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Therefore I hate every false way.—Ver. 104.
THE second proposition is the universality of this hatred, every false way. They that hate sin must hate all sin.
1. This doth necessarily follow upon the former; for if we hate sin especially as sin, for the intrinsic evil that is in it, not upon foreign accidental reasons, then we will hate all sin, for hatred is εἰς τὰ γένη, to the whole kind; as Haman, when he hated the Jews, he thought scorn to lay his hand only on Mordecai, but would have destroyed all the Jews, Esther v. 6. It is but a casual dislike, and not a hatred. Certainly if we hate sin as sin, we shall hate all sin. The same reasons that incline us to hate one sin will incline us to hate all. Why! what is it to hate sin as sin? As it is a violation of God’s law, as it is a contempt of God’s authority, a breach of spiritual friendship, it grieves the Spirit; these are the reasons to incline us to hate one as well as another. Well, then, private reservation and indulgences, or setting up a toleration in our own hearts, will not stand with the hatred of all sin. Some sins may shame and trouble us more, but all are alike contrary to the will of God; therefore if we hate them upon reasons of duty to God, we should hate them universally, ‘every false way.’
2. Every sin is hateful to God, therefore every sin should be hateful to us. The reason of this is, we should hate what he hates, and love what he loves. There is a perfect friendship between God and those in covenant with him. Now that is true friendship, to will and nill the same thing; it is built upon likeness, and suitableness of disposition. This argument is urged by the Holy Ghost: Prov. viii. 13, ‘The fear of the Lord is to hate evil; pride, and arrogance, and the evil way, and the fro ward mouth, do I hate.’ This is friendship with God, to hate what God hates: I hate it, therefore they hate it. Sins of thought are intended by pride and arrogance, for that puts us upon vain musings and imaginations; and sins of word by the froward mouth; and sins of action by the evil way, outward practice. All this God hates, so should we: Rev. ii. 6, ‘Thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.’ If we be in the same covenant with God, we will have the same love, the same hatred. Nay, as we have 60the same nature with God, the saints are ‘made partakers of the divine nature,’ 2 Peter i. 4. The divine nature shows itself by suitable dispositions.
3. From our covenant relation with God, which implies an entire surrender of soul, which is without any reservation. When you give up yourselves to God, he will have all. If you say, God be merciful to me, and spare me in this, then you forfeit all the blessings of the covenant. God will have all or none; therefore all sin, without exception, must be hated by us, for otherwise God is not our chief good: if anything be loved besides him, or against his will, it is love above him. One man allowed besides the husband is a violation of the marriage covenant; so one sin allowed in the heart breaks all the covenant between God and us: James ii. 10, ‘If a man keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.’ That sentence is not a legal sentence belonging to the covenant of works; that were a mistake of it: it is not only true in the sense of the covenant of works, one sin undoes us for ever, but it is true in the evangelical covenant. Thus one sin allowed with full consent of heart makes void the gospel covenant, as one article not consented to disannuls the whole treaty and agreement between us and God. It is not consistent with sincerity that we should bring down the gospel covenant, to allow any one sin.
4. From the damage and mischief that it doth to our souls. One sin keeps up the devil’s interest; it is like a nest egg, left there to draw a new temptation. You continue his empire in you; this is his great design, to keep a part. Conscience begins to work, they must have something; all then that he pleads for is but a part, and he knows that will bring the whole; as Pharaoh would have a pawn, either their flocks, herds, or children, that this might bring them back again. One sin reserved gives Satan an interest; one leak in the ship, though all the rest be stopped, if that be neglected, will sink it in time.
Use. Let us lay this branch also to heart. There is something usually wherein we would be excused and expect favour. We all have a tender part of our soul, and loathe it should be touched; some vain fashions, customs, or ways, and outgoings of soul, which we are unwilling to leave, though we have often smarted for them. Consider, it is not consistent with your obedience and your love to God, nor with the power of grace in your hearts, to allow any false way. Herod did many things, yet perished for all that. A man may do many things that are good, upon sin’s account, When you allow any one thing, it is only to hide and feed your lusts with greater pretence; so many religious things may be fuel of lusts, as well as carnal comforts. It is not for the interest of the flesh or indwelling corruption that men should have no religion; sin cannot be served in such a cleanly way, unless there be something done in compliance with God’s will, under some disguise, or conformity to the will of God. Say then, Shall I do and suffer so many things in vain? Bring your hearts thus to hate every false way.
Thirdly, This is a part and fruit of true wisdom.
