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Thoughts upon the Appearance of Christ the Sun of Righteousness, or the Beatifick Vision.
SO long as we are in the Body, we are apt to be governed wholly by its senses, seldom or never minding any thing but what comes to us through one or other of them. Though we are all able to abstract our Thoughts when we please from matter, and fix them upon things that are purely spiritual; there are but few that ever do it. But few, even among those also that have such things revealed to them by God himself, and so have infinitely more and firmer ground to believe them, than any one, or all their senses put together can afford. Such are the great Truths of the Gospel, for which we have the infallible Word and Testimony of the supreme Truth; yet seeing they are not the Objects of sense, but only of our Faith, though we profess to believe them, yet we take but little notice of them, and are usually no more affected with them, than as if there were no such things in being. Hence it hath pleased God, in great Compassion to our Infirmity, not only to reveal and make known 315such spiritual things to us, in plain and easy terms, but likewise to bring them as near as possible to our senses, by representing them to us under the Names and Characters of such sensible Objects as bear the greatest Resemblance to them; that we who are led so much by our senses, may by them also be directed how to apprehend those spiritual Objects which he hath told us of, on purpose that we may believe them upon his word.
THUS he often useth the words, Hand, Eye, and the like, to signify his own divine Perfections to us. And thus it was that our Saviour preached the Gospel to the People, by Parables, and Similitudes of things commonly seen and done among themselves. The Prophets also frequently took the same course, as might be shewn by many Instances; but one of the most remarkable is that in Mat. iv. 2. where the Prophet in the Name of God speaking of Christ’s coining into the World, expresseth it by the rising of the Sun, saying, To you that fear my name shall the Sun of Righteousness arise, with healing in his wings.
FOR that Jesus Christ is that Sun of Righteousness here spoken of, is so plain from the Context, and whole Design of the Prophet, that I need not insist upon the proving it; but shall only observe, that 316this being the last of all the Prophets in the Old Testament, he shuts up his own, and all the other Prophesies, with a clear Prediction of Christ, and his Fore-runner John the Baptist, whom he calls Elijah or Elias, and concludes his Prophecy with these words concerning him, Behold I will send you Elijah the Prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to the fathers, lest I some and smite the Earth (or rather the Land) with a Curse, Mal. iv. 5, 6. For that by Elijah is here meant John the Baptist, we are assured by Christ himself, Matth. xi. 14. And it is very observable, that as this Prophet ends the old Testament with a Prediction of Elias, so St. Luke begins the New with a relation how John the Baptist was born, and so came into the World a little before Christ, as the Morning Star that appeared before the rising of the Sun of Righteousness.
BUT of the Day which shall come at the rising of that glorious Sun, the Prophet saith, that it shall burn as an Oven, and all the proud, yea and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble, and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root 317nor branch, ver. 1. It will be a terrible Day to those that shall obstinately refuse to walk in the light of it; they shall be all consumed, as we read the unbelieving Jews were at the Destruction of Hierusalem, that happened soon after that Sun was up. But then turning himself, as it were, to his own People, Almighty God here by his Prophet chears and comforts them, saying to them, But unto you that fear my Name shall the Sun of Righteousness arise, with healing in his wings, &c. He shall arise to all, but to the other with such a scorching Heat as shall burn them up, to these with healing in his Wings, or Rays, so as not to hurt but heal them of all their Maladies.
