By Henry Law
"God said, Let there be light: and there was light." Genesis 1:3
The speaker is God. The time is before time was. The word is omnipotence. The result is the grandest of gifts. Darkness heard and vanished. "God said, Let there be light: and there was light."
Reader, strive to imagine the scene, when this first voice called this first blessing into being. This world of full delights was then one huge mass of unarranged material. It had no form, and therefore it had no beauty. It was vacancy, and vacancy lacks all that pleases. It would have been cheerless, even if robed in cheering light. But impenetrable night shrouded the lifeless void.
From this crude quarry, however, the home of man is to be built. This waste is to be peopled with beings, whose age is immortality. It is to be the field, from which heaven's garner shall be stored. Therefore, deformity must assume form; disorder must melt into order; shapelessness must be shaped into loveliness.
How shall this be done? God had but to will, and in one instant creation arises in full-blown perfection. But it is not so. He works by gradual process. He works. Let us hence learn the wisdom and the need of effort. He works by gradual process. This teaches, that patient diligence is the path to all well-doing.
But what is the first wonder, which steps forth to usher in the train of harmony and grace? It is LIGHT. Do you ask what is the chamber of its birth? and what the art, by which it is composed? The reply is, "God said, Let there be light: and there was light."
To know more is impossible. And it is impossible, just because more knowledge would neither tend to profit nor to good. There are, however, truths linked with light, which are open to our earnest search. It is a casket rich in Gospel jewels. In its fair form we see the fairer features of the Lord of light. The Holy Spirit--no doubtful guide--proclaims, "That was the true light, which lights every man, which comes into the world." Jesus, too, exalts it as His emblem, when He instructs, "I am the light of the world; he who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." The prophet, too, gazing on the rays of Christ, sings, "The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light." The apostle, intent on Jesus, exhorts, "Show forth the praises of Him, who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light." We should close our eyes, then, on the high purposes of light, if we failed to trace therein the transcendent beauties of salvation's Dayspring.
Light is pure. In it there neither is, nor can be, mixture or pollution. Its property repels defilement. It traverses unstained each medium of uncleanness. Snow is brilliant; no whiteness can surpass it. But man's step mars it. Water sparkles brightly from its spring. Man's hand can soil it. But none can make light's purity less pure. Such is Christ. When man on earth, He was as pure as God in heaven. He passed through a world of sin, as a sunbeam through the vilest hovel. He took indeed sin's form, that He might bear sin's due: but He never knew sin's stain. In Bethlehem's manger He was the holy Child. He returned to heaven in holy triumph, as the holy Conqueror.
Reader, study much the essential holiness of Jesus. It is one of the anchors of our Gospel-hope. He must be as holy as God is holy, or He cannot mediate with God for us. If but a shadow of a sinful shade be on Him, atonement is needed for Himself: then He must save Himself: and we are left unsaved. But Jesus is all-sufficient to redeem us, because He is Jehovah's co-holy fellow.
Study it, too, as the model of the new-born soul. Salvation is conformity to His image, "He that has this hope in Him, purifies himself, even as He is pure."
Light is bright. Indeed, what is brightness but light's clear shining? The day is bright, when no clouds hide the sun. The prospect is bright, which reflects unnumbered rays. The hope is bright, which glitters free of foreboding gloom. Such is Christ. He is "the brightness of His Father's glory." He embodies, as in one constellation, every Divine perfection. He shines, the midday splendor of Jehovah's attributes. That time is the brightest time, in which the Lord is nearest. That page is the brightest page, in which most of Christ is found. That sermon is the brightest sermon, in which most of Christ is heard. That life is the brightest life, in which most of Christ is seen.
Light is lovely. Beauty cannot live without it. Exclude it, and every charm would hang a blighted head; the sun would fade, and color be extinct. Such is Christ. It is a true record, "You are fairer than the children of men"--"the chief among ten thousand--and altogether lovely." What fullness of beauty is in that person, who is both God and man! what harmony of grace is in that work, which joins God to man! what charms are in those precious Scriptures, which show His worth! To see His varied excellence is heaven begun. The sight makes earth a blank, and all its glories but a withered flower. Just, too, as lovely light makes lovely, so Christ decks all on whom His beams descend. He beautifies the meek with salvation.
Light is free. The wealth of the wealthy cannot purchase it. The skill of the skillful cannot frame it. The labors of the laborious cannot earn it. The poverty of the poor cannot debar from it. Wherever it comes, it flies on freedom's wings. It gilds the hall, unbribed by price. It illumines the hut, unbought by toil. Such is Christ.
