2 Corinthians 4:3
Those things which are intended for man's welfare are often so perverted by sin that they become the occasion of the greatest evils. So that it is proverbial that the best things, when abused, prove to be the worst. The gospel of Jesus Christ, when it is received aright, is a power to enlighten, bless, and save. But to those who reject and despise it the gospel becomes the occasion of condemnation and destruction.

I. THE INVISIBLE AND SPIRITUAL POWER THAT VEILS THE GOSPEL FROM THE EYES OF MEN. The expression used by the apostle is very strong; he attributes this mischievous act to "the god of this world," apparently a personal principle of evil working in human society and in human hearts. Elsewhere we are reminded of the might of the evil one, who is designated "the ruler of this world," "the prince of the power of the air."

II. THE MEANS BY WHICH THE EYES OF MEN ARE VEILED, These are many, and are craftily adapted to the varying characters and habits of men.

1. Sensuality often incapacitates for spiritual vision; for the more it makes a man sensitive to the attractions of carnal pleasure the mere it hinders his spiritual apprehensions and dulls his spiritual vision.

2. Worldliness fills the whole horizon of vision with the things of earth and time, and thus shuts out the shining of the true light which is from heaven.

3. The pride of human reason, which fancies itself to be independent and all-powerful, obscures in the case of many the rays of Divine truth which often reach the lowliest and the least esteemed among men.

III. THE EFFECTS WHICH THIS BLINDNESS PRODUCES IN THE MINDS OF MEN.

1. The glad tidings are regarded with indifference.

2. Christ himself, the very "Image of God," is contemplated with aversion and repugnance. There is no spiritual sympathy to draw the soul to the holy and the gracious One; his very lectures are regarded through a distorted medium.

3. All spiritual execllences lose their charm, fail to awaken to admiration and emulation.

4. The true condition in which they lie is altogether ignored and denied by the spiritually blind.

5. For lack of light they perish; the spiritually and wilfully blind doom themselves to death. - T.







But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost.
I. WHAT IS OUR GOSPEL? You may call it either "God's news" or "good newsy" for "God" and "good" are one and the same thing. The "gospel" is God's good news. And what is "the good news"? Now, if I were to say that God is our Creator and Father, this might be "good," but it would not be "news." Almost all nature teaches that. And if I were to say that His Son came into this world, it might be "news," but it might not be "good." But when I add that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, is not this "news"? Is not this "good"?

II. BUT SOME OF YOU DO NOT SEE IT.

1. You say —(1) "It would never do for God to forgive sin so easily. It will encourage sin." You do not see that the acceptance of forgiveness provides the cure for sin.(2) Or you feel "there is a simplicity in that which is contrary to all my ideas of the greatness of God."(3) Or you take very little trouble to understand it. It is an abstraction — like any other philosophical dogma.(4) Or you know it is true. You always heard it, and you have been educated up to it. But it has no power over your heart. It is "hidden."

2. And if it is "hidden," what "hides" it? A thing may be "hidden" from one or other of three causes —(1) The organ of vision may be weakened or destroyed. The apostle assigns to the Corinthians this cause. "The god of this world" had "blinded their minds." The right image is not formed. There is no reflection of the object inwardly. You have not the capacity of seeing such things as these.(2) Something has come in between you and truth. A big sin hinders the view.(3) Men drive God to do an act of retributive justice. Neglected light has been withdrawn.

4. What underlies the threefold process? Your sin. You were not prepared to accept the gospel of His grace on the conditions. And so sin dulled the perceptive power; sin drew the veil; one sin was punished by another sin. From long darkness your heart grew dark.

III. "TO THEM THAT ARE LOST."

(J. Vaughan, M. A.)

I. THAT CERTAIN STATES OF MIND MAY VEIL OR CONCEAL THE GOSPEL FROM OUR VIEW. That is the main idea of the passage; notwithstanding its glory, it may be a thing of darkness, a "savour of death unto death." In the Corinthian Church, party spirit, contentions, immoralities, and self-laudation, prevented their full perception of the glory and purity of the gospel.

1. Indifference may cause the gospel to be veiled. We cannot see anything except we look at it. Having the gospel is not examining the gospel. It has a personal claim, founded on facts of the most solemn character.

2. Misapprehension of its nature may veil the gospel from our minds. They have difficulties about church-government, about baptism, about election, dec.; and so to them the gospel is veiled.

3. Sometimes the troubles of life may veil the gospel from our hearts.

4. The recollections of, and despair on account of, past sins may veil the gospel from our hearts.

II. THAT THE PROVISIONS OF THE GOSPEL ARE ALL INTENDED AND ADAPTED TO REMOVE THESE OBSTACLES.

(W. G. Barrett.)

The gospel which fills the Old Testament and the New is the most wonderful arrangement that Divine wisdom and benevolence ever made. God is more seen in the glorious work of redemption there unfolded than in all His other works. Unbelief is most unreasonable and wicked in itself. Men do not reject the gospel from any want of evidence. They believe a thousand things on far tess evidence. The greatness of the sin of unbelief appears in this, that it opposes all the manifestations of God which are made in the Scriptures.

1. First, men reject the Bible because it condemns them. It reproves their sins and disturbs their conscience. A book that does this is an uncomfortable companion, and they must get rid of it to preserve their peace.

2. Secondly, men reject the Bible because it alarms their fears. It speaks of a judgment to come.

3. Thirdly, men reject the Bible because it requires them to give up sins and idols which they are loth to abandon. They love the world supremely.

4. Fourthly, men reject the Bible because it requires them to perform duties which they do not relish.(1) The unreasonableness and wickedness of unbelief is, then, one cause why the decree has gone forth, "He that believeth not shall be damned."(2) Another reason is that it necessarily excludes men from the only remedy provided.Application:

1. Are there any present who deliberately doubt the Divinity of the Scriptures?

2. I will apply the subject to those who, though they do not deliberately doubt, are yet stupid in sin.

3. Let me address the subject to those who, though not stupid, have not yet believed with the heart.

(E. D. Griffin, D. D.)

We have here —

I. MAN VEILING FROM HIS OWN EYE A DIVINELY REVEALED GOOD. The gospel facts are "manifestly set forth," yet men hide them from themselves —

1. By prejudice, as in the case of the Jews.

2. By enmity.

3. By fire.

4. By carnal selfishness. Love alone can interpret love.

5. By despondency,

II. MAN LOST BY THE SIDE OF A POWER DESIGNED AND FITTED TO SAVE. The gospel offers men —

1. Light, and yet they walk in darkness.

2. Pardon, and yet they walk in condemnation.

3. Health, and yet they groan with a moral malady.

4. Heaven, and yet they march towards hell. How great at once their folly and guilt.

(D. Thomas, D. D.)

