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holy influences and spiritual operations, he acts in a way of peculiar communication of himself; so that the subject is thence denominated spiritual.
2. This spiritual and divine light does not consist in any impression made upon the imagination. It is no impression upon the mind, as though one saw any thing with the bodily eyes. It is no imagination or idea of an outward light or glory, or any beauty of form or countenance, or a visible lustre or brightness of any object. The imagination may be strongly impressed with such things ; but this is not spiritual light. Indeed when the mind has a lively discovery of spiritual things, and is greatly affected with the power of divine light, it may, and probably very commonly doth, much affect the imagination; so that impressions of an outward beauty or brightness may accompany those spiritual discoveries. But spiritual light is not that impression upon the imagination, but an exceedingly different thing. Natural men may have lively impressions on their imaginations; and we cannot determine but that the devil, who transforms himself into an angel of light, may cause imaginations of an outward beauty, or visible glory, and of sounds and speeches, and other such things ; but these are things of a vastly inferior nature to spiritual light.
3. This spiritual light is not the suggesting of any new truths or propositions not contained in the word of God. This suggesting of new truths or doctrines to the mind, independent of any antecedent revelations of those propositions, either in word or writing, is inspiration; such as the prophets and apostles had, and such as some enthusiasts pretend to. But this spiritual light that I am speaking of, is quite a different thing from inspiration. It reveals no new doctrine, it suggests no new proposition to the mind, it teaches no new thing of God, or Christ, or another world, not taught in the Bible, but only gives a due apprehension of those things that are taught in the word of God.
4. It is not every affectiog view that men have of religious things that is this spiritual and divine light. Men by mere principles of nature are capable of being affected with things that have a special relation to religion as well as other things. A person by mere nature, for instance, may be liable to be affected with the story of Jesus Christ, and the sufferings he underwent, as well as by any other tragical story. be the more affected with it from the interest he conceives mankind to have in it. Yea, he may be affected with it without believing it; as well as a man may be affected with what he reads in a romance, or sees acted in a stage-play. He may be affected with a lively and eloquent description of many pleasant things that attend the state of the blessed in heayen, as well as his imagination be entertained by a romantic
description of the pleasantness of fairy land, or the like. And a common belief of the truth of such things, from education or otherwise, may help forward their affection. We read in Scripture of many that were greatly affected with things of a religious nature, who yet are there represented as wholly graceless, and many of them very ill men. A person therefore may have affecting views of the things of religion, and yet be very destitute of spiritual light. Flesh and blood may be the author of this; one man may give another an affecting view of divine things with but common assistance; but God alone can give a spiritual discovery of them.-But I proceed to show,
Secondly, Positively what this spiritual and divine light is.
And it may be thus described: A true sense of the divine excellency of the things revealed in the word of God, and a conviction of the truth and reality of them thence arising. This spiritual light primarily consists in the former of these, viz. A real sense and apprehension of the divine excellency of things revealed in the word of God. A spiritual and saving conviction of the truth and reality of these things, arises from such a sight of their divine excellency and glory; so that this conviction of their truth is an effect and natural consequence of this sight of their divine glory. There is therefore in this spiritual light,
1. A true sense of the divine and superlative excellency of the things of religion; a real sense of the excellency of God and Jesus Christ, and of the work of redemption, and the ways and works of God revealed in the gospel. There is a divine and superlative glory in these things ; an excellency that is of a vastly higher kind, and more sublime nature than in other things; a glory greatly distinguishing them from all that is earthly and temporal. He that is spiritually enlightened truly apprehends and sees it, or has a sense of it. He does not merely rationally believe that God is glorious, but he has a sense of the gloriousness of God in his heart. There is not only a rational belief that God is holy, and that holiness is a good thing, but there is a sense of the loveliness of God's holiness. There is not only a speculatively judging that God is gracious, but a sense how amiable God is on account of the beauty of this divine attribute.
There is a twofold knowledge of good of which God has made the mind of man capable. The first, that which is merely notional; as when a person only speculatively judges that any thing is, which, by the agreement of mankind, is called good or excellent, viz. that which is most to general advantage, and between which and a reward there is a suitableness, -and the like. And the other is, that which consists in the sense of the heart; as when the heart is sensible of
pleasure and delight in the presence of the idea of it. In the former is exercised merely the speculative faculty, or the understanding, in distinction from the will or disposition of the soul. In the latter, the will, or inclination, or heart, are mainly concerned.
Thus there is a difference between having an opinion, that God is holy and gracious, and having a sense of the loveliness and beauty of that holiness and grace. There is a difference between having a rational judgment that honey is sweet, and having a sense of its sweetness. A man may have the former, that knows not how honey tastes; but a man cannot have the latter unless he has an idea of the taste of honey in his mind. So there is a difference between believing that a person is beautiful, and having a sense of his beauty. The former may be obtained by hearsay, but the latter only by seeing the countenance. When the heart is sensible of the beauty and amiableness of a thing, it necessarily feels pleasure in the apprehension. It is implied in a person's being heartily sensible of the loveliness of a thing, that the idea of it is pleasant to his soul ; which is a far different thing from having a rational opinion that it is excellent.
2. There arises from this sense of the divine excellency of things contained in the word of God, a conviction of the truth and reality of them; and that, either indirectly or directly.
First, Indirectly, and that two ways:
1. As the prejudices of the heart, against the truth of divine things, are hereby removed; so that the mind becomes susceptive of the due force of rational arguments for their truth. The mind of man is naturally full of prejudices against divine truth. It is full of enmity against the doctrines of the gospel ; which is a disadvantage to those arguments that prove their truth, and causes them to lose their force upon the mind. But when a person has discovered to him the divine excellency of Christian doctrines, this destroys the enmity, removes those prejudices, sanctifies the reason, and causes it to lie open to the force of arguments for their truth.
