The Lord's Prayer

By Thomas Watson

II. The second branch of the sixth petition is, "Deliver us from evil." There is more in this petition than is expressed. The thing expressed is—that we may be kept from evil. The thing further intended is—that we may make progress in piety. "Denying ungodliness and worldly lusts;" there is being delivered from evil; "we should live soberly, righteously, and godly;" there is progress in piety. Titus 2:12.

[1] In general, when we pray, "Deliver us from evil," we pray to be delivered from the evil of SIN. Not that we pray to be delivered immediately from the presence and indwelling of sin, for that cannot be in this life—we cannot shake off this viper. But we pray that God would deliver us more and more from the power and practice, from the scandalous acts of sin which cast a sad reflection upon the gospel. Sin is the deadly evil which we pray against. With what pencil shall I be able to draw the deformed face of sin? The devil would baptize sin with the name of virtue. It is easy to lay fair colors on a black face. I shall endeavor to show you what a vile monster sin is, and that there is great reason we should pray, "Deliver us from evil."

Sin, as the apostle says, is exceeding sinful. Romans 7:13. Sin is the very distillation of evil; it is called the "accursed thing." Josh 7:13. That sin is the most execrable evil, appears several ways:

(1) Look upon sin in its origin.

(2) Look upon sin in its nature.

(3) Look upon sin in the judgment and opinion of the godly.

(4) Look upon sin by comparison.

(5) Look upon sin in the manner of its cure.

(6) Look upon sin in its direful effects.

When you have seen all these, you will apprehend what a horrid evil sin is, and what great reason we have to pray, "Deliver us from evil."

(1) Look upon sin in its ORIGIN. It fetches its pedigree from hell. It is of the devil. John 8:44. It calls the devil "father". Sin is the poison which the old serpent has spit into our virgin nature.

(2) Look upon sin in its NATURE, and it is evil. See what the Scripture compares it to. It has got a bad name. It is compared to the vomit of dogs (2 Peter 2:22); to a menstruous cloth (Isaiah 30:22); which, as Jerome says, was the most unclean thing under the law; it is compared to the plague (1 Kings 8:38); and to a gangrene (2 Tim 2:17). People with these diseases, we would be averse to eat and drink with.

Sin is evil in its nature, because it is transgression against God. It is a breach of his royal law. "Sin is the transgression of the law." 1 John 3:4. It is high treason against heaven. What greater injury can be offered to a prince, than to trample upon his royal edicts? "They cast your law behind their backs." Neh 9:26. Sin is an affront to God, as it is walking contrary to him. Lev 26:40. The Hebrew word for sin signifies rebellion. It flies in the face of God. "He stretches out his hand against God." Job 15:25. We ought not to lift up a thought against God, much less to lift up a hand against him; but the sinner does both. Sin is the killing of God. Sin would not only unthrone God—but ungod him! If sin could help it, God would no longer be God!

Sin is an act of high INGRATITUDE to God. He feeds a sinner, screens off many evils from him; and yet he not only forgets his mercies—but abuses them. "It was I who gave her everything she has—the grain, the wine, the olive oil. Even the gold and silver she used in worshiping the god Baal were gifts from me!" Hos 2:8. God may say, I gave you wit, health, riches, which you have employed against me. A sinner makes an arrow of God's mercies—and shoots at him! "Is this your kindness to your friend?" 2 Samuel 16:17. Did God give you life—to sin? Did he give you wages—to serve the devil? Oh, what an ungrateful thing is sin! Ingratitude forfeits mercy, as the merchant forfeits his goods by not paying custom.

Sin is a FOOLISH thing. "You fool, this night your soul shall be required of you." Luke 12:20. Is it not foolish to prefer a short lust—before an eternal inheritance? A sinner prefers the pleasures of sin for a season—before those pleasures which are at God's right hand for evermore. Is it not folly to gratify an enemy? Sin gratifies Satan. Men's sins feast the devil. Is it not folly for a man to be guilty of his own destruction, to give himself poison? A sinner has a hand in his own death. "They lay wait for their own blood." Proverbs 1:18. No creature did ever willingly kill itself, but man.

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! 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. Sin pollutes 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 honor. "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. Psalm 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 anger makes him devilish.

Sin is an ENSLAVING thing. A sinner is a slave when he sins most freely. [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. Those who serve Satan have such a bad master, that they will be afraid to receive their wages.

Sin is an OFFENSIVE thing. "They are all together become filthy;" in the Hebrew, they have become stinking. Psalm 14:3. Sin is very offensive to God. If he who worships in God's house lives in the sin of uncleanness, though he is perfumed with all the spices of Arabia, his prayers are unsavory. "Their incense is an abomination to me" (Isaiah 1:13); therefore "the proud he knows afar off." Psalm 138:6. He will not come near the dunghill sinner, who has such a foul stench coming from him.

Sin is a PAINFUL thing. It costs men much labor and pains to accomplish their wicked designs. "They weary themselves to commit iniquity." Jer 9:5. "Sin is its own punishment." How they tire themselves out in sin's drudgery! Chrysostom says that 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. "There is no peace for the wicked." Isaiah 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 judgment 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 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 inhabitants as the stirrings of pride, lust, and envy. It was a cruel torment of Mezentius who tied a dead man to a living man. Thus a child of God has corruption joined with grace—a dead man tied to a living man. So hateful is sin, 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, sin is worse than affliction. There is more evil in a drop of sin—than in a sea of affliction.

[1] Sin is the cause of affliction, and the cause is more than the effect. Sin brings all harmful things: it has death and hell 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 evils in the world. Sin is the evil which sets the world on fire. Sin turned the angels out of heaven, and Adam out of paradise. It causes mutinies, divisions, and massacres. The sword of God's justice lies quietly in the scabbard, until sin draws it out and sharpens it. So that sin is worse than affliction, being the cause of it: and the cause is more than the effect.

[2] God is the author of affliction. "When disaster comes to a city, has not the Lord caused it?" Amos 3:6. 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. Just so, God made the instrument of our souls—but not the rust and canker of sin which corrupts them. [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.

[3] 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. It is 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. It 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. Proverbs 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 you two eyes, if you lose one, you have another; but you have 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"?

