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eft, and as it were in an expiring state. How low was the interest of Zion at the reformation, when all the kings of the earth served the “ scarlet whore," and " were drunk “ with the wine of the wrath of her fornication ?” How thick the darkness that overspread the nations, and how universal the dominion of error? And yet, in opposition to all the cunning of earthly policy, in opposition to all the fury of perfecuting cru elty, he enabled a few plain men, lovers of the truth, to assert, to defend and to spread it.
The most remarkable times of the revival of religion, in this part of the united kingdom, immediately succeeded times of the greatest apostacy, when truth seemed to be fallen in the streets, and equity could not enter. This was the case immediately before the year 1638. Corruption in doctrine, looseness in practice, and flavifh fubmillion in politics, had overspread the church of Scotland. And yet, in a little time, she appeared in greater purity, and in greater dignity, than ever she had done before, or perhaps than ever the hath done since, that period. In the same manner, immediately before the happy revolution, how desperate in appearance was the fituation of this church? When all the best, as well as many of the noblest persons in the nation, were chased as fugitives from their dwellings and considered as unworthy of an abode on earth! When many of our worthy ancestors fell in battle, died on a scaffold, or were murdered in the fields by the unrelenting rage of ecclesiastic tyranny. And when worshipping the Lord God of our fathers, according to his own word, was a capital crime! Yet our captivity was brought back, and “we were as men that dreamed,” so unexpected was the mercy.
Let no Christian therefore give way to desponding thoughts. Though infidelity unrefifted spreads its poison, though profaneness and enmity to religion and seriousnefs every where abound, though there are few to fupport the interest of truth and righteousness, though we have seen a new thing on the earth, a minister of Christ leaving the pulpit for the stage, let us not be discouraged. We plead the cause that shall finally prevail. Religion shall rise from it ruins; and its oppressed state at present should not only excite us to pray, but encourage us to hope for : its speedy revival. While every one is diligent in his own sphere, and in his proper duty, and earnestly pleading for the revelation of the arm of the Lord, let us re. collezt his favor and protection to the church in every time of need, and his faithfulness which is to all generations. Let us say with the Pfalmist, “ Walk about Zion, " and go round about her: tell the towers thereof. Mark
ye well her bulwarks, consider her palaces; that ye may “ tell it to the generation following. For this God is " our God for ever and ever, he will be our guide even “ unto death."*
* Pl. xlviii. 12, 13, 14,
Let your light sa shine before men, that they may see your
good works, and glorify your Father which is in Hea
HERE are two different divifions frequently madę
of practical religion. One, into our duty to God, and our duty to man. Not as though every part of our duty were not to be ultimately referred to God, and to be done from a regard to his authority enjoining it; but because there are fome duties, of the performance of which the Lord our maker, and some of which our neighbor is the immediate object. Another common division is into the hidden and the apparent part; the inward frame and temper of the mind, and the outward life and conversation. These two divisions, though they are near a-kin to one another, and often by indistinct fpeakers in a great measure confounded, yet are by no means one and the same; and when the difference is not fufficiently attended to, it is followed by many bad consequences. It is undeniable that God is chiefly delighted with truth in the inward parts; yet there are many of the duties.we owe to God, which ought to have an outward expression, which without it will not be acceptable to him, but which are greatly neglected by those who imagine that a good life and conversation implies no more than the performance. of a few of the most obvious and necessary focial virtues. The truth is, there are few things that seem to be less understood than the nature, extent, and obligation of vifible religion. Some lean to one extreme, and some to another. Reproaches are mutually thrown upon one another. Some are blamed for too much profession; and they are ready to retort the charge, and blame their accusers with at least equal justice, for too little, or none at all. In the mean time there are too few of any fort who have such a conduct and character as really adorns the doctrine of their Saviour, and serves for the instruction of finners, or the edification and comfort of those who fear God. For this reason I have chosen to insist a little upon these words of our Saviour to his difciples, in his excellent sermon on the mount, “ Let your light so shine before men, that
they may see your good works, and glorify your Father " which is in heaven.”
I am sensible that some, and particularly one commen. tator of great eminence, understand these words as addressed only, or chiefly, to the twelve apostles ; and that by light is to be understood their doctrine, which they were to let, or to suffer to shine; freely to communicate, as they had freely received it. This they presume to have been intended, in opposition to the Heathen philosophers and the Jewish teachers, who confined their instructions to their schools, and imparted what they esteemed their most valuable discoveries only to a few select disciples. To support this interpretation, it is alledged, that the metaphor of light is constantly used in Scripture to signify knowledge; and that of darkness, ignorance. But though this be the primary intention of the metaphor, it is surely sometimes carried on to express the effects of knowledge; and not only walking in the light (as 1 John i. 7.) but shining as lights in the world, (as in Phil. ii. 15.) an expression al. most the same with that in our text, is used to signify holiness of life. Besides, I do not think the above interpretation can be made, without some constraint, to agree with the expreffion in the last part of the verse, “ that they may see your good works.” I understand the words, therefore, as originally addrelled to all who then heard our Lord's