1. That this is a chief part of wisdom and understanding, to hate every false way, appears from Job xxviii. 28, ‘The fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil, that is understanding.’ So much as we hate sin, so much of spiritual wisdom and spiritual understanding. 61Certainly to hate sin is wisdom; I prove it from the nature of sin. All disobedience is the greatest folly that can be in the world; and therefore, if to sin be to do foolishly, to hate sin is to be wise; and not to have understanding certainly is a fruit of folly, for a man to do that which will condemn himself, if ever he comes to himself. Now, when a man comes to himself, as when he dies or repents, oh! how will his heart condemn and reproach him for the vanity of his worldly course, when he is filled with his own ways! Especially repentance, that is a coming to ourselves. As a man when he hath slept out his drunkenness and excess, and begins to look back upon his follies committed under that distemper; such is repentance, it is an after-wisdom, and therefore it argues that there was an imprudence and inconsideration of the things we repent of, and therefore we condemn ourselves. That is folly which gratifies those that are our utter enemies. Now sin it gratifies the devil, which seeks our ruin: he ‘goes about, seeking whom he may devour,’ 1 Peter v. 8. You please him that seeks your utter destruction; and will you grieve God and please the devil? That is folly which brings no disadvantage upon him whom you disobey, but upon you it brings the greatest mischief imaginable. God is not hurt by your sins; he is above our injury: Prov. ix. 12, ‘If thou be wise, thou shalt be wise for thyself; but if thou scornest, thou alone shalt bear it.’ There is no hurt done to God; all the hurt is to our own souls: Prov. viii. 36, ‘He that sinneth against me, wrongs his own soul; and he that hateth me, loveth death.’ Every sinner is his own murderer and his own destroyer. All those arrows we shoot up against heaven, they fall down with more violence upon our own heads. That is folly for a man to hazard a jewel for a trifle, to stake his soul, and heaven, and eternal happiness, against a little flesh-pleasing and carnal satisfaction: Jonah ii. 8, ‘They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercies.’ Poor fugacious comforts, lying vanities, to follow after, and forsake their own mercy; that is, all that happiness which might have been their own. A sinner is a mad gamester, that throws away the kingdom of heaven at every cast for a little momentary short delight and vain contentment. That is folly to break with him upon whom our all depends, our life, being, comfort, happiness; so doth sin make us break with God: Isa. lix. 2, ‘Your iniquities have separated between you and your God.’ Well, then, if sin be to do foolishly, to depart from sin, this is wisdom, this is understanding. Certainly he that provides against the greatest mischief doth escape the greatest danger; he is the wise man, and not he that provides against temporal inconveniences only, as poverty and disgrace. He that escapes sin, escapes hell, the wrath of God, the extremest misery that can light upon a poor creature: Prov. xv. 24, ‘The way of the wise is above, to avoid hell beneath;’ and therefore it is a high point of wisdom to hate sin.
2. As it is a high point of understanding, so it is a fruit and effect of understanding. According to the degree of understanding that we have, so will our hatred of sin be; for he saith, ‘Through thy precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way. To prove this by two reasons:—
[1.] Our affections follow our apprehensions. There is no way to 62come to the heart but by the mind, by the understanding. Look, as there is no way to come to the bowels to purge our distempers that are there but by the mouth, stomach, and other passages that lead to the bowels, so there is no way to come to the heart and affections but by the understanding. Knowledge begets all other affections, those which belong to choice and pursuit, or those that belong to slight or aversation. Those that belong to choice and pursuit, desire, delight. There is no desire of that which is unknown; so in those things that belong to slight and aversation, those affections, be it grief or shame for sin already committed, or fear or hatred that sin may not be committed. Grief or shame: Jer. xxxi. 19, ‘After I was instructed, I smote upon my thigh; I was ashamed, yea, even confounded, because I did bear the reproach of my youth.’ It is light which humbles, and the soul is affected according to the sight it hath of things; or go to those affections which serve to prevent the commission of sin, as hatred and fear. Hatred in the text; a good understanding goes before, a thorough hatred will follow.
[2.] Second reason; that when the mind is fraught with truths, and gotten a good stock of knowledge by God’s precepts, then it will be checking and urging the soul to caution against sin; and therefore the more understanding you yet by God’s precepts, the more are you warned and put in mind of things: Ps. cxix. II, ‘I have hid thy word in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.’ When the word hath laid up in the heart a good stock of knowledge, there will be one thought or other that will be rising up and defying all temptations wherewith you are assaulted: Eph. vi. 17, ‘Take unto you the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.’ In the spiritual conflict we need weapons not only defensive but offensive; not only the shield of faith, but the sword of the Spirit, that we may destroy and slay sin, and withstand temptation, and chase away Satan from us. What is this sword of the Spirit? The word of God. The more seasonable relief the more fresh thoughts you have to withstand temptations which are apt to come in upon you: Prov. vi. 21, 22, ‘Bind them upon thine heart: when thou goest, it shall lead thee; when thou sleepest, it shall keep thee; and when thou awakest, it shall talk with thee.’ This will always be urging him to duty, and warning him of his danger.
A word of use. (1.) Get understanding; (2.) Never count yourselves to understand anything but as you increase in hatred of sin.
