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was manifested to them, and that they might participate in it. He now adds, ' And these things we WRITE that your joy may be full.' They are written down, not that you may be satisfied with a set of letters, but that these letters may testify to you and to all generations which shall come after-when Apostles shall have been for centuries in their graves—of a life which cannot cease; of a life which must be the same always because it is in God; of a life which it is God's will to communicate to His creatures, and which it is their highest joy to receive.
One verse more, and I have finished this Lecture. I cannot separate it from those which have gone before, and you will see immediately how it belongs to the subject of my whole course. This then is the message which we have heard of Him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all. This was the revelation which had been made to men in Him whom St. John had seen and handled—had been made not only with His lips, but in His acts in the powers which He had exerted for man's benefit-in the death which He had died. If He was the Word of God, if the whole life and purpose of God were manifested in Him, then it was possible to say boldly, .There is not one dark spot in this Being, not one 'evil malicious thought against any creature whom He
has formed. All is clear unbroken light.' And this word · Light' is at once the simplest, and the fullest, and the deepest which can be used in human discourse. It is addressed to every man who has eyes, and who has ever looked on the sun, or to whom the sun has discovered the ground at his feet. The more you think of it, the more it satisfies you. It does not only tell you of a
Goodness and Truth without flaw, though it does tell you of these; it tells you of a Goodness and Truth that are always seeking to spread themselves abroad, to send forth rays that shall penetrate everywhere, and scatter the darkness which opposes them.
Here, then, is the answer to those terrible conceptions which I said in my last Lecture men had formed of the Divine nature and character ; those conceptions which made Aristotle think that it was better and safer to leave what was divine out of his scheme of morals. I did not wonder that he had done so. I could find no fault with him. And yet I could not understand how that which affected men so much, and acted upon their character so much, could be treated as if it had nothing to do with the formation of their characters. In Christian ethics it is the foundationstone. This proposition, God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all,' is the proposition from which all others start. How it has been demonstrated to men I have tried to show you. That demonstration in a Son leads on to the next proposition, that this divine light is not merely hidden inaccessible light; that it has shone out in a Person Who makes us understand what He is by doing human acts and bearing human sorrows. And so we arrive at the third proposition, that the highest end of man's existence is to have fellowship with this Life and Light. And then a fourth, which we shall have to speak of more hereafterthat fellowship or communion with each other is implied in this fellowship or communion with God and with His Son.
These I regard as the fundamental maxims of Christian ethics. In any true study of them which is grounded upon the teaching of the Apostles, these maxims will
RIGHT MUST COME BEFORE WRONG.
precede any considerations respecting the condition of man, as an erring and sinful creature. We shall know nothing about that condition unless we understand first what our. true and proper state is. We must measure the crooked. line by the straight, not the straight by the crooked. But in the next Lecture I hope to show you that these great principles of Christian morals, which St. John has declared to us, are not applicable to some imaginary, perfect world, but to ours--not to some pure and saintly beings, but to you and me
LIGHT AND DARKNESS: SIN AND PURIFICATION.
1 JOHN I. 6–10.
If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie,
and do not the truth : but if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not
You will remember the words which immediately precede these. This then is the message which we have heard of Him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all. I have spoken of that message already, but I must speak of it again, as all the rest of this chapter depends upon it. I can quite imagine a person saying, — 'Light! Darkness ! — What exactly does he mean by these expressions ? They are figurative. What is the literal force of them?'
Now I am very glad to hear questions of this kind, and I will answer them as well as I can; but I must tell you why I do not expect that I shall ever be able to answer them as those who propose them may desire that I should. I have explained to you already that the student of morals does not want letters first and chiefly. He wants a Life. He wants letters only as they assist him to the know
LIFE AND LETTERS. ledge of a Life. Well, then, if I am bidden to find a literal meaning for these phrases, 'Light' and · Darkness,' I must consider what I am about. They certainly are very living expressions. They belong to the life of us all. Every man who cannot read or write has to do with them, and knows something of what they signify, if he cannot convey his knowledge accurately to another. Nay, sometimes he can do that; an ignorant man may tell me something about the effect of darkness or light upon him, which may make me feel what they are more truly, more exactly, than any long descriptions of them which I meet with in a dictionary or encyclopædia composed by learned men. He may say, “My companion and I walked on pleasantly and cheerily enough as long as the sun was shining upon
us. We saw the sky over our heads, and the trees, and 'the corn-fields, and each other's faces. But night came on. All things were huddled together; we mistook old stumps of trees for houses, we were continually stumbling against each other; it was dreary work enough.' If he only said this to me, I should understand him better_he would give me a fuller and more accurate impression of what light is and what darkness is—than if he had been able to supply me with the best definitions of them that were ever invented. Do you not see, then, that to get what are sometimes called literal equivalents for these words, which are just what a dictionary or encyclopædia affords, might be to lose clearness instead of to gain it? Let us not be deluded with phrases. If what is called figurative language brings us into closer contact with reality than what is called literal language, it must be better for our purpose; and we should resolve to let no one rob us of it