The Revised Version gives a better translation: "But and if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled in them that are perishing." Paul had been speaking of Moses with the veil over his face; our gospel wears no veil.

I. THE GOSPEL IS IN ITSELF —

1. A glorious light. In countless places it is so described. This light —(1) Reveals "the glory of Christ."(a) It tells us that He is the eternal Son of the Father, by whom and for whom all things were made, and by whom they continue to exist. This might not have been good news to us if it had stood alone; but the gospel further reveals to us that Christ became as truly man as He was assuredly God. This was the first note of the gospel, and there was so much of delight in it that it set all the angels in heaven singing, "Glory to God in the highest," etc. Furthermore the gospel tells us that this same mighty God dwelt here among men, preaching and teaching and working miracles of matchless mercy. But the gospel's clearest note is, that this Son of God in due time gave Himself for our sins. Yet there is another note, for He that died and was buried is risen from the dead, and has borne our nature up into the glory, and there He wears it at the Father's right hand. He is by His intercession saving sinners whom He purchased with His blood. But I must not leave out the fact that He will come again to gather all His own unto Himself, and to take them up to be with Him where He is.(2) Reveals God Himself, for Christ is the image of God.

(a)He is essentially one with God.

(b)He shows us what God is. What higher conception of God can you have?(3) Is light to us.

(a)It brings illumination. It is a lighting up of the soul "to know the only true God," etc.

(b)It affords comfort when under a sense of sin; in sorrow; in the prospect of death.

2. Most plain and clear. The gospel contains nothing which can perplex anybody unless he wishes to be perplexed.(1) That God should espouse our nature is so far a mystery that we do not know how it could be; but we do not want to know how it was done; it is enough for us that it was done.(2) So with the doctrine of the atonement. If God has set forth Christ to be a propitiation for our sins, our most reasonable course is to accept Him. We need not quarrel with grace because we cannot understand everything about it.(3) I am not asked to understand how God justifies us in Christ, but I am asked to believe that He does so. The fact is plain enough, and the fact is the object of faith. At times persons inquire, "What is believing?" Well, it is trusting, depending, leaning upon, relying upon — that is all. Is there anything hard about that? The shepherd on Salisbury Plain can understand the gospel as well as the Bishop in Salisbury Cathedral; and the Dairyman's Daughter can feel its power as fully as a princess.

II. IN THE TRUE PREACHING OF THE GOSPEL THIS SIMPLICITY IS PRESERVED. Paul said, "Having this hope in us we use great plainness of speech," and "My speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power." The apostle was a deep thinker, but he devoted all his energies to the unveiling of the gospel. He wrote some things hard to be understood, but when he came to the gospel he would have nothing but simplicity there, The true man of God will not veil the gospel beneath ceremonies. I know numbers who would disdain to do that, and yet they hide their Lord under finery of language. Let tawdry ornaments be left to the stage or to the bar, where men amuse themselves or dispute for gain.

III. IF THE GOSPEL BE VEILED TO OUR HEARERS IT IS A FATAL SIGN.

1. Not to believe and accept the gospel is a sign of perishing. You who receive the gospel are saved; faith is the saving token. The sun is bright enough, but those who have no sight are not enlightened. He that believes not on Christ is a lost man. God has lost you; you are not His servant. The Church has lost you; you are not working for the truth. The world has lost you; you yield no lasting service to it. You have lost yourself to right, to joy, to heaven.

2. The apostle explains how a man gets into that condition. He says that Satan, the god of this world, hath blinded his mind. What a thought it is that Satan should set up to be a god. Christ is the image of God; Satan is the ape of God. To maintain his power he takes great care that his dupes should not see the light of the gospel. The veils he uses are such as men's selfish hearts approve; for he speaks thus, "If you were to become a Christian, you would never get on in the world."

3. But you may be found yet; lost to-day, but you need not be lost tomorrow. The Good Shepherd has come out to find His lost sheep. Are any of you blinded? There is one abroad to-day who opens blind eyes. Is the god of this world your master? He need not be so any longer. Whatsoever keeps you from beholding the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ can be removed.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

I. TO WHOM THE GOSPEL IS HID.

1. To those who deny its Divine authority.

2. To those who are ignorant of its peculiar doctrines.

3. To all those who do not obey it, however extensive and correct may be their views of its doctrines.

II. THE DANGER OF THEIR CONDITION.

1. The blindness of those to whom the gospel is hid is voluntary and criminal. It cannot be ascribed to the want of light.

2. Their danger is increased by the measure of light and evidence which they resist.

3. No other means will be used for their salvation but those which have been tried and proved ineffectual.

4. They are in danger of being given up of God, to continued ignorance and error.

(N. W. Taylor, D. D.)

And in it we observe these three particulars. First, the non-proficiency specified and supposed: "If our gospel be hid." Secondly, the censure and judgment that is passed upon it: "It is hid to them that are lost." It is a sign, they are cast away. Thirdly, the true cause of their non-proficiency assigned. First, is the original and natural inbred cause in themselves, that is infidelity, a voluntary unbelief. Secondly, is a cause that increases this non-proficiency of unbelief, that is spiritual blindness inflicted and wrought into them: — "Their minds are blinded." Thirdly, is the author and worker of this blindness, that is the devil: "The god of this world." Fourthly, is his end and purpose why he blinds men's minds: "Lest the gospel should shine into them, and they should be converted." And this assigning of these causes of their unproficiency removes other pretended causes of their unbelief. They must be one of these three.

I. They will say, God He conceals Himself from them. No; it is the god of this world, not the true God.

II. They pretend the gospel is dark and mysterious. No; that is full of light, of glorious light.

III. They say the apostle is obscure in propounding it to them. No; it shines evidently to them in his preaching, and would shine into them, would they but open their eyes and behold it. The first thing considerable is the pretended obscurity of the gospel, and so their unproficiency supposed: "If our gospel be hid." Here are three things considerable. First, is the special truth which St. Paul labours to free from obscurity, and the unproficiency under which he thus heavily sentences, that is the gospel. Secondly, is the special relation and interest that St. Paul claims to this blessed truth, he calls it "our gospel." Thirdly, is the imputation that is charged upon this truth, which he labours to remove, that is obscurity: "If it be hidden."

