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world, ibid. For his flesh is meat indeed, and his blood is drink indeed; so that whoso eateth his flesh and drinketh his blood hath eternal life, and he will raise him up at the last day, that he may live for ever, v. 54, 55, 58. For Christ is the resurrection and the life; whosoever believeth in him, though he were dead, yet shall he live; and whosoever liveth and believeth in him shall never die, c. xi. 25, 26. Though his body may die, yet not his soul. And his body also at the last day shall be raised again to life, by the power of this glorious Sun. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive, 1 Cor. xv. 22.
Seeing therefore that Jesus Christ is the fountain of the life of righteousness, the Author of that spiritual and eternal life which the righteous live; as the sun is of our natural, he also may most properly be called the Sun, and the Sun of righteousness, as he is in the words before us. And so he may be likewise from his cheering and refreshing our spirits in the inward man, as the sun doth in the outward. The light of the eyes, saith the wise man, rejoiceth the heart, Prov. xv. 30. And truly the light is sweet, and a pleasant thing it is for the eyes to behold the sun, Eccles. xi. 7. This we all find by daily experience, and so we do too, that the light and heat of the sun agitate or move our animal spirits in so benign and delicate a manner, that we are always more cheerful and pleasant when the sun shines clearly, than we are in a dark night or cloudy day. But in this the Sun of righteousness infinitely exceeds the other, for he is the fountain not only of some, but of all the true joy and comfort that his faithful people have or ever can have in the world. It all proceeds from him, whom having not seen they love, in whom, though now they see him not, yet believing they rejoice with joy unspeakable, and full of glory, 1 Peter i. 8. For upon their believing in him, as having been delivered for their offences, and raised
again for their justification, he manifesteth himself and his special love and favour to them, in the pardon of their sins, and their reconciliation to Almighty God, whereby their souls are filled, not only with unspeakable, but glorious joy, of the same nature with that which the glorified saints in heaven are continually transported with. This is that which is called the lifting up the light of God's countenance, and his causing his face to shine upon them, Psalm iv. 6. lxvii. 1. lxxx. 3. Numb. vi. 25. When the Sun of righteousness thus shineth upon them, refreshing and comforting their hearts, by the sweet influences of that Holy Spirit that proceedeth from him.
But the sun doth not only refresh the earth, but makes it fruitful; it is by his means, under God, that plants grow and bring forth fruit, and that animals do the respective works which God hath set them. So is Christ the cause or author of all the good and righteous works that are done in the world; he himself saith, without me ye can do nothing, John xv. 5. And his apostle could say upon his own experience, I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me, Phil. iv. 13. And that the fruits, all the fruits of righteousness, are by Jesus Christ, or come from him, chap. i. 11. who therefore in this respect also may well be termed the Sun of righteousness.
To which we may likewise add, that as the works which God hath made upon earth by his power, although they have no light in themselves whereby they can be seen, yet they appear in all their beauty and colours by the sun reflecting his light upon them; so the works which his servants do, by his assistance and grace, although they have no real worth, nor are exactly righteous in themselves, yet by the Sun of righteousness reflecting his righteousness upon them, they seem or are accounted righteous in the sight of God, or as St. Peter speaks, they are acceptable to God by Jesus
Christ, 1 Peter ii. 5, 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 many are made righteous, Rom. v. 19. 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 faithful people with healing in his wings, that they may grow up as calves in the stalls; to shew 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 truly be 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 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 splendor 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 favours 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 imper
fect 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 rule and govern the day, so I behold the Sun of righteousness as governing his church, and ordering all things both within it 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 him in the highest heavens, where they also shall by his means, shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father for ever, Matt. xiii. 43.
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 righte ousness 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 comparison of this most glorious Sun and his righteousness. We should then, with St. Paul, count all things but loss for the excellency 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, Phil. iii. 8, 9. We should then leave gazing upon the trifles of this lower world, and should be always looking up to this Sun of righteousness, so as to be enlightened by him, Psal. xxxiv. 5. 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 refresh