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god, and hung by him over the mind's eye of his | to be lost and perish. The benighted traveller votaries. There is the vail of deceitful riches, is lost and perishes in the wintry storm. The the power of which is so great, that a rich man wanderers through the sandy and trackless plains can hardly see the attractive glories of the king- of the east, are lost in the depths of the intermindom of heaven, so as to seek to enter therein. able wilderness, and being disappointed of the No less dangerous is the love of money to a poor expected well, lie down to die. The mariner man, whether it be money desired, or money to becomes a castaway and is lost, who approaches, the smallest amount possessed; a coin of the in the dark, a shore unknown, without a friendly basest metal placed upon the eye as effectually beacon to guide his course. Yet all these are but closes up its vision as a piece of silver or gold. faint and feeble representations of the dreadful Then there is the vail of worldly pleasure, the fate of the man who is lost, because the gospel is lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eye,' the in- hid from him through the blindness of his mind. dulgence of which so brutities the soul in the Departing from the source of life, what can his world of sense, as to annihilate its perception of doom be but death? Shutting out the glorious the world of spirit. There is the vail of worldly light of heaven, what can be expected of him but honour, fame, and power, the ambitious pride of that he be cast into outer darkness, and be there life,' which dazzles so as to blind, saying, all this left to wander on, and be lost in the blackness of glory will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and darkness for ever? worship me.' And there is, too, what operates with scarcely less influence, the vail of worldly cares, corroding anxieties, and bitter disappointments, 'the sorrow of the world,' which 'worketh death,' and instead of opening up the mind to the light and hopes of the glorious gospel, seals it up in the black darkness of despair.
Nor are these the only methods the god of this world employs to hide the gospel from 'the wise and prudent' who own his sway. There are 'spiritual wickednesses,' as well as 'fleshly lusts.' One man he puffs up with a conceit that he knows enough already, and may therefore neglect, with safety, all means of obtaining farther information. Another he stimulates to the gratification of his corrupt affections and depraved propensities, whether of flesh or spirit, that he may neither have leisure to study, nor inclination to understand the great truths of the bible. Another he fills with prejudice against the gospel of free grace, as not only erroneous in itself, but derogatory to the dignity of human nature, and hostile to the interests of morality; while God's ministers are branded as hypocrites or madmen, and God's people as fanatics and fools. At one time satan will represent the Almighty as too merciful to punish, and at another time as too just to pardon; and thus he either lulls the soul into a false security, or unhinges it by an enervating and cheerless despondency, which, though seen in different persons, are both equally characteristic of 'them who believe not.'
And what is the awful, result of this spiritual blindness? When the gospel is hid from a man, he is lost. How can it be otherwise-seeing it is the only gospel of salvation, and reveals the only name given under heaven among men whereby they can be saved? And it is no light thing
Sinner! does the light of the glorious gospel shine to you? Have the scales been made to drop from your eyes, and the vail from your heart? Has your spiritual vision been purged of every film? Has He who, in creation, commanded the light to shine out of darkness, shined into your heart, to give you the light of the knowledge of his glory in the face of Jesus Christ; and in his light do you, in some measure, see light clearly? Then be thankful for the privilege, and anxious to improve it. Let your light so shine before men, that they, seeing your good works, may glorify your heavenly Father. Beware lest, though once enlightened, satan again obtain the advantage over you, so as to blind your mind, and harden your heart. Pray habitually for the increasing illumination of the Holy Ghost, that by more enlarged and heart-affecting discoveries of the grace and glory of Christ, who is the image of God, you too may be changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord; and so shall your path be that of the just, which as the shining light, shineth more and more unto the perfect day.
"Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son,' Col. i. 13.
Two dominions are here spoken of, and placed in contrast-the kingdom of darkness, and the kingdom of light. Every man in this world is the subject of one or other of these kingdoms; there is no middle state between them; he that is not with me,' says the Son of God, 'is against me.'
How important for every reader to ascertain to the darkness, that men were not ashamed to fall which of the two he belongs! down before the works of their own hands, and converted that earth which the Creator God had formed to show forth his praise, into one vast temple of idols. Great is the power of darkness in encouraging and concealing vice. 'He that doeth evil cometh not to the light.' Need we wonder then that the heathen of ancient times, like the heathen of our own day, not retaining God in their knowledge, should have given themselves over to the vilest abominations, which are fitly represented as 'deeds of darkness'—'the unfruitful works of darkness? So thoroughly was the pagan world pervaded by this character, that they are spoken of as the darkness itself; 'Ye were sometimes darkness.'
