Saturday, September 24, 2011

Excuses of the Sinner Answered

Numerous as are the excuses which sinners make when urged to embrace the gospel, they may all be reduced to three; the first is, that they have no time to attend to religion; the second is, that they do not know how to become religious; and the third, that they are not able to become so. Want of time, want of knowledge, or want or power, is pleaded by all. Foreseeing that they would make these excuses, God determinded that they should have no reason to make them. By giving them the Sabbath, he has allowed them time for religion. By giving them his word, and messengers to explain it, he has taken away the excuse of ignorance; and by offering them the assistance of his Holy Spirit, he has deprived them of the pretense that they are unable to obey him. Thus he has obviated all their excues; and therefore, at the last day, every mouth will be stopped, and the whole impenitent world will stand guilty and self-condemned before God.

The convinced sinner wishes to be saved; but then he would be his own savior. He will not consent to be saved by Christ. He cannot bear to come as a poor, miserable, self-condemned sinner, and throw himself on the mere mercy of Christ; but he wants to purchase heaven; to give so many good deeds, as he calls them, for so much happiness hereafter. He goes on to multiply his religious duties, and, with great diligence, makes a robe of his own righteousness, with which he hopes to cover his moral nakedness, and render himself acceptable in the sight of God. In vain is he told that all his righteousness is as filthy rags; that he is daily growing worse, rather than better; that eternal life can never be purchased. He will stop here, as thousands have done before, resting on this foundation, having the form of Godliness, but denying the power, unless the Spirit of God continue to strive with him, and complete the work by showing him his own heart.

--Edward Payson, Legacy of a Legend

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