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•emption by him ia the gospd. He is the fun of righteousness, that arises in the gospel upon the nations, Mai. iv. 1. When he came in the flesh, then did " the dayspring from on high "tisit us," Luke i. 78. And the light may be laid to ct,me two ways; either,
Fit/I, in the means by which it is conveyed to us; or, Stttndty, in the efficacy of it upon our minds, when it actually ftines in our fouls. Light may come among a people in the Beans, and yet they actually remain in darkness all the while. As .it is ia nature; the fun may be up and a very glorious morning sar advanced, whilst many thousands are drowzing upon their beds, with their curtains drawn about them. Light, in the mtantr we may call potential light. Light, in the mind, we may call atlual light. It is but seldom that light comes ia the means, and continues long among men, but some light must needs actually shine into their souls also; but this actual light >i twofold.
1. Common, and intellectual only, to conviSlion; or, l. special, and efficacious light, bringing the foul to Christy by real conversion, called in 1 Got. iv. 6.-.~-~Gad " shining in"to the heart."
Wherever light edmes, in this last sense, it is impossible that such men should preser darkness before it: Bus it may Come in the means, yea, it may actually shine into the conscience* of nen, by those means, and convince them of their fins, and yet men may hate it, and chuse darkness rather than light. And 'his is the sense of this place, light was come, in the gospel-difpensation among them; yea, it had shined into many of their consciences, galled, and reproved them for sin; but they bated It, and had rather be without such a troublesome inrnarev : In a word, by the coming of light, we r, e here to understand a more clear, and open manisestarion of Christ by the gospel than ever was made to the world before: For we are not to think that there was no light in the world till Christ came, and the gospel was published in the world by the apostles ministry. For Abraham saw Christ's day, John viii. 56. and all the saithful, Wore Christ, saw the promises ft. e.) their accomplishment in Christ asar off, Heb. *i. 13. For it was with Christ, the Sun of righteousness, as it is with the natural fun, " which illuminates "the hemisphere before it actually rises, or shews its body abov* "the horizon *;" but when it rises and fhews itself, the light
* Stl noniuvi conspi&us illuminat orlem* • ~*
is much clearer; so it was in this case. The greater, therefore, was their sin, that rebelled against it, and preserred darkness to light; this was their sin, with its searful aggravation.
Secondly, In a moll just proportion to this sin, we have here the aggravated condemnation of them who sinned against such clear gospel-light: "This is the condemnation," this is the judgment of air judgments, the greatest, and most intolerable judgment; a severer sentence of condemnation than ever did pass against any others that sinned in the times of ignorance and darkness; they live and die impenitent, and unregenerate, how sew soever the means of salvation have been which they have enjoyed, must be condemned; yea, the Pagan world, who have no more but natural light to help them, will be condemned by that light; but " thisis^thecondemnation," (i. e.) such sinning as this is the cause of the greatest condemnation, and sorest punishment, as it is called, Heb. x. 19.
Thirdly, The cause and occasion, drawing men into this sin, and misery, "because their deeds are evil," si. e.) the convincing light of truth put a great deal of vigour, and activity into their consciences which they could not endure. The accusations, and condemnations of conscience are very irksome, and troublesome things to men: To avoid this, they are willing to be ignorant. An enlightened conscience gives an interruption also unto men, In their sinful courses and pleasures; they cannot sin at so easy a rate in the light, as they did in darkness; and this made them hate the light, as a very troublesome thing to them. Thus you see what was the sin, what the punisiiment, and what the cause of both.
Hence the observation is,
Doct. That the greater, and clearer the light it, under "which the impenitent, and unregenerate, do live in this -world; by so much greater, and heavier, •will their condemnation and misery be in the -world to come. '•
Mat. xi. 21, 22. "Wo unto thee Chorazin, wo unto thee "Bethsaida; for if the mighty works which were done in you; "had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented "long ago in sackcloth and ashes: But I fay unto you, it (hall "be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, "than for you." Two things require explication, in the doctrinal part of this point, viz.
1. How light puts a deeper guilt, and aggravation, into sin.
2. Why sin, so aggravated, makes men liable to greater condemnation.
First, We will inquire into the grounds, and reasons, why greater, and clearer light, greatens and aggravates, proportionably, the lins that are committed under it; and it will appear, that it doth so, upon divers accounts.
First, All light (especially evangelical light) is a great preservative from sin, and an excellent means to prevent it: It is the property of light to inform the judgment, and rectify the mistakes and errors of it: and thereby to give check to the affections, in the pursuit of sinful designs and courses: It is a plain case, that many men would never do as they do, if their under standings were better informed, i Cor. ii. 8i " W hich none of "the princes of the world knew; for had they known it, they "would not have crucified the Lord of glory:" It was want of light, and better information which drew them under that horrid, and unparallel'd guilt. Our Saviour also supposes, in the place before cited, that if Tyre and Sidon had enjoyed the same light, and means of grace that Chorazin, and Bethsaida did, they would never have been so sinful as they were: light discovers danger, and thereby overawes, and stops men from proceeding sarther in those paths, and courses, that will run them info it. .. .. ..
Secondly, Sinning under, and against the light, supposes and involves in it a greater contempt and despite of God's authority, than sinning in ignorance and darkness doth: Every man that breaks the law of God, doth not, in the same degree, despise and flight the authority of the law-maker: But when a man hath light to diseover the evil, and the danger of what he doth and yet will dare to do it, what is this, but the treading of God's authority under foot? The casting of his word behind our backs? Wilful sinning is a despiteful sinning against God, Heb. x. 26. it argues a low, and vile esteem of the law of God, which is reverent, and holy; and by so much the more it maketh sin to be exceeding sinful.
