Obstinacy and Folly
by James Smith, 1858
"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!" Luke 13:34
Mas is a strange creature!
He is in dangeróand will not accept deliverance.
He is in needóand will not accept of a supply.
He is condemnedóand will not accept of a pardon.
He must live forever, and may live forever in the enjoyment of perfect happiness, and in the possession of the highest honorsóbut he is not willing!
Sin has filled human nature with a spirit of contrariness; so that we call darknessólight, and lightódarkness; we put bitterófor sweet, and sweetófor bitter.
It was so with the Jews: the Lord Jesus warned them of their danger, pointed out the only way of escape from it, offered to protect and preserve them, as the hen does her brood under her wings; but they were not willing. He invited them to come to him, in a most loving spirit, with most gracious words, and yet they were not willing come unto him that they might have life. So the city was given up to the Romans, many of them were slain with the sword, and the rest were made captives or wandered as fugitives and vagabonds over the face of the earth. What the Jews wereówe are; we are as like as two peas in one pod. "You were not willing," was said of them, and "you are not willing" may be said of most of us.
The gospel and its blessings are represented by the most attractive, useful, and necessary things; and we are invited, exhorted, and urgently pressed to receive, partake of, and enjoy themóyet we refuse. We are guilty of sin, and therefore criminals in the sight of God; as such, we are condemned to suffer the vengeance of eternal fire; but God, who is rich in mercy and has no pleasure in our death, offers us a pardon, and entreats us to accept itóbut we are not willing.
We have an inward craving for something which we do not possessósomething that will meet the needs and satisfy the cravings of our immortal nature; and God in the gospel has provided a great feast, made up of everything we can want, or reasonably wish for, and he has sent us an invitation, and urged us to accept of itóbut we are not willing.
We are in dangeróimminent danger, from sin, Satan, and the just wrath of God: and the Lord Jesus has come from heaven to earth to make an atonement for sin, to conquer Satan, and to turn away the wrath of God from us; and having done all, and suffered all that was necessary for the purpose, he beseeches us to come unto him as to a stronghold, an impregnable fortress, and a high toweróbut we are not willing.
We are in deep spiritual poverty, our needs are numerous and various, and will go on increasing through life, and perhaps through all eternity. Jesus has all fullness in himself, in his fullness is all we can want in time or in eternity; he throws it open to us, bids us come and receive freely, without money and without priceóbut we are not willing.
Now, if we are not willing accept of a pardon that is offered usódo we not deserve to suffer the full desert of our sins? If we will not come to a feast, provided on purpose for usódo we not deserve to famish, and be pinched with hunger to all eternity? If we will not enter the fortress prepared for our reception, where we shall be safe from every foeódo we not deserve to be exposed to all the consequences of sin, the rage of Satan, and the wrath of God forever? If we will not come, and receive out of the fullness of Jesus, which is thrown open to us, in order to satisfy, gratify, and fill us with inexpressible pleasure and delightódo we not deserve to be left in wretchedness, misery, and woe to all eternity?
If we perishówho is to blame? God has made provisionóbut we refuse to accept it. Jesus has called us to obtain salvationóbut we will not come unto him that we might have life. The Spirit has striven with us, and produced convictions and alarmsóbut we resisted the Holy Spirit. The ministers of the gospel have called to us with all earnestness, and with most winning wordsóbut we have refused to hear the voice of the charmer, charm he ever so wisely.
What then is to be done? What did God do with Israel of old? He says, "Israel would have none of me, so I gave them up." What did God do with Ephraim? He said, "Ephraim, is joined to idolsólet him alone." What did Jesus do with the Jews? He wept over them, and resigned them to their fate, saying, "I would have gathered youóbut you were not willing. If you, had known, even you, at least in this your day, the things which belong unto your peaceóbut now they are hid from yours eyes."
But HOW is it that we thus harden ourselves against God, manifest such folly, and willfully ruin ourselves? Just because we have allowed sin and Satan to blind us to our own immortal interests. We have thrown the reins on the necks of our lusts and passions, and have allowed the flesh to rule the spirit, the body to lead away captive the soul. Through the deceitfulness of sin, we become proud, conceited, and careless of consequences, and so we choose the evil, and refuse the good. We grieve God by our ingratitude, give Satan power over us, and God in his just displeasure at length gives us up to believe a lie, and while we cry peace and safety, sudden destruction comes upon us, and we perish in our own deservings!
God bears with us long, like the barren fig-tree we are allowed to stand year after yearóbut at length, divine justice says, "I can bear with them no longer, I can endure no more, let them take the consequences!" Then we are left to fill up the measure of our iniquities, conscience becomes hardened, or seared as with a hot iron, the understanding is darkened, the affections are wholly carnalised, the will runs out after sin and folly, or centers in covetousness, the gospel has no charms for us, the law is neglected and disregarded by us, and we are Judicially blinded.
Then the fearful words of the apostle are illustrated in us, "If our gospel be hid, it is hid to those who are lost; in whom the God of this world has blinded the minds of those who believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them."
Reader, perhaps like the son in the parable, who, when his father said, "Son, go work today in my vineyard," you have said, "I will not." If so, let me beseech you to think better of it, as he did, and imitate his example, for we read, "Afterwards he repented, and went." Repent, and turn unto the Lord, so iniquity shall not be your ruin. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, so you shall be saved, Seek the Lord, and you shall yet find him. Call upon the Lord, and he will yet hear you. Turn to the Lord, with full purpose of heart, and so will you escape hell, and safely arrive in heaven!