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seeing the fountain of water that was by her, when she said, “ I will not see the death of my child;" so a good man's eyes may be open, yet they may be held quo ad hoc, as to this or that truth or way: but though they be held, yet I say it is but quo ad hoc, not in regard of all.
Though a good man's eyes may be held from some part of this Scripture light; yet if he be in health, and not under some temptation and spiritual sickness, he doth not shut his own eyes against any Scripture light. A sick man will not endure the opening of the window or casement; but if a man be in health, Set open the window, saith he, that light may come in, though some smoke do come in withal ; I will venture and hazard the smoke, for light I must have, and I cannot be without it. So, if a man be in health for his soul, he calls for the opening of the windows: possibly some errors and smoke may come in with light and truth; yet set the windows open, saith he: but if sickly and weak, he is so afraid of errors and smoke, that he dares not endure the means of further light, but even turns his back, and shuts his eyes against some Scripture light; but a good man in health doth not so.
Though a good man's eyes may be held from some Scripture light and truth, insomuch as he may be in the darkness of some ignorance, yet he knows more than he is able to utter, and he feels more than he can speak. A knowing, learned man, it may be, can utter more of the Scripture than he feels; but a good man feels more than he can utter.
And though some Scripture truths may be hidden from him sometimes, yet he hath his intervals of sight. As with a man in travel, when he comes upon such or such an hill or mountain, he sees the steeples and pinnacles of the town which he is going to; then he comes into a valley, and he loseth the sight of them again; then he comes again to another hill, and then he sees them again. So in our journey or travel to heaven, we see such and such truths to-day, then we come into a valley, and we lose the sight of them; then God raises our hearts again, and we see them again. Thus the saints have their intervals of sight.
And though a good man may be in the dark, yet God doth not leave him so. As it is in the darkness of fears, so in all other darkness. Ye read, Matt. xxviii, that when Christ
rose from the dead, the stone was rolled away from the sepulchre, and they that were about it were in great fear, There were keepers of the sepulchre, whom the Jews had set to watch the same; and there were the godly women, waiting for the resurrection : both were in fear, and in great fear. But the angel appears to Mary and the good women, saying, “ Fear not ye;" ye seek Jesus, he is risen, he is not here, fear not ye. He did not say so to the wicked soldiers that kept and watched the sepulchre; they feared, and he left them in their fears, and in their dark condition. But the good women feared, and were in a dark condition; but the Lord did not leave them in it, but gave them Scripture light to comfort them: “ He is risen, as he said.” So that a good man may be in the dark, yet God will not leave him in his darkness, but even then he hath a light, and a sure light to walk by. And that is the second thing.
Thirdly, This Scripture light is the most excellent, safe and sure light : it is the light of lights; the most excellent light of all under God in Christ. For,
It is a true light. There are many false lights in the world, but Scripture light is the true light. The proper work of light is to make manifest : “ They will not come to the light (saith our Saviour) lest their deeds be made manifest.” Now the light of the Scripture doth manifest things unto us; it is by James compared to a looking-glass. When ye look upon a looking-glass, ye see three things, the glass, yourself, and all the other things, persons, stools or pictures that are in the room. So in looking in the Scripture, this great looking-glass, ye see the truths that are therein contained concerning God and Christ. There is God seen especially, and Christ seen; there also you see yourself, and your own dirty face; there also you see the creatures that are in the room with you, and their emptiness; the emptiness of men, and of all comforts and relations. This is that manifesting light under Christ, that is true light indeed.
As it is a true light, so it is an admirable and wonderful light. For there are the wonderful things of God's law; whereupon David prayed, “ Open thou mine eyes, that I may see the wonderful things of thy law.” There is the light of Christ, who is called a marvellous light; and the more ye look into the Scripture and know, the more ye will
admire. In other knowledges, the more ye know, the less ye admire; amor noti, admiratio ignoti : but in Scripture knowledge, the more light ye have, and the more ye know, the more you will lift up your hands and admire, at your own ignorance and God's grace. It is a most admirable light.
As it is an admirable light, so it is a safe and sure light. Other false lights do lead men into fens and bogs; but we have a more sure and safe light, and the more of it falls upon your eye, the more is your eye preserved. It is not so with outward lights, vehemens sensibile destruit sensorium. Your eye is able to bear a moderate light; but if the light be vehement, your sense is not able to bear it, but is destroyed by it. Not so with this Scripture light, the stronger and more vehement it is, the more it doth perfect the eye of your
it is not destructive, but it is perfective light. Upon which account Austin prayed to God, Sint sacre Scripturæ tuæ deliciæ meæ in quibus nec fallere possum nec falli : 0 Lord, said he, let thy Holy Scriptures be my delights, by which I can neither deceive nor be deceived. This is that safe and sure light indeed.
