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UPON OUR LORD'S SERMON ON THE
“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth
and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through
and steal : “ But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither
moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break
through nor steal : “ For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also, " The light of the boily is the eye : if therefore thine eye be
single, thy whole body shall be full of light. “ But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of dark
noss. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness !” Matt. vi. 19-23.
1. From those which are commonly termed religious actions, and which are real branches of true religion, where they spring from a pure and holy intention, and are performed in a manner suitable thereto,-our Lord proceeds to the actions of commou life, and shows that the same purity of intention is as indispensably required in our ordivary business, as in giving alms, or fasting, or prayer.
And without question, the same purity of intention, “which makes our alms and devotions acceptable, must also make our labour or employment, a proper offering to God. If a man pursues his business, that he may raise himself to a state of figure and riches in the world, he is no longer serving God in his employment, and has no more title to a reward from God, than be who gives alms that he may be seen, or prays that he ipay be heard, of men. For vain and earthly designs are no more allowable in our employments, than in our alms and devotions. They are not only cvil when they mix with our good works,” with our religious actions, “but they have the same cvil nature when they cuter into the common business of our employments. If it were allowable to parsue them in our worldly employments, it rould be allowable to pursue them in our devotions. But as our alms and derotious are not an acceptable service, but when they proceed from a pure intention, so our common employment cannot be reckoned a service to him, but when it is performed with the same piety of heart.”
2. This our v!(ossed Lord dieciaries in the liveliest manner, in those strong and comprehensive vores which he explains, enforces, and enlarges upon, throughout this whole chapter: “The light of the body is the cre: li therefore thine eye be single, thy bole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness.” The eye is the intention : what the eye is to the body, the intention is to the sonl. As the one guides all the motions of the body, so does the other those of the soul. This eye of the soul is then said to be single, when it looks at one thing only; when ire bare no other design, but to “know God, and Jesus Christ whom he hath sent,''—to know liim with suitable affections, loving him as he hath Jored us; to plcasc God in all things; to serve God (as we love him) with all our heart, and mind, and soul, and strength; and to cnjoy God in all, and above all things, in time and in eternity.
3. “If thine eve be [tius single," thus fixed on Go, “thy whole body shall be full of light.” “Thy whole body:"-all that is guided by the intention, as the body is by the eye:, all thou art; all thou dost; thy desires, tempers, affections; thy thoughts, words, and actions. The whole of these “shall be full of light;" full of truc Divine Knowledg . This is the first thing we may here understand by light. “In bis light thou shalt see light.” “lle who of oid commanded light to shive out of darkness, shall shine iu thy heart : " He shall enlighten the eyes of thy understanding with the knowledge of the glory of God. His Spirit shall reveal unto thee the deep things of God. The inspiration of the Holy One shall give thec understanding, and cause thee to know wisdom secretly. Yea, the anointing which thou receivest of him “shall abide in thee, and teach thee of all things,”
llow does experience confirm this! Even after God hath opened the eyes of our understanding, if wescek or desire any thing else than God, how soon is our foolish heart darkened ! Then clouds again rest upon our souls. Doubts and fears again overwhelm us. We are tossed to and fro, and know not what to do, or which is the path wherein we should go. But when we desire and seek nothing but God, clouds and doubts vanish away. We “who were sometimes darkness, are now light in the Lord.” The night now shineth as the day; and we find “the path of the upright is light.” God showeth us the path wherein we should go, and maketh plain the way before our face.
4. The second thing which we may here understand by light, is Holiness. While thou seekest God in all things, thou shalt find Him in all,—the fountain of all holiness continually filling thee with his own likeness, with justice, mercy, and truth. While thou lookest unto Jesus and Him alone, thou shalt be filled with the mind that was in him. Thy soul shall be renewed day by day, after the image of him that created it. If the eye of thy mind be not removed from him, if thou endurest“ seeing him that is invisible," and seeking nothing else in heaven or earth, then as thou beholdest the glory of the Lord, thou shalt be transformed “into the same image, from glory to glory, by the Spirit of the Lord.”
And it is also matter of daily experience, that “ by grace we are [thus) saved through faith.” It is by faith that the eye of the mind is opened, to see the light of the glorious love of God: and as long as it is steadily fixed thereon, on God in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, we are more and more filled with the love of God and man; with meekness, gentleness, longsuffering; with all the fruits of holiness which are through Christ Jesus, to the glory of God the Father.
