« PreviousContinue »
jaws of the wolf. Nay, there are some plunged in yet deeper moral darkness, who remind me of a convict whom I saw in the Hulks—that frightful concentration of villany and crime. He had seated himself ostentatiously on a bench. With no blush burning on his beardless cheek, but with an expression rather of satisfaction in his face, the boy was polishing the fetter on his ankle. Poor wretch, he was vain of its silvery sheen, and raised sad thoughts in us of pity and wonder at the darkness of his neglected soul.
And yet more dark and dreadful is the state of many who would once have said of the life they now lead, “Is thy servant a dog that he should do this great thing ?” Gone in iniquity, they boast, with unblushing face, of the victims whom they have seduced; of the abominable debaucheries which they practise ; of virtue ensnared by their villanous arts ; of simple, unsuspecting honesty they have overreached ; of their scorn for religion, of their contempt of its professors, and their loose, licentious freedom from its holiest bonds. They blazon their sins upon their foreheads, and, parading them before the world, glory in their shame.
No man wishes, no man intends, to go to Hell. And who, that was not plunged in the ignorance of deepest darkness, would choose death rather than life, would embrace sin rather than the Saviour, would wave away the cup of salvation to seize a poisoned chalice, and drink down damning draughts of forbidden pleasure ? May God enlighten your eyes lest you sleep the sleep of death! Be not deceived. The tale of the goblet, which
the genius of a heathen fashioned, was true; and taught a moral of which many a death-bed furnishes the melancholy illustration. Having made the model of a serpent, he fixed it in the bottom of the cup. Coiled for the spring, a pair of gleaming eyes in its head, and in its open mouth fangs raised to strike, it lay beneath the ruby wine.
Nor did he who raised that golden cup to quench his thirst, and quaff the delicious draught, suspect what lay below, till, as he reached the dregs, that dreadful head rose up and glistened before his eyes. So, when life's cup is nearly emptied, and sin's last pleasure quaffed, and unwilling lips are draining the bitter dregs, shall rise the ghastly terrors of remorse, and death, and judgment, upon the despairing soul. Be assured, a serpent lurks at the bottom of guilt's sweetest pleasure. To this awful truth may God, by his word and Holy Spirit, open your eyes! Seeing the serpent, seized with holy horror at the sight, may you fling the temptation from you ; and turn to Him, who, with love in his heart, and kindness in his looks, and forgiveness on his lips, and the cup of salvation held out in his hand, cries, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink.” Here, believe me, is peace that passeth understanding ; here are joys that will bear the morning's reflection, pleasures that are for evermore.
THE POWER OF DARKNESS.
Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness.-Colossians i. 13.
suffered shipwreck, the scene which recalled his danger filled us with no fear. Because, while his ship, on the night she ran ashore, was cutting her way through the densest fog, we were ploughing the waters of a silver sea, where noble headlands, and pillared cliffs, and scattered islands, and surf-beaten reefs, stood bathed in the brightest moonshine. There was no danger, just because there was no darkness.
The thick and heavy haze is, of all hazards, that which the wary seaman holds in greatest dread. It exposes him to accidents which neither care nor skill can avert. In a moment his bark may go crashing on the treacherous rock, or, run down by another ship, fill and founder in the deep. Rather than a glassy sea, wrapped in gloom, give him the roaring storm and its mountain billows, with an open sky above his head, and wide sea-room around. And, in a sense, is it not so with a Christian man? Give him the light of heavenlet him enjoy both a clear sense of his interest in Christ, and a clear sight of his duty to Christ, and, in the midst of trials and temptations, how pobly he rides over them! He rises on the waves which seemed about to overwhelm him, and holds on his course to heaven-safer in the storm than others are in the calm. Enjoying the sunshine of God's countenance within his soul, and the light of God's word on his path of duty, the man is cheerful where others are cast down ; he sings when others weep; when others tremble, he is calm, perhaps even jubilant; and, the Lord his Saviour, because his sun, he adopts the brave words of David, saying, “The Lord is my light and my salvation ; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid ?"
In resuming the subject of the previous discourse, this leads me to remark
3. That darkness is a state of danger. As locks and bars prove, neither life nor property is safe by night as they are by day. Honesty, having nothing to blush for or to conceal, pursues her business in open day; but crime seeks the cover of the night. And what is that thief, prowling abroad like a fox, and with stealthy foot creeping along under shadow of the wall; what that assassin, searching the gloom, and listening for the step of his victim's approach; what she, who, issuing from à den of sin, and throwing the veil of night over painted cheek and faded finery, lurks in the streets for her prey—what are these, but types of him who is the enemy of man, and takes advantage of spiritual darkness to ensnare or assault God's children, and to ruin poor thoughtless sinners.
Such danger is there in darkness, that people have perished within reach of home, almost at their own door. So it beféll one who was found in a winter morning stretched cold and dead on a bed of snowher glazed eyes and rigid form contrasting strangely with her gay attire. . She began the night with dances, and ended it with death. She leaves the merry revels of a marriage-scene for her home across the mountain. The stars go out, and the storm comes on. Bewildered by the howling tempest, and the blinding drift, and the black night, she loses her way. Long the struggle lasts. At length, worn out and benumbed, she stretches ner fragile form on that fatal bed, and, amid dreams, perhaps, of dances, and song, and merriment, she sinks into the sleep that knows no waking. Nor was it when snows were melted, and months or years had gone, that her witbering form was found by a wandering shepherd on some drear upland, in a lone mountain corrie, half buried in a dark and deep morass. No. She met her fate near by a friendly door, and perished in the darkness within a step of safety. Yet not nearer, nor so near it, as many are to salvation, who yet are lost. They die by the very door of heaven. The Apostle tells us how, “ The god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” The darkness is their death.
And while no night ever came down so black and starless as that which has settled on the human soul,