For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou hast pre-pared before the face of all people; a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.
SALVATION cannot but be a welcome, then, at any time. I know no day amiss; but in die salutis, at such a time as this, on Christmas-day especially: then it first came down to bless this lower world.
But salvation so nigh as to be "seen" is more; much more if we ourselves have any interest in it; if it be for "the Gentiles" too, that we also may come in; far more, if it be such salvation that our friends also may be saved with us--none perish: if it be omnium populorum, to them "all," in whatsoever nation.
Add yet, if it be salvation by "light," not in the night, no obscure deliverance, we like that better; and if it be to be saved, not by running away, but gloriously--salvation with "glory," that is better still. Nay, if it be all--salvation on a day of salvation; not afar off, but within ken; not heard of, but seen; to us and ours, an universal salvation; a gladsome, a lightsome, a notable, a glorious salvation; as it is without contradiction, verbum Evangelii, good Gospel, joyful tidings, so it must needs be, verbum diei, too, the happiest news in the most happy time.
[193/194] These make the text near enough the day; and yet it is nearer. What say you if this "salvation" prove to be a Saviour, and that Saviour Christ, and that Christ new-born? the first time that viderunt oculi could be said of him; no time so proper as Christmas to speak of Christ the Saviour, born and sent into the world. He it is that is here styled salutare tuum. Christ, that blessed sight that restores Simeon's decaying eyes to their youthful lustre, that happy burthen that makes Simeon grasp heaven before he enter it.
Indeed, the good old man begins not his Christmas till Candlemas. It was not Christmas-day with him, he did not see his Saviour till he was presented in the temple. The Feast of Purification was his Christmas: this, the shepherd's, the world's, and ours. This day first he was seen visibly to the world.
Being, then, to speak of "salvation" which is a Saviour, or a Saviour who is salvation:--First of the "salvation" itself, (I.) to swthrion. (II.) Then of its certainty and manifestation, so plain and evident that the eye may see it: salvation (1.) to be "seen;" more (2) "prepared" to be seen. (III) Of the universality, "before the face of all people." (IV.) Of the benefits: they are two: (1.) "A light;" (2.) A "glory," with the twofold parties: (1.) "The Gentiles;" (2.) The Jews. Of each both severally and jointly.
When we have done with the salvation, then of the other sense of to swthrion, the Saviour himself; that is the prime meaning of salutare here. (1.) Of his natures: in ywj, his "Godhead;" in eixon and ntoimasaj, his "manhood." (2.) The unity of his person, in to swthrion. (3.) His offices, in eqnwu apokalnyin and doxan. His eternal generation in ywj; his temporal in kata proswpou.
Lastly, of our way to behold him, and our duty when we see him. How to obtain this glorious sight of, to swthrion _of salvation, and how to entertain it. Of which that I may speak with reverence, and you hear with profit, let us pray, &c.
I begin with that which we all desire and hope to end---"salvation;" and, (I.) first, with to swthrion (give me leave to do so) in the sense of profane authors. It will fit the day: to swthria _were dies salutares, festivals for some famous [194/195] deliverances among them. And may not to swthrion, then, be this great festival of the nativity of salvation, this happy day which, come about by the circling of the year, expects now the solemnities of our joys and thanksgivings? You see the day itself is in the text; and now we have seen that, let us look into the occasion of it, what it is that makes it holy day.
Something seen or done upon it: what is that? Salutare tuum, says the text; a Saviour seen and a salvation wrought; nay, this seen too, for viderunt oculi to both, if they be two. There is but one word for both, and it may be they may be but one. However, distinguish them we will for a while, though we unite them in the upshot.
"Salvation." Simeon might with as much ease have called him Saviour; but that he thought too little. You would have blamed his eyesight had he seen no more. Saviours there have been many--Moses, and Joshua, and Jephthah, and Samson--I cannot tell you how many; and they have brought salvation in their times, and saved their people; but none of all was ever made salvation but this day's Saviour, who is made unto us righteousness and salvation.
Made to us: Is that all? nay, is it in himself? Other saviours, when they have saved others, themselves they could not save: they themselves did still stand in need of being saved. Christ needs none other but himself. He is "salvation;" no saviour so but he.
And (i.) to swthroin it is, not tou swthra nor thn swthriasn neither. Salvation neither for male only, nor female only, but both of the neuter gender. "Neither male nor female, but all one in Christ Jesus."
(ii.) Not swthrion in the feminine; not a weak feminine salvation, but a strong firm one, the "mighty strength of his right hand."
(iii.) Not a feminine salvation, not thn swthrian, lest we should fondly look for thn Marian, the Virgin Mother. Not she, but the Virgin's Son: the Holy Ghost, as I may say, afraid of Salvatrix mea, Salve Redemptrix, before ever Christianity dreamt of that sacrilege.
