THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1861 paragraph 331 261 Lectures V. - VII. Hardness Of Heart- No. 1 -- Harden Not Your Heart- No. 2 -- Tender-Heartedness- No. 3 ...

III. The guilt involved in hardening the heart against God.



THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1861 paragraph 332 261 Lectures V. - VII. Hardness Of Heart- No. 1 -- Harden Not Your Heart- No. 2 -- Tender-Heartedness- No. 3 ...

IV. The danger of hardening the heart against God.



THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1861 paragraph 351 261 Lectures V. - VII. Hardness Of Heart- No. 1 -- Harden Not Your Heart- No. 2 -- Tender-Heartedness- No. 3 ...

27. Sinners often harden their hearts through a spirit of presumption. As the Bible says, "Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore, the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil." This fully setting the heart is the same as hardening the heart. They think there is time enough; they presume that God will wait upon them; that they shall live long, or at any rate, shall not die speedily. They, therefore, resolve upon putting it off, presuming that there will be time enough before they die; and thus they trifle with the claims of God, commit the horrible sin of presumption, and often bring upon themselves swift destruction.

III. I will briefly consider the guilt involved in hardening the heart against God.

1. Observe that it is a voluntary act, and an act of direct resistance against God's most righteous claims. It is a direct refusal to obey and acknowledge duty to the blessed God; and is, therefore, as dishonest and wicked as possible. It is saying to God, "I know the claim is just, but I cannot pay it."

And, then, to aggravate the guilt of this hardening of the heart, resort is had to reasons the most ridiculous, unreasonable, and blasphemous. Just consider all the reasons to which I have alluded, for a man's hardening himself against the claims of God. In every case the reason assigned for resisting God's claims is but adding an insult to an injury. First to refuse to obey God, and then to assign such reasons for disobedience, is a direct and horrible insult to the blessed God.

2. It is a direct resistance to His earnest and honest offers of mercy. The sinner is not satisfied with refusing to obey God; he is not satisfied to trample on His authority and His law, and to harden himself against every commandment of God; he also directly resists and pours contempt upon His offers of mercy. And he not only resists the commands, but the importunities and entreaties of God.

God commands, expostulates, entreats, beseeches, urges by every moving consideration; pours His love and mercy as an ocean around him; but he hardens himself against them all, contemns alike justice and mercy. Present to him the commands and threatenings of God, and he hardens himself, and says, he is not going to be moved by threatenings, he is not going to submit to authority. Present to him the compassion, the urgent mercy of God, and then he will cavil, that he does not deserve the punishment supposed in the offer of mercy; or, Christians have done something wrong. Thus he will resort to every miserable and provoking shift conceivable, to justify himself in rejecting mercy.

3. It is setting the worst possible example; and example is the highest moral influence that can be exerted. Actions speak more emphatically than words.

If a man resists the claims of God, he virtually invites all others, over whom he has influence, to resist these claims also. He need not say in words, "Come, let us resist the claims of God;" to persist in resisting them himself, is the loudest call on others to resist them, of which he is capable. No thanks to the sinner if God has a virtuous subject in His kingdom. The man that hardens his heart against God, does the utmost he can to lead all others to do so.

4. But what is the real guilt involved in this course? Wherein does the guilt of this dishonesty consist? I answer, it consists in its being a violation of our obligation to love God and our neighbor; that is, to exercise good-will to God and our neighbor.

Now, how great is our obligation to love God and our neighbor? I answer, it is as great as God's desire of our love; it is as great as His righteous claim upon our obedience; it is as great as the intrinsic value of the good of Himself and His universe which He requires us to will. The fundamental reason why we would will the good of God and His universe, is the intrinsic value of this good to God and His universe. This is the fundamental reason that imposes the obligation on us. It is the intrinsic value of this good, in view of which God commands us to will it. Now, if this is the reason we should will it, if this reason imposes the obligation, the obligation is as great and broad as the reason that imposes it.



THE OBERLIN EVANGELIST 1861 paragraph 353 261 Lectures V. - VII. Hardness Of Heart- No. 1 -- Harden Not Your Heart- No. 2 -- Tender-Heartedness- No. 3 ...

But the considerations that impose the obligation are absolutely infinite; there can, therefore, be no bounds to the guilt of hardening the heart against the claims of God.

