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THE FOLLY OF SINNERS IN MAKING A MOCK AT SIN.
We are not generally to expect any connexion, either of sense or sentences, in this Book of the Proverbs. Other parts of Scripture are like a rich mine; where the precious ore runs along in one continued vein: but this is like a heap of pearls; which, though they are loose and unstrung, are not therefore the less excellent or valuable.
The Text which I have now read, is one of them: an entire proposition in itself; without relation to, or dependance upon, any context.
In it, we have these things considerable.
I. The CHARACTER or Periphrasis of wicked and ungodly men: and they are said to be such, as make a mock at sin.
II. Here is the CENSURE passed upon them by the all-wise God, and the wisest of men : they are Fools for so doing: Fools make a mock at sin.
- I. Their CHARACTER: they make a mock at sin.
The words are plain and obvious: only the phrase, of making a močk, may seem subject to some ambiguity and various acceptations; and, indeed, the Scripture useth it in divers senses.
Sometimes, it signifies an abusing of others, by violent and lewd actions: so we read that the Hebrew servant, says Potiphar's wife, came in unto me to mock me : Gen. xxxix. 17. Sometimes, it signifies an exposing of men to shame and dishonour: so the Wise Man tells us, Wine is a mocker : Prov. xx. 1. Sometimes, it signifies an imposing upon the credulity of others, things that seem incredible and impossible : so we read in Genesis, when Lot had declared to his sons-in-law the destruction of Sodom, it is said, he seemed unto them as one that mocked : Gen. xix. 14. Sometimes, it is taken for a failing in our promises ; and, thereby, defeating and frustrating the expectations of others : and, thus, Herod is said to be mocked by the wise men : Mat. ii. 16.
But none of these are at all congruous to our present purpose, nor applicable to the words of the Text.
There are, therefore, two other acceptations of this expression, frequently occurring in the Holy Scriptures.
i. This word mock is commonly taken for SCOFFING, or BITTER TAUNTING AT OTHERS.
Thus our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ suffered the flouts and derisions of an insolent rabble, who set hiin at nought, and mocked him, as St. Luke speaks : chap. xxiii. 11. Thus those blessed Martyrs and Confessors, that followed his steps, are said to have endured the trial of cruel mockings, as the Apostle tells us : Heb. xi. 36. And, indeed, this is the difference, between a wise reprover and a bitter mocker: that the words of the one are like balm, both soft and sanative; but the words of the other are like sharp swords, which cut deep into the minds of men, and commonly make them rankle into hatred and malice. And, doubtless, there are very many spirits, which can sooner put up an injury done them, than a cutting, bitter scoff; because nothing expresseth so much contempt, nor shews so much how despicable we account them, as a fleering gibe.
ii. Mocking may be taken for SLIGHTING, AND MAKING NO ACCOUNT OF; LOOKING UPON THINGS OR PERSONS, AS TRIVIAL AND INCONSIDERABLE.
And, thus, it is used in Job, where the horse is said to mock at fear, when he rusheth into the battle, and is not terrified ; but rather enraged by all the horrors of war, when the quiver rattleth against him, the glittering spear and the shield: Job xxxix. 22, 23. And so it is said of the Leviathan, Job xli. 27, 29. He laugheth at the shaking of a spear : for he esteemeth iron as straw, and brass as rotten wood.
11. In either of these two senses, may the words of the Text be taken; when they tell us, they are FOOLS that make a mock at sin.
For sin may be considered, either as committed by others, or as committed by ourselves: and it is egregious folly to make a mock of either; so as to sport at the one, or to slight the other.
They are Fools, that make a mock at other men's sins; so
as to turn them into a matter of jest and raillery. They are Fools, that make a mock at their own sins ; so
as to think the commission of them a slight and in
considerable thing. I shall very briefly speak of the First, and so pass on unto the Second particular.
i. They are Fools, THAT MAKE A MOCK AT OTHER MEN'S SINS ; SO AS TO MAKE THEM A MATTER OF MIRTH AND PASTIME.
This, indeed, is sport for deyils; all whose recreation and hellish solace, is the sin and wickedness of men. The damnation of souls is the sport of hell: and thou, who canst rejoice in their joy, deservest likewise to howl under their woes and torments.
We justly condemn it, as a most barbarous and inhuman custom amongst the ancient Romans, who brought many selected pairs of miserable men into their public theatres, only to delight the spectators with their blood and death. But this was an innocent recreation, in comparison of thine, who takest pleasure to see thy poor brother wounding and stabbing, yea damning his precious soul.
Go, laugh at a wretched man upon the rack, or upon the wheel: laugh at the odd, distorted postures of epilepticks; or the convulsive motions of dying and expiring men: sport thyself with their writhed looks, and antic shapes of misery. This is far more civil, more humane, more pious, than to make those sins thy mirth, which will be thy brother's eternal woe and anguish.
What thinkest thou? Couldst thou look into hell, that place of torment; couldst thou see there all the engines of God's justice and the Devil's cruelty, set on work in the eternal torture of those, who perhaps once made as light of their own sins, as thou dost of other men's; wouldst thou think this a pleasant spectacle? Wouldst thou sport and divert thyself, to see how they wallow in fire and brimstone, or how they circle and twist themselves in unquenchable flames ? Certainly, such a sight as this would affect thee with a cold horror and a shivering dread. And how then canst thou sport thyself, to see thy brother damning himself, since it would fright thee to see him damned?