But to swthrion _ is yet more salvation with an emphasis, [196/196] with an article, this salvation. Many saviours, and salvations too, without doubt, had aged Simeon seen in the large circuit of his rears, without a Nunc Dimittis; but no sooner to swthrion, no sooner this, but he grows weary of the world; his life grows tedious to him, he would be going. What means this hasting to his grave, when he folds salvation in his arms? Why, this it is that gives it a pre-eminence above all beside. Death now itself is conquered, and now first to die is to be saved. Salvation not only from death, but from the terrors of it.
Salvation is a deliverance; a deliverance is from some evil of sin or punishment. To be delivered from punishment, be it but the loss of goods, of liberty, or health, is a kind of salvation; and if the loss be great we are delivered from, the salvation great: but if the punishment stretch itself beyond the limits of fading time, if it be to be extended through eternity, the deliverance, then great without question, well deserves the article, to swthrion to be delivered from punishment, and eternal punishment, is no small matter, beyond all human power: yet from sin is far beyond it. If we be not saved from that, it is but an incomplete, a partial salvation from the other.
Swthrion comes from sww or swxw salvumt facere, to make all whole again; to heal the wounds of sin by the plasters of mercy; to restore a man to his lost health, his lapsed justice, swn pioeon intergrum facere, to give him health. "Thy saving health, O Lord." Adam lost it; in him we all, and every day we lose it still. We confess as much morning and evening:--"There is no health in us."
And what is it we gain, then, by to swtnroin, if we so soon are at a loss? Yes, swxrien, is salvum conservare too, to keep us well when we are so. Good God, in what need stand we of "thy salvation!" We sin, we are punished--we are freed, we rise again--we slip, and fail, and fall again:--to deliver us, to restore us, to preserve us, as it requires, so it makes, to swtnroin an emphatical, an exceeding great "salvation."
Nor is thus all; to swtnroin son ""thy salvation." From sickness, or imprisonment, or poverty, or death, man may sometime save us; yet not so, but that it is an awful swtnrion sov, God's too. God by man. But deliver us from the lowest [196/197] prisons, from a hell of miseries, sin and its attendants, and keep us upright and entire, it is only God-man can do it. That is God's peculiar, to swthroin son, his wonderful "sal-vation."
His by propriety. It had no other power but the strength of his own right arm to bring this mighty thing to pass. It had no other motive than his own immense love and goodness to effect it. We were in no case to deserve it, Professed enemies, we had nothing in us to make it ours, but that it might be wholly his. "Thy salvation."
Yet "thy salvation," why so? What, can God be saved? "Thy salvation!" our salvation rather. Yes, both: Thing actively, ours passively; Thou savest--we saved.
And may it not be his passively too? "Thy salvation." Thou thyself saved. Thy promises, thy truth, which is thy-self--thy mercy, which is thyself--thy justice, which is thyself--saved from the censure of unjust man, by preparing him a Saviour. Man had almost thought God had broke his word: now that is saved. Some still will not let his mercy be saved, but destroy it with justice; and in destroying that, turn justice into gall and wormwood; ruin that too by denying pauwn lawn, an universal Saviour. It was time, high time, to tell us from heaven, by the mouth of the Holy Spirit, of swtnrion son. God himself now quitted of in-justice, and want of bowels of compassion.
You have a witness of it undeniable: my eyes have seen" it. eidou oi oyqalmoi mou, "my eyes have seen" it. Salvation clear even to the sense; and to the certainest, the sight. The eye may see it.
(II) Viderunt oculi: he might have added, et contractaverunt manus meæ, and his hands handled it; but if the eye see it, we need not sue to the hand for certainty.
(I.) Oi oyqalusi "these eyes." No longer now the eyes of prophecy; those are grown dim, and almost out. Isaiah, indeed, could say, "is born," "is given," so certain was he of it. but never viderunt oculi; for all that, he never lived to see it; one degree, this, above the infallibility of prophecy.
Time was when this salutare tuum was enveloped in clouds. It was so till this day came, a mystery "kept secret since the world began;" locked up in heaven so close, that "Mine eyes have wasted away with looking for thy saving [197/198] health, O Lord," sighs David; and the Church answers him with Utinam disrumperes cætos, "Break the heavens, O Lord, and come down." O utinam, O would thou wouldest! But now, as we have heard, so have we "seen thy salvation."
Nor need we any extraordinary piercing eye to see it; so plain and manifest is the object, that eyes almost sunk into their holes, eyes over which the curtains of a long night are wll nigh drawn, eyes veiled with the mists of age, eyes well near worn out with looking and expectation, the dimmest, agedest sight may see it. "Mine eyes," old father Simeon's.
