The Lord's Prayer by Thomas Watson File 27 (... continued from file 26) Sin is a polluting thing. It is not only a defection, but a pollution; it is as rust to gold, as a stain to beauty. It is called 'filthiness of flesh and spirit.' 2 Cor 7: 1. It makes the soul red with guilt and black with filth. Quanta foeditas vitiosae mentis! [How great is the foulness of a corrupt mind!] Cicero. This filth of sin is inward. A spot in the face may easily be wiped off, but to have the liver and lungs tainted is far worse. Sin has got into the conscience. Titus 1: 15. It defiles all the faculties - the mind, memory, affections, as if the whole mass of blood were corrupted. It pollutes and fly-blows our holy things. If the leper under the law had touched the altar, the altar would not cleanse him, but he would pollute the altar, which is an emblem of sin's leprosy spotting our holy things. Sin is a debasing thing, it degrades us of our honour. 'In his estate shall stand up a vile person.' Dan 11: 21. This was spoken of Antiochus Epiphanes, who was a king, and whose name signifies illustrious; but sin made him vile. Sin blots a man's name. Nothing so turns a man's glory into shame as sin. It makes a man like a beast. Psa 49: 20. It is worse to be like a beast than to be a beast; it is no shame to be a beast, but it is a shame for a man to be like a beast. Lust makes a man brutish, and wrath makes him devilish. Sin is an enslaving thing. A sinner is a slave when he sins most freely. Grave servitutis jugum [Heavy is the yoke of slavery]. Cicero. Sin makes men the devil's servants. Satan bids them sin, and they do it. He bid Judas betray Christ, and he did it; he bid Ananias tell a lie, and he did it. Acts 5: 3. When a man commits sin, he is the devil's lackey and runs on his errand. They who serve Satan have such a bad master that they will be afraid to receive their wages. Sin is an unsavoury thing. 'They are all together become filthy;' in the Hebrew, they are become stinking. Psa 14: 3. Sin is very offensive to God. If he who worships in God's house lives in the sin of uncleanness, though he be perfumed with all the spices of Arabia, his prayers are unsavoury. 'Incense is an abomination to me' (Isa 1: 13); therefore 'the proud he knoweth afar off.' Psa 138: 6. He will not come near the dunghill sinner that has such offensive vapours coming from him. Sin is a painful thing, it costs men much labour and pains to accomplish their wicked designs. 'They weary themselves to commit iniquity.' Jer 9: 5. Peccatum est sui ipsius poena [Sin is its own punishment]. What pains did Judas take to bring about his treason! He goes to the high priest, then to the band of soldiers, and then back again to the garden! What pains did the powder-traitors take in digging through a thick stone wall! What pains in laying their barrels of powder, and then covering them with crows of iron! How they tired themselves out in sin's drudgery! Chrysostom says virtue is easier than vice. It is easier to be sober than intemperate; it is easier to serve God than to follow sin. A wicked man sweats at the devil's plough, and is at great pains to damn himself. Sin is a disturbing thing. Whatever defiles disturbs. Sin breaks the peace of the soul. 'No peace to the wicked.' Isa 57: 21. When a man sins presumptuously, he stuffs his pillow with thorns, and his head will lie very uneasy when he comes to die. Sin causes a trembling at the heart. When Spira had sinned, he had a hell in his conscience; he was in such horror that he confessed he envied Cain and Judas. Charles IX, who was guilty of a massacre in Paris, was afterwards a terror to himself; he was frightened at every noise, and could not endure to be awaked out of his sleep without music. Sin breaks the peace of the soul. Cain in killing Abel stabbed half the world at a blow, but could not kill the worm of his own conscience. Thus you see what an evil sin is in the nature of it, and what need we have to pray, 'Deliver us from evil.' (3) Look upon sin in the judgement and opinion of the godly, and it will appear to be the most prodigious evil. It is so great an evil that the godly will rather do anything than sin. Moses chose 'rather to suffer with the people of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin.' Heb 11: 24. The primitive Christians said, ad leonem potius quam lenonem [to the lion rather than to the bawdy house], they chose rather to be devoured by lions without than lusts within. Irenaeus was carried to a place where a cross was on one side and an idol on the other, and he was put to his choice either to bow to the idol or suffer on the cross, and he chose the latter. A wise man will choose rather to have a rent in his coat than in his flesh; and the godly will rather endure outward sufferings than a rent in their conscience. So great an evil is sin that the godly will not sin for the greatest gain; they