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now; soon it will be behind you. All now is possible ; all will then be irrevocable. The call comes up to you from every sphere of action. It is the same call as before, but with louder echoes and far more resounding answers. Many a man whose good work is almost ended would gladly begin again with you. Many a man whose life has been a failure would give much for another chance with you to-day. Remember, each of you, that you have but one life to live here below. Oh, live it well!
THE PATH OF THE JUST.
But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day. – PROVERBS 4:18.
L OW constantly and how naturally does God's
Word associate goodness and light! The comparison is so fitting that you almost doubt that it is a comparison. It seems rather a symbol than a simile. Light enrobes the earth with beauty. It makes the leaf green and the flower fair, and reveals their verdure and their brightness to the eye. Withdraw the light and they are as though they were not.
It is the condition, too, of all outward and hopeful activity. The morning dawn unseals the eyes, unlocks the voice, unchains the movements of the living world. The coming on of total darkness stops the song of the bird, sends the beast to his resting place, and confuses the doings of man. Work ceases. The lost cannot be found. The sailor on the lee shore casts anchor and wishes for day. The hard-pressed general wishes that night or Blücher would come.
So in the moral world true goodness or true religion clothes the world with its real joyousness and beauty. It diffuses bright colors and makes melody in the heart. It transforms the aspect of time and the hues of eternity. As the great orb of day dissipates the night of nature, fills the earth with the hum of hopeful life, and suffuses the very cloud that hung like a pall till it glows with glory, so Christ shines out on a world of sin.
But the text speaks not directly of the Sun of Righteousness, the “ Light of the world”; rather of those influences which, emanating from him, make their abode in the good man's character and career. The path of the just is as the shining light — the bright light or, it may be, the light of dawn — that shineth more and more unto the perfect day. It sets before us
THE GOOD LIFE.
Its quality, “light”; its function, "shineth”; its progress, “more and more”; its issue, “the perfect day.”
I. The quality of a good life. It is “ light.” It is from God and like God; and “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” A good life is intrinsically luminous — luminous morally and spiritually. It rests on clear truth and sound principle, travels in right lines, and boldly beams forth on the world. It has no apology to make for its well-chosen stand. It needs no justification and volunteers no defense of itself. God's Word calls for the trumpet of no uncertain sound and for the man that swears to his hurt and changes not. Neither God nor man has shown any respect for the doublefaced and half-hearted. Men heap on them opprobrious epithets, and the Word says, “Because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth.” A right man carries a lamp of duty that will not be dimmed by a foggy public sentiment, flicker with the popular breath, or expire in the choke damp of adversity. It was a grim comment on the gods of Rome and a grand compliment to her great citizen, Victrix causa diis placuit, sed victa Catoni — “the victorious cause pleased the gods, but the vanquished one pleased Cato.” Years ago in evil times Truman M. Post, when called to a pastorate in a slave-holding city, excited and vigilant and fierce, replied with a written avowal of his anti-slavery sentiments and the demand for a unanimous vote pledging him absolute freedom to hold and utter them, saying, “I will never come to add another to the slaves of Missouri.” And so he went and so he lived.
When I once sought counsel on a matter of grave principle and practice, and gained only the answer, “ How do they do elsewhere?” I never sought there again. And when I have known such a man defended from censure by the explanation, “ He is thought to hold so, but he does not,” I have said to myself, “Save him from his friends !” Ambiguity fits well the utterance of a heathen oracle, but never the moral position of a good man. The maxim that language was made to conceal thought was the worthy motto of a statesman like Talleyrand and his compeers, though far older than he, and its practice as old as the paltering utterance in Eden, “ Ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” Give us always the man whom, as the colloquial phrase has it, "you can tie to," the man who is not only where you have reason to look for him, but who is ready to say “Here am I,” — the man in whom
there is light and no darkness at all — considerate, candid, courteous, consistent, confident, clear, and clean-cut.
These are the men that mold humanity, that create forces, that found institutions, that make history, that save the world. It sometimes costs, when the light shineth in darkness. It once cost martyrdom, now never more than opprobrium. But what a muster roll of all that is admirable in the annals of humanity is the catalogue of such men, once shining here as lights in the world, and now “in bright array"! Yes, it may cost. For though the sword and the arena, the rack and the thumbscrew are things of the past, yet in the subtler relations and nicer sensibilities of modern life and character the bitter sneer may stand for the dagger, the many-voiced slander for the roars of the Flavian amphitheater, and the long series of studied affronts for the tender mercies of Claverhouse's dragoons. But they do not kill.
Yet the true light will be a kindly light. It will not emit darkness to meet darkness. It will quietly glow on, undimmed and pure, like moonlight on a dunghill or sunshine on the vale of Hinnom. And it will not resist the incoming of other light. The life that rests on massive principle and profound convictions will for that reason be fairly open to further convictions and new methods. With what matchless, patient, suffering serenity did our great Lincoln, while struggling under his enormous burdens, endure the criticisms and complaints of friend and foe; and with what flexile sagacity