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the same occupations, and susceptible of the same enjoyments; in a word, he possesses a mental power, which bears to spiritual things the same relation that the eye bears to natural things. And besides this, he holds also in his hands the word of God; that word which is “ able to make him wise unto salvation,” and upon whose sublime and benevolent discoveries the Christian dwells with such intense delight. But he is destitute of the influence of divine grace. The Holy Spirit has never illuminated his mind. The clouds of native depravity have never been dispelled. The visual faculty is obscured by the surrounding darkness : so that, in relation to spiritual objects, he labours under a total eclipse. He therefore is exactly in the circumstances of the man who stands on the brow of the mountain, surrounded by beautiful prospects, but who stands there at midnight. At the base of that mountain, and extended before it, there are the meadow, and the thick foliage of the forest, and the copious river, and all the bounty and goodliness of nature; but clouds and darkness cover them. Instead of beholding scenes of fertility and joy, he is “presented with a universal blank.” Such is precisely the condition of “ the natural man." “He perceiveth not the things of the Spirit of God.” Though they lie close around the border of his own habitation; though his attention is called to them in a thousand ways; and though he can scarcely move but he must come in contact with them, yet "he perceives them not.

He has no apprehension either of their beauty, or their proximity, for the illuminating element is wanting ; "he cannot see them, because they are spiritually discerned.”

The profound and melancholy ignorance of the human mind upon all spiritual subjects, consequently, renders this divine illumination absolutely necessary to the apprehension of revealed truth. Men are capable of exerting their intellectual abilities to the noblest and most beneficial purposes in all the departments of literature and natural science; and the amazing proficiency that has been made in every branch of human knowledge, is no mean proof of the dignity, and inestimable worth, of the thinking and immortal soul. But its lapsed and degenerate condition is equally manifest in its entire impotence to appreciate, or even to understand the revelations of the wisdom and love of God. Here its intelligence fails. One class of objects is perceived aright that which relates only to our present being, is of inferior moment, and which we shall shortly leave. But there is another order of things of infinitely more importance, and involving our eternal interests, which remains entirely unapprehended. The physical economy around us presents its open aspect to universal observation ; and its demonstrations of skill, of con

trivance, and of power, are read by a steady and a splendid light; but upon the truths of our spiritual nature, no luminary shines to make them apparent, unless God himself “shine into our hearts." It will avail you nothing how vigorous your reason, how bold your imagination, how keen and sagacious your powers of research ; here are depths you cannot fathom, heights inaccessible to your noblest speculations, and mysteries to be explored only by the light that comes from heaven.

As spiritual illumination is thus no less necessary to the discovery of spiritual things than natural light is to vision, so, like the natural light, its design is not to create objects to be seen, but to supply the medium by means of which they become visible. As the sun, when he arises, adds nothing to the actual scenery of nature, but by pouring a flood of light upon it, clothes it with an inexpressible charm and grandeur; so the Divine Spirit, when he enlightens dark minds, opens no new disclosure of the love of God, of the atonement of Christ, of the results of faith, of the felicities of heaven, or in short of any part of the entire system of revealed religion, but invests the exhibitions already given with attractions in which they were never previously beheld. He shines

upon them with his essential light, and truths which once appeared mystical, obscure, and unintelligible, are instantly seen to be replete with sublimity and wisdom, and instinct with life and joy. But his beams convey into the mind no new revelation of the will of God, nor originate there any fresh truths connected with the salvation of the soul. He communicates no information extrinsic of the written word. His illumination adds nothing to the contents of the sacred book, but increases the clearness and the force with which their importance is perceived. It makes them "quick and powerful,” efficacious to accomplish their divine purpose, pungent and irresistible in their application to the conscience, energetic and successful in the removal of unbelief, sufficient to convert and to sanctify the soul. Apart from it, the sublimest truths make no impression ; possessing it, the simplest are invested with omnipotence. In a word, it infuses into “the incorruptible seed" a deep emphatic vitality, by which it becomes “spirit and life."* There is nothing, consequently, in the sentiment for which we are pleading, that can, on the one hand, be interpreted to the disparagement of the word of God, or that can be supposed, on the other, to invade the rich and magnificent province of prophetical inspiration.

We do not pass the barrier by which that region of miraculous voices and mysterious

# John vi. 63,


visions seems now to be for ever closed; but we shape our course along the more frequented track of universal christian experience, and take the lively oracles in our hand, as our only and all-sufficient guide.

Here, then, in the inspired volume, are the spiritual objects to be seen, and such as are fitted to produce the most refined and animated pleasures. And here, may an individual say of himself, is the soul that ought to perceive them. But from what quarter shall the light be derived to make them visible? Two things are possessed—but three are requisite. Whence shall the third be obtained ? Only, my dear brethren, from God. God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, must shine into your hearts." He is “the Father of lights,” the fountain of knowledge. It is his prerogative to enlighten our darkness; it is with him to bestow the illuminations of his grace. “If any man therefore lack wisdom,” says the apostle James, "let him ask of God, who giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him.” Here is at once direction and encouragement. Bend at the footstool of the divine Majesty. Confess your ignorance. Acknowledge your guilt. Humble yourself under the mighty hand of God. Learn from your past experience the folly of attempting to walk through this dark and dangerous world, without an Omniscient Guide; or, of thinking to enter upon the glory of a future, without an interest in the Almighty Saviour. Remember how often you have been ried in the multitude of your counsels, and the greatness of your way;" how every earthly support has failed you, every sublunary light deceived you; and now at length return from your wanderings, and follow Him, who only is “the light of the world;" and so,

God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, will shine into your heart, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Jesus Christ."