will not sin though they might purchase an estate by it - nay, though they were sure to promote God's glory by it. The godly testify sin to be a great evil, in that they desire to die upon no account more than this, that they may be rid of sin. They are desirous to put off the clothing of the flesh, that they may be unclothed of sin. It is their greatest grief that they are troubled with such inmates as the stirrings of pride, lust, and envy. It was a cruel torment of Mezentius who tied a dead man to a living. Thus a child of God has corruption joined with grace; a dead man tied to a living. So hateful is this, that a believer desires to die for no reason more than this, that death shall free him from sin. Sin brought death into the world, and death shall carry sin out of the world. (4) Judge of sin by comparison, and it will appear to be the most deadly evil. Compare what you will with it - afflictions, death, or hell, and still sin is worse. First compare sin with affliction. There is more evil in a drop of sin than in a sea of affliction.  Sin is the cause of affliction, and the cause is more than the effect. Sin brings all mischief: it has sickness, sword, famine, and all judgements in its womb. It rots the name, consumes the estate, and wastes the body. As the poets feigned of Pandora's box, that when opened it filled the world full of diseases, so when Adam broke the box of original righteousness, it caused all the penal evils in the world. Sin is the Phaeton that sets the world on fire. It turned the angels out of heaven, and Adam out of paradise. It causes mutinies, divisions, and massacres. 'O thou sword of the Lord, how long will it be ere thou be quiet?' Jer 47: 6. The sword of God's justice lies quietly in the scabbard till sin draws it out and whets it against a nation. So that sin is worse than affliction, being the cause of it: and the cause is more than the effect.  God is the author of affliction. 'Shall there be evil in a city, and the Lord has not done it?' Amos 3: 6. It is meant of the evil of affliction. God has a hand in affliction, but no hand in sin. He is the cause of every action, so far as it is natural, but not as it is sinful. He who makes an instrument of iron is not the cause of the rust and canker which corrupts it; so God made the instrument of our souls, but not the rust and canker of sin which corrupts them. Peccatum Deus non fecit [God is not the author of sin]. Augustine. God can no more act evil than the sun can darken. In this sense sin is worse than affliction. God has a hand in affliction, but disclaims having any hand in sin.  Affliction reaches the body only, and makes that miserable, but sin makes the soul miserable. The soul is the most noble part. It is a diamond set in a ring of clay; it is excellent in its essence, a spiritual, immortal substance; excellent in the price paid for it, redeemed with the blood of God. Acts 20: 28. It is of more worth than a world. The world is of a coarser make, the soul of a finer spinning: in the world we see the finger of God, in the soul the image of God. To have the precious soul endangered is far worse than to have the body endangered. Sin wrongs the soul. Prov 8: 36. It casts the jewel of the soul overboard. Affliction is but skin- deep, it can but take away the life, but sin takes away the soul. Luke 12: 20. The loss of the soul is an unparalleled loss, it can never be made up again. 'God,' says Chrysostom, 'has given thee two eyes, if thou losest one, thou hast another; but thou hast but one soul, and if that be lost, it can never be repaired.' Thus sin is worse than affliction; the one can reach the body only, the other ruins the soul. Is there not great reason, then, that we should often put up this petition, 'Deliver us from evil'?  Afflictions are good for us. 'It is good for me that I have been afflicted.' Psa 119: 7I. Many can bless God for affliction. Affliction humbles. 'Remembering mine affliction, the wormwood and the gall, my soul has them still in remembrance, and is humbled in me.' Lam 3: I9. Afflictions are compared to thorns; these thorns are to prick the bladder of pride. Hos 2: 6. Affliction is the school of repentance. 'Thou hast chastised me, and I was chastised; I repented.' Jer 31: 18, 19. The fire being put under the distillery, makes the water drop from the roses; so the fire of affliction makes the water of repentance drop from the eyes. Affliction brings us nearer to God. The loadstone of mercy does not draw us so near to God as the cords of affliction. When the prodigal was pinched with want, he said, 'I will arise, and go to my Father.' Luke 15: 18. Afflictions prepare for glory. 'Light affliction worketh for us an eternal weight of glory.' 2 Cor 4: 17. The painter lays his gold upon dark colours; so God lays first the dark colours of affliction, and then the golden colour of glory. Thus affliction is for our good; but sin is not for our good; it keeps good things from us. 