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Of Light, The Work Of The First Day.
God said, Let there be light; and there was light.—He covereth himself with light as with a garment.—God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.—Gen. 1:3; Ps. 104:2; 1 John 1:5.
In those words in Job 38:19—“Where is the way where light dwelleth? and as for darkness, where is the place thereof?” it is intimated that the nature of light is very difficult to be explained, and that its original is not to be comprehended by finite understandings. For though we know something of it by means of sight, yet it is but little; however, let us employ that little to promote the glory of God.
2. First, then, we say that light is a noble, subtle, and pure principle, separated from the darkness in the morning of the creation, when God “commanded the light to shine out of darkness.” 2 Cor. 4:6. By this the world is enlightened and comforted, and all its beautiful variety is distinctly known and apprehended. By this, as some think, the light of life was conveyed into the great world, incorporating itself with every creature. From this pure brightness and glorious splendor, light and beauty flowed into the sun, constituting it thereby the great luminary of the day, which it governs and directs. Jer. 31:35. Whence, also, the Creator himself calls the light day. Gen. 1:5, 14.
3. But as it is the duty of a Christian to contemplate the works of God with spiritual eyes, so as therein to see the Creator, and by the work be led to praise the Maker; let us take a nearer view of this subject, and see how the light and the sun bear witness of God and Christ.
4. And the first conclusion that naturally presents itself is this: If God created so beautiful, refreshing, enlivening, clear, and shining a light; how much more lovely, comfortable, and refreshing a light must He be himself? Therefore, the commentator upon St. Dionysius, to the question, “Why God first of all created light?” answers—Because from his own essential light, the visible light almost naturally proceeds, as that which bears the nearest resemblance to his own nature; and therefore he calls light, a 426 little after, “the image of the goodness of God;” adding, that the light in God was transcendent and above comprehension; in angels and men, intelligible; in the sun, visible.
5. And, whereas God made the light, in order that the true external form and beauty of the creatures might be distinctly seen and apprehended, it follows that there is also another secret or concealed light, by which the internal form of the creatures may be likewise known, and from which nothing can be hidden. And this light is the eternal wisdom of God, which, being compared with the natural and created light, has been fitly called the brightness of the everlasting light.
6. Of this St. Dionysius writes in these words. “As the visible light directs, governs, and fills the visible world; so the incomprehensible and heavenly light, fills and enlightens all heavenly spirits. It also purifies the soul from darkness and error, and brings it into communion with the light of God. It is at first no more than a twilight, or faint glimmering of light; but when it is tasted, loved, and desired, then, in proportion to our love, it increases more and more unto the perfect day. Wherefore this transcendent light exceeds all lights, being, as it were, the centre and fountain of them all. From its fulness it enlightens all spirits; and, being the original of all light, it comprehends under it all the degrees of spiritual, angelical, rational, and natural light. And as ignorance separates deluded souls from the light; so the presence of this divine light, collects, unites, perfects, and delivers from ignorance and error, all that are enlightened by it: it converts them to the truth, reducing their various imaginations to the standard of pure and simple truth, and fills their souls with pure and uniform light.” Thus far St. Dionysius.
7. In the light of the sun, also, shines forth the pure, deep, and ardent love of God. For whom did he create the sun? Certainly not for himself, for he needeth not the sun, nor any other created light, being himself a light infinite and eternal. It was for our sakes, therefore, that he created it; so that every ray of light proceeding from the sun, is indeed a ray of divine love towards mankind.
8. And as the eternal wisdom of God is likewise a bright sun, clearly discovering his mercy and beneficence; therefore, according to the nature and properties of the visible sun and light, it may also be called, an image of the divine goodness.
9. The created light determines the order, figures, and distinctions of all created things; for without it, the whole world would be nothing but darkness and confusion. So that upon this account also, the light is an image of the divine wisdom.
10. The created light, by its brightness and splendor, causes everything to turn to it; so the goodness of God draws all things to itself, as the centre and principle of all things.
11. The light of the sun is pure and spotless; so is the love of God towards mankind. Hence also the divine wisdom, being a spotless light, is, agreeably to this property of the sun, the spotless mirror of the divine majesty.
12. As the light flows plentifully and freely from the sun; so the love of God descends plentifully upon us. As the sun shines freely upon all, without respect of persons; so the divine love overflows upon all mankind. As the light proceeds from the nature and essence of the sun; so does the love 427 of God flow from his very nature and essence.
13. Moreover, as God created the external light for the world and visible bodies; so it is worth inquiring, whether he did not at the same time provide an inward and spiritual light for the soul. For God took not less care of the soul, than he did of the body. Now this light of the soul is God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost, the ever blessed and undivided Trinity, by whom our understandings are enlightened through faith. “Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.” Isa. 60:1.
14. Now as the sun enlightens the world, so does Christ enlighten the soul. “That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world” (John 1:9); and is, therefore, called by the prophet Malachi, “The Sun of righteousness.” Mal. 4:2. St. James calls God, “the Father of lights.” James 1:17. The Holy Ghost appeared upon the Apostles in the form of fiery tongues (Acts 2:3); and from this eternal light proceeds the light of grace, the light of wisdom and divine knowledge, the light of truth and life, the light of joy and consolation, the light of God's countenance, the light of faith and all Christian virtues.
