the study of the doctrine of sin
I. SIN IS AGAINST MAN’S PRESENT GOOD, IN THIS LIFE, against the good of his body and the good of his soul. For on both it has brought a curse and death.
(1) Against the good of man’s body.
(2) Against the good of man’s soul.
(1) In a natural sense
(i) It is against man’s well-being in this life.
a. Sin is against man’s rest and ease, of which man is a great lover; and, indeed, he needs it as a great part of the well-being of his life.
b. Sin is against man’s comfort and joy. In sorrow shalt thou eat all the days of thy life (Genesis 3.17). Not one whole merry day!
c. Sin is against man’ s health. From it come all diseases and sicknesses; till sin there were no such things.
d. Sin is against the quiet of a man’s natural conscience.
e. Sin is against the beauty of man
f. Sin is against the loving and conjugal co-habitation of soul and body.
g. Sin is against man’s relative good in this world.
Thus sin sets itself to oppose man’s well-being,
(ii) Sin is against the very being of man.
(2) Sin is also against the good of man in a moral sense
(i) It has degraded man, by defiling him,
a. To his body, for the flesh is filthy (2 Corinthians 7.1),
b. This defilement also cleaves to the soul, which is the principal subject of it.
(ii) Sin has darkened man’s understanding.
a. By his groping, which, in the Scripture, is constantly attributed to blindness and darkness. Peruse Deuteronomy 28.29; Job 5.14, and 12.25; and Isaiah 59.10.
b. Though the light shines, yet man’s darkness comprehends it not (John 1.5).
c. By his walking in all kinds of wickedness, which are called the works of darkness (Ephesians 5.11).
d. Man knows not whither he goes. (John I2.35; 1 John 2.11).
e. He stumbles, and does not know why (John 11.9,10; Proverbs 4.19).
f. Man knows not his time, nor how to order his thoughts, words and actions.
g. He can be content to be led, even by a dog.
(iii) Sin has depraved man’ s understanding, and made him a fool, a sot, a very brute; ignorant, foolish and beast are joined together in Psalm 73.22.
Man’s folly is shown to be great in three ways
a. In relation to his chief and ultimate end,
Three things, among many others that might be named, that man’s happiness cannot be made up of any or all creature-enjoyments, of having the world for a portion, even all of it. For, beside what has just been said:
(1) It was not so when man was in paradise
(2) That cannot be our happiness which is below us
(3) That cannot be our happiness which is not so much as a token of the love of God
b. Man’s folly appears to be great in relation to the means and way leading to happiness, as well as in relation to his end and happiness; he mistakes them both.
(1) Idolatry is man’s folly. To worship no God, or that which is not a God, but an idol, is folly.
(2) Superstition is man’s folly, also, as to religion
This must suffice to show man’s folly, and how sin has duped man, as to his end, happiness, and the means to it, religion. I now proceed to show
c. Man’s folly as to the non-improvement or mis-improvement of means, when made known in truth and clearness
Let us consider some examples, and only some, of man’s folly:
(1) Man is so heady, hasty and rash in his undertakings. Nothing more becomes a man than deliberation and consideration.
(2) Man laughs at, and sports himself in his sin and misery.
(3) Man says, It is vain to serve God
(4) Man is so ungrateful to God, who has put him under an infinite obligation.
(5) If God corrects man, or afflicts him for his sin and folly, he soon grows angry with God.
(6) Man’s folly is apparent in that he is unteachable.
7) Some men are such fools as to apostatize, even after they have received the truth and have gone far in the profession of it, which is no small folly. ‘As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly’ (Proverbs 26.11 compared with 2 Peter 2.20-22).
(iv) Sin has degraded man and made him a beast
a. Sin has made man like a beast, and not only like one, but, indeed, a very beast!
(1) Sinful man is like the beasts in ignorance and stupidity. ‘So foolish was I, and ignorant: I was as a beast before thee’ (Psalm 73.22).
(2) Sinful man is like the beasts in sensuality, as if he were only belly-wise, and had no soul to mind, or a soul only to mind his body.
(3) Sinful man’s likeness to the beasts consists in, and is apparent from his unfitness and unsuitableness for society and communion with God and man
b. Sinners are like the worst of beasts
c. Sin has made men worse than the beasts; more beasts than the beasts themselves and worse than the worst of beasts.
(1) The beasts do not transgress the law of their nature, but man has done and does so over and over again
(2) Sinful man is worse than the beasts in the very quality for which he is likened to them. The ox and ass have no understanding, and sinful man is compared to them for ignorance and stupidity; but they are more knowing than he (Isaiah 1.3).
The wicked tyrannical rulers of the world are compared to a roaring lion and a ranging bear (Proverbs 28.15): they have no pity, but make a prey of all to whom they come near. Hypocrites are like vipers (Matthew 23.33). Herod was called a fox, not only for his craft and cunning, but for hunting after the life of the Lamb, Christ Jesus. Thus some sinners are like some animals and some like others, but there are two animals to which all sinners are likened: the goat and the dog.
a. Sinners are called goats (Matthew 25.32,33):
(1) Goats are very lascivious, wanton and lustful. Sinners are so too: the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eye are the things they are taken with (1 John 2.16). To these they give themselves up. The Apostle says, Among whom we all had our conversation in the lusts of the flesh (Ephesians 2.3), and served divers lusts (Titus 3.3). In this they are like goats.
(2) Goats are stinking animals. A goatish smell is a stinking smell, and to smell of or like the goat is to have a very strong, unsavoury and stinking scent. Likewise the wicked are in abomination to the Lord, a very stink in his nostrils.
(3) Goats are very bold and adventurous animals. They climb rocks and precipices to browse and feed on what they can get with hazard. In this sinners are like them too; they run risks and many dangerous adventures for a little, indeed, no satisfaction. They venture peace, conscience, life, soul and all, to get that which is not bread (Isaiah 55. 2).
b. Sinners are likened to dogs. I shall not make divisions in this nor pursue the metaphor into details, of which a little was said before. I will only show that though it was more usual with the Jews to call the Gentiles dogs, and our Saviour spoke in their language when he told the woman that it was not meet to take the children’s bread and cast it to dogs (Matthew 15.26), yet it is a common name for sinners, whether Jews or Gentiles, to all without God and Christ; for without are dogs (Revelation 22.15).
(v) Sin has separated man from God in a moral sense
a. From the sight of God. Man could talk with God face to face, as a man converses with his friend, but alas! man cannot see his face and live
b. From the life of God. Sin has separated man not only from living to God and with God but from living the life of God, that is, such a life as God lives, which is a life of holiness and perfection
c. From the love of God.
d. From communion with God.
e. From the covenant relationship in which he stood to God.