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ALMIGHTY GOD, who hatest wickedness and lovest goodness, and hast declared that the light of the wicked shall be put out, and the spark of his fire shall not shine, mercifully grant that we thy people may love thy word and follow after thy commandments; that eschewing evil and doing good, we may have faith in thee, through thy' Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The light of the wicked shall be put out, and the park of his fire shall not shine.—(Job xviii. 5).
MY DEAR FRIENDS-These words may be addressed to a good man, and have the effect only of making him fully assent to their truth and acknowledge their importance; but they were not so applied by the friends of Job to him as if they thought him good on the contrary, the whole of this chapter, strong as it undoubtedly is, and justly admitted to be a most powerful denunciation against the wicked, yet falling upon the meek, humble, patient and just Job, though levelled at him like a shaft from a bow, had no effect. as if he were the very wicked and would have him think so.
They spake to him. man they described, Now, I would not
have any man here present think himself as good and patient as the patriarch Job, and therefore have no idea of the applicability of this subject to himself.
Alas! I fear that, if we examine our state strictly towards God and man, we shall find such a lamentable deficiency as to make us tremble lest the whole of this chapter may be, with truth, applied to ourselves. Let us consider it well: for though it was spoken by Bildad the Shuhite, and was meant by him to be applied to Job, it is not the less to be thought of by us. Why, you may justly say, are the first words of our Christian congregation of a nature to arouse the wicked man from his way? Is it that we may condemn him? By no means; but that he may turn from his wickedness and live: so is this text chosen for this address, if so be that the grace of God may yet open the sinner's thoughts for the safety of his soul, and that he may not fall under the terrible denunciation therein implied.
"The light of the wicked shall be put out, and the spark of his fire shall hot shine.”
These are awful words, denoting the destruction of the wicked. The light here mentioned is meant the life of a man, the same as it is said to good men, "Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven." But as our Saviour says, "If the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness;" or, as the text says, "The light of the wicked shall be put out, and the spark of his fire shall not shine."
Consider, then, I entreat you, the light that yet burns within you-the spark of that fire which is
to kindle into flame and expand into eternity. Oh, that the Spirit of God may blow upon it and make it shine, until you become burning and shining lights in the place God has appointed for you to shine. The light of the wicked! Consider what this is! He may have life-he may have animation-he may, like the meteor, or that deceitful exhalation which rises over the morass and looks like a friendly light to lighten the darkness, shine boldly in your path; but, following it, you find that it suddenly leads to destruction: for when it has danced before your bewildered eyes, caught your attention, and misguided your steps, it is suddenly extinguished and you are lost. Such is the example of a wicked man, whether he keeps your company, or you observe his ways. Alas! too often are men dazzled and deluded by outward shows, imagining that others must be happy who possess wealth, or the outwardly glittering ostentations of this perishable life. No matter how wicked a man may be, say some he appears to enjoy life, and has all good things in his possession. I will follow him-I envy him his good fortune and will try to imitate him.
A wiser one than any of us, even the man after God's own heart, confesses that he had very nearly been deceived and betrayed into following the bad example of the wicked. He says, in the seventythird Psalm, "Truly, God is loving unto Israel, even unto such as are of a clean heart. Nevertheless, my feet were almost gone: my treadings had wellnigh slipt and why? I was grieved at the wicked: I do also see the ungodly in such prosperity, for they are in no peril of death; but are lusty and strong. They come into no misfortune, like other
folks, neither are they plagued like other men and this is the cause that they are so holden with pride and overwhelmed with cruelty. Their eyes swell with fatness, and they do even what they list. They corrupt others, and speak of wicked blasphemy; their talking is against the Most High. Lo! these are the ungodly, these prosper in the world, and these have riches in possession: and I said, Then have I cleansed my heart in vain and washed my hands in innocency! All the day long have I been punished and chastened every morning: yea, and I had almost said even as they; but lo! then I should have condemned the generation of thy children. Then thought I to understand this, but it was too hard for me, until I went into the sanctuary of God, then understood I the end of these mennamely, how thou dost set them in slippery places, and castest them down and destroyest them. Oh! how suddenly do they consume, perish, and come to a fearful end. Yea, even like a dream when one awaketh, so shalt thou make their image to vanish out of the city."
Not until we enter into the sanctuary of God-that is, into the place of wisdom, into the consideration of God's dealing with men-do we see the end of the wicked and the end of the righteous, and we are very apt to judge foolishly concerning the world and its votaries. We think too often that men like Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, Zophar the Naamathite, must be happy, whilst such as Job must be miserable; but when we come into the sanctuary, and think of God and of His judgments, we are forcibly struck with the end of the wicked. "Oh, how suddenly do they consume, perish, and
come to a
fearful end." Their fight is put out and the spark of their fire is extinguished.
If in the early days of the ancient Church such wisdom was plainly to be discerned-if they who had not the Gospel to inspire them with promises, nor to make them dread the terrors of hell saw this-what must be our doom who have such advantages as we have of light and immortality shining as the broad day before us, if we wilfully persist in a sinful course and perish !" "For if we sin wilfully, after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins; but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation which shall devour the adversaries." He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: of how much sorer punishment suppose ye shall he be thought worthy who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant wherewith he was sanctified an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of Grace: for we know Him that hath said, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord:" and again, "The Lord shall judge His people! It is a fearful thing to fall into hands of the living God!" (Heb. ii. 26-32.)
The wicked, under the Christian dispensation, are all such as obey not the Lord Jesus Christ nor submit themselves to the will of God, but live as they please, do as they please, regard not His Sabbaths, nor keep His commandments. From vile and flagrant sins and sinners I trust that you do, if not all, for the most part, keep yourselves aloof. Let the man be whom he may, however high or low, the Christian religion does not admit him into her sanc