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Chrift in the gospel, is the light of the world; all the nations of the earth that want this light are benighted; and those upon whom this light is rifen, have but a fhort time under it: "Yet. "a little while the light is with you:" and whatever patience God may exercise towards poor, ignorant fouls, yet commonly. he makes short work with the defpifers of this light. The light of the gospel is a fhining lamp, fed with golden oil; God will not be at the expence of fuch a light for them that do but trifle with it. The night is coming, when no man can work. There are many fad figns upon us of a fetting fun, a night of darkness approaching; many burning and fhining lights are extinguished, and many put under a bufhel; your work is great, your time short; this is the only space you have for repentance, Rev. ii. 21. If this opportunity of salvation be loft, it will ne ver come again, Ezek. xxiv. 13. How pathetical was that lamentation which Chrift made over Jerufalem, Luke xix. 41, 42. "And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, faying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least "in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace, but "now they are hid from thine eyes." Chrift is threatning. those nations with the removal of his gofpel prefence; he hath found but cold entertainment among us: England hath been unkind to Chrift, many thousands there are that rebel against the light, that fay unto God, "Depart from us, we defire not "the knowledge of thy ways." Chrift will not tarry where he is not welcome; who would, that hath any where else to go? Obey the light therefore, left God put it out in obfcure dark-. nefs.
The blinding Policies of Satan opened, as the Cause of Unbelief, and Forerunner of Destruction.
2 COR. iv. 3. 4. But if our gofpel be hid, it is hid to them that are loft; in whom the God of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, left the light of the glorious gospel of Chrift, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.
HE averfations of men from Jefus Chrift, their only re medy, is as much to be admired as lamented; one would
think the news of deliverance thould make the hearts of captives leap for joy, the tidings of a Saviour should tranfport the heart of a loft finner. A man would think a little rhetoric might perfuade the naked foul of a finner to put on the rich robes of Chiift's righteoufnels, which will coft him nothing, but acceptance; or the perifhing, ftarving finner to accept the bread of God which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. This is the great defign I have managed in this whole difcourfe; the centre to which all these lines are drawn; many arguments have been ufed, and many ways attempted to prevail with men to apply and put on Chrift, and I am afraid, all too little. I have but laboured in vain, and spent my strength for nought; all thefe difcourfes are but the beating of the air, and few, if any, will be perfuaded to come unto Chrift, who is clearly opened, and freely offered in the gospel to them. For alas! while I am reafoning, Satan is blinding their minds with falfe reafonings, and contrary per uafions; the god of this world turns away the ears, and draws away the hearts of almost the whole world from Chrift; "The god of this world hath blinded the
minds of them which believe not, left the light of the glorious "gofpel of Chrift, who is the image of God, should shine unto "them." Satan is a great and jealous prince, and is well aware, that fo many of his fubjects as fhall be brought to fee the mifery of their condition, will never endure to abide any longer in fubjection to him: it is therefore his great policy to put out their eyes, that he may secure their fouls; to darken their understandings, that he may keep his intereft firm and entire in their wills and affections: and this makes the effectual application of Chrift fo great a difficulty, that, on the contrary, it is juft matter of admiration that any foul is perfuaded and prevailed with to quit the fervice of Satan, and come to Christ. And therefore, in the laft place, to discover the great difficulty of converfion, and thew you where it is that all our endeavours are obftructed, fo that we can move the defign no further, with all our labouring and striving, reasoning and perfuading; as alfo, to mourn over, and bewail the mifery of chriftless and unregenerate fouls, with whom we must part, upon the faddeft terms; I have chose this fcripture, which is of a most awakening nature, if haply the Lord, at last, may perfuade any foul to come over to Chrift thereby.
Thefe words come into the apostle's difcourfe, by way of prolepfis; he had been fpeaking, in the former chapter, of the tranfcendent excellency of the gofpel above the law, and, among other refpects, he prefers it to the law in point of clearnefs.
The law was an obfcure and cloudy difpenfation, there was a veil upon the face of Mofes, and the hearts of the people, that they could not fee to the end of that which is abolished; but under the gospel we all, with open face, behold, as in a glafs, the glory of the Lord. Against this difcourfe, the apoftle forefaw, and obviated this objection: if your gospel be fo clear, what is the reafon that many, who live under the miniftration of it, (and they none of the meaneft, neither, for wildom, and underftanding) do yet fee no glory, nor excellency in it? To this he returns, in the words I have read, have read, "If our gofpel be hid, it is "hid to them that are loft, whose eyes the god of this world hath "blinded," &c. q. d. It is true, multitudes there are, who see no glory in Chrift, or the gofpel, but the fault is not in either; but in the minds of them that believe not. The fun fhines forth in its glory, but the blind fee no glory in it; the fault is not in the fun, but in the eye. In the words themfelves we have three parts to confider:
1. A dreadful, spiritual judgment inflicted.
2. The wicked inftrument by whom it is inflicted. 3. The politic manner in which he doth it.
First, We have here a very dreadful, fpiritual judgment inflicted upon the fouls of men, viz. the hiding of the gospel from them: if our gospel be hid. For thefe words, Ei 3 naresi, are a conceffion, that fo it is; a very fad, but undeniable truth. Many are there who fee no beauty in Chrift, nor necessity of him; though both are fo plainly and evidently revealed in our gofpel, "if our gospel be hid:" It is called our gospel, not as if St. Paul, and the other preachers of it, were the authors, and inventors of it; but our gofpel, becaufe we are the preachers, and difpenfers of it. We are put in truft with the gospel, and though we preach it, in the demonftration of the Spirit, and of power, ufing all plainness of speech to make men understand it; yet it is hid from many, under our miniftry it is hid from their understandings, they fee no glory in it; and hid from their hearts, thy fee no power in it. Our gofpel, notwithstanding all our endeavours, is a hidden gospel unto fome; this is the foreft, and most dreadful judgment.