'Your sins have withholden good things from you.' Jer 5: 25. Sin stops the current of God's mercy; it precipitates men to ruin. Manasseh's affliction brought him to humiliation; but that of Judas brought him to desperation.  A man may be afflicted, and his conscience be quiet. Paul's feet were in the stocks, yet he had the witness of his conscience. 2 Cor 1: 12. The head may ache, yet the heart may be well; the outward man may be afflicted, yet the soul may dwell at ease. Psa 25: 13. The hail may beat upon the tiles of the house when there is music within. In the midst of outward pain there may be inward peace. Thus, in affliction, conscience may be quiet; but when a man commits a presumptuous, scandalous sin, conscience is troubled. By defiling the purity of conscience we lose the peace of conscience. When Spira had sinned and abjured the faith, he was a terror to himself; he had a hell within. Tiberius the emperor felt such a sting in his conscience, that he told the senate, he suffered death daily.  In affliction we may have the love of God. Afflictions are love tokens. 'As many as I love I rebuke.' Rev 3: 19. Afflictions are sharp arrows, but shot from the hand of a loving Father. If a man should throw a bag of money at another, and it should bruise him a little, and raise the skin, he would not be offended, but take it as a fruit of love; so, when God bruises us with affliction, it is to enrich us with the golden graces of his Spirit, and all is in love; but when we commit sin God withdraws his love; it is the sun overcast with a cloud; nothing appears but anger and displeasure. When David had sinned in the matter of Uriah, 'the thing that David had done displeased the Lord.' 2 Sam 11: 27.  There are many encouragements to suffer affliction. God himself suffers with us. 'In all their affliction he was afflicted.' Isa 63: 9. God will strengthen us in our sufferings. 'He is their strength in the time of trouble.' Psa 37: 39. Either God makes our burden lighter, or our faith stronger. He will compensate and recompense our sufferings. 'Every one that has forsaken houses or lands for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and inherit everlasting life.' Matt 19: 29. Here are encouragements to suffer affliction, but there is no encouragement to sin. God has brandished a flaming sword of threatenings to deter us from sin. 'God shall wound the hairy scalp of such an one as goeth on still in his trespasses.' Psa 68: 21. A flying-roll of curses enters into the house of a sinner. Zech 5: 4. If a man sin, be it at his peril. 'I will make mine arrows drunk with blood.' Dent 32: 42. God will make men weary of their sins, or he will make them weary of their lives. Thus sin is worse than affliction. There are encouragements to suffer affliction, but no encouragement to sin.  When a person is afflicted, he suffers alone; but by sinning openly he hurts others. He does hurt to the unconverted. One man's sin may lay a stone in another man's way, at which he may stumble and fall into hell. Oh, the evil of scandalous sin! Some are discouraged, others hardened. Thy sinning may be the cause of another's damning. The priests going wrong caused others to stumble. Mal 2: 7, 8. He does hurt to the converted. By an open scandalous sin he offends weak believers, and so sins against Christ. I Cor 8: 12. Thus sin is worse than affliction, because it does hurt to others.  In affliction the saints may rejoice. 'Ye received the word in much affliction, with joy.' I Thess 1: 6. 'Ye took joyfully the spoiling of your goods.' Heb 10: 34. Aristotle speaks of a bird that lives among thorns, and yet sings sweetly; so a child of God can rejoice in afflictions. Paul had his prison songs. 'We glory in tribulations.' Rom 5: 3. The Greek word signifies an exuberancy of joy, a joy with boasting and triumph. God often pours in those divine consolations that cause the saints to rejoice in afflictions, so that they had rather have their afflictions than be without their comforts. God candies their wormwood with sugar. Rom 5: 5. You have seen the sunshine when it rains: the saints have had the shinings of God's face when afflictions have rained and dropped upon them. Thus we may rejoice in affliction, but we cannot rejoice in sin. 'Rejoice not, O Israel, for joy, as other people, for thou hast gone a whoring from thy God.' Hos 9: 1. Sin is matter of shame and grief, not of joy. David having sinned in numbering the people, his 'heart smote him.' 2 Sam 24: 10. As pricking a vein lets out the blood, so, when sin has pricked the conscience, it lets out the joy.  Affliction magnifies a person. 'What is man that thou shouldest magnify him, and visit him every morning?' Job 7: 17, 18. That is, visit him with affliction. How do addictions magnify us? (1) As they are signs of sonship. 