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The Celestial Lamp

The Celestial Lamp

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' Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my
path. '
' Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my
path. '

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Feb 23, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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' ' Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. 'THIS great psalm is an alphabetical psalm ;and it is the longest and most perfect ofits kind in the psalter. Its peculiarity is thatin the original Hebrew the first eight verses be-gin with the first letter of the alphabet ; the nexteight verses with the second letter, and so onthrough the twenty-two letters of that alphabet.In the third chapter of the Lamentations of Jere- miah we have a somewhat similar arrangement.But there the stanzas consist of only three verses,while here each stanza consists of eight verses,and each verse of two members. Other instancesof this acrostic arrangement are found in the psalter.The subject of this psalm is the law of God considered as the rule of life. The excellencyof this law is set forth with great fulhiess, and the benefit of its observance is emphasized withequal earnestness and variety of language. Itis remarkable that one subject can be presented in so many lights, and from so many points of view as is here done in the course of these onehundred and seventy-six verses.It was long ago pointed out that there is onlyone verse, the one hundred and twenty-second.12 THE CELESTIAI. LAMPwhich does not contain some reference to, or de-scription of, the law of God. These referencesare made under some one of ten names, corre-sponding, it is supposed, to the Ten Words orcommands which make up the Decalogue. The psalm is really an elaboration of the closing partof the nineteenth Psalm which, it will be re- membered, is a statement of the characteristics,the excellences, and the blessed effects of thelaw of the Lord. The text reminds us thatwhat a torch is to a man in a dark night, theword of God is to a man in life's night and onlife's journey. It prevents him from stumblingover obstacles which are lying in his path ; itenables him to see and so to avoid precipicesover which he might fall to certain destruction.The language is as beautiful rhetorically as it isinstructive spiritually. The word of God is
heaven's benediction to humanity. This truthwill appear the more clearly as we study the in-fluence of the Bible in several departments oflife's activity.I. The Bible and Literature. The influ-ence of the Bible on literature is worthy of our most careful consideration. This is a day of the making and reading of many books. Every age produces its supply. Solomon said, about threethousand years ago, " Of making many booksthere is no end " ; were he living now he would write that sentence in large capitals. But the ma-THE CELESTIAL LAMP 1 3jority of books die with the age which gives them  birth. Many of them ought to die ; they are bad, and that continually. It is impossible toread all the books published by the prolific pressof the day ; and it is as undesirable as it is im- possible. As well might you submit to havingevery man you meet on Broadway to-morrow morning take you by the button-hole, as haveevery book published arrest your attention.There are, however, certain classics that everywell-informed man should read. There areworks of history, science, art, and fiction whichall intelligent men must read. The books thatare like " the tree of life which bare twelve man-ner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month ;and the leaves of the tree wxre for the healingof the nations," will survive.There is in literature a law of " the survivalof the fittest." The worst portions of Byronand Shelley practically will be unread as the years multiply ; only their nobler parts will endure. A good book is a wonderful product of brainand heart. Milton uttered a great truth whenhe said, " Books are not absolutely dead things, but do contain a progeny of life in them to beas active as that soul w^as whose progeny theyare ; nay, they do preserve as in a vial the purestefficacy and extraction of that living intellectthat bred them. A good book is the preciouslife-blood of a master-spirit, embalmed and treas-14 THE CElvESTlAI. I.AMPured up on purpose to a life beyond life." Thesetrue and strong words are especially applicableto the Bible, which by pre-eminence is called "The Book." Every student of life and litera-ture, whatever his religious opinions may be,
ought to be deeply interested in the Bible. Itis a book of greater antiquity than any other ;it is more widely read than any other ; and itexercises a more potent influence on thought and life than any other book. It commands the loveand evokes the hostility of more people than anyother volume in the world. It comes to us withthe loftiest pretensions, and it demands for its message our absolute acceptance. It is the onlyunexhausted and inexhaustible book in theworld. As the intelligence of its readers en-larges, so does its vsignificance enlarge and its beauty increase. In itself and in its history itis the mightiest force in literature.It consists of two volumes, one of thirty-nineand the other of twenty-seven books. It tooksixteen hundred years to make it. It has aboutforty human authors ; and it was written insomewhat different countries, as well as in widelydifferent centuries. It discusses many subjects, but it preserves perfect unity throughout. Itsunity has been appropriately and eloquently il-lustrated by the keynote in a grand oratorio.That keynote is now heard thundering in the bass, now trembling in the soprano, and now forTHE CELESTIAL LAMP 1 5a moment it is lost to hearing; but it is everappearing until it reasserts itself in a magnifi-cent outburst of harmony. In like manner the predominating thought of the Bible is seen inhistory, in prophecy, in petition, and in doxology.It is an internal rather than an external unity.It is the unity of some glorious castle or someancient cathedral. Although cathedral and castle externally may represent different cen-turies, different architects, and various styles ofarchitecture, yet the interior often shows thedominance of one great thought, and all partsof the edifice contribute to one definite purpose.The authors of the Bible differed widely from one another. Some were princes, some peasants ;some were warriors, some lovers of peace ; somelived in palaces, and some in tents. But allwere actuated by one spirit ; all worked accord-ing to one great plan of the one divine Author.There may be in the Bible an absence of S3^stem ; but there is the presence of method. Systemsare human ; methods are ' divine. You find  methods in rocks and fields ; you find systemsin museums and herbariums. It might have been enough for the principles of revelation ifGod had made the book simply instructive ; buthe is pleased also to make it attractive. LikeGod's other volume, the book of nature, it has

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