« AnteriorContinuar »
and immortality to light through the gospel." * Or, as St Peter says in his first Epistle,t "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which, according to His abundant mercy, hath begotten us again unto a lively hope, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away."
If light ever shone upon a darkened world, it shone in this clear revelation of immortality, in the assurance and strength of which a corrupt and dying world rose to life again, and a new glory was shed upon human thought and history. What heart, upon whom the shadows of the world have fallen, that has realised the transitoriness of earthly joys—the depth and sacredness of human affection too often vanishing when wrought into the very substance of our happiness,—does not warm into a nobler being, in hope of an eternal life, where the weaknesses of the present shall be perfected, its broken ties reunited, and its wounds for ever healed? Apart from this hope, what is there but darkness around and before us—the closed grave within which our dear ones are laid, and a heart breaking with the memory of a love that can no more reach us? But if we believe that Christ died and rose again—that He is, as He Himself said, for us, and for all who believe in Him, "the Resurrection and the Life,"—then the light shineth for us even in the dark places of our pilgrimage, until the eternal day dawn, and our poor life, too—so marred and soiled with the weakness of the flesh—shall be glorified together with those who have gone before, and be for ever with the Lord.
* 2 Tim. i. 10. t 1 Peter, i. 3. 4.
The Divine Teacher who proclaimed and realised this undying hope for man, and fixed for ever the consciousness of a spiritual life—did He not truly say of Himself, "I am the Light of the world"?
Let us close with two remarks.
If Christ is the " Light of the world," Christianity is always a religion of light. Obscurantism of any kind is foreign to it. It shuts out no real knowledge, no light of science, no beauty of art or grace of literature. It welcomes all truth. While we hold fast, therefore, to its living principles, let us never confound it with any mere scheme of human thought, or institution of human order. These schemes or institutions may have many claims upon our respect: so far as they commend themselves to our rational assent, let us refuse them no honour. But even the best ideas, and the best forms of the Church, of past ages, are not to be identified with Christianity itself. Opposition to them is not necessarily opposition to the Gospel. The abandonment of them is not necessarily abandonment of the truth that is in Christ. It is no part of an intelligent faith, therefore, to resist new ideas, or to shut itself obstinately within the enclosure of ancient traditions. Such a faith will respect the old, but it will be open to light from whatever source. So far as Christianity is true, it must be consistent with all other truth. It must accept all facts, whether these come to it from within or from without. It need fear no hostility from real science, and it will rejoice that the thoughts of men grow more luminous as to the Divine order of Nature or the growth of human opinion and history. If there are ancient dogmas at variance with the genuine advance of knowledge, the enlightened Christian will be ready to part with these dogmas. But having the witness of the higher life in himself, he will never let this witness go. He will hold to the consciousness of a Divine order made clear in Christ. All that is beautiful and heroic in humanity, all the lights of truth and duty that have shone in it from the first, are here brought together. Any higher light that is in me witnesses to the " Light of the world." And looking backwards on the past and forwards into the future, who can see anything so capable of blessing man truly or guiding him wisely and well?
And let us, finally, remember that a religion of light should be always a religion of living earnestness. If Christ is "the Light of the world," " he that followeth me," He adds, "shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." Have we, then, this light of life \ Does our light shine before men, that others, seeing our good works, may glorify "our Father which art in heaven"? Do we not rather, some of us, walk in darkness, and love it, because our deeds are evil? Let us not deceive ourselves. We cannot have the light and yet abide in any darkness of sin. Let us, therefore, cast off the works of darkness, and put on the armour of light. Let us show the reality of our faith by the devotion and fruitfulness of our love. Then the truth of the higher life will need for us no argument. It will be seen in the power of goodness working in us, and in the beauty of a holiness that subdues all hearts. Amen.
TIIE CONTRASTS OF LIFE.
Eccleriastes, xi. 7-9.—"Truly the light is sweet, and a pleasant tiling it is for the eyes to behold the sun : but if a man live many years, and rejoice in them all, yet let him remember the days of darkness; for they shall be many. All that Cometh is vanity. Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth, and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment."
f" IFE is full of perplexing contrasts. Its lights and shadows intermingle in many a strange and pathetic picture, and it is difficult sometimes to catch its full meaning, and whither all its changes tend. They seem the sport of accident rather than the evolution of law. The tangled spectacle baffles comprehension and hope, and the spectator looks on amazed and distrustful. Is there a moral purpose beneath it all \ Do not "all things come alike to all," however they may live — "one event to the righteous, and