Thirdly, Sinning under, and against the light, admits not of those excuses and pleas, to extenuate the offence, which sins of pare ignorance do. Those that live without the sound of the gospel, may say, Lord, we never heard of Christ, and the great redemption wrought by him; if we had, we would never have lived, and acted as we did: and therefore Christ saith, John xv. 22. " If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not *' had sin, but now they have no cleak for-their sio."
The meaning is, that if the gospel-light had not shined among them, their sin had nor been of that deep guilt that now it is: For now it is so foul and heinous, by reason of the light under, and against which it is committed, that they have no pretence, or excuse to extenuate, or mitigate it. .•: w's MtfM
Fourthly, Evangelical light is a very rich favour and mercy as God to men; one of the choicest gifts bestowed upon the labors oil the world; and therefore it is skid, Ptal. cxlvii. 19, 2a. "He ihcweth his word unto Jacob, and his statutes and hit "Jftdgnjents unto ifracl: He hath not dealt so with any naii "01); and as for his judgments they have not known them." Other nations have corn, aad wine, gold, and silver, abundance of earthly delights, and pleasures: But they have not a beam of heaveuly light shining upon them. We may account this mercy small; but God who is best able to value the worth of it, accounts it great. Ho', viii. 12. "I have written unto them the *•' great things of my law." Christ reckoned Capernaum to be exalted unru heaven by the ministry of the gospel in that place. $ow, the greater the mercy is which the light of truth brings with it, by so much the more horrid and hainous must the abusing and despising of it be.
.fifthly, Sinning against the light, argueta Jove to sin, as sia; to naked sin, without any disguise or covert. It is nothing near fy bad for a man through a mistake of judgment, when he thinks that to be lawful, which is indeed finta!; he doth not sow dote with sin, as sin; but he either closes with it as his doty, or, at least, his liberty: 'Tis hard for Satan to persuade many men to embrace a naked sin; and therefore he cloaths it in the habit of a duty, or liberty, and thereby deceives, aud draws men to the commission of it. But if a mao have light shining into his coaseience, aud convincing him that the way, he is in, is the way of sia, quite contrary to the revealed will of God, stripping the fin naked, before the eye of his conscience; fo that he hath Ho covert, or excuse, and yet will persist ia it; this, I say, argues a foul to be in love with sin, as sin. Now as for a man to love grace, as grace, is a folid' argument to prove the truth of his grace ; lo, on the contrary, for a man to love fin, as sin, doth not oaly argue him to be in the state of fin, bur to be in the fore front, and amongst the highest rank as sinners. -Sfc
Sixthly, The greater, and clearer the light is, under and against which men continue in sin, the more roust the consciences of such sinners be suppofed to be wasted, and violated fry such way of firming: For this is a sure rule +, that " the ,f greatest viola tioa of cooscience, is the greatest sin." Consei
, ». .; <6:
f Maxima violatio conscienti* eft maximum ptecatam.
race is a noble, and tender part of the foul of man; it is in the foul, as the eye in the body, very sensible of the least injury; and a wound in the conscience, is like a blow in the eye: But noshing gioes a greater blow to conscience, nothing ib ranch wastes it, and destroys it, as sins against the light do. This" put* a plain force upon the conscience, and gives a dreadful stab to thai oobie power, God's vicegerent in the fool. And thus you see the first thiog made good, that ftght puts deep guilt, and aggravation into fin.
Stcwdiy, In the next place, let us examine why fin, ib aggravated by the light, makes men liable to the greater condemnation: For that it doth so, is beyond all debase, or question; eJse the apostle Peter would not hare f»id of those sinners against! tight, as he doth, xPaft &z1. "that it hadbeen better for them "not to have known the way of righteousness." Nor wowlcf Christ bave told the inhabitants of Chorazin, or Bethsaida, that it should be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgement, than for them. There is a twofold reason-of this.
1. Ex parts Dei, on God's part.
». Ex parte peccatorin,OB the sinner's part.
First, Ex parte Dei, on God's pact, who is the righ-teou* Judge of the whole earth; and will therefore render unto every man according a3 his work. shall be: For shall not the Judge of the whole earth do right? He will judge the world in righteousness, and righteousness requires that difference be made ter the punishment of sinners, according to the different degrees of their sins. Now that there are disserent degrees of fin, is 3bnndantly clear, from what we have lately discoursed, under the former head; where we have shewed, that the light wider which men. fin, puts extraordinary aggravations npon their fins, answerable whereunto, will rhedegrees of punishment be awarded, by the righteous Judge of heaven and earth. The Gentiles, who bad no other light but that dim light of nature, will be condemned, for disobeying the law of Cod written upon their hearts; bat yet, the greater wrath is reserved for them who sin, both against the light of nature, and the light ofthe gospel also: And therefore it is said, Rom. ii. o-. "Tribulation and anguish upon "every soul of man that doth evil'; of the Jew. first, and also of "the Gentile." Impenitent Jews and Gentiles, will all be condemned, at the bar of God; but with this-difserence, to the Jew first, si. e.) principally; and especially, because the light, and mercies which he abused, and; violated; were sar greater than those bestowed upon the Gentiles, "because unto tfrein 5 wete committed the' oracleiof God -." And- God had cot