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dy possessing an earnest of our future inheritance in our hearts. He that thus believeth "with his heart unto righteousness, tainly hath eternal life, hath a title to it, and a foretaste of it, for through Christ “all that believe are justified from all things,” and “receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” But he that doth not thus believe, but rests satisfied without this faith, "hath not life, but the wrath of God abideth on him ;" he remains in that wretched state of sin, and guilt, and wrath, in which he was by nature, unrestored, unforgiven; having a superadded condemnation for neglecting so great salvation as is offered through the Mediator. The gospel, which is only the power of God' unto salvation to him that believeth, is hid to him, and he is still in a lost condition.
I now proceed to show (as was proposed)
III. How Satan blinds the minds of those that believe not, so as to keep them shut up in unbelief, and to hinder the glorious gospel of Christ from shining unto them, that they may be saved.
1. The god of this world knows that the gospel will only be heartily and thankfully received and to receive it otherwise is not to receive it at all) by those who know its worth and their want of
and that only those can know this who are deeply concerned for the salvation of their souls. This therefore is his first point, to keep mankind unconcerned about their salvation. With this view he labours to conceal from them the vanity of the world, and of all that it contains, its unsatisfactory nature and short duration. He contrives to engage and entangle them in such a multiplicity of business, to charm and stupify them with such a vicissitude of plea. sure, to divert and entertain them with such a variety of amusements, that they have neither leisure, power, nor inclination for any serious reflection on the importance of things eternal.
2. Impelled by an unseen force, of which they are insensible, nay, which they are taught to deny and ridicule, they fly from the exchange to the tavern, from the tavern to the play, and from the play to intemperance and debauchery. They drive furiously from merchandise to company, from company to excess, from excess to the stupidity of sleep, and in the meantime forget that they are only wandering from vanity to vanity, and prove by this restless toil and labour that this world is not their rest. Or, if on some occasion a conviction of this forces itself upon their minds, and
.: Kind experience cries,
They summon up all their courage, and exclude the thought as an intruding tyrant, come to torment them before the time. They run round and round in the circle of business, pleasure, and amusement, only intent upon what is beneath their feet, or eager to catch the delusive phantom which, perpetually dancing before them, craftily entices them forward ; and in the meantime they do not observe, by faith, the consummation of all things, the melting elements, the quaking earth, the falling stars, the darkened sun, the disparting heavens, and the descending triumph of the victorious Son of God, who ere long will command, “Bring forth these mine enemies who would not that I should reign over them, and slay them before me."
3. Day passes after day, week after week, month after month, and year after
year, and they draw near the chambers of death, the repositories of all living; and that invisible state where strict justice will examine and almighty wrath punish, with unrelenting fury, their wicked impertinence and trifling; yet still they go on in the same silly persuit, unconcerned and unreformed, as if life would always last, and they were not accountable for their conduct, or as if this world were their only portion, and while endeavouring to secure it, they were rationally employed. Time flies, and “ his broad pinions, swifter than the wind," bears them rapidly along towards the confines of a boundless eternity, into which he resigns them for their bliss or wo, endless and ne, according to their present behaviour: But they are thoughtless amidst it all, amused and entertained with the objects they meet with in their speedy course; or lulled into a fatal slumber by the even and insensible motion, they do not awake to sober recollection, till, cast down the steep precipice of death, they are shocked to find themselves falling, beyond recovery, into a boundless eternity, 4. Thus (as our poet beautifully describes it)
Life is all trifled away, and the great business of life is left undone : They stand all the day idle, and neglect to work in the vineyard, till the night of death cometh, wherein no man can work. They are hurried out of this world before they well consider why they were sent into it, and surprised into another, before they have made any
great salvation offered by it. Into the reason of this conduct it is worth our while to inquire, especially as this may be a mean of preserving us from an imitation of it, which, I am sure, is no way desirable. This I shall take occasion to do from the words of our text, where the apostle has given us a key to unlock this mystery; “ The god of this world (says he) hath blinded the minds of them that believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ should shine unto them."
3. The inspired penman (it seems) still alludes to the case of Moses, who put à veil over his face, so that the glory of it cauld not be discerned by the Israelites. Thus, as he has intimated in the preceding chapter, a veil of obscurity was cast over that dispensation, (through which the Jews (whose minds also were blinded) could not discover the end and design of it. Hence they were not savingly benefited by it; it did not lead them to Christ,
was intended. Now, although the gospel be not veiled, but sufe fered to .hine out in full lustre; yet the god of this world, industr10's to prevent the salvation of mankind, by blinding the minds of then that believe not, hinders them from discerning the light of this glorious gospel, or from being enlightened by it.
