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discovery of that doctrine or system of religion, which God has been pleased to reveal to mankind, by sending his only begotten Son into the world; whence it is easy to conceive the purport and design of these words in the text, "the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth;' because the ignorance, superstition, and delusion, which misled the greatest part of mankind, is now happily removed: all that folly and deception, in credulously believing the oracles of the heathen deities; all those indecent and unworthy notions of worship and devotion, which their religion required; all those vile practices and sensual gratifications, which were taught and indulged as innocent and harmless, have been clearly exposed and confuted. Christ is really become the light of the world; we are now under another and far better dispensation than either the Jew or the Gentile; we are blessed with clearness instead of obscurity, knowledge instead of ignorance, truth instead of doubts and uncertainties. We may now say, with Simeon, "our eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou hast prepared before the face of all people, a light to lighten the gentiles." For the true light now shineth upon us in its full splendour: the gospel covenant is most graciously set forth: the acceptable time, the day of salvation, when knowledge and grace were to abound, is now manifest. A full and clear revelation of the

whole will of God is opened to us: the whole extent of our duty and of whatsoever is required us to believe, in order to glorify God and secure our own salvation, is rendered plain and easy. For though we are unable of ourselves to do any thing as of ourselves; yet, ever blessed be God for his unspeakable gift! we "can do all things through Christ strengthening us," and, if we only seek his mighty aid in sincerity and truth, our merciful Redeemer has graciously promised us the assistance of his Holy Spirit, to purify our hearts, to help our infirmities, and enable us "both to will and to do of his good pleasure."

This, my brethren, is the happy and blessed state now enjoyed by real christians: we cannot complain as the heathen philosophers of old did of the imperfection of the worship, the emptiness of religion, or the insufficiency of our guide in spiritual concerns: as christianity is most clear, most noble, and excellent; so is it easy, natural, and practicable. The dispensation with which we are favoured, by the Word being made flesh, is a light unto our feet and a lamp unto our paths: its effects are lasting and eternal, diffusive and universal. The most correct and pure system of morality, the most plain and easy duties, are revealed to us in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We cannot plead ignorance or want of sufficient light: we cannot urge either the intricacy or difficulty of God's will and commands,

as discouragements to, or arguments for, our neglect of them. The holy scriptures are a plain rule, and teach and contain all things necessary for our belief and practice: they are able to make us wise unto salvation. We must be wilfully blind

if we do not see the light that now shineth,-see it by its own splendour: we must be wilfully ignorant if we are unacquainted with the revelation of the Son of God: we must be incorrigibly obstinate if we do not confess, receive, and obey it. Our religion is now free from all ambiguity and uncertainty, since the divine will is so explicitly revealed and communicated. Our obligations to obedience are evident; and grace, or divine assistance is freely bestowed upon us, to strengthen our weakness, to correct the frailty or vileness of our natures. Christians may boast of this as a singular privilege; a privilege unknown to the Gentiles, and unconferred, at least in so plentiful a measure, even upon the Jews: a privilege which ennobles and exalts our nature, and enables us to fulfil the sacred engagements into which we entered at our baptism. Truly happy then is the state of christians, who have a light so strong and cheering as the Gospel; who have the true light, which lighteth every man that enlisteth himself under the banner of the cross. Great and inconceivable is the mercy of God, who, to the light of the Gospel, hath added grace and strength to walk in it: who, by

the power of his spirit, illuminates our understandings, corrects our desires, leads us into all truth here, and qualifies us for all glory hereafter.


The inference to be drawn from hence is natural and obvious. Since the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth, it is the peculiar obligation of all christians to cast off the works of darkness, and put on the armour of light: since grace abounds to us, we should cease from sin, and live soberly, righteously, and godly, in our present advantageous situation; lest, otherwise, we fulfil that humiliating observation of St. John, "the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehendeth it not." necessity of purity and holiness is hence sufficiently evident, because we are not under the religion of nature or the law of Moses, but under grace; because we are not in a state of doubts or uncertainties, ignorance or error, like the gentiles; but reason is improved by revelation, and the will of God is manifested to the world. There is now no plea for being unstable in the faith; no room for hypocrisy and insincerity, for darkness or ignorance; no ground of complaint for want of strength and ability. "The times of ignorance," indeed, "God formerly winked at," and pitied: the Gentiles were comparatively excusable: they had something to urge in mitigation and abatement of judgment: they knew not God clearly and fully: they had

no supernatural assistance; no sufficient aid to extricate them out of those labyrinths of sin and error, into which a perverted education, prejudice, or unenlightened reason, might occasion them to fall.

How far different is the condition of christians! They want nothing but will and inclination they are furnished with all necessary means to attain to the kingdom of heaven and everlasting happiness; and are therefore under the strictest obligation to adorn by every good work the religion they profess. They can invent no excuses, nor rely on any subterfuges, nor hope for any indulgence. The Son of God came down from heaven, to seek and to save that which was lost;-to instruct mankind, and conduct them safe to happiness: he came to bring life and immortality to light by the Gospel: he came to shew both the precept and example,— the sure, the plain, the infallible means,—which, if rightly observed, will, through his merits, lead us to the haven where we would be. Can christians then, without shame and confusion of face, live like heathens and infidels? Can they still walk in darkness? Will not their condemnation be just as well as severe, if they still walk after the flesh and not after the spirit? May we not say to christians, what Saint Paul said to the Romans, shall we continue in sin, now knowledge and grace abound? God forbid!" It


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