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which we ought to see and watch in that day : for although the sun should shine and make it day, yet it would profit us nothing if our eyes did not perceive the light. And although the Gospel is to be preached throughout the whole world, yet none will be enlightened, except those that by the sight of faith perceive its divine radiance, and arise out of sleep. But to those that continue to slumber, this sun, and this day, can bring no profit; they can receive no more light therefrom, than if no sun or day had shone.
It was observed in the beginning of this discourse, that the apostle in this text treateth not of faith, but of works, the fruits of faith : and that he doth not speak to those that are destitute of faith, but to such as have already believed, is evident from what he saith in the text : “And that knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep : for now is our salvation nearer than when we be lieved.” Now those that are destitute of faith, cannot know these things ; neither can it be said that salvation is near unto them. But it
may be asked, what reason, or what necessity there was, that the apostle should write these things to the faithful, inasmuch as they were already known to them ? Here let me remind you
of what was said in the beginning of the exposition of this text; that the office of preaching consists of two parts, doctrine and exhortation. Now a man cannot attain to such a state of perfection, that it will not be necessary that he should be reminded of those things which he has been taught by faith ; for the devil, the world, and the flesh, (enemies which never grant trúce, nor slack their assaults,) are continually besieging him; and unless he be encouraged to watch and stand at his post, he will become slothful and negligent, he will fall into sleep, and thus be taken unawares.
The life of a christian is represented as a warfare; and as men when they engage in battle have need of drums and trumpets to dispel their fears, and inspire them with courage, so those who engage in this spiritual warfare against satan, the world, and the flesh, have need of continual exhortations and admonitions ; in order that their courage may not flag, and that they may persevere valiantly in the fight. The apostle, therefore, exhorteth his brethren to cast off the works of darkness, and to put on the armour of light.
As the Gospel is the day, Christ the sun, and faith the light by which we see, so the armour of light, implieth good works; or those that come of faith. Such are the works of prayer, of meditation, of searching the scriptures, of love toward the brethren, and of charity and honest dealing toward all mankind. On the contrary, the works of darkness, are those which come of man's own reason ; such as infidelity, unbelief, and the many evil deeds which men do, by reason of the absence of the light of faith.
Over this darkness, the devil doth preside ; for Paul, in the epistle to the Ephesians, calleth satan the prince of darkness; and signifieth that he exerciseth rule over those that are without faith, and refuse to be obedient to God. The same apostle saith, 2 Cor. iv. “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost : in whom the god of this world (that is, satan) hath blinded the minds of them that believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto
Let us walk honestly as in the day. It is a common saying, that the night is without shame; and this is in a measure true : for men often do those things in the night which they fear to do in the day, lest their acts should be discovered, and they brought to shame
or punishment. The Apostle therefore saith, Let us walk honestly as in the day.
And after this manner should every christian walk ; doing nothing of which he may be ashamed, although the whole world should witness his deeds. He that so liveth, that he is unwilling his works should be known to men, goeth contrary to the light of faith, and is unworthy of Christ ; for Christ saith, John iii. “Every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth, cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.” Thus
ye see how necessary it is, that we be admonished and exhorted to watch, lest we fall into temptation, and do the works of darkness; for how few there are among christians at the present day, who live so circumspectly, that they can consent to have all their works published openly to the world! Yet if we do not so live, we are no better than hypocrites ; for although we may conceal our works from men, we cannot conceal them from God; and at the last day, they will be disclosed before both men and angels.
It therefore behooveth a christian so to live, as he desireth to appear in this last great day; when he shall be summoned to give an account of the deeds done in the flesh. Paul saith, “ Walk as the children of the light : the fruit of the spirit is goodness, righteousness, and truth.” And again, Rom. xii. “ Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.” And also 2 Cor. i. “Our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversaion in the world."
Such a life as the apostle describeth is never
found in those who are destitute of faith ; but where there is a lively, a steadfast, and a strong faith, such a life cannot be wanting ; for such a faith sleepeth not, neither is wearied with well doing. But in or. der that we may continue in this faith, we must be frequently reminded of these things ; lest we be overcome by our carnal propensities, the pleasures of the world, and the subtlety of satan. Therefore, it is no less necessary to preach to them who have received the doctrine of faith, and to exhort and encourage them to persevere in the good cause they have embraced, than it is to preach the doctrine of repentance to those that are as yet ignorant of Christ.
Not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. Here the apostle enumerates the works of darkness, six in number; these, with the one before mentioned, namely, sleep or unbelief, include or give rise to all the evil deeds which men are guilty of. Many others are indeed spoken of in different parts of the scriptures, as in Gal. v. and Col. iii. But they all proceed from, or are connected with, those here mentioned. Under the denominations of rioting and drunkenness, chambering and wantonness, are included lusts, lasciviousness, and excesses of different kinds. From strife and envying, proceed hatred, debates, emulations, seditions, murders, and other vices and crimes without number. Thus we see, that under these six general heads, nearly all the works of darkness are comprehended, which men fall into through the want of a true and steadfast faith.
But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ. In these words the apostle summeth up, as it were, all the armour of light ; for whosoever putteth on Christ receiveth faith, and therefore casteth off the works of darkness. Now we may put on Christ in two ways : first, when through faith we believe that he died to
make atonement for us, we become clothed with his righteousness, and thus are reconciled to the Father; for it is not our own righteousness, but the righteousness of Christ, which reconcileth to the Father. In this sense, the putting on of Christ, pertaineth to the doctrine of faith and repentance ; for Paul saith, Gal. iii. “ As many of you as have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ.”
In the second place, those who have received faith, may be said to put on Christ, when they take him for an example, and endeavour to regulate their lives as much as possible by his; and it is in this sense that we are to understand the apostle in the passage under consideration. Paul also speaketh to the same effect, 1 Cor. xv. when he saith, “ As we have borne the image of the earthly, we should also bear the image of the heavenly.” And again, Eph. iv. “Put ye off concerniug the former conversation, the old man which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness."
Now in the life of Christ, we see no rioting, no drunkenness, no wantonness; but an uncommon sobriety, abstemiousness, and chastity. In him was found neither strife nor envying, but a remarkable meekness, patience, and forbearance. He spent his time in travelling, preaching, praying, healing the sick, and doing good to all men. He did not indulge in superfluous sleep, nor in luxurious living, but accustomed himself to watch, to arise early, to lie on the ground, and to partake of the most homely fare.
If, then, we would put on the Lord Jesus Christ, in the sense of the text, we must take him for our example, and endeavour to imitate him in all things as much as in us lieth ; we must be meek, patient, forbearing, forgiving, and above all we must have