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let us consider the Context, which I shall illustrate
with vain words: for because of these things which I mention'd in the 3d and 4th Verses, viz. Fornication, &c. cometla she wrath of God upon the children of disobedience, or (as the Margin reads) unbelief, that is, the Heathens amongst whom ye live.
V. 7. Be not ye therefore partakers with them in their evil deeds.
v. 8. For ye were indeed sometimes darkness, that is, ye were before your Conversion in a state of ignorance, and did not know your duty: but now are ye light (or enlightened) in (or by) the Lord. Walk therefore as becometh those who are children of light, or enlightened and taught their dury by the Ministry of the Gospel.
V. 9. (For the fruit of the spirit is in all goodness, and righteousness, and truth; and ye ought to pram dife accordingly.)
V. 10. Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.
V. II. And have no fellowship with the unfruita ful works of darkness, such actions as the unconverted Heathens do; but rather reprove them.
v. 12. For so vile are they, and to detestably filthy, that it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret, in the Worship of their Deities.
V. 13. But all things that are reproved, are made manifeft by the light of the Gofpel, which is im. parted to you. For whatsoever doth make manifest, is like unto light which discovers all things, and consequently called Light.
v. 14. Wherefore he faith, Awake, thou that feepeft, and arise from the dead, and Chrift fball give thee light by causing his Do&trine to be made known
And now are not these words a notable proof of what our Adversaries call the Universal Light within? Surely no Man can imagin, that because the Gospel is called Light; therefore there must of necessity be a certain principle or substance in which God, as Father, Son, and Spirit, dwells. i:
If it be objected, that that Light by which all things that are made manifest are reproved, must be the Ephesians, who are said to be light in the Lord, v. 8. and are commanded to reprove the un, fruitful Works of Darkness, V. 11. I answer, that I shall not, because I need not, oppose this interpretation. For if it be admitted, 'tis manifest, that the Light here mentioned cannot be that Vniverfal Light within, which our Adversaries would prove from hence.
3. They tell us, that God left not himself with, out witness, Acts 14.17. and this Witness, Yay they, is the Universal Light within. But let us read the Context. Which intention of offering Sacrifice unto them ) when the Apostles Barnabas and Saul beard of, they rent their cloaths, and ran in among the people, crying out, and Saying Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are Men of like passions with you, and preach unto you,' that ye fhould turn from shefe Vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein; who in times past suffered all Nations to walk in their own wajes. Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful Seasons, filling, our hearts with food and gladness. 'Tis faid that God left not himself without witness; but how? why in that he did good, and gave us rain, &c. By vouchsafing these Mercies to Mankind, God daily proved that there was an infinitely wife and gracious Being
? which Men ought to worship; and that those stocks
and stones, or dead Men, which the Heathens payied their Adorations to, were not Gods, because i 'twas impossible that they ihould do Men good, i and give Rain, &c. The Witness therefore, or
proof of the True God's Existence, which was left
with the Heathens, was their daily experience of i his beneficence. And is the daily experience of
God's beneficence that Universal Light within which our Adverfaries contend for?
4. Such another wife Argument they draw from IS: 55.4. where God saies by the Prophet, I have given him for a witness to the people. This Witness, lay they, is the Universal Light within. But how do they prove it? Why, as they prove many other things, by bare assertion. The Prophet there speaks of the Messiah, viz. our blessed Lord; and can our Adversaries fhew, that our blessed Lord
cannot be a witness unto the people, unless he be : immediately united to what they call the UniverSal Light within ?
s. They tell us, that God hath made of one bloud all nations of men, for to dwell on all the face of the Earth; and bath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; that they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, Acts 17. 26, 27. Now, fay they, the Apostle bids the people to feel after God, and consequently directs them to something within themselves, and that is the Universal Light with in.
Now in answer to this I obferve, that these phra. ses, to seek the Lord, and to find the Lord, may each of them be understood in two very different senses. 1. by seeking the Lord is often meant endea yosing to gain his favor; and by finding Him is
often meant obtaining it. This is abundantly plain from numberless Texts of Scripture, particularly these which follow. But if from thence thou shalt seek the Lord thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart, and with all the soul, Deut. 4.29. Now set your heart and your Youl to seek the Lord your God, i Chron. 22. 19. And ye Mall seek me and find me, when ye search for me with all your heart, Jer. 29.13. They shall go with their flocks and with their herds to seek the Lord; but they shall not find him, Hof.5.6. Withont faith it is impossible to please him : for be that cometh to God must believe that he is ; and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him, Heb. 11.6. And if this interpretation be admitted in this place, the Words of the Apostle do by no means prove what our Adversaries gather from them. For then Men were to seek the Lord, that is, to endeavor to gain his favor, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, that is, if perchance by feeling after the Lord they might obtain his favor. i 2. But are they directed to any thing within themfelves? No such matter. Their feeling after God is a Figurative Expression, drawn from Men that are blind or in the dark, and who are confequently forced to grope with their hands, and by that means to find out what they desire or want. Now the Gentile World was in Darkness or Ignorance, and consequently knew not their Duty, and how to find the Lord, that is, to obtain his Favor. And therefore they are said to
with their Hands after God, that is, to endevor to find and lay hold on him, as Persons that are fpiritually Blind or in Darkness must do. But does thiş Metaphor import, that they must
grope with the
search for God within themselves? Does a blind Man or one in the dark, if he wants a Chair for instance, grope for it with his Hands within himself, that is, in his own Bowels? Does he not grope for it without himself, that is, amongst those Things that are near him? If the metaphor be pursued, it will rather prove, that Men are di rected to something without, rather than to some. thing within.
But suppose they were directed to feel after something within, yet what is it? 'Tis the Lord expresly. And can our Adversaries Thew, that the Lord and the Universal Light within are all one? Nay, have not I prov'd, that they themselves do believe, that the Universal Light within is not the Lord, but a certain Principle or Substance, in which they suppose that the Lord dwells? Or will they ever prove, that when ever the Lord is mention'd in Scripture, their pretended Universal Light within is meant? Or will they affirm, that Men cannot feel after the Lord, unless there be such an Universal Light within, as they pretend?
This then is a fair Answer to this Objection. But I must add, that I had rather understand these phrases of seeking and finding the Lord, otherwise than in that lense which I have mentioned. Wherefore, 2. By seeking the Lord we may understand endevoring to come to a right understanding and knowledge of his Being; and by finding him, we may understand being convinced of the Truth thereof. This seems to be the more natural signification in this place. For no sooner had the Apostle said, that they mould seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, that is, if perchance they might find him