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thirsteth after thee, O God, to see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary," Psalm lxiii. 1, 2, was he not then in such a dark corner as I now speak of? The title of the Psalm tells us, that he was in the wilderness of Judah: and if ye look into 1 Sam. xxvi. ye shall find him complaining thus : “ They have driven me out this day from abiding in the inheritance of the Lord, saying, Go serve other gods,” verse 19. Such a dark place was Capernaum, and Galilee, by the way of the sea, Galilee of the gentiles, where, Matt. iv. 16, it is said, “ The people sat in darkness and in the shadow of death;" yet here did Peter and Andrew dwell, when our Saviour called them to follow him : there did James and John dwell likewise. And as a wicked man may live under the means, and the light shine on him, though he comprehend it not; so it may be the lot and portion of a good man to live, and dwell, and be in a town, or place, or parish, where there is no means and no light shining.
As he may live and dwell in such a place as this, so he may be in some great affliction and persecution; “ for the dark places of the earth are full of the habitations of cruelty :" persecuting times are dark times. When do beasts go forth to their prey? but in the night. And when are thieves bold? but in the night. In times of persecution, the enemies of God's people are very bold, and those beasts do
forth to prey. Surely, therefore, this time is a dark time with the saints.
If a good man may be in such straits, as for the present he doth not see his way before him; then he may be in the dark. Thus it was with Joseph when Mary was first with child; he did not know what to do in the case, until the angel of the Lord appeared to him. Thus it was with David often, especially at Reilah, when he went down to Achish, feigned himself mad, changing his behaviour; and at Ziklag, when his wives and goods were taken from him, and his men thought of stoning him. John xii. 35, “ He that walketh in darkness, knows not whither he goes,” saith our Saviour. And when a man is in such straits, as that he doth not see his way,
then he is in the dark indeed. A good man may be much offended. Times of offences are dark times : “ He that walketh in darkness stumbleth :" and so much as I do take offence, and am stumbled, so much
I am in the dark. Now possibly a good man may be much offended, and stumbled; though he be not offended at the good way of God, and power of godliness, nor at all the saints, yet he
be under much offence: “All you shall be offended (saith our Saviour to his disciples) because of me.” And if a good man may be offended, then he may be in the dark, on a dark ground, and in a dark condition.
As a good man may be offended and stumbled, so he may stumble into some mistakes and errors; erroneous times are dark times: every error is darkness, as truth is light. Now a good man may err; for though he doth see much when his eyes are opened in his first conversion, yet every man doth not see all things; two, or three, or four may see, and have their
eyes open, yet one may see further than another. God hath several truths for several ages and generations: as in a great house there are hangings for every room, and the hangings of this room are not fit for that, and the hangings of that are not fit for another; so God hath several hangings of truth, to furnish several generations; and those that are fit for this, are not fit for that: Non nulla video non visa beato Augustino, says Luther, et rursum multa visuros scio, que ipse ego non video : I see many things, said he, that were not seen to Austin; and those that come after
see those things that I see not. Oh, saith Austin, there is such a depth in Scripture, that I do multo plura nescire quam scire; that I am ignorant of more things than I know. Ye see how it is in a room where there are many pictures; though ye see some of them presently, yet others have a silken curtain drawn before them, which ye see not immediately: so here, though God do reveal much unto you, yet there is a silken curtain that is still drawn before some truths, and therefore even a good man may be much mistaken. “ The Lord hath hid this thing from me,” said Elisha. 2 Kings iv. 27. And when David told Nathan that it was in his heart to build an house unto God; “Go, (said Nathan to him and do all that is in thine heart; for the Lord is with thee.” Yet Nathan, though a prophet, was mistaken, and in an error; for the same night the Lord appeared to him, and told him that this work was reserved for another, not for David. Possibly, therefore, a good man may mistake, even in the things of God, and so be in the dark.
If a good man may be engaged in some division and dissention, then he may be in the dark. Dividing times are dark times; and possibly a great division and dissention may fall amongst good men. So great and sharp a division fell between Paul and Barnabas, that they forsook one another. I read of two good men, whom Epiphanius makes mention of, that were fellow-sufferers for the christian faith, syevelo ouv tapočusuos; and being condemned, and sent to work in the metal mines, there fell so great a difference between them, that they drew a partition wall between them in the mine, and would not hold communion with each other, in the service of Christ, for which they both suffered. Cyprian doth impute the great sufferings and persecutions of the primitive times, unto the discord and dissention of brethren: Imo vero nec venissent fratribus hæc mala si in unum fraternitas esset animata, saith he, Epist. iv. lib. 4. Ye have heard of the difference between Chrysostom and Epiphanius, and of that between Jerome and Ruffinus, and of that between Ridley and Hooper. In Luther's time, the contest was so hot and great and violent, between him with his party, and Zuinglius, Oecolampadius and others, that though they met together with divers princes for reconciliation ; and they did at that meeting draw up several articles of faith, wherein they did all agree, and whereto they did all subscribe; yet Luther would not call the Calvinists, brethren. And in these days of ours, what scuffling is there between brethren, fighting one with another. Why? but because they are in the dark. If brethren fight and scuffle one with another, who will not say they are in the dark ?*
A good man may be under some desertion. God may withdraw from him; and when God withdraws, then he is in the dark. Desertion time is a dark time, and such a cloud as this may go over the heads of the best. Surely therefore it is possible that a very good man may be much in the dark.
