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be of real use and benefit to them, to improve those advantages and opportunities, which they were like to enjoy but a little while ; Then said Jesus unto them, Yet a little while is the light with you ; walk while we have the light, left darkness come upon you ; for he that walketh in darkness, knoweth not whither he goeth.
ret a little while is the light with you. This our Saviour speaks of himself, and his personal presence and teaching among them ; Yet a little while is the light with you: for so he frequently calls himself and his doctrine. John ïïi. 19. Light' is come into the world. John viii. 12. I am the light of the world: be that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but Mall have the light of life ; that is, such a light as will direct him in the way to eternal life ; and John ix. 5. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.
Walk while ye have the light. Light is the oppor. tunity of action, and going about our bufiness, and therefore it is joined with walking and working, as in the text I mentioned before, I am the light of the world ; he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness. And John ix. 4. where the continuance of this opportunity of light is called the day, and the ceasing or withdrawing of it, the night: I must work the works of him that rent me, says our Lord, while it is day : the night cometh, when no man can work.
Left darkness come upon you. And this will be a dismal and fatal time, when all opportunity of walking and working will be at an end ; for when the light hath left us, we shall not be able to see what to do, or whither to go, as our Saviour adds to inforce his exhortation of making use of the present advantages and opportunities. Walk while ye have. the light, left darkness come upon you : for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth.
All this our Saviour plainly speaks to the Jews, with relation to his own personal presence and preach
ing among them, which he tells them would shortly cease, and be at an end. In which sense these words do not concern us, but only the Jews at that time, to whom they were spoken ; but by an equality of reason, the advice here given by our Saviour, 'first and immediately to the Jews, inay be recommended to us, in the general reason and intention of it ; to us, I say, who, though we do not enjoy the light of Christ's personal presence, yet we have the light of his doctrine, and the power and presence of his Spirit going along with it, and supplying the absence of his person, so that in effect we have all the ad. vantages and means of salvation, which the Jews had ; and we know not how long they may be continued, or how soon they may be taken from us ; and therefore the general reason and intendment of this advice concerns us equally with the Jews, and considering the uncertainty of the continuance of the means and opportunities of salvation, either to a particular people or person, we may very well ap. ply these words of our Saviour to ourselves, and as it 'they had been spoken by him to us as well as to the Jews; Yet a little while is the light with you ; walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you ; for be that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth.
Abstracting then from the particular occasion and meaning of the words, I shall prosecute the general reason and intention of them, as it may be accommodated to us, and that in these following par. ticulars : :
First, As we have the like means and opportunities
Secondly, In that the season of their continuance is uncertain to us, as well as it was to them, we know not how long they may be continued, nor how soon they may be taken from us.
Thirdly, In that the same duty and obligation lies upon us, of improving the present advantages and opportunities which we enjoy. Walk while ye have the light.
you. X. . i : .. . Fourthly;
Fourthly, In that we may justly apprehend the like danger and dismal consequence of being deprived of those happy opportunities and advantages. Lest darkness come upon you ; for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth. · Fifthly, I shall consider by what things God is more especially provoked, to deprive a people of the means and opportunities of grace and salvation.
And then, lastly, What is the way and means to prevent so dismal a judgment, and procure, if it may be a lengthening of ourjtranquillity. I shall go over these particulars as briefly as I can. .. - First, That we have the like means and opportu. nities of grace and salvation, as the Jews had ; not the very fame in kind, and all the circumstances of them, as I noted before, but the same equivalently, and in substance, and to all the purposes of our e. ternal salvation and happiness, if we make a right use of them. The. Jews had the personal presence and preaching of Christ among thein ; they did con
presence, and heard him teach in their streets; which was a very valuable and signal privilege, vouchrafed only to that people, and only in that age. For as to his perfonal prefence and conversation; he was not rent, but only to the loft meep of the house of Israelo - But we have still the same means and advantages in substance, which they had ; the gospel is preached to us, as well as to them ; we have all the light and direction concerning our duty, and all the en. couragement to holiness and obedience which they had ; and there is still the same inward operation and concurrence of God's Holy Spirit, accompa. nying his word, and making way for the entertainment of it ; if there be but the same obsequious. ness of faith in us, and readiness to receive the truth in the love of it, that we may be saved.
Nay we have feveral advantages above them; that the Chriftian religion does not ly under those prejudices in respect of us, which it did with them ; it hath beesi now for many ages received and establish
ed ed among us, and the prejudice of education is on its side, and it hach had great and manifold con. firmation given to it, lince our Saviour's tiine, by the wonderful success and prevalency of it in the world, notwithstanding all the disadvantages it lay under, and the mighty opposition that was raised against it, by the remarkable fulfilling of many of our Saviour's predictions concerning the final de struction of the temple at Jerusalem, and the desolation of that city, and the dispersion of the Jewish nation over the world, and their being hated of all nations, which hath now continued for above sixteen hundred years, and we see it at this day, as if the providence of God had ordered it on purpose, for a standing monument and testimony in all ages, of the truth of the Christian religion. .. .. 1
So that, blessed be God, there is no want of means to bring us to the knowledge of the truth, that we may be saved ; no want of evidence to confirm to us the truth of this religion ; there is nothing wante ing on God's part; if there be any failure and de fect, it is on ours, who will not walk in the light, while we have it ; nor know in this our day the .things which belong to our peace, before they be hid
from our eyes. . Secondly, The season of the continuance of these means of grace and salvation, which are afforded to us, is uncertain to us, as well as it was to them. We know not how long they may be vouchsafed to us, nor how foon they may be taken away from us Yet a little while the light is with you, saith our Saa viour to the Jews, meaning, that he himself should shortly be put to death, and reinoved from them. This is not just our case : but thus far it agrees, that the light of the gospel, and the blessed oppor. tunities which thereby we enjoy, are of an uncer. tain continuance, and may be of a lesser or longer duration, as God pleaseth, and according as we make use of them, and demean ourselves under them. I remember there is is a very odd passage in Mr. Herbert's poems, which whether it be only the
prudent conjecture and foresight of a wise man, or there be something more prophetical in it, I cannot tell ; it is this :
Religion stands on tiptoes in our land,
The meaning of it is this, that when the vices of Italy shall pass into France, and the vices of both shall overspread England, then the gospel will leave these parts of the world, and pass into America, to visit those dark regions, which have so long fat in darkness and the padow of death. And this is not so improbable, if we consider, what vast colonies in this last age have been transplanted out of Europe into those parts, as it were on purpose to prepare and make way for such a change. But however that be, considering how impiety and all manner of wickedness do reign among us, we have too much cause to apprehend, that if we do not reform and grow better, the providence of God will find some way or other to deprive us of that light, which is so abused and affronted by our wicked and lewd lives ; and God seems now to say to us, as our Lord did to the Jews, Yet a little while is the light with you i walk while ye have the light, left darkness come upon you. I proceed to the
Third particular, that there is the same duty and obligation upon us, that was upon the Jews, of im. proving the present advantages and opportunities of salvation, which we enjoy : and our Lord says to us, as well as to them, Walk while ye have the light. He expects from us, that we should make use of those blessed opportunities, and answer those manifold ada vantages, which are afforded to us, above most nations of the world ; that we should improve our knowledge in religion, and advance daily in the. practice of it ; that we should work while it is day,