Nor need the Manichee strain his eyesight to discern it. He need not, as is usual when we look on curious pieces, close one eye, that, the visual spirits being contracted, we may see those things which else by reason of their curious subtlety escape the seeing. It is no such airy phantasm, but that we may with open face and eyes behold it; he may see it with of oi ofqalmoi, both his eyes, without straining, without that trouble.
But if our senses should play false with us, yet "my eyes," the eyes of a prophet, a holy man inspired, and detained a prisoner in the flesh on purpose for this spectacle, cannot possibly deceive us.
Especially if you add but eidou to oyqalmoi mon: that he did not perceive it only as afar off--Balaam's sight--or had a glance or glimmering of it only, but eidou, saw it plain, so plain as eidein [eidenai], to know it too. Saw it in his aims, and looked near it--nay, into it, by the quick lively eye of a firm faith; for with both eyes he saw it, the eyes of his body and the eyes of his soul; the Saviour with the one, salvation with the other: the child with those, the God with these. And what greater evidence than that of sight? what greater certainty than that of faith?
If all this be yet too little, if viderunt be to seek, and oculi fail, and mei be deceived; yet parasti cannot but lift it above the weakness of probability, put all out of question. It was not only seen, but "prepared" to be seen.
(2.) It came not, as the world thinks of other salvations, by chance, but was prepared. Parasti, "thou hast prepared" it; prepared by him that prepared the world.
[198/199] Higher yet; "parasti, thou hast prepared;" done it long since: the preparation began not now, had a higher beginning, a beginning "before the face of all people;" before the face of any people, before the face of the waters, before the face of the world appeared. "Chosen us in him," says S. Paul, then chosen and prepared him for us, "before the foundation of the world."
But this parasti is not the blessing of this day. Parasti ab æterno, so to the patriarchs too; but in conspectu, before our faces; made manifest in these last times, manifested in the flesh: that is the blessing we this day commemorate. "A body thou hast prepared me:" that prepared, then "Lo, I come;" he will be born presently,--Christmas out of hand. Parasti now complete: this day he was first made ready, and dressed in swaddling-clothes.
And "prepared." So it came not at man's entreaty, or desert; nay, when he thought not of it. When Adam was running away to hide himself, then the promise of the woman's Seed stepped in between; and when religion and devotion lay at the last gasp, ready to bid the world adieu, then comes He himself who had been so long preparing, and fulfilled the promise. This a degree of certainty higher than our imaginations can follow it; that relies wholly on God's own parasti, without man's uncertain preparation.
Yet something ado there was to bring this to swthrion don to widou this "salvation" to be "seen." A long preparation there was of patriarchs; Moses and the prophets; of promises, types, and figures, and prophecies, for the space of four thousand years. This long train led the triumph; then comes the Saviour, then salvation. Sure and certain it must needs be, to which there are so many agreeing witnesses.
This, then,--so variously typified, so many ways shadowed, so often promised, so clearly prophesied, so constantly, so fully testified, so long expected, so earnestly desired,--this is the salvation prepared for us. Whoever looks for any other may look his eyes out, shall never see it. This name, "the only name by which we shall be saved," the name of Jesus.
Yet, notwithstanding all that is said or can be said, it is but parasti still. It is not posuisti, prepared for all, not put, [199/200] set up for all, as if all should be saved. No, posui te in casum, "set for the fall of many;" those that will not turn their eyes up hither, that care not for viderunt; neglect this sight, slight this salvation. But, however this dismal success often comes about, parasti it is, that cannot be lost; and in conspectu omnium populorum, for all it is prepared, for all in general: none excluded this parasti; He that put parasti into this good father's mouth, put in omnium polulorum too. Not only the certainty, but the universality of this salvation; that is the third part of the text. And thither we are come "Before the face of all people."
(III.) "Prepared," that is a favour; and for the "people," that is an ample one, and one step to an universal. People are men, a great company of men; and for men, and a multitude of men, it is prepared; nusquam angelos, not for angels, in no wise for them, not one of them. No, they are still the sons of darkness, no "day-spring from on high" to visit them.
For men; and not for the better or more honour able part of men alone, but for the "people" too; the meanest, sinfullest men in more favour with God than the apostate angels.
And not to some few of those people neither, but to "all" the people, the whole people.
But in conspectu totius populi it might be, for all one people, and the rest never a whit the nearer to salvation; the further off rather, when it is so restrained: uniuscujusque populi would be better for all the people of the world.
