« PreviousContinue »
more the light by day, neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee; but the Lord shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory.' To which we may add the many places where Christ is called Nazareth, which we translate the branch, as, 'I will bring forth my servant the branch.' 'Behold the man whose name is the branch.' 'I will raise up to David a righteous branch.' And a branch of righteousness.'3 In all which places the original word signifies also, ́the rising of the sun,' and is accordingly rendered by the Seventy 'Avaroλy, Oriens, not that part of heaven where the sun riseth, but the sun itself as rising there. And so it is translated also both in the Syriac and Arabic versions. And where it is said, 'In that day shall the branch of the Lord be beautiful," in the Seventy it is imáμεi ¿ Oɛòs, 'God shall shine forth.' In the Syriac, The rising of the Lord shall be for glory.' In Arabic, 'The Lord shall rise as the sun.' And that this is the true sense of the word in all these places, appears from the prophecy of Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist; for, speaking of Christ's coming, he expresses it according to our translation, by saying, The day-spring from on high hath visited us.'" But in the original it is the same word that the Seventy use in all the aforesaid places, 'Avaroλn, Oriens, the rising sun.' And it is much to be observed, that all the said places of the prophets are interpreted of the Messiah or Christ, by the Targum or Chaldee paraphrase made by the ancient Jews themselves; for пy, the
Isaiah, lx. 19. 3 Jer. xxiii. 5.
rising sun,' is there translated n', 'the Christ,' as if it was only another name for the Messiah, the Saviour of the world. From all which it appears, that when the prophet here calls our Saviour Christ, the Sun of righteousness, he speaks according to the common sense and practice of the church.
And verily he may well be called the Sun, both in respect of what he is in himself, and in respect of what he is to us. As there is but one sun in the firmament, it is the chief of all creatures that we see in the world. There is nothing upon earth, but what is vastly inferior, the very stars of heaven seem no way comparable to it. It is the top, the head, the glory of all visible objects: in like manner, there is but one Saviour in the world, he is exalted far above all things in it, not only above the sun itself, but above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come. 'All things are put under his feet, and he is given to be head over all things to the church." The very angels, authorities, and powers of heaven, are all made subject to him.'' And that is the reason that he is said to be at the right hand of God, because he is preferred before, and set over the whole creation, next to the almighty Creator himself, where he now reigns, and doth whatsoever he pleaseth in heaven and in earth.
And as the sun is in itself also the most glorious, as well as the most excellent creature we see, of such transcendant beauty, splendour and glory, that we cannot look steadfastly upon it, but our eyes are presently dazzled: so is Christ the Sun
1 Eph. i. 21, 22.
21 Peter, iii. 22.
of righteousness:' when he was transfigured, 'his
face did shine as the sun.'
When St. John had a
glimpse of him he saw his countenance as the sun that shineth in his strength.' When he appeared to St. Paul going to Damascus at mid-day, there was a light above the brightness of the sun shining round about him, and them that journeyed with him.' And it is no wonder, 'for he is the brightness of his Father's glory, and the express image of his person.' And therefore must needs shine more gloriously than it is possible for any mere creature to do; his very body, by reason of its union to the divine person, is a glorious body.' The most glorious, doubtless, of all the bodies in the world, as far exceeding the sun, as that doth a clod of earth; insomuch, that could we look upon our Lord as he now shines forth in all his glory in the highest heavens, how would our eyes be dazzled ? Our whole souls amazed and confounded at his excellent glory? the sun would appear to us no otherwise than as the moon and stars do, when the sun is up. And he that so far excels the sun in that very property, wherein the sun excels all other things, may well be called the Sun: the Sun by way of pre-eminence, the most glorious Sun in the world, in comparison whereof nothing else deserves to be called by that name. Neither may our blessed Saviour be justly called by this glorious name only for what he is in himself, but likewise from what he doth for us; as may be easily demonstrated from all the benefits that we receive
1 Matt. xvii. 2.
2 Rev. i. 16.
3 Acts, xxvi. 13.
5 Phil. iii. 21.
from the sun. I shall instance in some of the most plain and obvious.
First, Therefore, the sun we know is the fountain of all the light that we have upon earth, without which we could see nothing, not so much as the way that is before us, but should always be groping and stumbling in the dark; whereas by it we can discern every thing that is about us, or at any distance from us, as far as our sight can reach. In which respect our blessed Lord is the Sun indeed; 'the light of the world;' the true light that lighteth every one that cometh into the world;' 'a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of his people Israel ;' a marvellous light," whereby we can see things that are not visible to the eye, as plainly as we do those that are. For this Dayspring from on high,' this Sun of righteousness hath visited us, 'to give light to them that sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace; to show us the invisible things of God, and direct us to all things belonging to our everlasting peace and happiness. He hath made them all clear and manifest to us in his gospel: 'but whatsoever maketh manifest is light; wherefore he is said to have brought life and immortality to light through the gospel," because he hath there so clearly revealed them to us, that by the light of his holy gospel we may see all things necessary to be known, believed, or done, in order to eternal life, as plainly as we can see the most visible objects at noon-day.
1 John, viii. 12. 2 Ib. i. 9. 3 Luke, ii. 32. 41 Pet. ii. 9. 5 Luke, i. 78, 79. 6 Eph. v. 13. 7 2 Tim. i. 10.
By this light we can see as much of the glory of God himself, as our mortal nature can bear. For, 'No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him;' Neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him." So that no man ever had or can have any right knowledge of the true God, but only by his Son our Saviour Christ. But by this means they that lived before might see him as by twilight; we who live after this Sun is risen, may see him by the clearest light that can be given of him; for he hath fully revealed and declared himself to us in the gospel.
By this glorious light, we can see into the mystery of the eternal Trinity in unity, so as to believe that God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are one, one Jehovah, one God. That God the Father made all things at first by his word, and still upholds and orders all things according to his will: that God the Son was made flesh, became man, and as such died upon the cross, and so offered up himself as a sacrifice for the sins of the whole world; that he arose again, went up to heaven, and is now there at the right hand of God: that upon our repentance and faith in him our sins are pardoned, and he that made us is reconciled to us by the merits of his said death; that by the power of his intercession which he now makes in heaven for us, we are justified or accounted righteous in him, before him, and in him our almighty Father; that God the Holy Ghost abides continually with his church, moving upon, actuating and influencing the means
1 John, i. 18.
2 Matt. xi. 27.