Here is the kingdom of darkness, the domain of satan, who is pre-eminently the power of darkness,' that is, the prince or sovereign who possesses the power. When Jesus was betrayed by a false friend, and seized by the hands of violence at the dead of night, he said to those who sought his life, This is your hour, and the power of darkness-a deed of darkness, befitting the season you have chosen for its perpetration, and emanating from him who is the ruler of darkness. What was the object of Paul's commission to the Gentiles? It was 'to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of satan unto God.' Before we can be made meet for the inheritance of the saints in light, we must be delivered from the power of darkness. Christians are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people, that they may show forth the praises of him who hath called them out of 'darkness' into his marvellous light. The apostle, in describing the conflict they have to maintain in standing against the wiles of the devil, says, 'We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness, (or wicked spirits) in high places.'"
Now under this dominion of darkness all men are by nature. Ever since the apostacy in Eden, satan, the prince of this world, has swayed his iron sceptre over blinded, deluded man. As light is the emblem of knowledge and joy, so darkness is the emblem of ignorance and wretchedness. As darkness wraps up visible objects from our bodily eyes, so ignorance hides the true nature of things from the eyes of the mind. Light is sweet, and a pleasant thing it is for the eyes to behold the sun; but there is nothing more unpleasant in itself, or more commonly associated with the idea of terror, than the gloom of night, and so the term darkness came likewise to be used to denote the feeling of horror and misery. In this sense, therefore, the power of darkness is nothing else than the tyranny which the devil exercises over his wretched and captive slaves, filling their understandings with error, and their consciences at one time with insensibility, and at another time with affright. The depth of his abyss vomits forth, as it were, a black and dense vapour, which conceals from them heaven and its blessed brightness. It was thus that he turned all the heathen nations from the service of their Maker; first obscuring, and then extinguishing those sparks of divine knowledge they yet retained-until so gross was
Yet why limit the description to pagans ? Though Paul had been a well-instructed Israelite of the straitest sect, and touching the outward righteousness of the law was blameless, he yet here includes himself among those who had been under the 'power of darkness.' And not to speak of the many heathens at home-adulterers, profane swearers, drunkards, sabbath-breakers, persons given to covetousness, which is idolatry—are there not thousands and tens of thousands who, though nominally Christian, are as much under the power of darkness as was Paul before his conversion? for they have not the knowledge of God, and the love of God is not in them.
Professing Christian! if the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness! and how great too its power in misleading you into error, and exposing you to danger! Yes, and unless removed by divine illumination, it will surely end in the horror of great darkness hereafter-the blackness of darkness for ever-the outer darkness, so called because it consists in perpetual banishment from Him who is the light and life of men.
But from this power of darkness true Christians are delivered-the original word denoting that exertion of power which is put forth in snatching a person from imminent peril. God, by the illumination of his truth, and the energy of his grace, rescues them from the darkness and chains of the spiritual Egypt, and gently leading them by the hand, introduces them into the kingdom of his well-beloved Son.
What a contrast between these two kingdoms! The one of darkness, the other of light; the one of pollution, the other of purity; the one of discord, the other of peace; the one of death, the other of life. Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart.'
Here then is another distinguished privilege in
the covenant of redemption, namely, the being | made the honoured and happy subjects of the King of Zion. For God might have been pleased, in the exercise of his sovereignty, to have delivered the sinner from the dominion of satan, and then left him in possession of a liberty like Adam's, and like him liable to be again entangled with the yoke of bondage. But no!-'if the Son make you free, ye shall be free indeed.' This kingdom is called that of God's Son, because he is at once its divine Founder and its glorious Head; he alone can procure for us a meritorious title to the inheritance of the saints in light, and he alone can produce in us an adequate meetness for its enjoyment. None can become heirs of God, but by being first made, through a soul-uniting faith, joint-heirs with Christ; and then all things are theirs, for they are Christ's and Christ is God's. He is his dear Son, in whom he is ever well-pleased,―his eternal delight; and, therefore, he will withhold nothing from him or from his. 'The Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me.' 'Father! I will that they also whom thou hast given me be with me where I am to behold the glory which thou hast given me.' 'Fear not little flock, it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.'
Who is it that effects this marvellous and blissful translation? It is none other than God himself, for none other than He could accomplish it. If we then have reason to hope that we are the subjects of it, unto Him let us give all the glory, and let us be careful to live worthy of so high a calling, and so noble a destiny. God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth. But if we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.' 'Ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord. Walk as children of the light, and have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness. Walk honestly as in the day, putting off the works of darkness, and putting on the armour of light.' As the subjects and servants of the Lord Christ, be valiant for his truth and his cause on the earth, in opposition to all the powers of darkness. The Son of God was manifested to destroy the works of the devil, and his followers war the same good warfare. Each one of us must, in the end, present himself as fresh from the conflict, or be denied to mingle in the eternal joys and triumphs of the conquerors in the world of light and glory.
