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s trange 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 thec." Be turned by no tiling 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 his 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 darkness 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 not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life," " give diligence to make your calling and election sure," " seek ye the Lord while he may be found," and, therefore, I say, be up and doing; time is short, the stake is great, death is at the door, and if he find you out of Christ, damnation is at his heels. "And I looked, and behold a pale horse, and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him." Of your many calls and opportunities, is this all the result? Half awakened, yet unwilling to tear yourself from the arms of pleasure, do you avert your eyes from the light? angry perhaps at being disturbed, perhaps half sorrowful do you bid us come back at "a more convenient season?" Drowsily turning on your deceitful couch, do you say, "Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep 1" Then, in God's name, I ask what shall be the end of these things? The end of these things is death.
2. Darkness is a state of ignorance.
Conducted under the veil of night to the nuptial couch, Jacob finds in the possession of Rachel, as he supposes, an ample reward for the seven long years of weary work and waiting. She whom his heart wooed and his hands won, is now his wedded wife. He wakes a happy man, neither suspecting how God had punished him for the deceit he practised on his old, blind father, nor how Laban, a greater master of craft than himself, had substituted the elder for the younger daughter. Fancy his confusion, when he turns, by the rosy light of morn, to gaze on his beautiful bride, to find the blear-eyed Leah at his side. Yet a day approaches when, from dreams of wealth and pleasure many shall awake in rage and unavailing sorrow, to the discovery of a greater mistake. What Jacob's mistake to his who, embracing pleasure, wakens to find himself in the arms of a hideous demon, dragging him down—struggling, shrieking, into the lowest hell?
But if we would see spiritual darkness represented on a scale in any degree commensurate with the multitude of its victims, and with its destructive power, let us turn to the host of Midian. The memorable night has come when, animated by a divine courage, Gideon leads his three hundred to the bold assault. Silently he plants them around the enemy's lines, waiting till song and revel have died away, and that mighty host lies buried in stillest slumbers. Then, one trumpet blows loud and clear, startling the wary sentinel on his round. Tie stops, he listens, and ere its last echoes have ceased, the whole air is torn with battlenotes. Out of the darkness trumpet replies to trumpet, and the blast of three hundred, blown loud and long, wakens the deepest sleeper, filling the ear of night with a dreadful din, and the hearts of the bravest with strange and sudden fear. Ere they can ask what mean, whence come these sounds, a sight as strange blazes up through the murky night. Three hundred torch-fires pierce the gloom, and advance in flaming circle on the panic-stricken camp. Suddenly extinguished, once more all is dark; then, as if the dust of the whirlwind, or the sands of the desert, or the leaves of the forest, had turned into armed men, ready to burst on that uncircumcised host; in front, on their rear, on either flank, rings the Hebrews' battle cry: "The sword of the Lord and of Gideon I" For dear life the Midianites draw; mistaking friend for foe, they bury their swords in each other's bosoms. Wild with terror,