Christ the Inheritance of the Saints.


Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness. - COLOSSIANS. 1. 13.
THE stories of subterranean caves, where brilliant diamonds, thickly studding vaulted roof and fretted walls, supply the place of lamps, are fancies - childhood's fairy-tales. Incredible as it may appear to ignorance, on whose admiring eyes it flashes rays of light, science proves that the diamond is formed of the very same matter as common, dull, black coal. It boasts no native light; and dark in the darkness, as the mud or rock where it lies imbedded, it shines, if with a beautiful, yet with a borrowed splendour. How meet an emblem of the priceless jewels that adorn the Saviour's crown!
Besides, like many a gem of man and woman kind, the diamond is of humble origin, its native state is mean. It lies buried in the deep bowels of the earth; and in that condition is almost as unfit to form a graceful ornament, as the stones that pave our highways, as the rudest pebble which ocean, in her play, rolls upon the beach. Unlike many other crystals, it is foul, encrusted with dirt, and inelegant in form - flashing with none of that matchless lustre which makes it afterwards appear more like a fragment struck from star or sun, than a product of this dull, cold world. That it may glow, and sparkle, and burn with many-coloured fires, and change into a thing of beauty, it has to undergo a rough, and, had it our sensibilities of nerve and life, a painful process. The lapidary receives it from the miner; nor, till he has ground the stone on his flying wheel, and polished it with its own dust, does it pass into the hands of the jeweller to be set in a golden crown, or become the brightest ornament of female loveliness. Through a corresponding preparation Christ's saints have to go. Are you saved? you have to be sanctified. Are you redeemed? you have to be renewed. You are polluted, and require to be purified; and, as all know who have experienced it, at a great cost of, pain and self-denial, sin has to be eradicated - utterly destroyed; in respect of its dominant power, cast down;. and in respect of its indwelling power, cast out. This fulfils the prayer, "The very God of peace sanctify you wholly;" and for this, as forming that meetness for the inheritance, which was the subject of my last address, the saints are now either offering up prayer on earth, or, better far, praise and thanks in heaven. -
But as the gem, ere it is polished, must be brought from the mine and its naturally base condition, so, ere those whom Christ has redeemed with his blood can be sanctified by his Spirit, they must be called and converted; they must be brought into a new condition; or, in the words of my text, "delivered from the power of darkness," and "translated into the kingdom of God's dear Son." This, which is the subject before us now, calls our attention to the greatest of all changes. I say the greatest; one even greater than the marvellous transition which takes place at the instant of death - from dying struggles to the glories of the skies. Because, while heaven is the day of which grace is the dawn; the rich, ripe, fruit of which grace is the lovely flower; the inner shrine of that most glorious temple to, which grace forms the approach and outer conrt, - in passing from nature to grace you did not pass from a lower to a higher stage of the same condition - from daybreak to sunshine, but from darkest night to dawn of day. Unlike the worm which changes into a winged insect, or the infant who grows 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 to 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 sinfullness, 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 rise - hailed 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 breaks in battle, and a sun that never sets in night; the source of all the knowledge that redeems, 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 wings."
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 the genius of a heathen fashioned, was true; and taught a moral of which many a death-bed 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 dreadfulhead 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 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.
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 so 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 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 snow - her glazed eyes and rigid form contrasting strangely with her gay attire. She began the night with dances, and ended it with death. She leaves the merry revels of a marriage-scene for her home across the mountain. The stars go out, and the storm comes on. Bewildered by the howling tempest, and the blinding drift, and the black night, she loses her way. Long the struggle lasts. At length, worn out and benumbed, she stretches her fragile form on that fatal bed, and, amid dreams, perhaps, of dances, and song, and merriment, she sinks into the sleep that knows no waking.
Nor was it when snows were melted, and months or years had gone, that her withering form was found by a wandering shepherd on some drear upland, in a lone mountain corrie, half buried in a dark and deep morass. No. She met her fate near by a friendly door, and perished in the darkness within a step of safety. Yet not nearer, nor so near it, as many are to salvation, who yet are lost. They die by the very door of heaven. - The Apostle tells us how, "The god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them." The darkness is their death.
