Page images

ject of sight. And Jesus Christ, whom the apostle styles God over all blessed for ever, is primum intelligibile," the prime object of the understanding. What is then become of that divine spark, that understanding soul, which the Father of Spirits breathes into these bodies, that all our thoughts creep here below, and leave their chief and noblest object unconsidered? Which of us may not complain, though few of us do, that our souls have either no wings to elevate themselves to the contemplation of him from whom they issued, or, if they make attempts at it, our affections, engaged to the world, make us, like a bird tied by the foot, fall presently down again into the mire? It is high time to leave hunting shadows, and to turn our internal eye to the beholding of this uncreated light.

In this elementary world, light being, as we hear, the first thing visible, all things are seen by it, and it by itself. Thus is Christ among spiritual things, in the elect world of his Church. At things are made manifest by the light, says the apostle, Ephes. v, 13, speaking of Christ, as the following verse doth evidently testify. It is in his word that he shines, and makes it a directing and convincing light, to discover all things that concern his church and himself, and to be known by its own brightness. How impertinent then is that question so much tossed by the Romish church; How know you the scriptures," say they, “ to be the word of God without the testimony of the church?” I would ask one of them again, how they can know that it is day-light, except some one light a candle to let them see it? They are little versed in holy scripture, who know not that it is freqnently called light; and they are senseless who know not that light is seeu and known by itself. If our gospel be hid, says the apostle, it is hid to them that are lost, the god of this world having blinded their minds against the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, 2 Cor. iv, 3. No wonder if suchi stand in need of a testimony. A blind man knows not that it is light at noonday but by report; but to those that bave eyes, light is seen by itself. Again ; light makes all other things that are in them

selves visible to become actually visible, as they speak: so by the word of this substantial Word, Jesus Christ, all things in religion are tried and discovered. The very authority of the church, which they obtrude so- confi. dently, must be stopped and examined by these scriptures, which they would make stand to its courtesy. Doctrines and worship must be tried by this light; and wbat will not endure this trial, must not be endured in the house of God. To the law and to the testimony, says the prophet, if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them. The rays of Christ's light are displayed through both his testaments, and in them we see him.

But O how sublime is the knowledge of him! No one is ignorant that there is light, yet, what light is, few know; the best wits are troubled to define it: so, all that bear the name of Christians acknowledge that Christ is, but to know what he is, is of marvellous difficulty. In a speculative way, unsoundable is the depth of his nature and properties. And his generation who can declare? says our prophet. I define not, whether his eternal generation be meant, or his incarnation in time. These are mysteries that will hold the very angels busy in admiration for ever.

And as for experimental knowledge by faith, how small is the number of those that are truly acquainted with it!

Again ; light fitly resembles Christ in purity. It visits many impure places, and lights upon the basest parts of the earth, and yet remains most pure and undefiled. Christ sees and takes notice of all the enormnities and sinful pollutions in the world; as David says of the sun, there is nothing hid from his beams; yea, many of these foul evils he cures, and purgeth away these pollutions ; and yet he is never stained by them in the least degree. He is a physician not capable of infection, and therefore while he dwelt among men, he shunned not publicans and sinners, but sought them rather, for with such was his business and employment. Indeed for a frail man to be too bold in frequenting profane and obstinate persons, though with intention to reclaim them, is not always so safe. They may pull him in who would help them forth,

and pollute him who would cleause them. But our Saviour, the light of the world, runs no such hazard. He is stronger than the perversest sinner, yea, than the prince of darkness himself, over whom his banners are always victorious, and purer than to be in danger of pollution. His precious blood is a fountain opened for sin and uncleanness: sinners are purified by it, and it is not defiled by them. Thousands have washed in it, yet it shall abide, and always shall be most perfectly pure. And such a high priest became us, who is undefiled, and who, though conversant with sinners, to communicate to them bis goodness, was yet separate from sinners in immunity from their evil.

To this agrees well that title which the prophet Malachi gives him, when he calls him the Sun of Righteousness; full of purity and righteousness, as the sun is of light; all luminous, without spot; subject to no eclipse in himself, his light being his own, though our sins interposed may hide him sometimes from us, as those real eclipses in the sun are rather ours, for we are deprived of ligbt, but not the sun. Christ is in many ways most fitly called the Sun; for since all created light falls infinitely short of his worth, the prince and chief of lights, the sun, cannot but suit best, so far as may be, to set forth his excellency.

