Sermon 1020. 'The Sun of Righteousness'
Delivered on Lord's-day Morning, November 12th, 1871 by
C. H. SPURGEON,
At the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington
"In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun, which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strongman to run a race. His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it: and there is nothinghid from the heat thereof."-Psalm 19:4-6.
"The Sun of righteousness."-Malachi 4:2.
WE SHOULD FEEL QUITE JUSTIFIED in applying the language of the 19th Psalm to our Lord Jesus Christ from the simple fact thathe is so frequently compared to the sun; and especially in the passage which we have given you as our second text, whereinhe is called "the Sun of Righteousness." But we have a higher justification for such a reading of the passage, for it willbe in your memories that, in the 10th chapter of the Epistle to the Romans, the Apostle Paul, slightlyaltering the words of this psalm, applies them to the gospel and the preachers thereof. "Have they not heard?" said he,"Yea, verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world." So that what was here spokenof the sun by David, is referred by Paul to the gospel, which is the light streaming from Jesus Christ, "the Sun of Righteousness."We can never err if we allow the New Testament to interpret the Old: comparing spiritual things with spiritual is a goodmental and spiritual exercise for us; and I feel, therefore, that we shall not be guilty of straining the text at allwhen we take the language of David in relation to the sun, and use it in reference to our Lord Jesus Christ.
Do not your hearts often say, "What shall we do, or what shall we say to render honor unto our Redeemer?" Have you not oftenfelt confounded as to what offering you shall bring to him? If you had been Possessor of all the worlds, you would have laidthem at his feet; if the universe had been your heritage, you would cheerfully have resigned it to him, and felt happy instripping yourself of everything, that he might be rendered the more glorious by your sacrifice. Sinceyou have not all this wealth, have you not again and again asked of your soul,
"Oh what shall I do,
My Savior to praise?"
I would write the best of poems if so I could extol him, but the faculty is not in me; I would sing the sweetest of songs,and compose the most melting music, if I could, and count art, and wit, and music exalted by being handmaidens to him; but,wherewithal shall I adore him, before whom the best music on earth must be but discord; and how shall I set him forth, thevery skirts of whose garments are bright with insufferable light? At such times you have looked the wholeworld through to find metaphors to heap upon him; you have culled all the fair flowers of nature, and made them into garlandsto cast at his feet, and you have gathered all earth's gems and precious things wherewith to crown his head, but you havebeen disappointed with the result, and have cried out with our poet:-
"The whole creation can afford
But some faint shadows of my Lord;
Nature, to make his beauties known,
Must mingle colors not her own."
At such times, while ransacking land, and sea, and sky for metaphors, you have probably looked upon the sun, and have said:"This great orb, the lord of light and lamp of day, is like my Savior; it is the faint image of his excellent glory whosecountenance thineth as the sun in its strength." You have done well to seize on such a figure. What Milton calls the golden-tressedsun is the most glorious object in creation, and in Jesus the fullness of glory dwells; the sun isat the same time the most influential of existences, acting upon the whole world, and truly our Lord is, in the deepestsense, "of this great world both eye and soul; he "with benignant ray sheds beauty, life, and joyance from above. The sunis, moreover, the most abiding of creatures; and therein it is also a type of him who remaineth from generation to generation,and is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever. The king of day is so vast and so bright that the human eye cannot bear togazeupon him; we delight in his beams, but we should be blinded should we continue to peer into his face; even yet more brilliantis our Lord by nature, for as God he is a consuming fire, but he deigns to smile upon us with milder beams as our brotherand Redeemer. Jesus, like the sun, is the center and soul of all things, the fullness of all good, the lamp that lights us,the fire that warms us, the magnet that guides and controls us; he is the source and fountain of all life, beauty,fruitfulness, and strength; he is the fosterer of tender herbs of penitence, the quickener of the vital sap of grace,the ripener of fruits of holiness, and the life of everything that grows within the garden of the Lord. Whereas to adore thesun would be idolatry; it were treason not to worship ardently the divine Sun of Righteousness.
Jesus Christ is the great, the glorious, the infinitely blessed; even the sun fails to set hire forth; but, as it is one ofthe best figures we can find, be it ours to use it this day. We will think of Jesus as the Sun this morning; first as in the text; secondly, as he is to us; and then, thirdly, for a few minutes, we will bask in his beams.
