Observe here, 1. The title given to Satan: he is styled the god of this world; not properly, but because the honour and homage of a god is challenged by him, and by a multitude of sinners given to him. He is called by our Saviour, the prince of this world; and by the apostle the ruler of the darkness of this world; because he ruleth over a great part of the world, and they are his subjects, or rather his slaves.
Observe, 2. The way and course which Satan takes to secure his subject's obedience to himself: he blinds their eyes: that they may never know a better prince, see a better way, or understand a better state, than he hath drawn them into. Satan blinds the understandings of men by the efficacy of divers lusts, which are bred and nourished in their hearts. Now the streamings of sensusal lusts from a corrupt heart do blind the understanding, and beset the judgment; that the sinner can neither see nor know the excellency of spiritual objects.
O bloody and barbarous prince, that puts out the eyes of all his subjects, darkens the mind and understanding, takes away the thinking, considering, and reasoning power of the soul, that they neither see nor consider spiritual things, nor have any distinct and effectual apprehensions of them!
Observe, 3. The character of the persons whom Satan, the god of this world, hath blinded: Such as believe not; that is, both such as want the means of faith, and such as enjoy the means, but want the grace of faith; the former is the case of the pagan, the latter of the Christian world.
Lord! how many live under the light of the gospel, that never had heart to receive it, or will to obey it! How great a part of the Christianized world do reject Christ; though called by his name, yet will not own his authority, or submit to his government!
The nobles of the world think themselves dishonoured by submitting their necks to Christ's yoke; the sensualists of the world will not lay down a lust for him, that laid down his life for them; the worldlings of the earth prefer their dirt and dunghill before the pearl of great price. O, how few amongst them that profess Christianity, do love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity!
Observe, 4. The great end and design of the devil's agency, in blinding the minds of men with ignorance and error, with passion and prejudice; Lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ should shine into their hearts, to the ruin of him and his kingdom. As the sun casts its beams upon blind men, but they receive not the light of it; so, though the light of Christ's glorious gospel shines before the eyes of them whom the god of this world has blinded with the hopes and desires, with the possessions and enjoyments, of this world, yet they receive it not.
Observe, 5. The glorious title here given to Christ. The image of God; that is,
1. His substantial and essential image, being God of God, very God of very God. Christ, considered with respect to his divine nature, is the express image of his Father's person.
2. Christ is his image as Mediator, and with reference to the gospel, in which he has given us glorious demonstrations of the power and wisdom, of the grace and holiness, of the mercy and goodness, of God towards us; all which, as in a glass, are represented to us, and presented before us. In both these respects Christ is called The image of God.