The light of the sun is neither parted nor diminished by being imparted to many several people and nations that behold it at one time; nor is the righteousness of this Sun of Righteousness either lessened to himself or to individual believers, by many partaking of it at once. It is wholly conferred upon each one of them, and remains whole in himself. Hence it is, that not only Christ invites so liberally sinners to come to him, but even justified persons would so gladly draw all others to lay hold on this righteousness of their Redeemer; knowing well, that if all the world were enriched by it, they themselves would be no whit the poorer.

Again ; the sun hath a vivifying power ; and it is certainly and eminently true of this Sun we speak of, that he is the proper and principal efficient of man's regeneration. The evangelist calls him at once, The light and the life

of men.' To say nothing of him as a treasure, he is the source of our spiritual life and motion..

When the sun takes its course towards us in the season of the year, it drives away the sharp frosts and the heavy fogs of winter; it clears the heavens, decks the earth with variety of plants and flowers, and awakes the birds to the pleasant strains of their natural music. When Christ, after a kind of winter absence, returns to visita declining church, admirable is the change that he produces ; all begins to florish by his sweet influence; his house, bis worship, his people, are all clothed with a new beauty, but it is spiritual, and therefore none but spiritual eyes can discero it. When he will thus return, all the power and policy of man can no more hinder him, than it could stay the course of the sun in its circle. In like manner, a deserted forsaken soul, that can do nothing but languish and droop, while Christ withdraws himself, wbat inexpressible vigor and alacrity finds it at his returning! Then those graces which, while they lurked, seemed to have been lost and quite extinguished, bud forth anew with pleasant color and fragrant smell. It is the light of his countenance that banisheth their falşe fears, that strengthens their faith, and cures their spiritual infirmities. This Sun is indeed the sovereign physician: Urto you that fear my name, shall the Sun of Righteousness arise with healing in his kings.

Finally; all darkness flies away before hiin. It was his arising in the world that made the day break and the shadows fly away. The types and shadows of the law were then abolished. It was his light that dispelled the mists of ignorance and idolatry, and be alone delivers the soul from the night of sin and misery produced by it. All the stars and the moon with them cannot make it day in the world; this is the sun's prerogative: nor can nature's highest light, the most refined science and morality, make it day in the soul; for this is Christ's,

The common light of reason, every man that comes into the world hath from him as his Creator; but the special light of grace, they alone who are born again have from him as their Saviour. Gross is the darkness of every natural mind, till Christ enlighten it. It can neiDiv. No. VIII,


Ye were

ther discern nor receive the things of God. darkness, says the apostle, but now are ye light in the Lord, Ephes. v, 8. The natural mind is nothing else but a mass of darkness; and the companion of darkness is confusion, as it was in the mass of the world before light was created. And what is there under heaven more confused than a carnal mind? the affectious quite out of order, and though all naught, yet sometimes fighting one with another, and continually hurrying the judgment whither they please. Now to dissipate this darkness and remedy this confusion, Christ shines externally in bis word. But too much daily experience testifies, that this is not sufficient : therefore to those whom he will make children of the light, to meet with this outward light of his word, he gives another internal light by the Spirit

. The sun can make dark things clear, but it cannot make a blind man see them: but herein is the excellency of this Sun, that he illuminates not only the object, but the faculty; doth not only reveal the mysteries of bis kingdom, but opens blind eyes to behold them. And the first lineament of the renewed image of God in man is that light in the understanding, removing not only that simple ignorance of divine things, but those misconceits likewise, and false principles, and that wicked pertinacy, whereof man's mind is naturally full. He wbo at first commanded light to shine out of darkness, infuseth saving knowledge and light into the dark soul of man. And this light, as was said, kindles love. It hath a powerful influ ence, begetting heat in the affections. Nor can this divine light be ever again fully extinguished, but conducts the soul that hath received it, till it be received to the land of light and perfect happiness. Thus in our Redeemer is the fountain of life, as the psalmist speaks, and in his light do we see light.

He is likewise bere styled, The glory of the Lord. In 2 Sam. iv, the ark of God is called the glory, but it enjoyeth that name as a type of Christ, in whom dow that which the ark contained is fulfilled. The tabernacle is called the dwelling of God's glory, Psal. xxvi, 8, likewise typifying him, in the tabernacle of whose human nature that glory dwells far more excellently. He dwelt

« EelmineJätka »