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light, but are to “bear witness of that Light.” John i. 18. Ye are merely INSTRUMENTS of the light (like the greater and lesser lights in the firmament of heaven) to reflect and diffuse it throughout the world.
Christ is the Fountain of Light; that is, of spiritual light. For, as the light of REASON was conferred on the first man Adam, and is natural to all men; so the Light of LIFE cometh by the Second Adam, who is “ a quickening spirit, “ the Lord from heaven."_" He that followeth
me," saith Christ,“ shall have the light of LIFE;" John viii. 12.
That you may have clear conceptions on this subject, we shall, in our introduction, discuss this doctrine of our Saviour concerning Light of Life,” even that spiritual light by which, saith the Apostle, “the eyes of our understanding are enlightened” (Eph. i. 18.); for I fear that
discourses have been pronounced in this nation without any allusion to it. And, first, let us inquire who those persons were whom our Lord called "the light of the world.” This appellation was not given to the Jewish nation in general, but to a few individuals, whom the great body of the Jews supposed to be in the darkness of error; but who, in reality, saw the
true light, while “ the darkness comprehended " it not."
As it was in the days of Christ, so it is in our time: the spiritual light is not poured upon a whole nation, or upon a whole community of men by any system of education, but it is given to individuals; even to such individuals as earnestly pray for it. “ He, that followeth me, saith Christ,
“ shall not walk in darkness, but “shall have the light of life;" for “ every one, " that asketh, receiveth: he, that seeketh, " findeth: and to him, that knocketh, it shall be opened."
Matt. vii. 8. And this is expressly spoken in reference to the gift of the Holy Spirit. A whole nation may enjoy the external light, and may exhibit the civilizing power of Christianity, and yet be involved in spiritual darkness. And this is “ the hard
say• ing” which “ the world cannot receive." — “The words of Scripture,” say they, “ o sufficient of themselves to illuminate the
mind, without the light from heaven.” The dead letter hath light enough for them. Whereas the Apostle saith, “God hath made us able * ministers of the New Testament: not of the " letter, but of the spirit : for the letter killeth, “ but the spirit giveth life.” 2 Cor. iii. 6. But the world in general will not receive this truth.
“ And this is the condemnation," saith our Lord, “ that light is come into the world, and men “ love darkness rather than light.” Thus St. Paul himself disbelieved once, and proceeded to Damascus, having his heart filled with enmity against this heavenly doctrine. But behold, " he saw in the way a light from heaven, above " the brightness of the sun, shining round about “him:” yet this external light was but a faint emblem of that ILLUMINATION, which was imparted to his soul, and which our Saviour calleth “ the Light of Life.”
My Brethren, unless a man have the Light of Life, he cannot see the kingdom of God. For, though there be no external miracle, like that in the case of the Apostle, to accompany it; yet the INTERNAL miracle subsists, in all its truth and reality; and is manifested at this day in the same kind of vigour and efficacy, as in the first days of the Gospel. For, as the first Christians and the Christians of this age are to be partakers of the same glory in heaven, so it is necessary that they acquire the same MEETNESS for that inheritance, and become subjects of the same conversion of heart here on earth.
I would record this doctrine of the Divine Illumination in the very threshold of our dis
course; for it is of importance that its truth be made manifest to ourselves, before it be preached to the heathen world. But it will be useful to prosecute the argument further.
It is common to arraign that ancient people, the Jews, for their unbelief: and we are wont to view their hardness of heart with a kind of horror. But, in regard to the doctrine alluded to, Jews and nominal Christians are in the same condemnation. The Jews received the words of Scripture as we do; but they rejected the spiritual light. “When they read "the Old Testament," saith the Apostle, " the "veil is upon their hearts unto this day;" they perceived not the spiritual kingdom of the
promised Messiah. In like manner, when nominal Christians read the New Testament, the veil is upon their hearts, and they perceive not the promise of the Holy Spirit. For, as the Messiah, God the SON, was the one great object presented to view in the promises and prophecies of the Old Testament; so the subject of the Grand Promise in the New Testament is, God the HOLY GHOST. The Holy Spirit is the very life and essence, and, in regard to actual operation on the hearts of men, the Alpha and Omega of the New Dispensation, which is emphatically called “ the Ministration
( of the Spirit." 2 Cor. iii. 8. This was that
promise of the Father,” of which our Saviour spake with such earnestness and exultation to his disciples; and which he said would “abide " in the world for ever.” John xiv. 16. The Day of Pentecost was properly the first day of the Christian Dispensation; for, on that day, the fountains of divine influence were opened for the Universal Church; never to be closed again to the end of time. Unless this light of the Spirit had been shed forth, the Apostles themselves could not have fully understood the Gospel, even after hearing the words of Christ from the beginning of his ministry to the hour of his ascension. And, without this light, the New Testament, in regard to its spiritual meaning, must be as “ a sealed book” to every man, at
Men of the world acknowledge, indeed, that there is a promise of divine light under the New Dispensation ; but they allege that it was intended for others, and not for them. They say that the light shone a little while at the beginning of the Christian Religion, but was soon extinguished, and that the world was left again in darkness! They do not understand, they say, that there is any difference between the dispensation of Moses and the dispensation of Christ,