I. The gospel and the justifying of it was the main scope and the end of his ministry. His employment was the publishing of the glad tidings of the gospel (Acts 20:21; Ephesians 1:13; Romans 11:13; Philippians 1:17). An ambassador, in point of honour, must maintain his commission, avow the truth and authority of it. If Paul preaches the law, he doth it still in reference to the gospel.

1. To convince you of your great necessity to lay hold on the gospel, by showing you the impossibility of performing the law.

2. To enforce you to fly to the sanctuary of the gospel, so to escape the curse of the law.

3. To direct you how to live under the gospel by that rule of holiness prescribed in the law.

II. Paul maintains the dignity of the gospel, threatens our unproficiency under it; because the gospel is the most clear, evident, convincing means of salvation. They might more excuse-ably have charged obscurity upon the law of Moses; there was some darkness in that ministration. But the gospel is revealed in all evidence and manifestation (Romans 1:17). Clearer and clearer in it the way to heaven is laid open. There is a light in the law; but the gospel is far more resplendent.

III. Paul is severe against those who are unproficient under the gospel, because the gospel is the most powerful means to work our conversion. In respect of this the law was impotent, it made nothing perfect (Hebrews 7:19). God accompanies the word of the gospel with the efficacy of His Spirit. The law administered no strength; required all, but helped nothing; but the gospel, it is the ministration of the Spirit. When that is tendered to us and we refuse it, then God saith, "What can I do more than I have done to save you?" Secondly, the second thing considerable is St. Paul's claim and interest in the gospel, he calls it "our gospel." What Christ said of John's baptism, we may say of the gospel, "Is it from heaven, or from men?"No doubt from heaven. And St. Paul elsewhere ascribes it to an higher author and owner; he calls it "the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Thessalonians 1:8).

I. It is St. Paul's gospel, it was committed to St. Paul's care and trust; he owns the gospel as his chief charge. And how thankfully he took this trust; he blesses Christ for "counting him faithful, and putting him into the ministry."

II. St Paul counts the gospel his gospel; it is an expression of love and affection. It is the property of love to appropriate what it loves, and to account it its own.

III. "Our gospel," it is a speech of challenge; he claims the gospel to himself against all carping opposers.

IV. "Our gospel." It is a speech of confidence and full assurance. Paul is assured the thing that he preached unto them was the truth of the gospel.

1. His preaching was infallible; he was guided by an unerring Spirit.

2. His preaching was with all evidence, he concealed nothing, but acquainted the Churches "with the whole counsel of God."

3. His preaching was ratified with the great confirmation.

4. Paul's preaching was most successful. Thirdly, the third thing considerable is the imputation which is cast upon the gospel, that it is hid and obscure; and the apostle seems to grant there is some obscurity in it.

I. It is true the gospel in itself, in its own nature, is an hidden, a secret, reserved thing. It is the mystery of God locked up in His secret counsel, naturally unknown to men or angels.

II. Even after God had published it by His Son, yet still it is an hidden, obscure thing to every natural man.

III. The gospel in some measure and degree is hid and obscure, even to the saints of God.

IV. It is true that for all this hiddenness of the gospel, yet even those that are but wicked men may attain to some kind of knowledge in the gospel, nay, to a great ability of understanding. Balaam may prophesy of Christ, Judas may preach Him.

1. A wicked man may understand the words of Scripture, but not the things contained in them.

2. Suppose a wicked man may know those things that are in the Scriptures, yet his knowledge of them hath no spiritual apprehensions of them. All the knowledge he hath it is but natural and carnal, where reason stops he stops too. As he that looks upon a map judges of foreign countries by some imaginations he fancies to himself, not by an immediate clear apprehension of the places themselves.

3. Suppose a wicked man may attain to some supernatural knowledge of Divine truths, but his knowledge of them it is merely notional, not cordial Christian knowledge.

1. It is more certain.

2. It is more comfortable.As a man may guess at the goodness of wine by the colour, but better by. the taste. Secondly, to the censure and judgment that the apostle passes upon those that can see nothing in the gospel to whom it is an hidden thing. And that censure it is sad and heavy. And here are two things considerable. First, is the doom he passes upon them: "They are lost." Secondly, is the manner of denouncing this doom and sentence upon them. First, the doom and censure is that they are lost. What means that? How shall we estimate the heaviness of this burden? The Scripture accounts us lost many ways.

I. We are lost in our original, as we are all the children and offspring of Adam.

II. Every sin we commit is a farther loss to us. The life of a sinner, it is a continual losing of himself.

III. There is yet a farther loss, that is a loss of sentence and judgment; when a sinner is cast in law, when sentence and condemnation is passed upon him, he hath incurred that heavy curse which God's law threatens against offenders.That shuts up all men in condemnation. These three —

I. The loss Of natural corruption.

II. The loss of sinful transgression.

III. The loss of legal malediction. But this loss which St. Paul speaks of, it is the final, irrecoverable loss beyond all redemption. It implies three things.

1. A loss in declaration. They that will not obey the gospel are lost in God's account and estimation.

2. There is a loss in condition. Such as refuse the gospel, they are in an actual state of perdition "The wrath of God abides upon them" (John 3:36). Those whom the gospel cannot recover, they are undone for ever.

3. There is a loss in destruction. No, if the gospel do not convert thee it will confound thee; it will be either bliss or thy bane; it will either help thee to heaven or sink thee to the bottom of hell. We have seen the doom and censure which the apostle passes upon unbelievers; now let us take notice of — Secondly, the manner of denouncing of it: "If our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost." And for the manner of denouncing this sentence, take notice of three qualifications in it.

I. This form of denouncing of it is hypothetical, by way of supposal only, if there be any such. As if he should say, "It is strange and wonderful that after so much preaching there should any remain ignorant, unteachable, unconverted; it is almost incredible men should neglect so great salvation. Had any other mystery been taught them of less advantage than this mystery of the gospel, would they have continued ignorant of it?

II. This form of denunciation, it is illative, brought in by way of proof and inference. It is not in the nature of an immediate absolute prediction, but by the way of menacing, and upon presupposal of their unbelief.

III. This form of sentence, it is suspensive and general. "If it be hid, it is hid to them that are lost." This thunderbolt hovers over their heads in a dismal cloud of generality. The apostle fastens it upon no man's person in particular. And so the observation is thus much. That ignorance of the gospel, and unproficiency under the ministry of it, it is a fearful token of perdition, Such an one had need look to himself lest he prove a reprobate. See the truth of this in three particulars; in respect —

1. Of the want of the gospel.

2. Of the neglect of the gospel.

3. Of the rejection of the gospel.These leave them in a condition of damnation.

1. Single ignorance of Christ's gospel is damnable. As a man that is sick of a deadly disease, not only the refusal of the sovereign medicine to cure him, but the bare want of it makes him irrecoverable. Ignorance, it is the hold of Satan, where he keeps his captives in chains of darkness.