[4] Afflictions are good for us. "It is good for me that I have been afflicted." Psalm 119:71. Many can bless God for affliction. Affliction humbles. "I remember my affliction—and my soul is humbled within me." Lamentations 3:19-20. Afflictions are compared to thorns; these thorns are to prick the bubble of pride. Hos 2:6. Affliction is the school of repentance. "You have 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. Just 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 need, he said, "I will arise, and go to my Father." Luke 15:18. Afflictions prepare for glory. "Light affliction works for us an eternal weight of glory." 2 Cor 4:17. The painter lays his gold upon dark colors. Just so, God lays first the dark colors of affliction, and then the golden color of glory. Thus affliction is for our good; but sin is not for our good; it keeps good things from us. "Your sins have withheld good things from you." Jer 5:25. Sin stops the current of God's mercy; it precipitates men to eternal ruin. Manasseh's affliction brought him to humiliation; but that of Judas brought him to desperation.

[5] 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. Psalm 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.

[6] In affliction we may have the love of God. Afflictions are love tokens. "Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline." 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, 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 Samuel 11:27.

[7] There are many encouragements to suffer affliction. God himself suffers with us. "In all their affliction, he was afflicted." Isaiah 63:9. God will strengthen us in our sufferings. "He is their strength in the time of trouble." Psalm 37:39. Either God makes our burden lighter—or our faith stronger. He will compensate and recompense our sufferings. "Everyone who has forsaken houses or lands for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and inherit everlasting life." Matthew 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. "Surely God will crush the heads of his enemies, the hairy crowns of those who go on in their sins." Psalm 68:21. A flying-roll of curses enters into the house of a sinner. Zech 5:4. If a man sins—it is at his peril. "I will make my arrows drunk with blood." Deut 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.

[8] 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. Your 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. 1 Cor 8:12. Thus sin is worse than affliction, because it does hurt to others.

[9] In affliction the saints may rejoice. "You received the Word in much affliction, with joy." 1 Thess 1:6. "You took joyfully the confiscation of your goods." Heb 10:34. Aristotle speaks of a bird that lives among thorns, and yet sings sweetly. Just so, a child of God can rejoice in afflictions. Paul had his prison songs. "We glory in tribulations." Romans 5:3. The Greek word signifies an exuberancy of joy, a joy with boasting and triumph. God often pours in those divine consolations, which 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. Romans 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 you have gone a whoring from your 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 Samuel 24:10. As pricking a vein lets out the blood, so, when sin has pricked the conscience, it lets out the joy.

[10] Affliction magnifies a person. "What is man, that you should magnify him, and visit him every morning?" Job 7:17, 18. That is, visit him with affliction.

How do afflictions magnify us?

(1) As they are signs of sonship. "If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons." Heb 12:7. Every imprint of the rod—is a badge of honor.

(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! "You 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." 1 Sam 3:13. Sin casts an indelible blot on a man's name. "The man who commits adultery is an utter fool, for he destroys his own soul. Wounds and constant disgrace are his lot. His shame will never be erased." Proverbs 6:32, 33.

[11] A man by suffering affliction may bring honor to religion. Paul's iron chain made the gospel wear a gold chain. Suffering credits and propagates the gospel; but committing sin brings dishonor 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, —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.

[12] 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; 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, "Those who saw me without fled from me." Psalm 31:2. So the people of God flee from a scandalous sinner; he is like an infected person, everyone shuns and avoids him!

[13] 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. Just 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 which embitters death, and makes it 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. "You have taken away my gods, and what more have I?" Judges 18:24. Death does but take away our life—but sin takes away our God from us. Just 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. 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, sin is worse than hell.

(5) 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 alone! If a man should commit an offence, and 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. His whole body as one wound. He suffered in his soul. "My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death." Matthew 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 have you forsaken me!" All this was to do away with our sin. View sin in Christ's blood—and it will appear of a crimson color!

(6) Look upon sin in its dismal effects—and it will appear the most horrid evil. "The wages of sin is death," that is, "the second death." Romans 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 a stinging scorpion, it draws hell at its heels. This hellish torment consists of two parts:

Poena damni, the punishment of loss. "Depart from me." Matthew 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 fullness of joy—how sad and dreadful! That word, "Depart," said Chrysostom, is worse than the fire. Surely sin must be the greatest evil—which separates us from the greatest good.

Poena senses, the punishment of sense. "Depart from me, you who are cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels." Matthew 25:41. Why, sinners might plead, "Lord, if we must depart from you, let us have your blessing." "No! Depart—you who are cursed." "If we must depart from you, let it be into some place of ease and rest." "No! Depart 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 is so, that we must be there, let us be with good company." "No! Go with the devil and his angels!"

Oh, what an evil is sin! All the torments of this life are but a sport, compared to hell torments. What is a burning fever, compared 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 strikes—he kills with a blow. To have the almighty God lay on the stroke, will be intolerable! Hell is the epitome 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 ascends up forever 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 forever! That word, "forever!" breaks the heart!

Surely, then, sin is the most deadly and execrable evil. Look upon it in its original, in its nature, in the judgment 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"?


(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 Savior 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, "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 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. Have you a diseased body? Pray more that the disease of your soul may be removed than of your body. "Heal my soul, for I have sinned." Psalm 41:4. The plague of the heart is worse than a cancer in the breast. Have you a child that is lame? Pray more to have its unholiness removed than its lameness. 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 is so great an evil, then admire the wonderful patience of God, who 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 astonishing patience. Well may he be called "the God of patience." Romans 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, says 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! "When a man finds his enemy, does he let him get away unharmed?" 1 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 is 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 "your 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 is 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. Sin is the Achan which 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. Sin has a malignant influence—it brings us into straits. All our evils are from the evil of sin. The cords that pinch us are of our own twisting. [Punishment follows wickedness as the thread the needle.] Sin raises all the storms in conscience. The sword of God's justice lies quiet—until sin draws it out of the scabbard, and makes God whet it against a nation.

(5) If sin is so great an evil, how little reason has anyone 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 is sweet in his mouth." Job 20:12. Sin is as delightful to the wicked, as food 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 is 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 punishment for 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 deceiving or slandering; nothing of living in the sin of immorality. If you weigh sin in the balance of some men's judgments, it is very light; but who are those that make light of sin? Solomon has described them. "Fools make a mock at sin." Proverbs 14:9. [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 is so great an evil, I infer that there is no good to be gotten by it. We cannot gather grapes from this thorn. If sin is 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 benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death!" Romans 6:21. Where are your earnings? What have you gotten by sin? It has shame for its companion, and death for its wages! What profit did Achan have, from his wedge of gold? That wedge cleaved asunder his soul from God. What profit did Ahab have, from the vineyard he got unjustly? The dogs licked his blood. 1 Kings 21:19. What profit did Judas have, from his treason? For thirty pieces he sold his Savior—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 is so great an evil, 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 a pleasant phantasy; 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." Proverbs 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 which embitter the pleasure. If there is any pleasure in sin, it is only to the body, the brutish part; the soul is not at all gratified by it. "Soul, take your ease;" he might have more properly said, "Body, take your 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. Just 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." Isaiah 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 gives his color in the cup; at the last it bites like a serpent!" Proverbs 23:31, 32. Sin will prove like Ezekiel's sroll, sweet in the mouth—but bitter in the belly! Ask Cain now, how he likes his murder! Ask Achan how he likes his golden wedge? O remember the saying of Augustine, "The pleasure is momentary, the torture eternal!" The pleasure of sin is soon gone—but the sting remains!