Sinner, do you crave this precious treasure? Open the casement of the heart, and it is yours. "Come, buy wine and milk, without money and without price." Waste not then time in seeking a price for Him, compared with whom an angel's worth is nothing worth. All your fancied merits are only demerit. You best is sin, and will you offer sin for Christ? Plead misery and take mercy. Bewail darkness and He will give you light. All who bask in His joyous rays, are one in this testimony. Each sings, My treasure is a free-grace gift: He loved me, because He would love me: He called me, because He would call me: He blessed me, because He would bless me: He saved me, because He would save me: He shone into my soul, because He would shine. When I was darkness, He said, "Let there be light: and there was light," and the light was Himself.
Light is all-revealing. So long as darkness casts its mantle round, we move unconscious amid foes and mire. A pit gapes at our feet; an arrow is ready on the murderer's bow; each touch is a stain; but we are heedless of our woe. Let the light dawn, then ruin and uncleanness stare us in the face. Such is Christ. By His rays, SIN is detected, as lurking in every corner of the heart; and the WORLD, which we so fondled, is unmasked, as a monster, whose embrace is filth, and in whose hand is the cup of death.
Reader, do you discern the defilement of sin, and the poison baits of the world? If not, light has not visited your conscience. Christ is not in your heart. In the lament of faith there is always this note, "Behold, I am black." In its mouth there is always this cry, "Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow."
But as the sun is seen by its own light, so Christ reveals not perils only, but HIMSELF. He shows His cross--the glorious proof of boundless love. He shows His blood--the precious payment of all debts. He discloses the treasures of His word. Then testimonies, and promises, and endearing calls, and soothing notes of comfort, spring into brilliant life, as beauties in the sun-lit landscape. He draws back the curtains of His heavens, and we see a reconciled God, and catch the glimpses of a weight of glory.
Light is the parent of fruitfulness. Regions, which the sun rarely cheers, are barren wastes. In shade, vegetation languishes; and trees droop. Perpetual winter is perpetual desolation. But mark the change, if genial warmth returns. The garden, the vineyard, the fields are soon clothed with fragrant and luxuriant plenty. Such is Christ. In His absence the heart is profuse with every weed, and every noxious berry. But when His gleams enliven, the seeds of grace bud forth, the tree of faith pours down its golden fruit.
Light is the chariot, which conveys heat. Without it, earth congeals into a rocky pavement. Our soil would be adamant, if our skies were black. So the heart without Christ is ice. But when He enters, a glow is kindled, which can never die. Love burns and blazes in every chamber of the inner man. This is the spark, which flares to heroism in the faithful minister and the toiling missionary. Christ seen and loved is warmth to the heart. Warmth in the heart is fire in the lips. Fire in the lips is a flame in the hearers. Thus hardened congregations melt into a flood of holy zeal.
Light, too, is the harbinger of joy. For three days Egypt was all blackness: sight failed and motion ceased. It was a dreary time. In Paul's tempestuous voyage, for many days neither sun nor stars appeared. It was a dreary time. But far more dreary is the Christless soul. Not until He lifts up His countenance can the happy morn begin, which has no night. Present light, however, is but the morning-star of coming glory. Here on earth, mists will sometimes rise. Heaven is a cloudless God. Then in bodies of light, and robes of light, the redeemed sit down in a city of light, "which has no need of the sun neither of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of the Lord does light it, and the Lamb is the light thereof."
Reader, are you journeying from light to light? Be not deceived. There is the candle of REASON. This guides to no haven. There are the many false lights of error. They delude to rocks, and quicksands, and whirlpools of destruction. Vain meteors glare from many pulpits, and in many books. The self-pleased votaries of forms and superstitions are dazzled by the tinsel of a fictitious cross. Beware! there is but one sun in the skies. So there is but one Christ in the Bible--one Christ of the Spirit--one Christ of the Father--one Christ of the saved.
I ask again, 'Has your darkness passed away?' It is so, if you see this one Sun of Righteousness, and hate sin, and crucify the flesh, and trample on the world. It is so, if you rejoice in His beams, thirsting for clearer knowledge, and a brighter path. But, perhaps, you love darkness rather than light, because your deeds are evil. Ah! think how fearful is the broad road! It goes straight down into the abyss, which is outer darkness, and where is weeping and gnashing of teeth for ever. Stop, I beseech you. Will you not turn to "the true light?"
Believer, you see the sunny spot, which is your home. In your full joy, remember, that this garden of the Lord is a place of work, and not of sleep. Your light is come, that you may arise and shine. You are light, that others may be light through you. Say not, 'it is not mine to create or to confer light.' True; but it is yours to reflect it. The planet casts back rays. The mirror returns the image. The Christian shows forth Christ. Say not, 'I move among the blind.' True; but your Sun gives sight as well as light. You saw nothing, until He said, See. Give Him no rest, until in your family, in your neighborhood, in your country, throughout the world, His voice be heard, Let there be sight; and there will be sight--Let there be light; and there will be light.