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The Evil of Evils: The Exceeding Sinfulness of Sin (Puritan Writings) Hardcover – May 2, 2012
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About the Author
Jeremiah Burroughs (1599-1646) During his life, Jeremiah Burroughs was loved for his preaching and gentle spirit and was persecuted for his non-conformity to the Church of England. Forced to flee to Holland and Rotterdam for a time, he eventually returned to England and preached to congregations in Stepney and Cripplegate in London, two of the largest congregations in all of England.
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This series of messages by the Puritan preacher Jeremiah Burroughs seeks to make us aware of the great evil of all sin, and how thankful we should be that the Lord loves us enough to afflict us and chastise us that we might see sin for the ravenous destroying beast that it is.He contrasts over and over the results of sin and affliction. How great is our Lord's grace and mercy! This work seeks to turn us from our own deceptive ways and throw us into the arms of our wonderful and merciful Father in heaven that our lives might be better here in our temporary abode. Burroughs is filled with devotional and practical riches to nourish our souls and bring us closer to our loving God through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. This book will convict, but it will also bless. A timeless message for God's elect.
After briefly elaborating on the thesis of the book being "there is a greater evil in the least sin than in the greatest affliction" taken from Job 36:21, Burroughs gives nine excellent corollaries (p.18-23); nine intensely practical corollaries, specifically the last one. I wouldn't write them down here so I won't overwhelm the readers with excessive content of the book, but would invite them to read for themselves. The next interesting part is where an allusion that the reason there seems to be much evil in afflictions is precisely because there is much sin in them, while it is not strictly true that all afflictions are the result of sins as we consider two examples of Adam and Job in the Old Testament. This argument is covered in the third section under the heading of sin being opposite to all good (p.180-191), after an excellent treatment on the depth of the loathsomeness and the dreadfulness of sin in relation to God and to human beings. Here Burroughs argues sin as being the strength of all evils, the sting of affliction, the curse, the shame and the eternality of all evil, where though he uses the word "evil," these statements are applicable as well when the word "evil" is replaced by "affliction." This is worth mulling over. The reason why there is so much power in the intensity, so much sting, curse, shame and eternality in affliction is because there is sin in it.
Another thought-provoking, conscience-awakening, and soul-stinging section is when he talks about one who "may be in a most miserable condition, though he is delivered from outward affliction" under which he proposes two cases; "if a man is prosperous by sin," and "when one becomes more sinful by their prosperity" (p.257-271). These should properly fall under the application section though Burrough does not divide the treatise this way. Yet another section that I am most stunned and stung with is the last one where he examines six possible cases: (1) those who are more afraid of affliction than sin, (2) those who are careful to keep themselves from sin, but merely for fear of affliction, (3) those who will sin to avoid affliction, (4) those who, when they are under affliction, are more sensible of the strength of affliction than of sin, (5) those who get out of affliction by sinful courses, and yet think they are doing well, and (6) those, who after being delivered from affliction, can bless themselves in their sin (p.330-344).
"The Evil of Evils" is a dangerous read but on the other hand, a most necessary read. It is not a comfortable read, though it's not all gloom and doom as Burroughs did not forget to offer the gospel and other compassionate pastoral counsels (see p.272-273, 302-306, 307-309). In closing, he charges the readers as follows in regard to all he has "said of the evil of sin,"
"... know that every one of you here, at that great Audit Day (he was referring to the judgment day), must be brought to answer for what you have heard, and how you have heard, and for what effect it has had on you all. Consider what has been said, and the Lord give you understanding in all things" (p.345).