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and labour to the utmost of our power, to hasten it forward. We should even now anticipate it ; yea, we will anticipate it: “O house of Jacob, come ye, and let us walk in the light of the Lord !"
Let us walk in the light, I. Of his truthHis truth now shines in its meridian splendour
[“ The darkness is indeed past; and the true light now shinetha.” “The day-star has arisen:" "the day-spring from on high hath visited us ° :” “the Sun of Righteousness a shineth forth in his brightness: and the way of salvation through a crucified Redeemer is now so plain, that “ no wayfaring man, though a fool, can err thereine
« On the face of Moses there was a veil, that they who received the law should not see its full import: but if the Gospel be hid, it is from those only whom the god of this world hath blinded; since “ we may all with open (that is, unveiled) face behold as in a mirror the glory of the Lord?”—--] Let us then walk in it
[Having the light, we should “believe in the light, that we may be the children of lights." We should embrace with all thankfulness the way of salvation revealed in the Gospel. We should "come to Christ,” as the appointed Saviour of a ruined worldh: we should “ look to him," as dying upon the cross for usi: we should " build upon him, as our only foundationk;” and “cleare unto him with full purpose of heart?; and “determine to know none but himm," and to "glory in nothing but the cross of Christ n"- “Arise then, and be enlightened, for the light is come; and the glory of the Lord is risen upon you°."]
Whilst confiding in God as reconciled to us by the blood of the cross, we should endeavour to walk in the light, II. Of his countenanceThis is the privilege of a true believer
[So it is declared to be, by one who experienced it richly in his own soul P. God presents himself to us in the Gospel
a 1 John ii. 8.
Ps. lxxxix. 15.
b 2 Pet. i. 19. c Luke i. 78, 79.
under the endearing relations of a Father and a Friend, to whom we may carry every want, every trial, every difficulty; and from whom we may expect a supply according to our need. He will be not only our God,” but “ a God unto us," putting forth all his wisdom, all his love, and all his power, to make us truly blessed. He will engage in this work with his whole heart and with his whole soul;" so that it must be utterly our own fault if we be not as holy, and as happy, as our hearts can wish -] Let us then enjoy our privilege
[Let us "walk with God," as Enoch did ; and “ glory in him as the God of our salvation.” See what holy joy David found in communion with him --- and shall we who live under a so much nobler dispensation experience less? Shall not we, who have so much clearer views of Christ, “ rejoice in him with joy unspeakable and glorified ?”. O let us “delight ourselves in God," and have even now, “in the secret of his presence" and the consolations of his Spirit, an earnest and a foretaste of our heavenly inheritance --] But we shall in vain hope to enjoy his presence,
if we walk not also in the light, III. Of his commandments
These are given by him “as a light to our feet and a lantern to our paths"
[Without them we should not "know how to walk and to please God;" but by them we are fully informed in all things that are needful for us to dou. They do not indeed descend to every particular circumstance in which we can be placed; but they afford principles which are universally applicable, and which are quite sufficient for our direction when duly applied. The duty of“ doing to others as we would be done unto," is so comprehensive as to embrace every part of our social duty, whilst it is so simple that it may be comprehended and applied by every one who desires to please God.]
Let us then make these the one rule of our conduct
(Let us not attempt to reduce them to the standard of the world, but endeavour rather to raise our conduct to the standard of God's revealed will. Let us treasure up in our minds the most exalted precepts, and "hide God's word in our hearts, that we may not sin against him ;" for “then shall
91 Chron. xvii. 24. r Jer. xxxii. 41. & Ps. Ixiï. 1-5. and cxlv, 1-12. and cl. • Ps. xxxi. 20. Eph. i. 13, 14, u Prov. vi. 23.
we not be ashamed, when we have respect unto all God's
[It is but too true, that “all are not Israel, who are of Israel:" and those who are only of the house of Jacob by name and profession, may know it by their walk and conversation. Consider, I pray you, in what light you have walked: Is it not manifest, that the generality who call themselves Christians are influenced only by the things of time and sense; and that their principles and pursuits are altogether earthly? Know then, ye lovers of this present evil world, that, if God's word may be depended on, you are deluding yourselves to your eternal ruin. You “sow the wind, and you shall reap the whirlwindy." When will you begin to see, that "one thing," and one thing only, “is needful?” When will you learn to say, “ Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire in comparison of thee?” That you should seek present, as well as eternal, happiness, we grant: but you should seek it where David did; “Who will shew us any good ? Lord, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us; and that will put more gladness in my heart than any increase of corn, wine, and oil can ever doz."] 2. Those who are really som
[You have found that God in Christ is “a fountain of life; and in his light you have seen lighta.” You therefore
children of the light and of the day.” But if you are so highly distinguished in your character, think how distinguished you should also be in our conduct". The eyes of all are upon you: they will look particularly to see whether religion is such a source of happiness as you profess. Oshew them that "you need neither the sun to lighten you by day, nor the moon by night, since the Lord has been a light unto you, and your God your glory.” Shew them that even in the greatest troubles you
have a fountain of consolation to go unto; and that “when you walk in darkness, the Lord is a light unto you d.” And, as it is eminently characteristic of Gospel times to encourage one another in the ways of God, see that you do so, “speaking one with another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your hearts unto the Lord.”
