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Paul in the way to Damascus, such was the glory of the light which attended him, that all the company fell to the earth; and Paul himself was struck blind.
How shall I who am now in darkness, be made a partaker of the glory which is set before me? How, but by considering first with myself, what a dreadful thing it would be, if I should lose the kingdom of glory, and fall into the kingdom of darkness! It is possible to love darkness rather than light; God forbid I should be of that mind! But I shall be so if my works are evil; therefore let me now put away the works of darkness. Then let me take the word of God, as a light unto my path. As Christ endured the Cross, and despised the shame of it, for the joy that was set before him; so let me bear the sufferings of the present time, whatever they may be, knowing that they are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us. Let me be constant in using the means of grace, that I may be prepared by them for the enjoyment of glory. So shall God, who breathed into me the breath of life from his Spirit, enlighten me at last with his presence, when my body shall be raised up in glory; and mortality shall be swallowed up of life; as the darkness of the earth is drowned and overcome by the light of heaven pouring in upon it at the rising of the sun.
Q. What is glory?
A. It signifies the bright shining of the light.
Q. What is the glory of the kingdom of heaven? A. God himself.
Q. What shall glorify the saints ?
A. The presence of God.
Q. How doth the Scripture describe him?
A. As having no variableness nor shadow of turning; like to what we are subject to who inhabit this earth.
Q. How did Christ appear, when he was transfigured?
A. His raiment became white as snow, his face shone like the sun, and his whole person as bright as the light itself.
Q. Did any sign of glory attend the angels of heaven when they appeared?
A. A light shone in the prison when Peter was delivered by an angel.
Q. What was the effect, when Moses conversed with God?
A. A glory remained upon his face, too bright for the people to behold.
Q. How are you to obtain the glory which is promised?
A. By putting away the works of darkness.
Q. Who are they that love darkness rather than light?
A. They whose works are evil.
Q. How is the mind to be glorified now?
A. By conversing with God as Moses did.
A. By reading and studying his word.
Q. How are you to prepare yourself farther? 4. By bearing, as Christ did, the sufferings of the present time.
Q. How farther?
A. By using the means of grace; for it is grace only that leads us to glory.
Psalm xix. 1. The heavens declare the glory of
Rom. xvi. 27. To God only wise be glory.
Luke ix. 29. And his raiment was white and glistening.-32. And when they were awake, they saw his glory.
2 Cor. iii. 7. The children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance.-18. But we all, with open (unveiled) face, beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory.
Luke ix. 26. He shall come in his own glory, and in his Father's, and of the Holy Angels.
Col. i. 27. Christ in you, the hope of glory.
Rom. viii. 18. The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
XIX. THE PREACHER'S PICTURE OF OLD AGE.
In the 12th Chapter of Ecclesiastes, the preacher admonishes me to dedicate my youthful days to the service of my Creator, considering the evil days which áre coming upon us, when all the faculties of our minds and bodies shall fail us under the infirmities of age. For then, as the preacher beautifully represents it to us, as in a glass or mirror, the sun and the moon and the stars are darkened; the superior powers, which
rule in the body of man, as the heavenly luminaries do in the world; the understanding and reason, the imagination and the memory, are obscured, as when the clouds interpose between us and the lights of the firmament. In the earlier season of life, the clouds of affliction having poured down their rain, they pass away, and sunshine succeeds; but now the clouds return after the rain; old age itself is a continual sorrow, and there is no longer any hope of fair weather. The keepers of the house, the arms and hands which are made to guard and defend the body, begin to shake and tremble; and the strong men, the shoulders, where the strength of the body is placed, and which were once able to bear every weight, begin to stoop and bow themselves; and the grinders, the teeth, begin to fall away, and cease to do their work, because they are few. Also those that look out of the windows are darkened; the eyes, those windows of the body, through which we look at all things abroad as we look out from the windows of a house, become dim; and he that uses them is as one who looketh out of a window in the night. Then the doors are shut in the streets; difficulties and obstructions attend all the passages of the body, and digestion becomes weak when the grinding is low. The youthful and healthy sleep sound, and are apt to transgress by taking too much rest; but the aged sleep with difficulty, and rise up at the voice of the birds; they are ready to leave their disturbed rest at the crowing of the cock. The daughters of music are brought low; the voice falls and becomes hoarse; the hearing is dull: and the spirits, now less active than they used to be, are less affected by the powers of harmony; and so sit in heaviness, hanging down their heads, as virgins drooping under the sorrow of captivity. Old age, being in
active and helpless, becomes afraid of that which is high; it is fearful of climbing, because it is in danger of falling; and being unfit to endure the hardness of fatigue, and the shocks of a rough journey, the fears which are in the way discourage it from setting out. Then the almond tree flourishes; the hair of the head becomes white, as the early almond blossoms in the hard weather of the winter, before the snows have left us; and even the grasshopper becomes a burthen; the legs, once light and nimble to leap, as the legs of that insect, and which used with ease to bear the weight of the whole body, are now become a burthen, and can scarcely carry themselves; and when the faculties thus fail, the desire fails along with them, for nothing is desirable, when nothing can be enjoyed.
Such are the evil days, which come upon us when our youth is past, and prepare the way for that last and greatest evil of our death, when man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets, lamenting his departure. Then the silver cord, the nerves whose coat is white and shining as a cord of silver, is loosed, and no longer do their office. The circulation of the blood stops at the heart, the fountain of life, as when a pitcher, which draws water, is broken at the well, or the watering wheel, circulating with its buckets, which it both fills and empties at the same time, is broken at the cistern. Thus do the vital motions all cease in death; and the dust returns to the earth, to become such as it was, before man was made out of it; and his immortal spirit returns unto God, the fountain of immortality, from whom it proceeded.
Let then the light of my understanding, while I have it, be employed in the search of truth, and let my memory be a treasury of all useful learning; let my