Never more make such objections as these:
If I leave off the ways of sin and enter upon the service of God and become religious, then I must be tied up to strictness and preciseness, must bid adieu to liberty, must see no more good days, shall never more have any such pleasant, merry days and nights as I have had in time past. I must leave my former company that I used to drink and be merry with, and must forever be tied up to self-denial, to chastity and temperance, must deny my senses, must be forced to keep under my body and bring it into subjection, must be forced to fight against my own flesh and blood, must become a melancholy, mopish, dull creature. And instead of drinking, rioting and wantonness, I must be forced to pray and read the Scriptures, and sit sighing and weeping for my sins, and so I must be forced to spend the remainder of my days if I become religious.
Alas, how miserably blind are sinners, to fancy themselves happy when they are serving the devil for the wages of eternal death. They are led like an ox to the slaughter; they are fatted for hell in Satan’s pen. They are allured by Satan’s bait to be taken by his hook. They think themselves at liberty when they are bondslaves to sin and the devil and are laboring hard, go through many difficulties and dangers. They labor in perpetual fears and stings of conscience, and all to work out their own ruin, all to lay up wrath against the day of wrath; and yet this their miserable state is what they call their liberty, that [which] they so fear being deprived of upon their entrance on a religious course of life. A deliverance from this power of Satan and their lusts, and from the vexatious accusations of conscience and fears of death and hell and condemnation to eternal torments, is the bondage they are afraid of if they enter upon the service of God, although God will give them the liberty of his own children, will give them the glorious freedom, the free exercise of themselves in heavenly, noble and exalted delights and pleasures, the least of which are more eligible than all the satisfactions that are enjoyed in seventy years of a sensual life.
Wherefore, let sinners never more make such foolish objections against the service of God. For you may be assured this day as from God, if you will enter upon his service, he will give the full liberty of doing whatever tends to your own good and advantage, or to your own pleasure. He will [give] you liberty to recreate and delight yourself in the best, the purest and most exquisite pleasures, as much as you please, without any restraint.
Sermons and Discourses, 1720-1723, The Works of Jonathan Edwards (Yale University Press, 1992), 10:629–630.
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