* Isai. 1. 11.
y Hos. viii. 7. z Ps. iv, 6, 7.
Then, from enjoying God in his courts below, you shall be taken to serve him in his temple above, where your largest desires shall be satisfied, and your utmost capacities be filled ]
e Rev. xxi. 22, 23. Ps. xvi. 11.
FINAL STATE OF MAN.
Isai. iii. 10, 11. Say ye to the righteous, that it shall be well
with him: for they shall eat the fruit of their doings. Woe unto the wicked ; it shall be ill with him: for the reward of his hands shall be given him.
THE Ministers of the Gospel are“ stewards of the mysteries of God," whose office it is “rightly to divide the word of truth," and to “ give every one his portion in due season.” They are to “take forth the precious from the vile, and to be as God's mouth to all,” declaring their true character, and their proper doom, Their commission is sealed in the words before us, and the very message they are to deliver as God's ambassadors, is recorded for their direction to the end of time. In complying with the duty here enjoined, we shall, I. Describe the characters that are to be addressed
There are but two classes of men in the world ; “ the righteous” and “the wicked.”
[However diversified men's states may be in some particulars, they all must be ranked under the one or the other of these heads. In distinguishing them, therefore, we must include in the first class, not merely the more eminent saints, but the least and meanest of God's people; seeing that there are in God's household “ babes, and young men, as well as fathers :." And in the second class we must comprehend all those persons, who, however admired by an undiscerning world, are reputed wicked in the sight of God.
I may say then, they are “righteous” who have been renewed in the spirit of their mind, and are following after universal holiness; and they, on the other hand, are "wicked," who are still in a carnal unregenerate state, and render only a formal and partial obedience to the divine law.
But that I may put this in the clearest possible light, I will say, They are “righteous," who make religion the great business of life, and prosecute it upon the principles of the Gospel; and all others without exception must be numbered amongst “ the wicked.” Of course, I must not be understood to say that worldly business is to be neglected. On the contrary, it must be attended to with all diligence : but it must be followed in subserviency to the concerns of the soul. It must occupy, not the first, but the second place in our esteem. The heart must be God's, and God's alone b.
a 1 John ii. 13.
Now to these distinct classes does God send a separate message; and therefore it is of great importance that we should ascertain to which we belong. Let us then, before we proceed to the consideration of God's message, inquire seriously to which of these classes we belong?
Can we truly appeal to God, that, in the estimation of our minds and in the habit of our lives, the salvation of our soul is regarded as the one thing needful? If our conscience bear witness to the truth of this, then I must proceed yet further to ask, whether we prosecute the concerns of the soul upon the principles of the Gospel ? The Pharisees of old engaged with great ardour in religious duties: but they were not “ righteous” in God's sight, because they sought by their religious observances to establish a righteousness of their own instead of submitting to the righteousness which God had provided for them°. So it is with the Papists, who observe with great strictness many religious rites, in the hope of recommending themselves thereby to the Divine favour. But the religion of the Gospel is altogether different from this. It requires us to seek for acceptance solely through our Lord Jesus Christ, and to cleave unto him as “all our salvation, and all our desire.” Say, then, Brethren, whether as before God this is your experience from day to day? Say whether ye are washing daily in the fountain of his blood, and clothing yourselves with his unspotted righteousness, and, from a sense of his redeeming love, endeavouring in all things to fulfil his holy will ? --]
This, if carefully inquired into, will give a clear line of demarcation for us all: and we entreat all to arrange themselves, as it were, before God in that particular class to which conscience tells them they belong; and to attend with solemn awe, while we, II. Deliver God's message to each of them
God commands his ministers to “warn the wicked,"
b Prov. xxiii. 26.
c Rom. ix. 31, 32. and x. 2—4. d Ezek. xxxiii. 7.