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of this God, for the more they see of God the more dreadful his wrath will be to them; and the more happiness the blessed enjoy, the more sensible the damned will be of what they have lost by sin, and consequently the more miserable.
Satan will, doubtless, be eternally more miserable than if God had not taken occasion, by his introducing sin into the world, to glorify himself, and make this a better world than it was before. So all men that continue in sin to final impenitence will be more miserable the more good their sin is made the occasion of; so that this will be not only no good to them, but an infinite evil.
Now, surely, that which makes the continuance in sin infinitely more dreadful than otherwise it would have been, gives it a more deadly sting, and so makes it more dangerous and awful, can be no encouragement to continuance in sin; but, on the contrary, the greatest imaginable discouragement.
6. God’s bringing the greatest good out of the evil of sin gives no encouragement or license to sin, because the method God has taken to do this is so contrived that, at the same time it makes sin the occasion of good, it serves to show the infinite hatefulness and ill desert of sin, and the awful consequences of it to the impenitent sinner.
The greatest good that comes by sin is brought about by the sufferings and death of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. In this way the serpent's head is bruised, the works of the devil are destroyed, man is saved, and God is glorified. The death of Christ redeems the world, and is the foundation of the new creation, which so much exceeds the old, by which the world is so much better and more glorious than it would have been if sin had never entered. Now, by the sufferings and death of Christ, God has discovered his hatred of sin, his inflexible resolution to punish it, and the dreadfulness of his wrath, and so the awful consequence of perishing in sin, and set them in a most clear and striking light. God has showed his strict and awful justice, his inflexible resolution to punish sin, so that he will by no means clear the guilty, by punishing his own Son, when he espoused the cause of sinners, and stood in their place; and in the sufferings of the Son of God is shown the dreadfulness of God's wrath, and so the awful consequence of continuing in sin; "for if these things are done in the green tree, what will be done in the dry?” Thus God has contrived that the very method he has taken to bring infinite good out of sin should be above any thing else a means of discovering how infinitely hateful and criminal sin is, and how certain and awful is the punishment of it; and so exhibit the greatest discouragement to sin, and the strongest motives to holiness.
God has given a more bright and affecting manifestation to the world of his hatred of sin, of the infinite ill desert of it, and how destructive to the impenitent sinner, in the death of Christ, than could have been given in any other way. now, how can God's thus making sin the occasion of good be any excuse for sin, or afford the least encouragement to it? Surely, every considerate person must own, that God's thus bringing good out of sin is so far from rendering sin excusable, or affording any encouragement to it, that hereby he has rendered sin most inexcusable, and done that which tends above any thing else to deter men from it.
Mankind have now, as I may say, infinitely more to teach them God's hatred of sin and the infinite punishment it deserves, the certainty of God's punishing it, and the dreadfulness of his wrath, than they would have had, had he not redeemed the world by Christ. And does this encourage men in sin ? Surely, no. Nothing could have been better contrived to make men stand in awe, and sin not. The grace of God that brings salvation from sin, and makes sin the means of infinite good by the death of Christ, is so far from giving the least encouragement to sin, that it in the strongest manner teaches men to deny all ungodliness and every worldly lust, and to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world. (Tit. ii. 12.)
7. The good that God brings out of sin can be no encouragement to commit sin, because as far as a man is inclined to sin, so far his heart is opposite to that good which God brings out of sin; and on the other hand, as far as a person delights in and has a heart to seek and promote that good which God brings out of sin, so far he has a heart to hate and forsake sin and practice holiness.
It is, therefore, one of the greatest contradictions to suppose that the good which God brings out of sin should be an inducement or encouragement to commit sin; for this is for a man to take encouragement to commit sin from holy views and ends, or to love and choose sin out of love to holiness; which surely is the greatest absurdity and contradiction imaginable. It is the same as to say, the more holy a man is, the more he is inclined to sin; or, the more he is like God, the more he resembles the devil!
The good that God brings out of sin suits and pleases his heart; and, therefore, it is a good, agreeable to infinite holiness, as what that acquiesces in and seeks; and as far as men are pleased with, value, and seek that good, so far they are conformed to infinite holiness, i. e., are themselves so far holy, and, therefore, they so far hate sin and renounce it; so far they are dead to sin, sin is destroyed in them. Now, what a contradiction is it to say that that which destroys sin and roots it out of the heart, is at the same time a motive and encouragement to sin! So far as a man sincerely desires and seeks the good which God brings out of sin, as what suits his heart, so far he acts from right motive and a right end; and, therefore, so far is right, i. e., in the exercise of holiness, and, consequently, so far hates and renounces sin, yea, cannot sin. How, then, can this promote sin, and be an encouragement to it?
St. Paul argues in this manner, in answer to the same question we are upon: “ What shall we say, then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid! How shall we that are dead to sin live any longer therein ?” (Rom. vi. 1, 2.) This is an absolute impossibility. So far as you see and seek the glory of God in the exercise of his grace, so far you are dead to sin; sin is killed and destroyed in you;
; for the nature and tendency of sin is to dishonor God, and abuse and trample on his grace. How, then, can we that are dead to sin, as we are, if we desire God's glory in the exercise of his grace, live any longer therein? This would be to seek to destroy the very thing we are at the same time seeking to promote; which is the greatest contradiction. As well may we talk of a dead man's performing the functions of life; yea, as well may the actions of life spring from death, as their foundation and cause, and so a man live purely because he is dead.
