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evil, according to the object towards which it is directed, and the manner in which it is exercised. It is more fre. quently in scripture spoken of as evil:* But there is also a Christian zeal; which is distinguished by two things: 1. It is good in its object

[Some spend their zeal in things that are in themselves sinful:c and others on things indifferent:d but the Christian's zeal is directed to what is good: he maintains with stedfastness the faith of the gospel; and engages heartily in the practice of its precepts.f] 2. It is uniform in its operation

[The zeal of many is only occasional and partial;& but the Christian's is uniform and universalih it has respect to every duty; stimulating to private and personal, as well as public and official, duties. It does not, however, lay the same stress on trifles, as on the weightier matters of the law; but proportions its exercise to the importance of the things about which it is engaged.]

That such a zeal is truly praiseworthy, will appear, while we point out II. Its excellence

The text pronounces it to be “ good;" and not without reason; for 1. It is that which stamps a value on all other graces

[What are the most excellent graces without this? Faith is only a cold assent; hope, a mere doubtful expectation; and love, a general good-will, or rather, an empty name. The best of services without this is a worthless formality. But, on the other hand, the poorest and meanest service accompanied with this, is pleasing to God. The widow's mite surpassed the rich donations of the wealthy;. nor shall a cup of cold water lose its reward.

b Acts v. 17, 18. and xiii. 45. and xvii. 5. c Phil. iii. 6. John xvi. 2.

d Mark vii. 3, 4. And those amongst ourselves who raise fierce disputes about human ordinances.

e He follows the injunctions and examples of the apostles in opposition to what is improperly called candour. Julle 3. Gal. i. 8, 9. 2 John ver. 10.

f Tit. ii. Ül, 12, 14. & It shews itself only in things that require little or no self-denial.

h It affects us always" not as a feverish, but a vital, heat; not as a meteor, but as the sun. i Mark xii, 41-44.

Matt. X. 42. 2 Cor. vii. 12.

2. It is by that alone that we can honour God

(Lukewarm services declare, in fact, that God is not worthy of any better testimony of our esteem; and hence it is that they are so odious in in his sight. But, if we act with zeal, we silently, yet powerfully, proclaim to all, that God is worthy of all the love and honour we can render him. God himself testifies, that if we observe the sabbath in a becoming manner, we honour him:m and the same is true of every other duty we perform.] 3. By this we may ensure success

[Exertion does not always command success in an earthly race or warfare. But in spiritual things none can fail who exert themselves with zeal in God's appointed way. “They shall know, who follow on to know the Lord;"" and to them, who by patient continuance in well-doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, shall eternal life assuredly be given.' Many seek to enter into the kingdom of heaven, and are not able: but none ever yet strove in vain.P] ADDRESS 1. Those who have no zeal at all in religion'

[Whatever zeal men exercise in their worldly callings, few, alas! are much in earnest about religion. The natural man has no heart, no life or spirit in any thing he does for God. But will the heart-searching God be pleased with mere formal services? We ourselves do not accept them favourably at the hands of a fellow-creature; and shall God from us?! If we would ever be approved of God, let us follow that injunction, “ Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all thy might."r] 2. Those who have declined in their zeal

[" When iniquity abounds, the love of many will wax cold.” And are there none amongst us who have “ left off to behave themselves wisely;” none who have lost their first love! Let the solemn charge addressed to such persons in the primitive churches, be duly considered, and obediently regarded:s for “ it were better never to have known the way of righteousness, than, having known it, to turn from it.”] 3. Those who feel the importance and necessity of zeal

(Good as zeal is in a good cause, it may become pernicious both to ourselves and others, if it be not properly directed. There is “a zeal without knowledge,” which may easily be mistaken for Christian zeal. Let all then who would serve God acceptably, endeavour to have their zeal well regulated, both with respect to its objects, and the manner of its operation. Let their own sins, rather than the sins of others, and their own duties, rather than those of others, be the first objects of their regard. Let not a proud, bigotted, or vindictive spirit be cherished by them under the cloke of zeal;* but let every duty to God of man be tempered with meekness, humility, and love. Let nothing bear such a preponderance in their mind as to make any other duty appear light and insignificant. Let the world, the family, and the closet, have each its proper portion of attention: and, with increasing ardor, let them follow Christ, whose “meat was to do the will of him that sent him.”]

I Rev. jii. 16. . Rom. ii. 7.