It is somewhat near the height, that, of what we can desire; yet omnium populorun it is we need, for all people whatso-ever; not only all that then were, but all before, up to Abra-ham, up to Adam, and all since clown to us that live this day, down to all that shall survive us, as long as there shall be people upon earth. Uniuscujusque populi had been enough for the whole world then alive. Omnium populorum it must be,--or the fathers before, and we since, are men most miserable.
But do not Simeon's old eyes deceive him? pauwn! What, pauwn? For all I know some quicker sights, some younger eyes, that can construe pavrej into pauci, can see no such matter. It may be doxan laon son Idrahl, the glory of the elect Israel, at the end of the text, dims their weak eyes; or, [200/201] peradventure, like men overwhelmed with the news of some unexpected fortune, they think themselves in a dream, and--dare not give credit to their eyes, though they behold it; so great and undeserved a blessing, that it is a labour to per-suade them that they see it, though they cannot but see it. Simeon's eyes are old enough to ponder objects; he knows what he sees, and he speaks what he knows; and be speaks no more than the angel before told the shepherds, gaudium quod erit onmi populo, "tidings of joy which shall be to all people;" erit, shall be for ever.
And say not the Apostles the same also? "The Saviour of all men," says S. Paul, "especially of them that believe;" of them "especially," not them only." "Who will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth." "The Saviour of the world." "A ransom for all." "God not willing that any perish;" not any.
Nay, God himself says more: "I will not the death:" no, not of the wicked," not of a sinner; much less his death before he be or man or sinner. That is no kin to salutare tuum; that is not salvation, but destruction, prepared. And it is not nollem, I would fain not have it so, but plain nolo, "I will not;" or, more to the word, I not will it, I deny it utterly: thy destruction is from thyself; it is none of my doings. Salutare meum, I will the contrary. To put all out of question, take his oath: Vivo ego, "As I live," I do not.
And accordingly does the Saviour himself send out his general proclamation, "Come to me, all that are heavy laden;"--and who is not?--Yet, do but come, come who will, and I will ease. He calls them all; by that grace they may come if they will, except you think he mocks them: when they are come be will refresh them.
To take away all plea of ignorance or excuse, we proceed further, in conspectu omnium; not only prepared for all, but "in the sight of all," before their faces. So prepared that they may see, and know it; know it to be prepared; not that it might be, and is not--as if indeed the salvation were sufficient in itself, but God would not suffer it to be so--so, though universal, yet so hidden under obscure and nice distinctions, that few can see it; but withal so evident that all [201/202] may see it; in conspectu omnium, none with good reason deny it.
Had it been euwpion panwn they might have had some pretence and colour if they had not seen it, had it been only in sight: many things are so which we oft-times do not see. But kata proswpon, that which is just before our faces, we must be blind if we see not that.
If, for all this, they close their eyes and will not see, then kata is contra, against them, to confute, to confound their vain imaginations. So kata proswpon will be against those that cry out, The light of righteousness rose not upon us; to prove the contrary now, kata proswpon, to their faces.
There is no idle word in Scripture; every adverb, and preposition, and article, the dictate of the Spirit. There are other words he might have used- enwpion emprosqeu, many more; but kata proswpon methinks on purpose.
(i.) It may be, besides what has been said, to distinguish the Jews and us, since this salvation came. Kata proswpon, before our faces. When the light is before, the shadows are behind. So it is with us, ever since the Sun of righteous-ness arose this day, since this light of salvation left the clouds. When the light is behind, the shadows are before. So to the Jewish synagogue; salvation behind the cloud to them: nothing before their eyes but veils and shadows; nothing else took up their eyesight; but "we with open face behold the glory of the Lord."
(ii.) Or may it not be, kata proswpon, against the face of the world, clean contrary? That is for nothing but glory and pomp: God works not as man works, but kata proswpon, against the hair; will have an humble Saviour, lowly born, of poor parentage, in a stable, wrapped in rags, laid in a manger; no royal cradle, no princely palace, without attendants, without state. The angels themselves, at such a sight as this, could not but paraknyai, bow down, and look, and look again, and mistrust their eyesight, to see God in a cratch, heaven in a stable: and bow clown we must our high towering thoughts, and lay them level with that from whence we were taken, if we would bless our eyes with so hidden secrets, or be partakers of so great salvation. They were poor shepherds that first saw this happy sight, as it were [202/203] on purpose to inform us that the poor humble spirit has the first rank among those who ever see salvation.
