Page images

in a tabernacle among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, calls him the brightness of his Father's glory and the express image of his person. And under these expressious lies that remarkable mystery of the Son's eternal relation to the Father, which is rather humbly to be adored than boldly to be explained, either by God's perfect understanding of his own essence or by any other notion. It is true, he is called the Wisdom of the Father, but this wisdom is too wonderful for us. He is called the Word, but what tbis word means, I think, we shall not well know till we see him face to face, and contemplate him in the light of glory. Meanwhile we may see him to be the glory of the Lord in a safer way, and in a sufficient measure to guide us to that clear visiou reserved above for us. We saw his glory, says that sublime evangelist. But how could this excellent glory be seen by sinful men, and not astonish and strike dead the beholders ? He was made flesh and dwelt among us, says he, and so we saw his glory. That majesty which we could never have looked upon, bę veiled with buman Aesh, that we might not die, yea, live by seeing him. There he stood behind the wall, and showed himself through the lattice. In him dwelt the fulness of the Godhead, but it was bodily; for who could have endured the splendor of the Godhead's fulness, if that cloud of his body had not been drawn betwixt? And through it did shine that grace and truth, that wisdom and power, in the work of our redemption, whereby he was clearly manifested to be the glory of the Lord.

Surely, we need not now ask the church, or a believing soul, What is thy beloved more than another? Or if we do, well may she answer, He is the chiefest among ten thousand, and altogether lovely, for he is the light of the world and the glory of the Lord. Let pot the numerous titles of earthly potentates be once admitted into comparison with these. If we believe David, Psal. Ixii, 9, the stateliest things and persons in the world, being balanced with vanity itself, are found lighter than it; and shall we offer to weigh them with Christ? If we knew him rightly, we would not sell the least glance or beam of this light of his countenance for the highest favor of mortal man, though it were constant and unchangeable, which it is not. It is ignorance of Christ, that maintains the credit of those vanities we admire. The Christian that is truly acquainted with him, enamoured with the brightness of his beauty, can generously trample upon the smilings of the world with the one foot, and upon her frownings with the other. If he be rich, or honorable, or both, yet he glories not in that; but Christ, who is the glory of the Lord, is even then his chiefest glory, and the light of Christ obscures that worldly splendor in his estimation. And as the enjoyment of Christ overtops all his other joys, so it overcomes bis griefs. As that great light drowns the light of prosperity, so, it shines bright in the darkness of affic. tion. No dungeon so close that can keep out the rays

of Christ's love from his beloved prisoners. The world can no more take away this light, than it can give it. Unto the just ariseth light in darkness, says the psalmist; and, When I sit in darkness, the Lord shall be a light unto me, says the church, Mic. vii, 8. And as this light is a comfort, so it is likewise a defence, which suffers no more of distress to come near the godly, than is profitable for them. Therefore we find very frequently in scripture, where this light and glory are mentioned, protection and safety jointly spoken of: The Lord is my light and my salvation : whom shall I fear? says David, Psal. xxvii, 1. The Lord is a sun and a shield, Psal. Ixxxiv, 21. And truly I think him shot-proof that hath the sun for his buckler. And for glory, Upon all the glory shall be a defence, says our Prophet, iv, 5. And the prophet Zechariah, where he calls the Lord the church's glory in the midst of her, calls him likewise, a wall of fire round about her. The only way then to be safe, is to keep this light and this glory entire. To part with any part of this glory is to make a breach in that wall of fire ; and if that be a means of safety, let all men judge. No; keep it whole, and then they must come through the fire, who will assault you. Nor is this light only defensive of the church that embraceth it, but it is likewise destructive of all adverse powers. See a clear testimony for this in Isa, Y, 17, 18; And the light of Israel shall be for a fire and his Holy One for a flame, and, speaking there of the Assyrians, it shall burn and devour his thorns and his briers in one day, and shall consume the glory of his forest and of his fruitful field, both soul and body, and they shall be as when a standard-bearer fainteth. Let then the church of God ever entirely observe this light and glory of the Lord; and she shall undoubtedly be preserved by it.

But to close in a word, first, to those who know this light, and then to those who are yet strangers to it.

