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and the darkness comprehended it not. Certain rays were discovered amid the general gloom, which glimmered, and shed forth a partial light, but did not disperse the darkness. There was not total ignorance, yet there was no clear knowledge.
It is a melancholy thought, that this description too well suits even the present condition of the world, which is now “ without excuse.” “ The times of that ignorance God winked at ; but now commandeth all men every where to repent.". The dim light, the uncertain knowledge of the Jewish patriarchs, could not be imputed to them as sin. But, alas ! what must we now say for the wilful darkness of those who close their eyes against the light, which shines in all its lustre! How does the account here given by St. John of the Redeemer condemn their indifference and apathy! He has himself said, “ If I had not come and spoken unto you, ye had not had sin; but now ye have no cloke for your sin.”
He who was in the beginning with God, and was God, undertakes the salvation of mankind ; proposes a mighty scheme, determined“ from the foundation of the world;" gives intimation beforehand, by the mouth of “ holy men of God, who spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost ;" sends rays of prophetic light as messengers to prepare the way before him, and warn men to be on the watch for “ the brightness of his rising.” Till at last “ the Sun of righteousness” is fully displayed, “ with healing on his wings ;" and a voice goes
2 Acts xvii. 30.
forth from one end of the earth to the other, “Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.”
And well may we expect that this voice should be heard. For observe the certain inference which we must draw from what the Evangelist reveals concerning the Christ, the Son of God. We learn from it the miserable and ruined state of man : so ruined and miserable, that the same power must redeem life, which had given life : the same divine person must create anew, who had at first created. He without whom nothing was made that was made, now comes to seek and to save that which was lost. Low, indeed, was the condition, which must needs be thus relieved and raised. Utter, surely, must be the ruin which could only be thus recovered. O! believe not, then, a deceived and deceitful world, which would tell you that man may be alienated from God, and yet be happy : unreconciled to his Maker and his Judge, and yet safe from danger. If he who comes to save, is he who was in the beginning with God, and was God, I want no other argument to prove the depth of ruin and of misery. I see it, in the majesty of the Deliverer. In the greatness of the Saviour, I read the greatness of man's necessity. In the vastness of the sacrifice, I learn to calculate the weight of our debt, the burthen of man's sin. And o learn to measure from it, too, the extent of your obligation. Which will be greatest, the heinousness of guilt or the extremity of loss, if we put this mercy from us, “count
ourselves unworthy of eternal life,” and “ neglect so great salvation ?”
Rather, may the gracious purpose which was designed, when “ the Word was made flesh,” be accomplished in us! " That we may know Him that is true,” and “have fellowship with the Father through his Son Jesus Christ !”
JOHN THE BAPTIST, A WITNESS OF THE SON OF GOD; WHO WAS REJECTED BY THOSE TO
WHOM HE CAME.
John i. 6–11.
(Matt. iii. 1–12. Luke iii. 1–17.) 6. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.
7. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe.
8. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.
9. That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.
So great an event as the appearance of the Son of God, the incarnation of the Eternal Word, could not take place without announcement. Many prophecies had gone out respecting him ; expectation had been raised, even beyond the land in which he should be born ; and there was a general idea of one “that should come, and redeem Israel.” And now that the proper season had arrived, according to the determinate counsel of God, an especial message was intrusted to John the son of Zacharias, that he might call the attention of the people to the “ time of their visitation :” that he might “ prepare the way of the Lord, and make his paths straight.” He came to bear witness of the light, which was no longer to shine in darkness, but to be openly held up to view : sufficient and ready to light every man that cometh into the world.
Yet all are not enlightened. From the beginning it had proved so : men close their eyes against the light which they possess. The description is too just which follows.
10. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.
11. He came unto his own, and his own received him not.
The wisdom, the power, the goodness of the Creator is manifest to the understandings of men. “ He left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain and fruitful seasons.”ı Yet the world knew him not. “The world by wisdom,” by its own wisdom, by rightly exercising the faculties which God had given, “knew not God their Creator.” The world at large was ignorant respecting him. The Jewish people, to whom he had been clearly revealed, they had better
knowledge, they had a purer faith : and when one came to them from the Father whom they professed to please and serve, it might be expected that they would eagerly follow him and hear him gladly. But no. He came unto his own, to his chosen nation, his peculiar people, and his own received him not. The Jewish nation in general, as we know, did not receive him as their Messiah : and even the people who had listened willingly to his discourses, and been relieved by the merciful exercise of his power, suffered him to be led to execution, while not a single voice was raised in his favour. “The Son of man goeth, as was determined of him!”
Let us however inquire, on what ground they received him not. Was it, that he did not answer the predictions which had gone forth respecting him? We know that his lineage, his birth, his life, and his death, did fulfil the prophecies and correspond with the types concerning him, in the most minute and remarkable particulars. Was it that he did not show such signs and wonders and mighty deeds, as were reasonably to be expected from the Messiah? It was acknowledged,-" This man doeth many miracles ;”—“ No man can do the miracles which thou doest, except God be with him ;"_“He saved others,” though himself he did not save. Was it that his discourses and his doctrines were not in agreement with the character which he claimed ? It was acknowledged, that “ never man spake like this man :"_that “ all