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Westminster Shorter Catechism Project

The Shorter Catechism
of the Westminster Assembly
Explained and Proved
from Scripture

by
Thomas Vincent


LXXXIII. Ques. Are all transgressions of the law equally heinous?
Ans.
Some sins in themselves, and by reason of several aggravations, are more heinous in the sight of God than others.

Q. 1. What is it for sin to be heinous?
A. Sins are heinous, as they are grievous and offensive unto God.

Q. 2. Are not all sins heinous unto God?
A. All sins are heinous unto God, but all sins are not equally heinous; for some sins are more heinous in the sight of God than others.

Q. 3. flow many ways are some sins more heinous in the sight of God than others?
A. Two ways. 1. Some sins are more heinous in themselves. 2. Some sins are more heinous than others in regard of their several aggravations.

Q. 4. What sins are more heinous in themselves than others?
A. 1. Sins against the first table of the law are more heinous than sins against the second table of the law: thus, idolatry is more heinous than adultery, sacrilege is more heinous than theft, blasphemy against God is more heinous than speaking evil of our neighbour, and So proportionably the highest sin committed against God more immediately, is more heinous than the highest sin committed more immediately against man; and the lowest sin committed immediately against God, is more heinous than the lowest sin committed against man. "If one man sill against another, the judge shall judge him: but if a man sin against the Lord, who shall entreat for him?" 1 Sam. 2:25. 2. Some sins against the second table of the law are more heinous in them selves than others against the same second table; as murder is more heinous than adultery, adultery is more heinous than theft, theft is more heinous than coveting thy neighbour's house; and here now may be added, that the same sins of any kind ripened into actions, are more heinous in themselves than those sins in the thoughts only and inclinations. This is evident from the greater displeasure which God doth express in Scripture for some sins than for others, against the second table of the law; and for sinful works than for sinful thoughts. 3. Sins against the gospel are more heinous of themselves, than sins against the law; sin against the gospel being committed against the greatest light that ever did shine upon men, and the greatest love and grace of God that ever was shown unto men, and therefore the punishment of gospel-sinners will be greater than the punishment of the most notoriously wicked heathens. "Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not. Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you. And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: it shall be in more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee." Matt. 11:20-24.

Q. 5. What are the aggravations which render some sins more heinous than others?
A. The aggravations which render some sins more heinous than others, are the circumstances which do attend them.

Q. 6 What is the first aggravation of sin?
A. The first aggravation of sin is from the persons offending: thus the sins of magistrates, ministers, parents, the aged, and all governors, are more heinous in the same kind than the same sins of subjects, people, children, the younger, and those that are under government, because of the ill example and ill influence of the sins of the one beyond the other. "And he shall give Israel up, because of Jeroboam, who did sin, and who made Israel to sin." 1 Kings 14:16. "The prophets make my people to err." Micah 3:5. Thus the sins also of professors and God's people are more heinous than the sins of the wicked and ungodly in the same kind, because the name of God is hereby more blasphemed, and the wicked are hereby more hardened in their sins. "Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking of the law dishononrest thou God I For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles, through you." Rom. 2:23, 24.

Q. 7. What is the second aggravation of sin?
A. The second aggravation of sin is from the place: thus sins committed in a land of light are more heinous than the same sins committed in a place of darkness. "In the land of uprightness will he deal unjustly, and will not behold the majesty of the Lord." Isa. 26:10. Thus sins committed in a place of great deliverance and mercies are more heinous than the same sins committed in another place. "'They remembered not the multitude of his mercies, but provoked him at the sea, even the Red Sea." Ps. 106:7. Thus also sins committed in a public place, whereby others may be enticed and defiled, are more heinous than the same sins committed in secret places. "They spread Absalom a tent upon the top of the house; and Absalom went in unto his father's concubines, in the sight of all Israel." 2 Sam. 16:22.

Q. 8. What is the third aggravation of sin?
A. The third aggravation of sin is from the time: thus sins committed on the Sabbath-day are more heinous than the same sins committed on the week-day. Drunkenness and adultery are heinous and abominable on any day in the sight of God; but drunkenness or adultery, or any other such sins, are more heinous before God on the Sabbath-day. Thus sins committed in or after the time of trouble and affliction, are more heinous than the same sins committed at another time. "In the time of his distress did he trespass yet more against the Lord: that is that king Ahaz." 2 Chron. 28:22. "Why should ye be stricken any more ye will revolt more and more." Isa. 1:5. Thus sins committed after repentance and engagements to be the Lord's, are more heinous than the same sms com mitted before repentance and such engagements; so also sins committed after admonitions and censures, are more heinous than the same sins committed before such admonitions and censures.

Q. 9. What is the fourth aggravation of sin?
A. The fourth aggravation of sin is from the manner: thus sins against knowledge are more heinous than sins through ignorance; sins through wilfulness and presumption are more heinous than sins through weakness and infirmity; sins through custom and with deliberation are more heinous than sins through sudden passion and the hurry of temptation; sins with delight and greediness are more heinous than sins committed with regret and backwardness; sins committed impudently and with boasting are more heinous than the same sins committed with shame and blushing; sins often repeated and long continued in, are more heinous than sins but once or seldom committed, and which are broken off by repentance.

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