Collected Works of John Wesley, Volume V

Contents:
Author: John Wesley

SERMON XXIV.
UPON OUR LORD’S SERMON ON THE MOUNT.

DISCOURSE IV.

"Ye are the salt of the earth: But is the salt have lost his savor, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.

"Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.

"Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick, and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.

"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven."

Matthew 5:13-16.

1. The beauty of holiness, of that inward man of the heart which is renewed after the image of God, cannot but strike every eye which God hath opened, — every enlightened understanding. The ornament of a meek, humble, loving spirit, will at least excite the approbation of all those who are capable, in any degree, of discerning spiritual good and evil. From the hour men begin to emerge out of the darkness which covers the giddy, unthinking world, they cannot but perceive how desirable a thing it is to be thus transformed into the likeness of Him that created us. This inward religion bears the shape of God so visibly impressed upon it, that a soul must be wholly immersed in flesh and blood when he can doubt of its divine original. We may say of this, in a secondary sense, even as of the Son of God himself, that it is the "brightness of his glory, the express image of his person;" apaugasma thv doxh autou, — "the beaming forth of his" eternal "glory;" and yet so tempered and softened, that even the children of men may herein see God and live; carakthr thv uposasewv autou, — "the character, the stamp, the living impression of his person," who is the fountain of beauty and love, the original source of all excellency and perfection.

2. If religion, therefore, were carried no farther than this, they could have no doubt concerning it; they should have no objection against pursuing it with the whole ardor of their souls. "But why," say they, "is it clogged with other things? What need of loading it with doing and suffering? These are what damps the vigor of the soul, and sinks it down to earth again. Is it not enough to ’follow after charity;’ to soar upon the wings of love? Will it not suffice to worship God, who is a Spirit, with the spirit of our minds, without encumbering ourselves with outward things, or even thinking of them at all? Is it not better, that the whole extent of our thought should be taken up with high and heavenly contemplation; and that, instead of busying ourselves at all about externals, we should only commune with God in our hearts?"

3. Many eminent men have spoken thus; have advised us "to cease from all outward action;" wholly to withdraw from the world; to leave the body behind us; to abstract ourselves from all sensible things; to have no concern at all about outward religion, but to work all virtues in the will; as the far more excellent way, more perceptive of the soul, as well as more acceptable to God.

4. It needed not that any should tell our Lord of this masterpiece of the wisdom from beneath this fairest of all the devices wherewith Satan hath ever perverted the right ways of the Lord! And O! what instruments hath he found, from time to time, to employ in this his service, to wield this grand engine of hell against some of the most important truths of God! — men that would "deceive, if it were possible, the very elect," the men of faith and love; yea, that have for a season deceived and led away no inconsiderable number of them, who have fallen in all ages into the gilded snare, and hardly escaped with the skin of their teeth.

5. But has our Lord been wanting on his part? Has he not sufficiently guarded us against this pleasing delusion? Has he not armed us here with armor of proof against Satan "transformed into an angel of light?" Yea, verily: He here defends, in the clearest and strongest manner, the active, patient religion he had just described. What can be fuller and plainer, than the words he immediately subjoins to what he had said of doing and suffering? "Ye are the salt of the earth: But if the salt have lost his savor, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing but to be cast out, and trodden under foot of men. Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light to all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven."

In order fully to explain and enforce these important words I shall endeavor to show, First, that Christianity is essentially a social religion; and that to turn it into a solitary one is to destroy it. Secondly, that to conceal this religion is impossible, as well as utterly contrary to the design of its Author. I shall, Thirdly, answer some objections; and conclude the whole with a practical application.

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Chicago: John Wesley, "Sermon XXIV. Upon Our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount.," Collected Works of John Wesley, Volume V, ed. Thomas Jackson in Collected Works of John Wesley, Volume V (London: Wesleyan Methodist Book Room, 1872), Original Sources, accessed September 19, 2018, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=CYGTF2FQSIB62BX.

MLA: Wesley, John. "Sermon XXIV. Upon Our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount." Collected Works of John Wesley, Volume V, edited by Thomas Jackson, in Collected Works of John Wesley, Volume V, London, Wesleyan Methodist Book Room, 1872, Original Sources. 19 Sep. 2018. www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=CYGTF2FQSIB62BX.

Harvard: Wesley, J, 'Sermon XXIV. Upon Our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount.' in Collected Works of John Wesley, Volume V, ed. . cited in 1872, Collected Works of John Wesley, Volume V, Wesleyan Methodist Book Room, London. Original Sources, retrieved 19 September 2018, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=CYGTF2FQSIB62BX.