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It is easy
more of us than we can do." Pray, what power have we lost? Wicked men have no heart to love God, I grant. This is that in which their wickedness consists; they would not be wicked men, were it not for this. But had they a heart to love him, it would be an easy, sweet, delightful thing. We never complain of want of power to love the world. to love the world. And why? Because the world is really more lovely than God? No; rather because we have a heart to love the world, but no heart to love God. The world suits our hearts, but God does not. Now, can our having no heart to love God free us from our obligation, or lessen our blame? I appeal to common sense. Am I a father ; I expect my child will love, honor, and obey me. Am I a master ; I expect to be regarded as such. Should my child, should my servant, plead and say, “I have no heart," I should judge him to blame and worthy of punishment for that very thing. (Mal. i. 6.) " A son honoreth his father, and a servant his master; if í then be a father, where is mine honor ? and if I be a master, where is my fear? saith the Lord of hosts."
Or shall we say, “ The worse men grow, the less to blame they be " maxim the devil himself cannot but know to be false, how glad soever he might be, for the sake of his own character, to have it pass for true.
Besides, this is the Scripture account of the matter; for, when God of old required the Israelites to love him with all their hearts, and to serve him with all their souls; and they appeared so forward to engage it; God, who fully knew what they were, and the only difficulty there was in the way of their yielding an entire obedience to his law, breaks out in this very expressive language, (Deut. v. 28, 29: "I have heard the voice of the words of this people, which they have spoken unto thee ; they have well said all that they have spoken ; O that there were such a heart in them!” As if he had said, “ Then there would be no difficulty; and their promises might be trusted ;" but, as the Psalmist declares, (Psal. lxxxviii. 37,) “ Their heart was not right with him ; neither were they steadfast in his covenant;” and again, (Psalm. Ixxxi. 11, 12,) “My people would not hearken to my voice; and Israel would none
So I gave them up," etc. In a word, the fault is in our hearts, or the divine character; for it can be nowhere else ; to say the fault is not in us, is to say that it is in God. To say that our blindness to the divine glory is not criminal, is to say that there is no glory in the divine nature ; and whatever we plead for our justification, is implicitly to God's condemnation. For it is a plain case, that
the Jews could allege nothing to justify their disrelish to the character of Jesus Christ, but what would be of the nature of a reflection upon that character; for, if his character was good and amiable, they were to blame in not being struck with its beauty.
To say that we are dead in sin, by way of excuse, is to say that sin is not sin; for if sin is sin, then to be dead in sin, is the greater sin ; that is, to be wholly under the power of sin, is more criminal than to be but partly under its power ; otherwise, sin is no more sin. For, if the more sinful we be, the less to blame we are, then sin is no more sin ; it has changed its nature, and become an innocent thing.
Let the matter be strictly examined, and it will be found, that spiritual blindness, which has been thought rather a calamity than a vice, is really as much of a criminal nature as any kind of sin we can think of. It contains in it all kinds of wickedness in embryo. It is itself an aversion to all good. Its seat is in the heart. It is not owing to the smallness of our natural capacities; for Satan, who is a being of great abilities, and of a fine genius, is as blind to the beauty of divine things as the most stupid sinner in the world. It is not owing to the want of external instruction ; for Judas had as much of that as Peter. It is not owing to the terrors of the law and the fears of hell, and doubting of the love of God; for the Pharisees who were in full expectation of eternal glory, were but the blinder for it. No; rather it is the very spirit of an apostate creature, to be blind to the beauty of the divine nature. It is the beginning of our disaffection to God, and it increases as our disaffection increases. It is the darkness of the prince of darkness, of the same nature with his blindness. It is that which gives the prince of darkness his chief power over us, to make us think, and feel, and act, as he would have us. It is that which constitutes us members of the kingdom of darkness, and prepares us voluntarily and of free choice to walk according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air. It makes us full proof against the clearest external manifestations which can be made of the divine glory. Having eyes, we see not; and having ears, we hear not ; neither do we understand, although the glories of the God of glory shine all around us, in all his works, and in all his ways; even so that, in the view of the inhabitants of heaven, “the whole earth is full of his glory.”
To say that spiritual blindness is no crime, is in effect to affirm that there is no beauty in the divine nature ; to assert which, is subversive of all religion, natural and revealed,
To acknowledge that spiritual blindness is a crime, is to own it to be a breach of that law which requires us to love God with all our hearts, on pain of eternal woe. It is therefore to own it to be a crime infinitely blameworthy, and for which the eternal pains of hell are justly due ; for every breach of that law is such: and this, beyond all doubt, is the very truth of the case.
But if spiritual blindness be thus criminal, no mercy can be expected from God in the case, on the foot of the law. So far from it, that if he deals with us merely according to strict justice, and renders to us according to our desert, he must punish us with eternal damnation for it; so far, so very far, is God from being obliged to grant us the enlightening influences of his Holy Spirit. As the gift of his Son, to be a Redeemer, was an act of the freest grace to a revolted, guilty world, so the gift of his Spirit, to be an enlightener, is an act of grace equally free. He passed by the sinning angels, and did not give his Son to die for them; and he is at liberty among the sons of men to pass by whom he pleases, as to the gift of his Spirit; and in this affair he actually doth have mercy on whom he will have mercy. The elect obtain, and the rest are blinded. And his conduct is plainly vindicable, once granting that our blindness is our sin ; and that God might justly have held all mankind bound by law, and never provided relief of any kind. And if we affirm that God could not justly have held all mankind bound by law, but was obliged to provide relief, the whole gospel, which claims to be of mere grace, is overthrown. We must then own the law to be good, and our blindness to be our crime, and God at liberty to relieve us or not, according to the good pleasure of his will, or turn infidels; or, which is as bad, be inconsistent, and so self-condemned, as heretics, after two admonitions, were wont to be, in the apostolic age.