(9) If sin is 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." Proverbs 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 which perish! Psalm 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, compared 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 is 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 who probes a wound, and cuts out the proud flesh that the patient may be sound. Just so, God's minister comes with a cutting reproof—but it is to keep from sin, and to save the soul. 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 would 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. "You hate the one who reproves in court and despise him who tells the truth." Amos 5:10. Who is angry with the physician for prescribing a bitter potion, seeing it is to purge out the mortal disease? 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 even flatter them in their sins. God never made ministers to be false mirrors—to make bad faces look fair; such make themselves guilty of other men's sins.

(11) If sin is 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 torn, one should suffer his flesh to be torn. It was a false charge that Elihu brought against Job: "This iniquity have you 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 Samuel 22:28. Affliction is for our good—but sin is not for our good; it would bring 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 is 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 yourself 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 your servant from presumptuous sins." Psalm 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 it is, 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 indwelling 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 more have a vain thought! Then Christ's spouse shall be without spot or wrinkle. Eph 5:27. Now there is a dead man tied to the living man; 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!


First to all in general. If sin is so great and dreadful 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. Matthew 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 armor, 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." 1 Tim 4:4, 5. The bird never takes a drop but its eye is lifted up towards heaven—this may shame many. 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 idols be seen—but she "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 who shuts up his shop windows—but follows his trade within doors. If sin is 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 present.

(3) Take heed of your BESETTING sin, that which your nature and constitution most incline to. As in the hive there is a master bee—so in the heart there is a master sin. "I kept myself from my iniquity." Psalm 18:23. There is some sin that is a special favorite, the darling sin which lies in the bosom—and this bewitches and draws away the heart. O beware of this!

[1] That sin which a man most nourishes, and to which all other sins are subservient—is the sin which is most tended and waited upon. The Pharisees' darling sin was vainglory, all they did was to feed the sin of pride. When they gave alms they sounded a trumpet, that they might admired by others. Matthew 6:2. If a stranger had asked why this trumpet sounded? The answer was, the Pharisees are going to give alms to the poor. Their lamp of charity was filled with the oil of vainglory. Matthew 23:5. All their works they did to be seen by men. Pride was their bosom sin. Oftentimes covetousness is the darling sin; all other sins are committed to maintain this. Why do men equivocate, oppress, defraud, take bribes—but to uphold covetousness?

[2] The sin which a man hates to be reproved—is the darling sin. Herod could not endure to have his incest spoken against; if John the Baptist meddles with that sin, it shall cost him his head.

[3] That sin which has most power over a man, and most easily leads him captive—is the beloved of the soul. There are some sins which a man can better put off and repulse; but there is one sin which he cannot deny—but is overcome by it: this is the bosom sin. The young man in the gospel had a besetting sin which he could not resist, and that was the love of the world; his silver was dearer to him than his Savior. It is a sad thing a man should be so bewitched by a lust—that he will part with the kingdom of heaven to gratify it!

[4] The sin which men use arguments to defend—is the darling sin. To plead for sin, is to be the devil's attorney. If the sin is covetousness, and we vindicate it; if it is rash anger, and we justify it, saying (as Jonah 4:9), "I do well to be angry," this is the besetting sin.

[5] That sin which most troubles a man, and flies in his face in an hour of sickness and distress—is the beloved sin. When Joseph's brethren were distressed, their sin in selling their brother came to remembrance. Gen 45:3. So, when a man is upon his sick-bed, conscience says, "Do not you remember how you have lived in such a sin, though you have been often warned—yet you would not leave it?" Conscience reads a secret lecture upon the darling sin.

[6] The sin which a man is most unwilling to part with—is the darling sin. Jacob could of all his sons, most hardly part with Benjamin. "Joseph is not, and Simeon is not, and you will take Benjamin away." Gen 13:36. So says the sinner, "this and that sin have I parted with; but must Benjamin go? Must I part with this delightful sin? That pierces my heart!" It is the Delilah, the beloved sin. Oh, if sin is such a deadly evil, dare not to indulge any bosom sin, which is the most dangerous of all; and, like a cancer striking to the heart, which is mortal. One darling sin lived in, sets open a gap for Satan to enter.

(4) Take heed of the sins which attend your particular vocations. A vocation you must have. Adam in paradise tilled the ground. God never sealed warrants to idleness. But every vocation has its snare; as some sin in living without a vocation—so others sin in a vocation. Remember how deadly an evil sin is. Avoid those sins which you are exposed to in your trade. Take heed of all fraud and collusion in your dealings. "Do for others what you would like them to do for you." Matthew 7:12.

Take heed of a sinful tongue in selling. The Scripture says of one that goes to heaven, "He speaks the truth in his heart." Psalm 15:2. It is the custom of many to say the commodity costs them more, and yet they take less. This is hardly creditable.

Beware of a deceitful balance. "The balances of deceit are in his hand." Hos 12:7. Men by making their weights lighter, make their accounts heavier.

Beware of mingling and debasing commodities. "We sell the refuse of the wheat." Amos 8:6. They pick out the best grains of the wheat, and sell the worst at the same price as they did the best. To mix a coarse commodity with the fine, and sell it all for fine, is no better than deceit. Isaiah 1:22.

Beware of stretching your consciences too far, or taking more for a commodity than it is worth. "If you make a sale to your neighbor or a purchase from him, do not cheat one another." Lev 25:14. There is a lawful gain allowed—yet one may not so advantage himself as to injure another. Let the tradesman's motto be, "A conscience void of offence toward God and toward men." Acts 24:16. He has a hard bargain, who purchases the world with the loss of his soul.

(5) Sin being so deadly an evil, take heed of the APPEARANCE of sin. Abstain not only from evil—but the appearance of evil. If it is not absolutely a sin—yet if it looks like sin, avoid it. He who is loyal to his prince, not only forbears to have his hand in treason—but he will take heed of that which has a show of treason. Joseph's mistress tempted him, and he fled and would not be with her. Gen 39:12. An appearance of good is too little; and an appearance of evil is too much.

The appearance of evil is often an occasion of evil. Dalliance in an appearance of evil, oftentimes occasions evil. Touching the forbidden fruit occasions the tasting of it. Dancing has often been the occasion of uncleanness.

