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in words very similar to those of the text: “ all things without murmurings and disputings; “ that ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons “ of God, without 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, an holy nation, a peculiar people ;
should "shew forth the praises of him, who hath called you out of darkness into his inarvellous 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 may be made to shine. Even nominal Christians, being favoured with the light of truth, are inexeusable, in proportion to their advantages, in not receiving and communicating the inestimable benefit. For “this is the condemnation, that light " is come into the world, and men love darkness " rather than light, because their decds are evil.”
Phil. ii. 14. 16. 1 Pet. ii. 9.
This may suffice to shew, that we are all concerned in the exhortation: for in our favoured land, and our peculiar situation, we have every advantage, for aiming to “ let our light shine be“ fore men:” and if we do not, “ we have no cloke for our sin ;" so that it will be more tolerable in the day of judgment for Sodom and Gomorrah than for us.
II. We will then examine more fully the import of the exhortation.
God hath made other men his instruments in communicating to us the light of the gospel; and we should desire and endeavour to impart the benefit to others also: though we may seem rather lamps in the street, or candles in the room, than luminaries in the firmament of heaven. The means to be used for this purpose may vary, according to our several employments, abilities, and relations in life: but we all ought to have the same habitual design of bringing our neighbours and friends to the knowledge of God and themselves; the holy law, and the gospel of salvation; the way of peace and the path of duty; and all other things which pertain to evangelical piety.
In order to accomplish this purpose, it is requisite that we make an explicit profession of our faith; that it may be understood what doctrines we believe, on what foundation our hopes are builded, and what we think concerning the person and redemption of Christ. We ought to avow our expectations from him, and obligations to him; that it may be perceived, on what account we deem ourselves bound to love him more than our greatest secular interests, or our dearest earthly friends; and unreservedly to keep his commandments. This profession is absolutely necessary to evince the sincerity of our faith; “ With the heart man believeth unto righteous
ness; and with the mouth confession is made “ unto salvation.'” And “ Whosoever shall be
. " ashamed of the Son of man, and of his words, “ in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him “ also will He be ashamed, when he cometh in the
glory of the Father with the holy angels.””
This profession is indispensably demanded of Christ's disciples, in order that they may “let “ their light shine before men,” and diffuse the knowledge of divine truth in the world; without yielding to the dread of shame, reproach, or the most cruel persecution. It is not indeed expedient, forwardly to declare our peculiar sentiments, in all places and companies, without some special reason, or favourable opening: but if regard to character, or other secular motives render men so reserved in this matter, that their neighbours, friends, and relations remain, in great measure, strangers to their religious principles; their since* Rom. X. 10.
2 Mark, viii. 38.
rity may well be questioned: for this is a direct refusal to render to the Lord the glory due to his name, and to recommend his holy religion to mankind. And even if their conduct in some respects be suited to adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour; the observers are left to ascribe it to other causes: and thus an opportunity is lost of evincing the excellent tendency of evangelical truth.
This profession of our faith should especially be made, by attending on the ordinances of God, according to the directions of his holy word: and this also forms an important method of “ letting “our light shine before men.” In the primitive times, when a Jew or gentile began to attend on the preaching of the gospel; and when, professing
repentance towards God, and faith towards our “ Lord Jesus Christ,” he was admitted by baptism into the visible church; when he associated habitually with Christians, statedly joined in their publick worship, and commemorated the love and sufferings of Christ at his table: he avowed himself the servant of the one, living, and true God, and the disciple of the only-begotten Son of God. This conduct would be fully understood by his former companions, and he might expect contempt, reproach, or persecution, as the consequence. We indeed live at a time, when most men in our land choose to be called Christians: and such a variety of discordant opinions are main
We ought .'.
are builded, and what we think concerning the 21 37.! person and redemption of Christ. We ought to avow our expectations from him, and obliga- : ac in tions to him; that it may be perceived, on what account we deem ourselves bound to love him more than our greatest secular interests, or ou dearest earthly friends; and unreservedly to kee.... his commandments. This profession is absolute necessary to evince the sincerity of our fait “ With the heart man believeth unto righted “ness; and with the mouth confession is m “ unto salvation.'” And “ Whosoever shall " ashamed of the Son of man, and of his wo “ in this adulterous and sinful generation; of “ also will He be ashamed, when he cometh i
glory of the Father with the holy angels.”'
This profession is indispensably demand Christ's disciples, in order that they may “ their light shine before men,” and diffu. knowledge of divine truth in the world; w yielding to the dread of shame, reproach, most cruel persecution. It is not indeed ent, forwardly to declare our peculiar sen in all places and companies, without some reason, or favourable opening: but if r character, or
ar motives rende reserved in
that their ne friends, an
ain, in great strangers to
principles; t1 Vark, viii. 38.