Sunday, June 24, 2007

Good is Evil and Evil is Good

“The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. Who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)

“Proof of the deceitfulness of the heart lies in the disguises that it throws over its vices. It calls evil good and good evil. How common is it for men to change the names of their faults, and endeavor to reconcile themselves to sins that, under their own proper designations, would be regarded as subjects of condemnation. Thus intemperance and excess are called social disposition and good fellowship; pride is dignity of mind; revenge is spirit; vain pomp, luxury and extravagance are taste, elegance, and refinement; covetousness is prudence; levity, folly, and obscenity are innocent liberty, cheerfulness, and humor. But will a new name alter the nature of a vice? No, you may clothe a swine in purple and gold, and dress a demon in the robes of an angel of light; and the one is still a beast, and the other a devil still.

The same operation of deceit that would strip vice of its deformity would rob holiness of its beauty. Tenderness of conscience is called ridiculous precision; zeal against sin is moroseness and ill-nature; seriousness of mind, repulsive melancholy; superior sanctity, disgusting hypocrisy—in short, all spiritual religion is nauseating cant, whining methodism, and wild enthusiasm. It is, however, the climax of this deceitfulness when vice is committed under the notion that it is a virtue; and this has been done in innumerable instances. Saul of Tarsus thought he was doing God service while he was destroying the church. The bigots of Rome have persuaded themselves they were doing right while they were shedding the blood of the saints. Oh, the depth of deceit in the human heart!”

–19th Century preacher John Angell James from his book, The Christian Father’s Present to His Children

HAT TIP: Slice of Laodicea