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hell : he calls evil good, and good evil, and puts darkness for light, and light for darkness.
But suppose him convinced that he is a sinner; for this conviction will sometimes obtrude itself upon him; how will he do then? He has now another delusion at hand, as absurd, and perhaps as fatal, as any of the former. This is the intention of a future repentance. He sees not, or he is reluctant to see, that life and reason, the means and the day of grace are all uncertain; that there is every motive to present, that there can be to future repentance; that by delay he hardens his heart and resists the spirit of God, and thus renders his repentance more difficult and doubtful; that the causes of present delay may as well operate to his future delay ; that if ever he repent at all, he must, some time or other, come to a fixed resolution that he will not offend any more, and that he may come to this resolution now as well as hereafter; that every day his guilt and danger are increasing, and that there is no security, but in a direct and immediate application to the great concerns of his salvation. These are plain, obvious truths; but such is his madness, that he will not see them; or if he sees, will not regard them.
5. The sinner is one who disbelieves the most evident truths, and yet believes absurdities, contradictions and impossibilities.
He will not be convinced that there is any pleasure or advantage in a holy and virtuous life; that there is any reward for the righteous, or any punishment for the workers of iniquity; though reason clearly evinces, and the word of God fully declares them. He may, indeed, give a cold assent to them, as he does to an hundred other things in which he has no concern; but he feels not the weight of them, and is not at all influenced by them, and therefore may be said, not to believe them. If he denies them not in words, he contradicts them in practice; and he may as well not believe them, as not regard them when he pretends to believe them. But though he is incredulous to plain truths, he is credulous to palpable falsehoods. He believes there is solid happiness in the world, though his experience has hitherto taught him the contrary. . He believes there is pleasure in sin, though he has tried it often, and found it to be an evil and bitter thing. He believes that if he is now a sinner, exposed to the threatnings of God, yet he shall hereafter repent and escape the wrath to come, though he has lived hitherto on this flattering prospect, and is still as far from repentance as ever. He sins with an intention that he will, and in expectation that he shall condemn himself in deep shame and sorrow for what he is doing, and yet his present determination is to do it. He commits many sins in secret, which he would not dare to commit before men, and yet he will confess that no darkness can hide him from God, and that it is a small thing to be judged of men, but a. solemn thing to be judged of God, who will bring to light the hidden things of darkness. He knows, that in comparison with the life to come, the present life is nothing, and yet he regards this as the only important part of his existence. He confesses that this life is short and uncertain, and yet acts as if he were never to die, and boasts of to-morrow, as if he were sure it would be as this day and much more abundant. He can, on principles of reason, demonstrate the certainty of a future existence, and yet is as little influenced by it, as if he could demonstrate the contrary. What he believes in speculation, he denies in practice. What affects him at one time, he disregards at another. What he now resolves to do, he soon refuses to do, though he pretends no just cause to change his resolution. Such are the views and feelings of a wicked man's mind at different times. And can the vagaries of a raving madman be more wild and incoherent?
6. Nothing is harder than to convince a sinner of the unreasonableness of his conduct.
The madman will sooner believe the whole world to be insane, than himself to be so. Nothing will enrage him more than to tell him he is distracted. Much so is it with the profligate sinner. He can see faults in others much easier than in himself. He will sooner censure the virtues of others as crimes, than confess hisown crimes to be what they are. He will justify in himself the same things which he condemns in others, and claim a right to do that, which he will allow to no one else. When the madman becomes sensible of his disorder, there is hope of his recovery : so when the sinner sees the corruption of his heart, there is hope of his repentance. While he thinks highly of himself, he will use no means for his amendment and suffer none to be used with him, any sooner than an insane person, who thinks himself sound, will submit to the discipline of remedies and regimen, in order to
From these instances it appears, that Solomon justly characterized the wicked man, when he said, madness is in his heart.
THE MADNESS AND FATE OF IMPENITENT SINNERS.
ECCLESIASTES ix. 3.
Yea also the heart of the sons of men is full of evil ; and mad
ness is in their heart while they live, and after that they go to the dead.
Solomon, in these words, represents sin as a sort of madness. It is not a natural, but a moral madness. It is not the want, but the perversion of reason. It is a disorder, not in the head, but in the heart. The sinner acts as contrary to wisdom, as if he had
pays no just regard to his true interest-seeks his own destruction—is an enemy to his best friendsdeludes and imposes on himself—is inconsistent in his views and actions and is blind to his own condition. In these respects he symbolizes with a madman. But in other respects there is a wide difference. One is unsound in his intellect, the other is perverse in bis will—the one cannot act rationally, the other will not. The latter, therefore, is involved in guilt of which the former is not capable.
These things we have considered in a former discourse.
6 Madness is in their heart, while they live, and after that they go to the dead.”
Here are several serious thoughts suggested.
1. It is here intimated, that many persist in their mad course as long as they live.
Soine, indeed, by the grace of God are happily reclaimed to a sounder mind and a wiser conduct. But of many, it may doubtless be said, “ Madness is in their heart, while they live.” They haughtily spurn and reject all the instructions, and warnings, which are given them—all the means, which are applied to them, and all the strivings of God's spirit with them. 66 Their iniquities have taken them; they are holden in the cords of their sins, and they die without instruction, as in the greatness of their folly they have gone astray." What proportion of mankind these unhappy wretches make, it is not for us to judge; but there is reason to believe their number is not small. When the old world was destroyed, but a remnant was saved. In the city of Sodom there were not ten righteous, to secure it from the vengeance of heaven. There was a time, wher, in the Jewish nation, there was not a man found, who sought the truth and executed judgment. There might be many, who wept in secret places for the general corruption; but error and vice were become so strong and insolent, that none had courage openly to oppose them. In our Saviour's time, so few gave heed to his doctrine, that he applied the prophet's complaint, “ Who hath believed our report? And to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?” Many were called, but few were chosen. Hence, exhorting his hearers to enter in at the straight gate, he urges this solemn argument, “ Wide is the gate and broad is the way, which leadeth to destruction, and many there be who go in thereat: But straight is the gate and narrow the
way, which leadeth to life ; and few there be who find it !” There were, in the time of John's vision, but few names even in Sardis, which had not defiled their garments. Nor have we any reason to conclude, that the prevalence of sin is limited to those times and places. It has ever been the complaint of good men, that iniquity abounds. This is a full and undeniable proof, that some moral disorder has infected human nature-some seed of bitterness has taken root in the soil, and springing up, bears gall and wormwood. Why else is there not a just man on