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light of a lamp, so we must give heed to this light, if we would see things to come. - The moon is used as an emblem of the church; which receives its light from Christ as the moon does from the sun : therefore the renovation of the moon signifies the renovation of the church ; as a sign of which, the new moons were appointed to be observed as religious festivals under the law; and the apostle tells us they were a shadow of things to come; and the substance of that shadow is known from the nature of the case, and the relation which the moon bears to the sun.
The angels or ruling ministers in the seven churches of Asia are signified in the book of Revelation by seven stars in the right hand of Christ: because his ministers hold forth the word of life, and their light shines before men in this mortal state, as the stars give light to the world in the night season; of which light Christians in general partake, and are therefore called children of light.
This natural image of the light is applied to so many great purposes, that I must not dismiss it without making some farther use of it.
You see, our God is light; our Redeemer is light; our scripture is light; our whole religion is light; the ministers of it are light; all christian people are children of the light, and have light within them. Ifso, what an obligation is laid upon us, not to walk as if we were in darkness, but to walk uprightly as in the day, shewing the people of this world, that we have a better rule to direct us than they have. If we who have the light walk as they do who are in darkness, the same darkness will assuredly come upon us; we shall understand nothing, we shall care for nothing; the light that is within us will be changed into darkness; and
then, vanity and confusion will be the consequence, as to those who walk in the dark through a perplexed and dangerous path: and better would it be not to have had the light, than to be answerable for the guilt of having extinguished it and turned it into darkness. This is the moral doctrine to be derived from the usage of light in the sacred language.
Here I would also observe, that the figures of the scripture necessarily introduce something figurative into our worship; of which I could give you several instances: but I shall confine myself to the matter now before us, The primitive Christians signified their relation to the true light, and expressed a religious regard to it, by the outward form of worshipping with their faces towards the east: because there the light first arises out of darkness, and there the day of true knowledge arose, like the sun, upon such as lay buried in ignorance. To this day our churches, especially that part which is appropriated to the most solemn act of christian worship, is placed toward the east; our dead are buried with their faces to the east: and when we repeat the articles of our faith, we have a custom of turning ourselves to the east. The primitive christians called their baptism their illumination; to denote which, a light was put into the hands of the person after baptism, and they were admitted to hear the lectures of the catechists in the church, under the name of the illuminated. The festival of Christ's baptism was celebrated in the month of January with the ceremony of a number of lighted torches. When the converts repeated the confession of their faith at baptism, they turned themselves to the east; and to the west when they renounced the powers of darkness. In the modern church of Rome this ceremony of worshipping to the east has been abused, and turned into
an act of adoration to the altar; on account of which, some Christians who have heard of the abuse of this ceremony, without knowing the use of it, have rejected that as an act of superstition, which has an edifying sense, and was practised in the days of the apostles, before any superstition had infected the church. As such only I would recommend it to observation *
In the element of air, which comes next in order to be considered, we have a figure of the Holy Spirit, which worketh imperceptibly as it listeth, while we cannot tell whence it cometh, nor whither it goeth. The operations of the divine Spirit, are like those of the air, necessary to life; the one to the natural life, the other to the spiritual: and as the air gives the breath of speech, so the Holy Ghost gives the utterance of inspiration: therefore he descended on the day of Pentecost under the outward sign of a rushing mighty wind from heaven; and in consequence of it, the apostles spake as the spirit gave them utterance; and their sound went out into all lands.
The element of water, which washes and purifies the body, is used to signify the inward cleansing of the soul from sin, by the washing of grace in baptism: and all the purifications by water under the law had the
* An excellent sermon, which ought never to be forgotten, and which I carried through the press, when I was an under graduate at Oxford, was published on Christ the light of the world, from a verse of the 19th Psalm, by my admired, beloved and lamented friend, the late Rev. George Watson, once a fellow of University College, to whose early instructions and example I have been indebted in most of the literary labours of my life. Many extraordinary men have I seen; but for taste in classical literature, and all works of genius; for a deep knowledge of the inspired writings; for readiness of speech and sweetness of elocution ; for devout affection towards God, for charitable goodness of heart, and elegance of manners, I never met with one that exceeded him.
like meaning; as they are applied in those words of the prophet: then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean, from all your filthiness, and from all your idols will I cleanse you : a new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you * This new heart and new spirit, as the work of God's
grace, was always signified by every act of religious purification; according to that of the Psalmist, Thou shalt wash me, and I shall be uhiter than snow-Make me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within met.
Water is used in another capacity to quench the thirst; in which sense it is put for the doctrine of God's word, refreshing and invigorating the soul, as the water of the spring gives new life and strength to the thirsty. As the spring breaks forth from the seeret treasures of the earth, the doctrines of salvation proceed from a source which we cannot see. In this sort of language did our Saviour speak of the grace of his own divine doctrine to the woman of Samaria : if thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, give me to drink, thou wouldst have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water f; that is, the doctrine of salvation which he preached to the world, and of which he used these remarkable words in the temple.—He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water; that is, the words of his mouth shall convey that doctrine which giveth life to the world: his preaching shall satisfy a multitude of souls, as the stream of a river is sufficient to the quenching of their thirst. * Ezekiel xxxvi. 25.
+ Psalm li. There is a peculiar propriety in the scripture term of living water for the water of a running spring; because it brings with it a new life and spirit, which it has derived from the subterraneous chymistry of nature; and it is always found to contain a large quantity of air.
As the elements of the world, so the seasons of the year have their signification in scripture. The beauties of the spring and summer are selected by the prophet Isaiah, to describe the perfection and felicity of Messiah's kingdom at the appearance of the gospel: when righteousness should spring up among the barren Gentiles who had been fruitless and deserted as the earth when forsaken by the sun; The desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose; it shall blossom abundantly and rejoice even with joy and singing : the glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon; they shall see the glory of the Lord, and the excellency of our God*. The season of the harvest, which came in at the end of the Jewish
year, is applied in a parable of our Saviour to the great ingathering of the world, when the wheat shall be reaped, the tares shall be separated for the fire, and the labourers employed in that great work shall be the ministring spirits of God, sent forth to gather his elect, and to finish his kingdom upon earth. The Harvest of our Lord, is the end of the world; and as surely as the course of the year brings us about to that season, so surely will the dispensation of God, now on its progress, bring us to a sight of that other harvest: and it behoves us to consider well what part we are likely to bear on that occasion.
From the seasons let us turn our eyes to the animal creation ; at the head of which is man, an epitome of all the other works of God.
The oeconomy and disposition of the human body is used as a figure of that spiritual society, or corporate body, which we call the Church; and God is said to have disposed the offices of the one in con.
* Isaiah xxxv. 1. 2.