Eccl. ix, 10.

m Isaiah lviii. 13.

n Hos. vi. 3. p Luke xiii. 24.

q Mutt. xv. 8, 9. s Rev. ii. 4, 5. and iii. 19. + 2 Pet. ii, 21.

u Rom. X. 2.

* Luke ix. 54.

y John iv. 34.

CCCCLXIX. THE DUTY OF WALKING IN THE LIGHT.

John xii. 35, 36. Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk

while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness, knoweth not whither he goeth. While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light.

THE perverseness of men in resisting the means of conviction, is apt to beget an asperity in the minds of their instructors, and to make them cease from their labours of love. But we are required “in meekness to instruct

them that oppose themselves.” And our blessed Lord affords us in this respect an admirable example. He had plainly told the Jews, that he must be crucified: and their very answer shews that they understood his meaning. But, instead of receiving the information aright, they cavilled at it, and concluded from thence that he could not be the Messiah." Our Lord did not judge it proper at that time to afford them any farther means of conviction, when they had so abused those that were al

: Ver. 32-34.

ready afforded them: but he most affectionately warned them to improve their present advantages, before they should be finally withdrawn from them.

The words being equally applicable to us, we shall consider 1. The exhortation Christ is here spoken of as "the light”

[We might consider the term “ light” in general, as referring to the gospel: but here it undoubtedly relates to Christ himself. He is justly characterized by this name, not only as being the eternal fountain of light, but as enlightening the world by his doctrines and life.] “ In him," under this character, we are to “believe"

[All that he has spoken respecting his person, work, and offices, together with all his promissory, or threatening declarations, should be received by us without gainsaying, and be relied upon without hesitation.] “ In him” also we ought to “walk"

[We view earthly things in the light of the material sun; and avail ourselves of its light, every step we take. Precisely thus should we act with respect to Christ, “the Sun of Righteousness. We should view sin and holiness, time and eternity, yea, every thing without exception, in the light that he, by his word and conduct, reflects upon it. Nor should we take any one step in life, without a direct reference to his word as our rule, and his life as our example.']

To render this exhortation more impressive, let us consider II. The arguments with which it is enforced

There are three topics mentioned in the text, from whence we may urge this important duty

1. From the shortness of the time that we shall enjoy the light

[The Jews now had the light; but it was to be extinguished within the space of four days. Hence our Lord repeatedly urges this consideration. “ Walk, while ye have the light." And how strongly does this argument apply to us! You have the light at present, yea, even greater light than the Jews enjoyed

under the ministry of Chsist: (for there were many subjects, which he did not fully open; and the things he did utter, could not be perfectly understood, till the day of Pen

b John i. 9. and viii. 12. and xii. 46.

cl John ii, 6.

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tecost; whereas you have Christ exhibited to you in all his glo-
ry; and the fulness, the freeness, the suitableness of his salva-
tion constantly set before you.) But how soon may it be remo-
ved from you, or you from it!! O then," while ye have the
light, believe, and walk, in the light.”]
2. From the danger we incur by disregarding the light

[If we will not attend to the voice of Christ, a “darkness will come upon us,"even“ darkness that may be felt.” They who never have had Christ preached unto them, are indeed in an awful condition; but by no means so awful as that of those who have despised the gospel. The darkness of which the text speaks, is judicial, sent them by God as the punishment of their iniquity; and the very light that shines around them, serves only to increase their blindness, and to aggravate their guilt. In this state, “they stumble at the noon-day,” and wander," not knowing whither they go;" till at last they fall into that pit of destruction, where is weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth for evermore.

Should not then the dread of such a state lead us to a just improvement of our present privileges?]

3. From the benefit arising to those who rightly im. prove the light.

[By “children of light” we may understand either children of God (who is light) or, truly enlightened persons. In either sense the general import is the same, namely, that, by believing in Christ, we shall attain the knowledge and enjoyment of God. Compare this state with that of those who are in darkness; and how great will this benefit appear!

Shall not then this blessed prospect allure us to embrace the gospel? Or shall we still prefer sin and misery to holiness and glory?] APPLICATION

[Let us no longer withstand the solemn warnings, and affectionate exhortations of the Lord Jesus; but improve to the utmost this accepted time, this day of salvation.]

N

d Rev. ii. 5. Amos viii. 11, 12.

e Ver. 39, 40. f 2 Cor. ii, 15, 16. 2 Thess. ii. 11, 12.

6 Thus υιοι απειθείας is used; Εph. ii. 2. and τέκνα κατάρας, 2 Pet. ii. 14. is so translated, as vidi Owtós may be here.

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