'If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons.' Heb 12: 7. Every print of the rod is a badge of honour. (2) As the sufferings of the godly have raised their fame and renown in the world. The zeal and constancy of the martyrs in their sufferings have eternalized their name. Oh, how eminent was Job for his patience! 'Ye have heard of the patience of Job.' James 5: 2: Job the sufferer was more renowned than Alexander the conqueror. Thus afflictions magnify a person; but sin does not magnify, but vilifies him. When Eli's sons had sinned and profaned their priesthood, they turned their glory into shame; the text says they 'made themselves vile.' I Sam 3: 13. Sin casts an indelible blot on a man's name. 'whoso committeth adultery with a woman, a wound and dishonour shall he get, and his reproach shall not be wiped away.' Prov 6: 32, 33.  A man by suffering affliction may bring honour to religion. Paul's iron chain made the gospel wear a gold chain. Suffering credits and propagates the gospel; but committing sin brings dishonour and scandal upon the ways of God. Cyprian says, when in the primitive times a virgin, who vowed herself to religion, had defiled her chastity, totem ecclesiae coetum erubescere, shame and grief filled the face of the whole congregation. When scandalous sins are committed by a few, they bring a reproach upon many; as three or four brass shillings in a sum of money make all the rest suspected.  When a man's afflictions are upon a good account, when he suffers for Christ, he has the prayers of God's people. It is no small privilege to have a stock of prayer going; it is like a merchant that has a part in several ships: and suffering saints have a large share in the prayers of others. 'Peter was in prison; but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him.' Acts 12: 5. What greater happiness than to have God's promises and the saints' prayers! But when a man sins presumptuously and scandalously, he has the saints' bitter tears and just censures; he is a burden to all that know him, as David speaks in another case, 'They that did see me without fled from me.' Psa 31: 2: So the people of God flee from a scandalous sinner; he is like an infected person, everyone shuns and avoids him.  Affliction can hurt a man only while he is living, but sin hurts him when he is dead. As a man's virtues and alms may do good when he is dead, so his sins may do him mischief when he is dead. When a spider is killed, the poison of it may hurt; so the poison of an evil example may do much hurt when a man is in his grave. Affliction at most can but last a man's life, but sin lives and hurts when he is gone. Thus sin is far worse than affliction. Secondly. Sin is worse than death. Aristotle calls death the terrible of terribles, and Job calls it 'the king of terrors,' but sin is more deadly than death itself. Job 18: 14. 1. Death, though painful, would not hurt but for sin; it is sin that embitters it and makes its sting. 'The sting of death is sin.' 1 Cor 15: 26. Were it not for sin, though death might kill, it could not curse us. Sin poisons death's arrow, so that it is worse than death, because it puts a sting into death. 2. Death does but separate between the body and the soul; but sin, without repentance, separates between God and the soul. 'Ye have taken away my gods, and what have I more?' Judges 18: 24. Death does but take away our life, but sin takes away our God from us; so that it is worse than death. Thirdly. Sin is worse than hell. In hell there is the worm and the fire, but sin is worse. 1. Hell is of God's making, but sin is none of his making; it is a monster of the devil's creating. 2. The torments of hell are a burden only to the sinner, but sin is a burden to God. 'I am pressed under you, as a cart is pressed that is full of sheaves.' Amos 2: 13. 3. In hell torments there is something that is good: there is the execution of God's justice, there is justice in hell; but sin is the most unjust thing; it would rob God of his glory, Christ of his purchase, and the soul of its happiness; so that it is worse than hell. (s) Look upon sin in the manner of its cure. It cost much to be done away; the guilt of sin could not be removed but by the blood of Christ; he who was God must die and be made a curse for us before sin could be remitted. How horrid is sin, that no angel or archangel, nor all the powers of heaven, could procure its pardon, but the blood of God only! If a man should commit an offence, and all the nobles should kneel before the king for him, but no pardon could be had, unless the king's son be arraigned and suffer death for him, all would conceive it to be a horrible thing that was the cause of this. Such is the case here, the Son of God must die to satisfy God's justice for our sins. Oh, the agonies and sufferings of Christ! In his body: his head crowned with thorns, his face spit upon, his side pierced with the spear, his hands and feet nailed. Totum pro vulnere corpus [His whole body as one wound]. He suffered in his soul. 