(iii.) Or, lastly, is it not kata secundum, according to, the inclination and capacity of all people? twu lawo of the people; laoj a laaj durum genus, stony-hearted people, those that set their faces against salvation; to soften them, if possi-ble, or else to break them in pieces like a potter's vessel. Or again, lawo laaj, people, so called from the corner-stone, Christ Jesus; such as had already turned their faces towards salvation; to further and encourage them. Or twulawn and equwn; not only of the people, to their capacity, but to theirs too who were neither his people, nor people; whose rude barbarisms had exempted them from the number of civil commonwealths; who did not deserve the name of people, not of men. 'Equwn without twu, without either article or adjective, such as nobody could point at with an article, or construe with an adjective: such as seem here to be excluded out of pantwu, that yet one would think includes all. Such as, if you were to number up all the world, you would leave out them: to these ei apokalnyin, to uncover and show them to the world, and out of their thick darkness to light them the way unto salvation.
(IV.) Which brings me to the benefits, together with the parties. Light and glory: light to the Gentiles, glory to Israel. "A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of the people of Israel."
(1.) I keep God's method, fiat lux; begin with light. I need not tell you it is a benefit. (i.) "Truly, light is sweet, and a pleasant thing it is," says the Preacher; and Mordecai joins "light and gladness" together. So Salutare lætificans it is, salvation that brings joy and gladness with it.
(ii.) Light, of all motions, has the most sudden; it even prevents the subtlest sense. And was it not so with this salvation? "When all things were in quiet silence, and that night was in the midst of her swift course, thine almighty word leaped down from heaven out of thy royal throne." Salutare præveniens vota; salvation that prevents our dreams, and awakes our slumbering consciences.
(iii.) And when our eyelids are past those slumbers, then "Lighten mine eyes, O Lord, that I sleep not in death."
[203/204] Those dark chambers have no lights. A light to lighten them, a light to show myself to myself; eij apokalvyin, to reveal my inmost thoughts, to show me the ugly deformity of my sins, will be a blessing. Lumen revelans tenebras; no dark-lantern light; a light to show us the darkness we are in; our salutare dispergens tenebras, salvation that dispels the horrid darkness.
(iv.) And to do that, the enlightening of the medium is not sufficient. In conspectu, kata proswpon, just before us it may be, and the windows of our eyes dammed up against it. A light then to pierce the organ--en, into it, it must be; lumen penetrans oculum, salvation not only presented to the eye but to the sight; the eye fitly disposed to behold it.
(v.) Every enlightening will not do that. It must be apokalnyij, the light of revelation. No other will serve the turn; not the light of nature, not the dictates of reason, not the light of moral virtues or acquired habits; but something from above, something infused, such as comes from apokalnyiV, divine inspiration. What light else? No remedy, but buried we must be in everlasting night. Scriptures or revealed truth, the revelation of Jesus Christ, must save who-ever shall be saved. "No man can come to me except the Father draw hire;" no man lay hold upon the name of Jesus, or salvation, but by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Lumen divinæ revelationis, salvation by the glorious light of divine revelation.
(vi.) There is an apokslnyij which yet wants an apokslnptein, a revelation that wants a revelation, such as S. John's, a dark one. This, an apokalnyij with a ywj, a lightsome one, such as revelations are when prophecies are fulfilled, of things past, not things to come. Lumen revelatoinis--revelatæ, a light of salvation as clear as day.
It is time now to ask whither it is this light and revelation lead us? I shall answer you out of Zachary's Benedictus. They "guide our feet into the way of peace." "Send forth thy light and thy truth, and they shall guide me,"--so David. Guide me. Whither? "To walk before God in the light of the living." One light to another, the light of grace to the light of glory. So lumen dirigens, or salutare pertingens ad coelum, salvation leading up to heaven.
Sum up all. Salvation to make us glad; a light, a light [204/205] to comfort, not a lightning to terrify. "The lightnings shone upon the ground, the earth trembled and was afraid:" no such, no lightning; nor S. Paul's light, a light to blind, -but to give light; nor to play about the medium only, but to open and dispose the weak dim eye; not by a weak glimmering of nature, nor by a dusky twilight, but by a clear revelation; not an ignis fatuus, to misguide us out of the way, into bogs and quagmires, but to guide us to peace and to salvation. Lastly, not a light to any to see only that they are inexcusable, ut essent inexcusabiles, "that seeing they might see, and not understand;" a light to light them down to hell, that they might see the way down through those gloomy shades with more case, horror, and confusion; (that is the event indeed sometimes, the end never;) but thither upward from whence it comes to swthroin at the beginning of the text, to doxa at the end. And can your thoughts prompt to your desires any greater benefits? can you wish more?
And yet, if we but consider in what plight the parties were upon whom the rays of thus light shone, the salvation will seem more beneficial. They were in darkness; and could anything be more welcome to "them that sit in darkness and the shadow of death," than "a light to lighten?" That was the miserable case the Gentiles now were in: neither have the heathen knowledge of his laws. It was so in David's time, and so continued on till this day's rising Sun scattered the clouds. And now the case is altered: Dedi to in lucem gentium, fulfilled in his time; the Gentiles now enlightened.