NOW that which I chiefly design by God’s Assistance, to shew from these words, is, what Thoughts they suggest to us concerning our blessed Saviour, by calling him the Sun of Righteousness. But to make the way as plain as I can, we must first consider, to whom he is here said to arise with healing in his wings, even to those that fear the Name of God; i.e. to those who firmly believing in God, and being fully persuaded of his infinite Power, Justice and Mercy, and also of the Truth of all his Threats and Promises, stand continually in awe of him; not daring to do any thing 318willingly that may offend him, nor leave any thing undone that he would have them do. Such, and such only, can be truly said to fear God. And therefore the Fear of God in the Scriptures, especially of the Old Testament, is all along put for the whole Duty of Man. There being no Duty that a Man owes, either to God or his Neighbour, but if he really fears God, he will endeavour all he can to do it. But this necessarily supposeth his Belief in God, and his holy Word, or rather proceeds originally from it. For he that cometh unto God, so as to fear and obey him, must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them who diligently seek him, Heb. xi. 6. So that as no Man can believe in God, but he must needs fear him; so no Man can fear God, unless he first believes in him. From whence it necessarily follows, that by those who are here said to fear the Name of God, we can understand no other but only such as are possessed with a firm Belief in him, and with a full Persuasion of the Truth and Certainty of those divine Revelations that he hath made of himself, and of his Will to Mankind, and therefore live accordingly.
OF these, and these only, it is here said, that to them shall the Sun of Righteousness arise with healing in his wings. Not to 319any other; no other being able to see his light, nor capable of those healing Influences that proceed from him. For though he be a Sun, he is not not such a Sun as we see with our bodily Eyes in the Firmament, but the Sun of Righteousness, shining in the highest Heavens, beyond the reach of our senses, visible only to the Eye of the Faith, the Evidence of things not seen. Insomuch that although he he risen, and darts down his Beams to this lower World continually, yet they who have not Faith, can neither see him, nor enjoy any more Benefit by him than as if he was not risen, or did not shine at all. As if a Man be born stark blind, though the Sun shines never so clear about him, he sees no more than he did before, but lives in the dark at Noonday as much as at Midnight, neither can ye ever make him understand what Light or Colours are; for having not that sense, by which alone such things can be perceived, he can never understand what you mean by such things, so as to form any true Notion of them in his mind. So it is in our present Case; though the Sun of Righteousness be risen, and shines most gloriously in the World; yet being the Object only of our Faith, without that a Man can discern nothing of him. He may perhaps talk of him as a blind Man may 320talk of Light, but all the while he knows not what he means by the Words which he useth about him. For he useth them only as Words in course, taken up from those he talks with, without having any Effect or Operation at all upon his mind; whereas they who really believe God’s Word, and what is there revealed concerning the Sun of Righteousness; they see his Light, they feel his Heat, they experience the Power and Efficacy of his Influences; and therefore, although they who have not Faith (as few have) can be no way profited by what they shall hear or read of him, yet they who have, and act it upon what they hear or read out of God’s holy Word concerning him, they will find their Thoughts or Apprehensions of him cleared up, and their Affections enflamed to him; so as to love and honour him for the future, as the Fountain of all that spiritual Life and Light, and Joy they have. For to them he will arise with healing its his wings.
HE did not only arise once, but he continually ariseth to those who believe in God, and fear him. For thus saith the Lord, to you that fear my Name shall the Sun of Righteousness arise, with healing in his wings. It is true, he speaks more especially of his Incarnation, or visible Appearance 321in the World, but by this manner of speaking; he intimates withal that this Sun of Righteousness is always shining upon his faithful People, more or less, in all Ages from the beginning to the end of the World. For in that it is said he shall arise, it is plainly supposed that he was the Sun of Righteousness before, and gave Light unto the World, though not so clearly as when he was actually risen. As we see and enjoy the light of the Sun, long before be riseth, from the first dawning of the Day, though it grows clearer and clearer, all along as he comes nearer and nearer to his rising; so the Sun of Righteousness began to enlighten the World as soon as it was darkened by Sin; the Day then began to break, and it grew lighter and lighter in every Age. Adam himself saw something of this Light, Abraham more; Abraham rejoyced to see my Day, saith this glorious Sun, he saw it, and was glad, Joh. viii. 56: David and the Prophets after him saw it most clearly; especially this, the last of the Prophets: He saw this Sun in a manner rising, so that he could tell the People that it would suddenly get above their Horizon, The Lord whom ye seek, saith he, shall suddenly come to his Temple, Mal. iii. 1. and acquaints them also with the happy Influences it would have upon them, saying, 322in the Name of God, Unto you that fear my name shall the sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings.