2. A second point is wilful and careless and supine ignorance, when the gospel is offered and tendered to us that is worse.

3. A third point is obstinate, resolved and final ignorance and contempt of the gospel, it is an infallable mark, an evident token of perdition. Thirdly, to the causes of this their unproficiency. First, of the natural, inbred cause of this unproficiency, that is unbelief. It is that which makes all means of grace unprofitable. An unbelieving heart is unteachable, it frustrates all offers of grace (Hebrews 4:2). This sin of infidelity makes a stop of our conversion at the very beginning, destroys the first conceptions of grace. An unbelieving heart, it is like some ill-conditioned, cold, barren ground, that chills and deads the seed as soon as it is sown. It is a sin to be striven against, because —

I. It is a sin exceeding natural. It was that sin that gave us the first slip in our first fall, when we all fell from God in Adam. And it being the first it became the most natural sin. And this native ill-quality of unbelief shows itself specially in" refusing the gospel. Three reasons of it.

1. The gospel propounds very high, sublime mysteries, truths that are exceeding spiritual and Divine. Now the soul of man by infidelity is so bowed down that it measures all truths by sense, or most by reason. It will not believe God further than it sees Him.

2. The means of salvation which the gospel propounds seems to an unbeliever exceeding unlikely and improbable, and so he refuseth them. Here is the perverseness of infidelity; some things are too high in the gospel, he cannot reach to them; again, some things seem so mean and low, he cannot stoop to them. That our Saviour should be crucified, and by such a death save us, it cannot sink into him. So all the means of grace infidelity judges them poor and contemptible. The preaching of the Word, it is but foolishness to them. The sacraments, how unlikely to be conveyances of grace to us?

3. The heart of every man by nature is full of privy guiltiness, conscious to himself, that all is not well betwixt God and him; and that makes his heart draw back by unbelief and not embrace the gospel. This guiltiness of conscience that God is become our enemy, that heaven and we are at variance, makes a man start and be shy at any appearances of God, at any message or tidings from Him. As an indebted man or malefactor is afraid at the sight of an officer, he thinks he comes to apprehend him, as Ahab was troubled at the sight of the prophet: "Hast thou found me, O mine enemy?" He looks upon the Scripture, nay, the gospel, as a writ to arrest him. As traitors and rebels that reject pardon they will fight it out, they look for no mercy. That is the first, infidelity is a sin exceeding natural.

II. It is a sin exceeding difficult and hard to be cured. There is no sin more inexpugnable than the sin of infidelity.

1. The long continuance in our nature makes it hardly curable; like a tree deeply rooted, it is hardly digged up.

2. Infidelity is hardly cured, it is a disease of the understanding and rational soul. And rational diseases are most incurable. It is a difficult work to take off a film from the eye. And unbelief, it is a film upon the understanding. Unbelief, it is hardly removed, because it seems to be reasonable. What, will you put out our eyes? bid us believe we know not what? make us go further than reason teaches us?

III. Infidelity, it is a sin exceeding dangerous and pernicious, of great provocation.

1. It is very dangerous. It is seated in the most vital part, in the mind and understanding. An unbeliever errs in the first principles, and so errs more perniciously, as he that mistakes and goes wrong at first setting. It stops our entrance into the Church.

2. It is of greatest provocation. It offers an high contempt to the glory of God. It calls His truth and goodness into question. We come, secondly, to the cause increasing this unproficiency, that is spiritual blindness: "The god of this world hath blinded their minds."

I. The author of this spiritual blindness is the god of this world. Who is that? It is a high title. So, then, we must make these two inquiries.

1. What is his dominion?

2. What is his deity? It is this world. Here is one word seems to enlarge his dominion, "the world," a word of wide compass; but here is another word that confines it, it is "this world," that is a word of limitation. It spoils his divinity to limit him. Ye mar a god, if ye come to confine him. A wicked man's god is but the god of this world, both for extension and duration. But our God, He is the Lord of heaven and earth, there is the extension; and His dominion is from everlasting to everlasting, there is the duration of His dominion. How, then, is Satan the god of this world?(1) Take it for the territory, and then I demand, Is Satan indeed the god of this world? Surely, "The world is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof." Yet something there is that he bears the sway, carries the name of the god of this world. He is so —

1. By usurpation, like an audacious traitor, that sets himself up against his lawful sovereign, and will order the kingdom without him.

2. By God's permission.(2) Take the world for the inhabitants. St. Peter calls it the world of the ungodly (2 Peter 2:5). In that sense especially Satan is the god of this world. Wicked men are called the world.

1. There is a world of them. A few good, very few in respect of the bad, they fill the world.

2. They are called the world, that is their proper element. David calls them "The men of this world, whose portion is in this life."

3. They are the world, they bear all the sway.

2. The second inquiry is, What is Satan's deity? How comes Satan to this greatness, to be the god of this world? I answer, he attains to the godship three ways.(1) By necessary devolution. If the Lord be not our God then Satan will be.(2) Satan becomes the god of wicked men by their real and voluntary submission to him.(3) Satan becomes the god of wicked men by God's just desertion and giving them over. Obstinate sinners God gives over to Satan; He sets Satan to rule and to be effectual in them.It shows us the great calamity that we bring upon ourselves by departing from the living God.(1) Wicked men make Satan their master, and themselves his drudges, and that is a base subjection.(2) Wicked men have a nearer relation, Satan gets greater interest in them; they make themselves his children. A fearful thing to be reckoned Satan's offspring.(3) The devil gets a more supreme dominion over them, he becomes their king (John 14:30).(4) But of all submissions this is the vilest, to set up the devil to be our god. It shows us the high contempt that God suffers from the men of this world. A wicked man, as much as in him lies, puts God out of His throne and places Satan in it. The author of this spiritual blindness is the devil. "The god of this world."

II. A second thing considerable is the advantage and opportunity that Satan hath in wicked men and unbelievers to blind them, it is by being in them. Iris a speech of very great emphasis, and shows that power Satan hath over the souls of unbelievers — he is in them as in his possession. As those who are sanctified and believe, God's good Spirit dwells in them. So, on the contrary, every wicked man is the habitation of Satan. Here is the difference betwixt a saint and a sinner. Satan may busy himself about a good man as an assailant, but he hath the full possession of a wicked man as an inhabitant.

