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is less than nothing. The sun is a goodly globe of light: the visi. ble world hath nothing so glorious, so searching : and yet there are many things lie hid within the bosom of the earth and sea, which his eye never saw, never shall see. Neither can it ever see more than half the world at once : darkness, the while, enwraps the other: nor, indeed, of any much lesser (if round) body. And, though it give light unto other creatures, yet it gives not light to itself: like as our eye sees all other objects; but itself, it cannot see. And, though it enlighten this material heaven both above and below itself, as also this lower air and earth; yet the Empyreal Heaven transcends the beams of it, and is filled with a more glorious illumination. But, God, the Light of whom we speak, who is the Maker of that sun, sees the most hidden secrets of earth and hell; sees all that is done in earth and heaven, at one view; sees his most glorious self; and, by his presence, makes Heaven. Most justly, therefore, is God Light by an eminence.
Now the REFLECTION of the first quality of light upon us, must be OUR CLEAR APPREHENSION OF GOD, THE WORLD, AND OURSELVES: and, by how much more exact knowledge we shall attain unto of all these, by so much more do we conform ourselves to that God who is Light; and, by how much less we know them, so much more darkness there is in us, and so much less fellowship have we with God. If the eye have not an inward light in itself, let the sun shine never so bright upon it, it is nevertheless blind. What are we the better for that which is in God, if there be not an inward light in our souls to answer and receive it? How should we love and adore God, if we know him not? How shall we hate and combat the world, if we know it not ? How shall we value and demean ourselves, if we know not ourselves? Surely the want of this light of knowledge is the ground of all that miserable disorder, which we see daily break forth in the affections, in the carriages of men. I know the common word is, that we are fallen into a knowing age: such as wherein our speculative skill is wont to be upbraided to us, in a disgraceful comparison of our unanswerable practice. Our forward young men out-run their years; and brag that there is more weight in the down of their chins, than in the grey beards of their aged grandsires. Our artificers take upon them to hold argument with, and perhaps control their teachers : peither is it any news for the shop-board to contest with the schools : every, not Knight or Rook only, but Pawn too, can give check to a Bishop. The Romish Church had lately her ShePreachers, till Pope Urban gagged them : and our gossips now at home, instead of dresses, can tattle of mysteries; and censure the pulpit, instead of neighbours. Light call you this ? No: these are fiery flashes of conceit, that glance through vain minds to no purpose; but idle ostentation, and satisfaction of wild humours, without stability or any available efficacy to the soul. Alas, we are wise in impertinencies; ignorant in main truths! neither doth the knowledge of too many go any deeper, than the verge of their brains, or the tip of their tongue. I fear, true solid knowledge is not much less rare, than when our unlettered grandfathers were wont to court God Almighty with false Latin in their devotions: for, did the true light shine into the hearts of men, in the knowledge of God, the world, themselves, how could they, how durst they live thus ? Durst the lewd tongues of men rend the holy name of God in pieces with oaths and blasphemies, if they knew him to be so dreadful, so just, as he hath revealed himself ? Durst the cruel oppressors of the world grind faces, and cut throats, and shed blood like water, if they were persuaded that God is a sure revenger of their outrages? Durst the goatish adulterer, the swinish drunkard, wallow in their beastly uncleanness, if they knew there is a God to judge them, a hell to fry in ? Durst the rebellious seditionary lift up his hand against the Lord's Anointed, and that under a colour of religion, if the fool had not said in his heart, There is no God? Could the covetous fool so admire and adore his red and white earth ? Could the ambitious so dote upon a little vanishing honour, as to sacrifice his soul to it, if he knew the world? Could the proud man be so besotted with self-love, as that he sees his God in his glass, if he knew himself? Surely then, the true light is as rare, as it is precious: and it is as precious, as life itself; yea, as life eternal: This is eternal life, to know thee; and whom thou hast sent, Jesus Christ; John xvii. 3. What were the world, without light; and what the soul, without the light of knowledge ? We condemn malefactors to darkness : that is one great part of the horror of their durance : and by how much more heinous their crime is, so much darker is their dungeon. Darkness of understanding then, is punishment enough alone: as it is also the entry into hell, which is described by blackness of darkness. None, but savage creatures, delight in darkness : man naturally abhors it in all things. If our eyes be dim, we call for glasses : if our houses be dark, we make windows: if the evening grow dark, we call for lights; and if those lights burn dim, we call for snuffers : and shall we avoid darkness in every thing, except our souls, which is our better and more divine part ? Honourable and Beloved, as we love and tender those dear souls of ours, let us labour to furnish them with the light of true and saving knowledge. What is this Gospel, which shines thus daily and clearly in your faces, but the Vehiculum lucis, “ The carriage of that heavenly light” to the world? Send forth thy Light and thy Truth; saith the Psalmist. Thy Word is Truth; saith our Saviour. That word of Truth then, is the body of that Light, which God shows to men. Oh, let it not shine upon us in vain : let us not trample upon the beams of it in our floor; as that foolish woman, that St. Austin speaks of, did to those of the sun, with a Calco Manichorum Deum. But now, while God gives these happy opportunities, let us enlarge our hearts to receive it with all joy and thankfulness. And, if Moses, by conferring with God but forty days and nights in the delivery of the Law, had a glorious brightness in his face; oh, let us, that more than forty years have had conversation with God in his Gospel, shine with the resplendent beams of heavenly knowledge. And, if the joys of heaven are described by Light, surely the more lightsome our souls are here, the nearer they come to their blessedness. Light is sown from the righteous ; saith the Psalmist. Lo, here is the seed-time of light : above, is the harvest. If the light of saving knowledge be sown in our hearts here, we shall be sure to reap the crop of heavenly glory hereafter.
