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not first manifest, how obvious is it to every understanding, that the light must needs have been, and be in all men, in order to such manifestation and conviction, or man could not have known sin.
It is as much as if the apostle had said, “Sin is that (which damns all men; now it could not damn, if - it were not reproveable; and it could never be re
proveable, if the light did not manifest and condemn
it as such.“ So that our adversaries affirming the light not to be sufficient to discern all fin, is a flat repugnancy, and a downright giving of the lie to the apostle. For, says the apostle, “all things that are « reproved, are made manifest by the light.” But, say they, all things that are reproved, are not made manifest by the light. Sober reader, dwell here a while, and after a little pause tell me, who deals most unworthily with the apostle, and the holy scriptures of truth, they or the Quakers?
Obj. But it is objected, If there be that light in all
men, how coines it, that all men are not convicted of their disobedience and duty, as the heathens of old, and many infidels at this day? Did the light in Saul reprove him for persecuting the church?
I answer, That this objection does no way impugn or lessen the efficacy of the light, although it greatly aggravates their evil that so rebelled against it. But that there were heathens, who became a law unto themselves, through the degree of light they had, by which they did the things contained in the law, and were preferred far before the circumcision that kept not the law; the apostle Paul himself is very express in that known passage to the Romans, ch. ii. Nor are other histories silent, but loud in their acknowledgment of very divine attainments, which, by this light, several famous Gentiles arrived at; who, for their belief of One Eternal Being, his communication
c That is the cause.
of divine light to men, the necessity of holy living, and of an immortality, with their strict manners, are left with honour upon record by credible writers, and their praises not a little augmented by after-ages, even of those called Christians too. Such were, Pythagoras, Timæus, Solon, Bias, Chilon, Anaxagoras, Socrates, Plato, Plotin, Antisthenes, Xenocrates, Zeno, Antipater, Seneca, Epictetus, Plutarch, Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, and others.
But what if Jews and Gentiles at any time did apoftatize; and, particularly, what if Saul persecuted the church of God, putting disobedience for duty, murder for service, will it follow, that the light was insufficient? By no means, but rather that Saul was rebellious, stiff-necked, resisting the Holy Ghoft; as did his fathers, so did he: and thus much the words themselves shew; for it is said by the text, “ he “ kicked against the pricks.” Then it seems there were pricks : and were where they, if not in his conscience? And what were they, if not the convictions of the light of Christ within him, which manifests evil, and reproves the deeds thereof? otherwise called the Son of God, which to the Galatians he said, “ it “ had pleased God to reveal to him”d: though Paul knew him not, nor his voice of a long time, his eye being darkened, and ear stopped by the god of this world, who had crept into the outward forms of religion, then, as now, and therein employed many emissaries to decry that pure, heavenly, and invisible life of truth and righteousness, which was then, and is now, begotten in the hearts of many, not only to confound the idolatries of the Gentiles, but to end the formality and outward services of both Jews and carnal Christians.
And I affirm on God's behalf, and with the reason of a man, that it is most absurd for any to charge the rebellion of men to the insufficiency of the light: for if men are wicked, is it not against knowledge? And
. Gal. i. 16.
if it be, where is the fault? Else, if men are fo, nôt because they would not be better, but because they neither see, nor know, nor are able to do better, how heavy, how black, and how blasphemous a character doth the consequence of such an opinion faften upon the good and righteous God of heaven and earth; since it supposes him not to have given means sufficient to do that which he requires of them, and for not doing of which they are to be sentenced to eternal misery? But I confess, how deep foever this may stick with impartial spirits, I almost despair of entering some of our adversaries, whose souls are pinched up within the narrow compass of a moft unmerciful kind of predestinations making the eternal God as partial as themselves; like some ancients, that because they could not resemble God, they would make such gods as might resemble them.
I say, what else can be the tendency of this kind of doctrine, against the fufficiency of the light within, than that the gift of God is not perfect, or able, because men do not obey it: and that the talent God has given to all, is therefore insufficient for the end for which it was given, because man hides it in a napkin?
Again, Let them tell me, would it be a good argument, that if the same corn should be sown in a fertile, and a barren foil, that growing in one, and not in the other, the fault should be in the seed, and not rather in the ground?
Who knows not, how tradition and cuftom have overlaid much of conviction, and benumbed the world, and that it is, through lufts and pleasures, become blind and stupid as to the invisible things of God. Alas! there had never been so much need of many exterior dispensations and appearances of God, in reference to religion, fò much preferred by the profeffors of this day, had not mens minds been departed from the inward light and life of righteousness: fa that they being outward and abroad, God was pleased to meet them there in some external manifestations;
yet yet so, as to turn them home again to their first love; to that light and life which was given of God, as the way and guide to eternal salvation.
Nor could any of those things cleanse, as concerning the conscience; wherefore God still, by his fervants and prophets, adınonished and warned the people of old, « to put away the evil of their doings, ic and cease to do evil, and learn to do well, and to " wash themselves, and to cleanse themselves;e" for that all their exactness in outward services was otherwise but as the “cutting off a dog's neck:*" a facrifice equally pleasing. Wherefore the abrogation of all outward dispensations, and the reducing man to his first state of inward light and righteousness, is called in scripture, “ the times of refreshment, and 5 the restitution of all things."
In short, though there have been external observations and ordinances in the world, by God's appointment, as figures and shadows of the good things to come, either to prevent the Jews from the outward splendid worship of the idolatrous Gentiles, that he might retain a peculiar sovereignty over them, or to shew forth unto them a more hidden and invisible glory; this remains sure for ever, that light within there was, and that the ancients saw their fins by it, and that there could be no acceptance with God, but as they walked up to it, and were taught to put away the evil of their doings by it: suitable to that notable passage, “the path of the just is a shining light, that is shines clearer and clearer unto the perfect day." I would fain know what this day was, if not that of salvation? Can there be any night or darkness in the day? Surely no. What if their light was not so large, was it therefore not faving? Yes furely. But as, where much is given, much
is required, so where little is given, but little is required. "If the light was not to gloriously manifested before the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in the flesh, less was then required
• Ifa. i.
than since; yet it follows not that there were two lights, or that the light was not saving, before the visible appearance of Christ, to as many as lived in an holy conformity to it.
And if it be agreed, that blindness in men can be no argument against the light of the sun, neither is this light insufficient, because the people of any nation remain blind through their vain customs and evil practices. Nay, should any such doctrine be admitted, what would become of our adversaries opinion, that • the light of mere scripture is sufficient of itself to
give men the knowledge of God?' For if those that have the scriptures do not know, believe, and obey God, as they ought to do, will it not follow upon such a principle, that the defect is not in them, but in the scriptures ? Certainly, the consequence will hold as well against the scriptures, as against the light within. If then such must wrong the scripture, who so dispute, let them that think so endeavour to right the light, and no longer maintain a position, that, being admitted, would overturn the authority of the scripture, as well as that of the light within.
CH A P. IV.
Another objection againit the light's fufficiency to
manifest what ought to be done, though it were able to discover what should be avoided. It is answered, the light not telling man all it knows, or man may know in time to come, is no argument to prove it knows not all things. Men know more than they do; let them first obey what they know, and then what is convenient will be farther revealed. It is proved from the reason of contraries; because it shews what ought not to be done, from fcripture at large, it does instruct what to do; and that there is virtue in it, to the salvation of all that believe and obey it. That there is no essential difference between the seed, light, wordgn spirit, life,