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A new light, in which things appear far otherwise than they did before. The names Christ and sin, the words heaven and hell, have another sound in that man's ears, than formerly they had. When he comes to read the same Scriptures, which possibly he had read a hundred times before, he wonders he should be so blind as he was, to overlook such great, weighty, and interesting things as he now beholds in them; and saith, where were mine eyes, that I could never see these things before ?
It is a very affecting light ; a light that hath heat and powerful influences with it, which makes deep impressions on the heart. Hence they whose eyes the great Prophet opens, are said to be " brought out of darkness into his marvellous light.” 1 Pet. 2:9. The soul is greatly affected with what it sees. "Did not our hearts burn within us whilst he talked with us, and opened to us the Scriptures ?"
And it is a growing light, like the light of the morning, which "shines more and more unto the perfect day.” Prov. 4 : 18. When the Spirit first opens the understanding, he doth not give it at once a full sight of all truth, or a full sense of the power, sweetness, and goodness of any truth; but the soul in the use of means grows up to a greater clearness day by day: its knowledge grows extensively in measure, and intensively in power and efficacy. Thus the Lord Jesus by his Spirit opens the understanding.
INFERENCE 1. If it be the work and office of Jesus Christ to open the understandings of men; hence we infer the misery of those men, whose understandings Jesus Christ hath not opened; of whom we may say, as Deut. 29 : 4; To this day Christ hath not given them eyes to see. Natural blindness, whereby we are deprived of the light of this world, is sad; but spiritual blindness is much more so. See how dolefully their case is represented; "But if our Gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost :
whose eyes the god of this world hath blinded, lest the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them,” 2 Cor. 4:3, 4; he means a total and final concealment of the saving power of the word from them. What is their condition ? Truly no better than lost men. It is hid τοις απολλυμενοις, from them that are to perish, or be destroyed. More particularly, because the point is of deep concern, let us consider,
The judgment inflicted-spiritual blindness. A sore misery indeed! Not a universal ignorance of all truths; O no! in natural and moral truths they are oftentimes acute and sharp-sighted men ; but in that part of knowledge which leads to eternal life, John, 17: 2, they are utterly blinded : as it is said of the Jews, upon whom this misery lies, that blindness in part is happened to Israel. Again, consider
The subject of this judgment—the mind. If it fell upon the body, it would not be so considerable; it falls immediately upon the soul, the noblest part of man, and upon the mind, the intellectual, rational faculty, which is to the soul what the natural eye is to the body. Now the soul being ever active and restless, always working; and its leading, directive power blind : judge what a sad and dangerous state such a soul is in; just like a fiery high-mettled horse, whose eyes are out, furiously carrying his rider upon rocks, pits, and precipices. I remember Chrysostom, speaking of the loss of a soul, says, if a man lose an eye, ear, hand, or foot, there is another to supply its want : God hath given us those members double ; but he hath not given us two souls,” that if one be lost, yet the other may be saved. Surely it were better for thee, reader, to have every member of thy body made the subject of the most exquisite racking torments, than for spiritual blindness to befall thy soul. Moreover,
Consider that this judgment is unperceived by those
on whom it lies: they know it not, more than a man knows that he is asleep. Indeed it is "the spirit of a deep sleep.” Isa. 29: 10. This renders their misery the more remediless : Because you say, "We see, therefore your sin remaineth.” John, 9 : 41. Once more,
Consider the tendency and effects of it. What doth this tend to but eternal ruin ? for hereby we are cut off from the only remedy. The soul that is so blinded can never see sin, nor a Saviour; but, like the Egyptians during the palpable darkness, sits still, and moves not after its own recovery. And as ruin is that to which it tends, so in order thereto, it renders all the ordinances and duties under which the soul comes altogether useless and ineffectual to its salvation. He comes to the word, and sees others melted by it, but to him it signifies nothing. Did you but understand the misery of such a state, if Christ should say to you, as he did to the blind man, " What wilt thou that I should do for thee ?" you would reply as he did, " Lord, that my eyes may be opened.” Matt. 20 : 32, 33.
