore what you have wronged, because there can no pro∣speritie come in by sin, no good, there is so much evil in sin. This is the First, when a man comes to be prosperous by Sin, then he may be miser∣able notwithstanding his prosperitie.
Secondly, When a man comes to be sinful by Pro∣sperity: As when a man comes to Prosper by sin, so when Sin comes in by Prosperitie: And for this, Three Considerations likewise. Sin some∣times Page 436 comes in, by Prosperitie, a man is more sinful, because more Prosperous; certainlie this man may be miserable notwithstanding his Pro∣speritie As,
- First, When Prosperitie is fuel for sin.
- Secondly, When it gives them further license, and liberty to sin.
- Thirdly, When it more hardens them in sin.
Certainlie this man, though he be freed from Afflictions all his daies, yet is a most miserable man; because he is delivered from Afflicti¦ons.
1 He comes to have Prosperity fuel for sin: That is matter for sin to work upon; so that Prosperitie nourisheth and fattens up sin. As manie men, be∣cause they have Prosperitie, their sins grow to a mightie height by Prosperitie: Prosperitie is fuel for Lust, fattens your malice, and o•asi∣ons pride. Were it not he had such an estate as he hath, and a healthful lustie bodie, then he could not be guiltie of so much Lust, unclean¦ness, drunkenness, pride; so much malice and revenge; the more God doth deliver them from Afflictions, sickness, povertie, the more feuel hath he for sin, wickedness, and the lusts of his heart to burn upon, and grow up to a flame. As it is with a bodie, those humors of the bodie, are matters for the disease to grow upon, and feed the disease; they be no good to the bodie, but mischief to it: some men have great big arms and legs, but what bigness is it? a bigness that comes by disease by dropsies, such humors their bodies being full of them, they feed the disease Page 437 of the bodie: now be these humors anie such things as that we should rejoice in? do they make for the good of the bodie? they make for the bigness, but not the goodness of the bo∣die. So anie mans estate, that makes matter to feed lust upon, and nourish and grow upon this; such a man is so much the more miserable, by how much the more Prosperous he is: as usual∣lie wicked men, through the malignitie in their hearts, they do make all their Prosperitie to be nothing else but nourishment for lust to breed on. As it is with a gracious heart, it will turn al things he doth injoy, to be matter for his grace to work upon, and to further the work of grace: so a wicked heart will turn all he doth injoy, to be matter for his lust to work upon, and to fur∣ther his lust; the excellencie of grace appears in the one, and the malignitie of sin appears in the other. Now if sin be so great an evil, then whatsoever a man injoys, if it be a furtherance of sin, and nourish sin, it makes him the more miserable, a miserable creature; though a pro∣sperous man, yet this man is miserable, because his Prosperitie makes him more sinful.
