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shout, ye lower parts of the earth ; break forth into singing, ye mountains, O! forest and every tree therein ; for the Lord hath redeemed Jacob, and glorified himself in Israel.”
Surely mercy rejoices against judgment, whilst it exclaims in accents of redeeming love: “ deliver him from going down to the pit; I have found a ransom.” (Job xxxiii. 24.)
“ If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”_"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
“ Come, and let us return unto the Lord; for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up. Truly, in vain is salvation hoped for from the hills, and from the multitude of mountains ; truly in the Lord our God is the salvation of Israel. Behold, we come unto thee, for thou art the Lord our God." .
“Bless the Lord, O! my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name; for he is a just God and a Saviour'; just, and yet the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus.” God is love.”_" Blessed is the man that trusteth in him.”
My soul in grateful strains record,
Blest Saviour ! in thy work I see,
The whole world lieth in wickedness, in a state of spiritual darkness. Out of this darkness, sinners are called by the Gospel ; and when through grace they arise and depart out of this valley of the shadow of death, they are admitted into the marvellous light of the everlasting covenant, and become the children of light and of the day.
Thus they who were not a people, become the people of God; and they are called beloved, who were not beloved. Those who were afar off, are made nigh by the blood of Christ, and those who were strangers and foreigners, are made fellow-citi. zens with the saints, and of the household of God.
Thus grace reigns through righteousness unto eter-, nal life, by Jesus Christ our Lord.
Hence a most important and vital distinction must be made between mere intellectual light, and the divine illumination of the Holy Spirit. A distinction, which like a powerful scythe, will cut down
many a fair herb, many a beautiful flower in the garden of nature.
Natural light, improved by human instruction and study, is confined altogether to the head.
Spiritual light, derived from above, enlightens the understanding, whilst it renews and purifies the heart.
History furnishes us with many instances of men endowed with all the riches of science, whose hearts were full of enmity against God: though some happy exceptions have, through grace, blest and benefit ed the world.
Intellectual light may soften the character and improve the morals--but experience testifies that nothing but the power of the Holy Spirit can newcreate the soul. God works by his word.
Hence the Scriptural exhortation to sinners is : 66 Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light:” and when divine power accompanies the command, the dead soul arises to spiritual life and action.
To believers the command is : " arise, shine ; for thy light is come; the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee:" and then new vigour and energy is felt in these seasons of refreshing, when Jesus arises on his people with healing in his wings.
Spiritual light, thus descending from “ the Sun of righteousness,” is received through the medium of the Holy Scriptures, read with prayer; and through the instrumentality of the Gospel, faithfully preached, and heard in a spirit of faith. But through whatever channel it is received, it is always communicated by the Holy Ghost: and is known by its sanctifying effects on the mind, conscience, and heart.
All who do not possess this spiritual light are in a state of darkness, however bright and luminous their intellectual light may be.
How frequently do we find men of science and deep research, completely blinded with respect to the divine science of living to God.
And what is still more painful, how often do we meet with persons, in this day of Gospel light, who have very clear views of the truth ; who are able to speak, not only fluently upon the mysteries of grace; but even to delight and edify those who hear them : and yet, who are themselves destitute of true humility, genuine love to the Saviour, and that spiritual-mindedness which is life and peace. Thus however illuminated their understandings may be, they are, in the eye of an heart-searching God, in a state of spiritual blindness. .
Surely then the above distinction is most important.
How many bright professors does it involve in darkness; how many shining candles does it put out!
“ The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him ; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”
66 Though I understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and have not charity, I am nothing."
“ The world by wisdom knows not God."
6 They have well said, all that they have spoken. 0! that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me and keep all my commandments always."
Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.”
“ If ye know these things, happy are ye, if ye do them.”
These, and many other passages which might be adduced, prove the immense difference betwixt head knowledge and heart religion. The former is the
pride of the hypocrite ; the latter is the portion of the humble penitent.
0! my soul, examine well into thy real state and condition before God. Be not satisfied with how much thou knowest ; but see what effect the know. ledge which thou hast attained, has upon thy heart and life. Art thou acquainted with thy fallen state by nature, and thy superadded wretchedness through actual transgression ? If this awful truth has been admitted into thy understanding, so far it is well.But rest not here. This is merely intellectual light, if its rays extend no further. Search and see whether its piercing beams have reached thy conscience, and like forked lightning in the midst of Sinai's thunder, struck thee with conviction and dismay. Like Saul of Tarsus, has it struck thee to the ground, and laid thee low in the dust of deep humiliation ? . Without this self-abasing experience of the total corruption of thy nature, and this heart-humbling sense of thy own extreme depravity: all thy knowledge is merely human, “ taught by the precept of men;" and leaves thee in a state of spiritual insensibility ; the more dangerous, because the more liable to make thee contented with the barren knowledge of thy condition ; and to substitute the shadow for the substance.
With respect to all the other great and glorious doctrines of grace, the same important questions must be put to the heart: for faith without works is dead.
The Christians, to whom St. Peter wrote, were called “ out of darkness into marvellous light."
Have I been thus called by sovereign grace, by almighty love, into a light which may be denominated "marvellous ?” The mere reception of divine truth into the mind does not deserve this appellation.