I. First, then, we will contemplate Jesus AS THE SUN IN THE TEXT.
Note how the passage begins: "In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun." Kings were accustomed in their pompous progressesthrough their dominions to have canopies of splendor borne aloft over them, so that marching in the midst of their glitteringsoldiery they were themselves the main attraction of the gorgeous pageant. Our Lord Jesus Christ in his church is, as it were,traversing the heavens in a majestic tabernacle, and, like the sun, scattering his beams amongmen. The Redeemer is canopied by the adoration of his saints, for he "inhabiteth the praises of Israel." He is from dayto day advancing in his glorious matchings through the universe, conquering and to conquer, and he will journey onward tillthe dispensation shall terminate, and the gospel age shall be closed by his second advent. When the text saith that thereis a tabernacle set for the sun in the firmament, we are reminded of Christ as dwelling in the highest heavens. He is notalone theChrist of ancient history, but he is the Christ of to-day. Think not always of him as the lowly man despised and rejected,as nailed to the cross, or buried in the tomb; he is not here, for he is risen, but he still exists, not as a dream or phantom,but as the real Christ. Doubt it not, for up yonder, in the seventh heaven, the Lord has set a tabernacle for the Sun of Righteousness.There Jesus abides in splendor inconceivable, the joy and glory of all those blessed spirits who, havingbelieved in him on the earth, have come to behold him in the heavens.
"Bright, like a sun, the Savior sits,
And spreads eternal noon;
No evenings there, nor gloomy nights,
To want the feeble moon."
That Jesus lives is a deep well of consolation to the saints, and did we always remember it our hearts would not be troubled.If we always remembered that Jesus both lives and reigns; our joys would never wither. We worship him, it is true, as onewho was slain and hath redeemed us unto God by his blood; but we also extol him as one who is "alive for evermore, and haththe keys of death and of hell."
Let your faith to-day behold Jesus sitting at the right hand of God, even the Father. He sits there because his atoning workis done, and he is receiving the infinite reward which his Father promised him. He is exalted as a king upon his throne, expectinguntil his enemies are made his footstool. He dwells within his tabernacle of praise, adored and admired by angels and glorifiedspirits. He sits there, not as a weary one, feeble and exhausted, but with the keys ofuniversal monarchy at his girdle, for "the government is upon his shoulder, and his name is called Wonderful, Counsellor,the mighty God." I want you fully to grasp the thought of the living Savior,-of the Sun in his tabernacle in the highest heavens,for this must be the fulcrum upon which we shall work this morning. We shall get our leverage here: the living Savior, themighty Savior, the reigning Savior; he is the church's joy and hope in the present and for all years to come.
The text proceeds to speak of Jesus as the sun, and describes him first as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber. A beautiful description indeed of the sun when he rises in the early morning. He comes forth from the vast obscure, as fromwithin a secret chamber. He withdraws the veil of night, and floods the earth with fluid gold. From curtains of purple andvermillion, he looks forth, and scatters orient pearl around him. Clad with a blaze of glory, he begins therace of day. Thus our Lord Jesus Christ when he rose from the dead, was as the sun unveiling itself. He came forth fromthe sepulcher as a bridegroom from his chamber. Observe that dear name of bridegroom. The Lord of heaven and earth, betweenwhom and us there was an infinite distance, has deigned to take our humanity into union with himself of the most intimatekind. Among men, there is no surer mode of making peace between two contending parties, than for a marriage to be establishedbetweenthem. It has often so been done, and thus wars have been ended, and alliances have been established. The Prince of Peaceon heaven's side condescends to be married to our nature, that henceforth heaven and earth may be as one. Our Lord came asthe bridegroom of his church out of his chamber, when he was born of the virgin and was revealed to the shepherds and thewise men of the east; yet, in a certain sense, he still continued in his chamber as a bridegroom all his life, for he washidden andveiled, the Jewish world knew not their king; though he spake openly in their streets and sought not mystery, yet he wasunknown, they did not discern him; and in some respects he did not then desire to be discerned, for he often bade his disciplesto tell no man what was done. That was the time when the bridegroom was in his chamber, being made perfect through sufferingand perfectly conformed unto his church, hearing her sicknesses and her sorrows, suffering her wants, enduring her shame,andthus completing the marriage union between the two. To this end, he actually descended by dark steps of anguish into thesilent inner room of the grace, and there he slept in his chamber, perfectly wedded to his church. Come and look at him, youwho admire the lover of your souls; he stooped to death and the sepulcher, because manhood had fallen under their yoke; hischurch was subject to death, and he must die. She deserved to stiffer the penally due to God's insulted law, and, therefore,Jesus bowed his head to the stroke.