For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them," Gal. iii. 10.
WHAT is the law that bears a sanction so terrible? It is the law of God, the moral Governor of the universe. He has formed us rational and responsible beings. Breathing into us the 'breath of lives,' he has made us spirits, endued with reason, conscience, immortality. He has given to us, in that character, a law to observe as the rule of our conduct towards him, our fellow-creatures, and ourselves. That law, being a bright transcript of his own moral perfections, is, like himself, holy, and just, and good. We are bound to observe it by every consideration of duty, gratitude, and interest, for it is the will of our wise Creator, our mighty Preserver, our kind and unwearied Benefactor; and obedience to it is identified with our real happiness, here and hereafter.
Mark we then, the wide extent of the law's demand, and the awful nature of the law's penalty.
Its demand is obedience in all things, obedience always; that is, obedience perfect and perpetual. It requires the strict and unfailing performance of all things written in the book of the law'— meaning by that, the moral law summed up in the ten commandments, as unfolded in all their spirituality by the Son of God, the Lawgiver, Incarnate. With respect to our duty to God, it tells us, that he will endure no idol in our hands or hearts; that he will not give his glory to another, nor his praise to graven images; that as holy and reverend is his name, so we must ever think and speak of Him with that solemn awe and deep veneration which his character is so well fitted to inspire; and that, claiming as his own, yet blessing for our good, the seventh portion of our time, he will have us duly to hallow it, and greatly to delight in it. But along with piety to God, his law prescribes righteousness and peace, mercy and truth towards our fellow-men. It calls upon us, in the various relations of domestic, social, and public life, to cherish and display respect to superiors, condescension to inferiors, kindness to equals, honour and love to all. Forbidding all violence and impurity in action, word, or thought, it intimates, that causeless anger is of the nature of murder, and that a lascivious glance is of the essence of adultery. Condemning all dishonesty and fraud, either in deed or in I desire, it enjoins the most stedfast uprightness,
But it is at our
the most unbending integrity. It bids us lay tion or inducement to violate. aside all malice, and guile, and hypocrisies, and peril that we bring down the high standard of envies, and evil speakings, and all lying, holding obligation from the strict requirements of the our neighbour's reputation as dear to us as our commandment which is spiritual and exceeding Finally, it requires of us that our conver- broad-the claims of which are founded on divine, sation be without covetousness, and that we be unchangeable righteousness, and which is stable content with such things as we have. And in as the pillars of Jehovah's throne, immutable and all these things it requires us to continue always, eternal as Jehovah's existence. Sooner shall heawith constant, unremittting, persevering diligence. ven and earth pass away, than one jot or one tittle It demands of us, that this perfect obedience be pass from his holy law; sooner shall the Deity cease perpetual, reaching from the beginning of life to to be than cease to demand a perfect obedience its close, the same in youth, in manhood, and in to that perfect law, by which satan is as much old age-the same under all circumstances of bound in moral duty to-day, as at his first createmptation, difficulty, and danger-the same in tion-however disinclined he may be to attend our days of sickness and poverty, as in our days of health and wealth; and in addition to all this, it utters, with stern rigour, the announcement, He that once offendeth in one point is guilty of all;' because by that one act of offence he shows that he is destitute of that love to God, 'with all the heart, and soul, and strength, and mind,' which is the fulfilling of the law.'
Now be it carefully noted, that this statement of the extent of the law's demand, cannot be at all affected by the question of the creature's inclination or disinclination, or his consequent ability or disability to fulfil what it requires. The provisions of the law are one thing-the character of those who may be under it is another; and be that character what it may, it cannot, in the least, impair the law's integrity, detract from its authority, nor relax its obligations. If their character be good, the law requires nothing more than obedience—if bad, it will be satisfied with nothing less. In matters of human legislation, shall we propose to ascertain what is legal or illegal by consulting, not the statute-book of the realm, but the diversified opinions and feelings, inclinations and conduct, of those for whose government the law is designed? The laws of man, indeed, are constantly undergoing change, and frequently prove inoperative in consequence of human imperfection; but as the Deity is perfect, we cannot suppose Him to promulgate an imperfect law, nor to be satisfied with imperfect or temporary obedi
Nor is there any part of his word, which gives the least countenance to the idea, that since the fall, or by reason of the death of Christ, the law is relaxed in its requirements, so as to be accommodated to the weakness of man. Had such an intimation been given, it is evident, that every man would have interpreted the latitude to which he might indulge in sin, according to his peculiar and besetting propensities; and the only thing which would have remained as law, would have simply been what nobody felt any strong disposi
to any one of its injunctions.