And while no night ever came down so black and starless as that which has settled on the human soul, in respect of its power over men, what can be compared to mental, moral, and spiritual darkness? Its chains are more difficult to rend than chains of brass or iron. Look at Popery! She immures her votaries in a gloomier, dungeon than ever held her victims. And throwing her fetters, not over the limbs, but over the free mind of man, what an illustration does she give of "the power of darkness?" How formidable is that power which compels a man to sacrifice his reason at the feet of priestcraft; and woman, shrinking, modest, delicate woman, to allow some foul hand to search her bosom, and to drag its secrets from their close concealment. Best gift of heaven! God sends them his ,blessed word, and they dare not open it. Those senses of smell, and touch, and taste, which are the voice of God, declare that the cup is filled with wine, and the wafer made. of wheat; but, as if their senses as well as their souls were darkened, they believe that to be a living man's blood, and this to be a living man's flesh! "Having eyes, they see not." And, greatest triumph of darkness! they hug their chains; refuse instruction; stop their ears, like the deaf adder which will not hear the voice of the charmer, charm he ever so wisely; and turn away their eyes from the truth, as the owls that haunt some old monastic ruin from the glare of a torch, or the blaze of day. How appropriate to the devotees of a faith so detestable, the words of Scripture - " If the light that is in you be darkness, how great is that darkness!"
Censure, as well as charity, however, should begin at- home; and therefore, to be faithful to ourselves as well as just to others, we ought not to forget that melancholy illustrations of the power of darkness are found nearer at hand than Rome. In the face of all past and much bitter experience, how many among ourselves live under the delusion that, though the happiness they seek and expect to find in the world has, in all bygone time, eluded their grasp, in the object they now pursue; they shall certainly embrace the mocking phantom! How many among ourselves, also, are putting away the claims of Christ and of their souls to what they flatter themselves shall be a more, but what must be a less, convenient season! Contrary to the testimony of all who have ever tried it, do not many of us persist in believing God's service to be a weariness, and piety a life of cheerless gloom? Many regard the slavery of sin as liberty, and shun the liberty of Christ as intolerable bondage. Many fancy themselves to be safe, who, hanging over perdition by life's most slender thread, are "ready to perish." ‘Talk of the delusions of Popery and the credulity of Papists! Many among us believe the barest and most naked lies of the devil, rather than the plain word of God. Alas! the feet of thousands here are on the dark mountains; and, unless God shall enlighten them by his Spirit, the darkness, which is now their danger, shall prove their death.
Were you, under the tyranny of mortal man, immured in his strongest dungeon, I would not despair of your escape. Within an old castle that sits picturesquely perched upon a noble sea rock, and to whose a crumbling walls the memory of other days clings, fresh and green as the ivy that mantles them, there is a sight to strike men with horror. Passing under a low - browed portal, where you bid farewell to the light and air of heaven, a flight of broken steps conducts you. down into a chill, gloomy vault, In the centre of its rocky floor yawn the jaws of a horrid pit. The candle, lighted and swung into that dread abyss, goes down, and yet deeper down, till, in an excavated dungeon in the rock, it dimly reveals the horrors of a living grave. There the cry for help could reach no ear but God's; and no sound responded to the captive's moan but the dull steady stroke of the billows, as they burst on the face of the crag, Into that sepulchre where they buried God's persecuted saints - you look to shudder, - and to say, "for them hope was none." Yet immure a man in that - in the darkest, strongest dungeon despot has ever 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, anil 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 eyes differ; 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 grey 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 splendour, 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 as also 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 summer 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, to unbroken 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, arid 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 selflsh priests, suffers like change with the sunbeam that streams through the coloured 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 vapours, 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 splendour, 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 recognise 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 eagle-wings 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 a little they know of rejoicing in the Lord, and enjoying in the God of their salvation. By help of God's word, their compass, they succeed, no doubt, in steering their way to heaven, but it is over a troubled sea, and under a cloudy sky; nor are they ever happy enough to be altogether delivered from doubt and fear, till fears as well as faith are lost in light, and they find themselves safe in glory.
Again, while some, who draw all the doctrines they believe directly and freshly from the fountain of God's word, are enlightened, catholic in spirit, and sound in the faith, it is otherwise with others. Calling this or that man Rabbi, they yield too much submission to human authority. They draw the water of life, so to speak, not at the spring but at the well; and tasting of the pipe it flows through, their creed, and faith, and doctrines are adulterated by a mixture of earthly, though not fatal, errors. If we allow to these views their due influence, how ought they to expand our hearts, and teach us a tender regard toward those from whom we differ! Blindness of mind, surely, if not wilfull, claims our gentle pity, more even than blindness ot body. We all " see through a glass darkly".? Perhaps we are mistaken. Perhaps our brethren are right. The possibility of this could teach us to differ meekly, and to avoid, even when denying the infallibility of the Pope, the arrogance of one who thinks himself infallible. Of this, at any rate, I am sure, that, as objects are not only,obscured but also magnified by mist, many points of difference between Christian men appear much larger now than they shall do when regarded by the serene light of a deathbed, and yet more certainly in the transparent atmosphere of heaven. And were it not well if good men would never forget that piety, though not consistent with indifference, is consistent with a measure of error. Admit that, by heaping "gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble" on the true foundation, others have done wrong; yet they shall be saved, though as by fire.
