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let us confider the Context, which I fhall illuftrate with a fhort Paraphrase.
v. 6. Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things which I mention'd in the 3d and 4th Verfes, viz. Fornication, &c. cometh the wrath of God upon the children of difobedience, 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 fometimes darkness, that is, ye were before your Converfion in a ftate 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 duty by the Miniftry of the Gospel.
v. 9. (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, and righteousness, and truth; and ye ought to pra &ife accordingly.)
V. 10. Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. V. II. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, fuch actions as the unconverted Heathens do; but rather reprove them.
v. 12. For fo vile are they, and fo deteftably filthy, that it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in fecret," 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 manifeft, is like unto light which discovers all things, and confequently called Light.
V. 14. Wherefore he faith, Awake, thou that fleepeft, and arife from the dead, and Chrift fhall gives thee light by caufing his Doctrine to be made known to thes.
And now are not these words a notable proof of what our Adverfaries call the Universal Light with in? Surely no Man can imagin, that because the Gofpel is called Light; therefore there must of neceffity be a certain principle or fubftance in which God, as Father, Son, and Spirit, dwells. A If it be objected, that that Light by which all things that are made manifeft are reproved, muft be the Ephefians, who are faid to be light in the Lord, v. 8. and are commanded to reprove the unfruitful Works of Darkness, v. 11. I answer, that I fhall not, because I need not, oppose this interpretation. For if it be admitted, 'tis manifeft, that the Light here mentioned cannot be that Univerfal Light within, which our Adverfaries would prove from hence.
3. They tell us, that God left not himself without witness, Acts 14.17. and this Witness, fay they, is the Univerfal Light within. But let us read the Context. Which (intention of offering Sacrifice unto them) when the Apostle's Barnabas and Saul beard of, they rent their cloaths, and ran in among the people, crying out, and faying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are Men of like passions with you, and preach unto you, that ye fhould turn from thefe Vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the fea, and all things that are therein; who in times paft fuffered all Nations to walk in their own waies. Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful feafons, filling our hearts with food and gladness. 'Tis faid that God left. not himself without witnefs; but how? why in that be did good, and gave us rain, &c. By vouchfafing thefe 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 ftones, or dead Men, which the Heathens payed their Adorations to, were not Gods, because 'twas impoffible that they thould do Men good, and give Rain, &c. The Witness therefore, or proof of the True God's Exiftence, which was left with the Heathens, was their daily experience of his beneficence. And is the daily experience of God's beneficence that Univerfal Light within which our Adverfaries contend for?
4. Such another wife Argument they draw from 55.4. where God faies by the Prophet, I have given him for a witness to the people. This Witness, fay they, is the Univerfal Light within. But how do they prove it? Why, as they prove many other things, by bare affertion. The Prophet there fpeaks of the Meffiah, viz. our bleffed Lord; and can our Adverfaries fhew, that our bleffed Lord cannot be a witnefs unto the people, unless he be immediately united to what they call the Univerfal Light within?
5. 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 hould feek 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 confequently directs them to fomething within themselves, and that is the Universal Light with
Now in anfwer to this I obferve, that these phra fes, to feek the Lord, and to find the Lord, may each of them be understood in two very different fenfes. 1. by feeking the Lord is often meant endeyoring to gain his favor; and by finding Him is
often meant obtaining it. This is abundantly plain from numberlefs Texts of Scripture, particularly thefe which follow. But if from thence thou halt feek the Lord thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou feek him with all thy heart, and with all thy foul, Deut. 4. 29. Now fet your heart and your foul to feek the Lord your God, I Chron. 22. 19. And ye shall feek me and find me, when ye fearch for me with all your heart, Jer. 29. 13. They shall go with their flocks and with their herds to feek the Lord; but they shall not find him, Hof.5.6. Without faith it is impoffible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is; and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently feek 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 Adverfaries gather from them. For then Men were to feek 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.
But are they directed to any thing within themfelves? No fuch matter. Their feeling after God is a Figurative Expreffion, drawn from Men that are blind or in the dark, and who are conféquently forced to grope with their hands, and by that means to find out what they defire or want. Now the Gentile World was in Darkness or Ignorance, and confequently knew not their Duty, and how to find the Lord, that is, to obtain his Favor. And therefore they are faid to grope with their Hands after God, that is, to endevor to find and lay hold on him, as Perfons that are fpiritually Blind or in Darkness must do. But does this Metaphor import, that they must
fearch for God within themfelves? Does a blind Man or one in the dark, if he wants a Chair for inftance, grope for it with his Hands within himfelf, that is, in his own Bowels? Does he not grope for it without himself, that is, amongst thofe Things that are near him? If the metaphor be purfued, it will rather prove, that Men are directed to fomething without, rather than to fomething within.
But fuppofe they were directed to feel after fomething within, yet what is it? 'Tis the Lord exprefly. And can our Adverfaries fhew, that the Lord and the Univerfal Light within are all one? Nay, have not I prov'd, that they themfelves do believe, that the Univerfal Light with in is not the Lord, but a certain Principle or Substance, in which they fuppofe that the Lord dwells? Or will they ever prove, that when ever the Lord is mention'd in Scripture, their pretended Univerfal Light within is meant? Or will they affirm, that Men cannot feel after the Lord, unless there be fuch an Univerfal Light within, as they pretend?
This then is a fair Answer to this Objection. But I muft add, that I had rather understand thefe phrafes of feeking and finding the Lord, otherwife than in that fenfe which I have mentioned. Wherefore, 2. By feeking the Lord we may underftand 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 feems to be the more natural fignification in this place. For no fooner had the Apoftle faid, that they should feck the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, that is, if perchance they might find him