Three particulare offer themselves to our consideration on this subject.
1st. Who is moant by the god of this world, and why he is so called ?
2dly. Whom we add to understand by those that believe not? 3dly. How the god of this world blinds their minds?
1. With regard to the first of these, “Who is meant by the god of this world, and why he is so fuded;" I should have thought it unnecessary to say any thing by way. of explication, had I not occasionally met with some who interpret Üris of Jehovah, the God of Love, the Saviour of all men, whose tender merries are over all his works ; as if he, in order to prevent the salvation of his crea- i tures, whom he hath redeemed with his Son's most precious blood, acted the part of the grand adversary of mankind, and blinded their minds, by sin and unbelief, lest they should be enlightened by that very gospel which he has provided, in his infinite goodness, for their illumination. The bare mention of so wild a notion as this, is, with men of understanding and piety, sufficient to confute it. By the god of this world, the apostle undoubtedly means, Satan, who is elsewhere called “ the prince of this world," and “the ruler of the darkness of this world," and " the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that worketh in the children of dis..
obedience." This apostate spirit, this enemy of God and man, (and not the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,) is doubtless concerned to hinder the success of the gospel, which is designed for the overthrow of his kingdom, and with this view exerts, to the utmost, all his power and policy from day to day, continually lying in wait to deceive, like a subtle serpent, and like a roaring lion going about seeking whom he may devour.
He now is plotting how he may seduce
2. Some (wise above what is written,) would account for this expression, whereby Satan is called the god of this world, by supposing that this world was originally under the dominion of the fallen angels before their rebellion, and was the seat of their kingdom ; and that upon their fall, as a punishment for their crime, it was reduced into that chaotic state, described Genesis i. 1. where we read, The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep. Hence it was, they further suppose, that when the earth was put into its paradisiacal state, and man was placed in it, who they think was created to supply the place of the fallen angels,) God did not entirely banish them this world, but still permitted them to wander to and fro in it, and not only to tempt the human race, for their trial, but also to exercise some authority over the elements and other creatures ; though under certain restrictions, beyond which they cannot pass. But it is certain all this is mere conjecture, without any countenance from any part of Scripture. And it is plain, Satan may be called the gode of this world, with sufficient propriety, without supposing any thing of this kind, even on the same principles on which he is termed “ the prince of this world,” and “ the ruler of the darkness of this world,” and “the prince of the power of the air,' and that is, because of the influence he has over mankind in general, and the use he makes of the dazzling vanities and allurements of this world, to attain and preserve that influence.
4. Accordingly, the expression here used is more properly translated, the god of this age, i. e. of the people of this world, or of mankind, while the period of this world lasts. And surely, in or der to justify the apostle's manner of speaking, it is not necessary
to suppose that the people of this world build temples to Satan, or pay him a solemn and formal worship, although even that, in effect, was done by the heathen. But as Jehovah is called the God of his people, because they are his subjects, obedient to his will, and devoted to his service ; so, for the same reason, is Satan called the god of this world. Mankind, in general, obey and serve him, and he reigns in and over them with all authority. They willingly commit sin, and therefore they are of the devil : his servants they are, because they obey him, and from him they must expect to receive their wages. They lie in wickedness (ev TW fornew, in the wicked one) and shall have their portion with him.
5. And this is the case of all who believe not, who have not that faith in this gospel whereof cometh salvation. For the apostle tells us in our text, that Sutun hath blinded the minds of them that believe not, and elsewhere,* that he worketh Evegydytos (worketh with energy, with mighty power) in the children of disobedience, or, as the word may be properly rendered, of unbelief. This brings me to the next particular, viz. To show,
II. Whom we are to understand by those that believe not.
And, 1st. That all infidels who do not acknowledge Jesus of Nazareth to be the Son of God and the Saviour of the world, nor admit the Christian revelation to be of God, are of the number of those that believe not, will not be denied by any, who know any thing even of the theory of religion. That the devil (how little soever they may think they have to do with him, though they may utterly deny his very existence, and be confident there is no such being in nature ;) yet, I say, that Satan hath blinded their minds, and works in them with mighty power, with uncontrolled authority, we are well assured. It is something amazing, and what excites one's compassion rather than provokes one's indignation, to hear these creatures boast of their superior knowledge, and to see
em value themselves upon their free thinking, unbiassed, they suppose, by popular prejudices; while they are in reality blinded by the god of this world, and led captive by the devil at his will,
very bond-siaves of Satan, and the dupes of a vain and deluded mind. Surely one must pity the infatuation of these
“ Pompous sons of reason idoliz'd
And vilified at once; of reason dead, Then deified, as monarchs were of old;"
* Eph. ii. 2.