This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
And God said, Let there be light; and there was light. GE . i. 3
LIGHT is he source of life and energy to the body, and it is the symbol of truth to the soul. So far as we know it is the most beautiful and glorious of all the material works of God. The first-born of creation, it is the ethereal body and form of the Omnific word at which it flashed into being. It is the chosen medium through which the Divine energy continues to bestow and sustain life. Everything that lives and grows in the whole kingdom of ature derives strength and stimulus from the light. When we would describe a scene of peculiar desolation and death, we say, There is no light there. Man makes his fellow-man the companion of misery by surrounding him with prison walls and pitiless doors, through which its cheering rays can never pass. When the Scriptures would shadow forth the horrors of a home where despair reigns supreme, they shut out the light and they bind its wretched inmates under chains of darkness for ever. The enemy of all good, the father of all evil, is fitly 137
138 LIGHT. called the prince of darkness. The Divine Deliverer, who came down from the throne of heaven to save the lost and to drive the demons of darkness out of the
world is, with equal fitness, called the Prince of light. He began his mighty work by opening the eyes of th blind, as he began the days of creation by sending forth the quickening word, "Let there be light." When he would gather his hosts from afar for the conquest of the world, he lifts up a banner of light. When he would equip his chosen legions for the mighty war, he clothes them in armor of light. When he would put into their hands a weapon of ethereal temper for defence in every peril and for the defeat of every foe, he gives them light for sword and shield and spear. All our ideas of form and color and material beauty come to us through the agency of light. Of all the avenues through which knowledge finds entrance to the soul, the sense which responds to the touch of light is the most affluent and gorgeous in its ministrations. The pupil of the eye is the portal through which light brings in all the riches and glories of the earth and heavens to adorn the inner chamber of the soul. The mind sits enthroned as a sovereign in its secret place, and this swift-winged messenger comes flying with intelligence from every point in the whole landscape and from the far-distant orbs of heaven. The mind has only to lift the curtain of the eye and millions of bright heralds will rush in to describe the
LIGHT. 139 form and hue and order of everything in the world of vision. I climb to the topmost pinnacle of the great cathedral at Milan and survey the teeming valley of the Po, with its vast extent of cultured trees and vines in lengthened rows and harvest-fields between. I take in at one glance the whole range of the Alps one
hundred and fifty miles east and west blue with the glimmering haze of the dreamy air and white with shining snows. I gaze on the evening clouds swimming in a sea of fire around the setting sun. I wait for the stars to hang out their golden lamps in the infinite dome of heaven. And all the while the light has been sending swift heralds, from near and far, to tell me the form and hue and distance of everything within the range of vision. Some of the messengers have brought their tidings in an instant, and some have been on the way a million years to tell me where of old the breath of God blew a million suns into flame and sent them forth to sing and to shine among the rival spheres of heaven. And to me, as I stand and gaze from the giddy height, it is as if all this vast and varied scene were the creation of the light. Take from me the faculty of vision, and in place of all that wondrous world of beauty a blank and pitiless wall of darkness shuts me in on every side. The mightiest and the most marvelous changes that ever take place in the visible world are due to the swift and silent agency of light. "When the day breaks in
140 LIGHT. the east and the shadows of night melt int ) morn, it seems as if God had said again, as in the first creation, " Let there be light." There is no sound of gathering hosts, no sign of kindling flames, no shaking of the hills to herald the coming change. And yet, if we had passed from darkness to day, from midnight to morning, but once in our lives, we should witness the change with more wonder and we should describe it with more joy than we feel in reading Moses' account of the first creation. The gloom and the horror of the night vanish.
