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I wish ye did reign, that we also might reign with you,” I Cor. iv. 8. Again: “Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, who though he was rich, for your sake he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich,” 2 Cor. viii. 9. And the same apostle directs Timothy to “charge those who are rich in this world, that they do good, that they be rich in good works, laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life,” 1 Tim. vi. 17. Thus it is common to represent wisdom and virtue, and abounding in good works, and also the heavenly happiness, by riches and treasure. When therefore our Lord says here, “that thou mayest be rich,” the meaning is, that these christians might be truly virtuous, and practise good works, and have a treasure of happiness laid up in heaven. “And white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed.” By this figure of “white” or splendid “raiment” is meant much the same thing that was before spoken of under the similitude of “gold.” He had told them, that they were “naked,” as well as “poor.” In conformity to that allusive description of their wretched condition, he recommends to them to provide becoming raiment for their covering, even that true righteousness, which is most comfortable, and ornamental, and highly acceptable in the sight of God. “And,” finally, “anoint thine eyes with eye-salve, that thou mayest see.”. Seek also of me a clear knowledge and discernment of things, especially of the principles and obligations of religion. Then you will be able to judge rightly concerning your own case, and will understand what God requires of you, and will not take up with an empty profession only, and rely upon external privileges, as a #. of acceptance with God, and a qualification for the appiness of another life. “I counsel thee to buy of me white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear.” These words, as may appear from the coherence, and the general explication o, given of them, will lead me to treat of holiness, or virtue, and the practice of it, under the idea of “raiment,” or “white” o splendid “raiment:” in doing which I shall take the following method: I. I shall observe some texts of scripture in which this metaphor is used. II. I would show particularly what is meant by “white raiment.”
III. I shall endeavour to show the grounds and reasons of this metaphorical allusion. IV. After which I shall conclude with a practical application. I. In the first place I would observe some texts of scripture, where this metaphor is used, chiefly those of the Old Testament, where there are many examples of it, which have in them such beauty and elegance, as must needs reconcile us to the use of it, and convince us of its fitness and propriety. In this manner is Job's commendable behaviour in the time of his prosperity described: “I put on righteousness, and it ...' me, and judgment as a robe and diadem,” Job xxix. 14. The Psalmist wishes eminent degrees of holiness in these words: “Let thy priests be clothed with righteousness,” Ps. cix. 17. And describing the transcendent greatness and glory of God, he says: “The Lord reigneth. He is clothed with majesty. The Lord is clothed with strength, wherewith he has girded himself,” Ps. xciii. 1. And, “O Lord my God, thou art very great, thou art clothed with honour and majesty, who coverest thyself with light as a garment,” Ps. civ. 1, 2. God's appearing for the deliverance of his people, and the destruction of his enemies, is represented by the prophet in this manner: “ Then his own arm brought salvation unto him, and his righteousness it sustained im. For he put on righteousness as a breast-plate, and an helmet of salvation upon his head. And he put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with zeal as a cloak,” Isa. lix. 16, 17. Of such as prosper in their evil designs the Psalmist says: “Therefore pride compasseth them about as a chain, violence covereth them as a garment,” Ps. lxxiii. 5, 6. And men of a malevolent spirit are said to “clothe themselves with cursing,” Ps. cix. 17. Thus we see that the dispositions and qualifications of rational agents, with their corresponding behaviour, are often emphatically set forth by images, borrowed from the attire and covering of the body. II. I am now to show distinctly what is intended by “white rainment.” And it is manifest, that hereby is not to be understood an outward profession of religion; for this there was among these persons. Our Lord had no need to counsel them to buy this of him. They were a church, and had an angel among them. So far from needing to inculcate upon them a profession of religion, it should seem that they were already too much opinionated upon that account. For which reason they arc introduced as pleasing themselves therewith, and saying, that they were “ rich, and increased with goods:” though they were indeed “ wretched, and miserable, and poor, and naked.” In a parable of our Saviour, where “the kingdom of heaven,” or the state of things under the gospel-dispensation, is likened to a marriage feast which a certain king made for his son, he who had not on a “wedding garment,” Matt. xxii. 11, is manifestly one who made a profession of religion, and of faith in the gospel; otherwise he had not come to the feast, nor ap .. among the other guests. But he wanted holiness of life, or that true faith which produces good works. Nor are we hereby to understand barely an observation of the positive rites and institutions of the christian religion. For that may be reckoned to be included in what has been already mentioned, a full profession of religion, in which this o does not appear to have been defective. It cannot be supposed, that by “gold tried in the fire,” or a “white raiment,” our Lord should intend no more than the observation of some external rites and ordinances. For in the course of his preaching he solemnly and distinctly declared, that “unless men's righteousness exceed the righteousness of the scribes and pharisees, they shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven,” Matt. v. 20. And if religion consist in external rites; if the observation of any positive appointments be that “wedding garment,” o renders men fit for the kingdom of heaven; it may be said, that our Lord has but indifferently consulted the honour and interests of religion, by substituting a small number only of such appointments, and those very plain and simple, in the room of the numerous, expensive, and showy ceremonies of the law of Moses. Nor would it then be so hard to be saved, or so difficult to enter into the kingdom of heaven, and to walk in the way to life, as he continually represented it to be in his most excellent discourses. What is this “white raiment,” or the “wedding-garment.” we are expressly told in the eighth verse of the nineteenth chapter of this book of the Revelation, where it is said to be “ the righteousness of the saints.” That is a summary and general description of this “white raiment.” And from the many exhortations to virtue, in the New Testament, conveyed under this similitude, it appears to be composed of all the virtues and excellences
* “That is, “the righteous acts of the saints.” So duratopara evidently signifies.' Doddridge upon the place.