The appearance of evil may harm another. "When you sin against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ." 1 Cor 8:12. Sinning against a member of Christ is sinning against Christ himself.

What MEANS shall we use to be kept from acts of sin?

(1) If you would be preserved from actual and scandalous sins—labor to MORTIFY original sin. If you would not have the branches bud and blossom—smite at the root! I know that original sin cannot be removed in this life—but labor to have it subdued. Why do men break forth into actual sins—but because they do not mortify heart sins? Suppress the first risings of pride, lust, and passion. Original sin unmortified, will prove such a root of bitterness as will bring forth the cursed root of scandalous sin!

(2) If you would be kept from actual sins, think what an odious thing SIN is. Besides what you have heard, remember sin is the accursed thing. Josh 7:13. It is the abominable thing which God hates. "Oh do not this abominable thing that I hate." Jer 44:4. Sin is the devil's excrement; it is called filthiness. James 1:21. If all the evils in the world were put together, and their essence strained out, they could not make a thing so filthy as sin is. So odious is a sinner that God loathes the sight of him. "My soul loathed them." Zech 11:8. He who defiles himself with avarice, what is he but a serpent licking the dust! He who defiles himself with the lust of uncleanness, what is he but a swine with a man's head! He who defiles himself with pride, what is he but a bubble which the devil has blown up! He who defiles himself with drunkenness, what is he but a staggering beast! To consider how odious and base a thing sin is, would be a means of keeping us from sinning.

(3) If you would be kept from actual sins, get the FEAR of God planted in your hearts. "Through the fear of the Lord, a man avoids evil." Proverbs 16:6. The fear of God is a bridle to sin, and a spur to holiness. The fear of God puts a holy awe upon the heart and binds it to godly behavior. When the Empress Eudoxia threatened to banish Chrysostom, "Tell her," said he, "I fear nothing but sin." The fear of God stands as a porter at the door of the soul, and keeps sin from entering. All sin is committed for lack of the fear of God. "Their throat is an open grave; they deceive with their tongues. Vipers' venom is under their lips. Their mouth is full of cursing and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and wretchedness are in their paths, and the path of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes!" Romans 3:13-18. Holy fear stands sentinel, and is ever watching against carnal security, pride, and wantonness. The fear of God is a Christian's lifeguard to defend him against the fiery darts of temptation. The way to be safe is always to fear God.

(4) If we would be kept from actual sins, let us be careful to avoid all the inlets and OCCASIONS of sin. Do not run into evil company. He who would not catch the plague—must not go into an infected house. Guard your senses, which may be the inlets to sin. Keep the two portals, the eye and the ear. Especially guard your eyes. Much sin comes in by the eye; the eye is often an inlet to sin; sin takes fire at the eye; the first sin in the world began at the eye. "When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom—she took some and ate it." Gen 3:6. Looking begat lusting. Intemperance begins at the eye. Looking on the wine when it is red and gives its color in the glass, causes excess of drinking. Proverbs 23:31. Covetousness begins at the eye. "When I saw among the spoils a goodly Babylonish garment, and a wedge of gold, I coveted them and took them." Josh 7:21. The fire of lust begins to kindle at the eye. David walking upon the roof of his house saw a woman washing herself, and she was, says the text, "beautiful to look upon," and he sent messengers and took her, and defiled himself with her. 2 Samuel 11:2. Therefore watch your eyes! Job made a covenant with his eyes. Job 31:1. If the eye is once inflamed, it will be hard to stand out long against sin. If the outworks are taken by the enemy, there is great danger of the whole castle being taken.

(5) If you would be kept from actual gross sin, study TEMPERANCE. 1 Peter 5:8. "Be sober." Check the inordinate appetite, for sin frequently makes its entrance this way. By gratifying the sensitive appetite, the soul, which is akin to angels, is enslaved to the brutish part. Many drink to drowsiness, if not to drunkenness. Not denying the sensitive appetite, makes men's consciences full of guilt, and the world full of scandal. If you would be kept from running into sin, lay restraint upon the flesh. For what has God given reason and conscience for—but to be a bridle to check inordinate desires?

(6) If you would be kept from actual sins, be continually upon your spiritual WATCH.

Watch your THOUGHTS. "How long shall your vain thoughts lodge within you?" Jer 4:14. Sin begins at the thoughts. First, men nourish revengeful thoughts, then they dip their hands in blood. Set a spy over your thoughts.

Watch your PASSIONS of anger and passions of lust. The heart is ready to be destroyed by its own passions, as a vessel to be overturned by its sails. Passion transports beyond the bounds of reason. Anger is a temporary insanity. Moses in a passion "spoke unadvisedly with his lips." Psalm 106:33. The disciples in a passion, wanted to call down fire from heaven. A man in a passion is like a ship in a storm that has neither pilot nor sails to help it—but is exposed to waves and rocks.

Watch your TEMPTATIONS. Satan continually lies in ambush, and watches to draw us to sin. The devil stands girded for battle. He is always fishing for our souls. He is either laying snares, or shooting darts. Therefore we had need watch him, that we be not decoyed into sin. Most sin is committed for lack of watchfulness. "Be careful! Watch out for attacks from the Devil, your great enemy. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for some victim to devour!" 1 Peter 5:8

(7) If you would be kept from the evil of sin, be well versed in SCRIPTURE. "Your Word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against you." Psalm 119:11. The Word is a two-edged sword, to cut asunder men's lusts! When the fogs and vapors of sin begin to rise, let but the light of Scripture shine in the soul—and it dispels them. "Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly." Col 3:16. Alphonsus, king of Arragon, read through the Bible fourteen times. The Word shows the damnable evil of sin; it furnishes us with precepts, which are so many remedies and antidotes against sin. When Christ had a temptation to sin, he beat back the tempter, and wounded him three times with the sword of the Spirit! "It is written!" Why do men live in sin—but because they either do not read the Word or do not believe it?

(8) If you would be preserved from gross, presumptuous sin—get your hearts fired with LOVE to God. Love has great force in it; it is "as strong as death;" it breaks the league between the heart and sin. Two things in God cause love.

[1] His glorious BEAUTY. Moses desired to see some glimpse of it. "Lord, show me your glory."