"Yea, said the Son, with her I'll go
Through all the depths of sin and woe;
And on the cross will even dare
The bitter pains of death to bear."
And he did bear them, and in the darksome chamber of the tomb, he proved how true a bridegroom he was to his church. Beforehis great race began, of which we are soon to speak, it behaved our mighty champion to descend into the lowest parts of theearth, and sleep among the dead. Before every day there is a night wherein darkness seems to triumph. It behaved Christ tosuffer, and then to rise again. His descent was necessary to his ascent; his sojourn in the chamber to hisrace and victory.
Thus I have introduced to you the prelude of the race, the bridegroom in his chamber. Now observe the coming out of it. The sun comes forth, at the appointed hour, from the gates of day, and begins to gladden the earth; even so on the thirdday, early in the morning, Jesus, our Lord, arose from his sleep, and there was a great earthquake, for the angel of the Lorddescended from heaven and rolled back the stone from the door of the sepulcher. Then did the Sun ofRighteousness arise. Then did the great Bridegroom come forth from his chamber, and begin his joyful race. It must havebeen a ravishing sight to have beheld the risen Savior; well might the disciples hold him by the feet and worship him. Methinks,if ever angels sung more sweetly at one time than another, it must have been on that first Easter morning, when they saw thedivine champion break his bonds of death asunder, and rise into the glorious resurrection life. Then was he revealed to thesons of men; and, no longer hidden: he began to tell his disciples the meaning of those enigmas which had been dark tothem; things which they had not understood, which seemed inexplicable, were all opened up by him, for now was his time tocome out of his chamber. His words, though plain enough, had aforetime hidden him even from those who loved him; but now hespeaketh no more in proverbs, but showeth them openly concerning himself and the Father. He hath laid aside the incognitoin which hetraversed the earth as a stranger, and he is now divinely familiar with his friends, bidding them even touch his handsand his side. In his death the veil was rent, and in his resurrection the High Priest came forth in his robes of glory andbeauty. A little while he was gone away, but he returned from the secret chambers of the ivory palaces, and showed himselfunto his disciples. Blessed were the eyes that saw him in that day.
Though during the forty days in which our Lord lingered among his followers upon earth we may truly say that he had come outof his chamber, we perceive that he more fully did so when, after the forty days had been accomplished, he took his disciplesto the top of Olivet, and there ascended into heaven, out of their sight. Then had the sun indeed ascended above the horizonto make his glories stream along the heavens. See ye not the angelic bands poising themselves uponthe wing in mid-air, waiting until he shall return all gloving with the victory non in long and deadly fight. Mark yewell that matchless spectacle as he is "seen of angels."
"The helmed cherubim
And sworded seraphim
Are seen in glittering ranks, with wings displayed."
They have hastened to meet the Prince of Glory, and attend him to his ancient patrimony. Right glad are an the heavenly bandto welcome back the Captain of the Lord's host, and, therefore, they harp in loud and solemn quire to Heaven's triumphantHeir. As for the glorified of mortal race, redeemed of old by his blood which in the fullness of time was shed, they hailhim with gladdest hymn, and lift up their sweetest symphonies to extol him who finished transgression, madean end of sin, and brought in everlasting righteousness. Then the bridegroom came out of his chamber with fit marriagemusic: his beauties hidden awhile in the chamber, where he vies regarded as without form or comeliness, blazed forth withrenewed splendor, such as confounded both sun and moon.
