1 Thessalonians 5:5
You are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.
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.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.