Enlightened, what is that? Those that are baptized are said to be "enlightened." So the Gentiles enlightened, will be in effect the Gentiles baptized. Baptized they may be with water, (and they had need of some such cleansing element, to wash their black, dark, sullied souls,) but there is another baptism--with the Holy Ghost and fire: fire, that is, light; so, to be baptized with light, will be with the Holy Ghost. It was heavy, midnight through the world. Judea was the only Goshen, the land of light, till He that was born this day, breaking down the partition that divided Palestine from the nations, gave way for the light which before shone only there, to disperse its saving beams quite through the world. Then did they whose habitations were [205/206] pitched in the region of death, whose dwellings in the suburbs of hell, see a marvellous great light spring up, that is salus personis accommodata, salvation fitted to the parties.
Fitted, and tempestively too; to them it never could have come so opportunely. The light of nature was almost quite extinguished; "light to lighten" that again; the light of grace quite vanished; an apokalntiV; for that: the understanding darkened by ignorance and error; the will darkened by hatred and malice; the most civilized Gentiles, so much degenerated from the beauty of moral virtues, (if we believe their own histories,) so strongly fettered with the bonds of that uncomfortable night, as if they "there lay exiled from the eternal providence," as the Wise Man phrases it, all in umbra mortis, next door to utter darkness; --when, behold, this "light" appears, this Sun rises with healing in his wings. Figured in the time of his birth, born when the days are shortest, most want of light; in the dead of night, when the nights are darkest; all to show opportunitatem salutis, the opportunity of thus salvation.
(2.) And is not gloria as fit for Israelis, as lux for gentium? Israel had a long time walked in light, and not a whit the better for it: that which must convert a Jew must be gloria, so bright a splendour that must rather command than invite the eve.
Gloria, "glory!" And indeed they needed it. So far now were they fallen below their former credit and honour in the world, so much beneath their ancient port and state, under the proud tyranny of a strange power, that nothing but glory could raise up their drooping heads.
I ask, though, why gloria Israelis? why so joined? Briefly thus: Of them he came according to the flesh; to them especially was he promised; amongst them he lived, preached, and wrought his miracles; in respect to him had all their glory, and all their prosperity was given them. In a word, "Salvation itself is of the Jew;" therefore their glory.
Yet, that Israelis populi should not lift up their crest too high, or despise those whose weaker light comes short of glorious beams, it is gentium first, then Israelis; "the Gentiles" in the first place here, "Israel" in the last. When [206/207] "the fulness of the Gentiles is come in," then for Israel too, then gloria in excelsis.
And as gentium has the precedence of Israelis, so has "light" of "glory." God works by degrees: first lux, then gloria--first grace, then glory. First he excites, then co-operates, then infuses, then assists, then crowns. It is a preposterous course to look for glory, where the light of grace never had operation.
But is glory so much the Jews' peculiar, that the Gentile never shall rise thither? It cannot be; yet so it seems at the first blush, lumen gentium, gloria Israelis--as if to each their part. Indeed, all have "light," and light sufficient; but it displays not into "glory" to any but populi Israelis tui. When they are become populi tui, "thy people Israel," then the light circles into rays--sufficiens into efficax, and they are saved. But if you mark it, it is not Israelis, but tui Israelis, not "Israel after the flesh," but "the Israel of God;" there we first hear of doxa, there "light" rises into "glory." And good hope there is the Gentiles may prove populi tui, "thy people" Vocavi populum meum; he said so whose vocavi is enough to make it so; and if populi tui, then Israelis tui, then they have prevailed with God; if "thy people," then "thy Israel," and so inheritors of this glory.
"Glory:" and glory so near the end of the text, makes me think of something without end; the highest pitch of this salvation, the perpetuity. Glory is a word proper to that life to come; false and adulterate glories they are that are below. "The glory of the people," that is eternal. Lumen and Gloria both meet in the text, and where they meet is eternity. It was the complaint of old, that their salvations, and saviours too, gave place at length to the necessity--of nature, and were seen no more. Here is a Saviour never dies; that for himself;--and "is become the author of eternal salvation;" that for us.
For, indeed, what is salvation-and salvation prepared for all, Jew and Gentile--and the light of salvation, without glory? Many lights there are that go out and set in darkness--that, when the matter, the wick, is worn away, die into dismal shades. If the "light" shines not into "glory," we are but in a poor case still.
