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he stumbled !” But now
But now “God has called him out of darkness into his marvellous light.” He has been led to him who is the centre of the system of divine revelation, and from whom every ray of true light emanates, even to Christ, who declares again and again of himself, “I am the light of the world.” | But though that glorious luminary has arisen, and shines upon us all with meridian splendour, thousands neither benefit by the light, nor feel its warmth. All are, alas ! born blind, and no external illumination can dispel the darkness of their minds; until therefore the Lord by his Spirit enlighten the soul, it remains lost in thick darkness. " But God who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined into the believer's heart, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” £ Now then he is one of “the children of the light, and of the day,” and "he walks in light,” enjoying the favour of God, and the inestimable blessing of peace in his conscience, being sprinkled with the blood of Jesus. He is “taught of God,” and “led by the Spirit of God.” He takes the written word for his guide, “he writes its sacred precepts upon his heart, and binds them about his neck,” relying on the promise, “When thou goest, it shall lead thee; when thou sleepest, it shall keep
* 1 Pet. ii. 9,
+ John viii. 12. * 2 Cor. iv. 6.
thee; and when thou awakest, it shall talk with thee. For the commandment is a lamp, and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life."* Thus he is led on in a safe and good way; God “continually guides him by his counsel,” and upholds his footsteps that he may not fall.
But the path of the just is compared to a shining light, not only because it is in itself beautiful, holy, and lovely, nor merely because the just themselves walk therein, with security and peace, but also because it diffuses light around, and is the means of guiding others to the truth. Thus our blessed Lord teaches us that his people must shine in that borrowed light which they have received from him, and reflect a portion of it on the darkness around them. “ YE ARE THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD. that is set on a hill, cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel; but on a candlestick, and it giveth light to all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” | And St. Paul exhorts believers to be “ blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation,
WORLD: HOLDING FORTH THE WORD OF LIFE!”* How high the character, how important the office of each individual christian ! His path, his walk, his conduct and conversation, his daily habits of life, are, or ought to be, of so holy and heavenly a character that they may recommend true religion to all around him: that men seeing the blameless tenor of his way, may not admire him but the grace of God which can yield such lovely fruits ; that they may exclaim, “ How admirable must that religion be which produces such effects! Come and let us walk in the light of your path! Tell us who is He that hath done so great things for you? How did he open your eyes, how did he change your heart, how did he give you such victory over sin?” Thus indeed would the believer's path be as a shining light, brilliant in itself, an emanation from the light and glory of Christ; diffusive in its nature, scattering life and peace around; marking its course like the luminous appearance in the track of some vessel that steals along in a summer's night upon the smooth surface of the deep, but permanent in its brightness as the milky way in the heavens; shining steadily, and bearing testimony to the creative power of Him who alone could call those bright worlds into existence, or direct a ray of spiritual light into the dark chamber of the heart of man! “ The path of the just is as the shining light.”
* Philip. ii. 15, 16,
But the wise man proceeds to instruct us, II. THAT THIS LIGHT IS PROGRESSIVE; IT SHINES MORE AND MORE.” This is evidently the leading idea conveyed to us in the text, where the allusion is to the break of day, to “ the morning spread upon the mountains.” And who that has watched the progress of the dawn of the morning can be insensible to the beauty of this appropriate metaphor? It is scarcely possible to decide the exact moment when the day breaks; its light steals upon us at first imperceptibly; shortly grey streaks appear in the heavens, and at length one part of the horizon becomes evidently illuminated : the stars in succession disappear; the dark and indistinct outlines of the lofty hills become visible, and soon they catch the pallid light of dawn, quickly followed by the golden splendour of the rising sun. But still a vail obscures the glens and valleys, till the breeze awakes and sweeps away the lingering mists of night, and the radiant sun bursts forth in all its glory. Even so is the path of the just, from the first dawn of spiritual light upon the soul, to its perfection in heaven. Divine light in general breaks in gradually, and at first almost imperceptibly, upon the benighted soul. Sometimes indeed a full blaze of illumination is lighted up in the bosom of a sinner as in a moment, and “he is as the light of the morning, when the sun
riseth, even a morning without clouds :”* but this is comparatively of rare occurrence; and when it is so ordered, it frequently happens that this bright and dazzling morning is succeeded by a dark and cloudy day. The more usual progress of spiritual illumination is gradual, slow, and often indistinct; like the prophet's day which he describes, “it shall come to pass in that day that the light shall not be clear nor dark ..... but it shall come to pass that at evening time it shall be light.” † Our spiritual vision is for a while obscure-- we see objects indistinctly—“ men appear as trees walking”-and many subjects of revelation of deep interest to our souls are but dimly, presented to the mind. Hence it often happens that the path of many a just one is for a long time doubtful and uncertain, and his steps are painfully insecure: and not unfrequently the way grows darker as he advances: a phenomenon not without parallel in the natural world, when from various causes, as the sun actually attains a greater altitude and its power increases, the objects in the landscape become less defined than at an earlier hour.
At best the path of the righteous here on earth is but an alternation of lights and shades, of sun and rain, of calms and storms. Subject to many fluctuations of experience and feelings, the chris
+ Zech, xiv. 6, 7.
* 2 Sam. xxiii. 4.