|« Prev||Chapter X.||Next »|
Showing How The Natural Light In Us Must Disappear, And The Light Of Grace Shine Forth.
God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts.—2 Cor. 4:6.
Whosoever would have a just notion of the light of nature, and the light of grace, must nicely distinguish between the faculties of the soul; that is to say, the reason, the will, and the senses, and the pure essence of the soul. (See below, Chap. XXI.) The light of nature resides in the reason, will, and senses. These faculties, as long as they keep the soul in subjection to them, hinder the divine light of grace from displaying itself in the pure essence of the soul; so that before this can rise, the other must set. For the light of grace is above all sense and reason; yea, is hindered by them. Thou seest, then, how little the natural man can do in divine things—even nothing at all.
2. Let us now consider how the light of grace generally arises in the soul. God has the word of grace, which he has commanded to be preached, and by which he operates; and this word is spirit and life. John 6:63. And though God by his power and providence is everywhere present, yet his proper habitation, in which he peculiarly operates and kindles his divine light, is the soul of man. So that the divine light in the soul proceeds not from the senses, nor from reason, nor any natural faculty; but merely and entirely from the operation of divine grace in the soul. And this is the eternal fountain of comfort, peace, truth, wisdom, and life, the chief and everlasting happiness of the soul. Thus the only happiness of the soul is its union with God, and the operation of his grace: and of this, no creature that has not the image of God, can partake. For nothing but God's own image is capable of his light, his grace, and his wisdom.
3. By this light the soul truly recovers its spiritual strength; that is, understanding, wisdom, and knowledge 398 in the hidden mysteries of God. Hereby also is produced in the soul such a high relish of divine love, so sweet and pleasant, that she has, as it were, an aversion and dislike of everything that is not divine. Hence arise holy desires after goodness, flowing from that inward spring in the soul, without the concurrence of any creature. The creatures indeed can excite in us admiration and joy, but all by external images and impressions; so that we ought carefully to distinguish between these different motions. The light of grace affects the very centre of the soul, beyond the comprehension of sense or reason. So then, the more thou art purified from, and emptied of, the creatures, the more frequently and plenteously shalt thou be refreshed with the visits of divine light and truth. Now from this light arises the knowledge of truth, from which, so soon as a man turns himself, he falls into error. For the region of truth is not without the soul, but within it; and from this light, are darted sometimes such flashes and streams of wisdom as show a man more in an instant than all the men in the world could teach him. Yea, the perception of this light but for a moment, will give the attentive soul more joy, comfort, and happiness than all the creatures in the world can afford. And this is transacted in the inmost recesses of the soul. This is the fountain at which the royal prophet David drank, as he tells us: “Thou, through thy commandments, hast made me wiser than mine enemies; for they are ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers; for thy testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the ancients, because I keep thy precepts. I have refrained my feet from every evil way, that I might keep thy word.” Ps. 119:98-101. Thus speaks David, who, through that whole Psalm, makes it his prayer and request to God that he would let the divine light shine, and the divine Word speak, within him; that so, by the fear of God, and the diligent keeping of his commandments, he might securely preserve this great internal treasure. Upon which account he says that “the law of God was better unto him than thousands of gold and silver.” Ps. 119:72. In short, the soul that is sensible of the value and sweetness of this inward and heavenly treasure, can have no relish or esteem for the pomps and pleasures of this world; but will say with Solomon, “Vanity of vanities; all is vanity.” Eccles. 1:2.
4. But as this light cannot shine in a wicked soul (for “what communion hath light with darkness?” 2 Cor. 6:14), and yet is the greatest blessing of the soul, therefore holy David prays (so ardently (Ps. 119), so devoutly, yea, he falls into eloquence so copious as to astonish the reader), that it would please God to protect him from the darkness of sin, and keep him in his fear. Indeed, so exceedingly plentiful is this light, so wonderful is its charity, that, like a flash of lightning, it often strikes the hearts of wicked men, warning them of approaching ruin, and, as it were, snatching them from the jaws of destruction; which is undoubtedly the effect of this illumination. And in this sense, “the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehendeth it not.” John 1:5. Now this divine light is hindered from displaying itself in the bottom of the soul by the restless activity of the external senses. For as the ear is perpetually longing to hear, the eye always employed in seeing, and the heart constantly taken up with external 399 objects, this scatters and distracts the powers of the soul. Whereas, the light of grace cannot shine except in the most settled and composed frame of spirit; so that from this inward principle of light, the senses, the reason, the understanding, the will, and the memory, might be replenished with light and wisdom. For the enlightened soul neither sees, nor hears, nor speaks as before. It speaks no more the superficial language of the natural man, but words full of spirit and life. And now the enlightened soul begins in spirit to contemplate the glory of God, sighing after Him, and saying: “O God, who art most beautiful to my eyes, most sweet to my mouth, most charming to my ears, most dear to my heart!” The works that such a soul performs, are no longer her own, but the works of God; and so much the more noble than her own, as God is more noble than all creatures. Then also she comes to understand, that blessedness cannot be the reward of her own works, but is the gift of the grace of God. So likewise she finds more contentment when she suffers God to act in her, than when she works and labors herself; for by this means she has joy and comfort in all her actions, as knowing that they are all wrought in God. John 3:21.
|« Prev||Chapter X.||Next »|
►Proofing disabled for this book
► Printer-friendly version