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same state with the eye of the body, if it have no light from the created şun in the heavens--so that all the spiritual world was covered with gross darkness and blindness, until the light of life arose: for thus saith the Lord God, speaking of Christ, “ I have given thee for “ a light to the Gentiles, to open the blind eyes—to 6 bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that 6 sit in darkness out of the prison-house.” Now it is certain, that the Gentiles to whom Christ was given for a light, were not literally blind-they had good eyes, and could see outward objects clear enough-but the eye of the soul was entirely blind, insomuch that Christ came down from heaven miraculously to open it. And he sent out his apostles for the same purpose, and when he called Paul to the apostleship, he gave him his commission in these words, “ I send thee now unto the “ Gentiles to open their eyes, and to turn them from “ darkness to light.”. You cannot suppose, that all the Gentiles were blind, to whom St. Paul was sent, and yet they had eyes which were not open, until the gospel enlightened them, and these were the eyes of the mind : for when the Gentiles were turned from darkness to light, then was fulfilled that which is written by the prophet Isaiah, “the eyes of the blind shall see out 66 of obscurity, and out of darkness”—the sun of righteousness arose upon their obscurity and darkness, and so enlightened the eyes of the spiritually blind, that they clearly discovered the right way to heaven. And the Jews, as well as the Gentiles, were by nature in this blind state; Zecharias in the gospel confesses it, “The “ day-spring, (i. e. Christ,) from on high hath visited 66 us, to give light to them that sit in darkness and the 66 shadow of death" all mankind without Christ, Jews and Gentiles, not only sit in darkness, but also in the shadow of death. Such is the blind and miserable condition of sinners! Sin has subjected them to temporal and to eternal death; but because the death of the soul, when it perishes eternally from God is not an object of sense, the holy Spirit was therefore pleased to
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give us a shadow of it, by the death of the body, when it perishes to this world. And both these kinds of death entered into the world by sin; and what the body suffers by dying to this world, is indeed but a shadow of what the soul suffers when it dies from God in the next world. And yet it is a very just and expressive shadow: for as the body, when it dies, has no longer any sense of perception of the outward objects of this life, but totally perishes from the light and spirit of the animal world, and from all the joys and comforts which they administer, so the soul, when it dies from God, has no longer any sense or perception of the inward objects of its life, but totally perishes from the eternal light and spirit of the heavenly world, and from all the joys and comforts which they administer. Thus bodily death is a shadow of spiritual--and temporal of eternal. I might trace the likeness in more particulars, but this may suffice to explain what the Psalmist means, by the shadow of death. He supposes the mortality of the body to be a shadow of the sad estate into which sin brought the soul. All mankind is subject to this mortality, which is but the shadow of death, for in the death of the body we have a mournful picture of the more miserable death of the soul, which is the substance of death: this is the reality and substance of what the other is but a shadow. Oh what a distressful scene then is this! here is nothing but darkness and the shadow of death-a body mortal and perishing, and while it lives is in bondage and the fear of death, terrified at the very approach of the shadow, and how much more in dread of the substance. And yet this distress is still heightened, for these poor sufferers are so chained down, that they cannot escape from the power of their enemies; they cannot stir one step out of this darkness and shadow of death; because they are fast bound in affliction and iron. Sin brought us into this darkness and shadow of death, and then chained us down to these miseries. The scripture frequently speaks of the bonds of sin, and describes man in his fallen state to be as much a slave to sin, as if he was really chained down. And indeed a chain of the hardest iron, or of the toughest steel, is more easily broken, than a long habit of sin : for the soul is then fettered and bound, as much as if the man was chained to the gallies, and yet he endures it willingly, although no galley slave is put to harder service, or has a more cruel and inexorable tyrant over him. Ought not this woman, says Christ, whom Satan hath bound, lo these eighteen years, to be loosed from this bond ? And Satan hath bound the whole human race, as well as this woman: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought into bondage ; and he overcame us all by sin, and then bound us with the strong chains of it, which no human power can loose. He only who overcame Satan, is able to release his prisoners. And the Psalmist, in the 68th Psalm, enumerating some of our, Lord's great deliverances, says in the 6th verse, “he “ bringeth out those which are bound with chains;" and the prophet Isaiah declares, “ that he should open 66 the prison to them that are bound.” The scriptures are to be spiritually applied: for Christ never released any prisoners by breaking open the prison doors, and snapping their bands asunder. We meet with nothing of this kind in his life. But we read frequently of his delivering men from the bonds of their sins, and freeing them from Satan and death, From whence it follows, that unless our great Redeemer had come to break off our chains, we must have laid bound in affliction and iron for this life, and then have been reserved in everlasting chains under darkness in the next.