15. This light is the chief beauty and glory of the creatures. God is said to be clothed “with light as with a garment.” Ps. 104:2. “The glory of the Lord” (Luke 2:9), is also the beauty of the blessed saints and holy angels. The highest majesty and glory of the elect in the other world, will consist in light and splendor. “The righteous shall shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father” (Matt. 13:43; Dan. 12:3); which is also expressed in the appearance of the woman clothed with the sun. Rev. 12:1. Lastly, as the light is the greatest ornament of this visible world; so the everlasting light shall be the chief glory of the heavenly Jerusalem. Rev. 21:11.
16. The more light any creature has, the more noble it is. This appears from the angels, the sun, moon, stars, and precious stones. So virtue itself is a most glorious light, and all the redeemed in the next world, shall be full of light and glory, and accordingly shall be distinguished, as “one star differeth from another star in glory.” 1 Cor. 15:41.
17. Light is refreshing: and who can doubt but, when the day of eternal light arrives, the blessed saints shall be refreshed with joy unspeakable? Without question, the light of the everlasting Sun of righteousness shall give us infinitely more delight and joy, than this created sun, which only gives light to a world of misery and sorrow.
18. The light awakens those that sleep; so Christ, our light, rouses us from the sleep of sin. “Awake, thou that sleepest, and Christ shall give thee light.” Eph. 5:14.
20. Moreover, as light has a vital power in it; so in Christ, our light, “was life; and the life was the light of men.” John 1:4. “The Lord is my light and my salvation; he is the strength of my life.” Ps. 27:1.
21. As the light cannot be seen but by itself; so God cannot be known but by Himself: “In thy light shall we see light.” Ps. 36:9.
22. As the external light chases 428 away the darkness, and the spirits of darkness; so Christ, who is the light of God in us, chases away unbelief, and all the works of darkness and Satan. God must speak the word in us, as he did at the first creation, “Let there be light!” or we shall for ever remain in darkness. This made the Psalmist say, “Thou wilt light my candle; the Lord will enlighten my darkness.” Ps. 18:28. “To give light to them that sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death.” Luke 1:79. “I saw an angel come down from heaven; and the earth was lightened with his glory.” Rev. 18:1.
23. When the daylight is gone, the moon, regent of the night, arises with a pale lustre: so, without the light of Christ, man is nothing but darkness; and the boasted light of reason is but dim obscurity.
24. And as he would be called foolish, who preferred being enlightened by the moon, rather than by the sun; so are they much more foolish, who prefer the wisdom of this world, to the eternal wisdom of God in Christ Jesus. And as none but a madman would make use of the light of a candle in sunshine; so no man in his senses would think himself more enlightened by worldly wisdom, than by the divine wisdom. Strange madness! that a man should expect more light from the creature, than from the Creator, the Father of lights, God blessed for ever! Whosoever duly apprehends my meaning, has in him the beginning of the divine, eternal, and heavenly wisdom, which is the subject of the whole 119th Psalm.
25. As the sun is the ornament of heaven, so Christ is the ornament of his church, and of the new heaven, and new earth in their future glory, where it will be manifested to all the elect, that he is “the brightness of his Father's glory, and the express image of his person.” Heb. 1:3; Col. 1:15.
26. As dwellings are pleasant, in proportion as they receive the light, so “God dwelleth in light.” 1 Tim. 6:16. And the heavenly Jerusalem is described as full of sweet and refreshing light. “It hath no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God enlightens it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.” Rev. 21:23.
27. Ah the light makes all things clear and plain; so there is nothing in heaven or in earth, no spirit, no being, nor the very thoughts of the heart, that can be hidden from the light of divine wisdom. Heb. 4:12, 13. Hence the Psalmist says, “Thou hast set our iniquities before thee, our secret sins in the light of thy countenance.” Ps. 90:8. And “Thou understandest my thought afar off.” Ps. 139:2.
28. As the light communicates itself to all creatures, and diffuses itself over the world; so God communicates himself to all creatures, particularly to men, delighting most of all in doing them good.
29. Lastly, the light and sun are a witness of the glorification of our souls and bodies at the resurrection. The glorification of our souls is, indeed, in some degree accomplished in this life by the Holy Spirit, according to the words of St. Paul, “We all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” 2 Cor. 3:18. These, however, are but the imperfect beginnings, and first glimpses of eternal happiness; but hereafter both soul and body shall be clothed with everlasting light and glory. Hence St. Paul says, “There is one glory of the 429 sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: so also is the resurrection of the dead.” 1 Cor. 15:41, 42. “They that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness, as the stars forever and ever.” Dan. 12:13.
30. Of this we find an image in the transfiguration of our Lord, when “his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.” Matt. 17:2. This was the heavenly brightness the splendor of the everlasting Sun. So the face of Moses shone like the brightness of the sun, so that the children of Israel could not look upon him. Exod. 34:29; 2 Cor. 3:7. And this was the consequence of only a few days passed in the divine presence. How great then must that glory be, which will be the result of our eternal union and converse with him! The lustre of the face of Moses was terrible to look on, but the glory of Christ was refreshing and comfortable.
31. Rev. 1:14, 16. The eyes of him that had the seven stars in his hand, were “as a flame of fire.” And the same Jesus Christ, who is the eternal light, shall so glorify us at the last day, that our whole bodies shall shine like lightning. Matt. 6:22; Luke 11:36.
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