'My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death.' Matt 26: 38. He drank a bitter cup, mingled with curses, which made him, though sanctified by the Spirit, supported by the Deity, and comforted by angels, sweat drops of blood, and cry out upon the cross, 'My God, why hast thou forsaken me!' All this was to do away with our sin. View sin in Christ's blood, and it will appear of a crimson colour. (6) Look upon sin in its dismal effects, and it will appear the most horrid and prodigious evil. 'The wages of sin is death,' that is, 'the second death.' Rom 6: 23. Rev 21: 8. Sin has shame for its companion, and death for its wages. A wicked man knows what sin is in the pleasure of it, but does not know what sin is in the punishment of it. Sin is scorpio pungens [a stinging scorpion], it draws hell at the heels of it. This hellish torment consists of two parts: Poena damni, the punishment of loss. 'Depart from me.' Matt 7: 23. It was a great trouble to Absalom that he might not see the king's face; but to lose God's smiles, to be banished from his presence, in whose presence is fulness of joy, how sad and tremendous! That word, 'Depart,' said Chrysostom, is worse than the fire. Sure sin must be the greatest evil, which separates us from the greatest good. Poena senses, the punishment of sense. 'Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.' Matt 25: 41. Why, sinners might plead, 'Lord, if we must depart from thee, let us have thy blessing.' 'No; go, ye cursed.' 'If we must depart from thee, let it be into some place of ease and rest.' 'No; go into fire.' 'If we must go into fire, let it be for a little time; let the fire be quickly put out.' 'No; go into everlasting fire.' 'If it be so, that we must be there, let us be with good company.' 'No; with the devil and his angels.' Oh, what an evil is sin! All the torments of this life are but lubidrium et risus [mockery and ridicule], a kind of sport to hell torments. What is a burning fever to the burning in hell! It is called, the 'wrath of Almighty God.' Rev 19: 15. The Almighty God inflicts the punishment, therefore it will be heavy. A child cannot strike very hard, but if a giant strike, he kills with a blow; but to have the almighty God lay on the stroke, will be intolerable. Hell is the emphasis of misery. The body and soul, which have sinned together, shall suffer together; and those torments shall have no period put to them. They 'shall seek death, and shall not find it.' Rev 9: 6. 'The smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever.' Rev 14: 11. Here the wicked thought a prayer long, a Sabbath long; but how long will it be to lie upon beds of flames for ever! That word, ever, breaks the heart. Surely, then, sin is the most deadly and execrable evil. Look upon it in its original, in its nature, in the judgement and estimate of the wise; look upon it comparatively, it is worse than affliction, death, and hell; look upon it in the manner of cure, and in the dismal effect, it brings eternal damnation. Is there not, then, great reason that we should make this prayer, 'Deliver us from evil'? Use 1. For instruction. (1) Is sin such a deadly, pernicious evil, the evil of evils? See what we are to pray most to be delivered from, and that it is in reference to sin our Saviour has taught us to pray, 'Deliver us from evil.' Hypocrites pray more against temporal evils than spiritual. Pharaoh prayed more to have the plague of hail and thunder removed than his hard heart to be removed. Exod 9: 28. The Israelites prayed, Tolle serpentes, take away the serpents from us, more than to have their sin taken away. Numb 21: 7. The hypocrite's prayer is carnal: he prays more to be cured of his dearness and lameness than of his unbelief; more that God would take away his pain than take away his sin. But our prayer should be, 'Deliver us from evil.' Spiritual prayers are best. Hast thou a diseased body? Pray more that the disease of thy soul may be removed than of thy body. 'Heal my soul, for I have sinned.' Psa 41: 4. The plague of the heart is worse than a cancer in the breast. Hast thou a child that is crooked? Pray more to have its unholiness removed than its crookedness. Spiritual prayers are more pleasing to God, and are as music in his ears. Christ has here taught us to pray against sin, 'Deliver us from evil.' (2) If sin be so great an evil, then admire the wonderful patience of God that bears with sinners. Sin is a breach of God's royal law, it strikes at his glory; for God to bear with sinners who provoke him, shows admirable patience. Well may he be called 'the God of patience.' Rom 15: 5. It would tire the patience of the angels to bear with men's sins one day; but what does God bear! How many affronts and injuries he puts up with! He sees all the intrigues and horrid impieties committed in a nation. 