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urge, more fervent prayer, and an increase of watchfulness, on your attention. Thus David, deeply conscious of being the object of general observation, earnestly requested to be led in a plain path because of his enemies. To this likewise we are exhorted : “See that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise ; redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” Thus, also, are we directed : “Seeing that we are compassed about by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth most easily beset us, and run with patience the race that is set before us."*
Thirdly. Christians are also represented by the image of a lighted candle: “ Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but in a candlestick; and it giveth light to all that are in the house.” This simple figure is full of instruction. Ask yourselves, for what purpose is the candle lighted, or the lamp kindled, when the shadows of the evening are gathered around ye? Is it not for the benefit of the family or the individual who requires it? And does not this fact teach us, that if the Father of lights, “who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined into our hearts," it is that we may impart some of the beams of that light to our fellow creatures, who are in the land of darkness and shadow of death? There is, indeed, a serious intimation in this passage—that it is possible to conceal the truth in a considerable degree. And that some have been guilty of such a crime, is but too palpable! It is an evil, to call it by the softest name, partially chargeable on all the friends of religion; for who is there that liveth to the honour of Christ, and to the glory of his name, as they should? The reproach, however, as it affects a large portiou of the Christian church, begins to be wiped away. But of multitudes it is yet wholly true.
• Heb. xii. l.
If they can enjoy their own Sabbaths, and sit beneath their own vine and fig tree, the destitute condition of hundreds of millions of their fellow creatures never affects them. They are anxious to be clothed themselves in purple and fine linen, and would fain fare sumptuously every day; but, for Lazarus, wounded and diseased, and even lying, as it were, at their gates, they have no bowels of compassion. Such professors of the gospel conceal the light of truth, by their criminal indolence on the one hand, and their selfishness on the other. Provided they are fed, others may go hungry. And some persons there are who put their candle under a bushel, to use our Lord's figure, by their unamiable and unchristian temper; and of whom it may be affirmed, that whatever the grace of God has done towards the illumination of their minds, it has done but little yet in the sanctification of their spirit. Add to this class—a third. How many there are who conceal the truth through cowardice. They can, in an evil sense, " become all things to all men,” and suit their conversation to their company.
If they are with men of the world, they can be entertained with the recital of its follies, and its amusements; and if they are with persons who discover the grossest ignorance of divine things, they have no courage to attempt to make them wise. This is a dreadful sin; it is injurious to man; it is ungrateful to God; it is dishonourable to the gospel ; it is contrary to the very design of our conversion to the truth; and, in a word, it is ruinous to the soul. Better relinquish the profession of being enlightened than to have our conversation unbecoming that profession. Now, that such a charge may not apply to ourselves, I proceed to set before you,
II. THE POWERFUL CONSIDERATION BY WHICH THE SAVIOUR ENFORCES THE DISCHARGE OF THESE DUTIES ON OUR ATTENTION. “ LET YOUR LIGHT
SO SHINE BEFORE MEN, THAT THEY MAY SEE YOUR
Two questions arise upon this exhortation. The first is, In what way the work which it enjoins may be best performed: and the second is, by what considerations it is recommended to our particular attention and constant discharge. The answer to these two enquiries will comprise the whole of the remaining part of the present subject.
First. As to the manner in which it is to be done. The text is explicit on this point. “ Let your light so shine before men”-So shine with clearness, constancy, and usefulness, as the sun in the heavens, or the candle in the room.
With regard to the first of these particulars, Christians should shine with transparent lustre, pure as the ray of light; or to adopt another comparison, their character should be clear as the crystal stream. I mean not by this expression, that there is to be an ostentatious show of piety in the form of our garments, or the aspect of our countenance; but our demeanour should enable the world to “ take knowledge of us, that we have been with Jesus,” by the impression of his moral lineaments upon our temper and lives. The purity of our faith should be always palpable as the sun in the firmament, the city on an hill, or a lighted candle in the domestic apartment. Our personal Christianity ought never to be matter of doubt to any of our neighbours, or acquaintance, or even ourselves. We should endeavour to evince the decided character of our religion by the most holy and unspotted walk before God and man. There are, indeed, some professors, of whose religious state it seems quite impossible to form any opinion. They have many amiable qualities—are all that is kind in their dispositions, humane and charitable in their spirit, and are zealous promoters of the kingdom of
Christ; but from all these high recommendations there are so many deductions to be made,-such as sorldly conformity, indecision of conduct, an unnecessary and sinful association with men, of whom, to say the least, their characters are equivocal, that, after all, we are unable to determine with whom we ought to class them. May I hope better things of you, and that if any among you have been of this description, you will henceforth avow your. selves on the Lord's side! Let me, however, remind the undecided of the dreadful consequence of their indecision in the last day.-“ Whosoever, therefore, shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his father, with the holy angels.”*
Again, let your light be constant as well as clear. It must not be as the blaze of a comet, those“ wandering stars,” whose visits to the hemisphere of our globe are " few and far between.” The promise is, “ that he who endureth to the end shall be saved." It is not to a beginning well, but to a patient continuance in well-doing, that eternal life will be granted. Nothing can have a more beneficial influence on all who behold our good works, than a steady perseverance in their performance. This is to be seen in all companies, and, more or less, on all occasions. It is to be visible to all with whom you may travel, or with whom you may trade. It is possible for a man to rise very high in his professions, for a few weeks, or a few months, as an apology for sinking very low at other times; but we are exhorted to be “ stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” That you will have discouragements in
* Mark viii. 38.
your course, and that there is a danger of growing weary, cannot be denied. But the Saviour has promised you grace sufficient for all your duties and all your trials. That such a course may likewise expose you to some degree of loss, as to this world, is probable, for “ the world will love its own." But surely you will not decline so slight a sacrifice as the favour of men, for the sake of your Lord! Come forward, then, my beloved hearers, and boldly appear in the ranks of the Captain of your ,salvation. The profession must be made, if you would be saved; and will be, if you are his disciples, without delay or reluctance.
One remark more. As the sun shines in the firmament, for the benefit of men, so your light is to shine before them, not for the sake of admiration, but utility. The salvation of their souls is to be the ultimate end of all your zeal, liberality, and unwearied diligence; and as the light in the heavens invigorates the natural and physical world, so you must diffuse an enlivening and exhilirating influence through the moral world. Shall I show you how this may be done? You may do much in a way of kindness and charity. A merciful disposition, and a tenderness of spirit, are strong recommendations of the gospel to the world. Love will do infinitely more than knowledge, gifts, or even martyrdom itself. Moreover, by the instruction of the ignorant, a punctual attendance on the ordinances of the sanctuary, and a cultivation of all those lovely graces, which are distinctly specified in the preceding beatitudes, you are, according to your several stations and ability, to fulfil your appointed character.
Secondly. Consider the motive which our Lord urges for the discharge of these duties. Your light is not to shine for ostentation, but that “others may see your good works, and glorify your father which is in heaven." The religious deed, unseen by men, may be profitable to your