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will give him the morning star," in a connexion, which, as we shall shew at large, fixes it down to the time of the first resurrection, when he cometh with all his saints, in the glory of the new Jerusalem, a time spoken of in all the old prophets, and especially in the Psalms, under the same figure of the morning. For example (Psa. xlix. 14): “ Like sheep, they are laid in the grave. Death shall feed on them, and the upright shall have dominion over them in the morning, and their beauty shall consume in the grave from their dwelling ; but God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave, for he shall receive me." So also in the cx th Psalm, verse 3: “ Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness, from the womb of the morning. Thou hast the dew of thy youth,” of the glorious brightness of this morning, the lxth chapter of Isaiah, at the beginning and ending of it, doth testify; and until that glorious exaltation of Jeru. salem, there shall be no light, save the light of the stars or angels of the churches, until the closing in of eventide, as it is written in the Prophet Zechariah, xiv. 6 : “ And it shall come to pass in that day, that the light shall not be clear nor dark, but it shall be one day which shall be known to the Lord : not day nor night, but it shall come to pass, that at evening tide it shall be light.” In the firmament of darkness, which now overspreadeth the earth, there are stars, and there is a moon to rule the darkness. The moon is the symbol of the church, considered as one, the ruler of the night; the stars are the angels or ministers of the churches, Thiş symbol doth therefore signify, that all true light is dispensed to the world by Christ's
ministers, until the Sun of Righteousness shall arise, and eclipse them all with the glory of his light. It is indeed a high dignity for any order of men to claim unto themselves. But not the less firmly do I believe that it is the view which we ministers should take of our office, and in which the church should reverently contemplate us; for Christ himself said to his disciples, “ Yeare the lights of the world;" and Paul saith in one of his epistles : “In which ye
shine as lights in the world.” What the Apostle here assigns to all believers, whom in another place he calls children of the light, I may assuredly claim for those whom Christ calleth stars, in contradistinction to the churches, which he calleth candlesticks. The candlestick is that which holdeth up the light ; but the star is the light itself. It must therefore be proper to the ministers of the churches to have light in them, and to the churches to hold up that light on high; the two together being necessary to the enlightening of the house. In that same passage to which I have referred above, where Christ saith to his apostles, and first disciples, Ye are the light of the world; he addeth, “ Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but upon a candlestick, and it giveth light to all that are in the house.” When he had enlightened certain ones with the word of his truth, he found for them a candlestick or church, upon whom upborne the light might shine around, and be like the light of a human habitation to a man weary, wayworn, and astray; or like the light of a watch-tower to the mariner upon the dark tempestuous ocean. Let the taper which shines from the lattice of the distant cottage lightening the bewildered traveller, fall from the candlestick which holds it, and it is extin. guished, and he is left dark and forlorn. Let the blazing light of the watch-tower fall from that which holdeth it up, and it is quenched among the waves, and serveth no more for a beacon to the weather-beaten ship. Even so, let the light of the minister be separated from the church, and his glory departeth away. Accordingly, it is so threatened to this very angel, that if he repented not, Christ would come unto him quickly, and remove his candlestick out of his place. This shews us where the place of an ordained minister is,-at the head of his church. It shews us wherefore his light is fed, for the enlightening of his church ; and being there placed, he is like a city set on a hill, which cannot be hid. Would that these things were more frequently in my mind. Would that I could thus always deem concerning myself and concerning my church; that we should ever feel formed and fitted for one another, whose common well-being and benefit unto the world stand in the mutual esteem of one another, according to this apt similitude. A candlestick is for holding a light, and a light is to be upheld by a candlestick, so an enlightened minister is for being upheld by a church, and a church is for upholding the light of an enlightened minister, I say again, I earnestly wish to be ever pos.
sessed with these Divine ideas; and what I wish for myself I surely can never do better than wish for others.