1. Get understanding. Partly—(1.) Because there are many false ways you will never discern without much understanding. There are many false ways that are palliated and represented under the show of good, and we are easily ensnared unless we have light to choose our way: 1 Cor. ii. 8, ‘Had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.’ A man will be carried on with a great deal of life and activity in a way contrary to God: Acts xxvi. 9, ‘I verily thought with myself that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.’ Oh! the tyranny and madness of an erring conscience and an ignorant zealot! What a ready prey is a man to Satan, and is carried headlong to destroying courses, when a man hath more zeal and earnestness of spirit than knowledge to guide 63him! How will he stumble and dash upon things that are very contrary to the will of God. (2.) If they can discern them, they shall not have a heart and skill to remedy them without understanding. We shall not have a heart, for light will be urging, calling upon us, minding us of our duty, warning us of danger; whereas otherwise we shall go on tamely, like an ox to the slaughter, and like a fool to the correction of the stocks. We shall not have this restless importunity of conscience, which is a great restraint of sin; and then we shall not have the skill, for all is misapplied and misconceived by an ignorant spirit, for the whole business of his religion is making cordials instead of purges, and potions instead of antidotes, catching at promises when threatenings belong to him, lulling his soul asleep with new strains of grace, when he should awaken himself to duty.
2. Never count yourselves to have profited in anything till your hearts are awakened into a further hatred of sin. Christians! they are but notions; it is not saving knowledge unless it be in order to practice; men have no understanding that have not this active and rooted enmity against sin: Ps. cxi. 10, ‘A good understanding have all that they do his commandments;’ they that hate sin more, and are more weary of corruption. He is made wiser by the word that is made better by it. It is not the talker against, but the hater of iniquity that is the wise man. If wisdom enters upon the heart, and breaks out in our practice, by that is our thriving in knowledge to be measured: 1 John ii. 3, ‘Hereby we know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.’
This was God’s scope in giving the word, not to make trial of men’s wits, who could most sharply conceive, or of their memories, who could most faithfully retain, or of their eloquence, who could most nimbly discourse; but of the sincerity of the heart, who could most obediently submit to the will of God. Jer. xxii. 16, when he had spoke of hating of sin, and doing good, ‘Was not this to know me? saith the Lord.’ This is to know God to hate sin. Outward things were not made for sight only, but for use, as herbs, plants, and stars. So our reason, and the scriptures the Lord hath given us; it is not only for sight, but for use, that we may be wise to salvation; not that we may please our selves with acute notions about the things of God, but seriously set our hearts to practise.
The fourth thing in this general point is, that this wisdom and understanding is gotten by God’s precepts. Mark, ‘I hate every false way.’ Why? ‘Because by thy precepts I get understanding.’ Where have we it? ‘By studying God’s word,’ Rom. iii. 20, ‘By the law is the knowledge of sin.’ How is the knowledge of sin by the law? Three ways: according to the nature of the sin, according to who is the sinner, and according to the guilt and dreadful estate of them that lie in a state of sin. So the knowledge of sin, that is, the nature of it, and where it lives, and where it reigns, and what will be the effects of it, all this knowledge is by the law.
1. By the law is the knowledge of sin, quoad naturam peccati. There are many things we should never know but by the law of God, though we have some general notions of good and evil. Rom. vii. 7, saith the apostle, ‘I had not known sin but by the law; for I had not 64known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.’ Those first stirrings and secret lingerings of heart and inclinations to that which is cross to the will of God, that they go before all consent of will, and all delight, these things we could never discern by the light of nature.
2. Quoad subjectum, what is the sinner, and who is guilty of it? So Rom. vii. 9, ‘I was alive without the law once, but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.’ He saw his lost, miserable, undone condition by the law of God. The acts of sin are discovered by the word of God; it discovers the thoughts and intents of the heart, Heb. iv. 12, and state of sin; our natural face, the condition wherein we are, is to be seen in this glass.
3. Quoad realum et magnitudinem peccati, what will be the effects of it? Rom. v. 20, ‘The law entered, that the offence might abound.’ Therefore the law was given, that it might work a deep sense of the evil consequents of sin, and what wrath man was bound over to for violating the righteous law. The law represents the heinous nature of sin as it is ἀνομία, a transgression of the law, as it strikes at God’s being or at God’s authority, seeks to jostle him out of the throne; as it contradicts his sovereignty, and plucks the sceptre out of his hand and the crown from his head, and makes men to say, ‘Who is lord over us?’ As if we had nothing to guide us but our own lusts. The word of God discovers this pride of heart, and then the manifold mischiefs of sin are discovered; we get this understanding by the word. It is better to know these mischiefs of sin by the threatenings of the word, than by our own bitter experience. It is sin that separates from God, and renders us incapable of all blessings.
Use 1. Study yourselves, and take a view of the case and state of your souls by the glass of the word; see what you gain by every reading, hearing, every time you converse with him, what is given out to convince you of sin, or awaken your soul against sin.
Use 2. When you consult with the word, beg the light of the Spirit, which is only lively and efficacious. The apostle speaks of knowing things in the evidence and ‘demonstration of the Spirit and of power,’ 1 Cor. ii. 4. There is the same demonstration of the Spirit. There is a manifest difference between the evidence of reason and arguments held out from a natural understanding, and between the illumination or the demonstration of the Spirit. There are many that may have a full knowledge of the letter and the sense of the words, as they lie open to the evidence of reason, yet be without the light and power of those truths, for that is a fruit of the demonstration of the Spirit, the lively light of the Holy Ghost that goes along with the word.
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