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threaten to obscure his brightness, and to consign the earth to darkness; but by-and-by the same intensity that drew them up dissolves them, and the fogs and mists that threatened to obscure the earth are dissolved into rains that water and refresh it. It has been the very splendour of the Sun of righteousness that has drawn up clouds of sceptics and cavilling infidels; but the very same Sun, against whom they rose in enmity and antipathy, has dissolved them, and raised up faithful men who have replied to them; and what seemed to darken His splendour has in the issue only served to reveal more completely His brightness, and to show that the Sun of righteousness, unlike the sun in the firmament, has no speck or flaw in Him.
This Sun is called by a suggestive name, “the Sun of righteousness;” and also a Sun“with healing in his wings; "or, as it might be rendered, “in his beams.” He is first of all called “the Sun of righteousness." This has its best commentary in such passages as these : “The Lord our righteousness ;” “He is made unto us righteousness ;” “He hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” In other words, we had forfeited our right to everlasting happiness, and we had merited a right to eternal misery : Jesus by His death has taken away the forfeit, and by His obedience He has substituted another right, even a right to everlasting joy. He has destroyed the first, and He has replaced the second by a better. Sprinkled with His beams, we are altogether righteous; shining in His glory, we are to be presented unto himself a glorious Church, without spot, or blemish, or any such thing. The darkest object in nature shines beautifully beneath the beams of the natural sun; and the poorest sinner will be made all glorious within, and all righteous without, through that righteousness which is the distinctive gift, ever given, never withheld, of Christ, the Sun of righteousness.
He is not only the Sun of righteousness, but He has healing in His wings. By our interest in His righteousness we are justified; by our reception of His healing we are sanctified. As the Sun of righteousness He gives us a change of state ; as having healing in His wings he gives us a change of character. Because He is the Sun of righteousness, I am judicially right in God's sight; because there is healing in His wings, I have all my moral diseases cured by His blessed influence. He heals me through the instrumentality of His Word—“ He sent forth his Word, and healed them.” He heals us by His own precious blood—“By his stripes,” that is, by His sufferings, “we are healed.” He heals us, above all, by His Holy Spirit, the Sanctifier, whom the risen Christ gives to them who look to Him, and seek that Holy Spirit from Him.
Thus righteous in the righteousness of that Sun, thus healed through the influence that emanates from Him, it is said, “We shall go forth.” That means that we shall have perfect freedom. We were in prison, the doors are opened, and we go forth. We were in chains, and we are translated by His touch into the glorious freedom of the sons of God. We were slaves in a dark, deep, and solitary dungeon ; His glorious light has shone into it, and we are no longer slaves—we cast aside our chains, and go forth with the spirit of adoption, saying, “ Abba, Father," serving God, not as slaves a master, but as sons a father whom they love.
What a glorious Being, who heals our diseases, strikes off our chains, makes us grow in grace and in likeness to Him! And how privileged are we, that we have not, like patriarchs and prophets, to wait and long for Him: He has already come! And how blessed the hope, that this Sun, who is now shining upon us horizontally, in consequence of which we have many a dark and long shadow, will one day rise higher, and shine vertically from his noonday throne, and then there will be no shadow, as there will be no cloud. That which is provisional will have gone; that which is perfect will have come: and it will be perfect day.
“Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” -Rev. ii. 10.
In almost every address made to each of the seven Churches of Asia conflict is assumed to be their normal condition here; but victory the result. “To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life.” “He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.” “ To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna.” Every address implying conflict, and every promise having set in it the pledge of victory.
The present life of every Christian is a battle. There is no peace on earth ; but there is the earnest of it in heaven. It must be a sad world into which the Saviour came, and was constrained to say, “I am come not to send peace on the earth, but a sword.” We shall get rid of war only when we get rid of sin. When the root is extirpated, the bitter apples of Sodom and Gomorrah will disappear. If there be war in this world in the sense referred to, there is alsɔ war in a yet higher sense between every Christian as a soldier in the great army and the enemies that have been from the beginning, and will continue even to the end. If there be warfare, there must of course be two sides. Let us define the two hosts and their respective weapons. Christ is the Captain of our faith ; all true Christians constitute “One army of the living God.” Our facings differ, our regiments have different names, our camps may be two or they may be twenty ; but we constitute one solid mass of true Christian soldiers, of one heart, loving the Saviour above all in heaven or on earth ; while the various churches and chapels of Christendom are but the recruiting stations for the great army, the sacramental host of heaven. Our articles of warfare are in the Bible; our weapons are not those frail and feeble things—sword and cannon and rifle; they are not carnal, therefore they are mighty; our banner, bequeathed through a thousand years and more, has Calvary for its central compartment; and many a hard-fought field, from the days that the martyrs bled till now, emblazoned on it. The union of this army is duty, and unity of heart is their strength. Because our queen's army has many regiments, many facings, various costumes, it is not on that account a disunited, internally antagonistic, and therefore a suicidal force ; on the contrary, under each varied uniform there beats one loyal heart to queen and country, and the external variety only throws up more magnificently the united heart that beats below