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in passing from nature to grace you did not pass from a lower to a higher stage of the same condition--from day break to sunshine, but from darkest night to dawn of day. Unlike the worm which changes into a winged insect, or the infant who grows up into a stately man, you became, not a more perfect, but“ a new creature" in Jesus Christ. And with deepest gratitude to Him who, filled with pity, and for “his great love wherewith he loved us,” left heaven to save us, let us now consider our original state—“ look unto the rock whence we are hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence we are digged.”
I. Look at our state of nature and sin as one of darkness.
In its essential nature, sin is as opposed to holiness as darkness is to light; and as different, therefore, from holiness, as a starless midnight from the blaze of noonday. Our natural state is therefore, because of its sinfulness, represented by the emblem of darkness. How appropriate and how expressive the figure! Hence, in describing the condition of the heathen, those who neither know God, nor Him whom to know is life eternal, the Bible says, The darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people. Hence, those ancient prophets who lived in the morning of the church—and in the rosy east, and clouds already touched with gold, saw a sun beneath the horizon hastening to his risehailed Jesus as a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of His people Israel. Hence also, inasmuch as he reveals saving truth, redeems from sin, and shines upon the path he himself has opened to heaven, Jesus stood before the multitude, and said, as he raised his hand to the blazing sun, “ I am the light of the world."
Jesus ! Thy people's shield, thou art also thy people's sun; a shield that never broke in battle, and a sun that never sets in night; the source of all the knowledge that illumes, and of all the love that warms us ; with healing, as well as heating virtue in thy beams, thou art “ The sun of righteousness with healing in his
To that emblem of our Saviour, so splendid and yet so simple, science imparts additional appropriateness if the theory be true that accounts for those vast stores of light and heat which we extract from dead dark coal. The coal, which we raise from the bowels of the earth, once grew upon its surface. Some ten or twenty thousand years ago, it formed the giant forests where mighty monsters ranged at will over an unpeopled world. After this rank vegetation had incorporated into its substance these elements of light and heat which the sun poured down from heaven, God, provident of the wants of a race not yet created buried it in the earth ; and thus furnished the earth with ample stores of fuel for the future use of man. So, when the sun has set, and the birds have gone to roost, and the stars have come out in the sky, and the door is shut, and the curtains are drawn, and peace and happiness smile on the bright family circle, it is sun-light that shines from the lustres, and sun-heat that glows on the hearth. But whether that speculation of science be true or false, to Jesus we can trace all the light direct or derived, which illuminates the world. Heavenly fountain of the love that warms and the truth that enlightens mankind, he rose like a sun on this cold benighted earth; and will be the centre around which heaven itself shall roll when tides have ceased to flow below, and suns to shine above. “The city had no need of the sun, neither
of the moon, to shine in it, for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof."
But, turning from the Saviour to contemplate the sinner, I pray you to observe, that our state by nature is one not merely of darkness, but of double darkness. It is always dark, pitch dark, even at noonday, to the blind ; not blazing sun, or shining stars to them. With God "the night shineth as the day," but to the un. happy blind, "He maketh the day dark with night." Yet strong as this figure is, it does not adequately represent the full misery of our condition. We had neither light nor sight. That we may be saved, do you not perceive that two things, therefore, must be done for us? We require a medium to see by, as well as eyes to see with ; to the revelation of the Gospel must be added the regeneration of the Holy Spirit, in other words, we must have in Christ an object for faith to see, and in faith we must have eyes to see Christ. Inhabitants of a Christian land, we possess one of these,
- like the Hebrews in Goshen we have a light in our dwellings; and so far we differ from the heathen, for they have neither light nor sight. They live in darkness so gross, that they do not distinguish purity from pollution. They have no more idea of the way of salvation than the blind have of colors. They do not know God. Some worship a cow; some a serpent; some a stone ; some the very Devil. In them, reason crouches to adore a beast; and man, made in the image of God, bows his erect form and noble head before a lifeless block. When, from the study of that instinctive and unerring wisdom with which the lower animalsthe stork in the period of her migrations, the bee in the construction of its cell-act in their allotted spheres, we turn to this amazing, and all but incredible sense
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