2 If his Prosperitie doth give him further liberty in Sin? As thus, Manie men that be poor, be quicklie restrained, they have manie restraints, alas, they be afraid the Law will get hold of them if they be drunk, or unclean, he is quick∣lie restrained; may be he dares not for fear of the displeasure of some friend he depends up∣on: a hundred things keeps in men in affliction from taking▪ their libertie in Sin, which other∣wise Page 438 his heart would have committed, where∣as, a man Prosperous in the world, takes liber∣tie, and who shall controule him? he will be drunk, and unclean, and break the Sabbath, and who dares controule and speak to him? and I beseech you observe this, manie men account that the greatest happiness of Prosperitie, that by this means they may come to have their wils, their sinful wills, that they shall live without controul in the satisfying their sinful lusts; this they account the happiness of Prosperitie. This is a most abominable cursed happiness, to ac∣count the good of Prosperitie to consist in this, That it gives more libertie to sin; Oh it is a most Pestelentious Power that inables to do mischief, to hurt ones own soul, or others: So that is a most pesteferous estate & condition, that gives a man libertie to satisfie his lusts the more. Brethren, consider of this, it is a most dreadful curse of God upon a man, that God wil let a man go on smothlie in waies of Sin, with∣out controul, that he shall have libertie without controul; if there be anie brand of Reproba∣tion that one may give, this is it, as black a brand as can be given, that God suffers a man to go on smoothly in sin without any controul, that he can have full libertie. It is a speech of Bar∣nards, Therefore doth God spare the Rich, because his iniquitie is not found only to DISPLEASƲRE, but to HATRED; because God is not onlie now Angry, but he Hates him for Sin: that is a Speech of Barnard, Therefore doth God spare the rich, and deliver manie wicked men from Page 439 Affliction, because Sin is grown to the height, that it is above Gods Displeasure, God may be displeased with his children for Sin, but he doth not come to Hate them; they be not children of hatred, because of infirmitie; but now when God suffers a wicked man to go on smoothlie without anie affliction in his way of Sin, and so take libertie in Sin, this mans Sin it is to be fear∣ed is grown to the height, that it comes to the verie hatred of God, not onlie to displeasure. I remember Barnard in another place calls this kind of mercie in God, to deliver men from af∣fliction in a sinful way, he cals it a mercie more cruel than all anger, and praies God to deliver him from that mercie. That is, That he should go on Prosperously in a wicked way. And if you knew all, it would be one Petition to God (you in a Prosperous way, it would be one Petition you would put up to God) everie day, Oh Lord, never let me prosper in a sinful way and course, Oh Lord, rather let any Affliction be upon me, than that my smoothness in my way should make my sin more smooth and delightful. I appeal to you Marriners, sup∣pose you were sailing neer Rocks or sands, and were becalmed, till you come just there where they are, and then you should have a wind come full upon you, and fill your sails to the full, your sails perhaps are all up, and a wind comes that fills them to the full with wind, I but this wind carries you directlie upon the sands, or rocks, would you not rather have the wind a little more still? would you not rather have a half wind? or a side wind? would you not rather Page 440 have your sails down? or not half so much fil∣led as they are, when they carrie you upon the rocks and sands? So here, it is just as if you should see a man rejoice that his sails be filled with wind, and all his sails up, when another that stands by knows, it carries him upon the sands that will undo him. So it is with a man that rejoiceth in Prosperitie, that carries him with full sail to wickedness. God fills their sails, their hearts be filled to the full, with all that their hearts can desire, and they be filled with all their braverie, but this (as the sail) carries them on further to Sin and wickedness; upon the rocks and sands to eternal destruction: It were better for these men, that their sails were down, and all under the hatches, a thousand times better than to have all the libertie to Sin. I beseeeh you brethren, observe the difference between Gods dispensations and his dealings with the wicked, and his dispensations and dea∣lings with his Children, in this one thing it is ve∣rie observable; with the wicked God deals thus, in just judgment he suffers stumbling blocks to lie in the way of Religion, that they stumble therein, and find abundance of difficultie, when they have some good stirrings of their affections, and good motions, and intentions; but there is such a stumbling block they be offended at, and such a thing lies there and hinders them, and makes the waies of RELIGION difficult: but when they come to the waies of Sin, there all their waies be smooth, there's no stumbling block lies there, but all is clear, and God suf∣fers Page 441 them to prosper and go on a pace; the way to life is full of stumbling blocks, but the way to destruction is clear: thus God deals with the wicked. But with his Children God will make the way to life and Salvation to be very smooth and clear; The way of the upright is plain: if the heart be upright, those things others be of∣fended at, and stumble at, they be delive∣red from; those stumbling blocks be taken away: gracious hearts find the Waies of God∣liness, plain, comfortable, and smooth waies: But now, the waies of Sin to Gods Children, they be full of stumbling blocks, there God is pleased to lay stumbling blocks; when God seeth his Children hanker after sinful waies, God makes this let, and the other let, this affliction, and the other affliction; one thing or other they shall find in Gods Providence to stop them in the way. A most excellent Promise for this to the Children of God, when God was in a way of mercie to them, you have in Hosea, 2. 6, 7. There∣fore behold, I will hedg up thy way with thorns, and make a wall that she shall not find her paths: (Mark) when God intends good to his Church, he pro∣mises to hedg up the way, and wall it up; that is, the way to Idols, that they should not find it so easilie as before: Oh take notice of this, Oh all ye Servants of God, when you have found your hearts hanker after evil waies; Oh the goodness of God, he hath laid stumbling blocks in the waies of death; whereas others when they have come to the waies of death, all is clear and smooth before them, and they have Page 442 their hearts desire. This is the difference be∣tween Gods dealings with his people, and the wicked.