In another respect, Christ came out of his chamber at his ascension, because, when he ascended on high, leading captivitycaptive, he received and gave gifts for men. The gifts were intended for the manifestation of himself. His church, which ishis body, was by his own command sitting still in the chamber, tarrying till power was given. But, on a sudden, the bridegroom'spower was felt, for there was heard the sound as of a rushing mighty wind, which filled all the place,and then descending upon each favored head came the cloven tongue, and, straightway, you could see that the bridegroomhad come out of his chamber, for the multitude in the street began to hear his voice. It was Peter that spake, we say, butfar rather was it Christ, the bridegroom, who spake by Peter. It was the sun, from the chambers of the east, bursting throughthe clouds, and beginning to shine on Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and Rome, and Egypt,andmaking the multitudes in far off lands to see the day which prophets and kings had waited for, but which had never visitedtheir eyes. Do you hear the joyful motion among the people, the joy mingled with the sorrows of repentance? This is the singingof birds, and these the dewdrops which hail the rising sun. The people cry, "What must we do to be saved?"-the shadows arefleeing. They believe in Jesus, and are baptized into his name,-the true light is shining. Three thousand souls are addedin one day to the church, for truly the bridegroom is awaked as one out of sleep, and like a mighty man that shoutethby reason of wine (Psalm 78:65). Then was the gospel race commenced with a glorious burst of strength, such as only our champion could have displayed. Meditateat your leisure upon this first general manifestation of our Lord to the general multitude. He had not gone out of Israelbefore. "I am not sent," said he, "save to the lost sheep of the House of Israel." Palestine washis chamber: he went to the windows of it, and looked forth on Tyre and Sidon wistfully; but he had not come forth ofhis chamber till that day, when the gospel began to be preached to the Gentiles also, and in fulfillment of the gift of Pentecost,when the Spirit was poured out upon all flesh, the apostles vent everywhere preaching the word. When even we, the dwellersin the far off northern isles, received the gospel, then, indeed, had the bridegroom come forth out of his chamber.
But enough of this, or time will fail me. After the coming forth, we have to consider in the text his course. The course of Jesus has been as that of the sun, or like that of a mighty champion girded for running.
Notice, under this head, his continuance. Our Lord's gospel has been no meteor that flashed for a while and then passed away, but it has remained as the sun in theheavens. What systems of philosophy have come and none since on Calvary the Christ of God was lifted up! What speculations,what lo-heres and lo-theres have shone forth, have dazzled fools, and have been quenched in night, since he left the chamberof his marriage! Yet he continues still the same; nor,brethren, are there any marks of decrepitude either in him or in his gospel. They tell us that the idolatry of Hindostanis evidently crumbling: it falls not yet, but it is worm-eaten through and through. Equally sure is it that the false prophetholds but a feeble swats among his followers, and we can all see that though popery makes desperate efforts, and its extremitiesare vigorous, yet it is paralyzed at its heart, and the Vatican is made to feel than its time of power is short.
As for the gospel, it wears the dew of its youth after eighteen centuries of struggles; and it predominates most in thoseyoung nations which have evidently a history before them. The old systems are now most favored by those nations which areleft behind in the race of civilisation, but the peoples whom God has made quick by nature are those to whom he has givento be receptive of his grace. There are grand days coming for the church of God. Voltaire said that he lived inthe twilight of Christianity; and so he did, but it was the twilight of the morning, not the twilight of the evening.Glory be unto God, the little cloud the size of a man's hand is spreading; it begins to cover the heavens, and the day isnot far distant when the sound of abundance of rain shall be heard. Christ was not a strong man, who bounded forth at a leap,and then put forth no more strength, but he rejoiced to continue his work, and to run his race. He was not a shooting starthatsparkles for a moment, but a sun that shall thine throughout the livelong day.
Note next in this metaphor the unity of our Lord's course, for it is clear in the text: "Rejoicing as a strong man to run the race." A race is one thing; there is the one goal, andthe man gathers up his strength to reach it. He has nothing else to think of. They may throw the golden apples in his road,but he does not observe them; they may sound harp and sackbut to the right, and breathe the lute or sweeter instruments ofmusic to the left, but he is deaf to all;he has a race to run, and he throws his whole strength into it. This is a fit image of our Lord; he has never turned aside,he has never been compelled to retrace his steps, to revise his doctrine, to amend his system, or change his tactics. On,on, on has the course of Jesus been, shining more and more unto the perfect day.
A certain people now-a-days who yet dare to call themselves Christians, are always hankering after something new, pining fornovelties, and boasting of their fresh discoveries, though, forsooth, their fresh things are only fragments of broken imagesof heresies, which our fathers dashed to shivers centuries ago. The great thinkers of the present day are nothing more thanmere translators-you know the London meaning of that word-buyers of old shoes who patch then up,and send them forth again as if they were something new. Old shoes and clouted are common enough among those Gibeoniteswho would deceive Israel, and whose boast is that they have come from far, and bring us treasures of wisdom from remote regions.Sirs, we want not your new things, for our Lord's race is the same as of old, and as he continues in one course so also willwe. To spread righteousness and, in so doing, to save sinners and to glorify God, this is the one purpose of Christ; fromithe will never cease, and nothing shall ever tempt him from the pursuit of it. Look, I pray you, with pleasure and seehow our Lord, from his first coming out of his chamber until now, has continued still in the gospel to thine forth with raysof glory, without variableness or shadow of a turning. Though we believe not, he abideth faithful, he cannot deny himself;he changes not in work or way. For Zion's sake he worketh hitherto, and the pleasure of the Lord prospers in his hand.