[2] His astonishing LOVE. What a wonder of love was it, to give his Son out of his bosom—and lay such a jewel to pawn for our redemption! The glories of God's beauty, and the magnitude of his love, like two loadstones, draw our love to God; and if we love him, we shall not sin against him. He who loves his friend, will not by any means displease him. I have read of four men meeting together, who

asked one another what it was that kept them from sinning. The first one said, "the fear of hell." The second said, "the joys of heaven." The third said, "the odiousness of sin." The fourth said, "that which keeps me from sin, is love to God. Shall I sin against so loving a God? Shall I abuse His love?" Love to God is the best curbing-bit to keep from sin. "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments." John 14:15

(9) If you would be kept from the evil of sin, be diligent in a VOCATION. Adam in paradise must until the ground. Such as live idly, expose themselves to sin. If we have no work to do, Satan will find work enough for us; he sows most of his seed in fallow ground. A woman being much tempted to sin, came to the pastor, and asked him what she should do to resist temptation? He answered, Be always well employed, that when Satan comes he may find you busied in your vocation, and not at leisure to listen to his temptation.

(10) If you would be kept from sin, fix the eye of your mind upon the "beauty of HOLINESS." Holiness consists in conformity to God. It is the sparkling of the divine nature, a beam of God shining in the soul. How lovely is Christ's bride when decked and bespangled with the jewels of holiness! What makes the seraphim to be angels of light—but their holiness? Do but think with yourselves what a splendid, glorious thing holiness is—and it will cause a disgust and hatred of sin, which is so contrary to it. The beholding of beauty—will make us revolt at deformity.

(11) If you would keep from the evil of sin, meditate frequently on DEATH. Think of the unavoidableness of death. Heb 9:27. "It is appointed unto men once to die." We are not so sure to lie down this night in our bed, as to lie down in our grave. Think of the uncertainty of the time. We hold our life at the will of our landlord; how soon may God turn us out of this house of clay! Death often comes when we least look for it. The flood, as some learned writers observe, came in the month of April, in the spring; when the trees were blossoming, and the birds singing, and men least looked for it. Just so, often in the spring of youth, when the body is most healthy, and the spirits most sprightly and vigorous, and it is least thought on—then death comes. Could we think often and seriously of death, it would give a death's wound to sin. [Nothing restrains from sin so much as the frequent thought of death.] Augustine. There is no stronger antidote against sin than the thought, "I am now sinning, and tomorrow may be dying! What if death should find me doing the devil's work—would it not send me to him to receive my wages!" Would the adulterer but think, "I am now in the act of sin—but how soon may death come, and then I who have burned in lust, must burn in hell!" It would strike a cold chill into his soul, and make him afraid of immorality.

(12) If you would be kept from gross, scandalous sins, beware of a COVETOUS heart. Covetousness is a dry drunkenness. He who thirsts insatiably after the world, will stick at no sin; he will betray Christ and a good cause for money. "The love of money is the root of all evil." 1 Tim 6:10. From this root comes theft. Achan's covetous heart made him steal the wedge of gold. Josh 7:21. Covetousness makes the prisons full. From the root of covetousness, comes murder. Why did Ahab stone Naboth to death, but to possess his vineyard? 1 Kings 21:13. Covetousness has made many swim to the crown—in blood. From this bitter root of covetousness proceeds fraud. It is the covetous hand, which holds false weights. From this root of covetousness comes immorality. You read of the hire of a whore. Deut 23:18. For money she would sell both her conscience and chastity! Oh, if you would be kept from the evil of sin, beware of covetousness, which is the inlet to so many sins!

(13) Let us be much in PRAYER to God, to keep us from engulfing ourselves in sin. "Keep back your servant from presumptuous sins." Psalm 19:13. We have no power inherent to keep us from evil. Christ taught us to pray, "Deliver us from evil." If we have power in ourselves to keep from sin, why pray to God for power? Alas! if David and Peter, who were strong grace fell, for lack of a fresh gale of the Spirit to hold them up—much more will they be in danger of falling, who have only the power of freewill to hold them.

Let us therefore sue to God for strength to keep us from sinning! Let us pray the prayer of David, "Hold me up—and I shall be safe!" Psalm 119:117. "Hold up my goings in your paths, that my footsteps slip not." Psalm 17:5. "Lord, keep me from dishonoring you; keep me from the defiling sins of the age, that I may not be worse for the times, nor the times the worse for me." "Keep back your servant from presumptuous sins." "Lord, whatever I suffer, keep me from sin!" The child is safe in the father's arms; and we are only safe from falling into sin, while we are held up in the arms of Christ and free grace. "I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand!" John 10:28

Secondly, this exhortation has an application to God's children. You who are professors, and carry Christ's colors—I beseech you, above all others—to take heed of sin! Beware of any action which is scandalous and unfitting the gospel. You have heard what an exceeding evil sin is. Do not come near the forbidden fruit! "Though Israel is a prostitute, may Judah avoid such guilt!" Hos 4:15. So, though wicked men run into sin—yet let not the spouse of Christ defile the breasts of her virginity. Sin ill befits any—but least befits professors. Dung is unsightly in the street; but to see it in the temple is much more offensive. Leprosy in the foot is ill—but to see a leprous sore in the face is much worse. To see sin break forth in those who have a face of religion, is most to be abominated.

The sins of the wicked are not so much to be wondered at. "The wicked shall do wickedly." Dan 12:10. It is no wonder to see a toad spit poison. It was not so astonishing to see Cain or Ahab sin; but to see Lot's incest, or to see David's hands stained with blood—was astonishing indeed. When the sun is eclipsed everyone stands and looks at it. Just so, when a child of light is eclipsed by scandalous sin, all stand and gaze at such an eclipse.

The sins of God's people do, in some sense, provoke him more than the sins of the wicked! We read of the provocations of his sons and daughters. Deut 32:19. The sins of the wicked anger God—but the sins of his people grieve him. The sins of God's people have a more malignant aspect, and are of a blacker dye than others. There are aggravations in the sins of his people, which are not to be found in the sins of the unregenerate, in eight particulars:

(1) The godly have an internal principle of grace—which may restrain them from sin. When wicked men sin, they have no principle to restrain them; they have wind and tide to carry them, they have nothing to pull them back from sin. But a child of God has a principle of grace to give check to sin; he has the impulses of God's Spirit dissuading him from evil. For him, therefore, to commit sin is far worse than for others. It is to sin more desperately; it is as if a woman should go about to kill her own babe in her womb! Christian, when you sin presumptuously, you do what in you lie to kill the babe of grace in your soul!

(2) The sins of God's people are greater than others—because they sin against more mercy. God's mercy is like a weight put in a scale to make sin weigh heavier. God has given Christ to a believer; he has cut him off from the wild stock of nature, and grafted him into the true olive tree; and for him to abuse all this mercy is to outdo the wicked, and to sin with a higher aggravation, because it is to sin against greater love! How was Peter's sin enhanced and accented, by Christ having done more for him than others! He had dropped some of the holy oil upon him; he had taken him into the number of the apostles; he had carried him up into the mount of transfiguration, and shown him the glory of heaven in a vision. For Peter to deny Christ after all this mercy was heinous, and could not be forgiven but by a miracle of love!

