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CH A P. I. Of illlumination. I. The distinguishing cha
racters of illuminating truths. 1. They purify us. 2. They nourish and strengthen us. 3. They delight us. 4. They procure us a glorious reward. II. The nature of illuminating knowledge. 1. It must be deeply rooted. 2. It must be distinct and
3. It must be thoroughly concocted. $. HAT it is. It happens in the
point of illumination, as it does in that of happiness: all men, at first hearing, form in general an agreeable and pleasing notion of it; all men admire and love it; but few have any distinct and true understanding of those things which ’tis made up
of. All men conceive illumination to be a state of light and knowledge, as they do happiness to be a state of pleasure : but are as little agreed in particular, wherein consists the light or knowledge which makes the one, as wherein consists the pleasure that makes the other. The lust and passion of fome, the superstition and prejudice of others; curiosity and confidence, weakness and design, enthusiasm and fancy, embroil and perplex all things. However, every honeft man hath a clue, by which he may escape out of this labyrinth. The scripture shines with bright and gracious beams
throughout all this darkness : and, if we will attend to it, we cannot wander into any dangerous mistake. This describes the state of illumination very plainly to us, calling it sometimes wisdom, sometimes knowledge and understanding i fometimes faith, sometimes the spirit of wisdom and revelation. Next, it acquaints us with the dehgn and end of it ; namely, to convert us from the power of Satan to the fervice of the living God, to purify and fanctify us, to enable us to approve the holy, acceptable, and perfect will of God, and, in one word, to make us wise unto salvation. Nay, it proceeds further, and points out to us particularly the truths, in the knowledge of which illumination consists. Thus the Old Testament reckons wisdom to be, sometimes the knowledge of God, sometimes the knowledge of his law, sometimes the understanding of proverbs and parables; these containing as it were the soul of moral instruction, and wrapping up in a few and lively words, whatever the experience of the aged, or the observation of men of the most piercing judgment, thought best deserved to be transmitted to posterity. But all this amounts to the same thing, and all the descriptions of wisdom in the Old Testament may be summed up into that one, Job xxvi i. 28. Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to depart
from evil is understanding. The New Teftament tells us, this is life eternal, to know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast jent : that Christ is the way, the truth and the life: that in him are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge: that true understanding consists in knowing the will of God; which will is our sanctification. And when St. Paul understands by wisdom, as sometimes he does, the penetrating into the spirit and mystery, the depths and receffes of the Old Testament, and discovering the great design of man's redemption, carried on through all the ages of the world, and through a wife variety of dispensations, this alters not the notion of illumination: for this does not point out to us any new or different truths ; but only regards one peculiar way of explaining, or establifhing ard confirming the great Christian doctrines. To conclude; we may easily learn what sort of knowledge the Spirit of God recommends to us above all other, from those petitions which St. Paul puts up for the Ephesians and Colossians. For the former hie prays thus ; that the God of our Lord Fesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him; the eyes of your understanding being enlightened, that yemay know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the
faints, and what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward, who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, &c. Eph. i. 17, 18, 19, 20. For the latter thus that
ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will
, in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God, Col. i. 9, 10. If from these and the like texts we form a general idea of illumination, it will be this : illumination is a state of knowledge, consisting in the abolishing or relinquishing thofe errors, which deprave and pervert our affections, and undermine and supplant the empire and authority of reafon; and in entertaining and embracing those truths, which purify the one, and restore and establish the other: and all this in order to entitle us to the favour of God, and a bleffed eternity. I might content my felf with this general delineation of illumination : but because this is a fub. ject from which we cannot but reap fo much pleasure and advantage, as will abundantly require whatever labour can be bestowed upon it; I will proceed to a fullét discovery of it, if I can.
Illumination then being a state of knowledge, and the object of this knowledge being truth, 'tis plain, that in order to form a just and distinåt notion of illumination, it will be necessary to enquire into two things : First, What kind of truths ; and next, what kind of knowledge of these truths, constitutes illumination.
1. Of the truths which illuminate : we have many noble characters in the Old Teftament and the New, which distinguish these from truths of an inferior nature: all which are, I think, comprized by Solomon in very few words; Prov xxiv. 13, 14. My fon, saith he, eat thou honey, because it is good; and the honey-comb, which is sweet to thy taste; fo shall the knowledge of wisdom be unto thy soul, when thou hast found it ; then there shall be a reward, and thy expectation shall not be cut off Solomon here, as is very usual with inspired writers, does compare spiritual with corporeal things, or illustrates the one by the other. He tells us, that what honey is to the body, that wisdom is to the foul: and recommending the former from two incomparable properties, its ministring to health and pleasure, he recommends the latter from advantages, which bear indeed some resemblance; but are as much superior to these, as the soul is to the body. My son, ent thou honey, because it is good; i. e. be