He is wise in heart, and mighty in strength: who has hardened himself against him, and has prospered?
Every act of sin hardens the heart of man, but the heat of blasphemy at once shows and puts it into the extremity of hardness. Man hardens himself against God four ways especially.
1. Upon presumption of mercy. Many do evil because they hear God is good. They turn His grace into wantonness, and are without all fear of the Lord, because there is mercy so much with the Lord.
2. The patience of God, or His delays of judgment, harden others. Because God is slow to strike, they are swift to sin.
3. Gross ignorance hardens many.
(1) Ignorance of themselves.
(2) Ignorance of God.He that knows not what he ought to do, cares not much what he doth. None are so venturous as they who know not their danger.
4. Hardness of heart in sinning is contracted from the multitude of those who sin. They think none shall suffer for that which so many do. Man doth not grow hard at once, much less hardest; but when once he begins to harden himself, where he shall make an end he knows not. The first step is, the taking time and leave to meditate upon sin, and roll it up and down in the thoughts. A hard heart lets vain thoughts dwell in it. A holy heart would not let them lodge with it. A second step is, some tastes of pleasure and delight in sin. It proves a sweet morsel under his tongue. The third step is, custom in sinning. It argues great boldness to venture often. By the fourth step of hardness he comes to defend and maintain his sin.
5. The hard heart grows angry and passionate with those who give advice against sin; he is resolved; and a man that is resolved in his way is angry if he be desired to remove out of his way. He that is resolved to sleep, loves not to be awakened.
6. Hard hearts grow too hard for the Word. They are sermon proof; they can sit under the preacher, and hear from day to day, but nothing touches them.
7. The heart is so hard that the sword of affliction doth not pierce it; the man is judgment proof. Let God strike him in his person or estate, let God set the world afire about his ears, yet on he goes. He is like the man of whom Solomon speaks (Proverbs 23:34), who lies sleeping in a storm upon the top of the mast.
8. The hard heart sits down in the chair of the scorner. He derides the Word, and mocks at the judgments of God.
Parallel VersesKJV: He is wise in heart, and mighty in strength: who hath hardened himself against him, and hath prospered?