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prisoners. These are many : I mention the following.There is,
1. A situation truly uncomfortable and piteous. They are sitting in darkness, and in the region and shadow of death, Matth, iv. 16. What a melancholy case were the Egyptians in during the three days darkness, while the Israelites had light in all their dwellings! It was among the last and worst of their plagues. Surely light is sweet; and the more excellent the light is, it must be the fadder to be deprived of it. The light of God's grace and favour is the most excellent light, and therefore heaven is called light, and hell is darkness, utter darkness; no gleam of comfort in hell. A natural state is the suburbs of hell, and no real comfort in this condition, but a possibility of help. Therefore the saints pity them, as in a most piteous condition. Jerusalem's case drew tears from our Saviour's eyes, Luke, xix. 41. 42.
- There is, 2. Unacquaintedness with their own state of sinfulness and misery, Rev. iii. 17.-Their misery; they are blind, they see not the hazard they are in of dropping every moment into the pit. 'The messengers of death are approaching them, the sword of justice is hanging over their heads, signs of approaching ruin are on them and about them; others see it, but not themselves : Hof. vii. 9. “ Strangers have devoured his strength, and he knoweth it not; yea, gray hairs are here and there upon him, yet he knoweth it not.” The prodigal never saw his starving condition, till he came to himself, Luke, xv. 17.—Their sinfulness also; of this they are ignorant : Rom. vii. 9. « For I was alive without the law once; but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.” As in a house, the motes flying thick there are not perceived till the sun-beams enlighten it; so, till
the Lord open the eyes of the blinded finner, he fees not those swarms -of living lufts' which are preying on his dead soul, the innumerable evils which compass him about, those multiplied pieces of guilt which are binding him over to destruction.
3. They are easily ensnared and deceived in matters of the gratest concern.
Our Lord Jesus pronounces a woe to the world because of offences, Matth. xviii. 7. because stumbling-blocks laid bebefore the blind cannot but have molt pernicinus effects. The world is full of inares laid by Satan and his instruments, and the blindness of the mind exposes men to the utmost hazard by them. How easily are they cheated out of their greatest interests for another world, and made to hug a fiadow instead of the substance, and embrace a scorpion instead of a fish, and stones initead of bread; because, though they be eagle-eyed in the things of time, they are like bats and owls as to the light of life. Like Esau, for one morsel of meat they sell this birth-right, Heb. xii. 16.
4. They get no good of the light of the gospel, but stumble at noon-day, as in the dark. They receive this grace in vain. The night and day are alike to the blind, winter and spring io the dead tree.
And hence men live under the gospel as loosely, profanely, and carelessly, as if they were living in the dark corners of the earth.
The ligne of the gospel, like a shining fun, has arisen, teaching us, that, “ denying ungodliness and worldly lults, we should live soberly, righteouily, ; and godlily, in this present world,” Titus, ii. 12. But instead of going like men to their proper work, they like wild beasts go to their dens, and lie at ease, neither working out their own salvarion, nor doing any good to others. The light is set up to VOL. III. Р
them, but their works are works of darkness, and fo they hate the light.
5. They are precipitating themielves into the utmost hazard to their fouls, without fear : Pfal. xxxvi. I. « The transgression of the wicked faith within my heart, that there is no fear of God before his eyes." How fearlessly do men venture themselves into the forbidden ground, ruth in the way of fin on the sword-point of justice : Jerem. viii. 6. “ I hearkened, and heard, but they fpake not aright ; no man repented him of his wicked ness, faying, What have I done ? every one turned to his course, as the horse rusheth into the baitle." They drink up iniquity as the ox the water, being in that cafe as blind men drinking up a cup of poison, which they know not to be such. There is,
6. Deep security in the most dangerous condition, as not seeing what is before them. They go on in their courses, as the finners did before the flood, Matth. xxiv. 38. They are exposed every day to the utmost hazard, yet they are secure. They stand before God's bent bow, as a mark to his arrows, yet they are at cafe. Wrath is pursuing them, yet they are not concerned to Hee from the wrath to come. They are jovial while about the pit's mouth, and even though they are in hazard every moment of falling into it.
Lastly, To sum up all in a word, this blindness fills the whole man in heart and life with darkness and confusion : Matth. vi. 23. “ But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body fhall be full of darkness; if, therefore, the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness !” A person can do nothing which is good in this case, he lies open to all evil both of fin and misery. And this darkness, unremoved, will make way for eternal darknefs.
Having, as we proceeded, made fome practical improvement, in conclusion, we shall only exhort you,
1. To be convinced of this your natural darkness; believe it from the Lord's word, and believe your hazard from it, though otherwise ye do not lee it.
2. See your need of Christ to open your eyes. Pray for the Spirit ; say, with the blind man, “ Lord, that mine eyes may be opened.”
Lastly, From what has been said on the several parts of Christ's commission with respect to natural men, unconverted firiners may get a broad view of their misery. Ye are Satan's captives, yea, prisoners, God's prisoners, the devil's prisoners, prisoners in bands, and blinded prisoners. Be deeply affected with your condition, and be persuaded, as prisoners of hope, to turn to your strong-holds, while you have access to them. While it is called to-day, harden not your hearts, but hearken to his voice, proclaiming that he is * anointed to open the prison to them that are bound.”
THE THE SAME SUBJECT CONTINUED.
Isa. Ixi. 1. And the opening of the prison to them
that are bound.
on this subject, we now go on to Doct. II. That, by open proclamation in the go
fpel, Jefus offers to prisoners in a natural state, an opening of their eyes, a loosing of their bands, and a bringing them out of their prifons.
We shall illustrate the different parts of this do&rine, under the following heads.
I. We shall shew, that Christ offers to such an opening of their eyes, the recovery of their spiritual fight, and to bring them from darkness unto light.
II. We shall shew how Christ takes off the de. vil's bands from these prisoners.