Consider this quote by Jeremiah Burroughs (1599-1646) from his book The Evil of Evils:
My principle business is to charge men's consciences with the evil of their sin and show to them how much evil there is in sin. All men are afraid of afflictions and troubled at affliction, but where's the man or woman that fears sin and flies from it as from a serpent, and is troubled at sin more than any affliction?...There is more evil in sin than in outward trouble in the world; more evil in sin than in all the miseries and torments of hell itself.
Suppose that God should bring any of you to the brink of that bottomless gulf and open it to you, and there you should see those damned creatures sweltering under the wrath of the infinite God, and there you should hear the dreadful and hideous cries and shrieks of those who are under such soul-amazing and soul-sinking torments through the wrath of the Almighty. Yet, I say, there is more evil in one sinful thought than there is in all these everlasting burnings...if our spirits were as they should be, we would rather be willing to endure all these torments than commit the least sin.
That's tough stuff, huh? Here's a few thoughts as I try to sum this up. Some are my own, some I gleaned from a pastor I once heard endorsing this book.
- The smallest sin is worse than the greatest affliction.
- The greatest affliction is found in the torments of hell.
- Therefore, the smallest sin is worse than the torments of hell.
- There is at least some good in hell - that is, God is glorified in hell in His just & right wrath against sinners.
- There is no good in sin. God cannot be glorified in sin.
- We would go to all extremes to avoid the torments of hell, yet we do very little to avoid the committal of sin.
- We're more concerned with dying in hell than we are with living in sin.
- If we truly understood the evil of sin and the holiness of God, we would choose the greatest affliction over the smallest sin everytime.
Lastly, once I finished this post, I looked at my archives and realized that I've already posted these very same thoughts quite some time ago. There's a few more thoughts in the previous post, but it deals with the same topic. Oh well, it was good for me to revisit this subject. I also recently found a blog devoted exclusively to Burroughs.