What’s Worse than Natural Darkness

3. See the misery of man in the state of nature.  Before Christ becomes their prophet they are enveloped in ignorance and darkness. Men know nothing in a sanctified manner, they know nothing as they ought to know. I Cor 8: 2.  This is sad.  Men in the dark cannot discern colours so in the state of nature they cannot discern between morality and grace they take one for the other, pro dea nubem [They mistake the cloud for the goddess herself]. In the dark the greatest beauty is hid. Let there be rare flowers in the garden, and pictures in the room, in the dark their beauty is veiled over; so, though there be such transcendent beauty in Christ as amazes the angels, man in the state of nature sees none of this beauty. What is Christ to him? or heaven to him?  The veil is upon his heart.

A man in the dark is in danger every step he takes; so man in the state of nature is in danger, at every step, of falling into hell. Thus it is before Christ teaches us; nay, the darkness in which a sinner is, while in an unregenerate state, is worse than natural darkness; for natural darkness affrights. ‘An horror of great darkness fell upon Abraham.’ Gen 15: I2.  But the spiritual darkness is not accompanied with horror, men tremble not at their condition; nay, they like their condition well enough.  ‘Men loved darkness.’ John 3: I9.  This is their sad condition, till Jesus Christ comes as a prophet to teach them, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God.

–Thomas Watson, Body of Divinity, 6.3.3 (emphasis and paraphing mine).

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