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understand it, or they may take occasion, from the inconsistent conduct of those who profess to believe it, to blaspheme the worthy name by the which they are called men may "measure themselves by themselves, and compare themselves with themselves," and refuse to bring their conduct to the touchstone of God's word: they may do so, they have done so, and they will continue to do so; but it is presumptuous, and it is sinful, so to act. God has seen fit in His mercy and wisdom to send His only Son to speak unto us, and to show us the glad tidings of salvation, and when He ascended up where He was before, He left behind Him with His Church the deposit of His gospel, and bade them go forth and preach that gospel to every creature; and He shall come again in the fulness of time to gather together His elect, and to receive them into that kingdom which He hath prepared for them that believe; but we expect no further revelation of His
will; no second Christ will come to preach a second gospel; "there is one Mediator, and one only, between God and man, the man Christ Jesus ;""heaven and earth shall pass away, but" His "words" and His Gospel" shall not pass away."
Now, brethren, having thus endeavoured to explain the word "Gospel," and to show its importance and value-an importance and a value which no other thing possesses, seeing that it is equally important and valuable to every individual human being that ever drew the breath of life: let me call your attention to the remarkable warning of the apostle in my text, If our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost." There is a possibility, we see, that these glad tidings may be hidden from the understandings of certain persons, and, in order to rouse our attention yet more, He adds that those persons are lost," and what he means by "lost," he goes on to explain "in whom the god of this world
* 1 Tim. ii. 5.
hath blinded the minds of them that believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them." It is not the heathen of whom St. Paul here speaks. He does not allude to those who never had any opportunity of hearing the gospel preached; but to those who have had that privilege-men to whom salvation through Jesus Christ has been offered, and who have not profited by it. Our blessed Lord speaks of several classes of such persons in one of his parables,* wherein He describes different kinds of hearers of the word of God. To some it is as seed falling by the way side-they only hear without paying any attention. "Then cometh the wicked one," who is called by the apostle, in the words succeeding the text, "the god of this world," and "catcheth away that which was sown in his heart." To another it is as seed sown in stony places- he hears, and "anon with joy receiveth it;" he is
* Matt. xiii. 3—23.
pleased at the moment - the tidings are joyful to him at first-he pays enough attention to be convinced of the value and importance of the message; but he hath no root in himself, and endureth for a while; but when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word-when a profession of religion begins to draw upon him the notice of others, and he finds himself an object of ridicule, and is shunned by those who once sought after his company, "by-and-bye he is offended." So, my brethren, is many a promising beginning stopped short; and many a man who seemed at one time to have thoughts of better things, and to "run" a little while "well" in a spiritual course, is "lost" in the end. Another man, again, hears the glad tidings with his outward ears; but, like seed sown among thorns, they fall upon a heart which is full of the "cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches, so that they are soon forgotten and bring forth no good fruits. All these hearers
are instances of those persons whom St. Paul describes as "lost;" they are the slaves of the god of this world, and he, in these various manners, blinds their minds, and prevents the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, from shining into them. reason why he has this power, however, is explained by St. Paul, when he adds, they "believe not." The light of the gospel is exceeding glorious, and pierces through the thickest shades of ignorance and prejudice; but man is free to shut his eyes against it, if he is so determined. If a man goes to hear the truth with an honest and single desire to find and to follow it, God will by His Holy Spirit reveal it to him; "if any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine whether it be of God;"* but if he comes in a spirit of mockery and unbelief, he gives the tempter a vantage ground in his heart, which he is not slow in occupying.
John vii. 17.