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shall find rules given to the legal priests, stricter than to others, of avoiding legal pollutions, &c. And from these this spiritual priesthood must learn an exact holy conversation, keeping themselves from the pollutions of the world, as here it follows, a holy nation, and that of necessity; if a priesthood, then holy: Purchased indeed to be a peculiar treasure to God', at a very high rate. He spared not his only Son; nor did the Son spare himself; so that these priests ought to be the Lord's peculiar portion. All believers are his clergy; and as they are his portion, so he is theirs. The priests had no assigned inheritance among their brethren, and the reason is added, for the Lord is their portion; and truly so they needed not envý any of the rest, they had the choicest of all, the Lord of all. Whatsoever a christian possesses in the world, yet being of this spiritual priesthood, he is as if he sessed it not", lays little account on it: That which his mind is set on, is, how he may enjoy God, and find clear assurance that he hath him for his portion.
It is not so mean a thing to be a christian as we think; it is a holy, an honourable, a happy estate: Few of us can esteem it, or do labour to find it so, No, we know not these things, our hearts are not on them, to make this dignity and happiness sure unto our souls. Where is that true greatness of mind and holiness to be found that becomes those that are kings and priests unto God? That con
empt of earthly things, and minding of Heaven that should be in such? But sure, as many as find themselves indeed partakers of these dignities, will study to live agreeably to them, and will not fail to love that Lord Jesus who hath purchased all this for them, and exalted them to it; yea, humbled himself to exalt them.
2dly, We proceed to the opposition of the estate of christians to that of unbelievers. We best discern, and are most sensible of the evils and good of
s Exod. xix. 5,
:t 1 Cor. vii. 30.
things by comparison. In outward condition how many be there that are vexing themselves with causeless murmurings and discontents, that if they would look upon the many in the world that are in a far meaner condition than they, it would cure that evil, and make them not only content, but chearful and thankful. But the difference here expressed .is far greater and more considerable than any that can be in outward things. Though the estate of a christian is very excellent and precious, and rightly valued, hath enough in itself to commend it, yet it doth and ought to raise our esteem of it the higher, when we compare it both with the misery of our former condition, and the continuing misery of those that abide still, and are left to perish in that woeful estate. We have here both these parallels. The happiness and dignity to which they are chosen and called, is
opposed to the rejection and misery of them that cons tinue unbelievers and rejecters of Christ.
Not only natural men, but even they that have a spiritual life in them; yet when they forget themselves, are subject to look upon the things that are before them with a natural eye, and to think hardly, or at least doubtfully, concerning God's dispensation; beholding the flourishing and prosperities of the ungodly, together with their own sufferings and distresses, thus". But when they turn the other side of the medal, and view them with a right eye, and by a true light, they are no longer abused with those appearances.
When they consider unbelievers, as strangers, yea enemies to God, and slaves to satan, held fast, in the chains of their own impenitency and unbelief, and by those bound over to eternal death; and then see themselves called to the liberties and dignities of the Sons of God, partakers of the honour of the only begotten Son on whom they have believed, made by him kings and priests unto God the Father, then sure they have other thoughts. It makes them no more envy, but pity the ungodly, and account all their pomp, and all their possessions, what it is indeed, no other but a glistering misery, and themselves happy in all estates. It makes them to say with David, The lines have fallen to me in a pleasant place, I have a goodly heritage. It makes them digest all their sufferings and disgraces with patience, yea with joy, and think more of praising than complaining, of shewing forth his honour, who hath so honoured them; especially considering the freeness of his grace, that it was that alone made the difference, calling them altogether undeservedly from that same darkness and misery in which unbelievers are deservedly left..
n Psal. lxxiii. &c.
Now the third thing here to be spoken to, is the end of their calling, to shew his praise, &c. And that we may the more prize the reasonableness of that their happy estate to which God hath exalted them, it is expressed in other terms, which therefore we will first consider, and then the end.
To magnify the grace of God the more, we have here, 1. Both the terms of this motion, or change. from whence, and to what it is; 2. The principle of it, the calling of God.