3 As Prosperitie is fuel for sin, and gives li∣bertie to sin, So it hardens the hearts of men and wo∣men in sin: As it is with the Clay, when the Sun shines upon it, it grows harder, mire and dirt grows harder with the shining of the Sun; so wicked and ungodly men, their hearts grow hard in the waies of sin, with the shine of Pro∣speritie upon it. As the Iron is soft when the fire is in it, but harder when the fire is out; so with men and women, in affliction they seem soft, but they are the harder when out again: We have a notable place for this, Job, 21. from the 7. verse, to the 14. there is a description of the prosperous Estate of the wicked; now at the 14. verse, see how their hearts be hardned, Therefore they say to God, depart from us, we desire not the knowledg of his way; because he had said be∣fore of them, Their houses are safe from fear, nei∣ther is the rod of God upon them. Their bull gendreth and faileth not, their cow calveth and casteth not her calf. They send forth their little ones like a flock, and their children dance. They take the timbrel and harp, and rejoyce at the sound of the organ. They spend their daies in wealth. They live merrie, brave lives; therefore their hearts be hardened in sin, that they say to the Almightie, depart from us, what need we the knowledg of God? what need so much preaching? and so much ado? we desire not such things. I beseech you mark, and ob∣serve what kind of men those are, that so slight Page 443 the Word of God, and disesteem of it; and that in their carriage and actions, do as it were, say unto God himself, depart from us; for so it is, though it may be they think not so, when the Word and Ordinances depart; yet they do as much as if they should say to God, depart from us, we desire not the knowledg of thy way: I say, observe what kind of men these are, not men under Gods wrath, or afflictions, observe what men they are, and when they say so, I say, not when they be under Gods wrath, but those that live in Authoritie, and flourish, and have delights and contentments to the flesh; these say, depart. I confess, many poor people that know nothing of God, and that be meer Athe∣ists, that live all their daies in meer Atheism, to hear them say so, it is no wonder: But I speak of men inlightened, and where, almost, have you anie so readie to say, depart from us, let the Word and Ordinances depart, and that slight God in his Ordinances, as men do that are in the greatest Prosperitie, that enjoy comforts, and brave lives, and have the world at will. Now let all such know, That though they may bless themselves, and the world may bless them; yet wo to them, when God saith, let them pro∣sper in sin; Hosea, 4. 14. I will not punish your daughters when they commit iniquity: God threa∣tens it as a Judgment not to afflict them. I re∣member Origen upon that Text hath this note; Will you hear the terrible voice of God? God speaking with indignation? I will not visite when you sin; this he calls the terrible voice of Page 444 God, speaking with indignation: This is the most extream of Gods anger, when thus he speaks. And so Luther hath such an expression, Wo to those men at whose sins God doth wink and con∣nive, and that have not afflictions as other men. And so Jerom, in writing to a friend that prospered in wicked waies, saith he, I judg thee miserable, be∣cause thou art not miserable: So certainly, those men are therefore miserable, because they be not miserable; and it were a thousand times better for these men, to lie under some heavie and dreadful affliction in this world. And this is the Second Use, If there be so much evil in Sin, then a man may be a miserable man, though he be not an afflicted man, because there is e∣vil enough in sin alone to make a man miserable without affliction.