It is a study full of sad and mysterious interest to inspect the psychological involutions of an unbeliever. Hudibras contains a verse to which my mind frequently reverts when I think of the shiftings of the carnal mind. It describes the motions of a serpent:
“He wired in and out,
And left the gazer still in doubt
Whether the snake that made the track
Was going in or coming back.”
Some feeling like that which arises upon seeing these writhings affects me when I cast up the excuses of men for not being saved. With seemingly utter unconsciousness, I find the sinner on both sides of the same question. It is difficult to pin him to one spot. In one breath he will exploit his moral standing, in the next he will declare he is not good enough to be a Christian. When I try to make him feel his sins in order to bring him to the Saviour, he urges them himself as a reason why he will not come.
~ William Curtis Stiles, Excuse Me (1898)