Imatges de pÓgina

all who are the Lord's people, when once the time of love is come. This is that which makes them depart, while others hold fast their iniquity: Isa. liii. 1, “ Who hath believed our report ? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed!" The elect of God are as much dead in trespasses and sins as others are; sin has the same dominion over them as over others. But with the word the Spirit enters into them, and brings them away from the tents of sin, causes them to rise up out of their graves, while others lie still in them.-We may learn,

Lastly, That departing from iniquity is absolutely necessary to evince that we belong to God, because all such do depart from iniquity. It is the fruit of election and conversion; and so the great evidence of interest in God's eternal love, and his present favour.-For understanding this, three things are to be noticed.

(1.) That a person's being in his sin, still under the dominion of it, unsanctified, unholy, is a certain evidence of his being in a state of enmity with God, in a state of wrath, and that he does not aotually belong to God, but to Satan. One may pretend faith in Christ, and a covenant interest in God, while he is going on in a course of sin. But his pretences are vain, his works disprove his faith, his unholy life discovers his graceless state: James ii. 17, "Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone."


(2.) That a person's being still in his sin, under its dominion, will not, while he lives, prove him to be none of God's elect, excepting only in the case of the unpardonable sin, which is most rare. The reason is, that the charge is effectual in all the elect, yet it may be long in taking its effect on some, as in the case of the thief on the So that while there is life, there is hope. This I note, to baffle that temptation, with which Satan attacks some, namely, That they are not elected, and therefore they need not set their minds towards religion, for it will not do with them. This is barefaced reasoning from hell; for be your case never so hopeless, though yo be quite graceless, and this never so long continued in, while you do not obstinately, and altogether maliciously, reject salvation by Christ, it cannot prove you to be none of God's elect; for at the eleventh hour you may be called. Yet,

(3.) Without departing from iniquity, no person can certainly know he is elected, or that he belongs to God. By this, indeed, a person may know it, 2 Peter i. 10: but without it, no man can; for God does not allow us, nor can we at first hand go and read our names in the book of life. We must learn it by sanctification, which is the fruit of election, by which we come to know both our election and our effectual calling.-We may improve the subject,

Secondly, In an use of trial.

Hereby you may try whether you be the Lord's covenanted people or not. This may be known by your departing from iniquity, or your not departing. Here, to assist you, we shall mention the two following marks:

MARK 1. If you are departing from iniquity, there will be a sincere endeavour after universal obedience, Psalm cxix. 6; aiming to please God in all things, and not indulging yourself in any known sin, being content to know, in all cases, what is sin and what is duty. The truly godly will set themselves against the first motions of sin, Rom. vii. 7; against secret sins, Psalm xix. 12; even against that sin which most easily besets them, Psalm xviii. 23; and will witness against self, in various shapes, Matth. v. 3.

MARK 2. If you are departing from iniquity, you will be wearying and groaning under the remains of sin, Rom. vii. 26. However much the hypocrite may content himself with as much grace as seems necessary to secure heaven to him, yet the godly man is going on, and pressing forwards towards perfection, though he cannot reach it; and looks on the remains of sin as iron fetters, which he would fain be quit of, that he may be holy, as God is holy; and perfect, as his Father in heaven is perfect.-We may improve the subject,

Lastly, In an use of exhortation.

We beseech you, O sinners! to depart from iniquity. You have dwelt too long in the tents of sin. You are called now to arise and

depart from all your sins, freely to part with them, never to return to them, but to be still departing farther and farther from them. The exhortation concerns both saints and sinners.

There are three motives, which the text affords us to prevail with sinners in drawing them from their sins. These are, the evil of sin, the necessary connection betwixt a person's departing from it and their belonging to God, and the obligation lying on sinners to part with it, from their naming the name of Christ. We shall consider these separately, as in their nature important and weighty; and O that we could improve them, so as to draw you all from your sins. We begin with,

MOT. 1. Sin is an evil, a great evil, from which you are called to depart. Sinners are deceived with an appearance of goodness, of profit, or of pleasure in their sins. But, God knows, it is the worst of evils, and therefore from it by all means God will have his own to depart. O that I could draw the monstrous evil in its own colours, to bring you all from it to holiness! Could you get a genuine sight of it, you would run from it as from a fire, as from hell fire; Rom. xii. 9. "Abhor that which is evil." Sin is the greatest evil. This will appear, if the following things are attended to. Sin is an evil.

1. In the eyes of God : Jer. xliv. 4, “Oh ! do not this abominable thing that I hate." God, who knows all things, and cannot be deceived with fair appearances, looks on this, which men naturally set their hearts on, as the worst of ills. Oh! shall we not think of it as God does? Consider,

(1.) It is the only thing which he condemns, and he everywhere condemns it in his word. The world cries out on many things which are not sin, but God on nothing else. Many would persuade themselves, that God looks on their sins as they do. But this ho takes as an affront to his holiness: Psalm 1. 21, "These things hast thou done, and I kept silence; thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself; but I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thine eyes." Look to his word, which is the indication of his his mind; and there you will see he never speaks good of sin.

