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forgiveness of our sins, and in our renovation after his divine image?-All our pretences to joy will be vile hypocrisy, if we have not experienced, in some measure at least, these triumphs of his love, these victories of his grace-]
2. We should express our gratitude for it
[It is not at one particular season only that we should call these things to remembrance, but frequently, yea, continually; since we every moment reap the benefits of Christ's administration-As the fire that burnt upon the altar was never suffered to go out, so neither should the flames of love and gratitude ever be extinguished in our hearts-] With fervour
[With what energy does the Psalmist repeat and diversify his exhortations to rejoice! Shall we then be contented to offer to our Lord a few cold and languid acknowledgments? No: we should make melody in our hearts unto him; we should even shoạt for joy-What if the world accuse us of enthusiasm? shall we relax the tone of Christian joy for them; or bring down the injunctions of heaven to the standard of their religion? Let the angels or glorified saints be blamed for car: rying their exultations to excess, would they regard it, and compliment their aççusers at the expense of duty?-We plead not indeed for any thing that is extravagant and foolish; but if we can obtain more of heaven in our hearts, and manifest it more in our lives, let us not be afraid or ashamed to do it-] With unanimity
[The Psalmist calls, not only upon'all the human race, but even upon the whole inanimate creation, to join in songs of praise and thanksgiving—And how lamentable is it that there should be found a creature upon earth, a rational and redeemed creature, that is indisposed for this exercise! O let us all be of one heart and mind: let us sing, rejoice, and give thanks: let our harps no longer be hung upon the willows, or struck in commendation of carnal joys; but let them be tuned in honour of our incarnate God; let us celebrate upon them Messiah's praise--Thus shall even now our joy be unspeakable, and glorified, a preparation for glory, an antepast of heaven--]
CLX. OUŘ DUTY ARISING FROM THE ADVENT OF
CHRIST. Isai. lx. 1. Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of
the Lord is risen upon thee. THE prophetic style is wonderfully sublime: its figures are so bold, its transitions so quick, its descriptions so ani. mated, that all the most admired compositions of Greece and Rome sink in our estimation when compared with the sacred oracles—The writings of Isaiah in particular jus: tify this remark; and both the chapter, and the very words, before us, are worthy of notice in this view— The prophet had just foretold the advent of the Redeemer; and instantly, passing over an interval of seven or eight hundred years, he sees his prediction, as it were, accomplished; and calls upon the church, in terms of joyful congratulation, to approve itself worthy of so great a blessing
In discoursing on his words we shall consider 1. The tidings here announced Christ is the fountain of light to the whole universe
[He is '“ the LORD" JEHOVAH, “ in whom dwells all the fulness of the godhead” _Though as the Son of man, he làboured under all the sinless infirmities of our nature; yet, as the Son of God, he was “the brightness of his father's glory, and the express image of his person"_From him proceeds a lustre, as from the sun in the firmament- But though“ he shines in the darkness, the darkness does not apprehend his light” It is the church alone that truly receives him-That is, like Goshen in the midst of Egypt, light, whilst all around it is in gross darkness-If any have the light of his word, they cannot profit by it, unless their eyes be opened by his good Spirit Hence the prophet, speaking of him to the church, says emphatically, “ Thy light is come”] This light is risen upon the church of God
[Under the Jewish dispensation “ the day began, as it were, to dawn; and in the hearts of some the day-star had arisen"__..But at the incarnation of Christ, and in the days of his ministration
upon earth, the sun arose above the horizon In the apostolic age it shone in its meridian splendour; and,
& Isai. lix. 20. That the passage refers to Christ, and not merely to the deliverance of the Jews from Babylon will be seen by comparing Isai. ix. 2. with Matt. iv. 16.
b John i. 5. Exod. ix. 26. and x. 21-23.
d 2 Pet. i. 19.
through the goodness of God, it has at last visited these distant regions In some respect it shines clearer upon us than even on the apostles themselves; since they, for several years after our Lord's ascension, did not see that the partition-wall between Jews and Gentiles was to be broken down: whereas we, who are Gentiles, not only know this truth, but are “grafted on that stock, from which the Jews themselves have been broken off”-]
These tidings are indeed joyful: but, that they are 10 have a practical effect upon us, we see by II. The exhortation grounded upon them
In the margin of our Bibles the word “ shine” is translated " be enlightened.” This translation suggests so im. portant a thought, a thought so naturally arising from the tidings announced, that we may well give it a distinguished place in this part of our subject—The exhortation then may be considered as twofold; 1. “ Arise and be enlightened"
[Notwithstanding" the true light now shines," the greater part even of the Christian world are covered with gross darkness –We set before them the light, but they “love darkness rather than light," and desire that we would “make the Holy One of Israel to cease from before them”.But we should come forth from our dungeons, and behold this sun of righteousnessh-We should beg of God to bring us out of darkness into his marvellous light, and to “ shine into our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of his glory in the face of Jesus Christ”k If we continue blind it is our own fault: we take part with Satan against Christ, and, as the recompence of our wickedness," the god of this world is permitted to blind us,'' and we are given over to a delusion to believe a liem_Since then the day-spring from on high hath visited us," let us no longer " sit in darkness and the shadow of death,” but improve the mercies we enjoy, that “our feet may be guided into the way of peace”-) 2. “ Arise and shine's
[The sun in the firmament irradiates the stars, which shine with a lustre derived from him-Thus are we also to “ shine as lights in the world,"n and, to reflect the light of the sun of righteousness-As the face of Moses, when come down from the mount, shone, so that the children of Israel could not sted. fastly behold him, so should all of us, though with a less dazzling lustre, shine in our proper orbit—The stars indeed can shine only when the sun is withdrawn; but the brighter the Lord Jesus shines, the more shall we reflect his image Let us then“ walk in the light as God is in the light;"p and let
e Mal. iv. 2. Luke i. 78, 79. & John iii. 19. Isai. xxx 11. il Pet. ii. 9.
