« AnteriorContinua »
Think then frequently and intensely on eternity and its infinite importance: meditate seriously on the death of Christ; the design, manner, causes, and effects of it; the instructions conveyed and the obligations conferred, by that great event-Pray earnestly for the sanctifying influences of the Holy Spirit, which alone can prevent or cure lukewarmness, and maintain the life and power of godliness in the soul. Examine particularly every part of your disposition and conduct: be willing to know the whole of your case as it really is.---Withdraw from the company of the lukewarm, and associate with zealous christians: and ne. ver admit a doubt, but that the more fervent, diligent, and fruitful you become, the greater will be your peace and comfort in life and death, and the more abundant your gracious recompence in the realms of blessedness.
- We have all of us, my brethren, considerable cause for humiliation in this matter; and have need to redouble our diligence, in using all these means, that we may make progress, and grow in grace. But while the Lord says to all, “Behold I stand at the “ door and knock; if any man hear my voice, and
open the door, I will come in to him, and will
sup with him, and he with me:” he adds for the encouragement of those, who are fighting the good fight of faith, perhaps with conscious feebleness and many fears, “ To him that overcometh will I give to
“ “ sit down with me upon my throne: even as I also “ overcame, and am set down with my Father on his " throne. He then that hath an ear let him hear what " the Spirit saith unto the churches."
MATTHEW v. 16.
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see
your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
OUR blessed Lord just before his ascension into heaven, thus addressed his apostles: “ All “ given unto me in heaven and in earth: Go ye there“fore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the “ name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy “Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatso“ever I have commanded you."* Hence we learn, that there is a measure of instruction which precedes an intelligent profession of the gospel, comprising the first principles of the doctrine of Christ: and that there is also a more particular and exact instruction, by which ministers should endeavour to form the judgment and direct the conduct of believers, in all the several parts of Christianity. This distinction ought to be carefully remembered; that we may not suppose, the practical exhortations given to believers supersedes the necessity of regeneration, repentance, and faith in the Son of God, as numbers seem to think; nor yet deem it inconsistent with the purest evangelical views, to explain particularly, and incul. cate most earnestly, the several parts of our duty to God and to our neighbour.
Matt. xxviii, 18.-20.
In the Sermon on the mount, our Lord first shews, in the several beatitudes, that happiness principally depends on the state of the heart: and then addressing the disciples, in the presence of the multitude, he said, “ Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt " have lost its savour, wherewith shall it be salted? “ It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out " and trodden under-foot of men.” Christians, as scattered over the earth, ought to communicate a parifying savour of piety and righteousness, and thus to prevent the increasing depravity of the human race: but graceless preachers and professors of the gospel are the vilest and most hopeless of men." Ye are," suy's Christ,“ the light of the world; a city sct upon
an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a can
dle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick, * and it giveth light to all that are in the house." True Christians, placed in different families, villages, streets, cities, and nations, diffuse the light of divine truth, received from the Sun of righteousness, in their several circles. This also renders them conspicuous: their tempers, words, and actions will surely be observed and exactly scrutinized. Nor were they
Enlightened from above, in order to be immured in cloysters, or to retire into deserts, like lamps put under a bushel: but it is the Lord's will, that they should resemble candles placed on candlesticks in the midst of a room, to give light to every part of it. Therefore“ let your light so shine before men, that they "may see your good works, and glorify your Father “ which is in heaven.”-It may be proper for us,
1. To consider the persons, to whom this exhortation is especially addressed.
II. To examine more fully its import, And
III. To state the object, which we should aim at in complying with it. 1. The persons to whom the words are especially addressed.
Some expositors seem to confine the exhortation to the apostles, or to the ministers of the gospel, exclusively. But though the words are peculiarly proper and energetick in this application: yet, it is evident that all Christians are, in their own circle and measure,
lights in the world;" and all who profess Christiani. ty may be exhorted to act consistently with their avowed character. In other parts of scripture similar exhortations are addressed to believers in general. The evangelical prophet, viewing the church as a disconsolate female sitting in darkness upon
the ground, thus encourages her, “ Arise, shine; for thy light is
come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. « For behold the darkness shall cover the earth; and
gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee: " and the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings Vol. I.
" to the brightness of thy rising."* When the light of the glory of God in the face of Christ illuminates the church; then she arises from the dust, reflects the bright beams of the Sun of righteousness, and shines as a light to the Gentiles. The gospel is sent “ to
give light to them that sit in darkness and the " shadow of death, to guide their feet into the way “ of peace:” “To open their eyes, and to turn them “ from darkness to light, and from the power of Sa
tan unto God:” and when these effects are pro. duced, men “are made the children of light and of “ the day,” and are exhorted to a consistent deportment.f St. Paul addresses the Philippians in words very similar to those of the text: “Do all things with“ out murmurir:gs and disputings; that ye may be “.blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without “ rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse na“tion, among whom ye shine,” (or “shine ye,'')
" “ as lights in the world; holding forth the word of life “ that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have
not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.” And St. Peter uses language to the same effect; “ Ye are “ a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy na. “ tion, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth “ the praises of him, who hath called you out of dark“ness into his marvellous light.”I
But we need not multiply proofs in so plain a case. The apostles derived a primary splendour from Christ, the Light of the world; and their light shone before
Is. Ix. 1-3.
† Luke i. 79, Acts xxvi. 18. Eph. V. 8-14. | Phil. ii. 14. 16. 1 Pet. ii, 9.