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lessness and stupidity of man, what an illustration have we of the saying, “ If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness !”.
But we, who dwell in this land, as I have already said, live in light. Like the angel whom John saw, we stand in the sun. Comparing it with most other lands, we may, at least, call our island-home a Goshen. Let these boast their balmy air, and richer fruits, and sunnier skies! In our religious as well as civil advantages, we enjoy blessings that more than compensate for the gloomy fogs that veil those skies, and the storms that rage on our iron-bound shores. Our lines have fallen in pleasant places, and happy the land, nor to be rashly left, where the light of divine truth streams from a thousand printing-presses, and the candle of the Lord shines bright in its humblest cottages. May I not say that, with their multitude of churches, our cities are illuminated every Sabbath, to celebrate the triumphs of the cross, the great battle that was won on the heights of Calvary, and the peace his heralds proclaim between God and man? Men do perish, yet none need perish. There is no lack of knowledge. The road to heaven is plain. “The wayfaring man, though a fool, shall not err therein." It is better lighted than any street of this city, or the rugged coasts along which our seamen steer, or the harbors which, over surf-beaten bars, they boldly take in winter's blackest night.
Notwithstanding the fulness of our light, what multitudes are wrecked and perish! They never reach the harbor, nor arriving in heaven, get home! And I am bound to tell you that, unless He, who gave sight to the blind, apply his finger, and touch your eyes with "eye-salve," their fate shall be yours. What though
light streams on our eye-balls? We are in darkness till we are converted ; because we are blind—and that not by accident, but by nature—born blind. There are animals, both wild and domestic, which, by a strange and mysterious law of Providence, are born in that state. “Having eyes, they see not.” Apparently unripe for the birth, they leave their mother's womb to pass the first period of their being utterly sightless. But, when some ten days have come and gone, time unseals their eye-lids, and they are delivered from the power of darkness. But not ten days, nor years, nor any length of time, will do us such friendly office. Not that we shall be always blind. Oh, how men shall see, and regret in another world, the folly they were guilty of in this ! Eternity opens the darkest eyes, but opens them, alas, too late ; "He lifted up his eyes, being in torment.” He is a madman who braves that fate; yet it awaits you, unless you bestir yourselves, and, shaking sloth away, seize the golden opportunity to pursue the Saviour with the blind man's cry," Thou Son of David, have mercy on me!”
I can fancy few sadder sights than an entire family, parents and children, all blind—a home where the flowers have no beauty, the night has no stars, the morning no blushing dawn, and the azure sky no glorious sun—a home, where they have never looked on each other's faces ; but a blind father sits by the dull fire with a blind boy on his knee, and the sightless mother nurses at her bosom a sightless babe, that never gladdened her with its happy smile. How would such a spectacle touch the most callous feelings, and move to pity even a heart of stone! But a greater calamity is ours. The eyes of our understanding are darkened. Sin quenched man's sight in Eden ; and
strange result! the event that revealed their nakedness to our first parents, shut, closed, sealed their eyes, and those also of their children, to the greater shame of spiritual nakedness. Thus blind to their blindness, and insensible of their need of Jesus, alas ! how many allow him to pass by! The precious opportunity of salvation is lost-lost perhaps for ever. Oh, for one hour of the sense and energy of the beggars that sat by the gate of Jericho! Stumbling, often falling, but always to rise, they hung on the skirts of the crowd, plunged headlong into the thick of it, and elbowing men aside, pursued Jesus with the most plaintive, pitiful, and earnest prayer, “Have mercy on us, O Lord, thou Son of David ! Have mercy on us, O Lord, thou Son of David !" Be yours that cry. Follow your Saviour on their feet ; hang on him with the vehemence of one who said, “My soul followeth hard after thee.” Be turned by nothing from your purpose—keep following, and, as you follow, crying ; and I promise you that that cry will stop him as sure as Joshua's pierced the heavens, and stopped the glowing axles of the sun.
That we may have a deep, and, by God's blessing, a saving impression of our need of salvation, let us look at some aspects of our state by nature, in the light, if I may say so, of its darkness.
1. Darkness is a state of indolence.
Night is the proper period for rest. When-emblem of a Christian at bis evening prayers—the lark sings in the close of day, and leaves the skies to drop into her dewy nest; when from distant uplands, the rooks—a noisy crowd—come sailing, wheeling home; when the flowers shut their beautiful eyes ; when the sun, retiring within the cloudy curtains of the evening,
sinks into his ocean bed, nature, however some may neglect her lessons, teaches man to seek repose. So, with some exceptions, all honest men and women go to sleep in the dark. “ They that sleep, sleep in the night;" and this busy world lies hushed in the arms of slumber, till morning, looking in at the window, calls up toil to resume her labors ; and thus, when we have been summoned at midnight to a bed of death, how loud the foot-fall sounded in the empty thoroughfare! With thousands around who gave no sign of life ; with none abroad but prowling dog, or houseless outcast, or some guilty wretch, with the tall, grim tenements wrapped in gloom, save where student's lamp, or the faint light of a sick chamber glimmered dim and drear, we have felt such awe as he might do who walks through a city of the dead. Yet, in its hours of deepest darkness and quietest repose, this city presents no true picture of our state by nature. We see it yonder where a city sleeps, while eager angels point Lot's eyes to the break of day, and urge his tardy steps through the doomed streets of Sodom. A fiery firmament hangs over all the unconverted ; and there is need that God send his grace to do them an angel's office, saving them from impending judgments. Are you still exposed to the wrath of God ? Rouse thee, then, from sleep, shake off thy indolence, and leap from thy bed, it is all one whether thou burn on a couch of down or straw. “Escape to the mountains, lest thou be consumed,” betake you to the Saviour, lest—since the blood of Christ cleanseth from all sin, and he died for the chief of sinners, and salvation is without money and without price, and God is not willing that any should perish—thou perish, more, in a sense, the victim of thy sloth than of thy guiltiest sins.
Ancient Egypt, however, supplies perhaps the best illustration of the connection which subsists between a state of darkuess and a state of indolence. God said to Moses, “Stretch out thine hand toward heaven, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, even darkness which may be felt. And Moses stretched forth his hand toward heaven, and there was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days.” And how passed these days of darkness? They neither bought nor sold ; they neither married nor buried ; they neither rocked a cradle nor embalmed a corpse. No hammer rang, no merry wheel went round, no fire burned at the brick kiln, no women sang “ behind the mill,” no busy tread sounded on the pavement, nor cheerful dash of oar upon the water. An awful silence reigned throughout the land ; as if every house had been in a moment changed into a tomb, and each living man into a mummied corpse, they sat motionless -the king on his weary throne, the peasant in the field, the weaver at his loom, the prisoner in his dungeon. As in the story of some old romance, where a bold knight, going in quest of adventures, sounds his horn at the castle gate, and, getting no response, enters to find king, courtiers, servants, horses, all turned into stone ; they sat, spell-bound, where the darkness seized them. “They saw not one another, neither rose any from his place for three days."
Still greater wonder ! many a man in this world has not risen from his place, I say not for three days, nor for three years, but ten times three years and more. He is no nearer heaven than he was a long time ago. Borne on, indeed, by the ever-flowing stream of time, and ever-downward course of sin, alas ! he is nearer the brink of hell. Perilous indolence! God says, “ labor