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The Evil of Sin, Edward Leigh (1602-1671).



The evil of sin set out in nine respects from Edward Leigh's A System or Body of Divinity.


Firstly - In respect of God


In regard of God it strikes not only at his sovereignty, Psalm 51. 4, but his being, Psalm 10. 4. It is contrary to the whole nature of God, Lev. 26. 22 and Col. 1. 12. If we look on the sovereignty of God, sin is rebellion; if on his justice, sin is iniquity; If on his goodness sin is unkindness; but it especially wrongs the holiness of God in respect of its defilement. Zech. 11. 8 & Amos 5. 21 & Hab. 1. 13 & Psalm 5. 4, 5. If we consider God’s holiness as a rule, sin is a transgression, if as an excellency, sin is a deformity.


It is a separation or aversion of the soul from him in these respects.


1. It is a taking off the soul from the love of God as the greatest good, and the fear of God and delight in him, relying on him, committing ourselves to him, Jer. 2. 12, 13 & Jam. 4. 4.


2. A separation from the Law of God as our rule, therefore it is a going besides, a being without the Law. John 3. 4. Mat. 15. 6.

In the Law there is:


(i) A rectitude, I have esteemed thy Commandments in every thing to be right, sin is a crookedness, Psalm 125. 5.


(ii) A wisdom, wisdom is justified of her children, there is a folly in sin, the wicked man is called a fool often in the Proverbs, Jer. 8. 9.


(iii) There is a purity and holiness in the Law, Thy Commandments are very pure, therefore thy servant loveth them, Rom. 7. 12, sin is filthiness itself.


(iv) There is a harmony in the Law, sin is a disharmony.


(v) There is a liberty in the Law, Jam. 2. 8 sin is a bondage, 2 Tim. 2. 26.


(vi) The keeping of the Law brings a reward, but sin, shame and death, Rom. 6. 22, 23.


3. It takes away the soul from the dominion of God, we will not have this man to rule over us, therefore it is often called rebellion.


4. Defaces the image of God, it not only provokes God to take away his image, but in the nature of it blots it out, Gal. 5. 17, as one contrary expels another.


5. It severs us from communion and fellowship with God, Jer. 2. 13, Psalm 10. 4 & Job 21. 4, it makes much for the eternal separation.


6. It severs us from the conformity and likeness we had with God in our first creation, it's a disconformity of our judgements to the judgement of God, and a disagreement of our wills from the will of God.


7. It alienates the soul from God, and turns it against him as an enemy, Col. 1. 21 men are styled therefore haters of God, Rom. 1. 30. Evil only should be the object of thy hatred, there is no evil in God, fighters against God, Act. 5. 39. There is an infiniteness in sin objective though not subjective, it is committed against an infinite God, though it be in a finite creature.

Secondly - In respect of all creatures


In respect of all creatures, all the antipathics betwixt the creatures came in by man’s sin, Gen. 2. 29 man had an admirable dominion over them before the fall, they took delight to obey him, now they will not be subject to him. They are all fading, deceiving, and defiling, Eccl. 1. 14 & Tit. 1. 15.

Thirdly - In respect of reasonable creatures


The reasonable creatures, it has defiled the angels (Job 4. 17, 18), the devil is called the evil one. It poisoned all mankind at one draught, Rom. 8. 19, 20, who can reckon up the particular evils that befall him by reason of sin.


The evil of sin goes through the whole man. It is expoliatio gratuitorum say the Schools, a stripping of the soul of all those supernatural excellencies that God gave unto man in his creation. 2. Vulneratio naturalium, the wounding of the soul in things moral and natural, naturae vires non sunt ablatae sed diminutae. A man's soul is carried after truth and good, accompanied with difficulty or delight. As the soul is carried after truth, it is called the mind, as after good the will, as after good that is diffi∣cult there is facultas irascibilis, heat in the affections, as the good is accompanied with delight there is facultas concupiscibilis. The mind is now carried after error, and there is an unrighteous frame of Spirit, one can resist no temptation, there are inordinate affections.


It brings many calamities on the outward man, many diseases, some are born blind, others dumb, some reckon up three hundred diseases of the eye; every age discovers as new corruptions in the souls of men, so new diseases in their bodies: these are not from the condition of our nature, as the Pelagians say, but the demerit of our sins, natural evils, hunger, thirst, nakedness, shortness of life, there is a certainty of dying, yet an unwillingness to die. Austin saith, after his friend was taken away, he was continually afflicted, taedio vivendi & metu moriendi. Add to this the loss of heaven, glory, and the torments of hell, that God (who is love it self) should judge his creature to eternal torments, sin meritoriously caused hell and maintains it.