The Sun of Righteousness; that is, as I observed before, Jesus Christ the righteous, who is often foretold and spoke of under the name and notion of the Sun or Star that giveth light unto the World. There shall come a star out of Jacob, said Balaam, Num. xxiv. 17. And he shall be as the light of the morning when the sun riseth, saith David, 2 Sam. xxiii. 4. And the Prophet Isaiah speaking of his coming, saith, The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light, and they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined; Isa. ix. 2. For that this was spoken of Christ, we have the authority of the Evangelist, Mat. iv. 16. To the same purpose is that of the same Prophet, Arise, shine, for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For behold the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people, but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee, Isa. lx. 1, 2. The sun shall be no more thy light by day, neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee. But the Lord shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory, v. 19, 20. To which we may add the many places where Christ 323is called צמח which we translate the Branch. As, I will bring forth my servant the Branch, Zech. iii. 8. Behold the man, whose name is the Branch, c. vi. 8. I will raise up to David, a righteous Branch, Jer. xxiii. 5. And a Branch of righteousness, c. xxxiii. 15. In all which places the original word signifies also the rising of the Sun, and is accordingly rendred by the LXX, Ἀνατολὴ, Oriens, not that part of Heaven where the Sun riseth, but the Sun it self as rising there. And so it is translated also both in the Syriack and Arabick Versions. And where it is said, In that day shall the Branch of the Lord be beautiful, Isa. iv. 2. In the LXX it is ἐπιλάμψει ὁ Θεὸς, God shall shine forth. In the Syriack The rising of the Lord shall be for glory. In Arabick, The Lord shall rise as the sun. And that this is the true sense of the word in all these places, appears from the Prophecy of Zacharias the Father of John the Baptist; for speaking of Christ’s coming, he expresseth it according to our Translation, by saying, The day spring from on high hath visited us, Luk. i. 78. But in the original it is the same word that the LXX use in all the aforefaid places, Ἀνατολὴ, Oriens, the rising Sun. And it is much to be observed, that all the said places of the Prophets, are interpreted of the Messiah or 324Christ; by the Targem or Chaldee Paraphrase, made by the ancient Jews themselves; for צמח the rising Sun, is there translated משיחא the Christ, as if it was only another name for Messiah, the Saviour of the World. From all which it appears, that when the Prophet here calls our Saviour Christ the sun of righteousness, he speaks according to the common sense and practice of the Church at that time.
AND verily he may well be called the Sun, both in respect of what he is in himself, and in respect of what he is to us. As there is but one Sun in the Firmament, it is the chief of all Creatures that we see in the World. There is nothing upon Earth, but what is vastly inferior, the very Stars of Heaven seem no way comparable to it; it is the top, the head, the glory of all visible Objects: In like manner, as there is but one Saviour in the World, he is exalted far above all things in it, not only above the Sun it self, but above all Principality, and Power, and Might, and Dominion, and every Name that is named, not only in this World, but also in that which is to come. All things are put under his feet, and he is given to be head over all things to the Church, Eph. i. 21, 22. The very Angels, Authorities and Powers of Heaven, 325\are all made subject to him, 1 Pet. iii. 22. And that is the reason that he is said to be at the right hand of God, because he is preferred before, and set over the whole Creation, next to the Almighty Creator himself, where he now reigns, and doth whatsoever he pleaseth in Heaven and Earth.