'They have committed villainy in Israel, and have committed adultery; even I know, and am a witness, saith the Lord.' Jer 29: 23. God could strike men dead in their sins; but he forbears, and respites them. Methinks I see the justice of God with a flaming sword in his hand, ready to strike the stroke; and patience steps in for the sinner and says, Lord, spare him awhile longer. Methinks I hear the angel saying to God, as the king of Israel to the prophet, 'Shall I smite them? Shall I smite them?' 2 Kings 6: 21. Lord, here is such a sinner: shall I smite him? Shall I take off the head of such a drunkard, swearer, Sabbath-breaker? And God's patience says, as the dresser of the vineyard, 'Let him alone this year.' Luke 13: 8. Oh, the infinite patience of God, that he should bear with sinners so long! 'If a man find his enemy, will he let him go well away?' I Sam 24: 19. God finds his enemies, yet he lets them go, he is not presently avenged on them. Every sin has a voice to cry to God for vengeance; as Sodom's sin cried. Gen 18: 20. God spares men; but let not sinners presume upon his patience. Long forbearance is not forgiveness; God's patience abused leaves men more inexcusable. (3) If sin be so great an evil, there is no little sin. There is no little treason: every sin strikes at God's crown and dignity; and in this sense it may be said, Are not 'thine iniquities infinite?' Job 22: 5. The least sin, as the schoolmen say, is infinite objective, because it is committed against an infinite Majesty. Nothing can do away with sin but that which has infinity in it; for though the sufferings of Christ, as man, were not infinite, yet the divine nature shed forth an infinite value and merit upon his sufferings. No sin is little, and there is no little hell for sin. As we are not to think any of God's mercies little, because they are more than we can deserve, so neither are we to think any of our sins little, because they are more than we can answer for. The sin we esteem lightest, without Christ's blood, will be heavy enough to sink us into perdition. (4) If sin be so great an evil, see whence all personal or national troubles come from. They come from the evil of sin. Sin grows high, which makes divisions grow wide. It is the Achan that troubles us, it is the cockatrice egg, out of which comes a fiery, flying serpent. It is like Phaeton, who, as the poets feign, driving the chariot of the sun, set the world on fire. Like the planet Saturn, it has a malignant influence. It brings us into straits. 'David said unto Gad, I am in a great strait.' 2 Sam 24: 14. 'As keepers of a field are they against her round about;' as horses or deer in a field are so enclosed with hedges, and so narrowly watched, that they cannot get out, so Jerusalem was so close besieged with enemies and watched, that there was no escape for her. Jer 4: 17. whence was this? 'This is thy wickedness;' ver 18. Al our evils are from the evil of sin. The cords that pinch us are of our own twisting. Flagitium et flagellum sunt tanquam acus et filum [Punishment follows wickedness as the thread the needle]. Sin raises all the storms in conscience. The sword of God's justice lies quiet till sin draws it out of the scabbard, and makes God whet it against a nation. (5) If sin be so great an evil, how little reason has any one to be in love with it! Some are so infatuated with it, that they delight in it. The devil can so cook and dress sin, that it pleases the sinner's palate. 'Though wickedness be sweet in his mouth.' Job 20: I2. Sin is as delightful to corrupt nature as meat to the taste. It is a feast on which men feed their lusts; but there is little cause to be in love with it. 'Though wickedness be sweet in his mouth, it is the gall of asps within him.' Job 20: 12, 14. To love sin is to hug an enemy. Sin puts a worm into conscience, a sting into death, a fire into hell. It is like those locusts in Rev 9: 7: 'On their heads were as it were crowns like gold and they had hair as the hair of women, and their teeth were as the teeth of lions, and they had tails like unto scorpions, and there were stings in their tails.' After the woman's hair comes in the scorpion's sting. (6) If sin be so great an evil, what shall we say of them who make light of sin, as if there were no danger in it; as if God were not in earnest when he threatens sin; or as if ministers were about a needless work, when they preach against it? Some people make nothing of breaking a commandment; they make nothing of telling a lie, of cozening or slandering; nothing of living in the sin of uncleanness. If you weigh sin in the balance of some men's judgements, it is very light; but who are those that make light of sin? Solomon has described them. 