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The word will be, in this respect, a lantern to his feet, and a light in all his paths. Let him be in what station in life he may, from the king to the lowest subject, let him be called to act in what relation in life soever, or let 'him stand in what station he may in the church of God, still the Holy Scriptures will afford him sufficient instruction. An upright man will search the word of God with this view, that he mav know what is the will of the Lord concerning him; and in this he will act as in the sight of God: Not, as some speak, dividing the tables; not - making choice of the easier or the more pleasing precepts 'of God'-s word, and disregarding the rest: But like David, he will have a proper respect to all God's commandments, constantly endeavouring to order and square his whole conduct according to the revealed will of God, so that whatsoever the Scriptures condemn, that he carefully and 'constantly will avoid; that which the Scriptures teach, he will cordially and heartily embrace, and thus walk worthy of the Vocation wherewith he is called.
2. The upright man takes the Spirit of God for his guide; being sensible of the weakness of his own under^ standing and well knowing that the Scriptures can only 'fee rightly understood by those whose minds are enlightened by the same Spirit who indited them: He devoutly prays, that the Holy Spirit may so shine upon his soul, that he may be enabled rightly to understand, and on all occasions properly to apply to them.
-3. The upright man will take the grace of God, to 'assist him in the performance of every part of his duty. He sensibly feels the truth of that word, "Without me, ye can do nothing." He therefore lives in a state of continual dependance upon -God, and by constant prayer seeks for daily supplies of grace from him, that he may be fitted for- every good word and work. Duty becomes easy, nay delightful, to those who by faith and prayer are daily drawing fresh supplies of strength from above; who are quickened, strengthened, and comforted, by the 'God whom they serve. To these Wisdom's ways will be ways of pleasantness, and all her paths, peace: The -peace and We of God shall rule in their hearts.
There are different degrees of uprightness, according to
:the degree of grace which a person experiences in his
own mind. Hence it follows, that a man can only be
said to walk uprightly, according to the measure of grace
which he enjoys: Therefore, we are not to expect that ihe babe in Christ can walk uprightly, in the same degree with the young man; no, nor that the young man should do it, in the same degree, with a father in Christ: And hence we may see how necessary it is that we should earnestly seek that measure ot grace, which may make us upright, in the fullest sense of the word, so that we may live wholly to the glory ot God. Nay it may be doubted whether we can be said to walk uprightly at all, if we are not daily looking for the accomplishment of all the promises of God, and that all his wise and gracious designs should be fulfilled in us. For except a peison be ignorant of the proper meaning of the promises, which respect the entire sanctification ot the soul, how can he be said to be upright, if he treat such glorious promises with neglect? He whose eye is single, will receive increasing light irom God, and will be led into all the heights of Christian holiness, so that all the designs of God, in sending Christ into the world, as they relate to him, shall be fulfilled.
Secondly, Let us now consider the promises, which the Lord hath made to these upright walkers.
The first of them runs thus, "The Lord God is a sun." In these words, as well as in every part of the word of God, we see how unspeakably kind and gracious he is to his poor creatures.' He knoweth the weakness of the human understanding, and that we can have no proper ideas of the nature of spiritual or heavenly things, unless they are represented to us by natural similitudes. Therefore, in tender compassion to our weakness, he uses a great variety of striking figures and expressive metaphors, that by this means we may know the nature, and be acquainted with the worth of those spiritual blessings, which he is ever ready to communicate.
The metaphor here is borrowed from the sun, in the firmament of heaven, in order to teach us, that all the good which we receive from the sun, in a natural way, the upright shall receive from the Lord Jesus, who is the Sun of Righteousness, in a spiritual way. The sun under God, is the fountain of all natural light: When the sun goeth down, it is night; we are surrounded with darkness, and the beauty of the whole creation is hid from our eyes. Were we encompassed about with the most beautiful, or valuable objects, we neither discern their beauty nor value; and were we in the garden of Eden itself, it would be just the sam,e, while this darkness remains: But the sun arises, the day breaks, we are encompassed with light, and the objects around us appear-what they really are: And was the sun to be totally withdrawn, the grossest and most dreadful darkness would follow, inasmuch as the moon only shines with a borrowed light, a light reflected from the sun. So our blessed Redeemer is the author of all spiritual light, and on this account he is called the Sun of Righteousness, and the Day-spring from on high; hence he himself says, " I am come a light into the world." Till he arise upon, or visit our souls, we are in a state of midnight darkness; and although we are surrounded with the most excellent, as well as the most delightful objects, yet we see neither their beauty nor their worth. We see neither form nor comeliness in him, who is altogether lovely: We see nothing desirable in the pearl of great price, the peace of God which passeth all understanding; nor do we see any thing valuable, even in the unsearchable ciches of Christ. But let Jesus visit us* as the dayspring from on high, and the eye of our mind is opened, the day breaks upon us, and we see the beauty, and begin to dis- 4* cern the excellency of those spiritual blessings, which are freely offered to us in the Gospel: The Bible is no longer a sealed book, but while we read, we also understand.
