The Dangerous Progress!
James Smith, 1864
"They walk on in darkness!" Psalm 82:5
The mind must be in motion. The minds of sinners make progress — but it is in the wrong path! They started wrong. They will not believe that they are wrong. Therefore they walk on to their own destruction. It is a painful sight to see thousands and tens of thousands of travelers passing through this world — and all going wrong! Every step they take leaves us less hope, and gives the Prince of darkness more power over them. In temporal things — they see clearly enough; but in spiritual things — they are stone-blind! "They walk on in darkness."
Darkness is the emblem of IGNORANCE. The parties we refer to, are ignorant . . .
of their true state before God,
of the character of God who made them,
of the just desert of sin,
of the only Savior who can deliver them,
of the way of escape opened up before them,
and of the dreadful doom that awaits them!
They walk on in ignorance! If they were not ignorant — they would surely fly to the Lord Jesus to save them.
Darkness is also the emblem of SIN. These parties live . . .
in the violation of God's holy law,
neglecting Christ's gracious gospel, and
making SELF the end of their existence.
They live to themselves,
they live for themselves,
they neglect God's requirements,
they despise his invitations,
they turn their backs on his throne of grace,
they treat his book with contempt,
they waste their time in idleness and folly
— and yet talk as if they expected that he would have mercy upon them at last!
They walk on in sin — and yet hope to realize the promise made to obedience. They . . .
yield to Satan,
indulge the flesh,
dishonor God —
proving that "they walk on in darkness."
Darkness represents DANGER. These people are in imminent danger!
Disease may arrest them any hour! Death may remove them out of this world at any moment!
Disease introduces death,
death ushers into the presence of God,
and God dooms the careless sinner to Hell!
He may be in health in the morning — but a corpse at noon!
He may be on earth at noon — but in Hell at night!
He walks upon snares. He is surrounded by the officers of justice. He may be seized any moment. Once seized, hope departs, despair approaches, and outer darkness closes up the scene!
And yet they walk on in thoughtlessness! They . . .
fool away their time,
neglect their opportunities of escape, and
disregard the warning voice and perish in their own deceivings.
Beast-like, they have no concern for any of these things. They say they shall not be worse off than others — as if it were any relief to be no worse than others, where all are in misery, agony and endless woe! Not worse off than others! Yes, they will; for it will be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment, than for them. Not worse off than others! Indeed they will, for the men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment and condemn them. Not worse off than others! This is a mistake, for careless, indifferent, Christ-rejecting sinners — will "receive the greater damnation!"
Oh, my fellow-sinner, whose eye may now be passing over these lines, let me beseech you to think, reflect, consider! You are walking on in darkness — and dreadful will be your end if you persevere!
God's Word is light — come to it that you may discover your true state and condition. The ordinances of the gospel, especially the preaching of the Word — are intended to enlighten those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death. The Holy Spirit, who opens the blind eyes, is promised to every one who asks — ask, then, and receive, that you may see wondrous things out of God's law. Frequent where the gospel is preached, and pay careful attention. Have a Bible of your own, and read it. Have a place for private prayer, and frequent it. Never rest, or allow your soul to enjoy repose, until you know what the Apostle means when he speaks of being "turned from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God."
Walk no longer in darkness — but come to the light that your deeds may be exposed. For if you do not, you will learn by bitter experience, the meaning of our Lord's words, "This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed." John 3:17-20
"They walk on in darkness," but if they do, and persevere in doing so — then how fearful will their end be. It will be . . .
misery without mercy,
darkness without light,
despair without prospect of deliverance —
and all the result of a willful determination to "walk on in darkness!"
They may imagine they have light, for there is . . .
a false hope,
and mistaken expectations.
Therefore every one should examine carefully and closely, and never . . .
rest, but on the Rock of Ages,
hope, but on the ground of the atonement,
or rejoice, but in Christ Jesus.
There is light for those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death. There is a luminary which enlivens, while it enlightens. That light is gospel truth. That luminary is Christ Jesus. He is a luminary to enlighten the Gentiles.
Reader, come to him. He calls you. He says, "Awake, you who sleep, and arise from the dead; and I will give you light." Come to him . . .
confessing your sins,
deploring your darkness, and
beseeching him to enlighten your eyes, lest you sleep the sleep of death! Turn from your present evil course, and enter in at the strait gate. Stretch out your hand to Jesus, that he may lead you in the everlasting way. Then will you soon sing with the Psalmist, "Return unto your rest, O my soul; for the Lord has been good to you. For you, O Lord, have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling — that I may walk before the Lord in the land of the living."
This is the way — walk in it. It is a pleasant way. It is a safe way. It will lead to honor. It will conduct to glory and to God. This path is like the shining light, it shines more and more unto the perfect day. May the Lord bless these lines to every reader — and to his glorious name, shall be all the praise!