'So "wonderful are Your testimonies," gracious God,' that even by touching as it were only their threshold, the entrance of Your words gives light and understanding unto my heart. The study commenced in simplicity and prayer, opens an entrance to the first dawning light of the word into the soul; often only sufficient to make darkness visible, but still "shining more and more unto the perfect day." Indeed all the spiritual light known in this dark world has flowed from the word, forcing its entrance, like the beams of the sun, upon the opening eyes of "a man that was born blind." It is a most striking instance of Divine condescension, that this word—so wonderful in its high and heavenly mysteries—should yet open a path so plain, that the most unlearned may find and walk in it. Indeed the entrance of the word into unintellectual and uncultivated minds, often gives an enlargement and elevation of thought, which is the earnest of the restoration of man to his original glory, when doubtless every mental as well as spiritual faculty was "filled with all the fullness of God." So astonishing is the power of this heavenly light, that from any one page of this holy book, a child, or even an idiot, under heavenly teaching, may draw more instruction than the most acute philosopher could ever attain from any other fountain of light! No—he may acquire a more intelligent perception of its contents, than the student, untaught by the Spirit of God, who may have devoted to its study the persevering industry of many successive years. For very possible is it to be possessed of all the treasures of literature, and yet to remain in total ignorance of everything that is most important for a sinner to know. The Apostle's paradox unfolds the secret, "If any man among you seems to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise." We do not mean to disparage human wisdom; but it is the pride of wisdom, so opposed to the simplicity of the gospel, which prevents us from "sitting at the feet of Jesus, and hearing His word." It makes the teacher instruct in "the words of man's wisdom," rather than in the knowledge of "Christ and Him crucified," and hinders the learner from receiving Christ in the light and love of the truth.
It is painful to remember how much light may be shining around us on every side, without finding an entrance into the heart. "The light shines in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not." Not only the pride of human reason, but the love of sin, shuts out the light: "Men love darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil." And thus because "the eye is evil, the whole body is full of darkness:" and "if the light that is in them is darkness, how great is that darkness!" Most awful is the view given us of the conflict between the contending powers of light and darkness, "The God of this world blinding the eyes of them that believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them,"—the Almighty God resisting his hateful influence, and "shining into the hearts" of His people, "to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." How necessary is it to watch vigilantly against the pride that "rebels against the light," and the indifference that neglects to cherish it! How much more entrance would have been given to the word, and consequently how much clearer would have been the diffusion of light in the soul, were we as earnest and diligent in secret prayer for heavenly teaching, as we are accustomed to be in the public hearing of the word!
But the enthusiast is not satisfied with the light of the word. The delusion of his own heart dreams of a light within—an immediate revelation of the Spirit, independent of the word. It cannot however be safe to separate the light of the Spirit from the light of the word. The word indeed moves in subserviency to the Spirit; but the light of the Spirit is nowhere promised separate from the word. If it does not always guide directly by the word; yet it is only manifested in the direction of the word. The word is in the matter, if not in the mode; and though the Spirit may by immediate light direct us to any path of duty, yet it is invariably to that path, which had been previously marked by the light of the word. Thus the Spirit and the word conjointly become our guide—the Spirit enlightening and quickening the word—and the word evidencing the light of the Spirit. Nor will their combined influence ever leave the church of God, until she has joyfully and completely entered into Immanuel's land, where she shall need no other light, than that of the glory of God, and of the Lamb, which shall shine in her forever.
But—Reader—rest not satisfied with whatever measure of light may have been hitherto given. Seek that the word may have "an entrance ministered unto you abundantly." The most advanced believer is most ready to acknowledge, how much of the word yet remains unexplored before him. Cultivate the disposition of simplicity—the spirit of a "little child"—willing to receive, embrace, submit to, whatever the revelation of God may produce before you. There will be many things that we do not understand: but there is nothing that we shall not believe. "Thus says the Lord"—is sufficient to satisfy reverential faith. To this spirit the promise of heavenly light is exclusively made. "The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The meek will He guide in judgment; the meek will He teach His way." It is beautiful to see a man like Solomon, endued with enlarged powers of mind—acknowledging himself to be a little child, afraid of trusting in his own light; and seeking instruction from above. But never will an unhumbled mind know the benefit of this Divine instruction. To such a student, the Bible must ever be a dark book; since its very design is to destroy that disposition which he brings to the inquiry. That knowledge, therefore, which is unable to direct our way to heaven—no, which by closing the avenues of spiritual light, obstructs our entrance there, is far more a curse than a blessing. Far more glorious is the simplicity of the word than the wisdom of the world.
"In that hour, Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank You, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because You have hid these things from the wise and prudent, and have revealed them unto babes: even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight."
"The entrance of your words gives light." No sooner do they gain admission into the soul than they enlighten it: what light may be expected from their prolonged indwelling! Their very entrance floods the mind with instruction, for they are so full, so clear; what brightness must their abiding bring! On the other hand, there must be such an "entrance," or there will be no illumination. The mere hearing of the word with the external ear is of small value by itself; but when the words of God enter into the chambers of the heart, then light is scattered on all sides. This is the work of God: he alone can give entrance to his word. We knock at the door in vain until grace opens it. The word finds no entrance into some minds because they are blocked up with self-conceit, or prejudice, or indifference; but where due attention is given, divine illumination must surely follow upon a knowledge of the mind of God. O Lord, make a clear entrance into my soul! Grant that your words, like the beams of the sun, may enter through the window of my understanding, and dispel the darkness of my mind!
"It gives understanding Unto the simple." The sincere and candid are the true disciples of the word. To such it gives not only knowledge, but understanding. These simple-hearted ones are frequently despised, and their simplicity has another meaning infused into it, so as to be made the theme of ridicule; but what matters it? Those whom the world dubs as fools are among the truly wise if they are taught of God. What a divine power rests in the word of God, since it not only bestows light, but even gives that mental eye by which the light is received—"It gives understanding"! Hence the value of the words of God to the simple, who cannot receive mysterious truth unless their minds are aided to see it and prepared to grasp it.