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and liability to eternal death. None can doubt who read.
2. He has taught us our condition under the gospelour probationship-the possibility of salvation-the fulness and freeness of salvation-its conditions-his will respecting us. None can here plead ignorance. What more could be asked in knowledge than that it should be exactly suited to us? This is; it is as much as we need, is of the right kind, positive and plain.
III. He has convicted us of our sin.
All our moral powers were impaired by the fall. How much of a perfect conscience remains we know not; but we know that enough remains to condemn even a heathen. Conscience has convicted you many times of sin, and made you pale with fear. Run over your past lives and count those times. Those scenes in the dead of night, how awful! But God hath not left this work to conscience;
he hath sent his Spirit to " reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment." You have not been passed by; you have heard his reproofs in the house of God-have felt his strivings when reading the Bible-his alarms in the grave-yard, and on the bed of sickness. He has come uncalled. That he has not led you to Christ, is no proof that he is not sufficient. He would have done this, had you not resisted. "Ye do always resist the Holy Ghost." What more could be required of conviction than that it should make you realize your guilt and danger? This it has done, and it has effected all that it could consistently with your free agency. Tremble, sinner, if its realizations are growing less clear!
IV. He has placed before us the strongest motives.
Place before a wretch happiness, and is it not the great motive to action? We are miserable, and happiness is placed before us here; the comforts of life, the approval of conscience, the smiles of God. Look at the motives in
reference to eternity. On the one hand there is a crown -a throne-a heaven-unmingled, uninterrupted, eternal happiness. On the other, there are the gnawings of the worm that dieth not-the gnashings of teeth-the burnings of an eternal hell. They almost shatter the mightiest intellect that attempts to grasp them. God has none greater to place before the highest seraph.
V. He has given us sufficient strength to embrace salva
We are, by nature, perfectly helpless. By the atonement strength is given us to subdue our wills, and to enable us to repent, believe, and obey. "The grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us, that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world." Hence God's offers, commands, threatenings, entreaties. &c., are all based upon our ability through grace. Thousands have proved our position by their own experience. You cannot in reason wish for greater power; it would destroy your free agency.
Well may Jehovah ask, "What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it?" And yet some of you are not saved. Why? You must find the answer in yourselves. But the resources of Deity seem to be exhausted, and he will do no more. Let me then ask you,
1. Shall what he has done and is still doing for you prove effectual? You alone can say, and you must say in your life. You act under fearful responsibilities. The Spirit still flows like a mighty flood, but it may be at its height, or on its ebb! Say now, sinner! Or,
2. Will you risk the consequences? The appeal of Jehovah to the Jews was not idle talk; it was the precursor of judgments. So may this be with you the loudest call the last! If not saved, you will be lost! "What
more could have been done to my vineyard, that I have not done in it?" O! in the day of thy final condemnation, will not these words come up with power, and wilt thou not feel their force? Say, will you avert that condemnation? Do it instantly!
IF OUR GOSPEL BE HID, IT IS HID TO THEM THAT ARE LOST: IN WHOM 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.— 2 Cor. iv, 3, 4.
THE gospel is beautifully represented in the text as a sun which has risen to cheer the earth with its beams. It is indeed the light of the moral world, by which we may be guided safely through its perplexing scenes to a better land. It arose in a night of darkness. Judea, once half illumined by revelation, was in its twilight. Total darkness had settled down on all other lands. Yet then the Sun of righteousness arose, preceded by one star alone, (John,) which threw its light over the wilderness of Judea, but which was soon removed from earthly gaze. And that sun now shines, not in the calmness of its morning rising, but in the full-orbed splendour of its meridian glory. It will "stand still upon Gibeon" till the contest of sin shall end, and then it will "melt away into the light of heaven."
1. There are those to whom it is hidden.
1. In its evidences. These were spread before the Jews in a wonderful manner in the fulfilment of prophecy, and in the display of miracles. Even if there had been no other evidence given them than the words of Christ, they might have believed. They did not believe-they
do not now. These were spread before the Gentiles in the miracles and teachings of the apostles, and in the lives and deaths of martyrs and confessors; but many believed not. Wise and good men have collected this vast amount of evidence, and have laid it before every age, but every age has teemed with infidels. In the ranks of skepticism are found all classes.
2. In its beauty. Its moral precepts are admitted to be just and pure, but many see not their beauty, which lies in their extent, utility, and benevolence. Hence they are called severe and arbitrary.
Its doctrines have ever been ridiculed by multitudes. The doctrines of depravity, atonement, regeneration, holiness, future judgment, &c., have been "foolishness" to infidelity, and have been classed with the absurd fables of heathen mythology. There is, however, beauty in them. The atonement is a wonderful display of wisdom, justice, and love. So holiness commends itself to all who rightly reflect upon it, as an indispensable requisite to individual and social happiness. And the judgment can but be considered as a desirable end of earthly things.
Its promises of pardon, assistance, and heaven, when considered in their nature, extent, and richness, render the gospel glorious to the penitent and the saint, while to the unbelieving they have no charms.
3. In its power unto salvation. To the majority of men it has none, though freely offered. It does not save them from sin and its consequences, but, by their rejection of it, enhances both. Strange infatuation of our race, that it is hidden to so many! Awful verification of the saying of Christ, Many are called, but few are chosen !"
II. The cause.
The text says it is Satan, called "the god of this world," because men generally serve him. In another place he is called "the spirit that now worketh in the children of
disobedience." It is said again, "the whole world lieth in wickedness," or in "the wicked one." His power is exerted against the efforts of saints and the dictates of conscience. He "hath blinded the minds of them which believe not." He does this in various ways, two of which only will be named.
1. By prejudice. We are naturally opposed to divine truth, because it thwarts our wishes, runs counter to our hopes, and strengthens our fears. "Men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” Such are the "lost" to whom the gospel is “hid”—not the finally lost, but "the lost sheep," whether of the house of Israel or of other folds. Thus were the ancient Jews and Gentiles blinded; the former because Christ did not answer their hopes; the latter because of the humility of his extraction, character, and religion. So many now will not study the gospel. They despise it. It is independent and manly to cavil!
2. By the riches, honours, and pleasures of earth. Many make wealth their chief pursuit, as if this were the object of life. We cannot induce them to stop for a moment to engage in a nobler pursuit. They are in a race, and look only at the end, and are blinded by it. We ask no stronger proof that "we are of the earth."
The honours of the world are captivating to all who have not learned of Christ to despise them. We seek them in different ways, and they appear as the supreme good. Like all distant objects, they seem larger than they are. Honour, to thousands, is the sun which outshines every thing else, and lures them on to ruin. Satan tried it with Christ. But, O the depravity of man, the glory and honour of heaven have no charms for mortals!
Pleasure is the great pursuit of men, and that too in forbidden objects. It is an idol, and every thing is sacri