1 Thessalonians 5:5
The apostle says that, as children of light and of the day, believers ought to exercise vigilance and sobriety in view of the solemn prospects before them.

I. THE SIN AND DANGER OF SPIRITUAL SLEEP. "Let us not sleep, as do others." There are three kinds of sleep spoken of in Scripture - the sleep of nature, which restores the wasted energies of the body; the sleep of death; and the sleep of the text, which is always fraught with peril, its prevailing idea being insensibility. The sleeper is:

1. Not aware of his danger.

2. Forgetful of his duty.

3. Unconscious of the real world around him.

4. Immovable to all appeals.

5. May not even know that he is asleep.

II. THE DUTY OF WATCHFULNESS AND SOBRIETY. "But let us watch and be sober," so as to be always prepared for the Lord's coming. We are not to be overcharged with surfeiting and drunkenness, so that that day should overtake us unawares. Let us watch that we may be sober.

1. The reason is that sleep and drunkenness are works of darkness done in the night. "They that sleep, sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night." Those spiritually asleep "sleep through all life's agitations, beneath the thunders of Sinai, and the pleadings of mercy from the cross." Like drunken men, they are intoxicated with life's delights, "minding earthly things," occupied supremely with "the unfruitful works of darkness." Believers are not so, into whose heart "God has commanded the light to shine out of darkness, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ Jesus" (2 Corinthians 4:6).

2. Another reason for watchful sobriety is that our life is a spiritual warfare. The believer is to be a sentinel always on guard, or a soldier on the battle-field - "having on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation." As a good soldier, bound to endure hardness, he goes forth into the conflict of life, equipped in Divine armor, not for aggression but for defense. The pieces of armor here enumerated are for the protection of vital parts, the heart and the head.

(1) Faith is the principal part of this spiritual armor. "This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith" (1 John 5:4, 5). It is by faith they resist the devil (1 Peter 5:9). It is by it all difficulties are overcome (Matthew 17:20). If it is by the "sword of the Spirit, the Word of God," we are to conquer, faith is the arm that wields the sword. The eleventh chapter of Hebrews illustrates the power of faith as a principle of action and as a principle of endurance.

(2) Love is joined with faith to form the breastplate, for "faith worketh by love" (Galatians 5:6). Love preserves from apostasy, and knits the saints together, because it is the bond of perfection, and thus enables us to bear all trial through love to the Redeemer.

(3) The hope of salvation is the helmet. In the corresponding passage in Ephesians, the helmet is salvation itself; but the difference is not material, the salvation in the one case being partially enjoyed, in the other an object of future hope. Hope is a protection to the believer, as it nerves him to meet danger, and enables him to brave difficulties, by looking to the glorious objects in view. Therefore it is "the patience of hope." Thus the three Christian graces make the soul watchful and ready for the Lord's coming. - T.C.







Ye are all children of the light
A colonial governor who was about to return to England offered to use his influence with the home government and procure any favour the colonists might desire. The unanimous reply was as startling as the demand for the head of John the Baptist. "Tell them to tear down the lighthouses, they are ruining the colony." The people were wreckers.

(W. C. Church.)

I. It is evident that ALL THOSE ON WHOM THE TRUE NIGHT SHINES ARE, IN A VERY IMPORTANT SENSE, THE "CHILDREN OF THE DAY." Christendom is the domain of light as contrasted with the early world or the regions beyond. Its very dimmest parts are luminous in comparison with any portion of the world to which the rays of the gospel have not penetrated. None can dwell where the gospel is known without deriving from it great accessions of knowledge on most important and essential questions. What elsewhere is conjecture, surmise, hope, there is certainty. What heathen sages, by the reflection and research of a life, laboured to make probable, the Christian child learns at its mother's knee, and grows up to know and believe with an implicit and unwavering confidence, yea, and many things besides, which the efforts of natural reason were never able so much as to excogitate even into the rudest sketch or outline.

II. But there is a higher sense in which WE ARE THE CHILDREN OF THE DAY, AS WE ARE BAPTIZED INTO THE BODY OF CHRIST, AND MADE TO PARTAKE OF THE PRIVILEGES OF THE CHURCH. And this also is happily true of most of us; sad to think, that in a land that calls itself Christian, it should be untrue of any. The ancient fathers often called baptism "illumination"; because it introduced and pledged to its recipients the enlightening influences of the Holy Spirit.

