"The fool says in his heart, 'There is no God.' They are
corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good." (Psalm
The ungodly flatter themselves with false hopes—that all
shall be well with them, "until their iniquity be found to be hateful" by
the tremendous omniscient Judge in the decisive day.
The most heinous people flatter themselves, that they are
not in so bad a state, and that they will safely arrive in heaven. True,
salvation is offered to the chief of sinners. But then they must be saved
from sin—but cannot be saved in sin; which is the error here.
Some conceive such a notion of mercy as would destroy the other attributes;
as if God should trample on his holiness, truth, and justice—to exalt his
mercy in saving a sinner, or in pardoning sin without any atonement. But
this is repugnant to what he himself has declared.
Others flatter themselves, that as God is just and
merciful, he could never make so many rational creatures to be damned. Yet
they refuse the one true and living way, which God has pointed out—by which
they must be saved.
Others would gladly believe that God will never condemn
them for committing some sins, which, say they, are implanted in their
nature; and thus (O horrid blasphemy!) they make the Author of their being
the author of sin! But God planted man at first wholly good, though he is
now turned into the degenerate plant of a strange vine.
Others, again there are, that through a pious education,
common convictions, knowledge of the truth, and such like, are convinced
that their present course of life is sinful and dangerous—but flatter
themselves that all shall yet be well; for, when they are aged, and have
wearied themselves out with sinning—they intend to amend their lives,
repent and turn to God; and in this they promise themselves success, since
God never refuses the penitent. Thus they set themselves above God, making
themselves Lords of their own time, and promising themselves years to come;
although they cannot boast of tomorrow. They also make themselves
proprietors of divine grace, in thinking they can repent at any time of
their own appointment. But such fair promises to their own conscience, who
dare delay to an uncertain futurity so momentous a matter, which claims to
be chief in our concern, and to be done with all diligence—are the worst
performed promises in the world. Moreover, mournful experience tells us,
that those who reserve their youthful sins to be repented of in old age,
often, alas! too often—live on as they began, and die as they have lived.
Again, there are some that conclude theirs a unhappy
situation, because they are honest and upright in their dealings with
others. They do no man an injury, they speak evil of no man; but are
friendly-hearted and frank-handed to all. But they know nothing of living a
life of faith on the Son of God.
Again, there are others, who because they have given up
the grosser follies, extravagances, and excesses—which were the game and
the grave of their youth—and live a sober regular life—conclude themselves
to be converts, and to bid fair for heaven—though they never felt one pang
of the new birth, or knew what it was to be born again.
Lastly, to name no more, there are some who account
themselves saints indeed and would not question their state for anything,
because they have been sober all their life long, have hated the grosser
acts of wickedness, commend religion, and religious people, and have a form
of godliness; but they have never seen the necessity of being divorced from
the law, and denied to their best actions, as well as their worst deeds with
respect to salvation. And, however fair their character may be, they know
nothing of union to, and communion with, the Son of God. Therefore they are
dead while they live, dead before God; though alive in their own opinion,
and in the opinion of the world. Now, how fatal such self-flattery is, is
evident; yet how full is the Christian world of such fatal delusion! May
their eyes be opened to see their danger—and their hearts persuaded to
embrace the Savior!