AND as the Sun is in itself also the most glorious, as well as the most excellent Creature we see, of such transcendent Beauty, Splendor and Glory, that we cannot look stedfastly upon it, but our eyes are presently dazled, so is Christ; the Sun of righteousness, When he was transfigured, his face did shine as the sun, Mat. xvii. 2. When St. John had a glimpse of him, he saw his countenance as the sun that shineth in his strength, Rev. i. 16. When he appeared to St. Paul going to Damascus at mid day, there was a light above the brightness of the sun shining round about him, and them that journied with him, Acts xxvi. 13. And it is no wonder, For he is the brightness of the Father’s glory, and the express image of his person, Heb. i. 3. And therefore must needs shine more gloriously than it is possible for any mere Creature to do; his very Body, by reason of its Union to the divine Person, is a glorious body. Phil. iii. 21. The most glorious doubtless of all the Bodies in the World, as far exceeding the Sun, as 326that doth a clod of Earth; insomuch, that could we look upon our Lord as he now shines forth in all his Glory in the highest Heavens, how would our eyes be dazled? Our whole Souls amazed and confounded at his excellent Glory? The Sun would appear to us no otherwise than as the Moon and Stars do, when the Sun is up. And he that so far excels the Sun in that very property, wherein the Sun excels all other things, may well be called the Sun: The Sun by way of præeminence, the most glorious Sun in the World, in comparison whereof nothing else deserves to be called by that Name. Neither may our blessed Saviour be justly called by this glorious Name, only from what he is in himself, but likewise for what He doth for us, as may be easily demonstrated from all the benefits that we receive from the Sun, I shall instance in some of the most plain and obvious.
FIRST therefore, the Sun we know is the Fountain of all the Light that we have upon Earth, without which we could see nothing, not so much as the way that is before us, but should be always groping and stumbling in the dark, whereas by it we can discern every thing that is about us, or at any distance from us, as far as our sight can reach. In which respect our 327blessed Lord is the Sun indeed; The light of the world, Joh. viii. 12. The true light; that lighteneth every one that cometh into the world, c. i. 9. A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of his people Israel, Luk. ii. 32. A marvellous light, 1 Pet. ii. 9. Whereby we can see things that are not visible to the eye, as plainly as we do those that are. For this day spring from on high, this Sun of Righteousness hath visited us, to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace, Luc. i. 78, 79. To shew us the invisible things of God, and direct us to all things belonging to our everlasting Peace and Happiness. He hath made them all clear and manifest to us in his Gospel. But whatsoever maketh manifest is light, Eph. v. 13. Wherefore he is said to have brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel, 2 Tim. i. 10. Because he hath there so clearly revealed them to us, that by the light of his holy Gospel we may see all things necessary to be known, believed, or done, in order to eternal Life, as plainly as we can see the most visible Objects at Noon day.
BY this Light we can see as much of the Glory of God himself, as our mortal Nature can bear. For No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son which is 328in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him, Joh. i. 18. Neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him. Mat. xi. 27. So that no Man ever had or can have any right knowledge of the true God, but only by his Son our Saviour Christ. But by his means, they that lived before might see him as by twilight, we who live after this Sun is risen, may see him by the clearest Light that can be given of him, for he hath fully revealed and declared him to us in the Gospel.
BY this glorious Light we can see into the Mystery of the eternal Trinity in Unity, so as to believe that God the Father, Son and Holy Ghost are one, one Jehovah, one God. That God the Father made all things at the first by his Word, and still upholds and orders all filings according to his Will. That God the Son was made flesh, became Man, and as such died upon the Cross, and so offered up himself as a Sacrifice for the sins of the whole World; that he rose again, went up to Heaven, and is now there at the right hand of God; that upon our Repentance and Faith in him our sins are all pardoned, and he that made us is reconciled to us by the Merits of his said Death; that by the Power of his Intercession which he now makes in Heaven for us, we are 329justified or accounted righteous in him, before his, and in him our Almighty Father; that God the Holy Ghost abide! continually with his Church, moving upon, actuating and influencing the means of Grace that are there administred; that he sanctifies all that believe in Christ, leads them into all Truth, comforts them in all their Troubles, and of assists them in doing whatsoever is required of them. These and many such great and necessary Truths as lay in a great measure hid before, are now by the Light of the Sun of Righteousness shinning in his Gospel, made so plain and evident, that all may see them, except they wilfully shut their Eyes, or turn their Backs upon then.