[207/2208] And so we should be, would not this salvation now prove to be saviour, salutare tuunz be a saviour, salutare tuum be salvatorum nostrum. We told you, in speaking of to swthrion that it was God's peculiar. Now we tell you more: to swtnrion must be God. None can be salvation in abstracto but he; and none but he crown of "light" with "glory." So you have the Divine Nature of this Saviour, his Godhead; and yet there is another word in the text besides, for that. (1.) That is fwV light: and "God is light."
Ay, but sinned we had, and justice required that we should suffer. God cannot: he that must save us by suffering for us, must be man. He is so: Viderunt oculi, "my eyes have seen" it. No man has seen God at any time; therefore man he was. And "prepared,"--God cannot be so;--and prepared with a body, that is plain enough for factus homo, his human nature.
(2.) Now put both together, and you have the union of both natures; both united: eidon and swtnrion, salvation seen; swtnrion and ntoimsaj, salvation prepared; or vidi and lucem, light seen; or if you will, vidi and gloriam, his glory seen. "We saw the glory thereof, as of the only begotten Son of God." More: united into one person to swthon, ywj, doxa; all singular, one single person in the Deity.
But there are three persons there: as ywj a contract, the Divinity contracted unto man; so ywj derived from yaoj, light fetched from light; a person proceeding. "God of God, light of light," proceeding by way of generation: lux lucem generat, one light begets another. So the Second Person in the Trinity, the Son begotten of the Father.
But begotten a Son may be, and not coequal with his Father; a long time after, rather. Light, that is coequal with the fountain; as soon as a light body, so soon light to an instant. The Son coeternal with the Father, that is egressus ejus ab æterno, "His goings out from everlasting," his eternal generation.
He has another, his eternal generation, kata proswpou, "before the face of all people." Kata is down; so down he came when he was prepared; that was, when born of the Virgin Mary.
[208/209] There are three remarkable differences between this generation of his, and that of others, in the word light.
(i.) Light is all diffused at once, not by parts; now this, then another; and Christ's body was framed all at once, not membratim, one member after another, as other infants.
(ii.) Light enters through solid bodies, as glass, crystal, or the like, without either penetration of dimensions, or cracking the glass. So Christ from the virgin body of blessed Mary, without the least hurt to her virginity.
(iii.) The light shines in the midst of noisome vapours, yet itself is kept pure and sincere. In like manner, the Deity of Christ joined to the humanity, mixes not with its cor-ruption, nor is defiled by it. Marcion need not fear the truth of his body, lest our corruption should pollute his Godhead, when the light itself confutes him, and convinces him, by the infinite distance between itself and the power of the Creator.
(3.) There wants but one thing more to complete the mystery of this wonderful Saviour, that is his offices: if we can find them too in the test, if we can bring them to viderunt oculi, to be seen there, and stray no further, we have lighted upon a happy text, to swthoin_ indeed; a salvation and a Saviour to whom nothing can be added. Let us try.
He is a King: there is one of his offices; that from eqnoiu, Thence the prophet David seems to gather it: "Yet have I set my King upon my holy hill of Sion" How proves he that? Why, within a verse in comes, "I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance."
He is a Priest, next, in gloria Israelis: there is another of his offices. The priesthood the glory of the Jew. "The glory is departed from Israel," cries out Phinehas' dying wife. Why? Because the "Ark of God was taken," and is because of her father-in-law and her husband, they dead and gone. What were they? The priests of the Lord. When the ark and priests are gone, the glory of Israel is departed too; they rise and fall together. A Priest, then, but not to Israel after the flesh alone, or after the order of Aaron, but Israelis tui, of the true Israel; more properly entitled to this glory, as being "a Priest for ever, after the order of Melchisedeck."
Lastly, he is a Prophet in there is his third apokaluyiV: office, his prophetical; the light of prophecy is the light of revelation. A prophet, then, he is, to reveal unto us Divine mysteries, the will of his heavenly Father; "to give knowledge of salvation unto his people, by the remission of their sins."
A complete Saviour now; God and man; God begotten the Son, coeternal with the Father, born into the world of a virgin, pure and immaculate; took our nature without sin, without imperfection; a King for the Gentiles, a Priest for Israel, a Prophet for both: a King to defend us, a Priest to purge us, a Prophet to instruct us.
This the Saviour, God the Son. He our salvation too. Yet comes not salvation from him alone: from all three Persons, the whole Trinity, that; htoimasaj, there is the Father, preparing, ywj_sending; from yaioj, there is the Son, prepared, coming; _ eij apokalnyin--How is that but by the graces and gifts of the Holy Spirit?--there is the Holy Ghost, opening and enlightening our eyes that we may see him. All three plain enough in the test, as in the day viderunt oculi, your own eyes are witnesses.