(3) The sins of the godly have this aggravation in them—that they sin against clearer illumination than the wicked. "They are of those who rebel against the light." Job 24:13. Light is there taken figuratively for knowledge. It cannot be denied—but the wicked sin knowingly; but the godly have a light beyond them, such a divine, penetrating light—as no hypocrite can attain to. They have better eyes to see sin than others; and for them to meddle with sin and embrace this dunghill, must needs provoke God, and make the fury rise up in his face! O therefore, you who are the people of God—flee from sin! Your sins are more enhanced, and have worse aggravations in them, than the sins of the unregenerate!

(4) The sins of the godly are worse than the unregenerate; for, when they sin, it is against great experiences. They have felt the bitterness of sin in the pangs of the new birth, and afterwards God has spoken peace, and they have had an experimental taste how sweet the Lord is; and yet, after these experiences, that they should touch the forbidden fruit, and venture upon a presumptuous sin, enhances and aggravates their guilt, and is like putting a weight more in the scale to make their sin weigh heavier. The wicked have never tasted the sweetness of a heavenly life; they have never known what it is to have any smiles from God; they have never tasted anything sweeter than corn and wine; therefore no wonder if they sin. But for a child of God who has had such love-tokens from heaven, and signal experiences from God—for him to gratify a lust, how horrid is this! It was an aggravation of Solomon's sin, that his heart was turned from the Lord, who had appeared to him twice. 1 Kings 11:9.

(5) The sins of the godly are greater than others, because they sin against their sonship. When wicked men sin, they sin against the command; but when the godly sin, they sin against a privilege; they abuse their sonship. The godly are adopted into the family of heaven, they have a new name. Is it a light thing, said David, to be son-in-law to a king? So, to be called the sons of God, to be heirs of the promises, is no small honor. For such to run into an open offence, is sinning against their adoption. They hereby make themselves vile—as if a king's son should be tumbling in the mire, or lie among swine.

(6) The sins of the godly are worse than others, because they are committed against more vows and engagements. They have given up their names to God; they have bound themselves solemnly to God by oath. "I have sworn that I will keep your righteous judgments." Psalm 119:106. In the supper of the Lord, they have renewed this sacred vow; and, after this, to run into presumptuous sin, is a breach of vow, a kind of perjury, which dyes the sin of a crimson color!

(7) The sins of the godly are worse than others, because they bring a greater reproach upon religion. For the wicked to sin, must be expected from them, as swine will wallow in the mire; but when sheep do so, when the godly sin, it redounds to the dishonor of the gospel. "By this deed you have given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme." 2 Samuel 12:14. Everyone's eye is upon a stain in white linen; for the godly to sin, is like a spot in white linen, it is more taken notice of, and reflects greater dishonor upon the ways of God. When the sun is eclipsed, everyone stands and looks upon it; so, when a child of light is eclipsed by scandalous sin, all stand and gaze at it. How does the gospel suffer by the miscarriages of the godly! Their blood can never wash off the stain they bring upon religion.

(8) The sins of the godly are worse, because they encourage and harden wicked men in sin. If the wicked see the godly loose and worldly in their lives, they think they may do so too. The wicked make the godly their pattern, not in imitating their virtues—but their vices; and is it not fearful to be the means to damn others?

These are the aggravations of the sins of the godly. You, therefore, above all others, beware of presumptuous sin. Your sins wound conscience, weaken grace, and do more highly provoke God than the sins of others, and God will be sure to punish you. Whoever escapes, you shall not. "You only have I known of all the families of the earth: therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities." Amos 3:2. If God does not damn you, he may send you to hell in this life; he may cause such agonies and tremblings of heart, that you will be a terror to yourselves. You may draw near to despair, and be ready to look upon yourselves as castaways. When David had stained himself with adultery and murder, he complained of his broken bones. Psalm 51:8. This metaphor sets forth the grief and agony of his soul; he lay in sore desertion three quarters of a year, and it is thought he never recovered his full joy to his dying day. O, therefore, you who belong to God and are enrolled in his family, take heed of blemishing your profession with scandalous sin; you will pay dearly for it. Think of the broken bones. Though God does not blot you out of his book—yet he may cast you out of his gracious presence. Psalm 51:2: He may keep you in long desertion. You may feel such lashes in your conscience, that you may roar out and think yourselves half in hell.

[2] We also pray in a special sense, "Deliver us from evil." We pray to be delivered from evil under a threefold notion.

1. From the evil of our heart, which is called an evil heart. Heb 3:12.

2. From the evil of Satan, who is called the "wicked one." Matthew 13:19.

3. From the evil of the world, which is called an "evil world." Gal 1:4.

(1) In the petition, "Deliver us from evil," we pray to be delivered from the evil of our HEART, that it may not entice us to sin. The heart is the poisoned fountain, from whence all actual sins flow. "For from within, out of a person's heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, eagerness for lustful pleasure, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness." Mark 7:21-22. The cause of all evil lies in a man's own bosom—all sin begins at the heart. Lust is first conceived in the heart, and then it is midwifed into the world. Whence comes rash anger? The heart sets the tongue on fire. The heart is a shop or workhouse, where all sin is contrived and hammered out. How needful, therefore, is this prayer, deliver us from the evil of our hearts! The heart is the greatest seducer, therefore the apostle James says, "Each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed." James 1:14. The devil could not hurt us, if our own hearts did not give consent. All that he can do is to lay the bait—but it is our fault to swallow it!

O let us pray to be delivered from the lusts and deceits of our own heart. "Deliver us from evil." Luther feared his heart more than the pope or cardinal; and it was Augustine's prayer, "Lord, deliver me from myself!" It was good advice one gave to his friend, "Beware of yourself!" Beware of the bosom traitor, the flesh. The heart of a man is the Trojan horse, out of which comes a whole army of lusts.

(2) In this petition, "Deliver us from evil," we pray to be delivered from the evil of SATAN. He is "the wicked one." Matthew 13:19. In what respect is Satan the wicked one?

He was the first inventor of evil. He plotted the first treason. John 8:44.

His inclination is only to evil. Eph 6:12.

His constant practice is doing evil. 1 Peter 5:8.

He has some hand in all the evils and mischief which happen in the world.

He hinders from good. "He showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him." Zech 3:1.