Hence was the different effect that Christ's miracles had to convince the disciples, from what they had to convince the scribes and Pharisees. Not that they had a stronger reason, or had their reason more improved; but their reason was sanctified, and those blinding prejudices, that the Scribes and Pharisees were under, were removed by the sense they had of the excellency of Christ, and his doctrine.
It not only removes the hinderances of reason, but positively helps reason. It makes even the speculative notions more lively. It engages the attention of the mind, with more fixedness and intenseness to that kind of objects; which VOL. VI.
causes it to have a clearer view of them, and enables it more clearly to see their mutual relations, and occasions it to take more notice of them. The ideas themselves that other wise are dim and obscure, are by this means impressed with the greater strength, and have a light cast upon them ; so that the mind can better judge of them. As he that beholds objects on the face of the earth, when the light of the sun is cast upon them, is under greater advantage to discern them in their true forms and natural relations, than he that sees them in a dim twilight.
The mind, being sensible of the excellency of divine objects, dwells upon them with delight ; and the powers of the soul are more awakened and enlivened to employ themselves in the contemplation of them, and exert themselves more fully and much more to the purpose. The beauty of the objects draws on the faculties, and di vs forth their exercises ; so that reason itself is under far greater advantages for its proper and free exercises, and to attain its proper end, free of darkness and delusion.-But,
Secondly, A true sense of the divine excellency of the things of God's word doth more directly and immediately convince us of their truth; and that because the excellency of these things is so superlative. There is a beauty in them so divine and godlike, that it greatly and evidently distinguishes them from things merely human, or that of which men are the inventors and authors ; a glory so high and great, that when clearly seen, commands assent to their divine reality. When there is an actual and lively discovery of this beauty and excellency, it will not allow of any such thought as that it is the fruit of men's invention. This is a kind of intuitive and immediate evidence. They believe the doctrines of God's word to be divine, because they see a divine, and transcendent, and most evidently distinguishing glory in them ; such a glory as, if clearly seen, does not leave room to doubt of their being of God, and not of men.
Such a conviction of the truths of religion as this, arising from a sense of their divine excellency, is included in saving faith. And this original of it, is that by which it is most essentially distinguished from that common assent, of which unregenerate men are capable.
II. I proceed now to the second thing proposed, viz. To shew how this light is immediately given by God, and not obtained by natural means.* And here,
* In the preceding statement and the following explanation, our author might have rendered the subject of " divine light immediately imparted to the soul" more perspicuous, by a fuller use of that analogy which the scripture
1. It is not intended that the natural faculties are not used in it. They are the subject of this light: and in such a manner, that they are not merely passive, but active in it. God, in letting in this light into the soul, deals with man according to his nature, and makes use of his rational faculties. But yet this light is not the less immediately from God for that ; the faculties are made use of as the subject, and not as the cause. As the use we make of our eyes in beholding various objects, when the sun arises, is not the cause of the light that discovers those objects to us.
2. It is not intended that outward means have no concern in this affair. It is not in this affair, as in inspiration, where new truths are suggested; for, by this light is given only a due apprehension of the same truths that are revealed in the
holds forth, between the common theory of vision and the doctrine he defends. Let the remarks which follow be candidly considered.
1. In the sacred scriptures, God is represented as “the Father of lights," and Christ as “the sun of righteousness.' Yea, it is asserted, that “God is LIGAT," and that " he shines into the heart.” These and similar expressions, with which the Old and New Testament abound, show that there is a strong analogy between light in the natural world, and something spiritual that is expressed by the same term.
2. As the light of day proceeds from the natural sun, and shines into the eye; so the spiritual or supernatural light proceeds from God, and shines into the heart, or mind. Thus the analogy holds, not only as to the things intended—jn their sources, and their emanations but also as to the organs of reception.
3. The existence of light in the eye depends neither on the perception of it, nor on any external object. Our perception of illuminated objects is the effect of light's existence in the organ of vision. Without light, both in the eye, and on the object to be seen, there can be no perception of that object. In like manner, the existence of that light which emanales from God, and shines into the mind, is there (that is, in the mind,) prior to, and independent of the mental perception of it; and consequently is there irrespective of the knowledge of objects to be known by it. Therefore,
4. Knowledge can be called “ light” only in a secondary sense, both naturally and spiritually; that is, by a metonymy, because it is the effect of light. We know a visible object, because we see it; and we see it, because light shines both on the object, and into the eye. It is by divine light shining into the mind that we have a spiritual knowledge of God, of Christ, or of any other object; in other words, a holy emanation or influence from God, called light, is the cause why any person or thing is known in a spiritual manner.
5. When any identify this divine light, these rays of the sun of righteousness, with knowledge, (however spiritual and excellent,) because the latter is metonymically called “ light,” they are chargeable with identifying cause and effect, and therefore of confounding things which essentially differ. For spiritual light, in the primary and proper sense, emanates immediately from God, as rays from the sun; but this cannot be said of knowledge, because the perception of an object, which is our act, must intervene. Knowledge presupposes the primary light, and is also dependent on the objective truths perceived. All knowledge, whether natural or spiritual, stands essentially related to objects known; so that without those objects it can have no existence. The knowledge of objects to be seen, therefore, is the effect of two causes concurring, the object itself and light; whereas the “ divine light which is immediately imparted to the soul,” has but one cause, even the sovereign will of God.
6. Coroll. The theological notion which makes all spiritual light in man to consist in knowledge, and which is become too fashionable in the present day, is contrary to scripture, and to rational analogy.-W.