III. There is still another form and grade of illumination, by virtue of which the partakers of it are made in a still higher and more glorious sense the children of the light and of the day. This is THAT ILLUMINATION WHICH REACHES THE HEART AND THE LIFE, AND BRINGS THEM UNDER THE PRACTICAL CONTROL OF THE TRUTH WHICH IT COMMUNICATES. This is the end and design of all inferior illumination. A spiritual illumination, one that takes hold upon the moral and active powers of our nature, quickens the conscience, controls the will, hallows the affections, gives truth supremacy and dominion, and stamps the visible impress of every revelation it makes upon the character and practice, is the illumination that makes us children of the day in the only sufficient sense, and thereupon heirs of salvation.

(R. A. Hallam, D. D.)

I looked from my window this morning across the fields. I noticed a dwelling house whose roof was exposed to the early and cheerful sun. There had been a storm in the night, and snow covered the roof. In an hour the warmth of the sun had melted it, save where the shadow of the chimney fell. That long, dark shade kept firm grasp of the iciness. It gave me a morning lesson, like a text from Scripture. The ice of our lives lingers only where the shadow is. If we have no Christly warmth, it is because we live in the dark. If our love is chilled and our nature sluggish, there is something between us and the light. What then? We must go forth from shadows. The sun shines and its beams are full of life. If we walk in this life the ice will melt, and instead of deathly conditions, we shall become rivers of living water. An army officer was called to the French and Indian war a century and a half ago. He left a wife and five children at home. A fearful throat ailment carried every child in a few weeks to the grave. The wife sat alone and desolate at home. What did she say? "I must not stay indoors and weep; I will go into the sunshine." And her neighbours daily said, "Madame Binge is in the sunlight again." And this legend of her is told till this day. Christ is the Sun. Shadows do not belong to us. They savour of death. The one aim of God is to make us children of life and light; then follows holy fellowship and hallowed communion.

(A. Caldwell.)

In Connecticut recently, the parents of a young lady in a school at Bridgeport sent to her a collection of beetles from Cuba. Among them were two or three specimens known as Elater Noctilucus, or fire beetle of the West Indies. They measure about an inch in length. On each side of the thorax is a large, oval, velvety black spot, like an eye, and some of them have in place of the oval spot two translucent, opal-like spots on the sides of the thorax, and from these at night the insect throws at will a strong light, resembling two tiny electric lamps in full glow. The light from one insect is sufficiently strong to enable one to read fine print with ease. When agitated the insect also gives out a similar light from the tissue between the segments on the under side of the body. The beetles were taken to a photographic artist in the city, who found that the light emitted from them, though of a greenish hue, contained abundant actinic rays by which, with a sensitive plate, he could obtain negatives. After a few experiments he succeeded in taking a picture of one of the beetles by no light but that emitted by the beetle itself. It is too often forgotten that pictures of human character are taken in the same way; every man is judged by the light he gives.

Free Methodist Magazine.
We may learn a lesson on this subject from an article in common use — our coals. Long, long ages ago our earth was filled with immense forests of fern trees. It was sunlight that made them grow. Sunlight was bottled up in those ferns. After a while those ferns became our coal beds, and coals are really bottled up sunlight. We put the coals inside the grate, we apply a match, we release the bottled up sunlight, and the light and heat previously latent in the coals warm and cheer us during the dark, cold days of winter. These coals may be described as "children of light." The light so played upon them thousand of ages ago that it got into their very nature, so that they only require a little stimulus to pour forth floods of radiance and warmth. And if we believe and walk in God's light when it visits us, we shall become "children of light;" the light will get into our inmost natures, so "that we shall become fountains of light."

(Free Methodist Magazine.)

Going to Helena I saw piles of boxes and goods on the landing, and I said to the superintendent, "Do the slaves buy as much as their masters used to do for them?" "A great deal more." "And what things do they buy?" "Looking glasses and candles." "Looking glasses, of course; candles, however!" said

I. "What do they want with candles?" "In the old slave times, a slave was never allowed a light in his cabin unless it were a fire, and the candles became in their sight the signal of liberty, and the moment they were free they said, 'Give us light.'"

(H. W. Beecher.)

1. In reducing chaos to the order of a well-constituted world the first work of God was the creation of light. "And God saw the light that it was good," etc.(1) Light is indeed an admirable production of the Creator. It imparts beauty to all that delights the eye of man; since, in the absence of light, beauty could have no existence. It brings to the eye all the knowledge and pleasure we derive from a survey of the Divine workmanship, the works of art and the face of man. Its properties are astonishing. It requires only a few minutes to come from the sun, whence, falling in parallel rays, it illumines the face of the earth in the twinkling of an eye. And how admirable its influence in conveying warmth and activity to all things.(2) It is no wonder that it should be used as an emblem of all that is excellent in the spiritual world.(a) As revealing the figure, position, and qualities of things light is an emblem of truth, which assigns to everything its real attributes.(b) Of knowledge, which apprehends and forms a just estimate of things.(c) Of moral purity, as preserving its own essence without being contaminated with the objects it approaches.(d) Of true piety, as conveying life and health.(e) Of the happiness attendant on true goodness, as imparting gladness.(f) Of God Him self, who is "the Father of lights," in whom is "no darkness at all."