'Fools make a mock at sin.' Prov 14: 9. Stultus in vitia cito dilabitur [The fool falls quickly into vices]. Isidore. Who but fools would make light of that which grieves the Spirit of God? Who but fools would put a viper in their bosom? Who but fools would laugh at their own calamity, and make sport while they give themselves poison? (7) If sin be so great an evil, I infer that there is no good to be got by it. Of this thorn we cannot gather grapes. If sin be a deadly evil, we cannot get any profit by it; no man ever could thrive upon this trade. Atheists said, 'It is vain to serve God, and what profit is it?' Mal 3: 14. But we may say more truly, what profit is there in sin? 'What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed?' Rom 6: 21. Where are your earnings? What have you got by sin? It has shame for its companion, and death for its wages. What profit had Achan of his wedge of gold? That wedge seemed to cleave asunder his soul from God. What profit had Ahab of the vineyard he got unjustly? The dogs licked his blood. I Kings 21: 19. What profit had Judas of his treason? For thirty pieces he sold his Saviour, and bought his own damnation. All the gain men get by their sins, they may put in their eye; nay, they must put it there and weep it out again. (8) If sin be so great an evi], see the folly of those who venture upon it, because of the pleasure they have in it. 'Who had pleasure in unrighteousness.' 2 Thess 2: 12. As for the pleasure of sin, it is but seeming; it is but a pleasant fancy; a golden dream. And besides, it is a mixed pleasure, it has bitterness intermingled with it. 'I have, says the harlot, perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon.' Prov 7: 17. For one sweet, here are two bitters; cinnamon is sweet, but myrrh and aloes are bitter; the harlot's pleasure is mixed. There are those inward fears and lashes of conscience that embitter the pleasure. If there be any pleasure in sin, it is only to the body, the brutish part; the soul is not at all gratified by it. 'Soul, take thine ease;' he might have more properly said, 'Body, take thine ease;' the soul cannot feed on sensual objects. Luke 12: 19. In short, the pleasure men talk of in sin, is their disease. Some take pleasure in eating chalk or coals, which is from disease; so when men talk of pleasure in eating the forbidden fruit it is from the sickness and disease of their souls. They 'put bitter for sweet.' Isa 5: 20. Oh, what folly is it, for a cup of pleasure, to drink a sea of wrath! Sin will be bitter in the end. 'Look not upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup; at the last it biteth like a serpent.' Prov 23: 31, 32. Sin will prove like Ezekiel's roll, sweet in the mouth, but bitter in the belly, mel in ore, fel in corde. Ask Cain now how he likes his murder? Achan how he likes his golden wedge? O remember thee saying of Augustine, Momentaneum est quod delectat, aeternum quad cruciat [The pleasure is momentary, the torture eternal]. The pleasure of sin is soon gone, but the sting remains. (9) If sin be so great an evil, what wisdom is it to depart from it! 'To depart from evil is understanding.' Job 28: 28. To sin is to do foolishly; therefore to depart from sin is to do wisely. Solomon says, 'In the transgression of an evil man there is a snare.' Prov 29: 6. Is it not wisdom to avoid a snare? Sin is a deceiver, it cheated our first parents. Instead of being as gods, they became as the beasts that perish. Psa 49: 20. Sin has cheated all that have meddled with it; and is it not wisdom to shun such a cheater? Sin has many fair pleas, and tells how it will gratify all the senses with pleasure; but, says a gracious soul, Christ's love is sweeter; peace of conscience is sweeter; what are the pleasures of sin to the pleasures of paradise? Well may the saints be called wise virgins, because they spy the deceits that are in sin, and avoid the snares. 'The fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.' (10) If sin be so great an evil, how justifiable and commendable are all those means which are used to keep men from sin! How justifiable are a minister's admonitions and reproofs! 'Rebuke them sharply' (Titus 1: 13); cuttingly; a metaphor from a surgeon that searches a wound, and cuts out the proud flesh that the patient may be sound; so God's minister comes with a cutting reproof, but it is to keep from sin, and to save the soul. Si merito objurgaverit te aliquis, scito quia profuit [If anyone has reproved you justly, be sure that it was to your benefit]. Seneca. Esteem them your best friends who would keep you from sinning against God. If a man were going to poison or drown himself, would he not be his friend who should hinder hint from doing it? All a minister's reproofs are but to keep you from sin, and hinder from self-murder; all is in love. 'Knowing the terror of the Lord, we persuade men.' 2 Cor 5: 11. It is the passion of most to be angry with those who would reclaim them from sin. 