Secondly, We have here an account of that wicked inftrument by whom this judgment is inflicted, viz. Satan, called here (by a mimefis) the god of this world; not fimply and properly, but because he challenges to himself the honour of a god, rules over a vast empire, and hath multitudes of fouls, even the greater part of the world, in fubjećtion, and blind obedience to his government.
Thirdly, Here, alfo, we have an account of the politic manner of this government, how he maintains his dominion among men, and keeps the world in quiet fubjection to him; namely, by blinding the minds of all them that believe not; putting out the eyes of all his fubjects, darkening that noble faculty, the mind, or understanding; the thinking, confidering, and reafoning power of the foul, which the philofophers truly call To nyμovinov, the leading, and directing faculty: for it is to the foul, what eyes are to the body, and it is therefore called "the "eyes of the understanding," Eph. i. 18. These eyes Satan blinds, (i.e.) he darkens the mind, and understanding, with ignoranee, and error; fo that when men come to fee, and confider fpiritual things, they fee, indeed, but perceive not,' Ifa. vi. 9, 10. They have fome general, confufed notions, but no diftinct, powerful, and effectual apprehenfions of those things and this is the way, indeed, none like it, to bar men effectually from Jefus Chrift, and hinder the application of the benefits of redemption to their fouls. It is true, the righteous God permits all this to be done by Satan, upon the fouls of men; but wherefoever he finally prevails thus to blind them, it is, as the text fpeaks, EV TÕIS AπORRUμLEVOs, in them that are loft, or appointed of God unto perdition. The elect of God are all blinded for a time, but Chrift applieth unto them his eye-falve; effectually opens the eyes of their understandings, and recovers them thereby, out of Satan's power and dominion: but as for thofe who ftill continue thus blinded, the fymptoms and characters of eternal death, appear upon their fouls; they are a company of loft men.
Doct. That the understandings of all unbelivers are blinded by Satan's policies, in order to their everlasting perdition. Four things must be opened in the doctrinal part of this point.
First, What the blinding of the understanding, or hiding of the gospel from the understanding, is.
Secondly, I fhall demonftrate, that the understandings of many are thus blinded, and the gospel hidden from them.
Thirdly, I fhall fhew what policies Satan ufes to blind the minds of men.
Fourthly, That this blindness is the foreft judgment, and in order to mens everlasting perdition.
Fifthly, And then apply the whole.
First, We shall enquire what the blinding of the mind, or hiding the gospel from it, is. Two forts of men are thus blinded in the world.
1. Those that want the means of illumination.
2. Those that have the means, but are denied the bleffing and efficacy of them.
The former is the cafe of the Pagan world, who are in midnight darkness, for want of the gospel. The latter is the cafe of the Chriftian world. The greatest part of them that live within the found of the gofpel, being blinded by the god of this world, Ifa. vii. 9, 10. "And he faid, Go, and tell this people; "hear ye, indeed, but understand not; and fee ye, indeed, but "perceive not: Make the heart of this people fat, and make "their ears heavy; and fhut their eyes, left they fee with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their "heart, and convert, and be healed." Thus, when the Sun of righteoufnefs actually arofe in the world, it is faid, John i. 5. "The light (hined in darkness, but the darkness comprehended "it not." So we may fay of all that light which is in the understanding of all unbelievers, what Job fpeaks of the grave, Job x. 22. "That the light there is as darkness." But more particularly, to open the nature of this fpiritual blindness, I will thew you,
1. What it is not oppofed unto.
2. What it is oppofed unto.
1. Let us examine what fpiritual blindness, or the hiding the gospel from the minds of men, is not oppofed unto: and we shall find,
First, That it is not oppofed unto natural wifdom; a man may be of an acute and clear understanding; eagle-eyed, to dif cern the myfteries of nature, and yet the gospel may be hidden from him Who were more fagacious, and quick-fighted, in natural things, than the Heathen Philofophers, renowned for wifdom in their generation? yet unto them the gospel was but. foclifbnefs, 1 Cor. i. 20, 21. St. Auguftine confeffeth, that before his converfion, he was filled with offence, and contempt of the fimplicity of the gofpel. Dedignabar effe parvulus, faith he, I fcorned to become a child again. And that great Bradwardine, the profound doctor, who was learned, ufque ad ftuporem, even to a wonder; profeffed, that when he first read Paul's epiftles, he defpifed them, because he found not in them, metaphyficum igenium, thofe metaphyfical notions which he expected. Upon this account it was, that Chrift brake forth into that pathetical gratulation of his Father's love to the elect, Mat. Ki. 25. At that time Jefus anfwered, and faid, I thank thee, O
Father, Lord of heaven and earth; because thou hast hid these