that can adorn the life of a christian. It is therefore very frequent for the apostles to speak of “putting off, or laying aside “evil works” and habits, and “putting on Christ,” the habit or dress of a christian; oil. is the “white raiment” here recommended. So says St. Paul to the Romans: “The night is far spent. Let us cast off the works of darkness, and put on the armour,” or dress, “ of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day,” with a becoming decency: “not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.” Roin. xiii. 12–14. And to the Galatians. “As many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ,” Gal. iii. 27, the habit of a christian. To the Ephesians in like manner. “That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness,” Eph. iv. 22, 24. And very particularly, and at large in the epistle to the Colossians; ch. iii. 8–10, and 12–14. St. Peter has an exhortation to christian women in this allusive way: “Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning, o the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of o on of apparel. But let it be the hidden man of the eart, in that which is not corruptible; even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves.” 1 Pet. iii. 3, 4; comp. 1 Tim. ii. 9, 10. And he has an exhortation to all in general: “And be ye clothed with humility,” I Pet. v. 5. This is the “white raiment, the wedding-garment,” recommended to christians, sobriety, modesty of speech and behaviour, tenderness of spirit, bowels of mercy, humility of mind, gentleness, meekness, forbearance, forgiveness, love, and all its works and offices, which are so agreeable and ornamental.” III. Which brings me to the ground and reason of this allusive way of speaking. But precise exactness in accounting for such a form of speech should not be expected. Let then these few following thoughts suffice for showing the reason and origin of it. 1. The allusion is partly founded in the ornament that clothing gives the body. In like manner the temper, or the practice of virtue, is exceeding amiable and ornamental, and puts a grace and lustre on men. In places before cited, Job speaks of his . on righteousness as a diadem. And St. Peter recommends meekness and quietness of spirit as ornamental. Solomon speaks of Wisdom's rules, and obedience to them, as an “ornament of grace unto the head, and chains about the neck,” Prov. i. 9. 2. This allusion is founded in the fitness and disposition for society which clothing gives to any person. Man, by his reasonable nature, is designed for society. And the first foundation of politeness is laid in the garments that cover nakedness. W. clothing no one is fit for society. A rich and becoming dress procures admission into the best company; nor is one in filthy garments dressed for a wedding feast, or the entertainment of a prince. In like manner envy, pride, conceit, and other evil affections, make men unsociable ; whereas humility, meekness, gentleness, and mildness, render men agreeable and entertaining. Consequently this allusion serves to show, in a lively and affecting manner, the necessity of real holiness, in order to delightful fellowship with God, and admission to his presence, and the glorious entertainment he has prepared for his people. As he, who in an improper dress intrudes into a royal entertainment, is turned out for that very reason; so all, destitute of righteousness, will be excluded from the kingdom of heaven. A profession of religion, or a desire of glory and happiness, is not sufficient. And one may wish to partake in a princely entertainment; but with such wishes there should be i. some care to be a worthy and acceptable guest. If we follow peace with all men, and holiness, we shall see God,” Heb. xii. 14, not otherwise. They who add works to faith, and they only, are justified in the sight of God. And, as St. Peter assures us, if we “give all diligence to add to faith, virtue, and knowledge, and brotherly kindness, and charity, an entrance will be ministered to us abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ,” 2 Pet. i. 5–11. IV. APPLICATION. I come now to the application, which will be in these three particulars; that we should hearken to the counsel in the text, and buy of Christ this white rai
* They who find this sermon too long to be read at once, may make a pause here.