THE WICKEDNESS, MADNESS, AND MISERY OF UNREGENERATE MEN
Ecc_9:3. The heart of the sons of men is full of evil; and madness is in their heart while they live; and after that, they go to the dead.
IF we look only on the surface of things, we shall think that all things come alike to all, since all are subject to the same afflictions, and go down to the grave in their appointed season. But the righteous, however afflicted, “are in the hands of God [Note: ver.1.],” who ordereth and overruleth every thing for their good; whereas the wicked, however prosperous, are left to run their career of sin, till they fall into the pit of everlasting destruction. The state and end of unregenerated men are awfully declared in the words before us; wherein is depicted,
[“The hearts of unregenerate men are full of evil.” Every species of filthiness, whether fleshly or spiritual [Note: 2Co_7:1.], abounds within them [Note: Rom_1:29-31.]. They have not a faculty either of body or soul that is not defiled with sin [Note: Rom_3:10-18.]. So full of iniquity are they, that there is no good within them [Note: Gen_6:5. Rom_7:18.]. And this is the state, not of a few only, but of every child of man, till he has been renewed by the Holy Spirit [Note: Joh_3:6. Tit_3:3Jer_17:9.].]
[It may well be expected that creatures so depraved should manifest their depravity in the whole of their conduct. And in truth they do so: for they are even mad. They pour contempt upon the greatest good. Can any thing be compared with the salvation of the soul? And do they not disregard this! And is not such conduct madness? They also disregard the greatest of all evils, the wrath of God. And would not this be madness. if there were only a bare possibility of their falling under his everlasting displeasure? How much more then, when it is as certain, as that there is a God! Moreover, they continue in this state, for the most part, “as long as they lire.” If they acted only through ignorance, or were drawn aside for a little time by temptation, or if they turned from this way, as soon as they came to the full exercise of their reason, yea, if they rectified their conduct as soon as their own consciences condemned it, they would have some shadow of an excuse. But, when they persist, against light and knowledge, against warnings and judgments, yea, against their own vows and resolutions, what is it but madness itself? Let a man act in such a way with respect to the things of this world, and no one will hesitate a moment to pronounce him mad [Note: Luk_15:17.].]
[How pleasant soever the ways of ungodly men appear, they will soon terminate in death [Note: Job_20:5-9.]. But the righteous also must go the grave: no doubt therefore it is another death that is here spoken of, even “the second death in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone.” This is affirmed by God in the strongest manner [Note: 1Co_6:9. Psa_9:17.]: and, however disbelieved by those whom it most concerns, it shall assuredly be found true at the last. Yea, we have even now the consciences of men attesting this awful truth: and if we should say, that the ungodly, after such a life, should “go to” heaven, instead of to “the dead,” though they might be wicked enough to wish it, they would not be mad enough to believe it. They have a presentiment, in spite of all their reasonings to the contrary, that “their end shall be according to their works [Note: 2Co_11:15.].”]
How necessary is it to deal faithfully with the souls of men!
[Should we “prophesy smooth things” unto people who are perishing in their sins, and who before another Sabbath may be “gone to the dead?” Should we, if we beheld a stranded vessel, seek to amuse the sailors, instead of affording them direction and assistance? How much less then if we ourselves were embarked with them, and were partners of their danger?. Surely then every time we preach, we should bear in mind that both our hearers and ourselves are dying creatures, and that, if we forbear to warn them, we ruin ourselves for ever [Note: Eze_33:8.].]
How earnestly should every one seek to be born again!
[Does the notion of regeneration appear absurd [Note: Joh_3:7; Joh_3:9.]? Let all hear and understand the grounds of that doctrine. What must we think of God, if he should fill heaven with sinners incorrigibly wicked, and incurably mad? Or what happiness could such sinners find in heaven, even if they were admitted there? There must be a meetness for the heavenly state [Note: Col_1:12.]: and that meetness can be obtained only by means of the new birth [Note: Joh_3:5-6.]. A new heart must be given us [Note: Eze_36:25-26.], and we must be made “new creatures in Christ Jesus [Note: 2Co_5:17.].” Let all then seek this renewal of their hearts [Note: Eph_4:22-24.]: for, unless they be born again, they shall never enter into God’s kingdom [Note: Joh_3:3.].]
How greatly are all regenerate persons indebted to the Lord Jesus Christ!
[They were once even as others: if there was any difference, it was only in their acts, and not in their hearts [Note: Eph_2:3.]. But they are delivered from their sins [Note: Rom_6:14; Rom_8:2.], endued with soundness of mind [Note: 2Ti_1:7.], and made heirs of everlasting life [Note: Joh_5:24.]: and all this they have received through the atoning blood and prevailing intercession of the Lord Jesus. What a Benefactor then is he! And how should the hearts of all be knit to him in love! O “let them give thanks whom the Lord hath redeemed [Note: Psa_107:1-2.]:” and let all seek these blessings at the hands of a gracious and almighty Saviour.]