Westminster Larger Catechism
Q.151. What are those aggravations that make some sins more heinous than others?
A. Sins receive their aggravations,
1. From the persons offending
2. From the parties offended
|3. From the nature and quality of the offense [m]: if it be against the express letter of the law [n], break many commandments, contain in it many sins [o]: if not only conceived in the heart, but breaks forth in words and actions [p], scandalize others [q], and admit of no reparation [r]: if against means [s], mercies [t], judgments [v], light of nature [w], conviction of conscience [x], public or private admonition [y], censures of the church [z], civil punishments [a]; and our prayers, purposes, promises [b], vows [c], covenants [d], and engagements to God or men [e]: if done deliberately [f], wilfully [g], presumptuously [h], impudently [i], boastingly [k], maliciously [l], frequently [m], obstinately [n], with delight [o], continuance [p], or relapsing after repentance [q].|
From the nature and quality of the offense [m]:
[m] Proverbs 6:30-33 Men do not despise a thief, if he steal to satisfy his soul when he is hungry; Ver.31 But if he be found, he shall restore sevenfold ; — Ver.31 But whoso committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding: he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul. Ver.33 A wound and dishonour shall he get; and his reproach shall not be wiped away. And so on to the end of the Chapter.
if it be against the express letter of the law [n],
[n] Ezra 9:10-12 And now, O our God, what shall we say after this? for we have forsaken thy commandments, Ver.11 Which thou hast commanded by thy servants the prophets, saying, The land, unto which ye go to possess it, is an unclean land with the filthiness of the people.— Ver.12 Now therefore give not your daughters unto their sons, etc.
1 Kings 11:9-10 And the LORD was angry with Solomon, because his heart was turned from the LORD God of Israel, which had appeared unto him twice, Ver.10 And had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods: but he kept not that which the LORD commanded.
break many commandments, contain in it many sins [o]:
[o] Colossians 3:5 Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:
1 Timothy 6:10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
Proverbs 5:8-12 Remove thy way far from her, and come not nigh the door of her house: Ver.9 Lest thou give thine honour unto others, and thy years unto the cruel: Ver.10 Lest strangers be filled with thy wealth;— Ver.11 And thou mourn at the last, when thy flesh and thy body are consumed, Ver.12 And say, How have I hated instruction, and my heart despised reproof;
Proverbs 6:32-33 But whoso committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding: he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul. Ver.33 A wound and dishonour shall he get;
Joshua 7:21 When I saw among the spoils a goodly Babylonish garment, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold of fifty shekels weight, then I coveted them, and took them; etc.
if not only conceived in the heart, but breaks forth in words and actions [p],
[p] James 1:14-15 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Ver.15 Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.
Matthew 5:22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell-fire.
Micah 2:1 Woe to them that devise iniquity, and work evil upon their beds! when the morning is light, they practise it, because it is in the power of their hand.
[Matthew Henry: It is bad to do mischief on a sudden thought, much worse to do it with design and forethought.]
scandalize others [q],
[q] Matthew 18:7 Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!
Romans 2:23-24 Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonourest thou God? Ver.24 For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written.
and admit of no reparation [r]:
[r] Deuteronomy 22:22 If a man be found lying with a woman married to an husband, then they shall both of them die, both the man that lay with the woman, and the woman: so shalt thou put away evil from Israel.
Compared with Ver.28 If a man find a damsel that is a virgin, which is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her, and they be found; Ver.29 Then the man that lay with her shall give unto the damsel’s father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife; because he hath humbled her, he may not put her away all his days.
Proverbs 6:32-35 But whoso committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding: he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul. Ver.33 A wound and dishonour shall he get; and his reproach shall not be wiped away. Ver.34 For jealousy is the rage of a man: therefore he will not spare in the day of vengeance. Ver.35 He will not regard any ransom; neither will he rest content, though thou givest many gifts.
if against means [s],
[s] Matthew 11:21-24 Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. Ver.22 But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you. Ver.23 And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. Ver.24 But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom—
John 15:22 If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloak for their sin.
[t] Isaiah 1:3 The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider.
Deuteronomy 32:6 Do ye thus requite the LORD, O foolish people and unwise? is not he thy father that hath bought thee? hath he not made thee, and established thee?
[v] Amos 4:8-11 So two or three cities wandered unto one city, to drink water; but they were not satisfied: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD. Ver.9 I have smitten you with blasting and mildew: when your gardens and your vineyards and your fig trees and your olive trees increased, the palmerworm devoured them: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD. Ver.10 I have sent among you the pestilence after the manner of Egypt: your young men have I slain with the sword, and have taken away your horses; and I have made the stink of your camps to come up unto your nostrils: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD. Ver.11 I have overthrown some of you, as God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, and ye were as a firebrand plucked out of the burning: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD.
Jeremiah 5:3 O LORD, are not thine eyes upon the truth? thou hast stricken them, but they have not grieved; thou hast consumed them, but they have refused to receive correction: they have made their faces harder than a rock; they have refused to return.
light of nature [w],
[w] Romans 1:26-27 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: Ver.27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.
conviction of conscience [x],
[x] Romans 1:32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.
Daniel 5:22 And thou his son, O Belshazzar, hast not humbled thine heart, though thou knewest all this;
Titus 3:10-11 A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject; Ver.11 Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.