« 이전계속 »
find any help upon earth; all worldly comforters failed them, and then they began to see their wretched condition. Their outward misery made them feel their inward. They found themselves in darkness, which no ray of science, nor the brightest beams of human learning, were able to dispel. They found themselves in the shadow of death, from the terrors of which, all the moral and civil virtues put together could not deliver them. They found themselves fast bound in misery and iron, and all the powers in the earth could not break their chains. Finding their distress, and seeing no creature able to help, they were thereby disposed to humble themselves under the mighty hand of God. And indeed, their proud hearts were so thoroughly brought down and abased, that they were led to cry unto the Lord in their trouble and he saved them out of their distresses. The Psalmist in the 13th verse makes this the happy effect of their affliction ; it disposed them to seek God's favour, and he is always found of them who seek him. So soon as they cried unto the Lord in their trouble, he was at hand to save them from their distresses. The almighty Saviour came and brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and brake their bonds in sunder. And thus he gave them complete redemption. Darkness fled at the approach of the eternal light--and the shadow of death was turned into the light of life at the appearance of the living God and the bonds brake in sunder, when Christ came and proclaimed liberty to them that were bound; and being thus enlightened and set free from the bonds of sin and Satan, and delivered from the shadow of death, after they have obtained so free and full a redemption, how can they be silent in the Redeemer's praise ? they then have a lively sense of his redeeming love in their hearts, and it would be acting against their own sense and feeling, if they made him no return of gratitude. It would be unnatural. Nay it is indeed impossible for men to partake of the blessings of redemption, and not to be thankful to their Redeemer. “O
« that men would therefore praise the Lord for his 5 goodness, and declare the wonders which he hath done “ for the salvation of men.” Wonders indeed! for he brought them from darkness to light, from the shadow of death to the life eternal, and from the bonds of misery to a crown of immortality. And shall they not praise him for these wonders ? shall they not speak with their tongues what their hearts feel? Doubtless they will be telling of his salvation all the day long; and lest they should ever forget it, the Psalmist once more reminds them of their great deliverance: for he hath broken the gates of brass, says he, and cut the bars of iron in sunder. Remember from whence ye were redeemed and be thankful-were ye not in a prison, that was fortified with gates of brass, and bars of iron, and were ye not chained down in the most dark and lothesome dungeon of this prison ? do you not recollect what horror you were in, when you found yourselves in this distress, and had none upon earth to help you ? And yet you no sooner cried to Jesus for help, than he heard your cries and came: he brake open the gates of brass, and snapped the bars of iron in sunder; your chains fell off; and he brought you out of the prison-house, and set you at liberty. And certainly you do not want to be persuaded to be thankful for such a deliverance ? Or to be grateful to such a deliverer? Your praises should flow with as much ease and as naturally as your breath. God grant the one may endure as long as the other, so that of his praises there may be no end.
I have now finished the paraphrase upon the words, and I come 2dly, to the spiritual use and application of them. The doctrine which they contain is this. Every son of Adam in his natural state before he is redeemed is in darkness, and the shadow of death, and is fast bound with the chains of sin and misery, and there is no help for him upon earth--the almighty God and Saviour alone is able to deliver him. This is the doctrine which I have supported from other passages
of scripture, and from experience. And now, my brethren, let us examine ourselves upon it, and try to make it useful and profitable to our souls. The proper steps to this end seem to me, first, to believe the doctrine-Adly, to desire to experience the truth of it, and 3dly, to find the happy experience of it in our souls, and then we shall have reason indeed to be thankful.