2. Darkness is the absence of light, and in an ordinary sense its opposite. Here it had precedence of light, and still retains a periodical influence, contributing to the well-being of the universe. But though useful in the physical world, morally darkness is emblematical of all that is evil.(1) As concealing objects around us, and precluding the right apprehension of them, it is the emblem of ignorance and error.(2) As favouring the machinations of the wicked and shrouding them from detection it is a metaphor for sin which hates the light.(3) As associated with danger and terror it intimates the peril and punishment of guilt.(4) The grand enemy of all goodness, as the deceiver, defiler and destroyer of men is the prince of darkness and his kingdom the kingdom of darkness. The children of light are distinguished —

I. BY THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE TRUTH.

1. As in the material world darkness preceded light and was only banished by Divine command, so ignorance precedes the light of saving knowledge. This was exemplified in the case of the Thessalonians and other Gentiles "Having their understanding darkened" as to God, duty, destiny. The Jews were better off; but their's was only "a light shining in a dark place." But when the Sun of Righteousness arose it scattered the gross darkness of heathenism and the shadowy emblems of Judaism.

2. But in order to enjoy the light we must have an eye to see, since if that organ be covered with a scale or be injured light will fail of its purpose. Pride and prejudice are a film to quench the intellectual eye in reference to Divine things. For the things of this world man retains the light of intelligence, but "the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God."

3. The eyes of the children of light have been opened. That which was formerly rejected as fantastical or unimportant has become the "one thing needful." Instructed by the Word and Spirit of God light shines within and around; they see the glory of God in the person and work of Christ. The path of life lies open, and perceiving both its difficulties and encouragements they walk on in safety. The love of the truth characterizes them as children of the light. "He that doeth the truth cometh to the light," etc.

II. BY HOLINESS, in opposition to what is offensive to God.

1. Sins of the life are called works of darkness, and sins of the affection are similarly characterized (1 John 2:9-11). The darkness of ignorance is naturally associated with vice, and the blindness of the understanding with that of the heart. "If the eye be single," etc. If the guide be blind the other faculties placed under his direction will stumble continually; and the guide himself partaker in pravity is led astray by the perverseness of those whom it is his duty to govern. If the mind through prejudice, passion, the allurements of the world, embraces error for truth, good for evil, what can be expected but that, betrayed by its counsellors, it should advance on the road to ruin. And men manifestly walk in darkness. How else can they barter immortality for the shadows of time.

2. The children of the light, however, have the eyes of their understanding enlightened. God's Word is a "light to their feet," etc. The planets, irradiated by the sun, maybe called "children of light"; so should the believer, irradiated by Christ, let his light shine.

III. BY USEFULNESS in opposition to the influence of the workers of iniquity.

1. Error serves only to deceive — sin only to beguile and destroy; and every one who promotes the one or the other injures his fellows. Their influence is as the lengthened night of the Polar regions spreading sterility over the earth, and destroying life.

2. But the children of light diffuse a salutary influence. Not only are they "blameless and harmless," they "shine as lights in the world, holding forth the Word of life." Such come to be esteemed sure guides. They are as a pilot skilled in the perilous passes of his own rocky course, whose vessel breaks the way, leaving a luminous track, by which the fleet may steer its course in safety.

IV. BY A BLESSEDNESS peculiar to themselves. We all appreciate the advantages of light, and pity those who are deprived of them. But if to one born blind it were an inexpressible happiness to obtain sight should not a purer joy pervade him who is made to behold the imperishable beauties of the spiritual world.

(H. Grey, D. D.)

The text is for the Lord's people; and as they have great privileges to enjoy, so they have great duties to perform, and that, too, distinct from others.

I. TWO CLASSES ARE SPOKEN OF IN CONTRAST.

1. The children of the night and of darkness. Of ignorance, unbelief, and wrath. They are in the regions of moral rebellion and imminent danger.

2. The children of day and of light. Illumed by the Word and the Spirit of God. Transformed; brought out of spiritual Egypt, and translated into the Divine kingdom. They are now of God's family — sons and heirs. Hence they have heavenly light within them — knowledge, love, and holiness. Their path is light itself, and it leads to "the inheritance of the saints in light." So that while they are on earth, they are "the lights of the world."

