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ing to his closet and there looking over the sacred pages. Happy is he, if he has a fund of knowledge treasured up in his mind, from which he can draw occasional supplies. Happy, if he has friends a. bout him, who by reading and conversation can supply in some measure the want of sight.
He also feels his loss in the common duties of life, and in his important domestick cares. He is shut up and cannot go forth. While he is in his house, he gropes for the wall at noon day. When he ventures abroad, fear is in the way. He calls for a guide to direct his steps. He may apply the complaint of the prophet; " I have seen affliction by the rod of God's wrath. He hath led me and brought me into darkness, and not into light. His hand is turned against me all the day. He hath set me in dark places, as those who are dead of old. He hath hedged me about, that I cannot get out. He hath made my chain heavy. When I look for light he turns it into darkness and the shadow of death." In such a case he needs the comforts of faith and patience ; and is intitled to the compassion and prayers of his friends.
When we see one in this uncomfortable condition, Let us thank God for our own happy distinc. tion. And remembering, that the seeing eye and the hearing ear are from him, and may, at his pleasure be withdrawn from us, as they have been from others, let us, while we enjoy them, wisely improve them in acquiring those supplies of knowledge and grace, which will be our consolation and support in the dark and solitary seasons of life.
The light has come and the glory of the Lord has risen upon us by the gospel revelation. Wo to them who love darkness rather than light, and, shutting their eyes, walk in darkness while the light shines around them. « Will God shine into our hearts, and give the light of the knowledge of
the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. Will he enlighten the eyes of our understanding, that we may see what is the hope to which we are called, and what are the riches of the glory of that inheri. tance which God has provided for the saints.
There is still another and more important sense, to which the expression in the text may be accommodated. We may consider it as descriptive of the moral condition of a guilty soul.
The scriptures represent sinners as in a state of bondage, as under the dominion of sin, in the bond of iniquity, bound over to judgment, shut up unto the faith, and having no way of escape, but by the redemption which is in Christ.
The sinner, awakened to a just and impressive view of his condition, secs his soul to be in prison. Convinced of his corruptions and transgressions, and of the strict demands and dreadful sanctions of God's law, he knows, that he is worthy of, and obnoxious to eternal condemnation. He once thought himself alive, and felt secure. He had no conception what sin was, how it abounded in him, and how God's threatenings were pointed against him. His conscience was quiet and undisturbed ; or if it happened at any time to be awakened, it soon sunk down into its former apathy. His thoughts were chiefly employed about the interests and pleasures of the world. These he pursued with as much ardor, as if he had nothing else to regard, no sins to forsake, dangers to escape, or soul to save.
But when the commandment comes home to his conscience in its purity and extent, in its righteous demands and awful threatenings, he perceives himself to be dead. Sin now by the commandment becomes exceedingly sinful, and his soal exceedingly guilty,
With his former partial and contracted ideas of the law, he discerned in himself but few transgressions,
and these small and excusable. But now, by the powerful application of the law, his transgressions appear innumerable and highly criminal. He perceives in himself those evil imaginations, corrupt affcctions and impious erimities, of which once hc had no suspicion.
He has now different sentiments of the nature and malignity of sin. He cannot palliate and excuse it, as he used to do. He views the commandment ás coming from divine authority, and as binding himself no less than others; and as he knows it to be just and good, so he feels his obligation and desert. He beholds the lightenings and hears the thunders of Sinai, sees them to be pointed at him, and finds himself defenceless.
Some latent principles of sin are now put in op: eration. In his careless, unawakened state, he gave free indulgence to his lusts. Now they are laid under great restraint. Hence he feels that contrariety of heart to the nature and law of God, of which he was before quite insensible. While conscience was asleep, corrupt inclinations met with no controul, and scarcely was their existence perceived. But now there is a conflict between his conscience and his lusts, and the latter become manifest.
He is pressed with new temptations. To divert his serious meditations and resolutions the ad. versary throws in his way those objections to piety and enticements to iniquity, for which, in his insensible state, there was no place or occasion. He feels those workings of pride, unbelief, impatience and discouragement, and those oppositions to inward, experimental religion, to which he once seemed a stranger. Hence he is ready to conclude, that he is grown worse, and is become more wickcd than ever he was. But the real difference may
be, not in the corruption of the heart, but in his sense of this corruption.
He now sees, that the law of God condemns him to death, and his conscience justifies the sentence. He is not reconciled to the sentence as what he is willing should be executed ; but he approves it, as what might justly be executed. He adopts the language of David, “Thou mayst be justified when thou speakest, and clear when thou judgest.
Thus he finds his soul in prison, in the bond of iniquity, under the condemnation of the law. And he feels an incapacity to effect his own deliverance. He cannot wrest himself out of the hands of justice, expiate his guilt, repair the dishonors he has done to God, or compensate the injuries he has done to men. He cannot revoke the mischiefs produced by his evil conversation and example. He knows not how many by his influence have been led astray, nor where to find them, that he may counterwork this influence. Some of them may be in another world, and most of them beyond his reach. If he could see them, perhaps he could do them little service. The infection communicated to them may have wrought too deeply into their souls to be cured by his applications. If he could revoke the mischiefs he has done, and do no more, yet past guilt remains,' which no human works can cancel, and which soy. ereign mercy alone can remove.
But he feels himself incompetent to the obedience which he owes, and to his recovery from the bondage into which he has fallen. Thus he is shut up unto the faith which the gospel reveals. He cannot, he dares not trust in himself, rely on any works he has done, any resolutions he forms, any exertions he shall make, as adequate means of deliverance. He prays, in the language of the humble Psalmist, * Thou art my refuge, O Lord, my portion in the land of the living; attend to my cry, for I am Voi, II.
brought very low; deliver me from mine enemies; bring iny soul out of prison.”
Here he must look to the Saviour by faith. " It is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ came into the world to save sinners." Let the sinner, convinced of his guilty and helpless state, look away from himself to the merciful God through the Redeemer, who came to save them who are lost. Let him count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ, and renounce all other ways of salvation, that he may win him and be found in him,
God, who sent his Son into the world to redeem a guilty race, will mercifully hear the prayers, and abundantly pardon the sins of the humble and peni. tent. The Saviour, who condescended to die for sinners, will kindly embrace those who come to him sensible of their guilt. The spirit whom the Father has sent in Christ's name, is able to cleanse mourning souls from the defilement of sin, and to preserve them unto eternal life.
The sincere penitent, in the belief of these truths, resigns himself to the God whom he has offended, Telying on his mercy through the atonement of Jesus for the pardon of all his sins, and resolving through the grace of the spirit to walk in newness of life. Thus being made free from sin, from its reigning power and condemning guilt, he has his fruit unto holiness. He reckons himself to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ.
II. We proceed to the second part of our subject: That one great argument which humble souls urge for their deliverance from prison is, that God's name may be praised.
This argument they use both in worldly afflictions, and in spiritual distresses.
They regard the glory of God in all conditions. In the day of trouble they aim to glorify him by