But it may be said, all this has been fulfilled in those whose character has been described; and it is very true, those upright persons have experienced all this. But inasmuch as this promise is made to the upright, the Lord certainly intends to make it good to them, throughout their whole life; and not only so, but it shall be fulfilled in a far higher degree, than it has ever yet been: no doubt this promise is exactly the same with that other, "Then shall ye know, if ye follow on to know the Lord, that his goings forth are prepared as the morning."
When the sun arises, the day breaks; but he rises higher, and shines brighter as he rises higher till he shines upon us in his noon day, or meridian brightness. Thus likewise the Sun of Righteousness arises upon us, and we become children of light, and of the day 5 but he rises higher, and he shines brighter as he rises higher, and the Scripture is fulfilled which says, "The path of the just is as the shining light, which shineth more and more, unto the perfect day." The happy consequence of this will be, we shall be more fully acquainted with the exceeding sinfulness of sin, we shall see all that remains offthe old leaven in our minds, whatsoever is contrary to the will of God whether it be in our spirit and temper, or in our life and conversation, it will all be brought to light, and will appear to be hateful, and we shall seek the N
destruction of it. The full salvation of God will be manifested to us, and will appear inexpressibly desirable. We shall see those heights and depths of Christian holiness that we never saw before, and the way into the holiest, into the highest state ot grace, will appear clear to us: We shall see the beauty of holiness, of entire sanctification ol body, soul, and spirit, in such a light as we knew nothing of till now, and our whole soul will hunger and thirst after the enjoyment of it: We shall see increasing loveliness in the blessed Redeemer, and our minds will cleave so much the closer to him: The word ot God will appear the more amiable and excellent, as the light of God shines upon it, and all the ordinances. of God, as well as his ministers, will be still more highly esteemed by us.
The religion of Jesus Christ must appear so much the more excellent, as its nature is more fully understood; and as the promise assures us the upright shall not walk in darkness, it will follow, that as we shall understand the nature of religion more perfectly, we shall only value it the more, as the greatest treasure that God himself can bestow upon us, while in this world.
The sun in the firmament is also, under God, the fountain of natural life to this lower creation, and more especially so to the vegetable part thereof; we ourselves are witnesses of this. In the winter season, when the sun appears to be at a greater distance from this part of the earth, or, as is supposed, only shines upon it in a more oblique way, the whole vegetable creation appears to be in a state of death: Trees, plants, and flowers are stripped of their verdure, and,the whole world seems as a dreary wilderness. Turn where We will, all looks like desolation and death, and nothing appears in a state of prosperity. But the sun draws nearer, or he shines upon this part of the world with directer rays; the spring returns, the face of the earth resembles the paradise of God; trees, plants, and flowers appear in their own native beauty: We see the wonderful works of God, wheresoever we turn our eyes; and an emblem of our own resurrection from the dead, at the last day.
It is just the, same with respect to the soul of man, and the Lord Jesus Christ. Sin has brought us all into a state of spiritual death, and the state of our minds resembles that of the earth in the winter season. The soul is stript of the image of God, and of every thing that aS| truly excellent, as much as the trees of the field are of their leaves and fruit, in the coldest winter. The soul is naked before the Lord, and has nothing lovely, amiable or excellent about it, nothing to "recommend it to God.
But the design of God, in sending Christ into the world, was, that he should be a quickemng Spirit to us, and raise us up trom the death of sin to the lite of righteousness. Hence our Lord saith, "I am the resurrection and the life; whosoever bclieveth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live; and whosoever liveth and believeth in me, shall never die." Here we see, that he who believeth in the Son of God, is made spiritually alive, his soul is quickened by the mighty power of God, he is made one (in a spiritual way) with Christ. the Redeemer, and he has received spiritual life from him, so that all the fruits of the spirit are planted in his mind, and his soul is like a field which the Lord hath blessed. . .;
It may again be said, every upright man hath experienced this already; and it certainly is so: But our Lord hath said, "I came that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly:" This promise, then, exactly answers to these words. The sun of Righteousness shall not only more fully illuminate our minds, but we shall receive larger measures of spiritual life from him, so that we shall grow and flourish like trees planted by the rivers of water, and neither our leaf shall wither, nor our fruit fail. Our souls shall be strong, healthy and lively, in their actings towards God: Being full of spiritual life, we shall be zealous for his glory, diligent in his service, full of lively desires after him, and fully resolved to be all devoted to him. None of our graces shall languish, droop, or die; but every plant, which the Lord hath planted in our minds, shall be in a prosperous condition, 'and our whole so'ul will resemble a well-watered garden.
The sun in the firmament comforts the whole lower creation; we ourselves are witnesses of this. At certain times, we have much dark and cloudy weather; the sun shines not upon us for many days: We sensibly feel our whole frame affected, our animal spirits sink, a kind of dulness and langour have seized upon us, and we cannot go about our daily business with that degree of chearfulness, which we otherwise should. But the sun shines bright and clear upon us again, our whole frame is strangely revived and greatly comforted, our animal -spirits quickened and exhilerated, and we can go about our daily business with the greatest chearfulness.
But this will hold good in a far higher degree with respect to the Lord Jesus, and the upright man: He is the comforter of all who mourn in Sion, he is the God of peace and of all consolation, he is in very deed the fountain of all peace,