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built, and give him hope for a companion, liberty for his bosom-wish, a brave heart, a stout hand, and, some morning, his goaler enters to find the cage empty, and the bird flown. But, for you that are under the power of darkness—for you, who are at once the servants and slaves and captives of the Prince of Darkness-for you, whom he first blinds, and then binds, there is no help in man.
There is help in God. Sin never wove, in hottest hell-fires the devil never forged, a chain, which the Spirit of God, wielding the hammer of the word, cannot strike from fettered limbs. Put that to the test. Try the power of prayer. Let continued, constant, earnest, wrestling prayer be made for those that are chained to their sins, and, so to speak, thrust "into the inner prison,” and see whether, as on that night when Peter was led forth by the angel's hand, your prayers are not turned into most grateful praises. From the belly of the whale, from the depths of ocean, from the darkness of a perpetual night, God brought up Jonah to sunny shores and lightsome liberty. And let that same God hear from vilest lips the cry of danger -Lord save me, I perish—the cry of earnest desire, of lowly penitence, of an awakened conscience, of humble faith, and he shall save them by a great deliverance. He will bow his heavens and come down. True to his word, he, who never said to any of the sons of men, "Seek ye me in vain,” will deliver from the power of darkness, and translate into the “ kingdom of his dear Son.”
Having from these words considered our state of nature under the emblem of darkness, I would now remark
II. That even God's people remain in more or less darkness, so long as they are here.
1. They may be in darkness through ignorance. Their eyes have been divinely opened, and they can say with the man of old, “ This I know, that I once was blind, but now I see.” Having received" the truth as it is in Jesus," and abandoned the works of darkness, they are therefore called “ the children of light, and the children of the day." Yet all of them do not enjoy the same measure of light, nor are they all possessed of equal powers of sight. Skies differ, and
: ; and hence those conflicting views which have separated brother from brother, and rent Christ's church into so many most unfortunate and lamentable divisions.
It is easy to understand how this happens. Let objects be looked at through an imperfect light, and how different the appearance from the reality! What mistakes we fall into! In the gray morning, I have seen the fog-bank that filled the valley wear the aspect of a lake, where every wood-crowned knoll lay as a beautiful island, asleep on its placid bosom. How often has superstition fled, pale, shrieking from the churchyard to report to gaping rustics that the dead were walking; when it was but the pale moonlight struggling through the waving branches of the old elms, that had transformed some grave-stone into a sheeted spectre ! And, seen through a mist, the very sun itself is shorn of its glorious splendor, turned into a dull, red, copper ball ; while mean objects, regarded through the same false medium, acquire a false dignity--bushes are magnified into trees, and the humble cottage rises into a stately mansion. And do not God's people fall into as great mistakes, when they look at divine truth through
their defective vision, and through the mist of those passions and prejudices that are common to our poor humanity? There should be much more latitude allowed for those differences of opinion which are inseparable from our present state ; but, forgetting to temper the ardent zeal with the loving and liberal spirit of the great Apostle, Christian men have allowed differences to grow up into quarrels, and quarrels to ripen into divisions, till they, who once took sweet counsel together, and walked to the house of God in company, part, saying, “ Can two walk together, except they be agreed ? A time approaches, blessed be God, when this unseemly state of matters shall cease. According to old legends, the ghosts all vanished at cock-crowing. And, as the day dispersed the spectres, and the rolling away of the mist from the landscape rolls away also the mistakes it led to, even so, when the day of the Lord comes, it will settle all controversies--great and small. In “the seven-fold” light of Zion, God's children shall see “eye to eye.” They shall not only behold “ Him as he is,” and “the truth” as it is, but, with loving surprise, their brethren as they are. There shall be no differences, because there shall be no darkness. “Now we see through a glass darkly; but then face to face; now I know in part; but then shall I know, even also as I am known."
Meanwhile, He, who is sovereign in his dealings, and gives no account of His ways, has not equally distributed the light of saving truth ; nor is there anything in the kingdom of grace corresponding to a remarkable fact in nature. Under the equator each day consists of twelve hours of light, and as many of darkness, the whole year round. But pass by one long stride to the polar regions, and, according as the season is sum
mer or winter, you stand beneath a sky which either enjoys perpetual day, or is wrapped in perpetual night. There, Dr. Kane and his ship's crew, for instance, never saw the sun for one hundred and forty long and weary days ; but were left, as in those Pagan lands on which the gospel has never shone, tou nbroken night. During all that long period the sun never rose above the horizon to cheer their icy prison with one beam of light. Yet, taking the whole year round, the inhabitants of these dreary climes have the same period of light as we and others; for theirs are nightless summers, on which the stars never rise, and the sun never sets, but wheels his burning chariot round and round the pole. Now, in regard to saving light and knowledge, we find nothing corresponding to this phenomenon. Strange mysterious providence! there is no such equal diffusion of gospel truth. We dare not doubt that God's ways are equal, and that eternity will shed a wondrous and glorious light on this gloomy mystery ; but over a vast surface of our unhappy world we see only darkness-" gross darkness"--unbroken night--nations that never hailed the rising of a better sun.
But, leaving the Heathen in the hands of God, we find some Christian nations in such darkness, as to make it almost a marvel to us how they find their way to heaven. I cannot, and would not doubt, that the Church of Rome, for instance, has true saints within her--chosen ones, who shall be plucked as brands from the fire, cast out, like praying Jonah, safe upon the land. Still, within that church the people enjoy at best “a dim religious light.” The gospel, permitted to reach them only through blind or selfish priests, suffers like change with the sunbeam that streams through the colored windows of their gorgeous but
gloomy cathedrals; and, with a cloud of saints interposed between him and the eye .of the sinner, the Saviour, like the sun behind misty vapors, stands shorn of his resplendent glory.
Again, in those few countries where in full freedom to use the Bible, and in the general use of it, the gospel may be said to shine with unclouded splendor, God's people do not all walk in the same degree of light. Be it owing to peculiar circumstances, or to some defect of vision, they are not all equally enlightened. Some are offensively narrow-minded. Some are so short-sighted that they can hardly recognize Christ's own, and therefore their own brother, unless he belong to the same church, and remember the Saviour at the same table with themselves. They are great upon
little things. More given to hate the error than love the truth which they see in others, their temper is sour and ungenial. I do not assert that they have not the eaglewings which rise to near communion with God, but they want that long-sighted eagle-eye which discerns distant objects, and embraces in its range of vision a broad and wide expanse. Be ours the charity which beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things!
Again, while some saints enjoy a clear assurance of their salvation, and stretching toward heaven, behold the land that is very far off, as seamen from their outlook descry the mountain-tops, when their bark is ploughing a waste of waters, and yet a long way from land, there are other Christians who pass their days in a state of despondency. The sun seldom breaks out to cheer them. Their faith has a hard fight with their fears. It is little they know of rejoicing in the Lord, and joying in the God of their salva