The world, which was silent and formless like chaos in the darkness, rises to view with clear and orderly proportions. The hills resume their wonted range. The valleys unroll the endless panorama of forest and field. The rivers stretch their silvery band beyond the utmost reach of the eye. The smoke of farmhouses rises on the distant landscape. The song of birds welcomes the day. The silent sea of houses and streets in the great city begins to heave and roar with the rising waves of toil and traffic. The merry voices of children mingle with the clatter of wheels and the cry of busy men. It is all life and action where an hour before silence and darkness reigned as in the tomb. If we had seen but one such change from night to morning, we should think it a new creation. If we had been blind from birth, and in middle life we had waked from the long night of years to the full day of perfect
LIGHT. 141 sight, we should be bewildered and beside ourselves with wonder and joy at the change. And notwithstanding we have been so long familiar with the " shining robe of day," and the transition from night to morning is more constant than the beating of our hearts and the breathing of the vital air, still the light is sweet and a pleasant thing it is to behold the sun. Always and everywhere, in all the languages of the earth and in all the thoughts of men, light is the symbol of life, of beauty and of gladness. It falls on the sea, and the surf is arched with rainbows and the waves break and flash in cascades of silver. It falls on the mountains in the quiet hour of closing day, and the far heights are clothed in fluid gold. It falls on the clouds, and they sweep the plains of the sky like bat-
talions of flying cherubim, or they rise into a temple of columned aisles and canopied thrones around the car of the setting sun. It falls on the summer shower, and builds an arch of sevenfold colors, glorious enough to surround the throne of heaven. It falls on the landscape, and bathes the hills and valleys and harvest-fields with tints and shadings of endless beauty. It falls on the autumn woods, and the dying foliage flames with brighter hues than the canvas ever took from the painter's hand. It falls on the flower, and the opening blossoms are clothed in splendors surpassing the state of kings. It falls on the camp of pilgrims in the desert, and they lift up their voices in thankful song. It falls upon wrecked mariners on the deep, and shows
142 LIGHT. them the approaching sail on the distant horizon, and the despairing crew welcome the sight as if it were the white wing of an angel flying to their rescue. It creeps through the creviced wall and falls on the floor of the dungeon, and the captive kneels upon the stone where it fell as if the feet of heavenly messengers had touched the spot and made it holy. It falls on the face of the dead, and clothes the king of terrors with serene and chastened beauty, and lifts the hearts of the sorrowing household to Him who is the resurrection and the life. The inspired language of the Scriptures agrees with the prominence which we give to light in describing our daily experience and expressing our common thoughts. God began the six days' work of creation by sending forth light to chase the darkness from the face of the deep, and set up the reign of order and beauty in the realm of " Chaos and old ight." When God would send the last and sorest plague save one upon the Egyptians, and compel the proud heart of Pharaoh to
let his people go, he took away light from all their habitations ; he covered the whole land with a darkness so thick that the traveler stopped where the shadow fell upon his path, the laborer stood still in the field, the slave sank down in the slime-pit each feeling himself to be imprisoned with an impenetrable wall on every side. When God would give the tribes of Israel the assurance of his presence with them in all their wanderings,
LIGHT. 143 he shone upon the sands of the desert with a pillar of light. He caused a shining cloud to hover between the cherubim in the holy place of the tabernacle. When they went out to war at his command, he led their armies with a banner-cloud of light. When that awful symbol shone upon the field, their enemies were smitten with dismay and the walls of fenced cities fell down at the sound of their trumpets. When it approached the border of the promised land, the river divided before it and the host of Israel passed over on dry ground. For many ages after the tribes were settled in their inheritance the holy light accompanied the ark wherever it was carried. When the temple of Solomon was consecrated, the same supernatural glory appeared in the holy place. From that divine light there went forth oracular voices for the guidance and instruction of the people. When they obeyed the command which came forth from the " glory shrouded in its garb of fire," they were prosperous and strong. The plague was stayed from its visitation. The harvest filled the storehouse of the husbandman with abundance. o enemy prevailed against them. When they turned away backward, and refused to walk in the light of the
