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her condition, and regardless of her groans; but even then, is He waiting the most fit time to be gracious, as our prophet speaks. And when it is time, out of the basest estate He brings her forth more fresh, strong, and beautiful than before. Though you have lien among the pots, yet ye shall be as the wings of a dove covered with silver, and her feathers with yellow gold. Psal. lxviii. 13. Do with the Church what you will, she shall come through, and that with advantage. Mergas profundo, pulchrior exilit, as one says of Rome. Keep the Church seventy years captive, yet, after that, she shall arise and shine more glorious than ever.
But surely, the strain of this evangelic prophecy rises higher than any temporal deliverance. Therefore we must rise to some more spiritual sense of it, not excluding the former. And that which some call divers senses of the same scripture, is, indeed, but divers parts of one full sense. This prophecy is, out of question, a most rich description of the kingdom of Christ under the gospel. And in this sense, this invitation to arise and shine is mainly addressed to the mystical Jerusalem, yet, not without some privilege to the literal Jerusalem beyond other people. They are first invited to arise and shine, because this sun arose first in their horizon. Christ came of the Jews, and came first to them. The Redeemer shall come to Zion, says our Prophet, in the former chapter. But miserable Jerusalem knew not the day of her visitation, nor the things that concerned her peace, and therefore are they now hid from her eyes. She delighted to deceive herself with fancies of I know not what imaginary grandeur and outward glory, to which the promised Messiah should exalt her, and did, in that kind particularly, abuse this very prophecy; so doting upon a sense grossly literal, she forfeited the enjoyment of those spiritual blessings that are here described. But undoubtedly, that people of the Jews shall once more be commanded to arise and shine, and their return shall be the riches of the Gentiles ; and that shall be a more glorious time than ever the Church of God did yet behold. Nor is there any inconvenience, if we
think that the high expressions of this prophecy have some spiritual reference to that time, since the great doctor of the Gentiles applies some words of the former chapter to that purpose, Rom. xi, 29. They forget a main point of the Church's glory, who pray not daily for the conversion of the Jews.
But to pass that, and insist on the spiritual sense of these words, as directed to the whole Church of Christ, they contain a powerful incitement to a twofold act, enforced (as I conceive) by one reason under a twofold expression, neither of them superfluous, but each giving light to the other, and suiting very aptly with the two words of command : Arise, for the glory of the Lord is risen, and Shine, for thy light is come.
I will not now subdivide these parts again, and cut them smaller, but will rather unite them again into this one proposition : The coming and presence of Christ engages all to whom he comes, to arise and shine. In this proposition may be considered, the nature of the duties, the universality of the subject, and the force of the reason.
I. The nature of the duties, what it is to arise and shine. Arising hath reference either to a fall, or to some contrary posture of sitting or lying, or to one of those two conditions which are so like one another, sleep, or death , and to all these, spiritually understood, may it here be referred. This is the voice of the Gospel to the sons of Adam, Arise ; for in him they all fell. The first sin of that first man, was the great fall of mankind : it could not but undo us, it was from so high a station. Our daily sins are our daily falls, and they are the fruits of that great one. Thou hast fallen by thine iniquity, says the Lord to His people, Hos. xiv. 1.
As for those postures of sitting and lying, the Scripture makes use of them both to signify the state of sin. Says not St. John, The world lies in wickedness ? 1 John v. 19. Are not the people said to sit in darkness, mentioned Matt. iv. 16. ? Which is directly opposite to arise and shine. In the darkness of Egypt, it is said, the people sat still ; none arose from their places. In
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the gross mist of corrupt nature, man cannot bestir himself to any spiritual action ; but when this light is come, then he may, and should arise.
Now for sleep and death, sin is most frequently represented in holy writ under their black vizors. To forbear citing places where they are severally so used, we shall find them jointly in one, Ephes. v, 14. Arise, thou that sleepest, and stand up from the dead ; which place seems to have special allusion to this very text.
