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appear in John's writings they are used as figures of spiritual ideas; they suggest the element in which the evil life proceeds and the element in which God is said to dwell. According to John's usage, light is not that which enters the bodily eye, but symbolises knowledge, wisdom, truth, holiness. Darkness, its antithesis, he likewise uses symbolically: for example, even when he records the going forth of the betrayer from the upper room, and adds, " It was night," we feel that his thought is moving in a symbolic region, Darkness is not the mere absence or regation of light; it is a positive element, antagonistic to light, and is synonymous with ignorance, hatred, falsehood, unrighteousness, sin and misery, implying that man has lost God. Now the “life” that was in the eternal Word “ was the light of
The statement seems intended to cover the whole period of human history. It is not that the life “ became” the light of men at some definite time, fixed by chronology--as for example at the incarnation, or the commencement of Christ's public ministry, when the people who sat in darkness saw great light, and to them who sat in the region and shadow of death light sprang up; the life" the light of men from the beginning. During that brief period of innocence, when the ideal and the actual were one and the same, it was so; and so also, though in a different mode, down the darkest ages that followed: as matter of fact, the life that was primarily in the Word, and that was divinely implanted in human souls, was the world's light. We must not represent the case to ourselves in a mere mechanical way, but vitally. We are not to find an analogy in the shining of the sun upon the moon and planets, making them gleam like burnished metal. It was not that the life emitted rays which
upon men's eyes from without; but as when a lantern is lighted, the life entering men's souls kindled them, and shone within, and gave light (streaming from within outwardly) to all that were around. When natural life is quenched, what a blank is occasioned; how the lustre of the eye is dimmed; how night and darkness settle down upon the countenance ! Rising from the natural to the spiritual, it is life that is the light of men—the light in which they see and in which they shine. To the soul that lies in death the glories of God are no more than the stars of he to the blind. The Word is the light-giver in that He is the life-giver. In perfect keeping with this mode of viewing the case is the saying of Jesus, “If a man walk in the night he stumbleth, because there is no light in him.” The light is inward or it is nothing to us, either for our own walking, or for help to others. Milton has embodied the truth in these lines :
“He that has light within his own clear breast,
May sit i' th' centre, and enjoy bright day :
“The light shineth in darkness." Note how “darkness" (symbolising evil) is named, and its existence taken for granted, without being explained or in any way accounted for; not even is a single hint thrown out to mitigate the awful oppressiveness of its mystery. Were the question presented to us as an abstract one, we should pronounce darkness impossible in a universe created by a holy and almigbty Being. But as matter of fact it exists. Is it eternal ? Or had it a beginning? If so, wben and how? Is it utterly causeless? Is it the result of necessity ? and is the sinner as little to blame for his sin as the apple is for obeying the law of gravitation and falling to the ground ? Is it included among the “all things" that were made by the creative Word ? Is He its author, and is the will of God its ground ? Is evil not really evil, but only good in the bud? Is it the stumbling of the child in learning to walk-his stammering in learning to speak ? Is the fall (as has been argued) “ the most fortunate and greatest event in history," being the starting-point of man's moral freedom ? Is it better to have become a sinner than to dwell in the bowers of Paradise ? Is sin the necessary pathway to the highest ideal of perfection and felicity ? Has God introduced evil in order that He may work out the highest purpose, and is He (so to speak) playing both sides of the game, the right hand against the left? Or does it spring from imperfection in Him? If it be a contradiction of His will, how could it originate, unless He is less than almighty? The problem to which these and other questions belong—the origin of evil-is one that has fascinated, perplexed, bewildered, tortured, all who have ever attempted to deal with it; they could neither let it alone, nor mitigate by a single shade the blackness of its darkness; the attempt to solve it bas proved as vain as the search for the philosopher's stone or the elixir vitæ ; every solution yet proposed contains within it the very mystery which it attempts to clear up. The Evangelist has the opportunity of giving some relief to the mind by throwing light upon the mystery; indeed it appears as if the line of thought he is pursuing must necessitate some utterance on the subject, it seems to lie so directly in his way. Yet he says not a single word. There is the “darkness ”-upaccounted for, unexplained, a dread and undeniable fact of almost infinite magnitude. Is not his silence significant ?
