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the whole process. The devil has a terrific power, but, in a sense, he has none except what we ourselves give him. He does not, and cannot blind us against our wills, in spite of our own reluctance and opposition. He prevails, but not by an overmastering might, not by the force of a compulsion which we are incapable of withstanding and overcoming. We yield to his seductions, we walk with open eyes into his snares, we allow ourselves to be led captive by him at his will. Means of successful resistance exist, of which we might take advantage, but do not; and thus we are implicated in every stage and step of this blinding. And the effect is, that the subjects of it do not believe. Faith springs from an opening of the inward eyes, from a heaven-wrought apprehension of the truth of the Gospel. The action of the light, when it comes in, is to produce conviction of sin, a sense of guilt, ruin, and helplessness, with a perception of the suitableness and sufficiency of Christ, which leads to issues in, the reception of Him as a Saviour. The blinding by Satan stands in the way of this, hinders it, prevents it, causes and perpetuates a state of unbelief. Such is the direct and disastrous result,-in how many, alas! the utterly and eternally fatal result !
III. His malignant purpose.
Satan's design and the actual effect are declared in these words, “Lest the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” The term here rendered light is not the usual one, and it implies something additional. It denotes the light acting, beaming forth, shining out with radiant lustre. There is not only light latent in the Gospel, but light issuing from it, streaming out, and falling on all who hear it preached, or are otherwise brought into contact with the truth-light pouring around them as from a spiritual orb, and ready to pour into them, but for the internal barriers which are placed in its way,—the blindness of mind and heart which shuts out all its brightness from the darkened bosom. Very different is our condition from that of the benighted heathen. There is no luminary in their firmament to guide their feet into the ways of peace, even had they eye-sight. Nor does this express the whole difference; for be it remembered that in this case the supply of the one want is essentially connected with the supply of the other; it is only by the action of the spiritual light,--not, indeed, by it simply, and apart from an accompanying Divine and gracious influence, but still by it—that there can be
the power as well as the medium of vision. The light is that of 'the glorious Gospel of Christ,” or, literally and exactly, that of the Gospel of the glory of Christ. The Gospel is well entitled to be thus characterised. It is glorious, and it is so because it contains and reveals the glory of Christ, its great author and subject. It is full of His excellence; it is radiant with his brightness. It all treats of Him-His person, His offices, His work; and in every part of it we meet with His Divine lustre. Take Him out of it -His deity, His atonement, His righteousness, His Spirit, His distinctive features and actings,--and you leave it a hollow, dark, worthless thing, a casket from which the jewels have been stolen, a sun from which the light has departed, turning it into a black, charred, unsightly mass of dead matter.
And that the Gospel may be truly and appropriately spoken of in such terms, described as being that of Christ's glory, is evidenced by what is added, declarative of Christ's nature and office. He is called the image of God.” Originally and properly He is not only like God, but is God, very God. He has His being, His perfections, His prerogatives—everything peculiar to and distinctive of supreme deity. The Word leaves us in no doubt on that subject. But He is the Son; He was eternally begotten of the Father. There was in His case a real but most mysterious generation. In the unity of the Godhead there is a deep, incomprehensible, but still most true and effective distinction. In the one essence there is a threefold personality. As respects essence, the Son is identical with the Father; as respects, personality, He is similar to the Father,–His representation, likeness, image. Hence the remarkable language of the Epistle to the Hebrews,—“Who being the brightness of His glory, and the. express image of His person.” Thus, too, He is said to have been originally "in the form of God”—a form which he after
. wards exchanged for that of a servant. As Mediator, Messiah, the character under which He is here spoken of by the apostle, He became that which His nature fitted Him for being—the Revealer, the Representative of Jehovah in the world, among
John the Baptist thus bore testimony regarding Him, “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him." His own words were,
“ He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father.” “Great is the mystery of godliness ; God was manifest in the flesh.” By the constitution of His person, the heavenliness of His character, the merit of His death, His triumphant resurrection
and ascension, He has illustrated all Divine perfections, satisfied all Divine claims; He has made the King invisible, as it were, visible, and brought Him near to us far-off sinners. He was and is truly “the image of God.”
