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racter of God's appeals to us, that such are the dispositions with which He has furnished us to receive them, let such also be the manner in which we draw near to his throne.
Let ours be the homage not of cold words and a colder heart. Let us love Him who first loved us. Let us have gratitude to Him who hath given us every blessing. Let us have hope in Him who hath inconceivable treasures yet to give. And, while we return to Him from the ways of sin, let it not be with the coldness and heartlessness of the stranger, but with the reviving affection of the prodigal son, saying, “I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son !"
ON THE PERCEPTION OF SPIRITUAL TRUTHS.
Matthew xiii. 15, 16.
This people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed ; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear.
In the preceding discourse an attempt was made to illustrate the first part of this text, by shewing the baneful influence of sin in hardening the sensibilities of the human heart. remains to point out the justice and propriety of the concluding paragraphs, which describe the unnatural dulness which must have clouded the
other perceptions of those who have refused to be convinced by all the complicated evidences that have been laid before them. The words which our Lord quoted as in the text, were used, on more than one occasion, by other preachers also, to describe the infatuation of their reckless and obdurate auditors. Nor need we be surprised at the frequent repetition of those words, when we observe the peculiar propriety of their application. So abundant and overpowering were the testimonies to which Christ appealed, so perfectly adapted to the condition of nature the doctrines he preached, that the whole range even of the visible world could help to attest their truth; and through the natural elements themselves, over which he exercised such miraculous controul, he could make the proofs of his heavenly mission address themselves, with a force of persuasion almost irresistible, even to the outer senses of his hearers. These words, however, though in the literal signification strictly true, are here most probably to be understood metaphorically, as applying to the inner perceptions of the reason of man, and the various impressions and affections of the will. And, in examining them as they refer to ourselves, we are compelled to view the condition of obstinate sinners in a peculiarly strong and humiliating light. We learn that, if we see not as clearly as we ought the full force of scripture truth, the depravity of man and the mercy of God, the worthlessness of this world and the value of eternity, it is not for want of evidence from on high that we are thus insensible, but the fault must be charged wholly on the dulness of our spiritual vision, the heaviness of our spiritual ear,—the moral distemper which has been suffered to oppress the soul, and darken the perceptions of the understanding and the heart. We learn that the lustre of divine revelation is pouring forth its full meridian brightness around us;
that arguments from all heaven and earth are addressing themselves to our reluctant minds; and that, if still our prospects be dark, and our judgments uninformed, it is only because, by sin, we have blocked up the inlets of the soul, and “shut our eyes that we should not see, and closed our ears that we should not hear."
I repeat that the truth contained in the text is one of a singularly alarming and humiliating kind. And by a reference to the words of our Lord on another occasion, on which a similar comparison was used, we shall further learn that it is one which is more generally important than we may be at first sight inclined to suppose. “ The light of the body,” said Christ, on the occasion of which I speak, (illustrating by this figure the advantages of a clear understanding unperverted by the prejudices of sin,)“ is the eye;" " if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light, but if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness; if therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness !” * The faculty of vision may seem to form a small part of the external perfections of the bodily frame; yet when it is clear, what a medium of delight and enjoyment can it be made! How dreadful are the consequences of its obstruction ! Not only is the imagery of a beautiful and glorious world which had been concentrated and pictured on that little spot, erased for ever; not only is that organ itself a sufferer from the disorder and deformity that have been brought upon it; but “ the whole body is full of darkness ; ”- gloom and desolation settle there in the place of light, the members are not able to perform the offices assigned them, and the motions of all their mechanism are paralysed. As it is with the body, therefore, so it is also with the soul. If the spiritual perceptions be clouded, it is no partial disorder that has been contracted there, no mere local or transient infirmity which we might with impunity neglect; it is a fatal and