« PreviousContinue »
stricken mad with pain, each man seizes his fellow by the beard, giving and receiving mortal wounds. And so, not by the arms of Gideon, so much as by the hand of the darkness, was skill outwitted, and bravery defeated, and that mighty army routed and slain. Such is the power of darkness! Yet what is that dying host to one lost soul !
Ugliness and beauty, friend and foe, are all one in the dark. And so are all roads when the belated traveller cannot see his finger before him, and the watery pool throws off no gleam, and earth and sky appear a solid mass of darkness. Unconscious of danger, and dreaming of a home he shall never more see, he draws near the precipice ; his foot is on its grassy edge, another step, one loud shriek, and there he lies, a bleeding mass, beneath the crag. Nor when night comes down upon the deep in fog, or rain, or blinding drift, can the ill-starred mariner distinguish the rock from the sea, or a wrecker's fire from the harbor lights ; thus showing us how many sinners perish—the darkness is the cause of their death. They are lost, victims to the “ power of darkness."
The greatest of all mistakes is to miss the path to heaven. Yet see how many, turning from Christ, who says, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life," in the darkness of their understandings, and the depravity of their hearts, have missed, and are missing it? Some think that their charities, and public usefulness, and household duties, will save them. Some think, by going the round and lifeless routine of prayers, and preachings, and sacraments, and outward services, that they will certainly secure the favor of God. Some think they may go on in sin, and for a while longer dare the danger, and then put up the
helm—veering round when they like on the other tack; while many fancy that they are on the road to heaven, when every step they take, and every day they live, is carrying them farther and farther away. Others regard religion as a thing of gloom; they reckon the friends of their souls to be the enemies of their happiness. Infatuated men! they fly from the voice of the Shepherd to throw themselves into the 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 won der at the darkness of his neglected soul. And yel 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 deathbed 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 own 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 gower of Darkness.
Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness.--COLOSSIANS I. 13.
SAILING once along a coast where a friend had 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 80 with a Christian man? Give him the light of heaven-let 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 nobly 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 a 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 befell one who was found in a winter morning stretched cold and dead on a bed of snowher glazed eyes and rigid form contrasting strangely