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that black night of ignorance and accursed darkness that otherwise had never ended, but passed on to an endless night of eternal misery ! Says not Zacharias with good reason in his song, that it was through the tender mer. cy of God that this day-spring from on high did visit us ?
Now, says the apostle, this day appearing, it is time to awake. And the longer it is since it began to appear, and the clearer the light grows, the more high time is it to awake and rise, and cast off night-clothes and nightworks, works of darkness, and to put on garments, yea, armour of light. He that is a soldier, his garments are pot on till bis arms be on and his sword about him ; then be is ready: especially in a time and posture of war, and the enemy lying nigb, even rouod about him; and this is every Christian's state while he is here. An armour of light, not only strong and useful, but comely and graceful, fit to walk abroad in, bright shining armour; as your old poets describe their champions, dazzling their
And thus apparelled, we are to behave purselves suitably, to walk honestly as in the day, not in rioting and drunkenness. That is a vight-work, as the apostle bath it, 1 Thes. v, 7. To stagger and reel in the streets in daylight, to be drunk in the morning, is most shameful : so is that spirit of drunkenness as unbeseeming Christians ; to see them burrying and justling one another, as drunk with love of earthly things, and their spirits so besotted and unfitted for spiritual things, that they find no pleasure in them.
Chambering and wantonness. All impure lascivious conversation, how vile are these, and unfit for the light! Even nature is ashamed to be seen in these things, in the natural light of the day; much more will grace in the spiritual light of the gospel.
Strife and envy. As shuffles and hot quarrels are most of all upseemly in the streets in day-light, so the quarrels and jarrings of Christians are very shameful before the light wherein they walk. The gospel of Christ, the grand doctrine thereof, is meekness and love. But 0 where are they, those graces that so abound in the doctrine of Cbristianity, and yet are so scarce in the lives of Christians ? Where are they who look gladly on the good of others, and bear evils and injuries from their neighbours patiently, and repay evil with good? Thus it vught to be; but, on the contrary, how ready are most men to part on the least occasions, to bite and snarl at each other! There is more still of the spirit of the dragon than of the dove. My brethren, remember and consider, that the gospellight shines amongst us, and that more clearly than iu former times, and more clearly than to most people in the world in these times ; and do not outface and affront the blessed light with the accursed works of darkness. You might have been profane in former times, or in some other place, at a cheaper rate.
Know, that if this glorious light do not break off your course of sin, it will increase your load of judgment. The heaviest of all condemnations, is to live in darkness, and to live and die in it, in the midst of light. Amongst
your desperate accursed wishes, this shall be one, and a chief one, that either the Son of God had never come into the world, or that you had never heard of bim.
Much of what we aim at were gained, if Christians could be brought to consider who they are, and to walk like themselves : it would raise them above the base pleasures of sin, and the shares of the world. The way of life is on high to the just : there is a holy loftiness, a dis. dain of all impure sordid ways. It is said of Jehoshaphat, that his heart was lifted up in the ways of the Lord. As a vain self-conceited lifting up of the heart is the great enemy of our welfare ; (as it is written of another, even of a good king, Hezekiah, that his heart was lifted up, therefore was wrath upon him ;) so there is a happy exaltation of the heart, when it is raised in God, to des. pise all communion with the unholy, and the unholy ways of the world. This, my brethren, is that which I would were wrought in you by the consideration of our lioly calling. We are called to holiness, and not to uncleanness. Ye are the children of the light, and of the day ; 1 Thes. iv, 7; v, 5. Base night-ways, such as cannot endure the light, do not become you. O that comeliness which the saints should study, which they should keep in all their ways, one action like another, and all like Christ, living as in the light. They that converse with the best company, such persons are obliged to more decency in apparel. We live in the light, in the company of angels, of God, and Jesus Christ; and therefore should not do any thing that is low or mean, unbeseeming the rank we keep, and the presence of those with whom we associate. When the king passes through the country in progress, they who see him seldom, being either to attend him in his way or to receive him into their houses, will labor to bave all things in the best order they can for the time; but they that live at court, and are daily in the king's presence, are constantly court-like in their habit, and carriage, and all about them. O followers of the Lamb, let your garments be always white ; yea, let him be your garment; clothe yourselves with himself; have your robes made of his spotless fleece.
