A very sobering, on one hand, and encouraging on the other, word from Jeremiah Burroughs ("An Exposition of the Prophecy of Hosea," p. 88): For God to make the way of sin difficult to sinners, is a most singular mercy. “Behold!” It is better for the way of sin to be hedged with thorns, and to be made difficult to us, than to have the smoothest path for its commission. As it is one of the greatest judgments of God upon wicked men to lay stumblingblocks before them in the way of righteousness; so it is one of the greatest mercies of God to his children to lay stumblingblocks and difficulties before them in the way of sin. It is usual with God in dealing with reprobates, to make their sins, and his providences, stumblingblocks to them in the way of life. They hate godliness, and therefore the hedge of thorns compasses about the way of righteousness to the wicked. In Prov. 15:19, it is said that “the way of the slothful man is an hedge of thorns;” that is, a slothful man looks upon any duty that he should perform, as compassed about with a hedge of thorns. God, in his just judgment, suffers such difficulties at least to appear to the wicked in the way of his duties as make him have no mind to them. Now this is a grievous judgment of God, to cause the way of his fear to appear so difficult, and to scare them from it: What should I do meddling with such ways? I see I must suffer much; there are these stumblingblocks that I must go over, these troubles that I must meet; I had better sit still and be quiet, I shall never be able to go through them. Such stumbling blocks God lays in the way of godliness before the wicked, and they stumble at them, and fall, and ruin their souls. On the other hand, God, in abundance of mercy, casts stumbling blocks in the way of sin before his people, which they cannot get over; if they stumble, it is but to break their shins, and to save their souls. But when the wicked stumble, they break their necks, and damn their souls. But the ways of God “are all plain to him that understandeth, and right to them that find knowledge,” Prov. 8:9. God’s ways are very plain to the godly, and sin’s ways are very difficult; but on the other side, to the wicked God’s ways are very difficult, and the ways of sin are very plain. O unhappy men, says Luther, when God leaves them to themselves, and does not resist them in their lusts! but woe to them, at whose sins God winks! When God lets the way to hell be a smooth and pleasant way, it is a heavy judgment, and a sign of God’s indignation against men, a token of his rejection of them, that he does not intend good unto them. You bless yourselves many times, that in the way of sin you find no difficulty; if a lewd or a malicious man, who would accomplish his own ends, find all things go on as he desires, so that he has not in his way so much as a thorn, he blesses himself. Bless thyself! if thou knewest all, thou hast cause to howl, and wring thy hands, for the curse of God is upon thee, a dreadful curse to make the way of sin pleasant. On the other side, perhaps many of God’s saints, when they find the ways of sin somewhat difficult to them, are troubled that they cannot have their will. Troubled! thou hast cause to bless God who has thus crossed thee, for it is an argument of much love to thee. There is a “Behold” put to this, that God should be so merciful to make their ways of idolatry and superstition difficult to them.