(2.) It is the only thing which he pursues with his wrath, and he does this wherever it is found. It is the enemy he pursues through the whole creation, wherever it appears. It entered in among the angels, and fixed itself in the reprobate ones; wrath immediately pursued it, and tumbled them down to the pit; "God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto the judgment," 2 Pet. ii. 4. It got place with mankind in paradise; and wrath was at his heels there; Adam's prosperous state was quickly turned into misery. The very ground on which the sinner treads, is cursed for its sake. The sinner, in his sinful state, is in a state of wrath. It abides on him, John iii. 36. The sky never clears on him, while he is a sinner. Even with his own children, God writes his indignation on it; John xii. 24, "Who gave Jacob for a spoil, and Israel to the robbers?-Did not the Lord, he against whom we have sinned ?" The earth is made to groan under it; and when the end comes, the defiled creation has to go through the fire to purge it. But above all, see how he pursued sin in his own Son, though it was only on him by imputation; Rom. viii. 32, "He spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all." The sins of the elect met on him, and therefore the sorrows of wrath met in him, and left him not, till they brought him to the dust of death.

(3) Departing from it is the only testimony of his creatures' love to him which he requires, and nothing less can be accepted. He does not seek rivers of oil, nor other costly sacrifices: "But he hath shewed thee, O man! what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?" If he call them to lay down their lives for him, it is only in the way of their standing off from sin; otherwise it is not

acceptable, nor required, but his law is, Suffer any thing rather than sin. Behold it in one word, "Ye that love the Lord, hate evil," Psalm xcvii. 10.

2. Sin is an evil, and a great evil, in the eyes of the truly godly. Whenever the eyes of any person are opened by grace, then immediately they are of this mind; while the rest of the deluded world hug the serpent in their bosom, they are for flying from it at any rate. If they lose this opinion of it at any time, it is owing to the loss of their light, their falling asleep. But in their settled judgment, it is the worst of evils. For,

(1.) Of all evils it has lain nearest their hearts, and produced the heaviest complaints and groans. Psalm li. 3; Lam. xiv. 17. Hear Paul's complaint; Rom. vii. 24, "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" Did ever persecutions, prisons, reproaches, or all the ills he suffered, draw such a complaint from him? In tribulations he rejoiced, in a prison he sang; but in the fetters of the body of death, he groans like a dying man.

(2.) Sin or suffer being put to their choice, they have always, when themselves, choosed to suffer rather than sin: Acts xx. 24, "But none of these things move me; neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God." It is true, a godly man may sometimes be bemisted, so as not to see a thing to be sin which is sin; nay, sometimes, in a hurry of temptation, to avoid suffering, he may fall into sin against light; but otherwise, by divine grace, they will choose poverty, imprisonment, banishment, death, rather than sin; even the greatest temporal evil, rather than the least sin. Thus the cloud of witnesses gave their testimony. From these they did not accept deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection," Heb. xi. 35.

3. Sin is indeed in its own nature and properties the greatest of all evils. To make this evident, consider,

(1.) That of all things sin is most contrary to the nature of God, who is the chief good, and therefore it is the chief evil, Lev. xxvi. It is walking contrary to God; it is worse than all penal evils; these met in Jesus Christ, who was God as well as man, but sin was not found in him; Heb. vii. 26, "For such an High-Priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners." God owns himself the author of penal evils, but it is blasphemy to father sin upon him. This fights against God; and, as one says, the sinner, so far as in him lies, destroys the nature of God, dethrones him,


and strikes at his very being. God, swearing by his holiness, swears by himself; but nothing is so opposite to holiness as sin is, nothing can be more or as much so: nay, it is the very thing which makes the devil evil, and therefore it is more evil itself than even the devil. Consider,

(2.) That sin is most contrary to the rational nature. Right reason condemns it; and no reason approves it, but as blinded and prejudiced. It degrades men, and makes them like beasts, the filthiest of beasts, dogs and swine, 2 Pet. ii. 22; more beastly than the beasts themselves; Isa. i. 3, "The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib; but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider." Thus the wicked man is a vile man, though never so honourable, Psalm xv. 4. Hence it is, that although there are some who glory in their shame, yet sin is such a work of darkness, that no person ordinarily is disposed to father the monstrous brat. Consider,

(3.) That sin is the deformity of the soul. That is the seat of sin, which is the noblest part of man. But it is the deformity of that part; and the corruption of what is the best is certainly the worst evil. Even a deformity in the face is worse than in another part; a bloody man on a throne is worse than such a person on a dunghill. Thus the ill of sin appears in what it does to the soul; it defaces God's image there, and so mars its beauty; Psalm xiv. 3, "They are all gone aside, they are altogether become filthy; there is none that doth good, no not one." No running sore, canker, or gangrene, is comparable to it, for these do but prey on the body, sin on the soul. It makes men unlike God, and like the devil. God is holy, just, and good; the devil is unholy and wicked; and so is the sinner going on in his sin. It makes a person like the devil, as a child is to his father, John viii. 44, therefore both go to one place in the end; Matth. xxv. 41, "Then shall he say also unto them on his left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels." Consider,

(4.) That sin is a hereditary evil, and these are the worst of evils, the hardest to be cured. We were born with it; Psalm li. 5, “ Behold, I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me." It is woven into our very natures, it cannot be taken away without a miracle of grace; even such a power is necessary as is required in raising the dead, and quickening them: The whole man must be born again, new moulded, new framed, ere the person can depart from iniquity. Consider,

(5.) That sin is the mother of all those evils which ever were, are, or shall be; the teeming womb of all mischief. What cast the

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