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done evil before me, they only have provoked me to anger," as if the world beside were comparatively innocent. For besides that we sin against greater professions and engagements on our part, so against
The greatest advantages, and obligations laid upon us by God.
(1.) The principles God hath planted in the saints' hearts are the fruit of divine favour, and a great help against sin, and to sin notwithstanding doth aggravate sin. Ah, to sin against an enlightened mind, renewed will, sanctified affections, awakened conscience, and a divine nature, renders the sin more grievous, and the sinner's case more dangerous, at least in his own apprehension upon a thorough conviction : thus David mentions as an aggravation of his sin, Psalm li. 6, “ In the hidden parts thou hast made me to know wisdom;" therefore this sin is worse in me than another who wanteth such a corrective principle to restrain sin, and promote holiness.
(2.) God's people's sins are committed against the greatest, the most endearing obligations that God lays on us, both as to light and love, mercies and means of grace. God rates the heinousness of his Israel's sin in proportion to his special kindness: Hos. xi. 4, “ I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love." Hos. vii. 13, 15. viii. 12. Jer. xxxi. 32, “Which my covenant they brake, although I was a husband to them;" there is great emphasis in that : see also Isa. V. 4. Jer. ii. 245. Mic. vi. 3, 4. Other men's sins displease God, the sins of his people grieve and vex him, because he calculated that they would behave themselves after another manner: Isa. lxiii. 8—10. God even complains of his own children, that he was broken with their treacherous hearts, * and pressed
* Ezek. vi. 9.
down as a cart pressed with sheaves ; * and indeed it pierces a man's heart when a child, or a friend, or a wife, upon whom he hath heaped many kindnesses shall behave basely or disingenuously to him; when he may say as David did, † “ If it had been an enemy I might have borne it;" and as Cæsar said, I “What, thou my son, to lift up thy hand to strike me.” So may God say: what my son, my child, upon whom I have conferred so many favours, whom I have taken into so near relation with myself, whom I have effectually called and sanctified, to whom I have forgiven so many and such great sins, on whom I have conferred so many honours, with whom I have been so familiar, from whom I expected so much glory, in whom I have taken so much content; oh that thou, even thou shouldest deal after this manner, to break my laws, grieve my Spirit, dishonour my name, abuse my favours; oh this runs to my heart, I know not how to bear it, if it were a wicked man I could be avenged on him in another world, I could ease me of my adversaries, and avenge me of mine enemies, || I can tell how to come even with them ; but for you, my children, I have an everlasting kindness for you, my design is to save your souls, and you put me to it to know what course to take with you, which makes me say, “ 0 Ephraim, what shall I do unto thee ? O Judah, what shall I do unto thee?” Ş I have tried gentle means, and sought to win thee by love and kindness, but I see it will not do, my lenity is abused, my love is slighted, thou art hardened, I must take another course, I will do my strange work to which I am so averse, I will now use severity ; “Behold I will melt them, and try them, for how shall I do for the daughter of my * Amos ii. 9-13. + Psalın lv. 12, 13. 1 Και συ τέκνον. || Esa. i. 24.
$ Hos. vi. 4.
people ?" * I must not lose my children, and I see fair means will not bring them in, I must use sharper arguments, that may distress and nonplus them, and drive them to straits, that they may not know what other course to take, but to run to me for shelter. And all this is in covenant faithfulness, and pursuance of God's gracious designs of good to souls, as he saith, Hos. ii. 6, “ Therefore I will hedge up thy way with thorns, and make a wall that she shall not find her paths.” This is love and favour, for it is far better to be pricked with thorns, and kept in the right way; than wander into dangerous pit-falls by easy paths in an uninterrupted course. Ah, soul, thou that hast abused God's favours, mayest thank thyself for the rod, yea, and thank God that he will take the pains to scourge thee, rather than suffer thee to go on to abuse his favours.
THE SUBJECT CONSIDERED AS FURNISHING TOPICS
Is it then a truth, that God's favour is a believer's life? and does it not become us all to ascertain whether we be in God's favour or not? O that this were well cleared up to the satisfaction of every heart. You will say, how shall I know that I am in God's favour? I will ask you four plain questions, and desire you to search your hearts for answers. 1. Hath the sense of God's anger been the death of
. Jer. ix. 7. VOL. III.
thy legal hopes arising from any supposed good in thyself? Have your souls been laid under deep convictions that God is angry with you, and that his anger is just ? Have you searched for what sin God is angry? Have your hearts been deeply afflicted with that sin ? Hath the guilt of sin lain upon your consciences, as an intolerable weight? Hast thou, reader, cried out with Isaiah, “ Woe is me, I am undone because I am a man of unclean lips ? " chap. vi. 5. Have thy bones been broken with penitent David ? * Have God's arrows stuck fast in thee?
Is there no soundness in thy flesh, because of God's anger, nor rest in thy bones because of thy sin ? Hast thou even roared by reason of the disquietness of thy spirit? Psal. xxxviii. 1-11. Hast thou ever complained under the guilt of sin, and God's wrath, as a soul weary and heavy laden?t What sayest thou, hast thou ever with holy Job felt the arrows of the Almighty within thee, and the poison thereof drinking up thy spirits ? Have the terrors of God set themselves in array against thee? f Hast thou been pricked at the heart under the guilt of sin, as the Jews, || or with holy Paul hast thou found the commandment to be unto death?s Hast thou been slain in thy comforts, hopes and helps, under the sense of guiltiness? Ah, soul, thou didst never experience favour, till thou hast felt terror. The law is our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ; sense of wrath in some degree usually precedes sense of love; thou must sail from earth to heaven in the port of hell; sin must be bitter before Christ will be sweet to thee; thou wilt never know the benefit of God's favour, till thou hast lain under the sense of his anger, both in first conversion, and oftentimes in after desertions, as Heman and
• Psal. li. 8. + Psal. xxxix. 10–12. Job vi. 4. || Acts ii. 37. § Rom. vii. 9, 10.
others of God's children have had experience : * yet with all this, the poor soul under all this displeasure, dares not but justify God, and condemn himself, † even if God should cast him into hell and eternal perdition; he still confesseth that God punisheth him less than his iniquities deserve, looking upon it as of the Lord's mercy that he is not consumed, † and were it not that hell consists in the want of God's favour, a submission to the power of sin, and blaspheming God's name, the soul would willingly subject itself to what punishment the Lord should think fit to inflict upon him, that God may have the glory of his vindictive justice; however the sinner looks upon himself as deserving it, and therefore judgeth himself worthy of death, and must shut his mouth for ever, if God should cast him into hell. || O, saith the poor convinced soul, what a dreadful malignity is there in sin; 0 that abominable thing which God's soul hates ; what prodigious, infinite, endless evil there is in every sin! it strikes at God's glory and Being, dishonours his name, crucifies Christ, grieves the Spirit, robs me of God's favour, darkens the sun, corrupts the air, ruins souls; woe is me, what will become of me, my soul is in danger by reason of the Lord's anger.
2. Art thou convinced that the whole world cannot restore thee to God's favour? Alas, all the angels in heaven, all the men on earth, all creature comforts, or created accomplishments and endeavours cannot by any means restore the soul to the favour of God; no graces, duties or actings, can reconcile the soul to God, or conciliate his favour. Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or ten thousands of rivers of oil ? will the fruit of our brain or body atone for the * Psal. lxxxviii. 15, 16. + Psal. li. 4. Ezra ix. 13. Lam. jii. 22. || 1 Cor. xi. 31. Rom. iii. 19. § Jer. xliv. 4-7