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Works of Jonathan Edwards, Volume Two
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SELF-FLATTERIES

OR

THE VAIN SELF-FLATTERIES OF THE SINNER. 218218    Not dated.

Ps. xxxvi. 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 they were 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 the sinner 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. Prov. xxiii. 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, as 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 thus travelling in the direct road to the pit; yet they persuade themselves that they shall never fall into it.


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