“The light shineth " in this da ness. This statement does not refer merely to the personal ministry of Jesus and the promulgation of His Gospel; we are not to think merely of the rising up of a great Teacher who came to instruct an ignorant and benighted world ; the statement sweeps over all time, and embraces all the illuminating activities of the Word, both before and since the incarnation. It is not merely that the light shone for a period of three or three and thirty years ; but from the beginning of human history it has gone on shining, and shineth still. This world has never been given over to the unchallenged reign of darkness; there have always been souls
wherein the life has been kindled, and through whom it has shot its rays into the world's gloom-God's candles lighted and placed according to His own will. In this respect the Father of lights has never been left without witness.
Have light and darkness, then, entered into coalition ? Do they form a mixture, neither clear nor dark, like our twilight? Is there a blending of the two (in our modern civilisation, for example) as when two chemical elements combine to form a new substance? Does the darkness, when penetrated or permeated by the light, take in something of its nature, and become in a measure assimilated to it ? No; the darkness still retains its own qualities; continues to be darkness; is essentially the same to the last ; does not appropriate the light, but holds it outside, as something which it cannot understand.* As it was when the Holy One dwelt among men, so it has ever been ; the light of a heavenly and beautiful life has shone before men's eyes, and they have not so much as seen it. The light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehendeth it not; so far from comprehending, not seldom has the darkness formally denied it, as when the Pharisees rejected the Christ of God, and then asked, “ Are we blind also ?”
LAYING UP TREASURES. “You will certainly be obliged to Aunt Fanny had once been exhave a new cloak this winter, auntie, travagant. She had indulged herthey wear them so much longer," self at last in a long-coveted luxury said Edith Morton, as Aunt Fanny --a fine heavy Paisley shawl, for was putting on the old one for the which she paid the sum of seven first time that season, to go out on pounds. Certainly, not a very a frosty autumn evening.
exorbitant price for an article that "Can't afford it yet,” replied Aunt was to do permanent service for a Fanny, cheerfully. “ Too many whole lifetime. Miss Fanny was children will have to go barefoot. in easy circumstances, so far as I shall piece it down, and cover it financial matters were concerned. with trimming, so it will be quite She had an income of some six respectable for another winter. hundred a year, but she had always
Edith laughed merrily. That been very sparing of indulgences for cloak had been a standing joke in herself. She had too many poor the family for the last six years. It relatives to assist, too many needy had a history; a long and interest- neighbours and friends, so many ing one, that had woven its bright charitable projects in hand, that threads into the dark life experiences before she thought of it her yearly of more than one unfortunate and income was all gone, and she was needy sufferer. We cannot tell you obliged to draw upon the principal all about it here, but will give an for supplies. Her wants were very outline, and then fill it up as the simple. She had no expensive story advances.
habits. She kept but one servant, The scope forbids the rendering that the darkness did not hem in the light, did not suppress it
, did not eclipse or quench it, though such a rendering may be verbally admissible.
and there were only herself and there was nothing to show for it," an orphan niece who lived with her Edith had said. for company to take care of, yet it But Aunt Fanny replied, " Not always took a great deal of money so, darling. It is treasure laid up for her to make the ends of the where moth and rust do not corrupt, year meet. How she ever came to and where thieves cannot break buy that shawl was a mystery to all through and steal. Banks may fail,
She must have been under stocks lose their value, but the some temporary hallucination at money spent in charity is deposited that moment - a spell of greater in the Bank of Heaven, the only duration than usual was upon her, investment that can give unfailing which her habitual thoughtfulness securities.” failed to break.
Edith looked doubtful. Aunt The package was sent home with Fanny had been giving away in a long list of other purchases of such all directions for more than thirty a character as had often been de- years, but what return had she ever posited at her door. There were secured ? two or three webs of cotton, big Miss Fanny Whiting was rerolls of flannel, dress goods,blankets, garded as a somewhat eccentric shawls, stockings of all sizes, and person in the fashionable circle in all the thousand - and -one things which she had once been accusthat poor people are always want- tomed to move, but her peculiarities ing.