And first, The belief of the doctrine is the chief point in the Christian religion. For we must be made sensible of our fallen state by nature, before we can think of its being renewed by grace. The sick only want a physician. The sinner only wants a Saviour; and therefore we can have no motive to apply to him for his salvation, until we find ourselves ruined and undone by sin. So that this must be first and above all things settled in our minds. The doctrine of our redemption stands upon our belief of the fall; and if man in his fallen state was not in darkness, then we want no Saviour to enlighten us: if he was not in the shadow of death, then we want no Saviour to deliver us from death : if he was not fast bound with chains by sin, and Satan, and death, then we want no Saviour to break our bonds asunder. We must first believe ourselves to be in these distresses, before we can seek for redemption. And therefore, my brethren, do you indeed believe, that you are in your fallen state, in the distresses here described by the Psalmist, or do yoų not believe it? Do you see no darkness in the human mind ? Do you know none who live in the fear of death ? And were you never tied to some favourite bosom sin, which you found it harder to break off, than it could be to break the strongest chains of iron ? Certainly you must have remarked something of this kind ? And if you have, how can you account for it, otherwise than upon the Psalmist's principles ? If mankind did not lose the divine light and life by sin, how came all this spiritual darkness into their minds ? If, they did not lose the love and favour of God by sin, how came they to be subject to death, and to live all their lives in fear of it ? If they have not contracted à proneness to evil, how happens it to be so diffi. cult to break the bonds of sin ? No satisfactory account can be given of these things, but what is taken from the scripture history of the fall, and therefore why should you not believe the scripture history? If you consult the infidels they have nothing to offer upon these points, their advocates are silent. The heathens have written much, and reasoned more upon the subject, but without success. Their best writers own, that they were not able to clear it up. But upon the Christian plan the difficulties vanish at once. The scripture account is rational and consistent. And why then, my brethren, do you not believe it? You have the word of God and the voice of reason, and melancholy experience attesting the depravity and corruption of mankind. You cannot deny, but that they are depraved and corrupt. This is a self-evident truth. And what remedy is there for it? Can God look upon such sinful polluted creatures with approbation ? No. He cannot. "The infinite purity of his nature will not suffer it. And he will not. He has declared, that without holiness no man shall see the Lord, and he who has once sinned can never make himself holy, and consequently he can never see the Lord--unless there be a Redeemer, who has holiness to give: for God's purity, and sin's impurity set God and the sinner at an infinite distance. And how shall he ever approach to God, unless there be 'a Redeemer, who has infinite righteousness to impute to the sinner, and thereby enable him to draw near to God; here is our only remes dy. The Redeemer, and he alone, is able to repair all the evil effects of sin. Our souls must have remained for ever in darkness, unless the divine rays of the sun of righteousness had enlightened them. Our bodies would have lived here in the shadow of death, unless the Redeemer had brought life and immortality to light. And both body and soul would have been bound with
the chains of sin here and for ever, unless our almighty deliverer had set us at liberty. O let us receive him then for our Redeemer and our God? Finding and feeling our misery and distress without him, let there be raised in the heart a strong cry for his salvation. Let us imitate them in the text, who cried unto the Lord in their trouble. And this desire to experience his power to redeem us was the second head of application.
If you believe what has been said of your fallen state, and yet have no desire to be redeemed from it, how do you quiet your consciences as to this absurd conduct? You do believe, that man is by nature sinful and miserable, and yet you have no desire to be redeemed from sin and misery, how inconsistent and contradictory is this proceeding? Do you choose then to be in darkness rather than light ? Is death preferable to life, or bonds to liberty ? Oh miserable deluded man, whom sin thus infatuates ! whoever thou art, thou art self-condemned: because thou hast seen thyself fallen, and yet hast no desire to be raised up. By what arguments, what intreaties, shall I prevail with thee? How shall I touch thy heart, and win thy affections, to make thee desire, what thou knowest already thou must desire, before thou canst be happy? Blessed Jesus ! this is a work above my power. Take it Lord into thine own hand, and send thine almighty grace unto the hearts of all my hearers who are in this dreadful situation, that they may be disposed to seek pardon and peace of thee with strong crying and tears, until thou save them from their distresses. Our Redeemer is a God of love ; he cannot reject any person, who seeks for his redemption; seek therefore, and ye shall find. Desire, and your desires shall be granted : for they cried unto the Lord Jesus in their trouble--they only cried unto him, and he saved them out of their distresses. So will he save you, if you cry unto him for salvation. This is your encouragement, desire and pray, until you happily ex. perience his redeeming grace, which is the third and