AND though the Sun in the Firmament enlightens only the Air, to make it a fit medium through which to see; this glorious Light that comes from the Sun of Righteousness, enlightens Mens Minds too, and opens their Eyes, to beheld the wondrous things that are revealed in the law of God, Psal. cxix. 18. And that too so effectually in some, that they likewise are able to enlighten others, to open their Eyes, and turn them from Darkness to Light, Acts xxvi. 18. Insomuch that they also are the Light of the World, Mat. v. 14. not originally in themselves, but by communication 330from him, as the Moon is first enlightened by the Sun, and then reflects its light to the Earth.
MOREOVER, the Sun is the first Cause under God, not only of Light, but also of all the Life that is in any Creature upon Earth, without which nothing could live, no, not so much as a Vegetable, much less an Animal Life; for that which we call Life, wherewith such Creatures as have Organs fitted for it, are actuated and quickned, so as to be said properly to live, at all depends upon the heat and influences of the Sun; should the Sun once cease to be, or to influence the World, all living Creatures would immediately expire and die. So is Christ the Sun of Righteousness, the Fountain of all spiritual Life. In thee, saith David, is the fountain of life, in thy light we shall see light, Psal. xxxvi. 9. Where we see that Light, and Life in this sense also go together; they both proceed from the same Fountain, the Sun of righteousness, who therefore saith, I am the light of the world, he that followeth me shall not walk in darkmess, but shall have the light of life, Joh. viii. 12. that Light which hath Life always proceeding from it, and accompanying it; so that he is both Light and Life it self.. I am, saith he, the way, the truth, and the life, Joh. xiv. 6. And our Life, as the Apostle 331calls him, Col. iii. 4. even the life of all that believe in him. The life that I now live in the flesh, saith the same Apostle, I live by the faith of the Son of God, Gal. ii. 20. And therefore he who believeth, and so hath the son, he hath life, and he that hath not the son, hath not life, 1 Joh. v. 12.
FROM all which it appears, that All men by nature are dead in trespasses and sins, Eph. ii. 1. But when any arise from the dead by faith, it is Christ that gives them life, c. v. 14. Who cane into the world on purpose that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly, Joh. x. 10. more abundantly, that is, in the highest and most excellent manner that it is possible for Men to live. For this Life which the Sun of Righteousness raiseth Believers to, is the Life of Righteousness, an holy, an heavenly, a spiritual, divine Life; it is the Life of Faith, whereby they live to other purposes, and in a quite different manner from other Men; they live to God, and not unto the World, they live in a constant dependence upon him, and submission to him, they live with a firm belief of his Word, and sincere obedience to his Laws; they live altogether in his Service, so that whether they eat, or drink, or whatsoever they do, they still do it to the glory of God, 1 Cor. x. 31. In short, they strive all they 332can to do the Will of God upon Earth, as the holy Angels do it in Heaven, and so have their Conversation there, where their Saviour and their Treasure is.
BUT this Life is infused into them, only by the Rays of the Sun of Righteousness, by that Holy Spirit which proceedeth from Christ, whereby they being born again, and made the Children of Light, thus walk in newness of Life; and so it is nourished also, preserved and strengthned only by him, who therefore calls himself the bread of life, Joh. vi. 35, 48. And the Bread of God, which cometh from heaven, and giveth life unto the world, v. 33, the living bread, of which if any man eat, he shall live for ever, v. 51. And this Bread which he gives is his flesh, which he gave for the life of the world, ibid. For his flesh is meat indeed, and his blood is drink indeed; so that whoso eateth his flesh and drinketh his blood hath eternal Life, and he will raise him up at the last day, that he may live for ever. v. 54, 55, 58. Foe Christ is the resurrection and the life, whosoever believeth in him, though he were dead, yet shall he live, and whosoever liveth and believeth in him shall never die, c. xi. 25, 26. Though his Body may die, yet not his Soul. And his Body also at the last Day shall be raised again to Life, by the power of this glorious Son. For as 333in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive, 1 Cor. xv. 22.
