For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. 2 Cor. 4:6
There is a vast difference between a conviction of the doctrines of grace in the head, and an adoring the grace of those doctrines in the heart.
A speculative knowledge of gospel truth, that goes no further than a mere outward notion of it, may be found in a natural man. This knowledge of truth is a cold, unaffecting, and unattracting knowledge, that leaves the will and affections just where it found them. A natural man, indeed, may have some natural pleasure in getting some new notions of truth, but he experiences no soul-attraction to the things known.
A spiritual discernment of gospel truths is very different from a bare speculative knowledge of them; in that the glory of truth shines into the mind, which produces a sweet and strict adherence thereto, by all the inward powers of the soul. The understanding discerns the truth in its beauty, glory, and excellency; the judgment approves it; and the will and affections embrace and clasp about it. In a word, the whole soul unites with the truth, and is changed into the image of it.
Oh! when the least beam of Gospel truth shines in upon the mind with such a ravishing beauty and majestic glory as draws the heart to love it, and makes the soul bow down before it, this is a saving illumination, set up in the soul of a vessel of mercy, which is the very beginning of its future glory. It is God’s shining into our hearts by a new creating efficacy to give the light, not only of the knowledge of God, but of the glory of God, in the face of Jesus Christ; which word imports the ravishing beauty and all-attracting efficacy of gospel grace darting in upon the mind as a supernatural revelation, which unites the soul to the things beheld, to the objects revealed.
From this saving illumination the soul feels a sweet and strong attraction, by which, being drawn with cords of love, it comes unto Christ in its desires after Him, as beheld, altogether lovely.
Wherever the truths of the gospel are known, and so known in their beauty and excellency as to knit and unite the heart to them, or to draw out the soul into desires after and adoration of the glories beheld—that man is a regenerate man.