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I have thought it right, my brethren, to deliver to you my testimony at this time; to assure you that the gospel which begins to enlighten the east, is not "another gospel,” as the Apostle speaks, but the same as your own.
There is one Sun; there is one Gospel' “There is one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism;" and there is one Judgment. May we be all prepared to give our answer on that day!
My brethren, you are now invited to contribute some aid towards the extension of the religion of Christ. You are now called on to give your testimony to its truth. You are now, as it were, to present “your gifts” before Him who was born Saviour of the world; and to send back those " glad tidings" to the east, which the east once sent to you, namely that the light is come, that “the desire of all nations is come." Let every one who prays with his lips, “Thy kingdom come," prove to himself, at this time, his own sincerity, that he really desires in his heart that the kingdom of Christ should come. Blessed is the man who accounts it not only a duty, but a previlege, to dispense “the word of life" amongst his fellow-men. It is indeed, a privilege, and so you will account it hereafter, when you shall behold all nations assembled before the judgment seat of Christ. You will then reflect with joy that you were enabled, at this time, “to confess his name before men,” and to afford some aid for the “increase of his governinent" and glory upon earth. And let every one who lends this aid accompany it with prayer, that the act may be blessed to himself in awakening his mind more fully to the unutterable importance of the everlasting gospel.
LIGHT OF THE WORLD.
MATTHEW V. 14.
Ye are the Light of the World.
“IN the beginning was the word and the word was with God, and the word was God,” John i, 1. "And the word was made flesh, and dwelt among us; and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only-begotten of the father, full of grace and truth," John i, 14. And the word, being "manifest in the flesh, was justified in the spirit, seen of angels” in this humble state "preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory," i Tim. iii. 16.
This, my brethren, is the sụm of that divine record, which is to give light to the world. Christ is the fountain
of light. "I am the light of the world," saith the Eternal Word. When therefore he saith, “Ye are the light of the world,” he means not that ye are that light, but are to "to bear witness of that light,” John i, 18. Ye are merely instruments of the light (like the greater and lesser lights in the firmament of heaven) to reflect and diffuse it throughout the world.
Christ is the fountain of light, that is, of spiritual light. For, as the light of reason was conferred on the first man Adam, and is natural to all men; so the Light of Life cometh by the second Adam, who is "a quickening spirit, the Lord from heaven. “He that followeth me," saith Christ, “shall have the light of life;" John viii, 12.
you may have clear conceptions on this subject, we shall, in our introduction, discuss this doctrine of our Saviour concerning the Light of Life,” even that spiritual light by which, saith the Apostle, "the eyes of our understanding are enlightened," Eph. i, 18; for I fear that many discourses have been pronounced in this nation without any allusion to it. And, first, let us inquire who those persons were whom our Lord called “the light of the world.” This appellation was not given to the Jewish nation in general, but to a few individuals, whom the great body of the Jews supposed to be in the darkness of error; but who, in reality, saw the true light while "the darkness comprehended it not.”
As it was in the days of Christ, so it is in our time: the spiritual light is not poured upon a whole nation, or upon a whole community of men by any system of education, but it is given to individuals; even to such individuals as earnestly pray for it.. “He, that followeth me," saith Christ, “shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life,” for "every one, that asketh, receiveth: he, that seeketh, findeth: and to him, that knocketh, it shall be opened,” Matt. vii, 8. And this is expressly spoken in reference to the gift of the Holy Spirit. A whole nation may enjoy the external light, and may exhibit the civilizing power of christianity, and yet be involved in spiritual darkness. And this is the hard saying” which the world cannot receive.""The words of scripture,” say they, "are sufficient of themselves to illuminate the mind without the light from heaven.” The dead letter hath light enough for them. Whereas the apostle saith, "God hath made us able ministers of the New Testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life,” 2 Cor. iii, 6. But the world in general will not receive this truth. “And this is the condemnation,” saith our Lord,' that light is come into the world, and men love darkness rather
than light.” Thus St. Paul himself disbelieved once, and proceeded to Damascus, having his heart filled with enmity against this heavenly doctrine. But behold, "he saw in the way a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining round about him:" yet this external light was but a faint emblem of that ILLUMINATION, which was imparted to his soul, and which our Saviour calleth "the light of life.”
My brethren, unless a man have the light of life, he cannot see the kingdom of God. For, though there be no external miracle, like that in the case of the apostle, to accompany it; yet the internal miracle subsists, in all its truth and reality; and is manifested at this day in the same kind of vigor and efficacy, as in the first days of the gospel. For, as the first Christians and the Christians of this age are to be partakers of the same glory in heaven, so it is necessary that they acquire the same meekness for that inheritance, and become subjects of the same conversion of heart here on earth.
I would record this doctrine of the divine illumi. nation in the very threshold of our discourse; for it is of importance that its truth be made manifest to ourselves before it be preached to the heathen world. But it will be usefulto prosecute the argument further.
It is common to arraign that ancient people, the Jews, for their unbelief: and we are wont to view their hardness of heart with a kind of horror. But, in regard to the doctrine alluded to, Jews and nominal Christians are in the same condemnation. The Jews received the words of scripture as we do: but they rejected the spiritual light. “When they read the Old Testament,” saith the apostle, “the veil is upon their hearts unto this day;" they perceived not the spiritual kingdom of the promised Messiah. In like manner, when nominal Christians read the New Testament, the veil is upon their hearts, and they perceive not the promise of the Holy Spirit. For,
as the Messiah, God the son, was the one great object presented to view in the promises and prophecies of the Old Testament; so the subject of the grand promise in the New Testament, is God the HOLY GHOST. The Holy Spirit is the very life and essence, and, in regard to actual operation on the hearts of men, the alpha and omega of the new dispensation, which is einphatically called "the ministration of the SPIRIT," 2 Cor. iii, 8. This was that "promise of the Father of which our Saviour spake with such earnestness and exultation to his disciples; and which he said would "abide in the world for ever” John. xiv, 16. The day of Pentecost was. properly the first day of the Christian dispensation: for on that day the fountains of divine influence were opened for the universal church; never to be closed again to the end of time. Unless this light of the spirit had been shed forth, the apostles themselves could not have fully understood the gospel, even after hearing the words of Christ from the beginning of his ministy to the hour of his ascension. And, without this light, the New Testament, in regard to its spiritual meaning, must be as "a sealed book” to every man at this day.
Men of the world acknowledge, indeed, that there is a promise of divine light under the new dispensation; but they allege that it was intended for others, and not for them. They say that the light shone a little while at the beginning of the Christian religion, but was soon extinguished, and that the world was left again in darkness! They do not understand, they say, that there is any difference between the dispensation of Moses and the dispensation of Christ, except merely in the publication of an inspired book throughout the world! What further evidence can we require of the existence of a kingdom in this world, which is under the dominion of that spirit, who is called by our Saviour, “the prince of darkness;” and by St. Paul the god of this world” who