But now, observe next, the notable idea of strength which the text conveys to us. "Rejoicing as a strong man to run his race." It is no drudgery the ascended Lord to carry onhis cause;
"The baffled prince of hell
In lain new efforts tries,
Truth's empire to repel
By cruelty and lies;
Th' infernal gates shall rage in vain
Conquest awaits the Lamb once slain."
There is a race to be run but Jesus is strong enough for it; he does not come panting up to the starting place, and thencego creeping on, but like a strong man he surveys the course. He knows that he is equal to it, and, therefore, he delightsin it. When he began his race he was opposed, but the opposition only made him triumph the more readily, for "they that werescattered abroad went everywhere preaching the word." When our Lord arose like the sun, the clouds werethick and heavy, but he painted their fleecy skirts with gold; persecution hung over the eastern horizon, but he turnedit into the imperial purple of his sovereignty. As he pursued his course the ice of centuries melted, the dense gloom of agesdisappeared. No chains could bind him, and no bonds could hold him. He dashed on with undiminished energy, and the gates ofhell could not prevail.
As no cloud has ever stayed the sun as he has "whirled his car along the ethereal plain," so no difficulties impeded the onwardcourse of the gospel in the days of its dawning. To the first days of the church Thomson's lines to the sun are fully applicable-
"Now, flaming up the heavens, the potent sun
Melts into limpid air the high-raised clouds,
And morning fogs, that hover'd round the hills,
In party-coloured bands; till wide, unveiled,
The face of nature shines, from where earth seems
Far stretch'd around, to meet the bending sphere."
The gospel soon shed its light in every land, and all nations felt its benign power. Men ceased to persecute, and bowed beforethe cross.
Anon fresh clouds arose, and the church passed through them. Errors and heresies multiplied, filthy dreamers led away a hugeapostacy, Rome became the mother of harlots and abominations, but the true church, and the true Christ within her, went righton. The church was not less triumphant in her second trial than in her first. Rome Papal was overcome as, surely as Rome Pagan.Popes were no more her conquerors than bloody emperors had been of yore. To the thoughtful eye thesun of Christ is not less bright over the valleys of Piedmont than over the waves of the sea which bore Paul and his fellowapostles. The champion's race was as eager and as triumphant as before.
Since then, dense banks of spiritual deadness and false teaching have barred the visible heavens, and have appeared to mortalsight an ebon wall impenetrable as steel, but the Lord reigneth. He that sitteth in the heavens doth laugh, the Lord dothhave them in derision. Strong is his right hand, and his enemies shall be broken. On goes the Sun of Righteousness, nothingimpedes him, his tabernacle is above them all, he rideth on the heavens, yea, he rideth on the wings ofthe wind. Trust ye in the Lord for ever, for in the Lord Jehovah there is everlasting strength. Christ has failed in nothing,the decrees have been executed, the eternal purposes have been fulfilled, the elect have been saved, his kingdom is established,and shall continue as long as the sun. Who shall stay his hand? Who shall resist his will?
Observe, therefore, how the force is coupled with joy. Weakness brings sorrow, but strength begets joy. Christ is always glad, and he would have his people rejoice, for his causegoeth right on and he shall not fail nor be discouraged. He rejoices as he divides the spoil with the strong. When a man hasa task to do which is easy to him, and which he can readily perform, he sings at his work; and so this day doth Christ rejoiceover his church with joy, and triumphover her with singing. His cause goes on in spite of foes, and his strength is so great, that even the battle fills himwith delight. I remember to have heard a Welsh preacher make use of the following simile. He was speaking of the joy of Christin heaven, and he said, "You tell me that the church is sorrowful on earth and I tell you that Christ is joyous in heaven;and then you ask me how this can be? You see yonder mother with her babe, and she is washing the child; its face is foul andshedesires to see it shine with brightness, she would see it white as the marble mingled with the redness of the rose. Thereforeshe washes it; but the child cries, it is fretful and knows not what is good for it, so it whines and struggles; the motherdoes not cry, or share its sorrow, she keeps on singing because she knows that all is right, and that her darling will smilelike a cherub when all is over; she sees the good results coming, while the babe only feels the present discomfort, so shesings her song and never stops, let the child cry as it may." And so the Lord Jesus has pleasure in his work; he is purifyinghis church, and making her fit to be presented to himself, and though she winces and laments, it is the flesh that makes herso to do. The Lord sings still joyously, because he sees the end from the beginning! Earth may be swathed in mist, but thesun is never so, he shines gloriously evermore.
