[Editorial Note: Throughout the month of April, we’ll replace our normal Key Connections with one Key Connection from the Puritan era. Today, we have an excerpt from Ralph Venning’s Sin, The Plague of Plagues (Section Two: The Sinfulness of Sin). This is an edited and condensed excerpt, and you can find the original here.]
Sin is a transgression of God’s law, which is not only holy and just, as made and given by a holy and just God, but [the law is] also good, as it respects man, for whom God made it, according to our text and its context, and as it is in Deuteronomy 5:29 and 6:24, and many other places.
I say, sin being a transgression of God’s law, which was made for man’s good, the sinfulness of sin must needs lie in this, that it is contrary (1) to God, (2) to man. These then are the two heads I shall dwell upon, to declare the malignity and wicked nature of sinful sin.
[Sin is] deservedly worthy of the hatred of God and man. And I heartily wish that the outcome will be that man may hate it as God does.
Sin’s Contrariety to God
The sinfulness of sin not only appears from, but consists in this: that it is contrary to God. Indeed, it is contrariety and enmity itself.
Contrary to God’s Attributes
Sin is contrary to all the names and attributes of God. It sets itself in opposition to them all:
- It denies God’s all-sufficiency. As if there were not contentment and satisfaction enough to be had in the enjoyment of God… Every prodigal who leaves the Father’s house says in effect, it is better to be elsewhere.
- It challenges the justice of God, and dares God to do his worst (Malachi 2.17). It provokes the Lord to jealousy, and tempts him to wrath.
- It disowns his omniscience. Pooh! they say, God does not see, nor does the most High regard.
Contrary to God’s Work
Sin is contrary to the works of God. It works contrary to God, and it is contrary to God’s works, and is called the work of the devil (1 John 3:8).
All God’s works were good exceedingly, beautiful even to admiration; But the works of sin are deformed and monstrously ugly, for it works disorder, confusion, and everything that is abominable.
Contrary to God’s Law and Will
Sin is contrary to the law and will of God, to all the rules and orders of his appointment. There is not one of his laws which it has not broken, and endeavoured to make void and of none effect.
Sin is an anti-will to God’s will; it sets itself to oppose preaching, prayer, and all the institutions of God. And it does this, not only out of envy to man, that he should not be the better for them, but out of enmity to God, that he should not be worshipped in the world.
Before we pass on, let me beseech you, whoever you are who read this, to pause a little and consider what is said. For what is said of sin is to be considered by the sinner, and is meant of your and my sin.
Shall I not plead for God and your soul, and entreat you to be on God’s side, and to depart from the tents of wickedness? Poor soul! Can you find it in your heart to hug and embrace such a monster as this? Will you love that which hates God, and which God hates? God forbid!
Sin’s Contrareity to Man
To proceed more distinctly, and in detail, I shall show that sin is against man’s good, both present and future, here in time and hereafter to eternity, in this life and world which now is and in that to come. It is against all and every good of man, and against the good of all and every man.
Contrary to Man’s Present Good, In This Life
It has corrupted man’s blood, and made his body mortal, thereby rendering it a vile body. Our bodies, though made of dust, were more precious than the fine gold; but when we sinned, they became vile bodies.
Before sin our bodies were immortal (for death and mortality came in by sin), but now alas they must return to dust.
It is against man’s well-being in this life. Well-being is the life of life, and sin bears us so much ill-will, that it deprives us of our livelihood, and of that which makes it worth our while to live. Man was born to a great estate, but by sin, which was and is treason against God, he forfeited all.
Sin is against the quiet of a man’s natural conscience. It wounds the spirit and makes it intolerable.
Sin is against the beauty of man. It takes away the loveliness of men’s very complexions; it alters the very air of their countenance.
Sin is against the loving and conjugal co-habitation of soul and body. They were happily married, and lived lovingly together for a while, till sin sowed discord between them, and made them jar.
Contrary to Man’s Future Good
[Sin] has brought on man that eternal death, damnation. In this life, man, by reason of sin, is in deaths often, but in the life to come he is in death for ever.
If sin had only wronged man in this life, which is but for a moment, it would not have been so serious. But sin’s miserable effects are everlasting: if mercy does not prevent, the wicked will die and rise to die again, the second and a worse death.
There is a resurrection to life for the righteous, the children of the resurrection; and for the wicked a resurrection to condemnation or to death–for this is opposed to life (John 5.29).
[Sinners]… suffer the loss of all their peace. It is true, the wicked have no real and solid peace here, for there is no peace to the wicked, saith my God (Isaiah 48:22; 57:2I).
Sinners… lose the hopes they had of Heaven. Wicked men have no reason to hope for Heaven and yet they will hope, though against hope.
They must be without Heaven which they hoped for; not only without their hopes of Heaven. To have parted with their hopes for possession of Heaven would have been no loss, but gain; but to part with their hopes and with Heaven as well is a double loss.
They must suffer the loss of God himself, who is the Heaven of Heaven. All good things are like a drop in the ocean in comparison with him: “Whom have I in heaven but you” (Psalm 73:25).
[Finally,] they shall continue utterly incapable of any alteration for the better… In this world there is a door of hope, a day, an offer, and means of grace, space for repentance, a Mediator in Heaven, a patient God, and a possibility of being blessed.
But once [condemned], the door is shut and it is in vain to knock.
I have now dealt with the way in which sin is contrary to the good of man in this life and in the life to come. But let me urge you, Reader, to consider what has been said.
I do this so that you may be more afraid of sin than of hell; for had it not been for sin, hell should not have been, and you will never be in hell if you repent and believe the gospel.