Monday, December 20, 2010

John Newton describes the wicked

by Patte Smith on Saturday, November 6, 2010 at 12:02pm
The heart of man is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked:
who can know it?
Jeremiah 17:9

The Heart of Man is Desperately Wicked

By frequent hearing they receive more light. They are compelled to know...that the wrath of God hangs over the children of disobedience. They carry a sting in their consciences, and at times feel themselves most miserable...Yet they harden themselves still more. They affect to be happy and at ease and force themselves to wear a smile when anguish preys upon their hearts. They blaspheme the way of truth, watch for the faults of professors, and with a malicious joy publish and aggravate them. They see perhaps how the wicked die, but are not alarmed; they see the righteous die, but are not moved. Neither Providences nor ordinances, mercies or judgments, can stop them, for they are determined to go on and perish with their eyes open, rather than submit to the Gospel.

But they do not always openly reject the Gospel-truths. Some who profess to approve and receive them, do thereby discover the evils of the heart of man, if possible, in a yet stronger light. They make Christ the minister of sin, and turn His grace into licentiousness. Like Judas they say, Hail, Master! and betray Him. This is the highest pitch of iniquity. They pervert all the doctrines of the Gospel. From election they draw an excuse for continuing in their evil ways; and contend for salvation without works, because they love not obedience. They extol the righteousness of Christ, but hold it in opposition to personal holiness. In a word, because they hear that God is good, they determine to persist in evil..Thus willful and impenitent sinners go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. The Word which they despise becomes to them a savour of death unto death. They take different courses, but all are travelling down to the pit; and unless sovereign mercy interpose, will soon sink to rise no more.

The final event is two-fold. Many, after they have been more or less shaken by the Word, settle in formality. If hearing would supply the place of faith, love, and obedience, they would do well; but by degrees they become sermon-proof. The truths which once struck then loses their power by being often heard; and thus multitudes live and die in darkness, though the light has been shone around them.

Others are more openly given up to reprobate minds. Contempt of the Gospel makes infidels, deists, and Atheists. They are filled with a spirit of delusion to believe a lie. These are scoffers, walking after their own lusts; for where the principles of religion are given up, the conduct will be vile and abominable. Such persons sport themselves with their own deceivings, and strongly prove the truth of the Gospel while they dispute against it. We often find that people of this cast have formerly been subjects of strong convictions; but when the evil spirit has seemed to depart for a son, and returns again, the last state of that person is worse than the first.

It is not improbable that some of my readers may meet with their own characters under one or other of the views I have given of the desperate wickedness of the heart, in its actings against the truth. May the Spirit of God constrain them to read with attention! Your case is dangerous, but I would hope not utterly desperate. Jesus is mighty to save. His grace can pardon the most aggravated offences, and subdue the most inveterate habits of sin. The Gospel you have hitherto slighted, resisted or opposed, is still the power of God unto salvation. The blood of Jesus, upon which you have hitherto trampled, speaks better things than the blood of Abel, and is of virtue to cleanse those whose sins are scarlet and crimson, and to make them white as snow. As yet you are spared; but it is high time to stop and throw down your arms of rebellion, and humble yourselves at His feet. If you do, you may yet escape; but if not, know assuredly that wrath is coming upon you to the uttermost; and you will shortly find, to your unspeakable dismay, that it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

~ John Newton, from his Letters

Together for Life & Eternity,
Patte Smith
Sanctuary Ministries 

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