Lord, they were smitten by the heathen ; they were wasted by famine; they were divided against each other, and the whole land mourned. And so all the way through the Scriptures, in history, in poetry and in parable, the light is the symbol
144 LIGHT. of safety and peace ; to leave the guidance of the light is to lose hope and enter the kingdom of despair. When the patriarch Job would describe the state of the departed in terms of the utmost horror, he calls it a land of darkness, as darkness itself, where the very light is darkness. And Jesus, the Divine Teacher, ascribes the most abandoned and hopeless character to the man in whom the light has become darkness. When the Almighty would humble and confound the complaining patriarch by showing him that to man in the broad day and in the bright noon there are mysteries past finding out, he puts to him the question which the most profound philosophers of our time have never been able to answer: Where is the fountain from which light springs ? And how far does it fly upon its swift journeys? The question has been before the world for thirty-three centuries, and nobody has been able to tell the source or set bounds to the range of light. The Most High is said to clothe himself with light as with a garment, to dwell in light which no man can approach unto and live, to send forth such a flood of light from his presence that the inhabitants of the heavenly world have no need of the sun and there is no night there. In the Psalms and the Prophets the happiest condition in life is the one upon which the Lord ever lifts the light of his countenance. He is an
everlasting light to all who trust him. His companionship scatters the gloom of the valley of the shadow
LIGHT. 145 of death. From his central throne light flows forth in waves of blessing to all creatures and to all worlds. Thus all the way through the Scriptures light is the source of life and joy, the symbol of glory and of good, the guide of the erring, the help of the needy, the hope of the lost. When the Son of Man appears upon his great mission of mercy for the redemption of man, he is likened to the day-star that heralds the dawn ; he is called the Sun of Righteousness, rising upon the benighted with healing in his wings ; he proclaims himself the Light of the world; those who follow him are children of light. The infinite Creator, the self-existent and eternal Spirit, whom no eye hath seen or can see, is described as the Father of lights, from whom cometh down every good and perfect gift. God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. These descriptions and comparisons were not made by philosophers, but by holy men of old, who spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. And it is remarkable that their language becomes more appropriate and significant the more thoroughly it is tested by the discoveries of modern science. either Milton, nor Goethe, nor Byron could describe the original creation in terms more simple or sublime than the language of Moses : " God said let there be light, and there was light." either ewton, nor Leibnitz, nor Berschel, nor Humboldt could say anything greater or truer of the Infinite One than the beloved disciple Bays in the words, " God is light." God is everywhere
146 LIGHT. by the very necessity of his nature, and light, by its immeasurable diffusion, gives us our grandest conception of the immensity of his being. The mightiest telescope piercing the awful depths of space can find no bounds beyond which light has never passed. Go with the devout astronomer to his lonely watch-tower, "When the world is still and dim, And the stars flame out in their pomp of light Like thrones of the cherubim." Set your eye to that mystic tube which sweeps the ranks of the fiery constellations as they move in orderly march across the plains of heaven. As you gaze there is a universe of worlds pictured upon the inner chamber of your eye. How far, think you, has the light traveled to bring you intelligence from the inhabited depths of immensity? How many years has it been flying, at the rate of twelve millions of miles a minute, before completing its journey? It started from its far-distant home before man was made in Paradise. It has been flying with inconceivable velocity, without a moment's rest, through all the intervening years, and the period of its flight is equal to all the generations of human history. And yet turn the awful eye of the telescope in another direction to some filmy haze that hangs on the face of the sky, looking as if it needed to be blown away by the wind to give a clear view of the depths beyond.
