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counted righteous in the sight of God; or, as St. Peter speaks, 'they are acceptable to God by Jesus Christ;' 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 shall many be made righteous ;' both sincerely righteous in themselves, and accepted of as righteous before God, by his righteousness imputed to 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 people with healing in his wings,' that they may grow up as calves in the stall; to show 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 be truly 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
1 Pet. ii. 5.
2 Rom. v. 19.
for all things necessary to our eternal salvation. Forasmuch as we are by this means 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 splendour 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 favour to his people upon earth. I see him yonder, by his own light, I behold him displaying his bright beams, and diffusing his 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 the 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 govern the day, so I behold the Sun of righteousness as governing his church, and ordering all things both within 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 them in the highest heavens, where they also shall, by his means, shine forth as the sun, in the kingdom of their Father for ever."1
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
1 Matt. xiii. 43.
204 THOUGHTS UPON THE BEATIFIC VISION.
comparison of this most glorious Sun and his righteousness. We should then, with St. Paul, 'count all things but loss in comparison 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." We should then leave gazing upon the trifles of the lower world, and should be always looking up to the Sun of righteousness, so as to be enlightened by him. 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 purifying 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.
' Phil. iii. 8, 9.
2 Psal. xxxiv. 5.