« AnteriorContinuar »
hollow all the way up, there had been some moss or light stuff, which I had not judgment enough to know was not firm, that had given way when it came to drop out of my hand, and so it had slipped quite down at once.
I was but a child, and I rejoiced like a child, for I hallooed quite out aloud when I saw it; then I ran to it and snatched it up, hugged and kissed the dirty rag a hundred times; then danced and jumped about, ran from one end of the field to the other, and, in short, I knew not what, much less do I know now what I did, though I shall never forget the thing, either what a striking grief it was to my heart when I thought I had lost it, or what a flood of joy overwhelmed me when I had got it again.
246.-The Children of Light.
ARCHDEACON HARE. [From the Seventh Sermon of a Volume, entitled “The Victory of Faith.' This Sermon was preached before the University of Cambridge, in 1828.]
Walk as children of light. This is the simple and beautiful substance of your Christian duty. This is your bright privilege, which, if you use it according to the grace whereby you have received it, will be a prelude and foretaste of the bliss and glory of heaven. It is to light that all nations and languages have had recourse, whenever they wanted a symbol for any thing excellent in glory; and if we were to search through the whole of inanimate nature for an emblem of
unadulterated happiness, where could we find such an emblem, except in light? -traversing the illimitable regions of space with a speed surpassing that of thought, incapable of injury or stain, and, whithersoever it goes, showering beauty and gladness. In order, however, that we may in due time inherit the whole fulness of this radiant beatitude, we must begin by training and fitting ourselves for it. Nothing good bursts forth all at once. The lightning may dart out of a black cloud : but the day sends his bright heralds before him, to prepare the world for his coming. So should we endeavour to render our lives here on earth
as it were the dawn of heaven's eternal day : we should endeavour to walk as children of light. Our thoughts and feelings should all be akin to light, and have something of the nature of light in them: and our actions should be like the action of light itself, and like the actions of all those powers and of all those beings which pertain to light, and may be said to form the family of light; while we should carefully abstain and shrink from all such works as pertain to darkness, and are wrought by those who may be called the brood of darkness.
Thus the children of light will walk as having the light of knowJedge, stedfastly, firmly, right onward to the end that is set before them. When men are walking in the dark, through an unknown and roadless country, they walk insecurely, doubtingly, timidly. For they cannot see where they are treading; they are fearful of stumbling against a stone, or falling into a pit; they cannot even keep on for many steps certain of the course they are taking. But by day we perceive what is under us and about us, we have the end of our journey, or at least the quarter where it lies, full in view, and we are able to make for it by the safest and speediest way. The very same advantage have those who are light in the Lord, the children of spiritual light, over the children of spiritual darkness. They know whither they are going to heaven. They know how they are to get there: by Him who has declared Himself to be the Way; by keeping His words, by walking in His paths, by trusting in His atonement. If you then are children of light, if you know all this, walk according to your knowledge, without stumbling or slipping, without swerving or straying, without loitering or dallying by the way, onward and ever onward beneath the light of the Sun of Righteousness, on the road which leads to heaven.
In the next place the children of light are upright, and honest, and straightforward, and open, and frank, in all their dealings. There is nothing like lurking or concealment about them, nothing like dissimulation, nothing like fraud or deceit. These are the ministers and the spawn of darkness. It is darkness that hides its face, lest
should be appalled by so dismal a sight: light is the revealer and manifester of all things. It lifts up its brow on high, that all may behold it: for it is conscious that it has nothing to dread, that the breath of shame cannot soil it. Whereas the wicked lie in wait, and roam through the dark, and screen themselves therein from the sight of the sun; as though the sun were the only eye wherewith God can behold their doings. It is under the cover of night that the reveller commits his foulest acts of intemperance and debauchery. It is under the cover of night that the thief and the murderer prowls about to bereave his brother of his substance or of his life. These children of darkness seek the shades of darkness to hide themselves thereby from the eyes of their fellow-creatures, from the eyes of Heaven, nay, even from their own eyes, from the eye of conscience, which at such a season they find it easier to hoodwink and blind. They, on the other hand, who walk abroad and ply their tasks during the day, are those by whose labour their brethren are benefited and supported; those who make the earth yield her increase, or who convert her produce into food and clothing, or who minister to such wants as spring up in countless varieties beneath the march of civilized society. Nor is this confined to men; the brute animals seem to be under a similar instinct. The beasts of prey lie in their lair during the day time, and wait for sunset ero they sally out on their destructive wanderings; while the beneficent and household animals, those which are most useful and friendly to man, are like him in a certain sense children of light, and come forth and go to rest with the sun. They who are conscious of no evil wish or purpose, do not shun or shrink from the eyes of others; though never forward in courting notice, they bid it welcome when it chooses to visit them. Our Saviour himself tells us, that the condemnation of the world lies in this, that although light is come into the world, yet men love darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil. Nothing but their having utterly depraved their nature could seduce them into loving what is so contrary and repugnant to it. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, nor cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God. To the same effect He commands His disciples to let their light so shine before men, that they may see their good works, not, however, for any vain ostentatious selfish purpose—this would have been directly against the whole spirit of his teaching—but in order that men may be moved thereby to glorify God.