The carnal mind, the heart of the sinner, is enmity against God; and so is an enemy to the glory of God, and that happiness which consists in holiness, which God makes sin the occasion of. The heart of the sinner, I say, desires not this good, but is an enemy to it; and consequently the sinner never does any thing with a true design and desire to promote it. Therefore, though sin is the means of promoting this good, yet this neither is nor can be any inducement to a man to commit sin, unless a man can desire to promote that which he hates, and is above all things averse to; and, out of a sincere desire to promote it, does that which has a most direct tendency to the contrary, and is the most perfect exercise of enmity against it.
Thus we see it is absolutely impossible, in the nature of things, that a man should do evil that good may come; or commit sin, that he may promote that good which God makes sin the occasion of. And therefore it is impossible, in the nature of things, that the good which God brings out of sin should be any encouragement to sin. Because so far as any one is a friend to that good, and desires and seeks it, so far he is an enemy to sin, and necessarily avoids it. And so far as he is disposed to sin, and loves it, so far he pays no regard to the good God brings out of it, but is an enemy to it. If, therefore, any one pretends that he does evil that good may come of it, that the good which God brings out of sin is a motive and encouragement to him to commit sin, we are sure it is only a pretence, and cannot be true; but he commits sin, because he loves it, and seeks a good which is opposite to that which God seeks in permitting sin.
Joseph's brethren, being enemies to the fulfilment of his dreams, which God designed to bring about by means of their selling him, could not be induced and encouraged to sell him for a slave, from a view of answering this end. No, they aimed at something directly contrary to this; and if they had pretended they sold him into slavery, out of a desire that his dreams might be fulfilled, Joseph would have known it was a piece of gross hypocrisy. For if they had desired his dreams should come to pass, they would have loved him, and been tender of him, and therefore would have had no heart to exercise that cruelty towards him they were guilty of.
This may be further illustrated (if it is not plain enough already) in the instance of Pharaoh. It was impossible that he should do as he did, if he had desired and sought the good God intended to answer by him. If he had desired that God's name should be glorified, and his church and people be safe and happy, he would not have refused to hearken to the God of the Hebrews, nor trample on his authority, and bid defiance to him as he did ; but would have cheerfully obeyed all his commands. And he would not have oppressed Israel as he did; and therefore it was not possible he should commit the sin he did, with a design and desire that this good might come of it. No, he was an enemy to that good which God designed; and therefore acted like an enemy, and committed the great wickedness he did.
And this is the case with all that live in sin. They love sin, and commit it, because they are enemies to the good which God brings out of sin. Only make them friends to that good, and their aims and designs conformable to God's, and this will cure them of allowing themselves in sin, and make them renounce it forever. Therefore, I say, it is absolutely impossible that a man should allow himself in sin, that good may come of it; I mean the good that God designs by sin. And therefore, whatever pretences any may make to this, we may be sure it is not so.
Indeed, men aim at and seek good, in all the sin they commit. Something, which appears to them to be good, which
they aim to obtain by sin, is always the motive and inducement to sin. But this is always a good, which is not only of a different kind from that which God seeks, but directly contrary to it.
But here the following question may arise in the minds of
If God permits sin for the sake of the good he brings out of it, and so aims at this good in permitting sin, why may not men aim at the same good in committing sin, and so sin for the same end for which God permits it? How can it be impossible for a man to aim at the same thing in committing sin that God aims at in permitting it?
Answer. That this cannot be, is owing to the nature of sin itself. It is because sin is what it is, viz., an opposition to God in his ways, his inclinations, ends, and designs. In this, sin essentially consists; even in the opposition of men's hearts, in their inclinations and ends, to God's inclination and designs. Therefore, when it is asked, why a man cannot commit sin, for the same end for wbich God permits it?— it is just the same as to ask, why a man may not have the same end and design that God has, in that very act which consists in opposing God's aims and designs ? That is, why a man's aims and designs may not be the same with God's, which at the same time are perfectly contrary thereto? — which is no other than to ask, why the most perfect contradiction may not be consistent?
The more men's inclinations, ends, and designs are conformable to God's, and the more they see what the inclination of God's heart is, and understand his ends and designs, the more they are pleased with them and with all God's ways, and the more they see God's wisdom in permitting sin; and, therefore, the more pleased they are with his permitting sin for the ends he does. But this is so far from making them like sin, or love it, and be well pleased with it, that the more they are pleased with God's conduct in permitting sin, the more they hate sin, the more contrary it is to their hearts. God is infinitely holy in permitting sin; and the more holy men are, and so, the more they hate sin, the more well pleased they are with God's permitting sin, and the more they fall in with his designs herein.
St. Paul, now in heaven, approves of, and is pleased with God's permitting sin, for the sake of the good he makes it the occasion of, in a much higher degree than when on earth. He is perfectly pleased with it now. And the more he is pleased with it, and falls in with God's ends and designs