Now, Satan's object is to prevent this light from shining into men, into their darkened minds and hearts; for this is what saves, overthrows his kingdom, deprives him of his subjects. It is the light of life quickening the soul, in the moment of its entrance with the power of the Spirit. Thus faith springs up, for it is the direct outlooking of those eyes which have just been opened, their turning to that glorious object which now stands revealed. With its exercise comes pardon of sin through the blood of atonement, full acceptance in the Lord our righteousness, adoption into the family of God, with all filial privileges. The title to heaven is complete, and issuing thus in justification, the new vision is not less effective for sanctification. “But we all, with open face,
. beholding, as in a glass, the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” And in how many is the dark design of this world's god realised,—his horrid purpose carried into effect! It is so in the case of all the unbelieving, and who can tell their number? Alas! the blind are walking around us, sitting among us in our houses and churches. Multitudes have eyes, but they see not; and none are more certainly and deeply sunk in this condition than those who are ready to ask with the Pharisees of old, in utter and scornful incredulity, "Are we blind also ?”
Mark here, that, to be effectual, the Gospel must shine into us. It is a great blessing to have it pouring its light around usmaking known to us the way of salvation, and inviting us to enter on that way. But it can benefit us really and eternally only by breaking through the barriers of ignorance, pride, and worldliness—breaking through these, and penetrating the hidden chambers, the deepest and darkest recesses of our being. It must shine in, revealing sin in all its hatefulness, convincing us of it; and when we are alarmed on account of it, ready to sink into despair, it must disclose Christ as the only Saviour,--His infinite merit, His gracious Spirit, His boundless compassion. It is thus, only thus, we can lay hold of Him, and obtain out of his fulness all the blessings of redemption. Has it thus shone? It has shone around you, but has it shone into you? That is the grand, the vital distinction.
Learn that this is what Satan's efforts are all directed against.
He labours incessantly to obstruct the entrance of the light of life into the souls of men. His whole wiles and appliances are employed in blinding them so as to prevent the shining into them of the glorious Gospel of Christ. And this fact is of itself fitted to show us our need of the Gospel, the efficacy of it, and also God's great design in it, for that is, and must be, just the opposite of Satan's. Let us then defeat the deceiver and destroyer; let us no longer allow him thus to blind us; let us open our eyes and admit the light of heaven. “Look, ye blind, that ye may see.” May that God who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, shine in all our hearts, giving us the light of the knowledge of His own glory in the face of Jesus Christ.
THE APOSTOLIC COMMISSION:
JAMES MACGREGOR, D.D.,
“And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.”—LUKE xxiv. 47.
On the first Christian Sabbath, very early in the morning, the newly-risen Saviour appeared to the weeping Magdalene, and healed her breaking heart. In the course of the day He revealed Himself to those two disclples who, on their way to Emmaus, had betrayed to Him the darkness of their despairing unbelief. And in the evening He mysteriously entered through those closed doors, behind which were assembled the eleven apostles, awestruck and terror-struck with the recollection of him who had gone out from them into night eternal, and of that Master who had been torn from them by the death of the cross. When He thus shewed Himself among them they were seized with new terror, thinking that He was not a man, but a frightful spectre. But on His hands and His feet, pierced by the nails of the cross, He shewed them the certificate of His being the Master they had lost. By partaking of their food He shewed them that He still remained partaker of their nature. And when the agony of their terror and the first ecstacy of their gladness had given place to some measure of composure of mind, He proceeded to speak the words among which we have found the text.
These words, in the first place, expose to our view the fountain of the Church's new life, in the sufferings of Jesus the Christ, followed by His glorious resurrection. Then for the regulation of her life, procured by His death and applied by His Spirit, He declares His last will and testament regarding the administration