k 2 Cor. iv. 6. m 2 Thess. ü. 11. a Phil. ii. 15.
f Ver. 2.
our path be as the shining light which shineth more and more unto the perfect day"_] ADDRESS
1. Those who, though living in the midst of the light, have never yet seen it
Such are without excuse-God would " make the scales to fall from our eyes,” if we would but call upon him—But our rejection of the light will be the occasion of our more aggravated condemnation—“ If Christ had not come and spoken unto us we had not had sin; but now we have no cloke for our sin”—Let us then cry to him, like those of old, “ Lord open my eyes”—Then shall we no longer walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life -]
2. Those who, though they have had some views of Christ, are yet in darkness
[The sun in the heavens is sometimes obscured by intervening clouds: thus also “ the sun of righteousness” is sometimes veiled ; and we are left to walk many day, without any cheering views of his countenance-If this be the case with us, let us tarry his leisure, and wait patiently for his return-Let us
My sun is set to rise no more;” but rather, “ When I sit in darkness, the Lord will be a light unto me"_Thus in his light you shall see light ;' “ the light that is sown for you shall in due time spring up;' yea, your light shall rise in obscurity, and your darkness be as the noon-days—]
3. Those who are enjoying the light of the Redeemer's countenance
[Jesus is the light and glory, not of the church militant only, but also of the church triumphant:? and to “ behold his glory as the glory of the only-begotten of the Father"a is an anticipation and foretaste of heaven itself—“In his favour is life; and his loving-kindness is better than life itself”-Let the enjoyment then of so rich a mercy stir you up to glorify his name; that so, while you behold his glory, you yourselves may be changed into his image from glory to glory, and, by making
02 Cor. iii. 13. P i John i. 7.
q Prov. iv. 18. r John ix. 41. and xv. 22.
s John viii. 12. Eph. v. 14. 1 Mich. vii. 7-9. u Ps. xxxvi. 9. 'x Ps. xcvii. 11.
Isai. lviii. 10. 2 Rev. xxi. 23, 24. a John i. 14. 2 Cor. iii. 18.
your light to shine before men, may stir up others to glorify him also
c Matt. v. 16.
CLXI. THE MESSIAH'S ADVENT. Isai. xl. 9. Say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God.
THE gospel with all its sublime mysteries is regarded by the generality with coldness and indifference; whereas the most indistinct prospects of it were suficient to fill the patriarchs and prophets with holy rapture-It was a view of its divine author which drew forth from the prophet this animated exhortation-He saw Jesus as it were already incarnate, and called upon the daughters of Zion and Jerusalem to proclaim and celebrate his advento. That, which he proposed to them as the subject of their song, is the one great subject also of our ministrations To call your attention unto Jesus, to set him forth as cru-, cified before yo'ır eyes, and, with an exalted voice, to cry, behold your God, this is our commission-But before we proceed to execute it we shall 1. Shew what is implied in this commission
We cannot fail to observe, what the prophet so strongly intimates, 1. That Christ is God
[This is a fundamental article of our faith-The Godhead of Christ is that which stamps a value on his sufferings, and renders the whole of his undertaking so meritorious and efficient-It would be to little purpose to say with Pilate, “Behold the man,” if we could not also add with the prophet, “ Behold your God"-But we are not left to doubt of this important truth: it is clearly established in almost every page of the sacred volume: we need go no further than to the writings of Isaiah; and we shall find it expressly asserted, that the person who was to be " a Child born, and a Son given to us,” was TIE MIGHTY GOD'He was therefore to be called Emmanuel, because he was God with us“- In the very chapter before us,
a It should be read as in the margin,“ O daughter, that bringest good tidings to Zion," &c. It was customary for women to celebrate the praises of God in public on remarkable occasions. See Exod. xv. 20, 21. and i Sam. xviii. 6,7. b Isai. ix. 6.
e Isai. vii. 14. with Matt. i. 23.