Use 4. If there be so much evil in sin, this justifie the strictness and care of Gods People against sin. Two Directions to those that make Conscience of smal sins. First, Be even in your waies, strict against all sin. Secondly, Be very yeilding in all Lawful things.
Use IV. IF there be so much evil in Sin, Hence then is justified the strictness and care of the People of God against sin. They be afraid of everie sin, they dare not be so bold in the waies of sin as others are, but they tremble; when any sin is presented to them, they be afraid, and tremble; others go on bold∣ly, and presumptuously, and laugh at such as be afraid; Oh such scrupulous Consciences! Oh they dare not do such a thing because 'tis a sin they say! Oh they dare not by any means because they dare not sin: thus others laugh at them, because they think they be more scrupu∣lous than they need be, that should be afraid to do things so little as they think these are. I be∣seech you observe the perversness of mens hearts; you shall have them if men offend the Law of man, them that are in Authoritie, the Commands of men, in things that they them∣selves will profess to be verie little, and smal, Page 449 then they will cry out of such its Rebellion, and Rebels against authoritie, and they are not wor∣thie to live, and they would have the severest punishments that can be, against them that will not obey mans authoritie in little things: but mark, these men that will so urge small things, and where they be small, the worse the disobe∣dience (say they) in disobeying in small things. Yet these men that seem verie Consciencious in such things, when they see men afraid to offend God, that dare not do little things if sinful, dare not speak an idle word, and be sinfullie merrie as others are, that are afraid of intempe∣rance, and everie small thing, (as they think) these men will jeer such; what a horrible Sin is this? What! urge mans Authoritie in small things, and jeer those that be Consciencious to Gods Authoritie in small things! What shal the Authoritie of man put weight upon smal things, and not the Authoritie of the Almightie put weight in small things? Well, whatsoever they think, brethren go on, and make Conscience of small things, and never call anie sin little, be∣cause you have heard of so much evil in it, go away with this impression of the Evil of Sin on your hearts; Well, by this I have heard of the Evil of Sin, I have learned to account no sin smal, though never so little in the eye of the world. Is it a Sin? If so, do thou never admit of it; if it be a sin, abhorre it: let this tempta∣tion never prevail with thee; What? will you not do this, you may do worse? This I would advise those gracious and godlie, that do indeed Page 450 make Conscience of small Sins, and do well in making Conscience of small things; I give you these Two Instructions to carrie along with you, as you do make Conscience of small things, and you do well in it, because there is so much Evil in Sin. So,
The First Instruction, Be sure your Course be even this way, that as you seem to make Conscience of some things smal; so make Conscience of all: Let not men of the world, that observe your waies, find you tripping, and have just cause to say, These men seem scrupulous in small things, but in other∣waies, they give libertie enough to themselves. And (say they) though they will not swear, they will lye; and such like aspertions, some∣times through malice, the men of the world cast upon Profession. But I speak to you in the name of the Lord, take heed you give not occasion to the men of the world to say so; to say, I, these be so scrupulous in Ceremonies, and so nice in these things; though certainlie we are bound to be so, for God is a jealous God, and if in anie thing we be Consciencious, we must in his Wor∣ship be Consciencious there; but then you had need be so much the more careful, that they find you exact in everie thing that you do. You ser∣vants, perhaps you inquire after the Worship of God, you yong people; and it is a great mercie of God, that God stirs up yong ones to inquire after the true worship of God, and not to wor∣ship God in that ignorance that your fore-fa∣thers did; that took up everie thing upon cu∣stome, or the use of the Parish they lived in; Page 451 for certainlie it is not the practise of manie; nor the command of Authoritie can make it lawful, if not warranted by the Word: Well, perhaps manie yong ones now begin to inquire after the way of Gods Worship; and perhaps your Ma∣sters, or Parents, or may be Husbands be angry, and vexed, and wonder what is come to you; because grown so scrupulous of these things: Now I say, you had need be verie exact in your Masters familie, that you may not be found trip∣ping in other things; and you Wives had need be verie exact, that your Husbands find you not faultie in other things; and you Children had need be verie respectful to your Parents, and careful of your Duties to them, because they be more apprehensive of anie failings in that which is due to them, then they are of any thing in the Worship of God; and they know God tyes you to the practice of those duties. Now if you cannot joyn in their practice, and such Supersti∣tion as your Masters do. Now if these Servants be unfaithful in Service, and carelesss, and stub∣born, and stout in answering again: how doth this harden their Masters against this way of Worship; and harden their hearts against them? What? You make Conscience of Superstition because sinful, and is not this Sin, as well as that? to be unfaithful, and stubborn, and stout; if you make Conscience of one sin, why not of another? therefore all you that seem to have more tender Consciences than others, and more afraid of the least sin than others; be sure you walk exactly, and especially have a care of your duty towards Page 452 men, with whom you walk; for they can spy you presently, if you trip.
