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Christians Are the Light of the World.

Christians Are the Light of the World.

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Ye are the light of the world. — Matt., v., 14.

Ye are the light of the world. — Matt., v., 14.

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Oct 18, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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CHRISTIAS ARE THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD.STEPHE OLI, D.D., LL.D.,Ye are the light of the world. — Matt., v., 14.The world itself is dark. " Darkness shall cover the earth,and gross darkness the people." The apostle Paul speaks of " the darkness of this world" not as an accident, or an at-tribute of our moral condition here, but as its essence andprincipal element, as wholly pervading and overshadowingall human society. It is no wonder that the dwellers inthis dim, dismal region "go astray from their birth," for" he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he go-eth." " The god of this world hath blinded the eyes of them that beheve not." It was in reference to the spiritualcondition of beings to whom such language was universallyapplicable, and to the merciful designs he entertained to-ward them, that the adorable Savior announced himself as" the light of the world." He that followed Jesus shouldwalk no more in darkness,. but should have "the Hght of life." Christ, in the season of his incarnation, illuminatedthe palpable obscure by his miracles, by his testimony of the Father, by his evangelical doctrines and morals, by hispure example and deeds of mercy, and by bringing " lifeand immortality to light." When he ascended up on high,having fulfilled his earthly mission, he devolved this func-tion on his faithful disciples. The Church, itself radiantwith the word and the spirit of God, became thenceforth themedium of that blessed illumination before which, in thelarge plans of the divine benevolence, all moral darkness isto be chased away from the face of the whole earth. " Yeare the light of the world."CHRISTIAS ARE THE
The Gospel, of which the Christian Church is thus madethe depository and sole agent, is " the true light,"' in dis-tinction from all other systems, whether of religion or morals.This was and is its grand distinction. Other systems couldnever attain to this excellence. They were for the mostpart positively and universally mischievous in their entireaction and tendencies. They led to evil, and that continu-ally. As guides to virtue and mere worldly happiness theywere inadequate and treacherous. But it was chiefly whenthe uninspired teachers who preceded the Christian dispen-sation assumed to be teachers of rehgion, that they became,one and all, " Wind leaders of the Wind." They only ledmen away from God. The objects of worship, the formsand rites, the methods of propitiation which they prescribed,interposed so many obstacles in the way of true piety. It isvery remarkable that the religious principles and observ-ances of idolatrous nations tend almost always to the subver-sion of the moralities and virtues which their philosophysometimes inculcates. In every idol they raise up a rival tothe Almighty ; and when the fundamental doctrines of alltrue rehgion are thus corrupted, it must of course followthat all progress will be into error and darkness. Christ isthe " true light," so far, at lea^t, as religion and virtue areconcerned ; and the Gospel, as living in the faith and de-veloped in the conduct of the sincere followers of Jesus, is,and is intended to be, under the present economy of the di-vine Providence, the sole guide and safeguard of the humanrace — it is " the hght of life."So much, I suppose, I may take for granted, that we areindebted to Christianity for whatever of sound piety and goodmorals may exist in the civilized world. I fear, however,there may be more of skepticism in regard to another claimthat I am disposed to assert on behalf of the Gospel, that noreally valuable improvement, no social mehoration or prog-ress can be effected by other than Christian agencies. It
LIGHT OF THE WORLD. 63may well be doubted, I think, whether Greece, or E-ome,or Hindostan, or China, was ever the better for its reHgionor philosophy ; whether the state was better governed, or so-ciety at large more refined or happy ; whether the domesticcircle was richer in the pure affections and sweet charitieswhich constitute its bliss and its peculiar charm. Good gov-ernment, I am quite ready to admit, may do a great dealfor humanity ; so may a wise system of education ; so mayvoluntary associations with benevolent objects ; not, how-ever, because they are professedly divorced from the Gospel,but because they have really manifold alliances with it ; be-cause they act upon, and must fashion their measures andministries to the sentiments and wants of a Christian peo-ple. A law that should do violence to the religious sense of the country could not be enacted, or, if enacted, could not beenforced. A society that should be formed upon an avow-edly anti-Christian basis would, unless protected by its insig-nificance, be put down, either by public sentiment or by themob ; while parents, who never see the inside of a church,will yet contend might and main against the exclusion of the Bible from our common schools. So much, at least, hasthe Gospel achieved among us. It has won an acknowl-edged authority over the general conscience. It has becomesupreme in the theory of popular ethics, if not in our actualmorals, and it thus very beneficially fulfills its mission as" the light of the world." It irradiates where it does notpurify, and gives law to opinion where it fails of gaining anypermanent authority over the life. Thus it is that Christian-ity, or its impersonation, the whole company of true beHev-ers constituting the Church, sheds forth upon the entire massof human society a very benignant and conservative influ-ence, while it may yet be true that it becomes " the powerof God unto salvation" only to the few upright souls whotruly believe in the Savior, and bear his cross. It hasbreathed a measure of its own spirit into our laws and insti-

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