SEEING therefore that Jesus Christ is the Fountain of the Life of Righteousness, the Author of that spiritual and eternal Life which the righteous live; as the Sun is of our natural, he also may most properly be called the Sun, and the Sun of Righteousness, as he is in the words before us. And so he may be likewise from his chearing and refreshing our Spirits in the inward Man, as the Sun doth in the outward. The light of the eyes, saith the Wise Man, rejoiceth the heart, Prov. xv. 30. And truly the light is sweet, and a pleasant thing it is for the eye to behold the sun, Eccles. xi. 7. This we all find by daily experience, and so we do too, that the light and heat of the Sun agitate or move our animal Spirits in so benign and delicate a manner, that we are always more chearful and pleasant when the Sun shines clearly, than we are in a dark Night or cloudy Day. But in this the Sun of Righteousness infinitely exceeds the other, for he is the Fountain not only of some, but of all the true Joy and Comfort that his faithful People have or ever can have in the World. It all proceeds from him, whom having not seen they love, in whom, though now they see him not, yet believing they rejoice with joy unspeakable, 334and full of glory, 1 Pet. i. 8. For upon their believing in him, as having been delivered for their Offences, and raised again for their Justification, he manifesteth himself, and his special love and favour to them, in the pardon of their Sins, and their Reconciliation to Almighty God, whereby their Souls are filled, not only with unspeakable, but glorious Joy, of the same nature with that which the glorified Saints in Heaven are continually transported with. This is that which is called the lifting up the light of God’s countenance, and his causing his Face to shine upon them, Psal. iv. 6. Psal. lxvii. 1. Psal. lxxx. 3. Num. vi. 25. When the Sun of Righteousness thus shineth upon them, refreshing and comforting their hearts, by the sweet influences of that Holy Spirit that proceedeth from him.
BUT the Sun doth not only refresh the Earth, but makes it fruitful; it is by his means under God, that Plants grow and bring forth Fruit, and that Animals do the respective Works which God hath set them. So is Christ the Cause or Author of all the good and righteous Works that are done in the World; he himself saith, without me ye can do nothing, Joh. xv. 5. And his Apostle could say upon his own experience, 335I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me, Phil. iv. 13. And that the Fruits, all the Fruits of Righteousness, and by Jesus Christ, or come from him, Chap. i. 11. who therefore in this respect also may well be termed the Sun of Righteousness.
TO which we may likewise add, that as the Works which God hath made upon Earth by his Power, although they have no light in themselves whereby they can be seen, yet they appear in all their Beauty and Colours by the Sun reflecting his light upon them; so the Works which his Servants do, by his Assistance and Grace, although they have no real worth, nor are exactly righteous in themselves, yet by the Sun of Righteousness reflecting his Righteousness upon them, they seem or are accounted righteous in the sight of God, or as St. Peter speaks, they are acceptable to God by Jesus Christ, 1 Pet. ii. 5. without whom therefore there could be no such thing as Righteousness seen upon Earth, no more than there could be Colours without light. But as by one man’s disobedience many were made Sinners, so by the Obedience of one many are made righteous, Rom. v. 19. both sincerely righteous in themselves, and accepted of as righteous before God, by his Righteousness imputed 336to them. So that all Righteousness, both as it is performed by Men, and as it is approved of by God, comes only from Jesus Christ. And this seems to be the great reason wherefore he is here called in a peculiar manner the Sun of Righteousness, and promised to arise to his faithful People with healing in his wings, that they may grow up as Calves in the stalls; to shew that it is by him only that they are healed of their Infirmities, and restored to a sound mind, so as to grow in Grace, and bring forth the Fruits of Righteousness, such Righteousness as by him is acceptable to God, from whom they shall therefore at the last Day receive the Crown of Righteousness, that Crown which this Sun of Righteousness hath procured for them.