* Cupio ex hac vita miguare ut liberater ab immunibus et implacabilibus odiis Theologorum. Melanch. Strigellius Melc. Adam.
Et vidi mare vitreum mixtum igni. Apoc. xv. 2.
Quid autem aliud ignis designet, a que serventis lites et contentiones flagrantes odiis ! ignem veni missurus in teiram inquit Christus, &c. Hujusmodi ignis vagatur per totam Reformatum Ecclesiam quæ vel absumit plurimos vel molesta est reliquis dum restinguere nituntur. Brightm. in Apoc. xv. 404.
And if a good man may be under some temptation and sin, then he may be in the dark. Temptation time is a dark time. When a man cannot see his own hand, though he lift it up before his eyes, then he is in the dark indeed. Now possibly a good man may be in such a temptation, that he shall not be able to see the lifting-up of his own hand in prayer, saying, I go to prayer, but I cannot pray at all; and that which I do perform, it is no duty. Sometimes it is so with him, that he cannot read his own graces nor see them. Though the fish lie playing upon the water, and you may see them in a fair sunshine; yet in a storm or night ye see them not, though they be in the pond or river still. So here, though when the light of God's countenance doth shine upon the soul, he is then able to see and read his own graces ; yet if it be a storm, or the night of temptation, he cannot see them. Why? Not because they are not in his heart and life as before, but because he is in the dark. Possibly therefore a good man may be in the dark, upon a dark ground, and in a dark condition. That is the first thing.
Secondly, Though a good man may be in the dark, yet he hath Scripture light to walk by. God hath not left him comfortless, and without light, in obscure darkness, as the wicked are; but he hath light within him, and that great light of the written word without, “ Whereunto ye do well that
ye take heed (saith the apostle), as unto a light shining in a dark place.” This Scripture light he hath always by him. “To the law and to the testimonies (saith the prophet Isaiah, chap. viii.), if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” It is a dark time which the prophet speaks of, “ For many shall stumble and fall, and be broken, and be snared, and be taken,” verse 15. 66 The Lord hideth his face from the house of Jacob,” verse 17. “ Behold I, and the children whom the Lord hath given me, are for signs and wonders in Israel,” verse 18. “ And they shall look unto the earth, and behold trouble and darkness, dimness of anguish, and they shall be driven to darkness,” verse 22. Yet in this time they have the law and the testimony, that great Scripture light to walk by.
But have not even wicked men this light also of the Scripture, to walk by in their darkness?
I answer, They have it as a blind man hath the sun: the
sun is in the firmament over the head of a blind man, yet it is no light to him. So here.
And though a wicked man doth hear and may read the Scripture, and know many truths which are therein contained, yet he doth not know the greatness of them. A mán may know and say, This is the sun, and this is the light thereof; yet not know the greatness of the sun, and that it is abundantly bigger than the earth. So a wicked man may and doth know many truths, but he doth not see and know the greatness of truths, for he prizeth other things of the world above them. A good man knows the truths of the gospel, and he sees the greatness of them, for he leaves all to follow them.
And though a wicked man may have his eyes open to see many truths of the Scripture, yet in seeing, he doth not see the
same; for as a good man may know natural things in a spiritual way, so he doth know spiritual things in a natural way. A good man seeth the things themselves that are contained in the Scripture; and therefore it is that the knowledge of Christ, is called Christ: “ Till Christ be formed in you,” saith the apostle; that is, till the knowledge of Christ be formed. The thing is put for the knowledge of it. Why? Because in knowing, the saints know the things themselves. Wicked men know and have the notion of them ; for there is a knowledge of things in the notion of 'them, which wicked men may have: and there is a knowledge of the things themselves, which the saints and people of God have.*
But may not a good man's eyes be held from this Scripture light?
Yes, in some things; but though his eyes be held, it is only quo ad hoc, as to this or that truth in particular. When he is converted and brought home to God, then are his eyes said to be opened, then is he anointed with the unction of the Holy One, and doth know all things necessary unto his salvation. Yet as Hagar's eyes though open, were held from
* Duplex est cognitio rei disciplinaris et intuitiva, disciplinaris est per auditum et narrationem solam intuitiva est illa quam ex re presenti et sensu percepta manantem habemus illam infideles et impii multi assequunter in ipsis fidei mysteriis hanc vero minime, ω γαρ μη πιρεα ταύθα τυφλες εςι μυωπιαζων. 2 Pet. i. 9.-Ames. de Lumine Naturæ et Gratiæ.