THE NATURE OF DIVINE ILLUMINATION.
As the gospel is hid to them that are lost, and as all who believe not are blind to its glories, so, on the other hand, all true saints see its glory. The light of the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ, who is the image of God, shines unto them. The light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus
Christ shines in their hearts; and beholding the glory of the Lord, they are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, as by the Spirit of the Lord. Thus the matter is expressed in the unerring oracles of truth. But what is the glory seen ? how is it seen? what is the nature of the sight? and why is it represented to be peculiar to the saved ? and wherein does it differ from what unregenerate men may experience ?
I. The glory seen is divine glory. It is the beauty and amiableness of God's moral character, on the account of which, the Deity is infinitely lovely in himself. It is the glory of God's moral perfections, which renders him the supreme delight of angels and saints. The apostle expressly calls it "the glory of the Lord;” and again, “the glory of God.” It is the very glory and beauty of the divine nature itself; a glory as peculiar to God as his own divinity is; yea, it is the brightness of the very divinity itself. So that he who hath seen this glory, hath, in the language of Scripture, seen God, (Matt. v. 8,) and known God, (John xvii
. 3; 1 John ii. 4,) and consequently is able to distinguish between the true God, and all other beings, real or imaginary; as he who hath seen the natural sun can distinguish it from a glowworm. In reference to this, therefore, all true saints are spoken of in Scripture as having an unction from the Holy One, whereby they know all things, (1 John ii. 20,) because he who rightly sees God, as he has manifested himself in the gospel, does virtually know the whole of Christianity; yea, the whole of divine revelation ; and therefore it is added by the apostle, “ And ye need not that any man teach you, but the same anointing teacheth you all things, and is truth, and is no lie.” And on this account it is represented as impossible that such should be seduced, by the most artful heretics, to imbibe that false idea of God, which is the spirit, life, and soul, of all their false schemes of religion; for as this anointing hath taught you, ye shall abide in him. And therefore it is represented as being impossible the elect should be deceived, (Matt. xxiv. 24;) while, on the other hand, it is declared, that all that dwell upon the earth shall worship the beast, whose names are not written in the Lamb's book of life. (Rev. xiii. 8.) Thus the glory seen is the brightness, beauty, amiableness of God's true and real character, as exhibited to view on the cross of Christ.* But,
What that character of God is, which is exhibited to view on the cross of Christ, and what is implied in its being glorious, has been already shown. God our Creator was in himself infinitely worthy of our supreme love; and so his law which required this on pain of eternal death, was a glorious law; and so it was a
II. How is this glory seen? This sight of the glory of God is no abstract metaphysical idea, hatched in the fancy of philosophic, speculative men: far from it. Not many wise men, not many learned, says the apostle, but the foolish things of this world hath he called. Nor is it any thing irrational and visionary, the fruit of the teeming imagination of melancholy souls. No, it is perfectly rational, and divinely noble. not seen by the eyes of the body, nor is it seen by the imagination, nor is it seen by the force of a penetrating genius. “ Flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.” It is often “hid from the wise and prudent, and revealed to babes." A poor, illiterate fisherman, divinely enlightened, might see it with as much ease as he could behold the glory of the sun shining in its strength. All true saints, in the apostolic age, saw this divine glory, how mean soever their birth, how low soever their genius, as St. Paul affirms, -"We all, with open face, beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord."
But how did they see it? Pray tell me : how is the beauty of any character seen among men ? Universal experience teaches us, that characters appear agreeable or disagreeable, just as they suit our taste or not. To an angel, who has a taste for holy beauty, God's moral character appears infinitely amiable; but to the devil, who is a being of a contrary taste, God's moral character appears just the reverse. To the Pharisees, no character more odious than that of Jesus Christ ; but at the same time, Martha, Mary, and Lazarus were charmed with this man. To the Jewish nation in general, who groaned under the Roman yoke, and longed for a Messiah to set them at liberty, to make them victorious, rich, and honorable ; a Messiah in the character of a temporal prince, even such a one as they expected, would have suited their hearts to perfection, and so have natnrally appeared a glorious Messiah ; and the news of his coming, of his victories, and of his rising, spreading kingdom, would have been glorious news. Such a gospel would have been received among them as a glorious gospel ; there would have been no vail on their hearts ; none would have been blind to its
glorious thing in God to give his Son to die to do it honor, to declare his rightcousness that he might be just, and yet justify him that believeth in Jesus. And therefore, to see the glory of God in the face of Christ, implies a sight of the glory of God as Crcator and Lawgiver, and of the glory of his law ; for Christ on the cross, dying to do honor to the law, is glorious only on supposition the law was a glorious law, and worthy of this honor; as has been already proved. These things are hinted now, that they may be kept constantly in the reader's view; because there are false Christs, and false gospels, and false glories, with which multitudes are deluded,