5. This light, which fills him who has a single eye, implies, thirdly, Happiness, as well as holiness. Surely “light is sweet, and a pleasant thing it is to see the sun: But how much more, to see the Sun of Righteousness, continually shining upon the soul! And if there be any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any peace that passeth all understanding, if any rejoicing in hope of the glory of God, they all belong to him whose eye is single. Thus is his “whole body full of light.” He walketh in the light as God is in the light, rejoicing evermore, praying without ceasing, and in every thing giving thanks, enjoying whatever is the will of God concerning him in Christ Jesus.
(i. “Bu if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness.'' “If thine eye be evil:"_We see there is no medium between a single and an evil eye. If the eye be not single, then it is evil. If the intention, in whatever we do, be not singly to God, if we seek any thing else, then our " mind and conscience are defiled."
Our eye therefore is evil, if, in any thing we do, we aim at any other end than God; if we have any view, but to know and to love God, to please and serve him in all things; if we have any other design than to enjoy God, to be happy in him both now and for ever.
7. If thine eye be not singly fixed on God, “thy whole body shall be full of darkness.” The reil shall still remain on thy heart. Thy mind shall be more and more blinded, by “the god of this world,” “ lest the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ should shinc upon thee.” Thou wilt be full of ignorance and error touching the things of God, not being able to receive or discern them. Aud even when thou hast some desire to serve God, thou wilt be full of uncertainty as to the manner of serving himı; finding doubts and difficulties on every side, and not seeing any way to escape.
Yea, if thine eye be not single, if thou seck any of the things of carth, thou shalt be full of ungodliness and uprighteousness; thy desires, tempers, aflections, being all out of course; being all dark, and vile, and rain. And thy conversation will be cvil, as well as thy heart; not “scasoned with salt," or “ micet to minister grace unto the hearers,” but idle, unprotilable, corrupt, grievous to the Holy Spirit of God.
8. Both destruction and unbappiness are in thy ways; " for the way of peace hast thou not known."
There is no peace, no settled, solid peace, for them that kuow not God. There is po true nor lasting content for any, who do not seek Him with their whole heart. While thou aimest at any of the things that perislı, “ all that cometh is vanity;” yea, vot only vanity, but “ vexation of spirit,” avd that both in the pursuit and the enjoyment also. Thou walkest iudeed in a rain shadow, and disquietest thyself in vain. Thou walkest in darkness that may be felt. Sleep on; but thou canst not tithe thy rest. The dreams of life can give pain; and that thou knowest : but ease they cannot give. There is no rest in this world or the world to come, but only in God, the centre of spirits.
“If the light which is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!” If the intention, ishich ought to enlighten the
whole soul, to fill it with knowledge, and love, and peace, and which in fact does, so long as it is single, as long as it aims at God alone,-if this be darkness ; if it aim at any thing beside God, and consequently cover the soul with darkness instead of light, with iguorance and error, with sin and misery; O how great is that darkness ! It is the very smoke which ascends out of the bottomless pit! It is the esseutial night, which reigns in the lowest deep, in the land of the shadow of death!
9. Therefore, “lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal.” If you do, it is plain your eye is evil; it is not singly fixed on God.
With regard to most of the commandinents of God, whether relating to the heart or life, the Heathens of Africa or America stand much on a level with those that are called Christians. The Christians observe them (a few only being excepted) very near as much as the Heathens. For instance: The generality of the natives of England, commonly called Christians, are as sober apd as tenperate as the generality of the Heathens near the Cape of Good Hope. And so the Dutch or French Christians are as humble and as chaste as the Choctaw or Cherokee Indians. It is not casy to say, when we compard the bulk of the nations in Europe with those in America, whether the superiority lies on the one side or the other. At least, the American has not much the advantage. But we cannot affirm this, with regard to the command now before us.
Here the Heathen has far the pre-eininence. He desires and seeks nothing more than plain food to eat, and plain ruiment to put on; and he seeks this only from day to day : he reserves, he lays up, nothing; unless it be as much corn at one season of the year, as he will necd before that season returns. This command therefore the Heathens, though they know it not, do constantly and punctually observe. They “lay up for themselves po treasures upon earth; " no stores of purple or fine linen, of gold or silver, which either “moth or rust may corrupt, or thieves break through and steal.” But how, do the Christians observe what they profess to receive as a command of the most high God ? Not at all; not in any degree; no more than if no such command had ever been given to man. Even the good Christians, as they are accounted by others, as well as themselves, pay no manner of regard thereto. It might as well be still bid in its original