UPON these, among many other accounts, Jesus Christ the Saviour of Mankind may truly be called the Sun of Righteousness, as he is here by the Spirit of Truth itself, for our Admonition and Comfort. For hereby we are put in mind how to think of our blessed Saviour, and to exercise our Faith in him, so as to love and honour him with all our Hearts, and to put our whole Trust and Confidence in him for all things necessary to our eternal Salvation. Forasmuch as we are by this 337means given to understand, that what the Sun is to this lower World, the same is Christ to his Church. But the Sun, as we have heard, is the most excellent, and most glorious thing that we see in the World. It is the next Cause, under God, of all the Light that is in the Air, and of all the Life that any Creatures live upon the Earth. It is that which refresheth the Earth, and makes it fruitful. It is that also which gives a lustre to all things that are about us, so as to make them pleasing and delightful to the Eye.
AND accordingly, whensoever I think of my blessed Saviour, the Sun of Righteousness I apprehend, or rather by the Eye of Faith I behold him in the highest Heavens, there shining in Glory and Splendor infinitely greater than any mortal Eye can bear, invested with supreme Majesty, Honour and Authority over the whole Creation. I behold him there surrounded with an innumerable Company of holy Angels, as so many fixed Stars, and of glorified Saints as Planets enlightened by him; all his Satellites or Servants waiting upon him; ready upon all occasions to reflect and convey his benign Influences or Favours to his People upon Earth. I see him yonder, by his own Light; I behold him displaying his bright Beams, and diffusing 338his Light round about, over his whole Church, both that which is triumphant in Heaven, and that which is militant here on Earth, that all the Members of it may see all things belonging to their Peace. I behold him continually sending down his quickening Spirit upon those who are baptized into, and believe in his holy Name, to regenerate them, to be a standing Principle of a new and divine Life in them. I behold him there manifesting himself, and causing his Face to shine upon those who look up to him, so as to refresh and cheer their Spirits, to make them brisk and lively, and able to run with Patience the race that is set before them. I behold him there continually issuing forth his Holy Spirit, to actuate and influence the Administration of his Word and Sacraments; that all who duly receive them may thereby grow in Grace, and be fruitful in every good Word and Work. I behold this Sun of Righteousness shining with so much Power and Efficacy upon his Church, that all the good Works which are done in it, though imperfect in themselves, do notwithstanding appear through him as good and righteous in the sight of God himself, and are accordingly rewarded by him. In short, as the Sun was made to rule and govern the Day, so I behold 339this Sun of Righteousness as governing his Church, and ordering all things both within it and without it, so as to make them work together for the good of those who love God, till he hath brought them all to himself, to live with him in the highest Heavens, where they also shall by his means, shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father for ever, Mat. xiii. 43.
COULD we keep these and such like thoughts of our blessed Saviour always fresh in our Minds, could we be always thus looking upon him, as the Sun of Righteousness shining continually upon us and his whole Church, what holy, what heavenly, what comfortable Lives should we then lead? We should then despise the Pomps and Vanities of this wicked World, as nothing, as less than nothing in comparison of this most glorious Sun and his Righteousness. We should then with St. Paul, count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus Christ our Lord, and should count them but dung that we may win Christ, and be found in him, not having our own righteousness which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith, Phil. iii. 8, 9. We should then leave gazing upon the trifles of this lower World, and should be always looking 340up to this Sun of Righteousness, so as to be enlightened by him, Psal. xxxiv. 5. with such a Light as will discover to us the Glories of the other World, together with the way that leads to it.
WE should then abhor and detest the works of Darkness, and walk as the Children of Light, and accordingly shine as Lights in the World. And then we should have the Light of God’s Countenance shining continually upon us, enlightening, enlivening, and refreshing our whole Souls, and pacifying both our Hearts and Lives so, as to make us meet to be Partakers of the Inheritance of the Saints in Light; in that everlasting Light which comes from the Sun of Righteousness, who liveth and reigneth, and shineth with the Father and the Holy Ghost, one God, blessed for ever.
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