This is the true image and portraiture of every son of Adam. While he remains in his natural fallen state he is in darkness, and the shadow of death, fast bound in misery and iron. And how terrible is this situation -to live in darkness without one ray of divine light and comfort-to be under the dismal gloom and shadow of death, and to be bound down to this misery by Satan, with his strongest fetters and chains-cer,
tainly this is a scene of deep distress ? and the view of it should Ivud us to inquire, how the gracious Author of our king should suffer mankind to become subject to it: for he cannot be the cause of our misery : sơ that it must have been some great and heinous offonce, by which we brought ourselves into these distresses. And let the Psalmist relate the reason they " sat in darkness and in the shadow of death, being 6 bound in affliction and iron, because they rebelled “ against the words of God.” “ Because they rebelled." This was the grand rebellion for which the head of the family was attainted, and his attainder corrupted the blood of all his children. Our first parents took up arms against the supreme majesty of heaven, and vainly imagined that they could find knowledge and happiness contrary to his declared will, and in opposition to his almighty power; and they carried this vain imagination into act; they listed themselves under the devil's banner, and set themselves in battle array against God, defying his threatenings and his vengeance. In comparison of this great rebellion, all others have been only weak plots and conspiracies : for this was the highest crime man could commit: because to whom much is given, it is just and equitable of them to require the more. And God had given to Adam greater gifts and abilities, with innocence to enable him to use them aright, than to any of his descendants, and had with the most tender affection counselled him against that very temptation, by which he was most liable to be seduced-therefore when he rebelled against God, and contemned the counsel of the most High, it was the most horrid rebellion that a creature could commit against its Creator. And it was far from cruelty in God, it was an act of justice without severity, to suffer him to fall into the pit, which he had dug for himself, and there to be taken by the enemy, and committed a prisoner to darkness and the shadow of death, and to be fast bound with misery and iron. But it may be enquired, why are we subject to his misery? Because we could not but be involved in his guilt. His treason corrupted his blood, and being corrupt in the fountain, it could not but be corrupt in the streams, which issue from it. We see a standing instance of this in the book of nature; a corrupt tree cannot bring forth good fruit. And we have a clear evidence of it in the book of God: which declares, that coming from a corrupt stock, we are altogether corrupt and abominable, being by nature children of wrath. And we have incontestible proof from the equity of our own laws, which not only punish treason with the loss of life in the traitor himself, but also with the loss of honours and estate in his descendants to the latest posterity. Now to deny that we are corrupt by nature against these evident proofs, is a full demonstration of our corruption. And he is fallen the lowest, who thinks he is not fallen at all; for he who lives and acts as if he was not a fallen creature, must be farthest from recovery, and consequently must be most miserable: it is still rebellion to think to be happy in opposition to the revealed will of God; and every infidel because he attempts this, is a rebel; he is a traitor convict; and every infidel society is an army of rebels united under the banner of their chief; who tempts, deludes, infatuates them, and hurries them on, sometimes even against conviction, until the long suffering of God be wearied out with their rebellions, and he suffers them to fall into the hands of the enemy, who binds them with everlasting chains under darkness. O may the God of mercy open their eyes, before they perish! blessed Jesus shew them their guilt, and humble them under the sense of it; that finding their misery they may fly to thee for succour: for this is the usual method by which our Lord reclaims the unconverted and the infidel, as it follows in the Psalm; “ Therefore - he brought down their hearts with labour, they fell 66 down and there was none to help." He brought down their rebellious hearts by labour, he visited them with outward afflictions, under the weight of which they fell down, and there was none to help; they could not