Matthew 5:14-15. Ye are the light of the world The effect of light being to make things manifest, Ephesians 5:13, and to direct us in the way in which we are to walk; the import of this metaphor is, that Christ had appointed his disciples in general, and his apostles and the other ministers of his gospel in particular, to enlighten and reform the world, immersed in ignorance, sin, and misery, by their doctrine and example; and so to direct their feet into the way leading to life and salvation. Christ, it must be observed, is in the highest sense the light of the world; the original light, the great light, who, like the sun, hath light in and from himself; but the ministers of his gospel are, in an inferior sense, lights of the world also, for the angels of the churches are said to be stars, Revelation 1:20; and holy persons are children of the light, 1 Thessalonians 5:5. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid As if he had said, If you do not hide this light from mankind, but cause it to shine forth in your doctrine and practice, it will be so clear and resplendent as not possibly to be hid, any more than a city set on a hill. The Church of Christ is often called the city of God, and it must be here observed, that his people are not here merely compared to a city, but to a city upon a hill; so that all our Saviour has in view in mentioning a city here, is the conspicuousness of one so built. It is as much as if our Saviour had said, You had need be wise and holy, for your conversation can no more be hid than a city that is built upon a hill, and is obvious to every eye. Neither do men light a candle Or lamp rather, as λυχνον , signifies. Indeed, candles were not used at that time in Judea for lighting their houses; consequently, the word λυχνια , here and elsewhere in the New Testament, translated candlestick, means a lamp stand. The purport of this verse is, you, my apostles and disciples, ought to consider for what end I have communicated my light to you. It may be illustrated by that which men have in view when they light up a lamp in a room, which is, to give light to all those who are in it; for as they do not use to light it up that they may then hide it under a vessel, so I have not communicated my truth or my grace unto you merely for your own use, but for that of others. The word μοδιον , should be here rendered, not a bushel, but a corn-measure, for they had no such measure as a bushel. Indeed, the measure mentioned by the evangelist is so far from answering to our bushel, that it was as little as our peck. It is true, indeed, that as nothing here depends on the size of the measure, any measure of capacity might well enough suit the evangelist’s observation; yet a translator, as Dr. Campbell observes, ought not, even indirectly, to misrepresent the customs of the people he speaks of, or alludes to. Observe, reader, what our Lord says of John, He was a burning and shining light, is applicable both to every true minister of Christ, and to every true Christian: every such a one is not only a burning light, a person burning with love to God, and zeal for his glory, and love to mankind, and zeal for their salvation; but also a shining light, communicating his light to others, both by instruction and a holy conversation.
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