Sunday, November 8, 2009

Upon A Lamp and A Star

William Spurstowe, The Spiritual Chymist: or, Six Decades of Divine Meditations on several Subjects, Meditation XVI, pp. 24-26:

Upon a Lamp and a Star

Such is the disparity between a Lamp and a Star, as that happily it may not a little be wondered at, as to why I should make a joint meditation of them which are so greatly distant in respect of place, and far more in respect of quality, the one being an earthly, and the other a heavenly body.

What is a Lamp to a Star in regard of influence, duration, or beauty? Hath it any quickening rays flowing from it? Or is its light immortal, so as not to become despised by expiring? Can it dazzle the beholder with its serene luster, and leave such impressions of itself upon the eye, as may render it for a time blind to any other objects?

Alas! These are too high and noble effects for such a feeble and uncertain light to produce, and proper only to those glorious bodies that shine in the firmament.

But yet this great inequality between the one and the other serves to make them both more meet emblems of the differing estate of believers in this and the other life, who in Scripture, while they are on this side heaven, are compared to wife virgins with Lamps burning, and when they come to heaven, to Stars shining, which endure forever and ever.

Grace in the best of saints is not perfect, but must, like a lamp, be fed with new supplies that it go not out, and be often trimmed that it be not dim. Ordinances are as necessary to Christians in this life as manna to the Israelites in the wilderness though in Canaan it ceased.

And therefore, God hath appointed His Word and Sacraments to drop continually upon the hearts of His children, as the two olive trees upon the golden candlestick.

What mean then those fond conceits of perfectionists, who dream of living above all subsidiary helps, and judge ordinances as useless to them, as oil for a Star, or a snuffing of the Sun to make it shine more bright?

It is true, when we come to heaven such things will be of no more use to our souls,than meat or drink will be to our bodies; but yet while we are on the earth,the body cannot live without the one, nor the soul without the other.

Do thou therefore, holy God, preserve in me a due sense of my impotency and wants, whose light is fading, as well as borrowed, that so I may daily suck supplies from Thee, and acknowledge that I live not only by grace received, but by grace renewed, and while I am in this life, have light only as a Lamp in the Temple, which must be fed and trimmed, and not as a Star in heaven.

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