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1 THESS. v. 7, 8,
FOR THEY THAT SLEEP, SLEEP IN THE NIGHT; AND
THEY THAT BE DRUNKEN, ARE DRUNKEN IN THE NIGHT. BUT, LET US WHO ARE OF THE DAY, BE SOBER; PUTTING ON THE BREAST-PLATE OF FAITH AND LOVE, AND, FOR AN HELMET, THE HOPE OF SALVATION.
TT is usual in Scripture, to represent a
life of holiness, and a life of sin, under the opposite images of light and darkness. Light, the simplest, the purest, the most enlivening object of the natural world, is employed to illustrate that holiness, which is the only real happiness of this life, and the only infallible foretaste of a better. Darkness, on the other hand, involving every thing gloomy, uncomfortable, and alarming, is used to exemplify that sin,
which is the essence of misery, both temporal and eternal.
· So early as the days of Solomon, we meet a just and beautiful application of this figurative language. That sage Monarch, who had examined human nature in every aspect, and traced the respective tendency of right and wrong principles, through their invariable results, has left it on record, that, “ the path of the just, is as the shining light, which shineth more and more unto the perfect day : but the way of the wicked is as darkness, they know not at what they stumble.”
Throughout the discourses of our Lord, we are frequently instructed, by a similar appropriation of the same terms. And Saint Paul, uniting, in a degree exceeded by Him alone, “ who spake ás never man spake,” the liveliest imagination, with the most impressive seriousness, expands this exquisite imagery, in various parts of his writings; but in no instance, perhaps, with more apostolic energy, than in the passage from whence the text is derived. He had been just describing that second advent of the Messiah, when “ the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout; with the voice of the Archangel, and with the trump of God.” And, filled with the transcendent subject, he thus spake, from the abundance of his heart. “ Of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly, that the day of the Lord (1) so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of the light, and the children of the day. We are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore, let us not sleep as do others. But let us watch and be sober. “For, they that sleep, sleep in the night; and they that be drunken, are drunken in the night. But, let us, who are of the day, be sober; putting on
the breast-plate of faith and love; and, for an helmet, the hope of salvation.”
These words present the world before us, as it met the Apostle's experienced eye. A great and terrible day was impending ; the day of judgment, and final retribution. The times and the seasons, it was not left for man to know. The Father put them in his own power. And doubtless, among many wise, and many unfathomable reasons, he thus concealed them, in order to keep alive our vigilance, and holy fear. But then, as now, multitudes went on, and cared not.
The world was divided into two classes. The one, loved darkness rather than the light. In this darkness, they resigned themselves to indolence, intemperance, and impurity. They strove to speak peace, when there was no peace. Self-deceived, and self-devoted, they lived without vigilance, without forethought, without precaution. And, what was the consequence? When they were least aware, the shades of night, the snares of death, the pains of hell, gat hold upon them. Their feet stumbled on the dark mountains; regions, cold, bleak, and cheerless; without shelter, without path ; clouds thickening on their summit, and billows rolling at their base; the clouds of the last day; the billows of eternity. • The other happy portion of mankind, are called children of the light, and children of the day. They clearly saw the end. They were influenced, not by deceitful shadows, but by divine realities. They lived in the open sunshine of a right judgment, and awakened conscience; of unfeigned love, and indefatigable zeal. Therefore, the day of judgment or of death, could never overtake them as a thief, because it could never find them unguarded, unprepared, or unprotected. To them, the day of their departure was a day of triumph. Wherefore, they could comfort one another with these words, “ That the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then, they which are alive, and remain, shall be caught up, together with them,