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prisoners. These are many: I -mention the following There is,
1. A situation truly uncomsortable and piteous. They are sitting in darkness, and in the region and shadow of death, Matth. iv. 16. -What a melancholy case were the Egyptians in during the three days darkness, while the Israelites had light in all their dwellings! It was among the last and worst of their plagues. Surely light is sweet; and the more excellent the light is, it must be the sadder to be deprived of it. The light of God's grace and savour is the most excellent light, and therefore heaven is called light, and hell is darkness, utter darkness; no gleam of comsort in hell. A natural state is the suburbs of hell, and no real comsort in this condition, but a possibility of help. Therefore the saints pity them, as in a most piteous condition. Jerusalem's case drew tears from our Saviour's eyes, Luke, xix. 41. 42. There is,
2. Unacquaintedness with their own state of sinsulness and misery, Rev. iii. 17.—Their misery, they are blind, they see not the hazard they are in of dropping every moment into the pit. The meflengers of death are approaching them, the sword of justice is hanging over their heads, signs of approaching ruin are on them and about them; others see it, but not themselves: Hos. vii. 9. "Strangers have devoured his strength, and he knoweth it not; yea, gray hairs are here and there upon him, yet he knoweth it not." The prodigal never saw his starving condition, till he came to himself, Luke, xv. 17.—Their sinsulness also; of this they are ignorant: Rom. vii. 9. "For I was alive without the law once; but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died." As in a house, the motes flying thick there are not perceived-till the sun-beams enlighten it; so, till
the Lord open the eyes of the blinded sinner, he fees not those swarms-of living lusts- which are preying on his dead foul, the innumerable evils which compass him about, those multiplied pieces cf guilt which are binding him over to destruction.
3. They are easily ensnared and deceived in matters of the gratest concern. Our s.ord Jesus pronounces a woe to the world because of offences, Matth. xviii. 7. because stumbling-blocks laid bebefore the blind canliot but have most pernicious esfects. The world is sull of snares laid by Satan and his instruments; and the blindnesa of the mind exposes men to the utmost hazard by them. How easily are they cheated out of their greatest interests for another world, and made to hug a shadow instead of the substance, and embrace a scorpion instead of a sish-, and stones instead of bread ; because, though they be eagle-eyed in the things of time, they are like bats and owls as to the light of lise. Like Esau, for one morsel of meat they sell this biith-right, Heb. xii. 16.
4. They get no good of the light of the gospel, but stumble at noon-day, as in the dark. They receive this grace in vain. The night and day are alike to the blind, winter and spring to the dead tree. And hence men live under the gcispel as loosely, prosanely, and carelessly, as if they were living in the dark comers of the earth. The iight of the gospel, like a shining sun, has arisen, teaching us, that, "denying ungodliness and worldlylulls, we should live soberly, righeeouily,. and godlily, in this present world," Titus, h. 12. Jiut instead of going like men to their proper work, they like wild beasts go to their dens, and lie at ease, neither working out their own salvation, nor doing any good to others. The light is set up to
Vol. III. P them,
them, but their works are works of darkness, and so they hate the light.
5. They art precipitating themselves into the utmost hazaTd to their souls, without sear: Psal. xxxvi. 1. "The transgression of the wicked saith within my heart, that there is no fear of God before his eyes." How fearlessly do men venture themselves into the forbidden ground, rush in the way of sin on the sword-point of justice : Jerem. viii. 6. "I hearkened, and heard, but they spake not aright; no man repented him of his wickedness, saying, What have I done? every one turned to his course, as the horse ruiheth into the battle." They drink up iniquity as the ox the water, being in that case as blind men drinking up 3 cup of poison, which they know not to be such. —There is,
6. Deep security in the most dangerous condition, as not seeing what is before them. They go on in their courses, as the sinners did before the flood, Matth. xxiv. 38. They are exposed every day to the utmost hazard, yet they are secure. They stand before God's bent bow, as a mark to his arrows, yet they are at ease. Wrath is pursuing them, yet they are not concerned to See from the wrath to come. They are jovial while about the pit's mouth, and even though they are in hazard every moment of salling into it.
Lastly, To sum up all in a word, this blindness. fills the whole man in heart and lise with darkness and consusion: Matth. vi. 23. "But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be sull of darkness; if, therefore, the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!" A person can do ftothing which is good in this case, he lies open to all evil both of sin and misery. And this darkness, unremoved, will make way for eteroal darkness.
Having, as we proceeded, made some practical improvement, in conclusion, we shall only exhort you,
1. To be convinced of this your natural darkness; believe it from the Lord's word, and believe your hazard from it, though otherwise ye do not lee it.
2. See your need of Christ to open your eyes. Pray for the Spirit; say, with the blind man, «« Lord, that mine eyes may be opened."
Lastly, From what has been said on the several parts of Christ's commission with respect to natural men, unconverted sinner3 may get a broad view of their misery. Ye are Satan's captives, yea, prisoners, God's prisoners, the devil's prisoners, prisoners in bands, and blinded prisoners. Be deeply affected with your condition, and be persuaded, as prisoners of hope, to turn to your strong-holds, while you have access to them. — While it is called to-day, harden not your hearts, but hearken to his voice, proclaiming that he is * anointed to open the prison to them that are fcound."
? » THE THE SAME SUBJECT CONTINUED.
Isa. lxi. 1.—And the opening of the prison to them that are bound.
Aving attended to the sirst doctrinal point on this subject, we now go on to
Doct. II. That, by open proclamation in the gospel, Jesus ofsers to prisoners in a natural state, an opening of their eyes, a loosing of their bands, and a bringing them out of their prisons.
We shall illustrate the disserent parts of this doctrine, under the following heads.
I. We shall shew, that Christ ofsers to such an opening of their eyes, the recovery of their spiritual sight, and to bring them from darkness unto light.
II. We shall shew how Christ takes off the devil's bands from these prisoners.