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spiritual and immortal interests of man, in regard to which reason could afford only plausible conjectures! The powers of the human intellect among the philosophers of the Gentile world, produced works of imagination and genius that have never been surpassed: and yet, on the subject of religion, how erroneous and corrupt their systems, how contradictory their conclusions, how feeble and fluctuating their hopes! (and their views of immortality were interrupted by the gloom of the grave.) Extinguish the light of the glorious Gospel, and darkness covers the spiritual world-man's nature and destiny, his duties and his hopes. In vain will his guilty spirit seek reconciliation and peace, and explore the way of access to the offended Majesty of heaven. In vain will his virtuous powers pant after the full knowledge and enjoyment of the Author of his being, and, turning with disgust from the errors, and sins, and sorrows of this world, look for perfection and bliss in an immortal existence. He sinks into the grave, hoping indeed that it may not close for ever upon his spirit, but yet dreading lest the sceptre of oblivion may for ever rule his slumbers.
My brethren, the light of the glorious Gospel relieves us from these doubts and fears that would alloy all our virtuous joys. Let us often reflect with gratitude on the inestimable gift; on the exalted privilege of being called to the knowledge of God, of Jesus Christ whom he has sent, whom to know is life eternal. Let us not obstruct, by the pride or presumption of human reason, or by impenitence and sin, the illuminating efficacy of the light of the Gospel on our hearts. Humble, submissive, penitent, and obedient, let us seek, by
fervent prayer, that divine illumination and grace by which our faith will daily become more strong and triumphant, and our obedience daily more sincere and holy, until our faith shall terminate in the vision of the transcendent brightness of the divine glory, and our obedience in the rewards of perfect and eternal bliss.
THE MANIFESTATION OF CHRIST TO THE SOUL OF THE BELIEVER.
2 COR. iv. 6.
For 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.
THE glorious renovation of man by the spirit and power of Jesus Christ, is compared by the apostle to the magnificent work of creation, when, at the almighty fiat of God, the beautiful and stupendous fabric of the universe arose from the dark and gloomy void. Not less profound and dreary the chaos into which sin had plunged the moral world. Not less splendid and efficacious that fiat which illuminated the nations that sat in darkness and the shadow of death, with the renovating beams of divine and celestial knowledge. The splendid event which, revealing the new-born Saviour to the wise men of the East, was a sign and pledge of his future manifestation to the whole world, both as a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of his people Israel, the church commemorates at this season. The external illumination of the world by that glorious Sun of Righteousness which arose upon it, dispensing healing in his beams, would be a subject not less appropriate to the season than fruitful of sublime and useful instruction. But to little purpose will the illuminat
ing beams of the Sun of Righteousness be shed around, unless our hearts experience their vivifying power. To our utter condemnation it will tend that light has come into the world, if we choose darkness rather than light. The mind of man, clouded by error and wrapped in sin, resembles that dreary chaos from which God elicited the world. And God, who at the first commanded the light to shine out of darkness, must shine into our hearts, or we shall be ignorant of the knowledge of his glory in the face of Christ Jesus. That Saviour, in whose person, character, and offices, the glory of God shines with the most resplendent lustre, must not only receive our external homage, our nominal acknowledgment and belief-our understandings must discern his excellence and glory, our hearts must experience his illuminating and renovating power, there must be a spiritual manifestation of him to the soul. Then, transformed out of darkness into his marvellous light, redeemed from the bondage of error and dominion of sin into the glorious liberty of the sons of God, we shall discern with clearness, and with the ineffable emotions of transport, the glory of God in the face of Christ Jesus. To this spiritual manifestation of the Saviour to the soul let me then direct your attention, as a subject on which depends your right knowledge of the Saviour and your cordial reception of him, and of consequence your restoration to the image and favour of God, and your everlasting salvation.
And do thou, divine fountain of illuminating grace! let not thy ministering servant speak in vain. In vain indeed will be his most powerful efforts to manifest thy glory, divine Saviour, unless
accompanied by thy quickening spirit. Arise now, then, in the resistless majesty of thy strength; dispel the mists of error, burst the vail of sin which shrouds our hearts, and pour thyself upon them in the benignant effulgence of thy glory, an all-sufficient and almighty Redeemer.
The Saviour must be spiritually manifested to the soul.
I. I shall establish this truth.
II. I shall explain in what this manifestation consists.
1. There must be a spiritual manifestation of the Saviour to the soul.
To establish this truth, it might be necessary for me only to mention that a Saviour, who comes to restore us from error, to redeem us from sin, to effect our redemption, must necessarily exert his power on our souls. There we must discern him, there we must acknowledge him, there we must feel the power of his grace. Our souls are the seat of the vices that are to be subdued; in them are the sources that must be purified before the streams of virtue will flow; in them are the springs of those desires and affections which are to be satisfied with the fulness of divine consolation and love. They must, therefore, be the scene where the Saviour is to display his conquests, to erect the trophies of victory, to exert the sceptre of his grace. Before his enlightening beams the shades of error which envelop our minds must flee away, and the effulgence of divine truth be shed upon them; the upbraidings of conscience, the agonizing pangs of guilt, must be pacified by the merits