And this is the first quality of Light, with the reflection of it upon us.
II. The next follows, which is PURITY.
Of all the visible creatures, that God hath made, none is so pure and simple as the light. It discovers all the foulness of the most earthly recrements: it mixeth with none of them ; neither is possibly capable of the least corruption. Some of the best interpreters therefore, have taken this metaphor of light to imply the purity and perfect goodness of God: in whom, as there is an infinite clearness of understanding, so also an infinite rectitude of will; insomuch as his will is the rule of all right: neither doth he will ought, because it is good; but therefore it is good, because he wills it. Goodness hath no less brightness in it, than truth; and wickedness, as it is never without error, so it is no less dark than it.
Justly, therefore, is God all Light, in that he is all pure and good. And the REFLECTION of this quality upon us must be our HOLINESS : for This is the will of God, even our sanctification. The more holy then we are, the more we conform to him that is Light. The way of the just is as the shining Light, that shineth more and more. As, contrarily, sins, are the works of darkness: the mover of them, is the Prince of Darkness: the agents of them, are the sons of darkness : and their trade, is walking in darkness, as it follows in my Text; and the end of them, is utter darkness. While he says then, Be Holy as I am Holy, he doth as good as say, ye Light as I am Light.” Ye were darkness ; but now, it is God's own phrase, Lux estis, ye are Light in the Lord; saith St. Paul to his Ephesians. Justly therefore doth it follow, Walk as children of the Light : in right ways; with straight steps. And, surely, if God be Light and we darkness, what interest can we claim in him? For, what communion is there betwirt light and darkness ? Oh the comfortable and happy condition then of those, that are in God! they are still in Light. Truly the light is sweet, saith wise Solomon; and a pleasant thing it is for the eyes to behold the sun : as, on the contrary, it is a woeful and disconsolate estate to live in any sin. This is no other, than to be dungeoned up in a perpetual darkness. The Egyptians were even weary of themselves, for a three days' darkness: how irksome had it been, to have lived always so! I have read a book of one Haitonus, a monk of the order of the Præmonstratenses; a cousin, as he says, of the then king of Armenia; written some three hundred and forty years ago, set forth by one Nicholas Salcon and dedicated to Pope Clement the Vth; where, with much confidence, he affirms, that, in the country of Georgia, there was a certain province, called Hamsen, of three days' journey about, so palpably dark continually, as that no man VOL. V.
