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and that contrariety, that it bears to the holy nature of God. And, while you thus see sin, comparing it with God, even the least sin must appear heinous. And, when you are tempted to any sin, while you thus think, you may repel a temptation as Joseph did his mistress, How shall I do this great wickedness, and sin against God? Gen. xxxix. 9. The world, indeed, counts it but a Little Sin; but, looking upon it and comparing it with the holiness and purity of God, we must cry out, How shall we commit this sin, though accounted little by others, and so provoke a great and holy God?
3. Get a more thorough acquaintance with the spiritual sense and meaning of the Law.
This was the cause, why the Pharisee did so slight the commission of Small Sins; because he kept himself to the literal sense of the Law: and so, because there he was commanded not to kill, not to commit adultery, and the like, he thought, if he did abstain from the outward act of those sins, he observed the Law; yea, and observed it sufficiently. But the spiritual meaning of the Law, forbids not only the outward act, but it forbids whatever tends to the outward act; inward thoughts, motions, desires, complacencies in sin, that are presented to the fancy, with whatever tends to or belongs unto sin: the spiritual sense of the Law forbids all these. Grow more in acquaintance with the spiritual sense and meaning of the Law, and then you will think small sins, such as the sins of the thoughts, of the desires, and of the fancy, and the like, to be no less forbidden by the Law, than murder or adultery, and other heinous sins; the Law having as strictly forbidden the one, as the other."
4. Beware you compare not sins among themselves.
The Apostle speaks of some, 2 Cor. x. 12. who, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, were not wise. Truly, it is as great a folly for us to measure sin by sin, or to compare one sin with another. For, as, when we measure ourselves with others, our Pride is apt to suggest to us, that such and such are inconsiderable persons in comparison of us so, when we measure one sin by another, Corruption is apt to suggest to us, such a sin is a small and inconsiderable sin in comparison of another sin; and therefore may venture upon it.
Certainly, if we observe it, two sad events usually follow upon our comparing sins among themselves.
(1) We make little sins less than they are.
Or, if we are beaten off from such false opinions, by being shewn how great an evil there is in them, then,
(2) We make it as good to commit the greatest sin as the least.
These two sad events always happen, if we compare one sin with another. Compare not, therefore, sin with itself; but compare sin with thy duty. Compare the Least Sin with the holiness of that God, against whom thou committest it: and this is the way, whereby you may be brought to account no sin to be small or little.