Fourthly - From the names of it.


It appears from the names of it, it is called Evil in the abstract, Psalm 5. 4 & Psalm 97. 10 it is evil, the worst evil, all evil, either formally, efficiently or meritoriè. There is more evil in our sin than good in all the creatures in heaven and earth, Matt. 16. 26, one sin will undo the soul which all creatures cannot ransom, because they cannot make God satisfaction in point of good or honour, sin is both damnum and injuria, a soul is lost and a wrong offered to God.

Fifthly - From the nature of it.


From the nature of it. That which is only and perfectly contrary to the greatest good (God) must be the greatest evil, and that which is contrary to all good, has all evil in it.


1. It is contrary to God the greatest good, Col. 1. we are said to be enemies to God, and Rom. 1. 30. haters of God. It is contrary,


(a) To his glory, both essential, that which is in himself, and shines forth in Christ, Heb. 1. and manifestative, that glory which he hath manifested in all the works of creation and redemption, Prov. 16. 3.

(i) It denies the glory due to God, Rom. 1. 21. Tit. 1. 16.

(ii) Despises his glory, Psa. 10. 13. Ezek. 13. 19.

(iii) Reproaches God and all his excellencies, his justice, Rom. 3. 2. turns his mercy and grace into wantonness, abuses his patience, all his dispensations.

(iv) Misemploys his glory, gives it to ones self, to men, the very devil, he casts out devils by Beelzebub.


(b) It wrongs God in his nature and being, Psal. 14 1. Every sinner wishes there were no God, he hates God for himself, so the devil and damned.


2. It is contrary to the rule of goodness, the Law, it is a transgression of it, it looks upon it as a vain thing, Prov. 1. 7. as a needless thing, Heb. 2. 3 & 1 Thess. 5. 20 as a burden or yoke, Psa. 2. 3. Isa. 5. 21, 24. as a hateful thing, Lev. 26. 15, as an unreasonable thing, Psa. 107. 11.

Sixthly - Counted evil by all.

It has been always counted the greatest evil by those that are able to judge.


1. By God he hates nothing but sin, he loves himself, his Son, his people, all his creatures: but his hatred is set on sin only, therefore he counts nothing evil but sin.


2. Christ was content to undergo all other evils.


3.The Saints counted nothing evil in comparison of sin, Heb. 11. 25. The Martyrs chose rather to lay down their lives, than to admit of any thing against their consciences. One should rather venture the salvation of all mankind, than commit one sin to save them.

Seventhly - More evil than in all sufferings.


There is more evil in sin than in all sufferings whatsoever, they are but the issues of sin: Moses chose rather affliction, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.


For suffering:


1. We have God’s warrant, are called to it, 1 Pet. 2. 13.

2. His command to take up our cross.

3. Christ’s example, he hath left us a copy to write after.

4. The end of sufferings is glory, of sin shame.

5. By suffering we lose some outward good, by sin the soul.

6. God has promised to be with us in suffering, never in sinning.


Sin made hell, Rom. 2. 5, and is worse then Hell.


1. God is the author of all punishment and of hell it self: Tophet is prepared, but he is not the author of sin, Jam. 1. 14.


2. Some say Christ underwent the torments of hell in the essential parts of them, the wrath of God immediately upon his soul, but would not admit of the least sin, Psalm 110.


3. In hell there is some good, the vindictive justice of God is glorified, there is no good in sin.


4. Hell is contra bonum creatum against a created good, sin contra bonum increatum, against an uncreated good, the glory of God.

Eighthly - The greatest evil.


Every sin is after a sort the greatest evil as God is the greatest good. After a sort (I say) non datur summum malum, quod sit causa omnis mali; say the Schools. For it would then follow, that there are two first principles of things good and evil, which was the heresy of the Manichees.


1. God is per se bonus, so sin is per se malum, evil in it self, and good in no respect.


2. As God is to be loved for himself because he is the chiefest good, so sin is to he hated for it self, one should hate sin as sin, and then he will hate every sin, à quatenus ad omne valet consequentia.


3. God is the great reward of himself, and sin the great punishment of it self, Hos. 8. 11. Austin speaks of a poenalis vitiositas.

Ninthly - Every sin contains all sins.


Every one sin does virtually contain in it all sins, an idle word the sin against the holy Ghost, Rom. 5. 14 the sin of Adam is called one mans offence. See Heb. 12. 15.