We invite your attention to that precept of the Blessed Jesus that requires us to let our light shine -- to let it shine before men, that they may see our good works, and glorify our Father who is in Heaven. The Lord Jesus, while he was in the world, was the light of the world; when he ascended to the Father he committed the dispensation of light to his disciples, and constituted them the light of the world. It pleased the Father to make them the children of light, that through their agency the moral darkness that covers the earth may be dispelled.
In order to qualify them for a work so great, so glorious, He who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, shined in their hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Jesus Christ. Thus enlightened by the Father of lights, their light would shine in all their works if they themselves presented no hindrances nor obstructions. It is the nature of the image of God, in the regenerated soul to display the divine glory, as it shines in the dispensation of grace to a fallen world. The first impulse of such a new-born soul is to be wholly the Lord's, passively and actively. While this heavenly impulse regulates all his conduct, he is a burning and a shining light; exhibiting much of the brightness of his Father[']s glory to the world. That light which is his life, is a living, and an enkindling principle; blazing as it burns, and shedding around, in every direction, the reflected splendor of the sun of righteousness.
This light is to shine before men in works -- good works -- works of righteousness -- works that bear the shining impress of Heaven -- works that are adopted to lead men to contemplate the glorious source whence they originated, and to love and adore the Great Fountain of light. Thus the true light is, and is to be, diffused from heart to heart, through a continually enlarging circle, increasing in splendor, and displaying more and more of the Father[']s glory; not only by the increasing number of the enlightened individuals, but also by the path of each shining more and more unto the perfect day.
Our Gracious Father has not only exalted his children to the dignified station of being the light of the world, but has inseparably connected their comfort and happiness with the shining of their light. The light of his countenance is the light and joy of their souls; and in proportion as that light shines within them, so does their light shine around them. And when by any means they fail or refuse to let their light shine before men, they themselves are involved in darkness, and bereft of their spiritual enjoyments.
Although each individual christian is a light to the world, yet it is in the church of Christ, where the light of all concentrated, that they make their brightest display of the divine glory. There, when each member fills his place and discharges his duty, they mutually enlighten each other, and gives the most conclusive evidence, that their light is derived from Heaven. Then it is that their light is so conspicuous, that men are constrained to behold and rejoice in the light, or by shutting their eyes against it to confirm their own condemnation, and involve themselves in deeper gloom.
In constituting his children the light of the world, the Father has not superseded the light of his written word. This word he has ingrafted in their souls, and committed to their trust. It is embodied in that light with which they are to shine; and is to be communicated by them to all who are in darkness. This communication is to be made not only by distributing the holy scriptures in every land, sounding abroad the everlasting gospel in every language, aiding and encouraging every measure by which its sacred precepts may be disseminated and enforced, and by which the whole community, young and old may be taught to read and understand them; but also by displaying, the purity, the simplicity and the power of this word in the christian life. They are to conduct themselves before men as a living commenting monument on the word -- an exemplification of its holy requirements, and a standing monument of its exceeding great and precious promises. In their deportment they are to manifest that they are not of this world -- that they have no fellowship with the works of darkness -- that their hearts, their treasure, and their conversation are in Heaven -- that they are indeed a new creation, in which are exhibited the perfections of that Glorious Being from whom they derived their spiritual life, the spotless purity of that heaven in which they delight, and the fullness of those joys to which they aspire. Their zeal in distributing the scriptures, in supporting the gospel ministry, and in teaching the ignorant, should illustrate the injunction to preach the gospel to every creature. Their manner of spending the Lord's day should exemplify the command to remember the sabbath day to keep it holy; the regulation in their families should be a lesson to all observers how to train up children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. In short all their dealings with the world, their exertions in the cause of benevolence, and their profound dependence on their Father in Heaven, should be a bright exposition of doing, loving mercy, and walking humbly with GOD.
When we consider this high and holy calling of the christian, and the vast importance of the shining of his light, as respects his own happiness, the prosperity of the church, the salvation of sinners, and the glory of God, it is a subject of grief and humiliation to reflect how far we have fallen short of the discharge of this duty. Alas! How many who have named the name of Christ have not departed from all iniquity -- have not avoided all appearance of evil. They are but partially crucified unto the world -- self is not wholly denied -- some unhallowed calling is followed -- some slothful propensity is indulged -- some carnal appetite is gratified, or some restless passion suffered to nestle in the bosom. Thus, the vital energy of the soul is paralyzed, and their lamps are almost, if not entirely gone out -- such professors not only fail to let their own light shine, but they darken the aspect of the visible church and cast a shade over the light of each member in it. And so, instead of being a light to the world, and by their good works inducing men to glorify our Father who is in Heaven, they promote the cause of infidelity, and so far as depends on them, leave the world in darkness, as deep and deplorable as if the true light had never shined.
O! with what diligence should we wear the whole armor of light -- with what fervor should we pray for that blessed day when Zion shall arise and shine, and the glory of the Lord be arisen upon her -- when the righteous shall shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father, and the Lord Jesus be glorified in all his saints and admired in all them that believe.
John Watts, Moderator. Attest -- J. L. Holman, Clerk. =============
[Taken from Laughery Baptist Association
, 1832, pp. 3-4. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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