II. THE COURSE OF THE CHILDREN OF THE DAY. "Therefore, let us not sleep as do others."

1. That which they are to avoid. Moral sleep, soul lethargy, conscience slumbering, spiritual drowsiness. This is a state of helplessness, vague and illusory dreams, wasted opportunities, real perils.

2. That which they are to attend to. Watchfulness against the snares of the world, the stratagems of Satan, and the deceitfulness of the heart. As the sentinel at his post; as the mariner on stormy ocean looking for day; as the wise virgins waiting with their lamps burning, so all Christians are exhorted to do.

3. That which they are to be, "sober." Physical sobriety — avoiding revelling, banquetting, intemperance, and all tendencies to them, avoiding the very appearance of evil. Mental sobriety — walking in humility and self-abasement, not intoxicated with vanity, nor the praises of men. Social sobriety — avoiding foolish excitements and a vapid and silly conversation. Moral sobriety — seeking even lawful things with moderation, such as the increase of riches and innocent pleasures. Such sobriety includes a well-balanced mind, a serious spirit, and a becoming walk before God and men, and is real, entire, and constant.

III. THE MOTIVES BY WHICH THIS COURSE IS URGED.

1. The enemies and perils which surround us. An evil world; a malignant devil; a weak nature, liable to err, and leaning to sin.

2. The sad results which may ensue. Spiritual declension; open apostacy; personal degradation; unutterable misery. Application: The text to be prayerfully considered and solemnly pondered —

(1)In the light of our Christian profession;

(2)In connection with our peace and happiness;

(3)With our usefulness and honour;

(4)With our final acceptance and salvation.

(J. Burns, D. D.)

The text is a declaration of the relation of Christianity to all enlightening agencies. Christians are born of light and day. They walk in the light and are in kinship with all illuminating agencies.

I. THE NATURE AND METHODS OF RELIGION NECESSITATE MENTAL CULTURE. It does not and cannot rely upon force or fashion or gain or favour for its propagation in the world. The instances where a Church, secularized by an alliance with temporal power, has endeavoured to use these agencies, illustrate the apostacy of that Church rather than the character of Christianity.

1. Christianity is a spiritual light and force. It is a revelation. Like a newly discovered truth in science or a new invention, it must be tested. And so it appeals to the thought of the world. It is the light of the world. It ignores blind force. Jesus says, "My kingdom is not of this world," etc.

2. It does battle in the domain of thought, conscience and the affections. In no other way can it secure the conquest of the human will. It recognizes the integrity and dignity of each individual.

3. It believes in one God, the author both of nature and revelation. To its faith every truth of science, every fact of nature is a revelation. If they seem to disagree with the Bible it is stimulated to further research. It is, therefore, the friend of all science and all scientific investigation. Most great scientists have been Christians.

II. THE PRESENCE OF THE GOSPEL A STIMULUS TO MENTAL ACTIVITY. It is no accident, but in the nature of things that progress, discovery, civilization, wealth and power go hand in hand with a pure Christianity.

1. The great ideas of religion stimulate mental activity. The law of mental development is this: thrust a fact or great idea before a mind, and as the mind contemplates it, in many lights, new ideas are born and the mind expands, enlarges, strengthens. So you teach children in the schools. You give them a fact of physics or history, and as their minds contemplate it they grow. Given the thought, "steam possesses an expansive force," and engines are constructed. Show Columbus a carved stick that drifted in from the Western ocean, and a new continent is discovered. A falling apple observed, leads to the discovery of gravitation. Now, by the same law, project upon the mind thought of God, immortality, sin, redemption, judgment, etc., and that mind will wake up to an activity of thought that will make it wiser. It will study conscience, law, evidences, life, responsibility, till it becomes educated.

2. Christianity lifts man into a position that justifies him in trying to become a thinker. If a man lives on the borders of a desert thought to be worthless, he will never explore it. But let him know its mineral wealth and he will soon know it. So with the future. Let the soul have no knowledge of God and righteousness, and it will not awake; but let it contemplate itself as an heir of glory, and how it will wake up. Ask a slave to study kingcraft, and he tells you he has no use for it; but you ask an heir apparent with different result. So the Christian studies God's ways and Word.

III. FACTS CONFIRM THESE PROPOSITIONS. Christianity has ever been the friend of liberal thought and learning. It originated our educational institutions, and maintains a good many of them. What phenomena are presented in Sunday schools, the Christian press and pulpit!

(C. N. Sims, D. D.)

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