Set your eye steadily to the space-piercing tube, and you will see that floating mist flash out into the mingled blaze of a thousand suns. And the swift-winged messenger, which comes to tell you of their existence, has been on its way ten times as long as the race of man has lived on the earth. And nobody supposes that to be the farthest bound of the habitation of light. As you gaze you find yourself floating in the midst of an ethereal ocean, islanded with worlds, and it takes waves of light, flying twelve millions of miles a minute, sixty thousand years to pass over the space between you and that cluster of a thousand isles which you see floating in the great deep of space. And when we take the words of the Apostle " God is light" and subject them to a modern and scientific interpretation, we are startled and confounded by the awful insight which it gives us into the immensity of his being. The mysterious, ethereal medium, whose lightning- winged waves produce the sensation of vision upon our eye, fills all the space and extends all the way to the most distant star, just as the air fills all the space in an audience-room, and its waves carry the sound of the speaker's voice to all that hear. And so the everliving and eternal God, whom the inspired Apostle compares to light, occupies all space with the immensity of his being far as the light flies. If you could take the wings of the morning and fly for fifty thousand years in one direction, swift as the light and without a moment's rest, you would not reach the outer
148 LIGHT. walls of the world-peopled city in which God dwells and which he fills with his presence. In all that journey you would carry the conviction and the proof that God was with you as truly as you believe that the light falls on the page which you are reading, and also that
there is One present with you whose face no human eye can see. The Apostle wrote more wisely than he himself knew when he said, God is light. In a single sentence of three short words he gave the most advanced philosophers of our time their grandest conception of a Being who is everywhere at each and every moment of time. There is no life beyond the reach of light. It is ever in God that we live and move and have our being. If the light of the sun should be put out, in three days there would not be a trace of vegetable or animal life left on the face of the globe. The ocean of water which is always floating in the air above us would descend in deluges of rain and drifts of blinding snow. The rivers, the lakes and the sea would be changed to solid ice. The temperature of the whole atmosphere would fall two hundred and sixty degrees below the freezingpoint, and no plant or animal could live in such cold for an hour. It is the silent and peaceful light which keeps the world from becoming such an icy grave, such a wilderness of death at any hour. And yet of this subtle and mysterious agency we know nothing, except its effects, just as we know nothing of the essential being of God, except so far as we
LIGHT. 149 .see the manifestations of his presence and power. We see all things by the help of light, but the light itself we cannot see. We cannot weigh it in balances. We cannot measure its form or dimensions. We cannot touch its body or substance. We cannot hear the sound of its coming or going. Its presence in every drop makes no change of taste in the purest fountain. We cannot estimate the limit of its power. Its waves are shot from the sun and the more distant stars with
such terrific force that it loses no velocity in flying a thousand million leagues. The vibrations of air in producing the highest note of sound upon the ear are about eight thousand in a second. The waves or impulses of light in producing the sensation of color upon the eye are eight hundred millions of millions in a second. The force with which rays of light are shot from the sun to carry them so fast and so far is thirty thousand million times greater than the force with which a leaden ball falls from my hand to the earth. If a ray of light equaled the weight of a grain of sand, a single second of sunshine would shatter the earth to atoms. The heat on the surface of the sun, which sends us our light, is so intense that to equal it on one square rod of ground we should be obliged to burn a thousand tons of coal a day. The brightest light that man can make, with all his chemical and galvanic apparatus, looks like a dark spot when held between the eye and the sun. The calcium light of the chemist is so in-
150 LIGHT. tense that you cannot look at it for an instant \dthout blinding your eye. And yet that light is a dark spot compared with the sun. And God keeps that great fire burning from century to century, thirteen hundred thousand times larger than the whole mass of the earth, and it is as bright today as when God said to the sun, "Shine" and he broke forth into the dawn. That great fire, which the breath of the Almighty has kindled to keep our earth warm, sends out two thousand million times as much light and heat as the whole earth receives, and yet the fiery fountain flows as free and full from age to age.