I. For the terms of this motion, 1. The term from whence, it is, From darkness. There is nothing more usual, not only in divine but in human writings, than to borrow outward sensible things to express things intellectual ; and amongst such expressions there is none more frequent than that of light and darkness transferred, to signify the good and evil estate of man: As sometimes for his outward prosperity or adversity, but especially for things proper to his mind, the mind is called light, because the seat of truth, and truth is most fitly called light, being the chief beauty and ornament of the rational world, as light is of the visible. And as the light, because of that its beauty is a thing very refreshing and comfortable to them that behold it, as Solomon says, It is a pleasant thing to see the şun; so is truth a most delightful thing to the soul that rightly apprehends it.
This may help us to conceive of the spiritual sense in which it is here taken. The estate of lost mankind is indeed nothing but darkness, being destitute of all spiritual truth and comfort, and tending to utter and everlasting darkness.
And it is so, because by sin the soul is separate from God, who is the first and highest light, that primitive truth, as he is light in himself: As the Apostle St. John tells us, God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all; expressing the excellency and purity of his nature, so he is light relatively to the soul of man", The Lord is my light,
And the soul being made capable of divine light, cannot be happy without it: Give it what other light you will, still it is in darkness, so long as it is without God, being the peculiar light and life of the soul. And as truth is united with the soul in apprehending it, and light with the visive faculty, so that the soul may have God as its light, it must of necessity be in union with God. Now sin hath broke that union, and so cut off the soul from its light, and plunged it into spiritual darkness.
Hence all that confusion and disorder in the soul, which is ever the companion of darkness, Tohu rahohu, as at first, when darkness was on the face of the deep'. Being ignorant. of God and of ourselves, it follows that we love not God, because we know him not : Yea (though we think it a hard word) we are haters of God; for not only doth our darkness import ignorance of him, but an enmity to him, because he is light, and we are dark
And being ignorant of ourselves, not seeing our own vileness, because we are in the dark, we are pleased with ourselves; and having left God, do love ourselves instead of God. Hence are all the wickednesses of our hearts and lives, which are no other but, instead of obeying and pleasing God, a continual sacrificing to those Gillulim, those base dunghill-gods our own lusts. For this the * Psal. xxvii.
y Gen. i. 2. VOL. I.
Apostle gives as the root of all those evils’, Covetous, boasters, &c. Because in the first place, lovers of themselves, therefore proud, &c, and lovers of pleasures more than of God; and this self-love cannot subsist without gross ignorance, minds so darkened that we cannot withal see what we are : For if we did, it were not possible but we would be far of another mind, very far out of loving and liking with ourselves. Thus our souls being filled with darkness, are likewise full of uncleanness, as that goes along too with darkness; they are not only dark as dungeons, but withal filthy as dungeons use to be', Understandings darkened, alienated from the life of God; and therefore it is added", they give themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. Again, in this state they have no light of solid comfort. Our great comfort here is not in any thing present, but in hope; now being without Christ and without God, we are without hope.
And as the estate from whence we are called by grace, is worthily called darkness ; so, 2dly, that to which it calls us deserves as well the name of light. As Christ likewise, that came to work our deliverance, is frequently so called in scripture", and elsewhere, not only in regard of his own nature, being God equal with the Father, and therefore light, as he is God of God, and therefore light of light : But relating to men, that life was the light of men; as he is stiled the word, and the wise dom of the Father, not only in regard of his own knowledge, but as revealing him unto us'
, compared with v. 30, and he is stiled by Malachi iv. 2. the Sun of Righteousness. Now the sun is not only a luninous body, but a luminary, giving light unto the worlds.
He is our light, opposed to all kind of darkness, to the dark shadows of the ceremonial law, which 2 2 Tim. jji. 2. Eph. iv. 18.
© Eph. il. 12. Joh. i. 9.
e John i. 4. f John i. 18. i Cur, i, 24..
8 Gen. i. 15,
b v. 19.