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Concealment of Sin no Security to the Sinner :




NUMBERS xxxii. 23.

Latter Part of the VERSE.


-Be fure your Sin will find

you out.

F all the Ways to be taken for the Prevention of that great Plague of Mankind, Sin, there is none fo rational and efficacious, as to confute and baffle thofe Motives, by which Men are induced to venture upon it; and amongst all fuch Motives, the Heart of Man feems chiefly to be over-powered, and prevailed upon by


Two; to wit, Secrecy in committing Sin, and Impunity confequent upon it.

Accordingly, Mofes, in this Chapter, having to deal with a Company of Men fufpected guilty of a bafe and fraudulent Defign, though couched under a very fair Pretence, (as most fuch Designs use to be;) he endeavours to dash it in its very Conception, by particularly applying himself to encounter thofe fecret Ratiocinations and Arguments, which he knew were the most likely to encourage them in it; and this he does very briefly, but effectually, by affuring them, that how covertly and artificially foever they might carry on their dark Project, yet their Sin should infallibly find them out.



The Subject and Occafion of the Words is indeed Particular, but the Design of them is manifeftly of an Univerfal Import; as reaching the Cafe of all Sinners in the World, in their first Entrance upon any finful Act or Course. And therefore, I fhall confider them according to this latter and more enlarged Senfe; cafting the Prosecution of them under these three following Heads: As

I. I fhall fhew, That Men generally, if not always, proceed to the Commiflion of Sin,


upon a fecret Confidence of Concealment, or Impunity.

II. I fhall fhew, the Grounds and Reasons, upon which Men take up fuch a Confidence. And

III. And Laftly, I fhall fhew, The Vanity of this Confidence, by declaring those several Ways, by which, in the Iffue, it comes cer-. tainly to be defeated.

Of each of which in their Order.

I. And for the firft of them; to wit, that Men generally, if not always, proceed to the Commiffion of Sin, upon a fecret Confidence of Concealment or Impunity.

For the better handling of which Propofition, I fhall lay down these two Af fertions.


1. That no Man is induced to Sin, confidered in it felf, as a Thing abfolutely, or meerly Evil, but as it bears fome Refemblance or Appearance of Good, in the Apprehenfions of him who commits it. Certain it is, that there can be no real Good in Sin; but if it had no Shadow, no Shew of Good, it could not poffibly be made the Object of an Humane Choice; the Will of Man never choofing, or embracing any Thing under the proper No

tion of Evil. But then, as to the Kind of this Good; if we would know, what that is, it is also as certain, that no Man can be fo far deluded, or rather befotted in his Judgment, as to imagine, that Sin can have any Thing of Moral Good in it; forafmuch as that imports a direct Contradiction to the very Nature, Notion, and Definition of Sin; and therefore befides that, Philofophy, we know, owns and afferts two other Sorts of Good, to wit, pleafing and profitable: Good being properly the Denomination of a Thing, as it fuits with our Defires or Inclinations. According to which Acception of the Word, whatsoever pleases or profits us, may, upon that General Account, be called Good ; though otherwise it fwerves from the stated Rules and Laws of Honefty and Morality. And upon the fame Ground, Sin itself, fo far as it carries either Pleasure or Profit with it, is capable of being apprehended by the Mind of Man as.good; and consequently of being chofen or embraced by the Will as fuch.

2. The other Affertion to be laid down, is, that God has annexed two great Evils to every Sin, in Oppofition to the Pleafure and Profit of it; to wit Shame and Pain. He


has by an eternal, and most righteous Decree, made these two the infeparable Effects and Confequents of Sin. They are the Wages affigned it by the Laws of Heaven; fo that whofoever commits it, ought to account Shame and Punishment to belong to him, as his Rightful Inheritance. For it is God who has joined them together by an irreversible Sentence; and it is not in the Power or Art of Man to put them afunder. And now, as God has made these two Evils, the fure Confequents of Sin, fo there is nothing which the Nature of Man does fo peculiarly dread and abhor, as thefe; they being indeed the most directly and abfolutely Deftructive of all its Enjoyments; forafmuch as they reach and confound it in the adequate Subject of Enjoyment, the Soul and Body; Shame being properly the Torment of the one, and Pain of the other. For the Mind of Man can have. no Taste or Relish of any Pleasure in the World, while it is actually oppreffed and overwhelmed with Shame; nothing does fo keenly and intolerably affect the Soul, as Infamy: It drinks up, and confumes the Quickness, the Gayety, and Activity of the Spirits: It dejects the Countenance, made by God himself to look upwards; fo that this noble

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