As it is a safe and sure light, so it is a pleasant and satisfying light. Light is pleasant to the eye, and the eye ordinarily is not satisfied with seeing: but this is that light which doth bring men to rest; for when a man knows what shall he his portion for ever, then his heart is at rest, and not before. Now it is only the Scripture, and the light thereof, which under Christ doth discover and manifest that unto men. “ Stand in the old and good way (saith the prophet), and ye shall find rest.” That way is this Scripture way: if a man once depart from the Scripture, he runs from one error to another, and he rests not. But here is rest to be found. This is that satisfying light which doth bring unto rest.
As it is a pleasant, satisfying light; so it is a full and sufficient light, able to make the man of God perfect unto salvation. “ The law of the Lord is perfect,” Psalm xix; and it makes perfect, else it were no rule of life : for as Austin speaks, the regula must be regulato suo adequata. Surely therefore it is sufficient to administer help unto all conditions. It is a lanthorn to our feet; whatever ground our feet are on, or in what dark place soever, this light can
find them out. What state can you be in, but the Scripture will find a commandment for your rule, and a promise for your assistance and reward. It is able to reach unto all conditions, for it is a full and sufficient light.
As it is a full and sufficient light, so it is a clear light, a light that shineth; it hath no thief in it, as many lights and candles have: not that there are no hard things therein, and difficulties; where is the man that ever was able to untie all the knots and difficulties of Scripture? * Paul's epistles have their hard things to be understood, even in the eyes of Peter, 2nd epist. iii. 16. Yet what truth is in all the Scripture, which is necessary to salvation, but doth lie plain and clear. “For this commandment which I command thee this day, is not hidden from thee, neither is it afar off; it is not in heaven, &c.; nor is it beyond the sea, &c. But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it,” Deut. xxx. 11-14; Rom. x. 6, &c. “Unto you it is given (saith Christ to his disciples) to know the mysteries of the kingdom. If the gospel be hid, it is hid unto them that perish; but we have the mind of Christ," 1 Cor. ii. 16. Surely therefore this light is a clear and a shining light.
As it is a clear light, so it is the best light in the world, the most excellent light, a light beyond all other things which do pretend to light. Seven or eight things there are, in these times, which men do cry up as great lights, whereby many do profess to walk. And those are: 1. Revelations or visions. 2. Dreams. 3. Impressions made upon the heart, with or without a word. 4. Experience. 5. The law and light within. 6. Providence. 7. Reason.
6. Providence. 7. Reason. 8. Judicial Astrology. But now if you compare these lights with Scripture light, ye shall find that this is that only light which doth exceed them all, and that there is no more light in them than what they do borrow from it.
Instance I. Wherein doth this Scripture light exceed or go beyond revelations or visions, and the light thereof ?
This Scripture light, as you have seen, is a full light, a light which did shine forth at once in and by Jesus Christ. Revelations and visions are more particular;
Passimur apertis exercemur obscuris, illic fames pellitur hic fastidium.Austin,
though God did sometimes speak in that way and manner, yet then he spake drop by drop, guttatim; but now he hath in these last days, spoken his full mind by his Son. These were but as the apples which did fall from the tree of wisdom; but in the gospel and Scripture, ye have the whole tree itself. Look therefore what difference there is between the tree, and some particular apple that doth fall from it; so great a difference there is between this and those.
Scripture light is the highest light; Scripture dispensation the highest dispensation: the dispensation of visions and revelations was of a lower rank. When the people of God were in their infancy, they were led much by visions and revelations; that being a dispensation which did most suit with an infant state. And what is the reason that so many christians now do desire visions and revelations, but because they are weak, and upon the return to the law again? The stronger any christian is, the more he doth walk by faith; and the more he doth live by faith, the more he doth choose to walk by the Scripture, the written word of God, the object of faith. It is recorded of Luther, that when he had fasted and prayed a whole day, and then had a vision of Christ, he cried out, and said, Avoid, avoid, thou confounded devil, I know no picture of Christ but the Scripture. Therein is Christ lively pictured, described, and set forth before our eyes : it is not so in revelations and visions.
This Scripture light is a more sure and certain light: for if God should now speak unto you by visions, or visional revelations, how would you know that this were the voice of God, and not a delusion of Satan? Would ye know it by the truth that is spoken; how do ye know the truth but by Scripture ? And who doth not know that the devil will speak an hundred truths that he may croud in one lie amongst them.* Or would ye know that it is a true revelation, and not an illusion, by the high things that should be revealed ? What greater, higher things, than the things of the gospel ? These are the mystery of the kingdom, called the “deep
* Ditamus preterea quoniam non est humanitus regula generalis, vel ars dabilis ad discernendum semper et infallibilitur quæ veræ sunt et quæ falsæ aut illusoriæ revelationes.-Gersom. Tract. de distinctione verarum et falsar. visionum. Tom. i. 175, 176, &c.