While we keep aloof in general statements, there is little fruit to be expected; it is the close hand-fight that does execution. David is not awakened by the prophet's hovering at a distance in parabolic insinuations. Nathan is forced to close with him, and tell him plainly, 'You are the man!' [2 Sam 12:7] Few will, in words, deny the necessity of the new birth; but they have a self-deluding confidence that the work is not to be done now.
And because they know themselves to be free from that gross hypocrisy which takes up religion merely for a color to deceive others, and for covering wicked designs, they are confident of their sincerity, and do not suspect that more close hypocrisy, in which the greatest danger lies and by which a man deceives his own soul. But man's deceitful heart is such a matchless cheat—and self-delusion so reigning and so fatal a disease—that I do not know which is the greater—the difficulty, or the necessity of the undeceiving work that I am now upon. Alas for the unconverted, they must be undeceived—or they will be undone! But how shall this be effected?
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