We would now consider the worth and value of Divine illumination. Its author, God the Holy Spirit, by his divine light, cures the blindness of our minds, opens and inclines our hearts towards spiritual and heavenly things. "They shall all be taught of God:" (John 6:45) "Ye, yourselves, are taught of God to love one another; (1 Thess. 4:9) the anointing teacheth you all things." (1 John 2:27) He first illuminates and anoints, and then teaches his people. O it is a blessed privilege to be taught of God, to be made wise unto salvation, and not only to get an ear to hear, but a heart to understand and learn, and profit by hearing; a power to believe, and faith in sweet exercise! God's teaching is always effectual; not only directive but persuasive. He enlightens the mind to know, and inclines the will and affections to embrace what we know. He writes the truth upon our hearts, and puts it into the mind. He rectifies the faculty, and imprints the truth upon the soul. He teaches his children externally by his word, and internally by his Spirit. He teaches powerfully and effectually, so that the lesson is learned and deeply imprinted upon the heart. This teaching is often expressed by "seeing;" now, to a clear sight, three things occur, an object conspicuous, a clear medium, and a well-disposed organ, or a clear eye. Now, in God's teaching, there are all these; the object to be seen plainly in the scriptures, are the things of God, not fancies, but eternal realities, and by the light of the Spirit made evident to the opened eye of the mind. A perfectly blind man cannot see in the middle of the day, nor can the clearest sight perceive objects enveloped in total darkness. As in nature the object must be prominent and brought into the light, so the eye of the soul must be opened before it can recognize heavenly things with life and affection. A knowledge of spiritual objects is the most important thing in this world of which a man can be possessed, for by it he has a saving knowledge of God and the life to come. Thus he has the knowledge of the most excellent things, and of the most necessary and useful things.
1st. It is of so high a nature as to know God who is the cause of all things, and Christ who is the restorer of all things, and the Spirit who cherishes and preserves all things. This knowledge includes the recognition of his heavenly operations, and of the nature and actings of his several graces in the soul. "But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me." (Jer. 9:24) The children of God know him, love, trust, reverence, and serve him; they behold his wisdom, goodness, and power in all his works, and the sanctifying work of the Holy Ghost by which they are prepared for everlasting life.
To know the way of salvation, the disease and remedy of the soul, the danger and the cure, the work and wages, the spiritual business of life and the end, what to believe and practice, what to enjoy and do, are things necessary and useful to the soul, and these does the Spirit teach God's people. By the divine illumination we have communion with God; having this light to discern his blessedness, beauty, and glory, we enjoy his presence. "As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness, I shall be satisfied when I awake in thy likeness," (Ps. 17:15) that is, it is a blessed portion to enjoy God after death, better than the enjoyment of this world: and 1 John 1:3. In communion with God there is a holy intimacy and familiarity with him; there is a mutual love between God and his people. God loves his saints, and they love him; their love is the stream, his the fountain. In every ordinance they draw near to God; all their holy devotions are communications between sanctified souls and a holy God, and the dealings of humble creatures with their blessed Creator. They pour out their souls unto him, and he opens his ear and bosom unto them; he teaches them his way, and they walk in his paths; they walk in the fear of his name, and in the comforts of his Spirit; they seek his glory as their great end, and live in the feeling sense of his dearest love; they enjoy God now, and shall enjoy him for ever. "This is life eternal that they may know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent." (John 17:3)
What is the knowledge of riches, pleasures, and the vain glory of the world to this? The business of worldlings is to provide for the flesh, and to feather themselves a nest that will quickly be pulled down; they aim at nothing beyond this life; all their cares are confined within the narrow bounds of time, and the compass of this world. But the saints of the Most High God--how different are their pursuits! Their business is above; their affections are on high; they lay up treasures in heaven; they provide for everlasting glory and happiness, and begin a life here that will be perfected in heaven! O, ye children of God, value and highly esteem this divine light; the Psalmist rejoiced in it more than in thousands of gold and silver; the Apostle rejoiced in it when he said, "Yea, doubtless I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge, of Christ Jesus, my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung that I may win Christ." (Phil. 3:8) The Apostle considered himself a gainer by having this knowledge, though he lost all else besides, and was sorely afflicted into the bargain.
If God gives them a saving knowledge of himself, the people of God have no cause to envy worldlings who live in pomp and pleasure. The rich man in the Gospel lived in the gratification of every carnal enjoyment, but his soul went to hell; whilst Lazarus, who lived in poverty and affliction, having a saving knowledge of God, was taken to paradise. Here is cause for praises and thanksgivings! Those that have received most from God are most bound to honor and praise him. Great mercies demand great acknowledgments: Mary loved much because she had had much forgiven her. Spiritual benefits especially call for praises and thanksgiving to the great Giver. David felt this when he said "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgiveth all thine iniquities, who healeth all thy diseases!" (Ps. 103:1-3) Alas, it is too often the case that those benefits are overlooked which deserve the greatest acknowledgment! Corn, wine, and oil, are bestowed upon the world, but divine light and grace upon God's saints. These are the favors of his peculiar people, and emanate from special love. "Remember me, O Lord," said David, "with the favour thou bearest to thy people; O visit me with thy salvation." (Ps. 106:4) To have the Monarch's favor is more than a common privilege. Protection from the Queen is the benefit of every subject, but intimate and near admission is the privilege of special favorites only. Love and hatred cannot be known by the things that are seen. Christ gave his Spirit to his beloved disciples, the keeping of the purse to Judas. Moreover, the reason why spiritual blessings call for special praise is, they concern the soul, and the soul is more than the body; because, too, they are the pledge of eternal blessings, and the beginning of an eternal well-being. These are so linked together that they cannot be separated, "being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ," (Phil. 1:6) and Rom. 8:29,30. Divine illumination opens the heart and mouth as well as the mind to praise God for divine grace. "O Lord open thou my lips, and my mouth shall show forth thy praise." There is greater reason to bless God for spiritual blessings than for temporal; God may give the temporal goods of this life in his anger, but never in this way the graces of the Holy Spirit; he may give men large estates as a judgment, green and fat pastures for beasts fitted for destruction, but an illuminated mind and a renewed heart infallibly flow as spiritual blessings from the especial love of a Triune Jehovah. Are not these good and sufficient reasons for praising God with the best faculties we possess?