Here is a sight indeed might well make old Simeon now desire to close up his eyes, to see no more; ne vitam hanc posthac aliqua contaminet ægritudine, all objects henceforth would but defile his eves.
But what tell you me of Simeon's theory--what of salvation, though never so great--what of in conspectu omnium, though never so general-what of light and glory, though never so excellent--if I may not back again to viderunt oculi mei --if I myself cannot perceive it--if it be so far distant off, that I cannot lay hold of it by mine own eyes of faith and hope-if I cannot see it to be mine, and with S. Paul apply it, "Who loved me and gave himself for me?" Omnium populorum is too large; all may, but all shall not, be saved. Viderunt oculi mei; that is somewhat, when mine own eyes can fix and dwell upon it.
Nay, that is not full enough, if__ oi oyqalmoi these very eyes that so long expected it, the eyes of my body, shall not be partakers of it. If they, when they are fallen into dust, shall lie for ever folded up in eternal darkness,--if eyes that [210/211] weep out themselves in devout tears with looking and expectation, shall not rise with these very bodies to that blessed vision, -what reward for all these sufferings? what recompence?
I will tell you how to see all, and stay no longer, nor go no further. This is the day of salvation, salvation-day; and, if ever, to-day he will be seen. Cast but your eyes up to the holy table thither, your very sense may there almost see salvation, behold your Saviour. There it is, there he is in the blessed sacrament. There it is prepared for you: "A body hast thou prepared;" his body, flesh and blood, prepared well nigh to be seen, to be tasted. "Oh taste and see how gracious the Lord is." Go up thither, and with old Simeon take him in your hands, take him yet nearer, into your bowels. "Take, eat:" you shall hear one say so by and by. But stay not there upon your sense, upon the outward element. Look upon him with your other eye, the eye of faith; let it be viderunt oculi, let it be both; let it be viderunt mei, the applying eye of a special faith. And, that you may be sure not to go away without beholding him, there is lumen in the test; and it would do well in your hands to search the dark corners of your hearts, to examine them. While our hearts are darkened with sins and errors we cannot see him; and if after strict examination we be not found in charity, we are yet in tenebris.--S. John tells us, Do but love your brother: "he that loves his brother abideth in the light." The sum is, faith must be the eye, repentance and charity the light, by which you shall this day see your Saviour, and apprehend salvation: the three requisites, those, to a worthy communicant. So shall you there find light to guide you out of the darkness of sin and misery; glory to instate you in the adoption of the sons of God; salvation with glory--salvation here, glory hereafter.
And when you have satisfied your eyes and hearts with this heavenly sight, go, return home to your private closets, shut up your eyes, never set open those windows to the vanities of the world again; but with a holy scorn disdain these painted glories, and let a veil of forgetfulness pass over them.
For our viderunt must not end when the Eucharist is past; [211/212] when we depart this sacred place. "I will take the cup of salvation," says the Psalmist: there it is: do that here. But "I will rejoice in thy salvation;" do so, both here and at home. Et exultabo; and let me see you do so. Let not your joy be stifled in your narrow bosoms, but break out into expression, into your lips, into your hands; not in idle sports, excess of diet, or vain pomp of apparel--not that joy, the joy of the world, but the joy of the Holy Ghost.
It is salvation that you have heard and seen, and are yet to see to-day: what is our duty now? If it he salvation, let us "work it out with fear and trembling." It is salvation to be "seen," some eminent work: let us then confess "We have seen strange things to-day." A most certain sure salvation it is: let not a sacrilegious, doubtful thought cast a mist upon it. It is "prepared;" let us accept it;--prepared for all; let us thank God for so fair a compass, and not uncharitably exclude ourselves or others. God has enlarged the bowels of his mercy; let us not straiten them. It is "a light;" let us arise and walk after it. It is a "glory;" let us admire and adore it.
Was our Saviour "seen?" so should we be every day in the congregation. Was he "prepared" to-day? let us be always shod with the "preparation of the gospel of peace." Does he "enlighten" us? Oh let us never extinguish or hide that light, till this light be swallowed up by the light of the Lamb; till this "dayspring from on high" prove midday; till gentium and Israelis be friendly united in to swthoin, and no darkness to distinguish them, no difference between light and glory; till the beginning and end of the text meet together in the circle of eternity; till viderunt oculi meet with gloriam; till our eyes may behold that light which is inaccessible, that light and glory which know no other limits but infinite, nor measure but eternity.
To which he bring us, who this day put off his glory to put on salvation, that by his salvation we might at length lift up our heads in glory, whither he is again ascended, and now sits together with his Father and the Holy Ghost. To which Three Persons and One God be given all praise, and power, and thanks, and honour, and salvation, and glory, for ever and ever. Amen.