III. We proceed to the third particular, that is the mischievous effect which Satan works in them; he strikes them with spiritual blindness; he blinds the minds of unbelievers. That increases their infidelity, makes them uncapable of the mysteries of the gospel, they cannot see the light of it (John 12:37). Will you see the nature of this woeful disposition to be given over to blindness? There be many considerations of it that make it woeful, and those that are under it exceeding miserable.

1. A spiritual evil; and of all evils that can befall us spiritual evils are most grievious. The spirit of a man is the chiefest part of a man. Deformity of body to a sober judgment seems nothing so evil as a deformity in the soul. Bodily blindness is a rueful spectacle, but to have the eye of the soul darkened is much more grievous.

2. Blindness in our minds, it is a woeful blindness. Why the mind it is the highest faculty of the soul of man.

3. This spiritual blindness, it is a just judgment that befalls unbelievers thus to be struck with this woeful blindness. It is most just and suitable to their sin. They will not understand, and therefore they shall not understand. This is the proportion of God's rewarding and punishing. He rewards our faith with increase of faith, and our good use of grace with more abundant grace. But He punishes the neglect of grace with the loss of grace. He blows out the candle when men will not work by it.

4. This evil, it is the heaviest judgment that can be inflicted, thus to be given over to this spirit of blindness. Oh, it is a heavy judgment not to be able to see Christ and the means of salvation; such a man bears the brand of God's heavy displeasure. Of all punishments those are the most deadly by which we are given over to sin more wickedly.

5. Spiritual blindness, it is a great evil, it lays us open to all other evils. A man struck with this blindness is prone to fall into the grossest errors, strong delusions, unreasonable apprehensions. Even those truths that they know shall vanish away. Voluntary blindness brings penal blindness. Then the inquiry must be how Satan works this spiritual blindness. First, he doth it not by any violent means. Satan cannot offer any violence to our souls. Secondly, nor can he do it by any immediate action upon our souls, by any intimate real working upon our understandings. The soul of man is out of the reach of Satan. How is it then?

I. He blinds men's minds by the efficacy of some false persuasions, by which he deludes them. He persuades most men there is no such danger as these preachers do talk of. He persuades men there is no such necessity of knowledge of the gospel as they would bear us in hand. That is the first way, false persuasions.

II. Satan works this blindness in men by the efficacy of errors and deluding superstitions. When he cannot keep religion out of the world, then he bewitches men with erroneous, and false; and superstitious religions.

III. Satan works this blindness by the efficacy of divers lusts that he nourishes in the hearts of men, and they steam up into the understanding, and overcloud and darken it.

IV. It is for some special purpose that here Satan, that is said to blind men's minds, is called the god of this world. It points us out the main instrument which he uses to work this mischief, and that is the love of this world. He knows full well that the love of the world and the love of religion can never stand together. The bribes of the world will blind the eyes of the wisest men. Satan hath more confidence to keep us off from religion by this love of the world than any other lust. His persuasions drawn from this sin.

1. They are more cunning. He will tell us that the world and the profits of it are real and substantial; you may see it and enjoy it, full bags and full barns. He will tell us that the world and the wealth of it is a present good; here it is, we are sure of it, and you may now presently enjoy it. This sin is more persuasive, because it pleads with appearance of reason.

2. The god of this world hath most confidence in this lust of the world, thereby to blind us to keep men off from religion, because it is a most commanding lust. It bears the greatest sway in a man's heart more than any other lust. The devil makes the world his viceroy. Now, then, if Satan can get this sin into our hearts, it will bear such sway in our soul that there can be no entrance for Christ or religion. Such a man sees so much in the world that he can see nothing in the gospel. So, then, are unbelievers blinded by Satan, is this their condition? Of it let us make some use.

I. Are unbelievers blind by nature and blinded by Satan? It removes the scandal of the gospel that so few in comparison do embrace it.

II. Are unbelievers blind men? It slights the prejudice that such men have of religion. Are unbelievers worldly men, blinded in matters of religion? Then regard not their judgment, be not troubled at their censures which they pass upon religion. They understand not what they censure, therefore regard them not.

III. Are men that believe not no other than blind men? It should move us to pity them in their errors and mistakes in religion. And, as the effect is mischievous, to strike them with blindness, so his intent is malicious, He blinds their minds, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. The first thing considerable is, what that is which Satan mainly opposes, that is the gospel. Of all the ways and works of God his greatest spite is against the gospel; his greatest endeavour is to hinder the success of that. And the apostle doth not barely name it, but with a magnificent expression. He calls it "the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God."

I. Let us take notice of it as it is a description of gospel. And here observe two things.

1. Paul calls it so. He names it with this addition of excellency, the glorious gospel.(1) It is the expression of his affection that he bare to the gospel. The honour of the gospel was dear to St. Paul, he could never say enough of it, never sufficiently admire it. There are three things that St. Paul never spake of but with great ravishments of affections.(2) Jesus Christ.(3) A second thing which Paul mentions with much affection and delight is free grace (Ephesians 1:7; Ephesians 2:7).(4) A third thing Paul speaks of with great affection, it is the gospel (2 Corinthians 3:9). And this St. Paul doth both as a Christian and as a minister.(5) Paul calls it a glorious gospel, in opposition to that contempt which they in Corinth put upon the gospel. They slighted it, they saw no glory nor excellency in it. That is the first, Paul calls it a glorious gospel. And as St. Paul calls it so —

2. The gospel is "a glorious gospel." So then we have here a magnificent description of the gospel.(1) Here is the quality, the gospel, it is full of light. That is one degree of dignity in the gospel. It is an excellency. Creatures, the more lightsome they are the more noble they are and of greater dignity. Now what is spiritual light but truth? So then the gospel is a shining light, that is, it is the manifestation of saving truth. The better to conceive that the gospel is light, we may understand it, as light stands in a double opposition.

1. Light is opposite to darkness.

2. Light is opposite to dimness. We live in days of actual truth, saving truth is unveiled to us. If thou missest the way to heaven, thou mayest accuse thine own blindness, thou canst not plead the gospel's darkness.(2) Here is the excellency of this quality, it is "glorious." There is light in a beam of light; but glory, it is the collection of all the beams of light, as when the sun shines forth in his full strength. Indeed light, it is a most glorious creature. Truth, the more clearly it shines, the more fully it is manifested, it is the snore glorious. It is a preposterous way to think to honour truth by concealing of it. Were it not so common, so much preached, it would be more reverenced. Nay, verily, the more it is preached, as it should be, the more the glory of it appears. True worth the more it appears the more it excels. So then the gospel, it is a glorious gospel. Wherein doth the glory of the gospel consist? I reduce it to two heads.