He provokes to evil. He put it into Ananias' heart to lie. "Why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit?" Acts 5:3. The devil blows the fire of lust and strife. When men are proud, the old serpent has poisoned them, and makes them swell. Thus he is the evil one and well may we pray, "Lord, deliver us from the evil one." The word Satan in the Hebrew signifies an opponent or adversary.

He is a restless adversary, he never sleeps. Spirits need no sleep. He is ever active, and takes no rest. He "walks about." 1 Peter 5:8. And how does he walk? Not as a pilgrim—but as a spy. He narrowly observes where he may plant his pieces of battery, and make his assaults with most advantage against us. Satan is a subtle contriver; there is no place that can secure us from his assaults and inroads. While we are praying, hearing, and meditating—he is in our company.

Satan is a mighty adversary, he is armed with power. He is called the "strong man." Luke 11:21. He takes men captive at his pleasure. "Who are taken captive by him at his will." 2 Tim 2:26. This alludes to a bird that is taken alive in the snare. The devil's work is to angle for men's souls; he lays suitable baits. He allures the ambitious man with honor. He allures the covetous man with riches; he baits his hook with silver. He allures allures the lustful man with beauty; he tempts men to Delilah's lap—to keep them from Abraham's bosom. The devil glories in the damnation of souls. How needful then is this prayer, "Deliver us from evil!" Lord, keep us from the evil one! Though Satan may solicit us to sin, do not allow us to give consent; though he may assault the castle of our hearts—yet let us not deliver up the keys of the castle to our mortal enemy. "Be careful! Watch out for attacks from the Devil, your great enemy. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for some victim to devour!" 1 Peter 5:8

(3) In this petition, "Deliver us from evil," we pray to be delivered from the evil of the WORLD. It is called an evil world, not but that the world, as God made it, is good—but through our corruption—it becomes evil, and we had need pray, deliver us from an evil world. "He died for our sins, just as God our Father planned, in order to rescue us from this evil world in which we live." Galatians 1:4.

In what sense is it an evil world?

(1) It is a DEFILING world. It is like living in an infectious air, it requires a high degree of grace to keep ourselves "unspotted by the world." James 1:27. It is as hard to live in the world and not be defiled, as to go much in the sun and not be tanned.

The opinions of the world are defiling; as that a little religion will serve the turn; that like gold-leaf, it must be spread but thin; that morality runs parallel with grace; that to be zealous is to be righteous over much; that it is better to keep the skin whole than the conscience pure; that the flesh is rather to be gratified than mortified. These opinions of the world are defiling.

The examples of the world are defiling. Examples have great force to draw us to evil. [A prince great in power is greater by his example.] Princes are looking-glasses by which we dress ourselves; if they do evil, we are apt to imitate them. Great men are copies we set before us, and usually we write most like the copy, when it is blotted. There is great proneness in us to follow the examples of the world; therefore God has put in a caveat against it. "You shall not follow a multitude to do evil." Exod 23:2. How easily are we hurried to sin, when we have the tide of natural corruption and the wind of example to carry us! Lot was the world's wonder; the complexion of his soul kept pure in Sodom's infectious air. The river of Peru, in South America, after running into the main sea, keeps fresh, and does not mingle with the salt waters; to which Lot might be compared, whose piety kept fresh in Sodom's salt water. Bad examples are contagious. "They mingled among the pagans and adopted their evil customs." Psalm 106:35. Had we not need then pray, Lord, deliver us from this evil world? Living in the world is like trying to keep spotless, while traveling on a dirty road.

(2) It is an evil world, as it is an ENSNARING world. The world is full of snares. Company is a snare, recreation is a snare, riches are golden snares. [Riches are incitements to sin.] The apostle speaks of the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life." 1 John 2:16. The lust of the flesh is beauty; the lust of the eye is money; the pride of life is honor; these are the natural man's trinity. [In the world, the splendor of wealth, the greatness of high reputation and the allurements of pleasure draw us away from the love of God.]

The world is a flattering enemy; whom it kisses it betrays; it is a silken halter. The pleasures of the world, like opium, cast men into the sleep of carnal security. Lysimachus sold his crown for a cup of water; so, many part with heaven—for the world. The king of Armenia was sent prisoner to queen Cleopatra in golden fetters. Too many are enslaved with the world's golden fetters. The world bewitched Demas. 2 Tim 4:10. One of Christ's own apostles was caught with a silver bait. It is hard to drink the wine of prosperity and not be giddy. The world, through our innate corruption, is evil, as it is a snare. "Those who will be rich fall into temptation and a snare." 1 Tim 6:9. If an angel were to live here, there would be no danger of the world's ensnaring him, because he has no principle within to receive the temptation; but we have a corrupt principle that suits the temptation, and that makes us always in danger.

(3) It is an evil world as it is a DISCOURAGING world. It casts scorn and reproach upon those who live virtuously. "What, will you be holier than others, wiser than your ancestors?" The world deals with the professors of religion, as Sanballat did with the Jews when they were building. "He ridiculed the Jews—What are those feeble Jews doing? Will they restore their wall? Can they bring the stones back to life from those heaps of rubble--burned as they are?" Neh 4:1-2. So the wicked world casts out squibs of reproach at the godly. "What, will you build for heaven? What is the need for all this cost? What profit is it to serve the Almighty?" Thus the world would pluck off our chariot wheels when we are driving towards heaven. These are called cruel mockings. Heb 11:36. It requires a great measure of sanctity to withstand the discouragements of the world—to dance among serpents—to laugh at reproaches—and bind them as a crown about our head.

(4) It is an evil world as it is a DEADENING world. It dulls and deadens the affections to heavenly objects. It cools holy motions, like a damp in a silver mine, which puts out the light. Earthly things choke the seed of the Word. A man entangled in the world is so taken up with secular concerns, that he can no more mind the things above—than an elephant can fly in the air! And even such as have grace in them, when their affections are beslimed with earth, they find themselves much indisposed to meditation and prayer; it is like swimming with a heavy stone around the neck.

(5) It is an evil world as it is a MALIGNING world. It hates the people of God. "Because you are not of the world, therefore the world hates you." John 15:19. Hatred, as Aristotle says, is against the whole kind. Haman's hatred was against the seed of the whole Jews. When you can find a leopard without spots, then you may expect to find a wicked world without hatred. The mark that is shot at, is piety. "They attack me for pursuing good." Psalm 38:20. The world pretends to hate the godly for something else—but the ground of the quarrel is holiness. The world's hatred is implacable; anger may be reconciled, hatred cannot. You may as well reconcile heaven and hell—as the two seeds. If the world hated Christ, no wonder it hates us. "The world hated me before it hated you." John 15:18. Why should any hate Christ? This blessed Dove had no gall, this Rose of Sharon sent forth the sweetest perfume; but it shows the world's baseness, that it is a Christ-hating and a saint-hating world. Had we not need to pray, deliver us from this evil world?

