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year, it drives away the sharp frosts and the heavy fogs of winter, it clears the heavens, decks the earth with variety of plants and flowers, and awakes the birds to the pleasant strains of their natural music. When Christ, after a kind of winter absence, returns to visit a declining church, admirable is the change that he produces : all begins to flourish by his sweet influence; his house, his worship, his people, are all clothed with a new beauty, but it is spiritual, and therefore, none but spiritual eyes can discern it. When he will thus return, all the power and policy of man can no more hinder him, than it could stay the course of the sun in its circle. In like manner, a deserted, forsaken soul, that can do nothing but languish and droop, while Christ withdraws himself, what inexpressible vigour and alacrity finds it at his returning! Then those graces which, while they lurked, seemed to have been lost and quite extinguished, bud forth anew with pleasant colour and fragrant smell. It is the light of His countenance that banishęth their false fears, that strengthens their faith, and eures their spiritual infirmities. This Sun is indeed the sovereign physician : Unto you that fear my name, shall the Sun of Righteousness arise with healing under his wings. Mal. iv. 2.
Finally, all darkness flies away before Him: it was His arising in the world that made the day break and the shadows fly away
The types and shadows of the Law were then abolished. It was His light that dispelled the mists of ignorance and idolatry, and He alone delivers the soul from the night of sin and misery produced by it. All the stars, and the moon with them, cannot make it day in the world ; this is the sun's prerogative: nor can nature's highest .ight, the most refined science and morality, make it day in the soul; for this is Christ's.
The common light of reason, every man that comes into the world hath from Him as His Creator ; but the special light of grace, they alone who are born again, have from Him as their Saviour. Gross is the darkness of every natural mind, till Christ enlighten it: it can neither discern nor receive the
things of God, ou deXɛTA.. Ye were darkness, says the Apostle, but now are he light in the Lord. Ephes. v, 8. The natural mind is nothing else but a mass of darkness; and the companion of darkness, is confusion, as it was in the mass of the world before light was created. And what is there under heaven more confused than a carnal mind; the affections quite out of order, and though all naught, yet, sometimes fighting one with another, and continually hurrying the judgment whither they please ? Now, to dissipate this darkness, and remedy this confusion, Christ shines externally in his word. But too much daily experience testifies, that this is not sufficient: therefore, to those whom he will make children of the light, to meet with this outward light of his word, he gives another internal light by the Spirit. The sun can make dark things clear, but it cannot make a blind man see them : but herein is the excellency of this Sun, that He illuminates not only the object, but the faculty ; doth not only reveal the mysteries of his kingdom, but opens blind eyes to behold them. And the first lineament of the renewed image of God in man, is that light in the understanding, removing not only that simple ignorance of Divine things, but those misconceits, likewise, and false principles, and that wicked pertinacy, whereof man's mind is naturally full. He who at first commanded light to shine out of darkness, infuseth saving knowledge and light into the dark soul of man. And this light (as was said) kindles love. It is vehiculum caloris, hath a powerful influence, begetting heat in the affections. Nor can this Divine light be ever again fully extinguished, but conducts the soul that hath received it, till it be received to the land of light and perfect happiness. Thus, in our Redeemer is the fountain of life, as the Psalmist speaks, and in his light do we see light. Psalm xxxvi. 9.
He is likewise here styled, The glory of the Lord. In 2 Sam. iv. the ark of God is called the glory, but it enjoyeth that name as a type of Christ, in whom now that which the ark contained is fulfilled. The tabernacle is called the dwelling of God's glory, Psal. xxvi. 8, likewise typifying Him in the
tabernacle of whose human nature that glory dwells far more excellently. John i. 14. Eornvwoév év huis, He dwelt in a tabernacle among us, and we saw his glory as the glory of the only begotten Son of God, full of grace and truth. The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, calls him đT Quyaoud, the brightness of his Father's glory and the character of His person. Heb. i. 3.