You who know Christ, glory in him perpetually. Well may he be your glory, when he is the glory of the Lord. There are some who pretend love to Christ, and yet a taunting word of some profane miscreant will almost make them ashamed of him. "How would they die for Christ, who are so tender as not to endure a scoff for him? Where is that spirit of Moses, wbo accounted the very reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt? Ó learn to glory in Christ! Think highly of him, and speak so too. Methinks it is the discourse in the world that becomes Christians best, to be speaking one to another honorably of Jesus Christ. And of all meu, the preachers of his gospel should be most frequent in this subject. This should be their great theme, to extol and commend the Lord Jesus, that they may inflame many hearts with his love ; and best can they do this, wbo are most strongly taken with this love themselves. Such will most gladly abase themselves, that Christ may be magnified; and whatsoever be their excellencies, they will still account Christ their glory. And they are richly repaid, for he accounts them his glory. This would seem a strange word, if it were not the apostle's; They are the messengers of the churches, and the glory of Christ, 2 Cor. viii, 23. Delight who will, either in sloth and ignorance on the one hand, or in vain speculations and straius of frothy wit on the other, surely those preachers only shall be approved in the great day, who have constantly endeavoured, in their measure, to speak the best and fittest they could for their Master's advantage. And happy those Christians, of what estate soever, who in all estates make Christ their glory, and in all actions have their eye fixed upon his glory, who is their light and the glory of the Lord!

Now to those who are strangers to him-would to God none that are to be spoken to were such !--to them, I say, notice is given both of the excellency and the neces. sity of Christ. Though it were possible to grope the way to happiness in the dark, yet none will deny but to be conducted thither by a constant light is both more, safe and more delightful. But were there any possibility of attaining that end without this light, the neglect of it were not altogether so strange. The wonder of all is this, that Christ alone being both that life, and the way to it, and the truth, or light that guides in that way, yet Christians, so called, should esteem and look after him as little as if he were wholly needless. What meanest thou, O besotted sinner? Is it so light a thing to die in thy sins, and to die eternally for them, that thou wilt not so much as open and admit the light of salvation ? What wilt thou. pretend in that terrible day? Though all other kinds of people should offer some excuse, thou who hast heard the gospel shalt be speechless ; for not only shall the rigor of justice condemn thee, but mercy itself shall plead against thee; for thou hast despised it. That light did come and was vot embraced shall be the main condemnation. How many thousands who make no doubt of heaven, yet shall then fall short of it!

It is not a superficial profession, that will then pass current. It is not some public sighs and groans from an unsanctified heart, which either come from custom or some present touch of the word; nor yet is it some sudden risings of inward affection towards Christ upon the report of his worth, that shall then serve the turn. The intellective knowledge of Christ, the distinct understanding, yea, the orthodox preaching of his gospel, the maintaining of his public cause and suffering for it, shall not then be found sufficient. Only that peculiar apprehension of Christ, those constant flames of spiritual love, that even course of holy walking in his light, shall be those characters whereby Christ shall own his children, and admit them into the inheritance of perfect light. One of the speakers in the book of Job, discoursing of the prosperity of the ungodly,

calls it but his candle, and tells how long it can last ; His candle, says he, shall be put out with him; and that's the longest term of it: if it last his life-time, it shall convey bim no further; he goes into eternity in the dark, and therefore, as St. John says, he knows not whither he. goetb. “Whither art thou now going ?” said that emperor Adrian to his soul. Is it not a sad thing, when the soul that knows no other than worldly light, must take leave of it, and enter into eternal darkness, there to be incessantly tormented with present anguish, and the frightful expectation of the last judgment, when it must take again that body which was the accomplice of its wickedness to be partaker of its punishment; when it shall have a double misery, to behold crowns of immortality distributed to the godly after the short combats of this life, and itself thrust out among the devils? Then shall all men be in some way sensible, what is the worth of this now contemned light, the Lord Jesus Christ; the greatest uumber too late, for they shall be banished from it for ever. But the righteous shall then most perfectly know, and for ever enjoy this light and glory of the Lord; to whom with the Father of lights and the Spirit of grace, be eternity of praise and honor !


Hope amidst Billows. WHAT shall it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? said our Saviour, who was to lay down a ransom for it, and knew well that it would cost infinitely more than the world was worth. Yet most of men value their own souls at a far lower rate than the whole world, losing them for broken morsels of it; yea, many times for vain hopes that are never accomplished. And as these men make a miserable bargain, so, on the contrary, they that lose the world or any thing worldly, yea, though it were the whole, to save their souls, make a profitable loss of it. Nature teaches men to hazard and lose

« PreviousContinue »