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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 : “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 docs 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.”
“ Though I understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and have not charity, I am nothing."
“ The world by wisdom knows not God."
“ 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.
But when the light of truth discovers to myself the hidden evils of my heart; when it shews me the deformity of sin, the vileness of my nature, and thus fills me with shame and self-abhorrence, it is indeed a “marvellous light.” When the light of truth reveals to my soul the blessed Jesus in the essential dignity of his person ; the suitableness of his glorious offices in the covenant of redemption; the greatness, freeness, and extent of his love in becoming man, and expiring on the cross, that he might save rebellious sinners: and when this view of a loving Saviour, fills my soul with love, admiration, delight, and joy : it may well be called a “marvellous light."
When the light of truth takes away the false glare of the world, and shews me its real worth ; that all is vanity and vexation of spirit; when every thing is placed in its true light, and scen through a clear medium : and when this view sobers my expectations, and weans my affections from the world: then it is truly a "marvellous light.”
tinht of truth unveils the world of When the ilguu um spirits, and opens to my wondering sight the unutterable glories of eternity: when I behold the blissful seats, the happy mansions, and the peaceful abodes of the redeemed : when I contemplate the fulness of their joy in being for ever with their Lord, and like their Lord: and when this prospect of the saint's felicity makes holiness more lovely, and my breathings for the spirit of grace more ardent: when it makes me long and labour after an admittance, through faith in Jesus, into those bright abodes : then it is a “ marvellous light."
0! thou glorious Sun of righteousness, thou light of the world, shine into my heart, that I may be light in the Lord; and walk as a child of light, shining by reflection to thy praise and glory.
O! preserve me from resting in outward forms or barren speculations.
Let nothing satisfy my soul, but the possession of THYSELF dwelling in my heart by faith, and filling me with peace and joy, blended with holy fear.
0! grant that I may ever prefer thee to every thing in earth or heaven ; for thou, blessed Jesus, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, three persons in one Jehovah, art alone worthy of all love, adoration and praise.
Everlasting praises be given unto thee by men and angels. O! my soul, begin now the eternal anthem. However feeble the string, yet let it vibrate to the praise of thy God. However weak thy notes, yet let them ascend in grateful adorations to him who hath loved thee, and washed thee from thy sips in his own blood. To him be all honour, glory and power, ascribed by every tongue henceforth and for ever. Amen and Amen.
O ! thou, from whom all blessings spring,
Jesus ! thy saving name contains,
Bless thou the Lord, my soul, and sing