And under these expressions lies that remarkable mystery of the Son's eternal relation to the Father, which is rather humbly to be adored than boldly to be explained, either by God's perfect understanding of His own essence, or by any other notion. It is true, he is called The wisdom of the Father, but this wisdom is too wonderful for
He is called The Word, but what this word means, I think, we shall not well know till we see him face to face, and contemplate him in the light of glory. Meanwhile we may see him to be the glory of the Lord, in a safer way, and in a sufficient measure to guide us to that clear vision reserved above for us. We saw his glory, says that sublime Evangelist. But how could this excellent glory be seen by sinful men, and not astonish and strike dead the beholders ? He was made flesh and dwelt among us, says he, and so we saw his glory. That majesty which we could never have looked upon, he veiled with human flesh, that we might not die, yea, live, by seeing him. There he stood behind the wall, and shewed himself through the lattice. In him dwelt the fulness of the Godhead, Col. ii. 9, but it was owultixūs, bodily: for who could have endured the splendour of the Godhead's fulness, if that cloud of his body had not been drawn betwixt ? And through it did shine that grace and truth, that wisdom and power, in the work of our redemption, whereby he was clearly manifested to be the glory of the Lord.
Surely, we need not now ask the Church, or a believing soul, What is thy beloved more than another ? Or if we do, well may she answer, He is the chiefest among ten thousand, and altogether lovely ; for he is the light of the world, and the glory of the Lord. Let not the numerous titles of earthly
potentates be once admitted into comparison with these. If we believe David, Psal. lxii. 9, the stateliest things and persons in the world, being balanced with vanity itself, are found lighter than it: and shall we offer to weigh them with Christ ? If we knew him rightly, we would not sell the least glance or beam of this light of his countenance, for the highest favour of mortal man, though it were constant and unchangeable, which it is not. It is ignorance of Christ, that maintains the credit of those vanities we admire, The Christian that is truly acquainted with Him, enamoured with the brightness of his beauty, can generously trample upon the smilings of the world with the one foot, and upon her frownings with the other. If he be rich or honourable, or both, yet, he glories not in that, but Christ, who is the glory of the Lord, is even then his chiefest glory; and the light of Christ obscures that worldly splendour in his estimation. And as the enjoyment of Christ overtops all his other joys, so it overcomes his griefs. As that great light drowns the light of prosperity, so it shines bright in the darkness of affliction: no dungeon so close that it can keep out the rays of Christ's love from his beloved prisoners. The world can no more take away this light, than it can give it. Unto the just ariseth light in darkness, says the Psalmist ; and, When I sit in darkness, the Lord shall be a light unto me, says the Church, Mic. vii. 8. And as this light is a comfort, so, it is likewise a defence, which suffers no more of distress to come near the godly, than is profitable for them. Therefore we find very frequently in Scripture, where this light and glory is mentioned, protection and safety jointly spoken of: The Lord is my light, and withal my salvation : whom shall I fear? says David, Psal. xxvii. 1. The Lord is a sun, and He is a shield too. Psal. lxxxiv. 21.
And truly I think him shot-proof that hath the sun for his buckler. And for glory, Upon all the glory shall be a defence, says our Prophet, ch. iv. ver. 5. And the prophet Zechariah, where he calls the Lord the Church's glory in the midst of her, calls him likewise, a wall of fire round about her, ch. ii. ver. 4.
The only way, then, to be safe, is to keep this light and the glory ențire. To part with any part of this glory, is to make a breach in that wall of fire; and if that be a means of safety, let all men judge. No, keep it whole, and then they must come through the fire, who will assault you. Nor is this light only defensive of the church that embraceth it, but it is likewise destructive of all adverse powers. See a clear testimony for this in Isa. x. 17, 18. And the light of Israel shall be for a fire and his Holy One for a flame, and (speaking there of the Assyrians) it shall burn and devoưr his thorns and his briers in one day, and shall consume the glory of his forest, and of his fruitful field, both soul and body, and they shall be as when a standard-bearer fainteth. Let ever then the Church of God entirely observe this light and glory of the Lord; and she shall undoubtedly be preserved by it.
But to close in a word, first, to those who know this light, and then, to those who are yet strangers to it.
You who know Christ, glory. in him perpetually. Well may He be your glory, when he is the glory of the Lord, There are some who pretend love to Christ, and yet, a taunting word of some profane miscreant will almost make them ashamed of him. How would they die for Christ, who are so tender as not to endure a scoff for him? Where is that spirit of Moses, who accounted the very reproaches of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt? Heb. xi. 26. Oh, learn to glory in Christ ; think highly of him, and speak so too, Methinks it is the discourse in the world that becomes Christians best, to be speaking one to another honourably of Jesus Christ. And of all men, the preachers of his gospel should be most frequent in this subject. This should be their
great theme, to extol and commend the Lord Jesus, that they may inflame
many hearts with his love; and best can they do this, who are most strongly taken with this love themselves. Such will most gladly abase themselves, that Christ may be magnified; and whatsoever be their excellencies, they will still account Christ their glory. And they are richly repaid, for