The impenitent sinner is as one buried in sleep: his soul is in darkness, fit for sleep, and loves to be so. sleep the sounder, he shuts all the passages of light, as enemies to his rest, and so, by close windows and curtains, makes an artificial night to himself within : not a beam appears there, though without, the clear day of the Gospel shines round about him. The senses of his soul, as we may call them, are all bound up, and are not exercised to discern good and evil, as the Apostle speaks, Heb. v. 14. And his leading faculty, his understanding, is surcharged with sleepy vapours, that arise incessantly from the inferior part of his soul, his perverse affections. Nor hath his mind any other exercise, in this sleepy condition, than the vain business of dreaming. His most refined and wisest thoughts are but mere extravagancies from man's due end, and his greatest contentments, nothing but golden dreams. Yet he is serious in them, and no wonder ; for who can discern the folly of his own dream till he is awake? He that dreams he eateth, when he awakes, finds his soul empty, and not till then. Isa. xxix, 8. Now, while he thus sleeps, his great business lies by ; yet spends he his handbreadth of time as fast, while he is fast asleep, as if he were in continual employment. Judge then if it be not needful to bid this man arise.
Lastly, this voice may import, that man is spiritually dead. God is the life of the soul, as it is of the body:. while He dwells there, it is both comely and active, but once destitute of His presence, it becomes a carcass, where, besides privation of
life and motion, there is a positive filthiness, a putrefaction in the soul, unspeakably worse than that of dead bodies. Corruptio optimi pessima. And as dead bodies are removed from the sight of men, dead souls are cast out from the favourable sight of God, till Christ's saying Arise, revives them. The ministers of the word are appointed to cry, Arise, indifferently to all that hear them; and Christ hath reserved this privilege and liberty, to join his effective voice when and to whom he pleases. A carnal man may shew his teeth at this, but who is he that can, by any solid reason, charge absurdity upon this way of dispensing outward and inward vocation ? I will not here mention their idle cavils. The Scripture is undeniably clear in this, that man is naturally dead in sin. The gospel bids him arise, and it is Christ that is bis life, and that raises him.
Thus we see, in some measure, what it is for men to arise. Now being risen, they must shine, and that two ways; jointly and publicly, as they make up visible churches, and likewise personally, in their particular conversation. First then, what is the shining of the true church? Doth not a church then shine, when church service is raised from a decent and primitive simplicity, and decorated with pompous ceremonies, with rich furniture and gaudy vestments ? Is not the church then beautiful? Yes, indeed ; but all the question is, whether this be the proper, genuine beauty or not; whether this be not strange fire, as the fire that Aaron's sons used, which became vain, and was taken as strange fire. Methinks it cannot be better decided, than to refer it to St. John in his book of the Revelations. We find there the descriptions of two several women, the one riding in state, arrayed in purple, decked with gold and precious stones and pearl, ch. xvii.; the other, ch. xii., in rich attire too, but of another kind, clothed with the sun, and a crown of twelve stars on her head. The other's decorament was all earthly, this woman's is all celestial. What need has she to borrow light and beauty from precious stones, who is clothed with the sun, and crowned with stars ? She wears no
sublunary ornaments, but, which is more noble, she treads upon them; the moon is under her feet. Now, if you know, (as you do all without doubt,) which of these two is the spouse of Christ, you can easily resolve the question. The truth is, those things seem to deck religion, but they undo it. Observe where they are most used, and we shall find little or no substance of devotion under them; as we see in that apostate Church of Rome. This painting is dishonourable for Christ's spouse, and besides, it spoils her natural complexion. The superstitious use of torches and lights in the church by day, is a kind of shining, but surely not that which is commanded here. No, it is an affront done both to the sun in the heaven, and to the Sun of Righteousness in the Church.
What is meant then, when the Church is commanded to shine, or be enlightened ? These two readings give the entire sense of the word ; for first, having no light of herself, she must receive light, and then shew it; first, be enlightened, and then shine. She is enlightened by Christ, the Sun of Righteousness, shining in the sphere of the gospel. This is that light that comes to her, and the glory of the Lord that arises upon her. Hence she receives her laws and form of government, and her shining is, briefly, the pure exercise of those and conformity to them.
And the personal shining of the several members of a church, is, a comely congruity with pure worship and discipline ; and it is that which now is most needful to be urged. Every Christian soul is personally engaged first to be enlightened, and then to shine; and we must draw our light for ourselves from that same source that furnishes the Church with her public light. There is a word in the civil law, Uxor fulget radiis mariti : The wife shines by the rays of her husband's light. Now, every faithful soul is espoused to Christ, and therefore may well shine, seeing the Sun himself is their husband. He adorns them with a double beauty of justification and sanctification : by that, they shine more especially to God, by this to men. And may not these two be signified by a double