The errors of many are delusions; and it is both literally and figuratively true that delusions of the brain are less dangerous than diseases of the heart. A man, through the darkness, may wander to a greater or less extent from the plain, patent, direct road, and yet get home. And happiest though they be who pursue their journey in unclouded sunshine, yet to the upright "there ariseth light in the darkness " shed by the Spirit within their souls, streaming ,down direct from heaven. And I have often thought it shall be with those whose hearts beat true to God and Jesus Christ, as with one who loves his father and his mother, and longs once more to see their faces, and to hear their voices, and, after weary years of exile, to dwell again among brothers and sisters beneath the old roof-tree. Little light serves to show him the road. Bent on getting home, he will cross the mountains, and ford the river, and travel waste and pathless moors through the mists of the thickest day. What although errors, like exhalations from the swampy ground, have risen up in many churches to obscure the heavenly light? Where there is genuine love to Jesus Christ, and God, and man, may we not cherish the hope that there is truth enough to conduct to heaven the steps of every pilgrim who is honestly and earnestly inquiring the Way to Zion? "There shall be a highway out of Egypt." "They shall come from the east and from the west, and from the north, and from the south," - from various climes, and from diverse churches, - " and shall sit the kingdom of God." Nor do I despair of any getting to that heavenly kingdom, who, though belonging to churches that are dimly lighted, can discern upon the altar the one sacrifice for sin.

2. God's people may be in darkness through sin. - So long as you walk in the path of his holy commandments you walk in light, walk at liberty; you have Jesus arm to lean on; heaven lies straight on the road before you; and, on your path, however rough or steep, there streams perpetual sunshine. In the light of God's word, and in the beams of his countenance, the believer has that which imparts a genial warmth to his heart; every object, as in a sunny day, looks bright and beautiful; and the clouds, which occasionally sweep over him and discharge their burden on his head, are spanned, as they pass away, by a bow of hope. "Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart."
"Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation " the cry of one who has wandered from the paths of purity and peace, leads us to speak, in such cases of God withdrawing the light of his countenance. But is it not more strictly true, that, in turning aside from the paths of holiness, we have withdrawn from that? It is he that descends into a pit who leaves the light, not the light that leaves him. So it is with the saint - the deeper he sinks into sin,the darker it grows. God will not smile on his child sinning; and that which would happen to our world, were its sun withdrawn, befalls his unhappy soul; a chilling cold follows on the darkness, and, but for restoring grace, death itself would follow in their train. The heart, that once sang like a bird, is now mute; the beauties of religion are lost to sight; sacraments, prayers, pious services, cease to afford their wonted pleasure; the joys of salvation that once flowed through his heart, like silver streams among flowery pastures are congealed into stillness, silence, and death; the soul itself grows benumbed, and is seized with a lethargy that would end in death, did not God send some Nathan to break the spell, and to rouse the sleeper. Then, conscience awakened and alarmed, in what darkness does he find himself? The, sun is down; nor does a single star cheer that deepest night. His mind is tortured with dreadful doubts. He recalls the days of old, but only to fear that he was a hypocrite or a self-deceiver. Where the scriptures speak of castaways, of the unpardonable sin, of the impossibility of a renewal again unto repentance, he seems to read his doom, written by God's own finger in letters of fire. Nor is the poor penitent backslider saved from utter despair, but by clinging to the hope of mercy through the all-cleansing blood of Jesus. Led by this blessed angel to "the throne of grace," encouraged by this blessed promise, "I will heal their backslidings and love them freely," he throws himself in the dust to cry, "Hath God forgotten to be gracious?" "Is his mercy clean gone -for ever ?" "Restore unto me the joy Of thy salvation and uphold me with thy free spirit." Be merciful unto we, 0 God; be merciful unto me."
These are the words of David, when under remorse for most terrible crimes. But never fancy that you are in no danger of losing the light of God's favour, unless you fall into a pit as deep, into sins as gross and grievous, as that good man committed. Beware of so great an error. No object, in its own place the most innocent, nor man, nor woman, nor husband, nor wife, nor child, nor bosom friend, nothing beneath, the sun, not the heaven above it, with its holy pleasures, and high society, and welcome rest, may be allowed to come in between our affections and Jesus Christ. Let any object whatever interpose between me and the sun, and a shadow, more or less cold and dark, is the immediate consequence ; as happens when the moon, forgetting that her business is to reflect the sunbeams, not to arrest them, rolls in between our world and him, to turn day into night, and to shroud us in the gloom of an eclipse. Even so the deep shadow of a spiritual darkness may be flung over a congregation, who, allowing the pulpit to come in between them and the cross, think too much of the servant and too little of the Master. May not that account for the scanty fruit of a ministry from which much might have been expected? God will not give his glory to another; and they who in their regards set the servant before the Master, place the preacher in a position to intercept that blessing, without which Paul may plant and Apollos water, but there is no increase. When Alexander offered to do Diogenes any favour he might ask, the philosopher, contemplating in the sun a far nobler object than the conqueror of the world, and setting a higher value on his beams than on the brightest rays of royalty, only begged the monarch to step aside, nor stand between him and the sun. However rude such answer on the part of the cynic, it were a right noble speech from you to any and every object that would steal your heart from Christ. Let him, who is all your salvation, be all your desire. Is he not "the brightness of the Father's glory, and the express image of His person?" Fairer than the children of men, more lovely than the loveliest, he is "the chiefest among ten thousand " he is "altogether lovely."

