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dominion of sin is destroyed, and the reign of
grace, which is the reign of Christ the Redeemer, has commenced in the soul. This reign, triumphing over every opposition, produces constant and increasing conformity to God.
The great design of Christ in dying for sin, was to “ purify unto himself a pecu“ liar people zealous of good works“. The truths which he has revealed, referring directly or indirectly to his death as the central point of the whole system, are embraced by those in whom he reigns, with a distinct knowledge, that their effects are mortifying to the flesh, with its affections and lusts. They completely annihilate our pride, by unfolding our real character as rebels against an infinitely good and holy God; and our degraded, miserable condition, in consequence of this rebellion. They proscribe, without exception, every thing which the carnal mind loves, or to which it looks for comfort. They declare the wisdom of man to be foolishness, and his moral power weakness. They ascribe all the glory of our recovery to the sovereign mercy of God, and do not
a Titus ii. 14.
allow unto us the least particle of merit, or of ability to restore ourselves to his favour. The uniform language which they speak is this : 5
By grace are ye saved through faith; “ and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of “ God; not of works, lest any man should “ boast.”
All these truths are approved by the understanding; cherished by the affections ; and used by the intellectual and active powers of the soul, enlightened by the Spirit of Christ, so as to enable the “ law of the “ mind” to obtain new and important victories over the “ law of sin in the mem“ bers.” Every such victory is a blessing to society, not only by diminishing the influence of corruption in individuals, and thus purifying social intercourse, but also by stimulating and sanctifying the intellectual powers of men in their pursuit after the acquisition of general knowledge. Such is the renovation of the “inner man,” which Christ by his Spirit achieves : a renovation which evidently is the work of God. His is the glory of the work; the benefit belongs to sinful man !
a Eph. ii. 8, 9.
3. Christ is the Light of the world, inasmuch as he is the Author and Supporter of a walk and conversation corresponding with this renovation of the soul which he produces.
Such a walk and conversation, which constitute the outward manifestation of inward grace, have a necessary
a necessary relation to a rule or standard, according to which they are regulated. This is the law of God, which was broken by man when he sinned; and of which “ Christ is the end for righteousness“.” He obeyed it in his life; honoured it by his death; and, having fulfilled its conditions as a covenant of works, he publishes it as a rule of conduct for all his redeemed people. Being made willing in the day of his power, they obey it sincerely; with affection ; universally. They are convinced that it is holy, just, and good; suited to their dependent nature, and calculated to make them happy. Therefore, “ denying “ ungodliness and worldly lusts, they live
soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world.”
The two great duties of the law, piety towards God and bene
volence towards men, they seek to perform wherever and whenever they can. They are strictly religious and exemplarily moral in their whole deportment. In all the relations of life, domestic, social, literary, political, ecclesiastical, they study to make their · light so shine before men, that they may
their good works, and glorify their Fa" ther who is in heavena.” By these good works, they afford the public evidences of the reign of grace in their souls. The inner man being subject to the authority and influence of Christ, the outward man displays the effects of that authority and influence, by doing all things which Christ has commanded.
Thus it is that Christ is the Light of the world; originally communicating to mankind the great truth of his death, and with it the knowledge of all necessary truths connected with, and subordinate to, this truth; constraining multitudes among them by his Spirit cordially to embrace the great truth of his death, being planted in the likeness of it; and leading those whose hearts are thus warmed by the Sun of righteousness,
a Matt. v. 16.
in the ways of righteousness, holiness, and peace.
II. Let us now follow the course of this Light of the world, from his first appearance, till he shall reach the latter-day glory, shining brighter and brighter, and imparting corresponding benefits so far as his rays extend.
The corresponding benefits to which we refer, are those exertions of intellect, or habits of moral deportment, which, originating in, and fostered by, the death of Christ, promote the chief good of men. These benefits are essential to civilization in society, and indeed constitute the peculiar nature of civilization. For in what consists the difference between a civilized and savage state of society ? Generally in this, that the principles of social intercourse in civilized life, are ascertained with the utmost precision. Nothing which affects the interests of the community, if it be practicable to bring every thing of this nature within the control of laws, either enacted by authority or adopted by general consent, is left to the capricious feelings, or to the passions of individuals. Hence the more civilized a peo