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GEN. I. 3. Let there be LIGHT.
“IN THE BEGINNING, GOD created the heavens “ and the earth. And the earth was without “form and void, and darkness was upon the face “of the deep. And God said, Let there be “Light: and there was Light.” In these first words of Revelation we read how God gave light to the NATURAL work]. But he is also the author of spiritual light; and by the same almighty Fiat, he dispelled the darkness of the MoRAL world.
For, “when the fulness of time was come, God “sent forth his son,” who is “the brightness of “his glory, and the express image of his person;” and he said unto the Church, which was to be
illuminated by him, “Arise, shine, for thy Light
is come:” (Is. lx. 1.) and the people which sat
in darkness and in the shadow of death, saw a
GREAT LIGHT. (Matt. iv. 16.)
Now the Scriptures mark a certain analogy between the creation of natural and of spiritual light; and shew that both are produced by an exertion of the same Almighty power. “For “God, who commanded the light to shine out of “darkness, hath shined in our HEARTs, togive the “light of the knowledge of the glory of God in “ the face of Jesus Christ.” 2 Cor. iv. 6. Under the authority of this analogy we may be permitted to inquire, which is the grandest display of the Divine power,<-the creation of natural or of spiritual light? The production of the sun, which shines in the firmament, or spiritual illumination by HIM, who is called “the Sun of “Righteousness;” connected as it is with those stupendous events in heaven and earth, “which “angels desire to look into;”—the incarnation of the Deity; the passion, death, resurrection, and ascension of the Mediator; the coming of the Holy Ghost; the gift of Tongues; the promulgation of the Gospel; and the liberation of millions of souls from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God?—Doubtless, the glory of the spiritual dispensation far transcends that of the natural creation, both in the impor
tance of its effects, and in the extent of its duration.
Let this, then, be our subject, to contemplate the spiritual illumination which comes by Jesus Christ; who, when the world was in darkness, “brought life and immortality to light by the “Gospel.” Of the diffusion of this heavenly Light, we shall notice three distinct Eras. I. The first Era is that of the Promulgation of the Gospel by CHRIST himself. II. The second is the Era of the REFORMATion; when, after that the Christian world had again sunk into darkness, and passed a long night of superst1tion, the beams of truth broke forth with renewed splendor. III. A third Era of Light is the PRESENT PERIod. The Reformed Church, after preserving its purity as long, perhaps, as the primitive Church, began to suffer a general declension, and was in danger of being utterly overthrown by IN FIDELITY. A decorous external profession was indeed observed; and, in our own Church, “the form of sound words” was retained ; but the spirit and power of religion had very genefally departed. By many persons the spiritual influence of the Gospel was not even acknowledged. The effusion of the Divine spirit was not believed to exist in any measure or degree, but was considered as something which was confined to the first age of the Church. But now the vital spirit of our religion hath revived, B Q
and is producing the fruits of the first century. Christianity hath assumed its true character, as “the Light of the world.” The Holy Scriptures are multiplying without number. Translations are preparing in almost all languages ; and Preachers are going forth into almost every region, “to make the ways of God known upon “earth, his saving health among all nations.” I. We are first to review that grand Era of Light, when “the Sun of Righteousness” himself appeared. The period of this event has been observed as an epoch of time by almost all the civilized nations of the world; and with good reason; for the world was in darkness till Christ came, The Spirit of God, indeed, moved upon the face of the earth ; and to the Patriarchs and Prophets an intimation was given that a Light wou LD come ; yet it was true that, with the exception of the chosen people, who were themselves the harbingers of the Light, “darkness “covered the earth, and gross darkness the peo“ple.” This was the state of mankind even in the brightest periods of Greece and Rome. Those nations had made some progress in natural science, and in human learning ; but they were utterly ignorant of THAT science which is chiefly worthy of an immortal crea
ture; namely, the knowledge of their Creator, and of their being's use and end. Such was the state of the moral world, when HE came, who is called “ the DESIRE of ALL “Nations.” (Haggai ii. 7.)—It was not unlike the state of the natural world, at that period of creation when “the earth was without form, “ and void; and darkness was upon the face of “ the deep.” But while mankind were involved in this spiritual obscurity, “The Word was “made flesh,” That eternal Word, “ by whom “all things were made, and without whom was “not anything made that was made,” John i. 3.; —by whom “God made the worlds.” Heb. i. 2.; that same Almighty word which spake at the first creation, said a second time, “ LET THERE “BE LIGHT * and there was Light. “I am “ come,” said our Saviour, “a LIGHT into the “world, that whosoever believeth on me should “not abide in darkness.” (John xii. 46.) Christ . came to reveal “the MystERY which was kept “secret since the world began, but now is “made manifest; and by the Scriptures of the “Prophets, according to the commandment of “ the Everlasting God, made known to all “Nations.” Rom. xvi. 25. What then was this Mystery which Christ came to reveal? He revealed the LovE of God the FATHER