1. The doctrine of the gospel, it is a glorious doctrine, because in it the glory of God is most conspicuous. And wherein God appears most there is most glory. Glory is nothing but the shining forth of His majesty. And as that glorious mystery of the Trinity, so that gracious mystery of redemption, the glory of it shines in the gospel.

2. The gospel, it is a glorious gospel, because the state of the gospel is a glorious state. The Christian Church under the gospel is made exceeding glorious. "Glorious things are spoken of thee, thou city of God." The prophet Haggai tells us "that Christ, at His coming, will fill His Church with glory." Glorious privileges, glorious ordinances, glorious endowments; with all these He hath enriched His Church. Our calling to the gospel, it is a glorious calling (2 Peter 1:3). The spirit of the gospel it is termed a spirit of glory (1 Peter 4:14). The hope which the gospel propounds to us is a glorious hope (Colossians 1:27).(3) Here is the derivation of this excellency of the Gospel, from whence it hath all its glory.A double derivation(1) Is that which is direct and immediate, that is from Christ. It is the gospel of Christ. That makes it glorious that Christ shines in it (2 Thessalonians 1:8). All other treasures of knowledge, they are but trifles to this great wisdom (Ephesians 3:19). A glorious author makes his work glorious (Galatians 1:11). The second derivation of this glory —(2) Is mediate, and by reflection from the excellent glory of God the Father. It is the gospel of Christ, who is the image of God. For better understanding this great mystery, that Christ is the image of God, we must conceive two things are implied in the nature and being of an image. The first is an impression. The second is an expression. In both respects Christ is the image of God. First, take Him in His Divine nature; so He bears upon Him the impression of God. Secondly, take Him in His office, as He is our incarnate Mediator, so He is the lively expression of God the Father, and of His will and pleasure. Take Him in the first respect, so He doth perfectly exemplify Him. Take Him in the second respect, in His office of Mediator, so He doth perfectly notify Him, and fully declare Him. If it be a perfect and exact image, it must be a complete similitude. Not a likeness in some one part or respect only, and defective in the rest, but it must be commensurate and fully equal to that whose image it is. Now, in all these respects to the full Christ, and only Christ, as the second person of the Trinity, is the image of God the Father.

I. Christ is the image of God,

In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not
There are two very curious tendencies in the development of human character which always give interest to the study of our individual life.

1. The first of these is the thwarting tendency, or the appearance of the unlooked-for in our human nature. Children grow up to a certain age, when suddenly some strange and unlooked-for tendency asserts itself. It is like some blight, or seam, or gnarled deformity in a tree, or plant, or flower. Right across our hopes, and prayers, and efforts this thwarting power appears. But this strange, mysterious, thwarting tendency — be it from inheritance, be it from habit, or be it from the devil — makes itself felt in our daily lives! It hangs about us like a fog; it pollutes us; it laughs at our bondage to the flesh. Our nature suffers an eclipse from it; the evolution of our characters is imperfect; the revelation of God to us is hidden under the presence of this infirmity. We are lost in the growth of something which once was not in us, but which has after a while appeared!

2. The other tendency of our nature is the "blinding tendency." A very curious study of human character is this shutting of the eyes to the unwelcome facts and truths which face us in our daily life, and this leaping through the dark into nowhere, or else into ruin. The social world of to-day is filled with these moral wrecks. These, then. are the two tendencies which help to spoil our spiritual nature in the fight of life. The first is the thwarting tendency from without; the second is the blinding tendency from within. Before this thwarting principle gains greater headway, before this blinding principle puts out the light of Jesus Christ in our lives, I beg you, struggling, tempted fellow-sufferers in the discipline of existence, to get our souls out of the ruts of indifference, indecision, and decay. Do not let this growth of your evil nature choke that seed of immortality which you feel at times is within you. Do not let the brute god of this world blind your eyes.

(W. Wilberforce Newton.)

Consider —

I. THE GOSPEL AS LIGHT.

1. Light penetrates, so does the gospel (Hebrews 4:12). We all know the difficulty of excluding light. If there be a crevice, however small, light will enter. And so man may despise the truth, may hate it, as Ahab hated Micaiah, the preacher of the truth; but, if it be the Lord's will, He will find some crevice in the heart through which the light of the gospel will penetrate.

2. Light enables us to see (Ephesians 5:13; cf. Psalm 19:113). The gospel —(1) Opens up to us the nature of sin. Men do not really know what sin is, except by the Word of God.(2) Enlightens us upon the remedy for sin. Man would have found out the atonement except it had been revealed in the gospel.(3) Shows how sin may be overcome.

3. Light has a guiding power — so that by it we may know our way. Just as a light carried before us in the dark night is "a light unto our feet, and a lamp unto our path," so the gospel shows us Him who is "the way, the truth, and the life."

4. But the text tells us that the gospel is a glorious light, because —(1) Of its author — God.(2) Of its substance — Jesus, "the brightness of the Father's glory, and the express image of His person."(3) It opens up to us all the glorious riches of Christ.

II. THE GREAT HINDRANCE TO THE RECEPTION OF THE GOSPEL. "The god of this world." While the gospel shows us Christ in all His beauty, it leads us also to see clearly what Satan is. Now Satan employs a variety of means; therefore, "be not ignorant of his devices," which are —

1. Pride. You look within and say, "Men are not so bad as they are described"; and as for the commandments, "All these things I have kept from my youth up." Pride is that shutter put up by the devil to keep the light of the truth from entering your hearts.

2. Prejudice against the gospel.

3. Evil passions.

III. HOW THE HINDRANCE MAY BE REMOVED.

1. Satan, "a strong man armed," who keeps what he has just as long as he can — not as long as he would. All depends, therefore, upon our finding a "stronger than he." I look, therefore, for Him who "is light"; and I know that the Spirit of God can open my eyes, and make me see that light which is able to set me free, and deliver me from the power of Satan.

2. If you are really desirous of having the light, go and plead God's promises in prayer.

3. If you want now to receive the gospel, exertion on your own part is necessary. "Awake thou that sleepest," etc.

(Bp. Montagu Villiers.)

1. These are awful words — a hidden gospel! a lost soul!

2. The expression "hid," signifies veiled, or covered over. It was probably suggested by the language of the preceding chapter. The will of God, under the Mosaic dispensation, was revealed through types and shadows, but that veil is done away in Christ.