A Second Instruction I commend to those that make Conscience of little, of the least Sin; is this, Be sure you be as yeilding and tractable in all other things as possible you may, in all things lawful: I ground it upon this, Because those whose Con∣sciences be tender, and dare not commit the least Sin, for anie seeming good; they cannot but stand out rather than commit some evils, some things that they be required to do they dare not do, because sinful, it cānot be but in some things they must stand out, because they be convinced that it is a sin: now this the world judges stout∣ness, and pride, you make Conscience of it, but they think it pride, and stoutness of spirit, why? Cannot you do this as well as others? when alas God knows, and your Consciences tels you, that you would with all your hearts, but cannot; you should sin against, and wound your own con¦sciences, therefore let them do what they will, you cannot do what is required; let masters rage, and be angry, and husbands be displeased, you cannot yeeld, your consciences will not suf∣fer you. Now that you may convince them, that it is conscience, and not stubbornness, how shall this be known, that it is consciousness, and not stubbornness? for we cannot see into your consciences? I give you this Note to discover it, to them; be more pliable and yeilding in all other things, and there, to go beyond all other women, or children, or servants. As now, if there be a woman whose Conscience cannot Page 453 yeild to some things, and her husband is dis∣pleased because he beleeves it is stoutness, now that her husband may beleeve it Conscience and not stoutness, it concerns that woman to ob∣serve whatsoever gives content to her husband in everie thing else; & to be more yeilding, and pliable, and tractable, and herein denying her own will, to give content to her husband in o∣ther things, and herebie he will be convinced, sure she is not stout and stubborn in other things; why? because in this I find her more pliable, and yeilding, and willing, than before. So for Servants, if you cannot yeild in that your Ma∣sters would have you; strive to give him the more content in other things: Children to your Parents, in other things be more dutiful, and one neighbor to another; if neighbors would have you do that which is against your Consci∣ence, when you cannot do that, yet in other things yeild to your own prejudice, to convince them, that in what you do not yeild, it is meer∣lie out of Conscience, and not stubbornness. This is the Fourth Use
I might here have gone further, and (if there be so much evil in Sin, I would) have labored with men and women to come to be sensible of all the evil of sin, and to have stopped sinners in their sinful waies, and courses; and likewise to have drawn sinners to Christ, and to have made men and women to prise Jesus Christ, by whom all their sins may possibly come to be forgiven; who is the onlie Ransom & Propisiation for sin: for this brethren, is the ground of all I have said, Page 454 that we might be made to esteem Christ, and prise Christ. And in this regard, though what I have said, seems legal, yet certainlie it is a fond unistake in people that think Christ is not prea∣ched, except the word Christ be named. But know all that hath been said about the Sinful ness of Sin, hath been a Preaching of Christ, for it hath been in way and order to bring Souls to Christ, that I might cause Souls to flie to Christ, and go to him that is the onlie Propisiation for Sin, and the onlie Ransom for Souls. And cer∣tainlie brethren, if once these things I have de∣livered concerning the Evil of Sin, come to be apprehended, and the Soul made sensible of them; Oh! how sweet, and precious, and dear will Christ be to such a Soul? and the Name of that great God will be honored in such a Soul: But I shall prosecute this in the following Discourse.