(6) It is an evil world, as it is a DECEITFUL world. There is deceit in dealing. "The balances of deceit are in his hand." Hos 12:7. The Hebrew word rimmah signifies both to deceive and oppress. He who dares use deceit will not spare to oppress.

There is a deceit in friendship. "But a faithful man who can find?" Proverbs 20:6. Some use too much courtship in friendship; they are like trumpets which make a great noise—but within they are hollow. Some can both flatter and hate; both commend and censure. They have honey on the tongue—and gall in the heart! Pretended love is worse than hatred.

There is deceit in riches. "The deceitfulness of riches." Matthew 13:22. The world makes us believe it will satisfy our desires—but it only increases them! It makes us believe it will stay with us, and it takes wings. Proverbs 23:5.

(7) It is an evil world, as it is a VEXING world. It is full of trouble. "In this world you will have trouble." John 16:33. The world is like a beehive; when, having tasted a little honey, we have been stung with a thousand bees. Basil was of opinion that before the fall the rose grew without prickles; but now every sweet flower of our life has its thorns. There are many things which cause trouble—loss of friends, law-suits, crosses in estate. Relations are not without their troubles; some are troubled that they have no children, others that they have children. The world is a vexing vanity! If a man is poor, he is despised by the rich; if he is rich, he is envied by the poor. If we do not find an ensnaring world, we shall find it an afflicting world; it has more in it to wean us than tempt us.

The world is a sea, where we are tossed upon the surging waves of sorrow, and often in danger of shipwreck. The world is a wilderness, full of fiery serpents. What storms of persecution are raised against the righteous! 2 Tim 3:12. The wicked are briers, where Christ's sheep lose some of their golden fleece. Mic 7:4. Then had we not need pray, "Lord, deliver us from being hurt by this evil world!" Why should we be forbidden to love the world? Though we are commanded to love our enemies—yet this is an enemy we must not love. "Love not the world." 1 John 2:15.

[3] Let it be observed, however, that abstaining from, or forbearing the external acts of sin, is not sufficient to entitle us to salvation. When we pray, "Deliver us from evil," more is implied in it—that we make progress in holiness. Being divorced from sin is not enough—unless we are espoused to virtue; therefore in Scripture these two are joined. "Depart from evil—and do good." Psalm 34:14; Romans 12:9. "Cease to do evil—learn to do well." Isaiah 1:16, 17. "Let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit—perfecting holiness." 2 Cor 7:1. Leaving sin is not enough—unless we embrace righteousness. [The mark of righteousness is rather to do good, than not to do evil.] As it is in the body, it is not enough that the disease be stopped—but it must grow in health. Just so, in the soul, it is not enough that acts of sin are forborne, which is stopping a disease—but it must be healthy, and grow in holiness.

Use. Those are reproved, who labor only to suppress the outward acts of sin—but do not press on to holiness; they cease from doing evil—but do not learn to do well. Their religion lies only in negatives; they glory in this—that they are given to no open vice, none can charge them with any foul miscarriages. "God, I thank you that I am not as other men are; extortioners, unjust, adulterers." Luke 18:11. This is not enough, you must advance a step further in solid piety. It is not enough that a field is not sown with tares or hemlock—but it must be sown with good seed. Consider two things:

(1) If that you are not guilty of gross sins, is the best certificate that you have to show, God makes no account of you. Though a piece of brass is not so bad as clay—yet not being so good as gold, it will not pass for current coin. Just so, though you are not grossly profane—yet not being of the right metal, lacking the stamp of holiness, you will never pass current in heaven.

(2) A man may abstain from evil—yet he may go to hell for not doing good. "Every tree which does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire." Matthew 3:10. Why were the foolish virgins shut out? They had done no hurt, they had not broken their lamps: yes—but their fault was, there was no goodness in them, they had no oil in their lamps. O therefore, let us not content ourselves in being free from gross acts of sin—but let us launch forth further in holiness; let us cleanse ourselves from all pollution, perfecting holiness.

[4] "Deliver us from evil," may be from TEMPORAL evil. We pray that God will either prevent temporal evils—or deliver us out of them.

(1) We pray that God will prevent temporal evils; that he will be our screen, to stand between us and danger. "Save me from those who persecute me." Psalm 7:1. We may lawfully pray against the plots of the wicked, that they may prove abortive, that, though they have an evil design upon us, they may not have their desire upon us. "Keep me from the snares which they have laid for me." Psalm 141:9.

(2) We pray that God will deliver us out of temporal evils; that he will remove his judgments from us, whether famine, sword, or pestilence. "Remove your stroke away from me." Psalm 39:10. Yet may we pray to be delivered from temporal evils, only so far as God sees it good for us. We may pray to be delivered from the evil of sin absolutely—but we must pray to be delivered from temporal evils conditionally—so far as God sees fit for us, and may stand with his glory.

Use. In all the troubles which lie upon us, let us look up to God for ease and support. "Should not this people seek unto their God?" Isaiah 8:19. The Papists, then, are to blame who knock at the wrong door. When they are in any trouble, they pray to the saints to deliver them. When they are in danger of shipwreck, they pray to St. Nicholas. When they are in an illness, they pray to St. Petronilla! when they are in travail with childbirth, they pray to St. Margaret. How unlawful it is to invocate saints in prayer, I will prove from one Scripture: "How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed?" Romans 10:14. We may pray to none but such as we believe in; but we ought not to believe in any saint, therefore we may not pray to him. The Papists have, in their Lady's Psalter, directed their prayers for deliverance to the Virgin Mary—"Deliver me, O Lady. O blessed Lady, in your hands our salvation is laid up." But "Abraham is ignorant of us." Isaiah 63:16. The saints and virgin Mary are ignorant of us.

To pray to saints is idolatry advanced to blasphemy. Our Savior has taught us in all our distresses, to pray to God for a cure. "Deliver us from evil." He alone knows what our troubles are, and can give us help from trouble. He alone who laid the burden on—can take it off. David went to God: "O bring me out of my distresses." Psalm 25:17. God with a word can heal. "He sent his word—and healed them." Psalm 107:20. He delivered the three Hebrew children out of the fiery furnace, Joseph out of prison, Daniel out of the lions' den; which proves him to be God, because none can deliver as he does. "There is no other God who can deliver after this sort." Dan 3:29. Let us, then, in all our straits and exigencies, look to God, and say, "Deliver us from evil."