Edificatory Exposure to Edwards!
The Vain Self-Flatteries of the Sinner by Jonathan Edwards
Edward's teaches that sinners flatter themselves with the hope of impunity.
Psalms 36:2, "For he flattereth himself in his own eyes, until his iniquity be found to be hateful." In the foregoing verse, David says, “The transgression of the wicked saith within my heart, that there is no fear of God before his eyes;” that is, when he saw that the wicked went on in sin, in an allowed way of wickedness, it convinced him, that he was not afraid of those terrible judgments, and of that wrath with which God hath threatened sinners. If the sinner were afraid of these, he could never go on so securely in sin, as he doth.
It was a strange thing that men, who enjoyed such light as they did in the land of Israel, who read and heard those many awful threatenings which were written in the book of the law, should not be afraid to go on in sin. But saith the Psalmist, They flatter themselves in their own eyes: they have something or other which they make a foundation of encouragement, whereby they persuade themselves that they shall escape those judgments, and that makes them put far away the evil day.
In this manner he proceeds, until his iniquity be found to be hateful; that is, until he finds by experience that it is a more dreadful thing to sin against God, and break his holy commands, than he imagined. He thinks sin to be sweet, and hides it as a sweet morsel under his tongue. He loves it and flatters himself in it, till at length he finds, by experience, that it is bitter as gall and wormwood. Though he thinks the commission of sin to be lovely, yet he will find the fruit of it to be hateful, and what he cannot endure. Pro 23:32, “At last it will bite like a serpent, and sting like an adder.” Here observe, the subject spoken of is the wicked man, of whom the Psalmist had been speaking in the foregoing verse. — His action in flattering himself in his own eyes; i.e. he makes himself and his case to appear to himself, or in his own eyes, better than it is.
How long he continues so to do, until his iniquity be found to be hateful. Which may be taken for either his sin itself, the wicked will see how odious sin is to God, when he shall feel the effects of his hatred, and how hateful to angels and saints. Or rather the cause is here put for the effect, the tree for its fruit, and he will find his iniquity to be hateful, as he will find the hatefulness and feel the terribleness of the fruit of his iniquity. — Hence it appears that Wicked men generally flatter themselves with hopes of escaping punishment, till it actually comes upon them.
There are but few sinners who despair, who give up the cause and conclude with themselves, that they shall go to hell. Yet there are but few who do not go to hell. It is to be feared that many go to hell every day out of this country. Yet very few of them suffer themselves to believe that they are in any great danger of that punishment. They go on sinning and traveling in the direct road to the pit; yet by one they persuade themselves that they shall never fall into it,
Sinners flatter themselves with the hope of impunity. WE are so taught in the Word of God, Deu. 29:18, 19, “Lest there should be among you man, or woman, or family, or tribe, whose heart turneth away this day from the Lord our God. Lest there should he among you a root that beareth gall and wormwood, and it come to pass when he heareth the words of this curse, that he bless himself in his heart, saying, I shall have peace, though I walk in the imagination of mine heart, to add drunkenness to thirst.”
Where it is supposed that they whose hearts turn away from God, and are roots that bear gall and wormwood, generally bless themselves in their hearts, saying, We shall have peace.
See also Psa. 49:17, 18, “When he dieth, he shall carry nothing away: his glory shall not descend after him, though while he lived, he blessed his soul.” And Psa. 50:21, “These things thou hast done, and I kept silence: thou thoughtest that I was altogether such a one as thyself: but I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thee.”
It is very evident that sinners flatter themselves that they shall escape punishment, otherwise they would be in dreadful and continual distress. They could never live and go about so cheerfully as they now do. Their lives would be filled with sorrow and mourning, and they would be in continual uneasiness and distress, as much as those that are exercised with some violent pain of body. But it is apparent that men are careless and secure, that they are not much concerned about future punishment, and that they cheerfully pursue their business and recreations.
Therefore they undoubtedly flatter themselves, that they shall not be eternally miserable in hell, as they are threatened in the Word of God. It is evident that they flatter themselves with hopes that they shall escape punishment. Otherwise they would certainly be restrained, at least from many of those sins in which they now live. They would not proceed in willful courses of sin. The transgression of the wicked convinced the Psalmist, and is enough to convince everyone, that there is no fear of God before his eyes, and that he flatters himself in his own eyes. It would be impossible for men allowably from day to day to do those very things which they know are threatened with everlasting destruction, if they did not some way encourage themselves [that] they should nevertheless escape that destruction.