The second inquiry is, And wherefore are these lights of the churches held in the right hand of the Son of Man? For several reasons : first, to shew that they are his, and not their own ; that they are borr ved lights, deriving all their power of illumination from him, accord. ing to that word,' “ This is the true light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world ;” and according to that other word, “Awake, thou that sleepest, arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.” This is the truth, specially expressed to the church of Sardis, by these words : “ These things saith He that hath the seven stars," hath them in possession; answering to that declaration in the Epistle to the Ephesians, iv. 11,-"And he gave (he gave, that is, Christ upon his ascension into glory, when he received gifts of the Holy Ghost for men, these gifts which he had received when he ascended up on high, he gave) to some apostles, and to some prophets, and to some pastors and teachers, for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.”. This great truth, that faithful ministers are Christ's gift unto the church, and as such to be regarded, is, I think, taught by the place which is given to the stars in his right hand. But this is not all which is contained in the expression holding the stars in his right hand. The word translated holding is a different word from that which is used in the ist and jid chapters, and denoteth grasp, as a man useth his sword, or any other instrument for effecting his purpose : and therefore I consider that this expression doth, in the second place, convey the idea that the stars are his instrument which he useth, as Head of the church, to bring his ends to pass. These stars being the lights of the candlesticks he carrieth about and about, as he walketh in the midst of them; setting one here, and one there, according to his pleasure, and according to the purpose, the special purpose, which he hath by every church. If I err not, it is the same truth which is taught in Habakkuk’s vision of his glory, by these words: “He had horns coming out of his hand, and there was the hiding of his power. The horn is the symbol of power, and horns proceeding out of his right hand signifieth powers proceeding out of his right hand. Now, as we shall see in the details, the office of an angel is as much one of power, as it is of illumination; as much for government, as for teaching of the church. And this great truth of our power and authority is conveyed by our reposing in Christ's right hand ; while at the same time it is declared to be power instrumental, and not power inherent,-power derived from Christ, and not power self-originated. For the instrument in another's right hand is but a tool, an inactive impotent tool, either for good or evil, until aim and force be given to it by an intelligent active being. Such are the ministers of the churches, powerful through Christ to the pulling down of strong bolds, and without him helpless as a broken reed. And the churches ought to look upon their ministers, as representing not only the wisdom, but likewise the power, of Christ according to that promise of the Lord, “ Whatsover ye shall bind on earth, shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth, shall be loosed in heaven ;” and that other word, Luke x. 27, “He that despiseth you, despiseth me; and he that despiseth me, despiseth him that
sent me.” O how little are these things remembered or thought of! I could stay my thoughts, and weep when I reflect upon the dishonoured institutions of the church of Christ, her dishonoured persons, her dishonoured ordinances. Some will honour our natural talents, others our natural affections, others our conduct ; but, ah me! who honours our office, as the right-hand men of Christ ? who sees in us our Lord ? who recals to our recollections our high vocation of Christ's ambassadors and legates on the earth. Alas! alas ! we forget our own dignity, we cannot carry it through; we seize it sometimes, as it were, by fits and starts, but we wear it not always. God give us grace, Christ give us unction, that we may rightly fulfil this high vocation.
I cannot omit observing in this place, how, in the constitution of our church, this prerogative of power invested in a minister is exhibited to view, as a distinct and additional thing to the prerogative of light, or knowledge, or truth, according to our constitutions and practice. Such persons as think themselves to be possessed of the gift for teaching and edifying the body of Christ, and have com
pleted their studies in the schools of the church, present themselves unto the ministers of a presbytery to take proof of the same, which they do by examinations and various pieces of trial proper to the function of a preacher ; and being satisfied of his fitness, they give him permission to preach among the churches. This is to recognize him as a star; but he is not put into the possession of power until, as hath been said above, some church destitute of a minister have witnessed their satisfaction with his doctrine, and their desire to have him set over them. Then is he, not without renewed trial, set over them, to hold the reins of ecclesiastical government, in concert with those who are the elders and deacons of the flock. Now he is invested with power; and the act, the symbolical act, by which this is done, is the laying on of the right hand, which being derived from Christ and the Apostles, doth continually bespeak the stars to derive their power from his right hand, the horns to grow out of the right hand, and thus be who already had been recognized as a star of Christ's, is brought as it were under his right hand by the regular succession of ministers, and under his right hand we are expected always to feel ourselves to be. I cannot tell what sense of awe cómeth over my mind, as I write these things. They bring before me such a body and presence of truth as I cannot express. I seem to feel and see my Lord continually beside me. These symbols have such a force above words, as I cannot by words express ;
I ever feel that what I do express, though but an approximation to the truth impressed upon my heart, is true so far as I can give utterance to it in words.
We come now to explain the second attribute of our great High Priest, which he assumeth before the church in Ephesus, expressed in these words: “ Who walketh about in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks." Now, as the preceding attribute of our Shepherd referreth to the ntinisters of the churches specially, so this referreth to the churches specially ; each minister of the word hath a candlestick which is properly called his own, as is evident from the threatening in the 5th verse; “I will come quickly, and remove thy candlestick out of his place, unless thou repent.” Let us consider what is contained in this threat, that we may have a proper idea, and use proper