« PoprzedniaDalej »
cepting their fasts. “Wherefore have we fasted, say they, and thou seest not?-Behold in the day of your fast you find pleasure, saith the Lord.” If we cannot wholly abstain from food, we may, at least, abstain from pleasant food; and then we shall not seek his face in vain.
5. But let us take care to afflict our Souls, as well as our bodies. Let every season, either of public or private fasting, be a season of exercising all those holy affections, which are implied in a broken and contrite heart. Let it be a season of devout mourning, of godly sorrow for sin; such a sorrow as that of the Corinthians, concerning which the Apostle saith, “I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance. For ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing. For godly sorrow, -η κατα Θεον λυπη,- the sorrow which is according to God, which is a precious gift of his Spirit, lifting the soul to God from whom it flows,—"worketh repentance to salvation, not to be repented of.” Yea, and let our sorrowing after a godly sort work in us the same inward and outward repentance; the same entire change of heart, renewed after the image of God, in righteousness and true holiness; and the same change of life, till we are holy as He is holy, in all manner of conversation. Let it work in us the same carefulness to be found in him, without spot and blameless ; the same clearing of ourselves, by our lives rather than words, by our abstaining from all appearance of evil ; the same indignation, vehement abhorrence of every sin; the same fear of our own deceitful hearts; the same desire to be in all things conformed to the holy and acceptable will of God; the same zeal for whatever may be a means of his glory, and of our growth in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ; and the same revenge against Satan and all his works, against all filthiness of flesh and spirit. (2 Cor. vii. 9, &c.)
6. And with Fasting let us always join fervent Prayer, pouring out our whole souls before God, confessing our sins with all their aggravations, humbling ourselves under his mighty hand, laying open before him all our wants, all our guiltiness and helplessness. This is a season for enlarging our prayers, both in behalf of ourselves and of our brethren. Let us now bewail the sins of our people; and cry aloud for the city of our God, that the Lord may build up Zion, and cause his face to shine on her desolations. Thus, we may observe, the men of God, in ancient times, always joined prayer and lasting together; thus the Apostles, in all the instances cited above; and thus our Lord joins them in the discourse before ns.
7. It remains only, in order to our observing such a fast as is acceptable to the Lord, that we add Alms thereto; works of mercy, after our power, both to the bodies and souls of men : “With such sacrifices (also] God is well pleased.” Thus the Angel declares to Cornelius, fasting and praying in his house, 'Thy prayers and thine alıns are come up for a memorial before God.” (Acts x. 4.) And this God himself expressly and largely declares : “Is not this the fast that I have chosen ? To loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? When thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh? Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily; and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy rereward. Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer: thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am. - f (when thou fustest] thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noon-day. And the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones : and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail Dot.” (Isa. Iviii. 6, &c.)
UPON OUR LORD'S SERMON ON THE
“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth
and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through
and steal: “ But lay up for yourselves treusures in heaven, where neither
moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break
through nor steal : “ For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. “ The light of the body is the eye : if therefore thine eye be
single, thy whole body shall be full of light. “ But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of dark
ness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!” Matt. vi. 19-23.
1. From those which are commonly termed religious actions, and, which are real branches of true religion, where they spring from a pure and holy intention, and are performed in a manner suitable thereto,-our Lord proceeds to the actions of commou life, and shows that the same purity of intention is as indispensably required in our ordivary business, as in giving alms, or fasting, or prayer.
And without question, the same purity of intention, "bicha makes our alms and devotions acceptable, must also make our labour or employment, a proper offering to God. If a man pursues his business, that he may raise himself to a state of figure and riches in the world, he is no longer serving God in bis employment, and has no more title to a reward from God, than be who gives alms that he may be seen, or prays that he ipay be heard, of men. For vain and earthly desigps are no more allowable in our employments, than in our alms and devotions. They are not only cvil when they mix with our good works,” with our religious actions, “but they have the same cvil nature when they enter into the common business of our employments. If it were allowable to pursue them in our worldly employments, it would be allowable to pursue them in our derotions. But as our alms and devotions are not an acceptable service, but when they proceed from a pure intention, so our common employment cannot be reckoned a service to liim, but when it is performed with the same piety of heart."
2. This our blessed Lord cieciares in the liveliest manner, in those strong and comprehensive words which he explains, enforces, and enlarges upon, throughout this whole chapter: “The light of the body is the eye: If therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness.” The eye is the intention : what the eye is to the body, the intention is to the soul. As the one guides all the motions of the body, so does the other those of the soul. This cye of the soul is then said to be single, when it looks at one thing only; when we bave no other design, but to “know God, and Jesus Christ whom he hath sent,”-to know him with suitable affections, loving him as he hath Jored us; to please God in all things; to serve God (as we love him) with all our heart, and mind, and soul, and strength; and to enjoy God in all, and above all things, in time and in eternity.
3. “If thine eye be [thus) single,” thus fixed on Gou, “thy whole body shall be full of light.” “Thy whole body:"-all that is guided by the intention, as the body is by the eye:, all thou art; all thou dost; thy desires, tempers, affections; thy thoughts, words, and actions. The whole of these “shall be full of light;" full of true Divine Knowledge. This is the first thing we may here understand by light. “In bis light thou shalt see light.” “Ile who of oid commanded light to shine out of darkness, shall shinc in thy heart : " He shall enlighten the eyes of thy understanding with the knowledge of the glory of God. His Spirit shall reveal unto thee the deep things of God. The inspiration of the Holy One shall give thec understanding, and cause thee to know wisdom secretly. Yea, the anointing which thou receivest of him “shall abide in thee, and teach thec of all things,”
How does experience confirm this! Even after God hath opened the cyes of our understanding, if we scek or desire any
thing else than God, how soon is our foolish heart darkened! Then clouds again rest upon our souls. Doubts and fears again overwhelm us. We are tossed to and fro, and know not what to do, or which is the path wherein we should go. But when we desire and seek nothing but God, clouds and doubts vanish away. We “who were sometimes darkness, are now light in the Lord.” The night now shineth as the day; and we find “the path of the upright is light.” God showeth us the path wherein we should go, and maketh plain the way before our face.
4. The second thing which we may here understand by light, is Holiness. While thou seekest God in all things, thou shalt find Him in all the fountain of all holiness continually filling thee with his own likeness, with justice, mercy, and truth. While thou lookest unto Jesus and Him alone, thou shalt be filled with the mind that was in him. Thy soul shall be renewed day by day, after the image of him that created it. If the eye of thy mind be not removed from him, if thou endurest“seeing him that is invisible," and seeking nothing else in heaven or earth, then as thou beholdest the glory of the Lord, thou shalt be transformed “into the same image, from glory to glory, by the Spirit of the Lord.”
And it is also matter of daily experience, that " by grace we are [thus] saved through faith.” It is by faith that the eye of the mind is opened, to see the light of the glorious love of God: and as long as it is steadily fixed thereon, on God in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, we are more and more filled with the love of God and man; with meekness, gentleness, longsuffering ; with all the fruits of holiness which are through Christ Jesus, to the glory of God the Father.
5. This light, which fills him who has a single eye, implies, thirdly, Happiness, as well as holiness. Surely “light is sweet, and a pleasant thing it is to see the sun :' But how much more, to see the Sun of Righteousness, continually shining upon the soul! And if there be any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any peace that passeth all understanding, if any rejoicing in hope of the glory of God, they all belong to him whose eye is single. Thus is his “ whole body full of light.” He walketh in the light as God is in the light, rejoicing evermore, praying without ceasing, and in every thing giving thanks, enjoying whatever is the will of God concerning him in Christ Jesus.