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and there is no distinction of clean or of unclean, of vegetable or animal diet : we enter into the full community of God, and slay and eat; and the creature is honoured, not the sin of the creature supported. And now also man beholdeth the face of the world, and is instructed; he beholdeth its beauty, and applaudeth; its wretchedness, and bemoaneth, yet with hope of a coming redemption. He exerciseth himself with true wisdom in all the works of God, and discovereth everywhere the humiliation of that life, which in its lowliest humility was manifested in Christ. Yea, brethren, with such feelings as the saint beholdeth the Divine nature of Christ brought for a while within and under the law of sin and death, (though never overcome by it, yet truly under its soreness, and grievance, and curse,) doth he behold the future glorious nature of the creature suffering under the bondage of the law of sin and death. This he perceiveth everywhere; and perceiving, he is afflicted, but comforted, as I said, with faith and hope of the coming redemption; and thus he mocks not the creature with indiscreet and illtimed peans of praise, or unmingled salutations of blessing; but he kindly healeth its fallen condition, and gently comforteth its many wounds, and praiseth the beautiful streaks of life, and promises of eternal life, which everywhere are to be seen beneath the surface by an enlightened observer. But how few thus hallow the creature! Alas, how few of our sentimentalists, like Rousseau; of our poetical wanderers, like Byron; of our philosophical historians, like Schiller; or our selfish sages, like Goethe; or our romancers here at home; how few, if any, man, woman or child, of that Babel of tongues, who, in prose and verse are making the four corners of Christendom ring with their various tales, ballads, and stories, discern one gleam of the true light, one pulse of the eternal life, one iota of the word of God, which is in all the creatures. Verily, verily, “ the light shineth in darkness, but the darkness comprehendeth it not."
The Evangelist proceedeth then to explain the office and commission of the Baptist, with respect to this light, whereof he was but like the morning star, who heralds in the glorious sun by means of a portion of his own light: so did the Baptist, and all the Prophets which went before, herald him; and all received of the fulness of life and light which was in him. But these verses we pass over, as not so much concerning our present aim; and take up the 9th verse, where the subject is renewed, “ He was the true light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” This, though it be true of that light which is in every man, as was above declared, is,-I judge from the context, which speaketh of John's coming, and also from the expression, "cometh into the world,” which Christ applieth thus, “I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world : again I leave the world, and go to the Father,”-to be considered as applicable in its primary sense to “every man," who, like John the Baptist had been sent from God into the world: and it declareth that they all received their light of truth from this true light, of whom John had come to bear testimony; but which he was not, nor any of the Prophets; all of them being only a train of lights to shew the world its darkness, until He should come who “ is the light of the world : " of whom it is immediately added, “He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.” Strange and most striking proof of its blindness, and its darkness, that it should not be able to perceive the light which shone in the midst of it! and this not in some dark and superstitious corner of it, but there, whither almost all these forerunners had been sent, and that very herald of his approach to prepare the way, where the worship of the true God was maintained, and no idol permitted to pollute the land. If any one ask, why was the light covered with veils of flesh, or why was the truth parabolised in emblems: the answer is, because the much converse of men with darkness, and their much delight with the enjoyment and cupidity of the creature, made it even necessary for their own profiting that he should so appear. For if they rejected him thus in condescension veiled, and in humility clothed, yet great and mighty in word and deed, and only wanting their faith to be greater and mightier still: surely they could not have received him, but would have been consumed or overwhelmed with the very vestments, or radiancy, of his glory; as indeed was proved in the Mount of Transfiguration, by the most advanced of the worshippers of God. Such is the miserable, such is the irrecoverable blindness of man and all the creatures; such is the obscuration of that light which is in all living things—such their insensibility unto God, and their ignorance of the nature of God, the Creator of the heavens and the earth, in all who have not been quickened by the Holy Spirit, and enabled to discern their bondage, and to wait for their deliverance. It is said further,
“ He came unto his own, but his own received him not;" that is, not to the world in general, of whose ignorance he had already spoken, but unto his own people, the people whom he had chosen for an inheritance; “his own,” whom he had separated to himself for a peculiar treasure, and entreated with a parent's 'care ; but they received him not, but rejected him as the Son of God, and the true Light of the world, and with wicked hands did crucify and slay him. But, to those who received him, that is, to those who, like Anna the prophetess, were feeling and lamenting their oppression, and waiting for the consolation of Israel," he gave power to become the sons of God." And here again we are brought back to our leading doctrine, from which we have diverged into this exposition, in order to confirm it; namely, That there is a receiving of him, that there is a soil into which to receive the seed of his word. There were such among the Jews, and there were such among the Gentiles, who were waiting for him, and received him so soon as he was made known unto them. And these were such as were using to the best advantage the light which was in them for the life which they enjoyed, aided by the tidings which God had left concerning bimself eyerywhere, but which he preserved especially in the high places of Zion. The men who everywhere were striving by these means to wrestle with the bondage of the natural man, and his lustful and intemperate affections towards the creatures, who were seeking to use the creatures temperately, and to see in them the light which was in them,
and to glorify God; these men were able to receive him, and did receive him and his messengers, clearly seeing the light after which they had been groping, in that bright light which was presented unto them. They believed the testimony because they felt its truth. Miracles did not compel their reason against itself to comply.. Their reason saw herself, and all her desires brought to her enjoyment: the thing she longed for was at length
And thus, with God's various helps and ministries was the truth received in the world ;-a great mystery indeed of godliness, “ that God should be believed on in the world :" of which mystery I have been shewing you a little of the depth in this Lecture. Hence it is, that when our Lord 'sent forth the Seventy, he said unto them, “ Into whatsoever city yeenter, inquire who are worthy, and there abide till ye go thence.” And so Peter, when commissioned to the Gentiles, was sent unto Cornelius, a devout worshipper of God : and so was Philip, unto the Eunuch amongst the sons of Ham, and so was Paul unto Lydia, who was we may suppose of the daughters of Japhet; and so I make no doubt it will be found universally that the Gospel of the salvation of Christ is received by those who have been wisely beholding nature's light in and around them, and worthily partaking of nature's bounty. To such gave he power to become the sons of God, quickening them by the power of the quickening Spirit which he hath, which indeed he is; as heretofore he had breathed into the living soul of reason, when he gave them of that life which was in him ; so now of that resurrection from death which was in him, he giveth the power he