3. But if the gospel be so clear, how is it that so many who hear it continue unenlightened and unbelieving? The answer is, the veil is no longer upon the dispensation, but upon the heart. Bug from whence comes this veil on the heart? The text gives the answer, they are blinded by the devil! Note —

I. THE CHARACTERS SPOKEN OF. They are "lost."

1. What are meant by the lost?(1) Not those who are now in hell. True, they are lost; but not in the sense in which the term is used in the text.(2) But to those who are alive now, who are spiritually dead; alive, but perishing. The same expression is made use of, and in the same sense, in Matthew 10:6; Luke 15:4; Luke 19:10. Then, by the lost are meant —(1) All who have not come to Christ. Coming to Christ is the first step towards salvation.(2) All the unconverted. I speak thus widely because it embraces every shade and degree of sinner out of Christ.(3) All unbelievers. "Them which believe not." Now, under this character may be classed —(a) The unbelieving Jews, who still reject the Lord of glory as their Messiah (John 8:24).(b) All who do not savingly believe in Christ. There is a vast difference between belief and saving belief. We may believe Christ to be the Saviour of sinners, and yet know nothing of Him as our individual Saviour.

II. THEIR AWFUL CONDITION.

1. "They forsake their own mercies." Awful thought! to exclude oneself from mercy, to reject the only Friend who can extend mercy to us. Jesus seeks the lost.

2. Their ignorance of it. They are like a blind man on the brink of an awful precipice, ignorant of their danger, although the very next step may plunge them into irretrievable ruin, both of body and soul.

3. Abiding wrath, at any moment, may become executed wrath.

III. THE CAUSE OF THEIR AWFUL CONDITION.

1. Who is the person who blinds the minds of them which believe not. "The god of this world" (John 12:31; John 14:30; Ephesians 2:2). The name is given him, not because he has any of the attributes of God, but because he actually has the homage of the men of this world; and though they do not worship him in words, yet they do so practically, by pursuing his plans, yielding to his temptations, and by submitting to his rule. But will Satan be "the god of this world" for ever? No! His time is limited, and he knows it (Revelation 11:15).

2. What is the particular character under which Satan is represented? "The blinder of them which believe not." He blinds —(1) By not permitting the word to take root in the unbeliever's heart (Mark 4:3, 4, 14, 15).(2) By producing a disproportionate view of the value of objects. A very small object will obscure the light of the sun; and a very small object will hide from us the light of the Sun of Righteousness. Satan therefore places between the unbelieving and the glory of the gospel the things of a perishing world. We have a remarkable illustration of this in the case of the young man in the gospel, who asked, "Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?"(3) By representing in a false light the effects of the gospel on mankind. He insinuates that to be religious is to be melancholy. This is as false as its author. It is living in sin which causes real unhappiness. "There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked." True, Satan may make sin pleasant now, hiding from the eyes of the perishing its awful consequences; but, too, on the other hand, the gospel is glad tidings of great joy.(4) By making men love sin. Consequently, they cannot see the beauty of holiness.

3. The design for which Satan blinds the minds of men. "Lest the light of the glorious gospel," etc.(1) There is implied here that the gospel is God's instrument for the salvation of men. There is not one now in glory who was not saved by means of the gospel, which is "the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth."(2) See now, more especially, Satan's design to hide this gospel from perishing men.(a) His craftiness. Satan dreads the gospel; he knows that the gospel and himself cannot reign in the same heart; that just as the natural sun scatters the shades of night, so does the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, received into the heart, dispel the darkness in which he has enveloped the soul. Hence he seeks to prevent this light shining into the souls of his victims. He tries to make them believe that there is no devil, no hell.(b) His hatred. His object is to destroy the soul, and therefore he places every possible obstacle in the way of a sinner's conversion; he hides from him the light of the gospel, that he may perish.

(A. W. Snape, M. A.)

I. THE GOSPEL IS THE TRUE LIGHTHOUSE. First, then, the gospel is the true lighthouse. The gospel, like its glorious Author, is the light of the world.

II. BY WHOSE AGENCY IS THIS LIGHT HID FROM ANY? "The god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not." How does Satan seek to hide the light?

1. By a show of wisdom. He endeavours to persuade such that the light of reason and conscience is sufficient.

2. But there are others, and these are the young, especially, who are blindfolded by Satan with a show, not of wisdom, but enjoyment. Satan endeavours to prove that the world can yield all the happiness they want, and that religion tends only to mar it.

3. But there are others more advanced in life, who are engrossed and distracted with manifold cares and anxieties, and earnest pursuit of earthly things.

III. THE STATE OF THOSE FROM WHOM THE GOSPEL IS HID. They are said, here, to be lost, as if they were already lost, because they are as good as lost — "He that believeth not is condemned already." As we would say of a ship, drifting with the wind and tide towards a ledge of rocks, she is lost, although she has not yet struck; even so, we cannot but say of every unconverted impenitent soul, that he is a lost man.

(H. Verschoyle.)

Note —

I. SATAN'S FORMIDABLE TITLE. "The god of this world."

1. Elsewhere he is called "the prince of this world." He and his allies are denominated "the rulers of the darkness of this world." This designation belongs to a personal being. The devil is no mere power or principle of evil. When he is named here "god," it is not in the strict sense of the term, but because he possesses a god-like authority, and receives a god-like submission. The sphere of his dominion is "this world." There it is that he reigns and ravages.

2. But remember —(1) His power is not supreme. There is a Lord above Satan. The Maker of this world is its real Monarch.(2) His power is not legitimate. It has its origin in usurpation. It is founded on fraud, conspiracy, rebellion. Jesus had not to satisfy but to vanquish the devil, and this He did pre-eminently upon the Cross.