'They hate him that rebuketh in the gate.' Amos 5: 10. Who is angry with the physician for prescribing a bitter potion, seeing it is to purge out the peccant humour? It is mercy to men's souls to tell them of their sins. And surely those are priests of the devil who see men go on in sin, and ready to drop into hell, and never pull them back by a reproof; nay, perhaps flatter them in their sins. God never made ministers to be false glasses, to make bad faces look fair; such make themselves guilty of other men's sins. (11) If sin be so great an evil, the evil of evils, see what a bad choice they make who choose sin to avoid affliction! It is as if to save the coat from being rent, one should suffer his flesh to be rent. It was a false charge that Elihu brought against Job: 'This [iniquity] hast thou chosen rather than affliction.' Job 36: 21. This is a bad choice. Affliction has a promise made to it, but sin has no promise made to it. 2 Sam 22: 28. Affliction is for our good, but sin is not for our good; it would entail hell and damnation upon us. Spira chose iniquity rather than affliction, but it cost him dear; at last he repented of his choice. He who commits sin to avoid suffering, is like one that runs into a lion's den to avoid the stinging of a gnat. (12) If sin be so great an evil, it should be a Christian's great care in this life to keep from it. 'Deliver us from evil.' Some make it all their care to keep out of trouble; they had rather keep their skin whole than their conscience pure; but our care should be chiefly to keep from sin. How careful are we to forbear such a dish as the physicians tell us is hurtful to us: it will bring the stone or gout! Much more should we be careful that we eat not the forbidden fruit, which will bring divine vengeance. 'Keep thyself pure.' 1 Tim 5: 22. It has always been the study of the saints to keep aloof from sin. 'How can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?' Gen 39: 9. 'Keep back thy servant from presumptuous sins.' Psa 19: 13. It was a saying of Anselm, 'If sin were on one side, and hell on the other, I would rather leap into hell than willingly sin against my God.' Oh, what a mercy is it to be kept from sin! We count it a great mercy to be kept from the plague and fire; but what is it to be kept from sin! (13) Is sin so great an evil? It should make us long for heaven, where we shall be perfectly freed from sin, not only from its outward acts, but from the inbeing of sin. In heaven we shall not need to pray this prayer, 'Deliver us from evil.' What a blessed time will it be when we shall never have a vain thought more! Then Christ's spouse shall be sine macula et ruga, without spot or wrinkle. Eph 5: 27. Now there is a dead man tied to the living; we cannot do any holy duty, but we mix sin with it; we cannot pray without wandering; we cannot believe without doubting; but then our virgin souls shall not be capable of the least tincture of sin, but we shall all be as the angels of God. In heaven we shall have no temptation to sin. The old serpent is cast out of paradise, and his fiery darts shall never come near to touch us. Use 2. For exhortation. First to all in general. If sin be so great and prodigious an evil, as you love your souls, take heed of sin. If you taste the forbidden fruit, it will cost you dear, it will cost you bitter tears, it may cost you lying in hell. O therefore flee from sin. (1) Take heed of sins of omission. Matt 23: 23. It is as really dangerous not to do things commanded, as to do things forbidden. Some think it no great matter to omit reading Scripture. The Bible lies by like rusty armour, which they never use. They think it no great matter to omit family or closet-prayer; they go several months, and God never hears from them. They have nothing sanctified to them; they feed upon a curse; 'for every creature is sanctified by prayer.' I Tim 4: 4, 5. The bird which may shame many never takes a drop but its eye is lifted up towards heaven. O take heed of living in the neglect of any known duty. It was the prayer of a holy man on his death-bed, 'Lord, forgive my sins of omission.' (2) Take heed of secret sins. Some are more modest than to sin openly in a balcony; but they will carry their sins under a canopy, they will sin in secret. Rachel would not let her father's images be seen, but she put them under her, 'and sat upon them.' Gen 31: 34. Many will be drunk and unclean, if they may do it when nobody sees them; they are like one that shuts up his shop windows, but follows his trade within doors. If sin be so great an evil, let me warn you this day not to sin in secret; know that you can never sin so privately but that the two witnesses, God and conscience, are always by. The Lord's Prayer by Thomas Watson (continued in file 28...) ---------------------------------------------------- file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-09: watlp-27.txt .