ON THE PRESUMPTION, FOLLY, AND MADNESS OF THE WILFUL SINNER
Consider first, the desperate presumption of a worm of the earth, that dares to attack, by wilful sin, the Almighty Lord and Maker of heaven and earth, who holds the thread of his life in his hand, and can in that moment let him drop into hell. and what can the wretch expect from making war with God? with a God who is eternal, immense, and every way infinite; a God whose eye is ever upon all his ways, and who has an infinite hatred of mortal sin; a God without whom he can neither live, move, nor be! What then can he expect from making this God his enemy, but the loss of all manner of good, and the incurring of all misery both temporal and eternal. Alas! from the moment he engaged in this desperate war, the sword of God is drawn against him, and continually hangs over his guilty head, and the perils of death, judgment, and hell, encompass him on all sides. The captain himself, whom he follows in the warfare, is already damned, his fellow-soldiers are daily falling down the precipice, and crowding into hell; and what has he to hope for?
Consider 2ndly, the folly and madness that is found in every wilful sin; forasmuch as the wilful sinner, by his own act and deed, freely and deliberately parts with his God, an infinite good, and the source of all his good; gives up his title to heaven, together with all his treasures of virtue, grace, and merit, and sells his soul into the bargain, to be a slave to Satan here, and a victim of hell hereafter; and in exchange for all this, he purchases nothing but bubbles and shadows, that are unable to afford him one moment of solid content, that leave nothing behind them but uneasiness and remorse; and continually expose him to all kind of misery both for time and eternity. Is it possible to conceive a greater madness than this? Alas! it is exchanging heaven for hell, God for the devil, the supreme and infinite good for the very abyss of endless and infinite evils.
Consider 3rdly, the folly and madness of sinners in looking for any success in their ways, or blessing on their undertakings, whilst they oppose, by wilful sin, the holy will of God, and violate his divine law and commandments. All men have an inbred desire of their own well-being; this the sinner pretends to seek in the unhappy choice he makes, whenever he indulges himself in sin: but, alas! in vain does he seek it where ’tis not to be found. He seeks for happiness in the way that leads to all kind of misery; he seeks for honour in that, which is in itself most disgraceful, and which strips him of all true honour; he seeks an imaginary gain in that which brings with it the greater of all losses; he seeks for pleasure and meets with pain, discontent and uneasiness; he seeks for peace and joy, and finds nothing but disturbance and sorrow; he seeks for a false liberty, and falls into true slavery; he seeks for life, but all in vain, because he seeks it in the region of death. and can any thing be more extravagant and mad, than to seek for any good, whilst one wilfully turns one’s back upon the source of all good? Alas! the soul here experiences to her cost, in the opposition and disappointments she meets with, in all her projects and all her pursuits, the truth of those menaces of God by the prophet Osee, ch. ii. 6, &c., ‘I will hedge up thy way with thorns, and I will stop it up with a wall, and she shall not find her paths. And she shall follow after her lovers, and shall not overtake them, and she shall seek them, and shall not find them.’ For ’tis even thus the poor sinner, in all he turns to, when he turns away from God, meets with a hedge of thorns in his way, which he cannot pass over, and runs after a shadow that flies away from him.
Conclude to be more wise, and to seek thy happiness where it is to be found, that is, in the love and service of God; if thou seek it any where else, thou shalt lose thy labour, and be in danger of losing thyself too, and of condemning thy folly and madness for a long eternity.