The eighth book of Mr Jeremiah Burroughs. Being a treatise of the evil of evils, or the exceeding sinfulness of sin. Wherein is shewed, 1 There is more evil in the least sin, than there is in the greatest affliction. 2 Sin is most opposite to God. 3 Sin is most opposite to mans good. 4 Sin is opposite to all good in general. 5 Sin is the poyson, or evil of all other evils. 6 Sin hath a kind of infiniteness in it. 7 Sin makes a man conformable to the Devil. All these several heads are branched out into very many particulars.
Burroughs, Jeremiah, 1599-1646., Goodwin, Thomas, 1600-1680.
Page  379

CHAP. XLVIII.

The Fifth Corollary.] It is worse to be given up to one sin, than to be actually possessed by the Devil.

FIfthly, Shall I say further (and this will make it pla••ly appear what abundance of 〈◊〉ere s i Sin, more than in Affli∣ction: for though •…oken abundance of it, yet all this 〈…〉 draw the Point high∣er and higher, and •…ve the nail deeper and deeper, that this Truth of God might settle upon your spirits; and therefore a Fifth is this, which follows from this reference sin hath to the Devil) That it is worse to be given up to any one Sin, than to be actually possessed by the Devil, than for the Devil to come and actually possess us as those poor Creatures were in the Gospel; and this is worse than to be given up to Satan: There is a spiritual possession of Satan, as in Judas, and that is a spi∣ritual possession of their hearts to rule them: but there is a temporal possession spoken of in the Gospel, and that is of their bodies, that the Devil possest them, and caused them to rage and foam at the mouth, and rend and tear: and the men we reade of in the Gospel that lived a∣mong the graves and dead people, and cut themselves with knives and stones; this was a Page  380 grievous thing to see men thus possest. Many men have extraordinary fits of the Convulsion; and the like, and men think they be possessed; we ordinarily mistake, and it is but a meer fit of the Convulsion; but if we did know they were really possessed, we should be terrified: Oh such a friend, such a neighbor lived wickedly before, and now the Devil hath possessed him; we thought it a Disease till now, we thought it the Convulsion, but now we see it is from the Devils possession of them. Would you not en∣dure any affliction in the world rather than God should say of you, the next oath you swear, when you open your mouthes to swear, the De∣vil shal come in and take possession of your bo∣dies; or the next evil language you speak, the Devil shall come in and possess you; this were a fearful thing, and you would take heed of this. But this I am to make good, That when you go on in sin, in any one sin, it is a greater evil than if never so many Devils possest you, if there should be Legions; as he said to Christ when he asked his name, he said, Legion, because we be many. It is not so great an evil if God should give up your bodies to be possessed by Legions of Devils; you will say, surely that is a great e∣vil, but not so great as to be under the power of one sin. How will that appear you will say? Thus: Possession makes you not hateful to God, and guilty before God, and loathsom to God; nor is it that which God hates, but it is an object of pitty; Christ pittied them when he saw them thus: but Sin makes a man odious and hateful Page  381 to God. I remember an excellent Observation Gregory hath on the Book of Job, (saith he) What is the reason when God gave up Job to the Devil, and bid him do what he would, but spare his life? (saith he) What is the reason the Devil did not possess him when he was given up to his hands, for so the words are, He is in thy Hands, only spare his life? So that it appears, he was in his power to possess him, but yet he did not; and what is the reason? this is the Answer that Ancient gives, the reason is this, Because if he had possest him, then though Job had fret∣ted, and frowned, and torn himself, it had not been his Sin, his impatiency, so as it was when he was not possessed: Now because the Devil envied Job, the Devil would bring that upon Job which he knew to be the greatest evil as much as he could; for so all envy doth. One that en¦vies another, labors to bring the greatest evil on him that he can. So certainly the Devil envied Job, and therefore he labored to bring the grea∣test evil on him that he could. Now it seems possession was not the greatest evil; but the Devil would go so to work, as if he could possi∣bly he would get Job to be impatient, and make Job curse God, and sin against God. If Job should have cursed God in word by possession of the Devil, the Devil cursed God in him, it had not been Jobs sin so much as if he had got him to curse God otherwise: Now the Devil would have him so curse God, as to be a sin to him; and therefore the Devil would not possess him because that was the lesser evil: So that to be Page  382 given up to sin is a greater evil than to be possest. Therefore all you that have friends and chil∣dren, which you see wicked and licentious, and you see some cause to fear they be given up to the power of sin for the present, it should cause Fathers and Mothers to come to Christ, as ear∣nestly as ever those poor Creatures did, that had Children possessed with the Devil, in the Gospel; poor women had children possessed, and so men; Fathers that had Children possessed with the De∣vil, that did rent and tear him in the presence of Christ, he cries out mightily to Christ, if he could, Oh that he would come and help him: and so the woman of Canaan for her daughter, cries after Christ to help her Daughter, for she was miserably vexed with an unclean Spirit. So you should even go and cry to God, Lord, help if possible, and have mercy upon my Son, upon my Daughter, for they have unclean Spirits; yea, they are in a worse condition than if possessed by the Devil: I have a Son, a swea∣ring yong man; a Daughter, that is vain, and profane, and wicked, and licentious, and stub∣born, and unruly, Oh if it be possible help me: if you could be as sensible of the sins, and wicked∣ness of your Children, as in the time of the Gos∣pel, Fathers and Mothers were of the possession of their Children, much might then be done.