The text mentions one other fact connected with Jesus as the sun,-"There is nothing hid from the heat thereof;" by which is meant, nothing is able to escape the powerful influence of Christ Jesus. His own chosen people must, in due season,feel his power to save. They may wander as they do, and sin as they may, but when the time appointed comes, they shall beredeemed out of the land of the enemy. The sun's power is felt in the darkest and deepest mines; thatthere is a sun still shining might be discoverable even in the bowels of the earth! and so, in the darkest haunts of sin,God's elect shall be made to feel the sovereign power and omnipotent grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. When you and I shalldie, and when we shall be buried in the grave, we shall not there be hid from the heat of this Sun of Righteousness, by-and-byhe shall kindle life within our bones again; he shall create a soul within the ribs of death, and we shall spring upward asthegrass, and as the willows by the watercourses, when the sun renewers the year. Our dry bones shall live, and in our fleshshall we see God. Meanwhile, while the gracious operations of Christ thus fall on all his elect, and there is nothing hidfrom the heat thereof, other operations are at work on all the sons of men. He rules in providence over all people, whetherthey believe in him or not, and if men do not accept the gospel, yet they are affected by it, in some way or other. Even thedarkest parts of the world feel something of the presence of the Christ of God. Responsibility is heaped on those thathear of him and reject him; he becomes a savor of death unto death where he is not a savor of life unto life. There is nothinghid from the heat thereof. Oh, how this ought to encourage you Christian people to work! The Lord has gone before you; thereis nothing hid from the heat of his presence. Jesus is King of the darkest settlements of the heathen, and he reigns in thelowest haunts of London's vice. Go there, for you are not intruders; you have a right to go any there in your Master'sdominions; and the earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof. Be not afraid to face the vilest blasphemer, or the mostfoul-mouthed infidel, for Christ is Master, and if you bring the gospel before his enemy, he will be made to feel its power,either so as to yield to it a willing submission, or else to be condemned by it, In either case, you shall have done yourpart, anduttered your testimony, and freed your head of his blood.
In these thoughts combined, we see Christ Jesus, the risen Savior, pursuing his ever glorious course till he shall descendagain the second time to take his people to himself to reign with him.
II. Very briefly indeed in the second place. Let us think for a moment of JESUS AS A SUN TO US. Worship and bless our Savior,it is ever meet and right to do so. Let him be extolled and be very high. Some would give him a secondary place, let it neverbe so with us. As the sun is the center, so is Christ; as the sun is the great motor, the first source of motive power, sois Christ to his people; as the sun is the fountain from which light, life, and heat perpetually flow,so is the Savior; as the sun is the fructifier by which fruits multiply and ripen, so is Christ: and as the sun is theregulator and rules the day, and marks the seasons, even so is Jesus owned as Lord to the glory of God the Father.
Think these thoughts over in the following respects. When you take the Bible remember that Christ is the center of the Scriptures. Do not put election in the center; some do, and they make a one-sidedsystem. Do not put man in the center,-some do, and they fall into grievous errors. Christ is the center of the entire systemof the gospel, and all will be seen to move with regularity when you perceive that he is the chief fixed point; you cannotbe right in therest unless you think rightly of him. He is the center and King of all truth.
He is the center of the Church too. Not the pastor, not the church itself, not any rule or government, no bishop, no priest, and no Pope can be our center,Christ alone is our central sun. We follow as planets where he leads the way: around him we revolve, but we own no other Lord.
Let it be so in the world that even there Christ governs and is the center of all history. You will understand history better when you know this, forthis is the key of the world's story, the reason for the rise and fall of empires. You shall understand all things when youknow Immanuel, God with us.
And let him have this place in your hearts. There enthrone him! Establish him as the central sun, and let him rule your entire being, enlightening your understanding,warming your hearts, filling all your powers, passions, and faculties with the fullness of his presence. To have Christ inus, the hope of glory-oh, what blessedness! But let us take care that it is so, for we know not Christ aright unless we givehim such a place in our hearts as the sun occupies inGod's world.