were of an innocent nature, although She wore it once, yes, twice, but her rich friends sometimes thought her conscience was too tender. She her troublesome, since-as her heart could not wear a shawl that cost was always full of charitable seven pounds, when there were so thoughts and intents--she was very many poor people without coal or apt to talk about them, and try to food-perishing for the want of a enlist their sympathies to an extent few shillings that she could supply. not always to be admitted. So she carried the shawl back to She had a great passion for huntthe shop-keeper, and induced him to ing about dark alleys, and climbing take it back, after a liberal deduc rickety attic stairs at all sorts of tion on her part from the price she seasonable and unseasonable hours. had paid. She bought the cloth She was often found hunting up for a new cloak, procured a pattern, troops of dirty, neglected children, cut and made it herself, and when and she could not rest satisfied till done it cost her just two pounds. they were placed in schools, or This cloak had performed substantial otherwise provided for. She always service for six years, by various had on her note-book a long list of little makeshifts of her own in poor widows with sick children, altering and re-trimming.
who needed a great deal of help. The balance of the money was at She was on intimate terms of aconce expended for innumerable quaintance with the city missionary charitable projects; and who shall and all the Bible women in her paint the glowing visions of joy and neighbourhood, and in one way or gladness that lighted up the hearts another was sure to find out all the and abodes of penury and want, sick strangers that lay in out-of-thethose dark and gloomy homes where way upper rooms at hotels and the cheering sun's rays never look, boarding-houses, who seem to have and where only at intervals “ the committed a great mistakein getting Sun of Righteousness arises with ill in such places. healing in his wings!"
There were a number of children “ The money was all gone, and here and there that she was educat
ing at her own expense, besides, unalloyed pleasure to be the almoner several families whose meagre in- of bounty. She knew by a blessed, comes she supplemented with her oft-repeated experience, that the own bounties. One girl, who had words of ancient wisdom were true, a somewhat remarkable voice, she “ It is more blessed to give than to helped to lessons under a first-class receive." master. A little boy, who met with Miss Fanny had never married, an accident that made him a cripple but she took care of a larger family for life, she had taken under her than most mothers. In her case own special patronage to provide the words of the prophet had a for till he could take care of himself. deep significance : " More are the He had a talent for painting, and children of the desolate than the the teachers thought that it might children of the married wife.” There be developed into artistic ability by was a bit of romance connected which he could earn his support. with her early life that changed the
She had a great many relatives, whole current of her after-thoughts. too, who lived in and out of the She was the only daughter of a city, and found it very convenient wealthy broker, and in her youth to pass a few weeks and perhaps was very gay and beautiful. She months in her pleasant home. And was an acknowledged belle in when they went away they were society, and while at a brilliant very apt to suggest a pressing need party met and became acquainted of twenty pounds or so to keep them with a young man who was at that from suffering. She lent, of course ; time a guest in the city. He was and they, knowing the abundance fascinated with her charms, asked of her resources, never thought it for her hand in marriage, and was necessary to pay, and so it came not refused. But before the event about that she had after all quite a occurred there were strange delarge family to support.
velopments. He was arrested for Besides these minor charities, a crime committed in a distant city, she was often importuned for a desti- was tried, convicted, and sentenced tate Church, or for some benevolent to be executed. institution just on the brink of ruin. Miss Fanny was struck dumb No subscription - paper was ever with astonishment, and fainted known to pass her by, and we might beneath the stroke. She had say that no one asked in vain. Her believed him to be as he seemed, gifts were not confined to her own noble and true, and gave to him in neighbourhood alone. She never good faith a woman's bestgift to man forgotthe nations that sit in darkness --the heart's truest affections. The on the other side of the globe. She shock to her sensitive nature was tertook a lively interest in all of the rific. She fell violently ill, and for affairs of India, Burmah, China, months her life was in jeopardy. But Japan, and the Sandwich Islands, at last she came forth from the fiery She had a kind of monomania ordeal fitted for a new mission to the for benevolence, that seemed to suffering and the needy. She was increase with her maturer years. dead to the old life of gaiety and She did not give for gratitude, or dissipation, but there was a resurto have her name published in the rection to a new life that had been papers, but because she loved to rich in faith and good works. give. She took a far greater satis To suffering everywhere she was faction in doing for others, than she drawn by a new tie. She spent the could possibly derive from any self- whole of her paternal inheritance indulgence of luxuries. It pained in relieving the wants of the destiher to receive charities, but gave her tute and
afflicted. She was saved