Second. Ignorance, as it lets sin in, so it locks it up in the soul, and the soul in it. Such a one lies in Satan’s inner dungeon, where no light of conviction comes. Darkness inclines to sleep; a blind man and a drowsy conscience go together. When the storm arose, the mariners who were awake fell a praying to their god, but the sleeper fears nothing. Ignorance lays the soul asleep under the hatches of stupidity. God hath planted in the beast a natural fear of that which threatens to hurt it. Go to thrust a beast into a pit, and it hangs back; nature shows its abhorrency. Man being of a nobler nature, and subject to more dangers, God hath set a double guard on him; as [he has] a natural fear of danger, so also a natural shame that covers the face at the doing of any unworthy action. Now an ignorant man hath slipped from both these his keepers; he sins and blusheth not, because he knows not his guilt; he wants that magistrate within which should put him to shame. Neither is he afraid, because he knows not his danger; and therefore he plays with his sin, as the child with the waves, that, by and by, will swallow him up. Conscience is god’s alarm to call the sinner up. It doth not always ring in his ear that hath knowledge, being usually set by God to go off at some special hour, when God is speaking in an ordinance, or striking in a providence; but in an ignorant soul this is silent. The clock cannot go when the weights are taken off; conscience is only a witness to what it knows.
Third. Ignorance shuts out the means of recovery. Friends and ministers, yea, Christ himself stands without, and cannot help the creature. As such, threatenings and promises are of no use; he fears not the one, he desires not the other, because he knows neither. Heaven’s way cannot be found in the dark, and therefore the first thing God doth, is to spring in with a light, and let the creature know where he is, and what the way is to get out of his prison-house, without which all attempts to escape are in vain. There is some shimmering light in all. There are some sins so cruel and costly, that the most prostrate soul may in time be weary of their service for low ends; but what will all this come to, if the creature be not acquainted with Christ, the true way to God, faith and repentance, the only way to Christ? Such a one, after all this bustle, instead of making an escape from Satan, will run full into his mouth another way. There are some ways which at first seem right to the traveller, yet wind about so insensibly, that when a man hath gone far, and thinks himself near home, he is carried back to the place from whence he set forth. This will befall every soul ignorant of Christ, and the way of life through him. After many years’ travel, as they think, towards heaven by their good meanings, blind devotions, and reformation, when they shall expect to be within sight of heaven, they shall find themselves even where they were at first, as very slaves to Satan as ever. Romans 10:14-17! They must hear!-JK