IV. I will notice briefly the danger of hardening the heart against God.

1. It is dangerous, because, if you continue it, you will never be converted.




III. Some of the consequences of mocking God. The Bible says, in the words of our text--"Be ye not mockers, lest your bands be made strong." What is meant by this? 1. The fact is, mocking God grieves the Holy Spirit, and sears the conscience; and thus the bands of sin become stronger and stronger. The heart becomes gradually hardened by such a process. Why should it not? Why should not the heart become fearfully hardened by such trifling with divine things? When individuals accustom themselves to say things without meaning, the effect must be that they come to disbelieve in them altogether, and their hearts become hard and callous to the invitations of the Gospel. 2. And not only do the bands of sin become strong, but delusion becomes strong. Their minds become so darkened that they lose all sense of what is true, spiritual, and good, in relation to religion, the Bible, and everything else. If I had time I might notice some facts on this subject, that have come under my own observation, but there is little need of this; I doubt not that most of you have witnessed the dreadful results of formality in religion, in hardening the heart, and perverting the mind from a perception of all that is true. Things that would affect the ungodly do not affect them at all. For example, if you can get an infidel to go away by himself and pray, he will find it a very solemn and awful business to speak to God; and will be impressed ten times more than the man who has for years been mocking God by his formality, and pretending to pray all his life. Men become gospel--hardened by mocking God. They mock God until the truth of God ceases to affect them. Their hearts have become so dead and their consciences so stupefied, that when God's voice calls upon men to repent, it passes right by them without affecting them in the least. 3. Again: They will get into such a state, and their darkness becomes so great, that they think and profess they are doing their duty, when they are only mocking God by their heartless formality. And, of course, the more such persons abound in their duty, the more are they hardened in sin. Who does not know this? Formalists are the most hardened class, because they mock God the most. It is always so, that just in proportion as persons about in mere form, they become hardened in sin before God.




What a great evil it is that little children should die if they are old enough to sin, and not old enough to repent--if they can be taught now, and yet not be converted till by and by! Bring up a child from its very infancy to the use of alcohol. Be sure that the mother, while nursing it, takes enough to keep the child drunk. Give it a little after awhile--let it sip a little out of it's cup and thus bring it up to the use of it. Do not teach it temperance till it becomes older, when fairly hardened in its course, bewildered, and stupefied by drink. Then try to reform it! Is this the way? Yet, this is just as true of other forms of sin, as of this. When first a sense of sin afflicts their little consciences, teach them to come to Christ at once for forgiveness.--then, if ever, is the time you may expect it. Every moment's delay only makes sin a habit, hardening the heart, and stupefying the conscience. Oh! what a mistake it is to let children grow up in sin, expecting them to be converted when they become more hardened.



HARDENING THE HEART This lecture was typed in by Lewis Peregory








Parents sometimes have the mortification of seeing their own children become stubborn against parental authority, and of seeing their requirements resisted, and their counsels set at nought. Parents often see children, when they undertake to press them to do anything, instead of obeying, wax stubborn and rebellious. They stand and resist, and manifest a cool determination to persevere in their disobedience; to persist in resisting the claims of their parents; and, so far as the philosophy of the act is concerned, resistance to God is just the same. The mental process is precisely similar. The mind resisting truth "is hardening the heart," in the sense of the text. I shall next inquire




A few further remarks must close what I have to say; and the first remark is this: persons often mistake the true nature of hardness of heart. Supposing it to be involuntary, they lament it as a misfortune, rather than regret it as a crime. They suppose that the state of apathy which results from the resistance of their will, is hardness of heart. It is true that the mind apologies to itself for resistance to the claims of God, and, as a natural consequence, there is very little feeling in the mind, because it is under the necessity of making such a use of its powers as to cause great destitution of feeling. This is hardening the heart -- that act of the mind in resisting the claims of God. For persons to excuse themselves by complaining that their hearts are hard, is only to add insult to injury. They resist God's claims, and then complain of the hardness this resistance induces; they harden themselves in the ways we have stated, rendering themselves obstinate against God, and then they complain of the results of their own actions. Now, is this the way?



SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY (1851), LECTURE 28 - Attributes of Selfishness--Continued (Part II) paragraph 25 Efficiency . . Opposition to benevolence or to virtue . . Cruelty . . Injustice

     Selfishness is not, in its relations to benevolence, a mere negation. It cannot be. It is the choice of self-gratification as the supreme and ultimate end of life. While the will is committed to this end, and benevolence, or a mind committed to an opposite end, is contemplated, the will cannot remain in a state of indifference to benevolence. It must either yield its preference of self-indulgence, or resist the benevolence which the intellect perceives. The will cannot remain in the exercise of this selfish choice, without as it were bracing and girding itself against that virtue, which it does not imitate. If it does not imitate it, it must be because it refuses to do so. The intellect does, and must, strongly urge the will to imitate benevolence, and to seek the same end. The will must yield or resist, and the resistance must be more or less resolute and determined, as the demands of the intellect are more or less emphatic. This resistance to benevolence or to the demands of the intellect in view of it, is what the Bible calls, hardening the heart. It is obstinacy of will, under the light and the presence of true religion and the admitted claims of benevolence.