3. God's people rnay be in more or less darkness as to their spiritual state. It is easy to account for such a case as David's. There, spiritual darkness was both the consequence and the chastisement of a sad spiritual declension. It is not always so. There are cases of religious desertion and despondency that do not admit of being thus explained. Without any sensible falling away, the shadow of Calvary has spread itself over the believer's soul; and, filling him with awful horror, has wrung from his lips that most bitter cry, "My God, why hast thou forsaken me?" The mercy seat and, the cross are lost in darkness. The Sun of Righteousness undergoes an eclipse. Nothing is seen but the lightnings, and nothing heard but the thunders of Sinai - flash follows flash, and peal thunders upon peal, while his sins rise up in terrible memory before him. Were such your case, God has provided for it. "Who," says he, "is among you that feareth the Lord, that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light; let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God." In these cases God has not left his people comfortless. If, perhaps, like Peter, sinking in the waves of Galilee, the lightning flashing on their foaming crests, and the thunder crashing abgve his head, you have lost all sensible hold of Christ, it does not follow that Christ has lost saving hold of you. You may retain your hold when you lose your sight of him. God's people are to hang on him in their seasons of deepest distress. His promises are a Father's arm; and, clinging to these, trusting to him when you cannot see him, you may hope .against hope, and even rise to the faith of one who said, "Though he slay me, yet will trust in him.".
But the spiritual state of some unquestionably pious people is not occasionally, but always, more or less dark. I have known such. They could not find, at least they could not feel, any very satisfactory evidence of their conversion. We saw it; they did not. It happened to them as to Moses. He left the mount of God with the glory of his face visible to every one but himself. This is not a desirable state, certainly, if for no other reason than this, that he fights best, either with men or devils, who fights the battle with hope at his back. What so likely to make you diligent in preparation for glory, as a clear prospect of heaven, and sense of your holy calling? Who that, footsore, worn, and weary, has toiled up some mountain-height, from whose breezy summit he saw his distant home, has not found the sight make another man of him, and, all lassitude gone send him off on his journey, with bounding heart and elastic limbs? Therefore we say with Paul, "Give diligence, to make your calling and election sure."
Notwithstanding all your pains and all your prayers, have you never yet attained to the joy of faith, to a full assurance of salvation? Be not "swallowed up with overmuch sorrow." Blessed are they whose sky is clouded with no doubts or fears! With music in their hearts, arid their happiness blowing like those flowers that fully expand their leaves, and breathe out their fragrance even on sunny days, they will go up to Zion with songs; yet, although not so pleasantly, they may reach home as safely who enjoy the light of the sun, but never see his face. Your last hours may be like hers whom John Bunyan calls Miss Fearing. She was all her lifetime "subject to bondage," and dreaded the hour of death. The summons comes. And when she goes down into the waters, how does this shrinking, trembling, timid one bear herself? Hand to hand, Christian met his enemy in the valley, and so smote Apollyon with the sword of the Spirit, that he spread forth his dragon wings, and sped him away; yet where that bold believer was in deep waters, and all but perished, this daughter of many fears found the river shallow. She beheld the opposite shore all lined with shining angels, and passed with a song from earth to heaven.
The sun, who has struggled through clouds all day long, often breaks forth into golden splendour at his setting; and not seldom, also, have the hopes that never brightened life broken forth to gild the departing hour. The fears that hung over the journey, have vanished at it's close. The voice, that never spoke with confidence before, has raised the shout of victory for "the valley of the shadow of death." To the wonder of men and the glory of God, the, tongue of the dumb has been unloosed - what gracious things they have said! and the blind have got their sight - what views of heaven they have had! and he, who seemed all his life but a babe in Christ, has started up, like a giant and a strong man armed, to grapple with the last enemy. Standing in the light of life's declining day with Satan and the world, and. the flesh, and Death himself beneath his. feet, he spends his last breath in the triumphant shout," 0 death, where is thy sting? 0 grave, where is thy victory?" Thanks be to God, which giveth me the victory through my Lord Jesus Christ. And thus God fulfils the promise, "It shall come to pass, that at evening time it shall be light."

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