2. If Jesus Christ be the great Prophet of the church, then surely he will take special care both of the church and the under shepherds appointed by him to feed them; else both the objects and instruments upon and by which he executes his office must fail, and consequently this glorious office be in vain. Hence he is said "to walk among the golden candlesticks," Rev. 1:13, and "to hold the stars in his right hand,” Rev. 2 : 1. Jesus Christ instrumentally opens the understandings of men by the preaching of the Gospel; and whilst there is an elect soul to be converted, or a convert to be further illuminated, means shall not fail by which to accomplish it.
3. Hence you that are yet in darkness, may be direct. ed to whom to apply yourselves for saving knowledge. It is Christ that hath the sovereign eye-salve that can cure your blindness; he only hath the key of the house of David; he openeth, and no man shutteth. Oh that I might persuade you to set yourselves in his way, under the ordinances, and cry to him, "Lord, that my eyes may be opened.” Three things are exceedingly encouraging to you so to do:
God the Father hath put him into this office for the cure of such as you are : "I will give thee for a light to the gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.” Isa. 49:6. This may furnish you with an argument to plead for a cure. Why do you not go to God, and say, "Lord, didst thou give Jesus Christ a commission to open the blind eyes ? Behold me, Lord; such a one am I, a poor, dark, ignorant soul. Didst thou give him to be thy salvation to the ends of the earth ? Are no place nor people excluded from the benefit of that light; and shall I still remain in the shadow of death? Oh that unto me he might be a saving light also!"
It is encouraging to think, that Jesus Christ has actually opened the eyes of them that were as dark and ignorant as you are. He has revealed to babes those things that have been hid from the wise and prudent. Matt. 11 : 25. "The law of the Lord is perfect, making wise the simple.” Psa. 19 : 7. And if you look among those whom Christ hath enlightened, you will not find "many wise after the flesh, many mighty or noble; but the foolish, weak, base, and despised;" these are they on whom he hath glorified the riches of l.is grace. 1 Cor. 1: 26, 27.
And is it not yet further encouraging to you that hitherto he hath mercifully continued you under the means of light? Why is not the light of the Gospel fit out? Why are times and seasons of grace continued to you if God have no further design of good to your soul? Be not therefore discouraged, but wait on the Lord in the use of means, that you may be healed.
If you ask, whAT CAN WE DO to put ourselves into the way of the Spirit, in order to such a cure ? I say, though you cannot make the Gospel effectual, yet the Spirit of God can make the means you are capable of using effectual. And it is certain that your inability to do what is above your power, in no way excuses you from doing what is within your power. Let me therefore advise,
That you diligently attend upon an able, faithful, and searching ministry. Neglect no opportunity God affords you; for how know you but that may be the time of mercy to your soul? Satisfy not yourselves with hearing, but consider what
Allow time to reflect upon what God has spoken to you. What power is there in man more excellent, or more appropriate to the reasonable nature, than its reflective and self-considering power? There is little hope of any good to be done upon your soul, till you begin to go alone and reflect : here all conversion begins. I know, a severer task can hardly be imposed upon a carnal heart. It is a hard thing to bring a man and himself together upon this subject; but this must be, if ever the Lord do your souls good. "Commune with your own hearts." Psa. 4 : 4.
Labor to see, and ingenuously confess the insufficiency of all your other knowledge to do you good. What if you had never so much skill and knowledge in other mysteries? What if you be never so well acquainted with the letter of the Scripture? What if you had an angelical illumination? This can never save thy soul. No, all thy knowledge avails nothing till the Lord show thee, by special light, the deplorable sight, of thy own heart, and a saving sight of Jesus Christ, thy only remedy.
4. Since then there is a common light, and special saving light, which nonc but Christ can give, it is the concern of every one of you to try what your light is. "We know (saith the apostle, 1 Cor. 8 : 1) that we all