For the children of light are also meek and lowly. Even the sun, although he stands up on high, and drives his chariot across the heavens, rather averts observation from himself than attracts it. His joy
is to glorify his Maker, to display the beauty, and magnificence, and harmony, and order, of all the works of God. So far, however, as it is possible for him, he withdraws himself from the eyes of mankind; not indeed in darkness, wherein the wicked hide their shame, but in excess of light, wherein God himself veils His glory. And if we look at the other children of light, that host of white-robed pilgrims that travel across the vault of the nightly sky, the imagination is unable to conceive any thing quieter, and calmer, and more unassuming. They are the exquisite and perfect emblems of meek loveliness and humility in high station. It is only the spurious lights of the fires whereby the earth would mimic the lights of heaven, that glare and flare and challenge attention for themselves; while, instead of illumining the darkness beyond their immediate neighbourhood, they merely make it thicker and more palpable; as these lights alone vomit smoke, as these alone ravage
and consume. Again; the children of light are diligent, and orderly, and unweariable in the fulfilment of their duties. Here, also, they take a lesson from the sun, who pursues the path that God has marked out for him, and pours daylight on whatever is beneath him from his everlasting inexhaustible fountains, and causes the wheel of the seasons to turn round, and summer and winter to perform their annual revolutions, and has never been behindhand in his task, and never slackens, nor faints, nor pauses; nor ever will pause, until the same hand which launched him on his way, shall again stretch itself forth to arrest his
All the children of light are careful to follow their Master's example, and to work his works while it is day: for they know that the night of the grave cometh, when no man can work, and that, unless they are working the works of light, when that night overtakes them, darkness must be their portion for ever.
The children of light are likewise pure. For light is not only the purest of all sensuous things, so pure that nothing can defile it, but whatever else is defiled, is brought to the light, and the light purifies it. And the children of light know that, although whatever darkness may cover them will be no darkness to God, it may and will be darkness to themselves. They know that, although no impurity in which they can bury their souls will be able to hide them from the sight of God, yet it will utterly hide God from their sight. They know that it
is only by striving to purify their own hearts, even as God is pure, that they can at all fit themselves for the beatific vision which Christ has promised to the pure of heart.
Cheerfulness, too, is a never-failing characteristic of those who are truly children of light. For is not light at once the most joyous of all things, and the enlivener and gladdener of all nature, animate and inanimate, the dispeller of sickly cares, the calmer of restless disquietudes ? Is it not as a bridegroom, that the sun comes forth from his chamber?—and does he not rejoice as a giant to run his course? Does not all nature grow bright the moment he looks upon her, and welcome him with smiles? Do not all the birds greet him with their merriest notes? Do not even the sad tearful clouds deck themselves out in the glowing hues of the rainbow, when he vouchsafes to shine upon them? And shall not men smile with rapture beneath the light of the Sun of Righteousness ? Shall he not hail His rising with hymns of praise and psalms of thanksgiving? Shall he not be cheered amid his deepest affliction, when the rays of that Sun fall upon him, and paint the arch of promise on his soul? It cannot be otherwise. Only while we are hemmed in with darkness are we harassed by terrors and misgivings. When we see clearly on every side, we feel bold and assured; nothing can then daunt, nothing can dismay us. Even that sorrow, which with all others is the most utterly without hope, the sorrow for sin, is to the children of light the pledge of their future bliss. For with them it is the sorrow which worketh repentance unto salvation; and having the Son of God for their Saviour, what can they fear? Or, rather, when they know and feel in their hearts that God has given His only begotten Son to suffer death for their sakes, how shall they not trust that He, who has given them His Son, will also give them whatsoever is for their real everlasting good.
Finally, the children of light will also be children of love. Indeed, it is only another name for the same thing. For light is the most immediate outward agent and minister of God's love, the most powerful and rapid diffuser of His blessings through the whole universe of His creation. It blesses the earth, and makes her bring forth herbs and plants. It blesses the herbs and plants, and makes them bring forth their grain and their fruit. It blesses every living creature, and enables all to support and enjoy their existence. Above all, it blesses man, in his goings out and his comings in, in his body and in his soul,