II. HIS FATAL WORK. "Hath blinded the minds of them that believe not."

1. He has blinded the minds of all natural men by the sin into which he seduced the race at first. But not satisfied with that old and far-reaching achievement of his, he carries on a constant, present process of blinding in the case of all thus brought under his terrible power, By error, sin, and ten thousand devices suited to the characters and circumstances of his victims, he withdraws them ever farther from the perception and appreciation of spiritual truths and objects. He rears up vast systems of darkness and delusion, under the influence of which the minds and hearts of millions are brought into a state of the most absolute and abject bondage. And his efforts are very specially directed against those who are surrounded by the light and plied with the overtures of the gospel. There is reason to fear that the light may break in, revealing their real condition, and leading on to their deliverance. Hence he blinds them by every method he can devise, and often in ways the direct opposite of each other.(1) Thus he does it alternately by ignorance and knowledge.(a) By ignorance. He shuts men out, if he possibly can, from all acquaintance with the gospel. He keeps from as many as he can the benefits of a Christian education — all religious teaching; and what he cannot prevent he labours to weaken and neutralise. He leaves no lights burning which he can extinguish; and when he is unable to put them out, he is an adept at dimming their brightness.(b) But when he cannot exclude knowledge, he skilfully turns it into an instrument of his own purposes. How many does he bewilder, blind, and destroy by means of a boasted science and philosophy! Frequently, the higher persons rise in mere mental gifts, the lower do they sink in spiritual capacities and tastes.(2) He does it alternately by worldliness and godliness.(a) How does worldliness often put out any eyes the poor soul ever had! The eager pursuit of business or pleasure has a strongly carnalising, corrupting influence.(b) And, stranger far, he does the same by godliness — that is, godliness in its profession and forms, not, of course, in its power. The shadow is put for the substance, the appearance for the reality; and by such means the devil's purpose is effectually served.

2. This blinding is here attributed to Satan, the god of this world, but the subjects of it are not mere helpless victims, they are active co-operators. They are to be pitied, but they are also to be blamed. The devil has a terrific power, but, in a sense, he has none except what we ourselves give him. He cannot blind us against our wills.

III. HIS MALIGNANT PURPOSE. "Lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ," etc.

1. Light here denotes light shining out with radiant lustre. There is not only light latent in the gospel, but light 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. The gospel is well entitled to be thus characterised. It is glorious, 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.

2. 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. And in how many is the dark design of this world's god realised. 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. Are we blind also?

3. Mark here that, to be effectual, the gospel must shine into us. It is a great blessing to have it pouring its light around us — making 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, and penetrating the hidden chambers, the deepest and darkest recesses of our being.

(J. Adam, D. D.)

Note —

I. THE REPRESENTATION GIVEN OF CHRIST. "The image of God" (Hebrews 1:3). This representation is not a solitary one.

1. The allusion is to the Divine nature of Christ, especially with reference to the incarnation. What an "image of God" Christ was in all His movements! Who can read those movements without being constrained to say, This is some person higher than a creature!

2. The subject throws great light on the truthfulness and the inspiration of the N.T. writers. They who could describe such a character as Christ, "the image of God," must have been inspired by God, no uninspired men could write such a character. Heathens tried to do something in this way; but their deities were the personifications of wickedness.

3. Do you love this Christ — this "image of God"? Have you embraced Him? Have you gratefully acknowledged Him as your Saviour and King?

II. THE DESCRIPTION GIVEN OF THE WORK OF CHRIST. "The light of the glorious gospel."

1. The meaning of gospel is "glad tidings." In the Saxon there was but one word for "God" and "good." God is goodness, and there is none good but God. Then the expression "spell," is not only news or tidings, but an attraction or charm. The gospel is God's charm, God's spell, or gospel. Indeed, it ought to act as a charm, for unless the Son of God had died, you must have been ruined.

2. The expression "glorious" may mean —(1) "Brilliant," because it is a striking description of the character of Godhead. Nowhere have we such an exhibition of, e.g., God's justice, as the sufferings and death of Christ, "the image of God." But the gospel is "glorious," not because it brightens one attribute of deity, but because it shows forth all His attributes, His greatness, righteousness, truth, and also His grace, lovingkindness, and compassion.(2) Excellency displayed — something super-excellent; nothing could ever be conceived like the gospel. Look at —(a) Its design — to save poor sinners from impurity, and raise them to holiness; from wretchedness, and to raise them to happiness for ever.(b) Its results. It is true the proud and the haughty reject it, but the poor are blessed by it; the man who feels himself a sinner is blessed by it.

3. The glorious gospel of Christ is the great light — it is a light to the sinner's wants and necessities — it empties him of all self-dependence, and points to Christ as one who can fill the soul with pardon and peace.

III. THE DANGEROUS HINDRANCES IN THE WAY. The devil acts by means of sin and temptation; he has been nearly six thousand years practising upon our race — so that he knows our weak points. Note a few of the many ways in which he makes his attacks.

1. By positive and direct influences.

2. By indirect agency —(1) By encouraging infidel philosophy.(2) By the encouragement of false religion. If men will not do without Christianity, he will try and make them accept of a false system.(3) By representing things in undue proportions. He exaggerates the difficulties in the way of a godly life, and flatters the pleasures of a sinful.(4) By stimulating men's passions. One man is fond of pleasure, another of society, and another of amassing property, etc.(5) But the great hindrance, "unbelief." "The mind of them that believe not."

(H. Allen, D. D.)

The glorious gospel of Christ
All the works of God are glorious.

I. THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST. Notice —

1. The gospel, or the glad tidings of salvation (Luke 2:10).

2. It is designated the gospel of Christ. Sometimes called the "gospel of God" (Romans 1:1). "Gospel of the grace of God" (Acts 20:24). "Gospel of the kingdom" (Matthew 24:14). "Gospel of peace." It is emphatically the gospel of Christ..

(1)As Christ is its. author.

(2)He is. the subject of the gospel.

(3)He is the great end of the gospel. The gospel is designed to make known Christ — to exalt Christ — to attract the souls to Christ.

II. ITS GLORY. "The glorious gospel of Christ." The gospel is glorious —

1. In the discoveries it reveals.

2. In the benefits it confers.

3. In the influence which it imparts.

(1)A holy influence.

(2)A happy influence.

(3)An exalting influence.

(4)A supporting influence.

4. On account of the discoveries which it unfolds.This glorious gospel is —

1. The great theme of evangelical preaching.

2. The only hope of the guilty sinner.

3. And the joy and transport of the humble believer.

4. He who believeth it shall be saved — the unbeliever will most certainly perish.

(J. Burns, D. D.)

Christ who is the image of God
Homilist.
I. CHRIST, BY THE EYE OF FAITH, IS APPREHENDED AS "THE IMAGE OF THE INVISIBLE GOD." "No man hath seen God at any time." Yet a vision of God is a vital necessity for the soul. "He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father." Christ, however, is only "seen" by faith.

1. Character.

2. Purpose.

II. THROUGH THE MEDIUM OF HIS HISTORY.

1. By immutable facts.

2. By its uniqueness. Among all histories that of Christ stands alone —

(1)In moral sublimity.

(2)In loftiness of endeavour.

(3)In spiritual power.

3. By the agency of the Holy Spirit. Whence comes the faith which removes the veil and floods the soul with "the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ"?

(Homilist.)

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