III. But time fails me, and we must now pass on to the last point, and let us for a minute or two BASK IN HIS BEAMS. How shallwe do it?
First, we must realize that he is. Sinner, saint, Christ lives: he who trod the wave of Galilee lives on. He who was marked with the nails rules on. Oh, sinner,does not that comfort you? The Savior lives, the redeemer lives; he who forgives sins still lives. Saint, does not this comfortyou? The man of the tender heart still lives, with a bosom still to be leaned upon, and with lips still ready to speak endearingwords. There is a tabernacle for the sun; he is notextinct; he thineth still, he blesses still. Bask in his beams, then, by realising that he is.
Then come and lay your souls beneath his divine influence. O my soul, if thou art guilty come and rest in his atonement, if thou art unrighteous come and take his righteousness. Ifthou art feeble lay hold upon his strength. If thou canst not pray accept him as thine intercessor. If thou art in thyselfnothing, take him to be thy all in all. Some creatures delight to warm themselves in the sun, but oh, what a pleasure it isto sun ones self in the presence ofChrist. Never mind how little I am, how nothing I am, how vile I am, how foul I am; all I am he has taken to himself,and all he has belongs to me. I sin, but he has taken all my sin: he is righteous and all his righteousuess is mine. I amfeeble, he is mighty; his mightiness is mine, I wrap myself in his omnipotence. Christ is all and Christ is mine. Why, I utterlyfail when trying to talk about such things as these; talking is but stuttering on such a theme. Faith must enjoy rather thanexpress her delight. Come, plunge ye all into this sea of sweetness, dive deep into this abyss of happiness-Christ Jesusis yours for ever and for ever. The sun is very great but it is all for me, and Christ is very bright and glorious, but heis all my own.
Then next, if you would sun yourself in his beams, imbibe the joy of his strength. He is like a bridegroom rejoicing to run his race. Now, brethren and sisters, I am often afraid lest in serving God, we shouldgrow dispirited and downcast, and think that things are not going on as they should, the joy of the Lord is your strength.If you begin to say, "Our cause is very feeble, the gospel will not prevail among us, you will slacken your efforts." Do notso, butremember that Jesus Christ does not fret or sadden himself about his kingdom. He runs on full of strength and rejoicesas he runs; and I bid you in the power of the Holy-Spirit, do the same. Cast away your doubts and fears, the kingdom is theLord's, and he will deliver his adversaries, into your hands. I fret and worry myself sometimes about these inventors of newdoctrines, and those ritualists who bring up the old rates and stale tallow of the past ages. Let us fret no more, but thinkthatthese are only like the clouds to the great sun; the gospel will still proceed in its career. Let us laugh the enemiesof God to scorn and defy them to their faces. They defy the Lord God of Israel as did the Philistine of old, but God himselfis mightier than they, and the victory is sure to the true church and to the gospel of his Son. Be ye very courageous! Benot alarmed with sudden fear! Trust in Jehovah, for the Lord will surely give unto his own servants the victory in the dayof battle.
And brethren, if you would sun yourselves in Christ's beams, let me bid you reflect his light whenever you receive it. He is the sun, and you are the planet, but every planet shines, shines with borrowed light. It concealsno light, but sends back to other worlds what the sun has given to it. Cast back on men the light which Jesus gives you. Triumphin Christ's circuit, that it is so broad as to comprehend the world, and compass all time. Enlarge your oven hearts,and let your light thine far and wide, believing that the power of God which gives you light will go with the light whichyou reflect. Comfort your hearts! "Be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye knowthat your labor is not in vain in the Lord." Who shall stop the Christ of God in his race? Let him first go pluck the sunfrom his sphere. Who shall stay the champion of God who has girt himself for his race? Whosoever cometh in his way woe untohim,for if Samson smote a thousand men hip and thigh, what shall our immortal Samson do? Let all the armies of pope and devilcome against him, he will utterly defy them, and drive them like chaff before the wind.
Sing ye unto his name, for he hath triumphed gloriously! Begin the everlasting song, for he is the Lord and God, and to theuttermost ages shall he reign; yea, for ever and ever is he priest and King.
God bless you, for Christ's sake. Amen.
PORTION OF SCRIPTURE READ BEFORE SERMON-Psalm 19.