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wickedly ; that make a trade of it. Prov. xiii. 31. Evil shall pursue the finner. And for the new testament, Mat. ix. 10, 11, Publicans and sinners. Luke xiii. 4. Suppose ye that they were greater finners than others ? John xiii. 4. The saying of the blind man, which is much to our purpose ; God heareth not fin
He was illuminated in his understanding, and brings an argument to convince the Pharisees that Jesus was the Chrift; God heareth not finners; but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doth his will, bim he heareth. So Gal. ii. 15. Not sinners of the Gentiles. St. Paul, I Tim. i.
tells us who are sinners; the lawless, the disobedient, the ungodly, the unholy, the profane, the murderers of father and of mother, manslayers, liars, perjured persons ; these are finners. Jam. iv. 8. Cleanse your hands, ye finners. Jude 15. which ungodly finners have spoken : and these are called by our Saviour, workers of iniquity, Mat. xiii. 4. Such God will send his angels to gather out of his kingdom, and cast them into a furnace of fire, where there Mall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Persons that are in the gall of bitterness, and bond of iniquity, Acts viii. 38.
We do indeed otherwise use this word, finner ; we acknowledge that we are all finners; and so we are, for we have all weaknesses, failings and mistakes; but I would not be fo uncharitable, as to charge a whole christian congregation with the denomination of sina ners in the sense of scripture.
God hateth Wickedness.
PSALM V. 4, 5.
Have given you an account, that wickedness, fin-
denominations in scripture, and are founded in malice and malignity. But that men may not be discouraged, because we are all more or less under guilt, in some way faulty or defective ; this I dare tell you, that the scripture no where denominates a person from weaknefies, infirmities, imperfections, or indifpofitions at times ; nor from errors in judgment, nor from shortnesses or failings in performance, where men do better intend, but do fail through some temptations, interruptions, disappointments. For we are in the hands of God, who knows our frame, and remembers that we are but duft, Psal. ciii. 14. As a father pitieth his children, fo the Lord pitieth them that fear him, verfe 13. So, Malachy iii. 17. I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son. Therefore let us be able to say with David, I have kept the ways of the Lord, and have not wickedly departed from my God. Though we have failed, not fully answered our intentions, nor fully performed our endeavours ; not fully done what we should, nor accomplished what
we would ; yet we have not wickedly departed from our God.
To make a man a wicked person in the sense of scripture, there must be one of these, or such like things, viz. grofs carelessness, voluntary consent, known hypocrisy, great apostacy.
1. Grofs carelessness and neglect of God and religion, so as to do many things without difference or distinction, without judgment or conscience of true or false, right or wrong, good or evil ; but as Isaiah lays, call evil good, and good evil ; light darkness, and darkness light; bitter sweet, and sweet bitter ; draw iniquity with cords of vanity, and sin, as it were with a cartrope, Isaiah v. 18, -20. live wholly without God in the world, bave no fear of God before their eyes ; no respect to him, take no notice of the laws or rules of action. This is to drink in iniquity like water, Job xv. 16. Wicked men do any thing to satisfy an inordinate appetite ; never examine, never consider the nature and quality of the thing they do. This is to be a finner, a worker of iniquity.
2. Voluntary consent to known iniquity ; when, tho' a man hath the knowledge of his duty, yet to pleafe his fancy, or satisfy his luft, he makes havock of conscience, and puts out the light of God's creation in him ; such as these the apostle speaks of, Rom. i. 32. who having known the ways of righteousness, not only allow themselves in wickedness, but take pleasure in them that do evil, who having in fome degree, escaped the great pollutions of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour, are again entangled, and turn from the holy commandment, i Pet. ii. 20, 21. OF
these I do declare, that they are even as bad as bad can be called ; for they are enemies to God and goodness; and yet the third seems to be worse, our Saviour seems to account them fo.
3. Known hypocrisy ; when men themselves know they do not mean good, whatever they say or pretend; but they know, (or easily might know by looking into the grounds of their actions,) that they serve byends, and only make use of the name and credit of religion. These are finners ; for they subordinate God to the world, religion to worldly policy. There has been a common mistake among us, as if a man could not tell whether he were an hypocrite or not. If any man thinks that hypocrisy is such a secret thing, I conceive it is as easily known as a man knows whether he be awake or asleep, whether he be in health or fick ; for what does a man know, if he knows not what he means ? Luke x. 47. Wo to you Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, the explication is, for ye make long prayers for a few. Hypocrisy is a gross fin ; and if any man will, he may know it, for he may know what he means ; if a man do not know what himself means and intends, he knows nothing of himself. Now whosoever in the honesty of his heart means God, righteousness and truth; he is not an hypocrite in the scripture sense, though he be mistaken : and though he name God ten thoufand times over ; if he mean himself, or any end of his own, that man is an hypocrite. Thus I have shewn in three particular instances, who are wicked persons, and upon what account scripture denominates men such, and the danger that they are in, and the
hazard that they run.
I have said that we are all subject to infirmities, and in many things fail and fall short ; yet from these the scripture does not denominate us sinners, evil doers, workers of iniquity : but let men look to it, that they be not grofly careless and negligent in their endeavours to know the difference between good and evil ; let them beware, who sin against light and conscience ; for these persons have heavy denominations in fcripture. And most of all, hypocritical difíemblers, who do not mean God when they name him; or do not mean righteousness when they pretend to it: for whosoever is guilty of these, to him belong the names of finner, evil doer, worker of iniquity ; and such as these are the wicked persons whom God has no pleasure in.
4. Great apostacy, either in point of doctrine, or in matters of practice. And commonly the former is in order to the latter, to patronize and countenance it. For no man does think amiss for nothing ; but men will think as they act ; and if not at firit, they work themselves to it at last. I. Apostacy in points of doctrine. We read, 2 Pet. ii. 1. of damnable heresies, denying the Lord who boug?t them, and bring upon themselves swift defiruction ; ver. 15. who have forJaken the righteous way, following the way of Balaam, who loved the ways of unrighteousness ; they did not hold faith and a good conscience. Either, if the judgment be right, that will prevail to settle and establish a temper, and to govern the actions ; or, if men be diflolute in practice, it will by degrees vitiate and corrupt their judginents. I never believe that any man who lives contrary to religion, has any true