II. We proceed therefore to remark, that as there is a just and accurate analogy between the light of the natural and spiritual economies, so the agent producing it is in both instances the same. God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness”—that Almighty Being, who, on the first morning of creation, said, “Let there be light, and there was light”—“He,” says the apostle, “ hath shined into our hearts." Creation is universally admitted to be the effect of an Almighty

But while this fact is thus allowed in its general statement, the production of light, in the manner described by Moses, has been considered to demonstrate, in a pre-eminent manner, the exertion of omnipotence. Longinus, as is well known, in his treatise on the sublime, adduces the passage as possessing that quality in a very extraordinary degree, because it expresses with such majestic brevity the almighty power of God. But whatever was the agency put forth in the creation of material light, it is manifest from the text, as well as from a variety of other Scriptures, that the same agency is employed in the creation of spiritual light.


Nor if it be allowed that the first could be produced only by the irresistibly efficient power of Deity, will the doctrine appear in any way strange, or unreasonable, that for the second also we must be indebted solely to him. For to this subject may be applied the same kind of reasoning as, on another occasion, was employed by our Lord—" Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or, Arise, take up thy bed, and walk ?” Whether is it easier to illuminate a dark world, or a benighted soul ? to diffuse light and gladness over the face of nature, or to transfuse the vital beam through “the dead in trespasses and sins ?” If, for the production of the material element, no adequate power can be discovered or conceived, besides the Almightiness of God, much less shall an inferior cause be assigned to that magnificent effect by which the moral creation is lighted up with its serene and holy beauty.

This spiritual illumination, it should also be remembered, this “wisdom which cometh from above,” is, next to the gift of his Son, the greatest proof of the beneficence of the Divine Being. No benefit we receive from him is so nearly allied to his own nature, is so much a participation of himself. It is a kind of emanation of God's beauty, an immediate effluence from the self-existing and paternal Light. Hence it corresponds no less with the very nature of the blessing, than with the language of Scripture respecting it, to infer that in whatever way the Father of mercies may impart his meaner gifts, however they may be left to flow to us through lower channels, and by the operation of second causes, this divine and most excellent of all his communications should be reserved in his own hands, to be conferred immediately by himself. “Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona, for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.”

It is true, that the doctrine which maintains so intimate a connexion to subsist between the human soul and the Supreme Intelligence, is liable to the abuse of enthusiasm ; but it rests, notwithstanding, upon evidence too forcible and copious to allow of its being denied. That the Infinite Spirit can at all times have access to the mind of man, and may therefore, if he choose, influence and control

it by his immediate insinuations, no less than by the intervention of sensible objects, does not philosophically admit of a doubt ; and we can, unquestionably, form quite as clear a conception of the fact, that one intellectual being can make a direct impression on another, as that the sensations derived through the bodily organs can affect and modify the soul. While therefore we are careful to guard the doctrine of immediate grace against that perversion of it which would lead to fanaticism, we should be anxious, in an equal degree, to avoid falling into the opposite and more dangerous extreme, which not only denies the personal existence of that Holy Spirit, “to whose peculiar dispensation we ascribe the gift of grace, but that gift itself," and so deprives the Christian of all his strength, his knowledge, and his joy. “Those illapses of blessedness," to use the eloquent language of Bishop Heber, " that hallowed intercourse with God, which unites our spirit to the Eternal Mind, and which renews the brilliance of our borrowed flame, by approaching it to that source of living light, whence first its stream proceeded; that life of God in the human soul, which in every age of Christianity has cheered the labours of the saint, and revived the hopes of the penitent, are all alike discarded by the modern reformers of our faith, as the dreams of enthusiastic self-conceit, the hyperboles of monks and Platonists,” * But, my brethren, if we bend the haughtiness of reason before the authority of revelation, we shall be far from discarding a truth because it is mysterious, or from cherishing a latent scepticism respecting it, because it appeals not to our senses but to faith.

He who has been “called out of darkness into marvellous light,” (and in such terms of pointed, and of perfect contrast, is the movement of spiritual transition described,) can never indeed hesitate to admit the reality of the Holy Spirit's work, in its largest extent, since he is indebted to it for the greatest and most beneficial moral change which is either known or can be conceived of; and since also he feels that it is only by the perpetuated supply of his sanctifying and sustaining grace, that he is enabled to persist in the prescribed course of evangelical obedience, amidst the opposition of the world, the devices of the wicked one, and the deceitfulness and depravity of his own heart. He will delight, on the contrary, to contemplate that Great Being who rolls and regulates the orbs of heaven, who beautifies and refreshes the face of the earth, as stooping from his lofty occupations to solicit his friendship, and to erect his mind into a temple for himself. It is truly a sublime consideration, and fitted

* Bampton Lectures.

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