Such being the law's demand, let us now look at the penalty it threatens in the event of disobedience. It is a curse, even the curse which stands written at the end of the same book; Cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them; and all the people shall say, Amen.' The curse is opposed to the blessing; and as a blessing implies the enjoyment of good, so a curse implies, not only the privation of good, but the endurance of evil. When He who is the Source and Bestower of all happiness blesses a man, that man cannot fail to be happy; and when He curses a man, even by simply withholding his blessing, that man cannot fail to be miserable. For the malediction of God is not a mere imprecation of evil, which, in the mouth of a creature, might be only a vain and impotent wish. As his curse is never causeless, so it is never fruitless. It always carries its effects along with it, and ensures every misery which it denounces or foretells.
Among the Hebrews, however, this word curse would call up certain more definite ideas of punishment, which took their rise in the irrevocable nature of votive offerings. When a gift was presented to the Lord by any worshipper, not only was the thing offered separated from a common to a sacred use, but it was pronounced to be irredeemable, and thus became as really lost to the offerer as if it had been actually destroyed. Hence arose the two ideas of separation and destruction, as connected with the word devoted or accursed; and both are included in the curse of the broken law. There is the curse of separation-the being excommunicated from God's holy and happy creation-the being expelled, like the first murderer, from the presence, and deprived of the friendship of God himself. "Your iniquities have separated between you and your God.' And is there no curse in that?—to have him, who was our kindest Father, for our greatest foo-to be de
prived of a parent's blessing, driven from his | by having been himself made a curse upon the door, and left to wander as disinherited outcasts tree. far from our native home-to hear the dread words, 'Depart, ye cursed!' and to see a great and impassable gulf fixed, cutting us off for ever from the society and the bliss of heaven-in a word, to be banished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.'
The allusion here is obviously to the kind of death which Jesus died, when he hung a selfdevoted victim upon the cross. Nothing had, at one time, been more unlikely, than that the people would allow him to be put to death at all; nor could it well have been anticipated, that, in the event of his being cut off by an oppressive judgment, he would suffer a punishment which was scarcely known among the Jews, but was peculiar to the Romans, and was by them inflicted only on robbers, rebels, and such like notorious criminals. It was a death held by the Jews in the greatest possible execration, being reckoned not merely ignominious, but for a special reason accursed. That reason is to be found in a provision of their criminal code, which, while it inflicted no punishments that would stamp perpetual disgrace upon the living, yet allowed in certain cases a brand of infamy to be affixed to the bodies of those who had been punished with death. of these was the suspension of the corpse upon a gallows or tree; and the person thus suspended was called 'the curse of God,' or the accursed of God, being deemed an abomination in his sight. In this the vilest class of infamous punishments the Jews reckoned death by crucifixion, inasmuch as, after the body was dead, it 'hung upon a
For there is the curse of destruction as well as of separation. A thing devoted was irrecoverably lost; and to prevent even the possibilityof redemption, if it was a living thing, it was surely to be put to death.' It is even so here. The man who forfeits the favour of the God of happiness, is devoted to certain destruction. They who are far from God shall perish.' Not, however, that we are to understand by this the annihilation of the sinner's being. No; but the annihilation of his happiness, the destruction of that which alone deserves the name of life, that which alone is worth the living for, namely, peace and enjoyment. Hence it is called the 'being lost,' 'the dying the second death.' The exact quality of the punishment we may be unable fully to understand; its undefined nature invests it with unknown horrors; but the plainest testimonies of God's word leave us no room to doubt, that it will consist in inconceivable anguish both of soul and body. And it will be coeval with the hap-tree.' piness of the righteous, for the self-same word is employed to describe the duration of both; that word is everlasting.
To beings so circumstanced, how cheering ought to be the announcement, that there is one who redeems from the curse of the law, by being made
a curse for them.'
How may we escape the wrath and curse of God due to us for sin? Can we deliver our own souls by any works of our own performing? No! we can hope for no redemption from the curse by our own doings, because we cannot obey perfectly and perpetually in the future, any more than we have done in the past; and even though we could, still our future obedience could no more atone for past sin, than the ceasing to increase a debt will cancel a debt already contracted. Nor can we hope for redemption from the curse by our sufferings, alty of one transgression is eternal death. Nor any more than our doings, seeing that the pencould the most exalted seraph, the highest archangel, have redeemed us from the curse, for if he could have done so, God needed not to have sent his Son. None but Christ was sufficient for this great work, but he has proved all-sufficient. He assumed our nature, occupied our place, met all the claims of law, satisfied all the demands of justice. Did the law insist on complete obedience? He has yielded it, by working out and bringing in an everlasting righteousness. Did justice threaten us with the law's penalty, the curse? Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us.'