could see his hand in it: that the inhabitants of the borders of it might hear many times in the woods, the noise of men crying, of horses neighing, of cocks crowing; but no man durst venture to go unto it, because he could not find the way out again: which he says, with much earnestness, that he saw. Neque credidissein, saith he, nisi propriis oculis persperissem : reporting it to have been a miraculous judgment upon some Persian persecutors of the Christians in that place. I list not to enquire into the likelihood of the story. It might be some temporary judgment, as that was upon Egypt for the time; and now long since vanished. But imagine ye the truth of that, which he dares with so deep protestations avow: and conceive the condition of all wilful sinners, who live shut up in a region of thick darkness, whence they can no more get out, than they can be capable of any comfort within ; and, when they have wearied themselves in those wretched mazes of vanity, they are shut up in the utter darkness of the dreadful pit of eternal death Oh then that willing sinners, be they never so gay and glorious, could but apprehend the misery and horror of their own estate in this behalf! Certainly, it were enough, to make them either mazed or penitent. For, what is darkness, but a privation of light ? Now, God is Light: and sin deprives us of God's presence, and shuts us out from the face of God; and, if in his presence be the fulness of joy, then in his absence is the fulness of sorrow and torment. Neither have the Schools determined amiss, that the pain of loss is more horrible than the pain of sense : so as that darkness, which our sin causeth in the alienation and absence of the light of God's countenance, is, without his great mercy, the beginning of an utter exclusion from the beatifical face of God, and of that utter darkness of hell. For us, as we profess ourselves the Children of the Light, so let us walk in the Light. And what light is that? Thy law is a Light to my feet; saith holy David. Lo, this is the light, wherein we must walk; that, so walking in the light of his law, we may happily enjoy the light of his countenance; and may come, at the last, to the light of his glory : so, in his light we shall see light; Psalm xxxvi. 9.
This, of the second quality of the Light, and the reflection of it. III. The third and last follows: DIFFUSIVENESS.
It is this, which learned Estius thinks to be mainly driven at in this place, That God is therefore Light, because he is the fountain and cause of Light to all creatures that do enjoy it: and, indeed, what light is there, which is not from him; natural, moral, divine For the Natural: it was he, that said, Fiat Lux, Let there be Light, in the first day: it was he, that recollected that diffused light into the body of the sun, in the fourth day : that goodly globe of light receives from him those beams of light, which it communicates to the moon, stars, sky, and this other inferior world. What light of intellectual or Moral virtue ever shined in the heart of any man, but from him? The spirit of man is the candle of the Lord, searching all the inward parts of the belly ; Prov. xx. 27. What light of Divine knowledge or holiness ever brake forth upon any saint or angel, but from his blessed irradiation, and Device? Justly, therefore, is he Pater Luminum, The Father of Lights : and, as the child oft-times resembles the father, this quality the light hath from God, that it is wondrously diffusive of itself; reaching forth itself largely, in very quick and instantany motions, to all those things, which are capable of it. Other creatures, though beneficial, yet impart themselves more sparingly unto us. The Earth yields us fruit; but it is only perhaps once a year, and that not without much cost and angariation, requiring both our labour and patience: the Clouds do sometimes drop fatness; but at great uncertainties; other while they pour down famine upon our heads : the Sea yields us commodities both of passage and sustenance; but not without inconstancy and delays, and oft-times takes more in an hour than it gives in an age; his favours are local, his threats universal : but the Light is bountiful, in bestowing itself freely with a clear, safe, unlimited largess upon all creatures at once, indifferently, incessantly, beneficially.
The REFLECTION of this quality upon us should be our DIFFUSIVENESS : that we should so be lights, as that we should give light; so have light in ourselves, that we should give it unto others. The prophet Daniel, who was a great philosopher and astronomer in his time, tells us of a double shining or light: the one, as of the firmament; the other, as of the stars : the one, a general light, dispersed through the whole or body of the sky; the other, a particular one, compacted into the bodies of those starry globes, which are wont to be ca!led the more solid piece of their orb. Thus it is in the analogy of the spiritual light. There is a general light, common to all God's children : whereof our Saviour ; Let your light shine so before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Faiher, which is in heaven : Thus the great Doctor of the Gentiles exhorts his Philippians, that they be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom, saith he, ye shine as lights in the world ; Phil. ii. 15. There is a particular light, proper to several vocations; especially those, that are public and encharged with the care of others, whether spiritual or civil. Of the one, you know what our Saviour said in the Mount, Vos estis lux mundi : of the other, you know what God said in David's case, Psalm cxxxii. 17. I have ordained a lamp for mine anointed ; that is, a glorious successor.
To begin with the latter. Princes and governors are and must be lights, by an eminence: for God is Light, and he hath called them Elohim ; Gods ; Exod. xxii. 28: so as they must imitate God in shining to the world; sending forth the rays, both of good example and of justice and judgment, into the eyes of their people. An ordinary star-light is not enough for them : they are the vicegerents of him, who is Sol Justitiæ ; the Sun of Righteousness ; Mal. iv. 2: they must fill the world, therefore, with their glorious beams; and give so much more light, as their orb is higher, and their globe more capacious. And, blessed be God, what beams of light our sun sends forth of temperance, chastity, piety, mercy,