And there are other suns, a million times larger than our own so many in number that we cannot count them standing as landmarks and light-houses on the infinite ocean of space, blazing with a brightness that never grows dim, diffusing life and blessing with an affluence that knows no bound. And the mysterious essence in which they all float, the mighty medium which binds them all together in mutual relations and correspondences, the swift messenger that brings intelligence from them all, and reveals the nature and constitution of the most distant world, is light. We dig in the earth and find a hard substance; we smelt it in the fire, we weigh it in scales; we shape it with hammers, we test it with electric and chemical forces ; we bend and draw and twist it in every way to find out its properties. And the light which comes on a journey of fifty thousand years tells us that if we could
LIGHT. 151 explore the surface and dig in the soil of the distant world from which it sprang, we should find the same substance with the same properties there. Light tells us that a uniform, all-pervading energy rules through all worlds, gives all life, sustains all harmony and lives on unchanged from age to age. o wonder, then, that the spirit of inspiration, in showing the Apostle unto what he should liken God, moved him to write the words, " God is light." God is like that most mighty and mysterious essence which fills all space, sustains all life, gives beauty and harmony to all worlds. And this immeasurable affluence of blessing which flows from the light is only a sign, a faint symbol, of the greater bounty of the Father of lights, from whom cometh down every good and perfect gift. The beneficence which flows from him is vast enough to fill
the universe, and it is minute and special enough to clothe the humblest flower with beauty and make the feeblest life a blessing. We have only to desire it, and this infinite and everlasting God will be unto us as a Father. He will look upon us with all the special and tender interest which the kind parent feels in his own children. He will make us partakers of his own nature, heirs of the riches and glories of his boundless kingdom. He will be with us through the whole journey of life, and his presence shall be our guide when we enter the valley of the shadow of death. When this perishable frame returns to the dust, he will clothe us with a body
152 LIGHT. which shall be as ethereal as the light, and which shall traverse his kingdom from world to world as swift and as far as the beams of the morning fly. To secure that blessed and glorious existence for our own we have only to believe Him who is the Light of the world we have only to follow Him who has brought life and immortality to light. I have seen, in a gay and luxurious city, a pleasuregarden brilliantly illuminated by night. Bright jets of flame ran along the climbing vines and spreading branches of trees without burning them. The winding walks and beds of flowers were fenced with fiery stars. Silvery streams of flame shot up like blades of polished steel among the grass. Arbors and grottoes and arcades were lighted with lilies and laburnums whose corollas were crowns of fire. Here and there the spray of fountains fell like a shower of gems, and the sound of rushing waters mingled with the swell of soft music that rose and died at intervals upon the evening air. At a central position stood an architectural structure
built like a temple, with columns and arches and corridors, shining as if they had been framed of solid light in the chambers of the morning for the palace of the king of day. And in all the walks and avenues and central squares were multitudes of people moving to and fro. Some were young and beautiful ; others were wrinkled with age and bowed with infirmity. Some were dressed in garments that princes might wear at the high festival
LIGHT. 153 of kings, and others were clothed in the coarse garb of poverty, and they saluted their friends with the calloused hands of labor. But all courted the light and were happy. They flitted to and fro on the brightest walks, and they hovered around the central pavilion, where the blaze of illumination was most intense and the swell of music rolled forth with the sweetest cadence upon the air. And I thought, If man, at great expense and by exhausting the utmost resources of art, can make an earthly garden seem so much like Paradise for an hour if an earthly prince can give the people of his capital so much joy by scattering lights among the trees and fountains of his palace-grounds how much more glorious shall be the gardens of the blessed when the King himself walks among his ransomed host, and the light which fills the universe with blessing shines in his face as he calls their names and owns them as his brethren ! And even now, in the sweet anticipations of faith, we can walk with the King and rejoice in his light. He comes to ask our companionship, and he offers to guide us in the safe way. From his presence flows the only light that has ever dawned upon the path of the hopeless and the wandering. He comes to the family
circle and makes an earthly home the vestibule of heaven. He comes to the dark chamber of affliction, and to the weary sufferer and the broken-hearted mourner there is no more night. He walks with us in the busy street, and our hearts burn within us all
154 LIGHT. the way. He comes to the counting-room, and the perishable goods of the merchant are transformed into the treasures of heaven. He comes to the workshop, and the place becomes holy as the house where Paul wrought at tentmaking in Corinth. He comes to the poor, the lonely and heart-broken, and his presence charms away all their complaints and sorrows. He comes to the learned, the gifted, the mighty, and they meet him in all the lofty walks of science, they see his sovereign Hand in all the events of history, they crown him above all the glories of the world. He comes to the dungeon, the rack and the fire, where his faithful ones are tortured for a testimony unto his name, and they sing for joy amid the agonies of martyrdom. He comes to the silent chamber, where a weeping household are waiting to see a Christian die, and both the living and the dying feel that the bitterness of death is past when they see his face. Surely such a Friend, Guide, Comforter is entitled to say, I am the Light of the world.
1. 68 FREE BOOKS http://www.scribd.com/doc/21800308/Free-Christian-Books
2. ALL WRITI GS http://www.scribd.com/glennpease/documents?page=1000