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light, the force and beauty of the emblem is equally apparent. What would our world be without its pleasant influence ? Chaos would return once more. The whole animal creation would pine away in darkness and expire. The trees would droop and wither, and every green thing that clothes the face of the earth would entirely disappear. Even seas and continents would either be confused together once more, or their separation be rendered entirely useless, when the same veil of thick darkness would be spread over them. But God has commanded the light to shine, and all creation has started at that voice, into life and beauty. The earth is clothed with verdure, and adorned with flowers; a thousand forms of animal being are sustained in life, and guided in their free activity, by the quickening beams; even the depths of ocean seem to laugh with joy, as the sunlight falls brightly upon them; and every part of creation owns the sweet and powerful influence.
Such too is the word and presence of Christ to the whole world of spiritual being. It is He alone who can fill the spirit with peace and joy, enrich it with Divine wisdom, and render it like a watered garden, fruitful in every part with the fragrance of heavenly affections, and the beauty of true holiness. Where His presence is withdrawn, all is darkness and confusion, and the reign of terror begins in the moral world. Where He returns with the beams of his grace, the valleys of quiet and domestic life are clothed with all lovely graces, and the mountain-tops of worldly power become bright with a celestial glory.
The harmony and variety of its hidden colours is another feature of the sunlight, very beautiful in itself, and very marvellous, when first detected by the research of science. Is not this also a figure of Him who is the
true Light ? In His pure and perfect goodness, how many various perfections are harmonized and combined! How strict His severity against all evil; how tender and deep His compassion to the sinner! How Divine His simplicity, when He speaks a word in season to the weary, and preaches the gospel to the poor ! how profound His wisdom, when He reveals to holy prophets and apostles the deep wonders of His providence, or the higher mysteries of the heavenly world! How infinite His majesty, who telleth the number of the stars ! how strange His condescension, who could wash the feet of His disciples, and counts the very steps of His children! In Himself, pure and perfect brightness: but, as manifested in His providence on earth, the first and the last, the root and the offspring of David, the destroyer of Sodom, the pardoner of Manasseh, the King of kings, and the Man of sorrows. Surely all the variety of colour, in which the pure sunlight reveals itself, whether in the prism of science or the flowers of the field, is only a dim emblem to shew the many-varied forms of Divine love and wisdom, in which the Son of God has manifested himself to the sinners of mankind. No element is here wanting ; the deeper shades of severity and holiness, the gentlest colours of compassion, tenderness, and sympathizing affection, are all mingled in full harmony, and complete the glory of His perfection, who is fairer than the children of men, and altogether lovely.
But let us view the emblem, further, under three aspects, repeatedly set before us in Scripture, and consider how it illustrates the conversion of the sinner, the sanctification of the believer, and the state of final glory.
The soul, in its fallen state, is compared to a land
of darkness and of the shadow of death. Conversion is a turning from darkness to light; it is the dawning of a heavenly day-spring upon every region of thought, and on all the inward faculties and powers of the soul. The
gross darkness disappears; He who commanded the light to shine on the depths of chaos, shines into the heart, to give the light of the knowledge of God in the face of Jesus Christ. And hence the sweet Psalmist describes this dawning of Messiah to the desolate heart in those beautiful words ; “He shall be as the light of the morning when the sun ariseth, a morning without clouds; as the tender grass springing out of the earth, by clear shining after rain.”
How lovely and glorious is a day-break in the morning of spring. Before, the whole landscape was buried in darkness. But now the streaks of rosy light are seen in the eastern sky. At once the birds awake from their slumbers, and pour forth their innumerable songs of joy and melody. The mountain-tops catch the first beams of daylight, and the clouds drink deep of the splendour from the yet unrisen sun. A brighter and brighter glow spreads over the hills, and pierces slowly into the deep valleys. The beasts of the field wake up from their grassy couch. Presently the sun arises in his strength, and all creation, once more animated with new life, rejoices in the glorious apparition. The birds redouble their songs, the landscape laughs with brightness, the dew-drops sparkle with richest colours, the flowers once more unfold their delicate petals, and yield their fragrance. Man goeth forth to his labour, and life and beauty and joy soon spread over the landscape, that was buried so lately in the stillness and gloom of death.
Such, and so blessed is the change, when Christ, the
true Day-spring, arises in His mercy, and shines into the heart of the fallen sinner. The soul, before dull and mute, learns now to utter a new song of praise. The obscurity which rested on the powers of the understanding, and made them blind to all heavenly things, is driven away, and the whole world of the inner man, which was once darkness, now becomes light in the Lord. The tears of godly sorrow are themselves lit up by the promises of the Saviour, till they sparkle with the bright reflection of heavenly joy. The powers of the soul, which were fast locked in the sleep of sin, awake to new activity, and go forth to labour in the vineyard of the Lord. The light of wisdom dawns on the understanding, the light of holiness on the inward affections, the light of joy and gladness on the heart. The soul becomes a watered garden, lit up with the blessed sunshine of the Redeemer's love, and sending up to heaven its perpetual incense of devout praise, humble adoration, and deep and pure thanksgiving for the tender mercy which has visited it from on high. O that the millions now sitting in darkness, the slaves of sin, might speedily rejoice in this glorious light, and the Sun of Righteousness might soon arise and dawn
them with healing in his wings !
But the emblem has only to be varied, and it will equally illustrate the character of true holiness in the hearts of believers, and reveal, in another light, the treasures of wisdom in our blessed Lord.
They shall be mine, saith the Lord, in the day that I make up my jewels.” Every believer is thus compared to a precious stone, formed and polished by a Divine Artificer, to adorn the sanctuary of God, or shine for ever in the Saviour's diadem. And what is it that distinguishes the gem or precious stone from all other sub
stance ? Its transparency or lustre ; its peculiar affinity for the light of heaven, and its aptness to reflect it with a peculiar brilliance, and in a rich variety of colour, according to its own peculiar line and character, or the figure which it has received from the skill of the lapidary. Even when it was secretly forming in the mine, we have reason to believe that electric influences, akin to those of light, if not the very same, determined its structure, and gave the crystal its hidden beauty. And when it has been brought out, and duly polished, its surface sparkles with every sunbeam, each point and facet is enriched with a reflected splendour ; and what seemed once a mere speck of useless earth, is now a ruby, or topaz, or diamond, beaming out a lovely radiance, and glistening with a continual play of varied colours, a jewel fit to adorn the coronet of kings.
Very similar is the nature of that change which must pass upon the Christian in his preparation for a brighter world, and the mark which separates him from the worldling is the very same. It is a peculiar affinity for the light of heaven. There is a secret power which must mould the heart, to produce this aptitude for reflecting the radiance of Divine love. And when this secret change has been wrought in the solitude of the closet, there is a further work of holy discipline, by which the crust of evil habits and sinful tempers must be removed, and the outward life be brought into harmony with the inward work of grace, and taught to reflect, in various hues and forms of holiness, the love of the Saviour. Then, at length, the gem receives its true perfection, and shines with a heavenly lustre. But all its brightness and beauty are due only to Him who is the true Light, the Giver of all grace, the source of every good and perfect gift to the souls He has redeemed. It