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LECTURES ON THE ROMANS.
It is possible to conceive the face of our world overspread with a thick and midnight darkness, and without so much as a particle of light to alleviate it, from any one quarter of the firmament around
In this case, it were of no avail to the people who live in it, that all of them were in possession of sound and perfect eyes. The organ of sight may be entire, and yet nothing be seen from the total absence of external light among the objects on every
side of us. Or in other words, to bring about the perception of that which is without, it is not enough that we have the power of vision among men; but, in addition to this, there must be a visibility in the trees, and the houses, and the mountains, and the living creatures, which are now in the ordinary discernment of men.
But, on the other hand, we may reverse the supposition. We may conceive an entire luminousness to be extended over the face of naturewhile the faculty of sight was wanting among all the individuals of our species. In this case, the external light would be of as little avail towards our perception of any object at a distance from us,
za the mere possession of the sense of seeing was in the former instanee. Both must acaspire to the ciuct of our being rendered contenant with the external world through the mediam of the eve. And if the power of vision was not enough, without a visibility on the part of the things which are around us, by God saying let there be light-as little is their visibility enough, without the power of vision stamped as an endowment by the hand of God, on the creatures whom He has formed.
Now we can conceive that both these defects or disabilities, in the way of vision, may exist at the same time—or that all the world was dark, and that all the people in the world were blind. To emerge out of this condition—there must be a twofold process begun and carried forward, and at length brought to its full and perfect termination. Light must be poured upon the earth, and the faculty of seeing must be conferred upon its inhabitants. One can imagine, that, instead of the light being made instantaneously to burst upon us in its highest splendour, and, instead of the faculty being immediately bestowed upon us in full vigour to meet and to encounter so strong a tide of effulgency--that both these processes were conducted in a way that was altogether gradual—that the light, for example, had its first weak glimmering; and that the eye, in the feebleness of its infancy, was not overcome by it—that the light advanced with morning step to a clearer brilliancy; and that the oyo, rendered able to bear it, multiplied the objects of its sight, and took in a wider range of perception--that the light shone at length unto the per
fect day; and that the eye, with the last finish upon its properties and its powers, embraced the whole of that variety which lies within the present compass of human contemplation. We must see that if one of these processes be gradual, the other should be gradual also. By shedding too strong a light upon
eyes, we may overpower and extinguish them. By granting too weak a light to him who has strong eyes, we make the faculty outstrip the object of its exercise, and thus incur a waste of endowment. By attempering the one process to the other, we maintain, throughout all the stages, that harmony which is so abundantly manifested in the works of Nature and Providence, between man as he actually is, and the circumstances by which man is actually surrounded.
These preliminary statements will we trust be of some use for illustrating the progress, not of natural, but of spiritual light, along that path which forms the successive history of our world. Whatever discernment Adam had of the things of God in Paradise, the fall which he experienced was a fall into the very depths of the obscurity of midnight. The faculties he had in a state of innocence, made him able to perceive, that the Creator, who formed him, took pleasure in all that He had formed; and rejoiced over them so long as He saw that they were good. But when they ceased to be good, and became evil—when sin had crept into our world in the shape of a novelty as yet unheard, and as yet unprovided for—when the relation of man to his Maker was not merely altered, but utterly and diametrically reversed—when, from a
loyal and affectionate friend, he had become at first a daring, and then a distrustful and affrighted rebel -Adam may, when a sense of integrity made all look bright and smiling and serene around him, have been visited from Heaven with the light of many high communications; nor could he feel at a loss to comprehend, how He, who was the Fountain of moral excellence, should cherish, with a Father's best and kindest regards, all those whom He had filled and beautified and blest with its unsullied emanations : But, after the gold had become dim, how He whose eye was an eye of unspotted holiness could look upon it with complacency-after the sentence had been incurred, how, while truth and unchangeableness were the attributes of God, it ever could be reversed by the lips of Him who pronounced it-after guilt with all its associated terrors had changed to the view of our first parents the aspect of the Divinity, how the light of His countenance should ever beam upon them again with an expression of love or tenderness—These were the mysteries which beset and closed and shrouded in thickest darkness, the understandings of those who had just passed out of innocence into sin. Till God made this first communication, there was no external light, to alleviate that despair and dreariness which followed the first visitation of a feeling so painful and so new as the consciousness of evil. And, if the agitations of the heart have any power to confuse and to unsettle the perceptions of the understandingif remorse and perplexity and fear, go to disturb the exercise of all our judging and all our discern