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of trial; reproving and yet pardoning the deficiencies of their faith.
All the miracles of Christ are after this pattern; they are signs of salvation in all ages, and admit of a general application to every member of the church, with whom the same miraculous power is still present, and acting for the highest purposes, though invisible to mortal sight.
To one or other of these five heads, the spiritual language of the scripture may be reduced, and from them the matter of it is borrowed : 1. From the images of nature, or visible things as representations of things invisible. 2. From the institutions of the law, as prefiguring the things of the gospel. 3. From the persons of the prophets, as types of the great prophet and Saviour that was to come. 4. From the history of the church of Israel as an ensample to the christian world. 5. From the miraculous acts of Moses, Christ, and others, as signs of the saving power of God towards the souls of men. All these things compose the figurative language of the bible ; and that interpretation which opens and applies them to the objects of faith, is called a spiritual interpretation; as being agreeable to that testimony of Jesus, which is the spirit of prophecy.
I have been thus particular in the division of my subject, that by understanding at the beginning what my design is in the whole, it may always be known, as I proceed in it, what part I am upon.
Of this figurative language, the elements first to be understood are those which are borrowed from the images of nature. And here a vast field is open to us, as wide as the world itself. If we consider it in due order, we must begin with the creation ; which, as related in the book of Genesis, is a pattern of the nou
creation in Christ Jesus ; and is so applied by the apostle; God who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ *.. Till this light shines in the heart of man, he is in the same state as the unformed world was, when darkness lay upon the face of the deep: and when the new creation takes place, he rises in baptism, as the new earth did from the waters, by the spirit of God moving upon them.
The lights of heaven in their order are all applied to give us conceptions of God's power, and shew us the glory of his kingdom. In the 84th Psalm, the Lord is said to be a sun and a shield; a sun to give light to his people, and a shield to protect them from the power of darkness. Christ, in the language of the prophet, is the sun of righteousness, who as the natural sun revives the grass, and renews the year, brings on the acceptable year of the Lord, and is the great restorer of all things in the kingdom of grace; shining with the new light of life and immortality to those who once sat in darkness and in the shadow of death. And the Church has warning to receive him under this glorious character : Arise, shine, for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee t. When he was manifested to the eyes of men, he called himself the light of the world, and promised to give the same light to those that follow him. In the absence of Christ as the personal light of the world, his place is supplied by the light of the Scripture, which is still a lamp to our feet, and a light unto our paths. The word of prophecy is as a light shining in a dark place ; and as we study by the light of a
lamp, so we must give heed to this light, if we would see things to come.
The moon is used as an emblem of the Church; which receives its light from Christ as the moon does from the sun: therefore the renovation of the moon signifies the renovation of the Church; as a sign of which, the new moons were appointed to be observed as religious festivals under the law; and the apostle tells us they were a shadow of things to come ; and the substance of that shadow is known from the nature of the case, and the relation which the moon bears to the sun. · The angels or ruling ministers in the seven churches of Asia are signified in the book of Revelation by seven stars in the right hand of Christ : because his ministers hold forth the word of life, and their light shines before men in this mortal state, as the stars give light to the world in the night season; of which light Christians in general partake, and are therefore called children of light.
This natural image of the light is applied to so many great purposes, that I must not dismiss it without making some farther use of it.
You see, our God is light; our Redeemer is light; our Scripture is light; our whole religion is light; the ministers of it are light; all Christian people are children of the light, and have light within them. If so, what an obligation is laid upon us, not to walk as if we were in darkness, but to walk uprightly as in the day, shewing the people of this world, that we have a better rule to direct us than they have. If we who have the light walk as they do who are in darkness, the same darkness will assuredly come upon us; we shall understand nothing; we shall care for nothing; the light that is within us will be changed into darkness; and
then, vanity and confusion will be the consequence, as to those who walk in the dark through a perplexed and dangerous path: and better would it be not to have had the light, than to be answerable for the guilt of having extinguished it and turned it into darkness. This is the moral doctrine to be derived from the usage of light in the sacred language.
Here I would also observe, that the figures of the scripture necessarily introduce something figurative into our worship; of which I could give you several instances : but I shall confine myself to the matter now before us. The primitive Christians signified their relation to the true light, and expressed a religious regard to it, by the outward form of worshipping with their faces towards the east : because there the light first arises out of darkness, and there the day of true knowledge arose, like the sun, upon such as lay buried in ignorance. To this day our churches, especially that part which is appropriated to the most solemn act of christian worship, is placed towards the east; our dead are buried with their faces to the east : and when we repeat the articles of our faith, we have a custom of turning ourselves to the east. The primitive christians called their baptism their illumination ; to denote which, a light was put into the hands of the person after baptism, and they were admitted to hear the lectures of the catechists in the church, under the name of the illuminated. The festival of Christ's baptism was celebrated in the month of January with the ceremony of a number of lighted torches. When the converts repeated the confession of their faith at baptism, they turned themselves to the east; and to the west when they renounced the powers of darkness. In the modern church of Rome this ceremony of worshipping to the east has been abused, and turned into
an act of adoration to the altar ; on account of which, some Christians who have heard of the abuse of this ceremony, without knowing the use of it, have rejected that as an act of superstition, which has an edifying sense, and was practised in the days of the apostles, before any superstition had infected the Church. As such only I would recommend it to observation *. · In the element of air, which comes next in order to be considered, we have a figure of the Holy Spirit, which worketh imperceptibly as it listeth, while we cannot tell whence it cometh, nor whither it goeth. The operations of the divine Spirit, are like those of the air, necessary to life; the one to the natural life, the other to the spiritual : and as the air gives the breath of speech, so the Holy Ghost gives the utterance of inspiration: therefore he descended on the day of Pentecost under the outward sign of a rushing mighty wind from heaven ; and in consequence of it, the apostles spake as the Spirit gave them utterance; and their sound went out into all lands.
The element of water, which washes and purifies the body, is used to signify the inward cleansing of the soul from sin, by the washing of grace in baptism : and all the purifications by water under the law had the
* An excellent sermon, which ought never to be forgotten, and which I carried through the press, when I was an under graduate at Oxford, was published on Christ the light of the world, from a verse of the 19th Psalm, by my admired, beloved and lamented friend, the late Rev. George Watson, once a fellow of University College, to whose early instructions and example I have been indebted in most of the literary labours of my life. Many extraordinary men have I seen ; but for taste in classical literature, and all works of genius ; for a deep knowledge of the inspired writings ; for readiness of speech and sweetness of elocution; for devout affection towards God, for charitable goodness of heart, and elegance of manners, I never met with one that exceeded him.