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“ 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 power “ is given unto me in heaven and in earth : go ye “ therefore 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 whatsoever I have commanded you.”1 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 supersede 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 inculcate 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, where“ with 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 purifying 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,” says Christ, “ the light of the world; a city “ set upon a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men
light a candle, 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 cloisters, 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,
I. 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.
I. 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 energetic 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 Christianity 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 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
Isa. lx. 1-3.
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
of peace;" to open
and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto “ God:” and, when these effects are produced, men “are made the children of light and of the day,” and are exhorted to a consistent deportment. St. Paul addresses the Philippians in words very
similar to those of this text : “Do all things without “murmurings and disputings; that ye may be “ blameless and harmless, the sons of God, with“ out rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse “nation, 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, a holy nation, a peculiar people ; “ that ye should shew forth the praises of him who “ hath called you out of darkness into his mar“ vellous light.” But we need not multiply proofs in so plain a
The apostles derived a primary splendour from Christ, “ the light of the world;" and their light shone before vast multitudes with peculiar lustre. The ordinary pastor diffuses the same light in his circle, and according to his measure: and the meanest Christian has his little influence and a few observers, among whom too his light
Luke i. 79. Acts xxvi. 18. Eph. v. 8—14. ? Phil, ii. 14, 16. 1 Pet. ii. 9.