Put on the Lord Jesus. No resemblance is more usual than that of people's customs to their clothes, their babitudes to their habits. This the apostle used in the foregoing words, Put on the, furniture, or armour of light, having cast off the works of darkness, as clothes of darkness, night-clothes. And the word, walking decently, has something of the same resemblance contained in it. And here we have the proper beauty and ornament of Christians, even the Lord Jesus, recommended to them under the same notion ; Put on the Lord Jesus Christ. Him we put on by faith, and are clothed with hinı as our righteousness. We come unto our Father in our elder Brother's perfumed garments, and so obtain the blessing which he, in a manner, was stripped of for our sakes. He did undergo the curse, and was made a curse for our sakes : so the apostle speaks of him, Gal. iii, 13. We put him on, as the Lord our righteousness, and are made the righteousness of God in him. This investiture is first, when our persons are made acceptable, and we come into court. But there is another putting of him on in the conformity of holiness, which always accompanies the former; and that is it which is here meant. And this I declare unto you, that whosoever do not thus put him on, will find themselves deceived in the other, if they imagine it belongs to them.
They who are the sons of God and have the hope of inberiting with Christ, do really become like him, are even heirs in some degree now; and that blessed expectation they have, is to be fully like him. When he appears, we shall be like him, saith the apostle. And in the meanwhile, they are endeavouring to be so, and somewhat attaining it; as he adds, Every one that hath this hope, purifieth himself, even as he is pure. He is the only begotten Son, and we are so restored in him to the dig. nity of sons, that withal we are really changed into his likeness. He is the image of the Father that is renewed upon
It is the substance of religion, to be like him whom we worship. Man's end and perfection is likeness to God. But the distance, the unlikeness, yea, the contrariety, that is fallen upon our nature! The carnal mind is en. mity with God: the soul is, as it were, become flesh, and so most unsuitable to the Father of Spirits; it is become like the beast that perishes. Now to repair and raise us, this was the course taken: we could not rise up to God; he came down to us, yea, into us, to raise and draw us up again to him. He became like us, that we might become like him. God first put on man, that man might put on God. Putting on the Lord Jesus, we put on man; but that man is God, and so, in putting on man, we put on God. Thus putting on Christ, we put on all grace: we do this, not only by studying him as our copy and example, but by real participation of his Spirit; and that so, as that daily the likeness is growing, while we are carried by that Spirit to study his example, and enabled in some measure to conform to it; so that these two grow together, growing in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. He is the armour of light before spoken of: all our ornament and safety is in him. Some pictures of great persons you have seen, with arms and robes on at once: thus we, when clothed with Christ, have our arms and robes both on at once, yea, both in one, for he is both. So this is the great study of a Cbristian, to eye and read Christ muca, and, by looking on him, to become more and more like him, making the impression deeper by each day's meditation and beholding of him.
His Spirit in us, and that love which bis Spirit works, make the work easy, as sympathies do. And still the more the change is wrought, it becomes still the more easy to work it. This is excellently described by this apostle, 2 Cor. jii, 18.
Now we see our business. O that we had hearts to it! It is high, it is sweet, to be growing more and more Christlike every day. What is the purchase or conquest of kingdoms to this ? O what are we doing, who mind not this more ? Even they whose proper work it is, how remiss are they in it, and what small progress do they make! Are we less for the world and ourselves, and more for God, this year than the former? more meek and gentle, abler to bear wrongs, and to do good for them ? more holy and spiritual in our thoughts and ways, more abundant and fervent in prayer? I know there will be times of deadness and winter seasons, even in the souls of living Christians; but it is not always so, it will come about yet; so that, take the whole course of a Christian together, he is advancing, putting on still more of Christ, and living more in him. There is a closer union betwixt the soul and this its spiritual clothing, than betwixt the body and its garments: that doth import a transformation into Christ, put on as a new life or a new self. The Christian by faith doth this—he puts off himself, old carnal self, and instead thereof, puts on Jesus Christ, and thenceforward hath no more regard of that old self, than of old cast clothes, but is all for Christ; he joys in nothing else. This is a mystery which cannot be understood but by partaking of it.
My brethren, learn to have these thoughts frequent and occurrent with you on all occasions. Think when about any thing, How would Christ behave himself in this? Even so let me endeavour to behave myself.
You will possibly say, They that speak thus, and advise thus, do not do thus. O that this were not too true ! Yet there be some that be sincere in it, and although it be but little that is attained, yet the very aim is excellent, and somewhat there is that is done by it. It is better to have such thoughts and desires, than altogether to give it up; and the very desire, being serious and sincere, does so Div. No. IX.