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The Powers of Darkness Prevailing Over the Disobedient.

The Powers of Darkness Prevailing Over the Disobedient.

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ST, JOHN iii. 19,

" And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world,
and men loved darkness rather than light."

ST, JOHN iii. 19,

" And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world,
and men loved darkness rather than light."

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Jul 05, 2014
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved


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The Powers of Darkness Prevailing over the Disobedient. BY ARCHDEACO GRAT. ST, JOH iii. 19, " And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light." THIS language will at once be recognised as spe cially belonging to the beloved disciple, by whom in a peculiar manner our Lord Jesus Christ is set forth under the title of "the Light," "the true Light," "the Light of the world ;" and His kingdom, as the kingdom of light. And in this respect he seems, as in so many other points, in his fervour, his tenderness, and deep prophetic insight, to have resembled and caught the spirit of Isaiah, who in passage after passage, kindled the gaze of Israel of old, to look towards the coming Light, as if he himself saw its orb still lingering below the distant hills. And yet in this comparison of the Lord of Life with the material light of this world, there are involved both a contrast and a mystery. When the sun is up, the whole hemisphere acknow ledges its presence, and is irradiated by its beams. Darkness and night flee away. The birds go forth to meet the day with songs ; the flowers expand them selves to drink in the light ; the unreasoning creatures welcome the glad influence, for these have long learnt G 82 The Powers of Durkness Prevailing [SERM. to obey the law of God. But with man, and in the
moral and spiritual world, it is otherwise. Though the sky be radiant with the manifestation of the Lord of Life, and earth lit up with the beauty of salvation, yet many dark places remain unvisited ; in many a soul the light does not enter, or if it enter, is again expelled ; there is an active power of resistance which opposes itself, and claims a divided empire, and contests the heavenly in fluence, as though it were invading a territory within which it could claim no authority, and no allegiance. Scripture, as we know, recognises throughout its re cord this power of moral resistance to the divine light ; nay, more than this, it even seems to assert that when the light does not irradiate, it rouses the spirit of ill to intenser activity, and renders the darkness more deep. The evil spirits cried out, and vented their rage more fiercely at the presence of Jesus. Our Lord re cognised the presence of the prince of darkness, as bearing rule for a season, when He told the Jews who came to arrest Him, " This is your hour, and the power of darkness." St. Paul told the Thessalonians of " the mystery of iniquity already working." The same apo stle, seeing the effect of the gift of more abundant light, announces that " By the law is the knowledge of sin ;" and that while to some the Gospel was "a savour of life unto life," to others it proved "a savour of death unto death ;" just as, in the analogy of nature, the same warmth and moisture that endue with fresh vigour and fertility the living plant, only hasten corruption and decay in the dead and withered branch. We see, then, the contrast between the material and spiritual light, as they severally shine on this dark world ; we see, too, the mystery that is inherent in the permitted resistance to the latter. A mystery indeed VI.] over the Disobedient. 83
it is, yet not peculiar to the Christian faith and the laws of Christ s kingdom, but inseparable from the condition of man as in a state of probation in this world, and in volved in the fact of the very existence of evil ; and therefore though it be insoluble by the reason, is not to be disputed, not to be cavilled at. Rather let us recognise it ; for in recognising it we learn our real condition and danger ; and may find a safeguard even in contemplating the sad examples which exhibit the subtle power and deadly triumph of that evil which, as it wrought and prevailed in Para dise, still lurketh in the Church of Christ, and as a beast of prey, goeth about seeking whom it may destroy. I. See then, shortly, how this power of darkness, ever since the Sun of righteousness hath appeared, has struggled to quench the light, and to retain its old do minion. We may notice it in the Church at large. When viewed on this side, its history presents but a dreary retrospect ; and some too fondly looking for a reign of peace and glory as the token of any real reign of Christ, have been led to doubt whether the kingdom of God has indeed really come. But when our Lord declared, "For judgment am I come into the world," He pointed to those struggles and contests, those sift- ings of the spirit of evil, those strivings of the spirit of grace and life, which would mark the progress of His kingdom, and try and test the character and faith of every age, and of every soul. And so it has been that, age after age, Satan and his angels have tried to subvert the power and the truth of God ; sometimes from without, and sometimes from within. At one time the light of truth has been assailed by a philo sophic mysticism, seeking to corrupt the faith it could not gainsay or overthrow. At another, it has been G 2

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