Page images
PDF
EPUB

the prime of life, we may never know, and we need not know. But we can guess surely enough what they must have meant to him in after years, when he could say—as would to God we all might be able to say

'I have fought a good fight, I have finished 'my course, I have kept the faith : hence' forth there is laid up for me a crown of • righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous ' Judge, shall give me at that day : and 'not to me only, but unto all them that love his appearing

To him, then, the night would surely mean this mortal life on earth. The day would mean the immortal life to come.

For is not this mortal life, compared with that life to come, as night, compared with day? I do not mean to speak evil of it. God forbid that we should do anything but thank God for this life. God forbid that we should say impiously to him, Why hast thou made me thus ? No. God made this mortal life, and therefore, like all things which he has made, it is very good. But there are good nights, and there are bad nights; and there are happy lives, and unhappy ones. But what are they at best? What is the life of the happiest man without the Holy Spirit of God ? A night full of pleasant dreams. What is the life of the wisest man? A night of darkness, through which he gropes his way by lanthorn-light, slowly, and with many mistakes and stumbles. When we compare man's vast capabilities with his small deeds; when we think how much he might know,—how little he does know in this mortal life,—can we wonder that the highest spirits in every age have looked on death as a deliverance out of darkness and a dungeon ? And if this is life at the best, what is life at the worst? To how many is life a night, not of peace and rest, but of tossing and weariness, pain and sickness, anxiety and misery, till they are ready, to cry, When will it be over? When will kind Death come and give me rest ? When will the night of this life be spent, and the day of God arise ? "Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O • Lord. Lord, hear my voice. ... My soul doth

wait for the Lord, more than the sick man who watches for the morning.'

Yes, think,—for it is good at times, however happy one may be oneself, to think-of all the misery and sorrow that there is on earth, and how many there are who would be glad to hear that it was nearly over; glad to hear that the night was far spent, and the day was at hand.

And even the happiest ought to know the time.' To know that the night is far spent, and the day at hand. To know, too, that the night at best was not given us, to sleep it all through, from sunset to sunrise. No industrious man does that. Either he works after sunset, and often on through the long hours, and into the short hours, before he goes to rest: or else he rises before daybreak, and gets ready for the labours of the coming day. The latter no man can do in this life. For we all sleep away, more or less, the beginning of our life, in the time of childhood. There is no sin in that—God seems to have ordained that so it should be. But, to sleep away our manhood likwise,-is there no sin in that? As we grow older, must we not awake out of sleep, and set to work, to be ready for the day of God which will dawn on us when we pass out of this mortal life into the world to come?

As we grow older, and as we get our share of the cares, troubles, experiences of life, it is high time to wake out of sleep, and ask Christ to give us light-light enough to see our way through the night of this life, till the everlasting day shall dawn.

• Knowing the time ;'--the time of this our mortal life. How soon it will be over, at the longest! How short the time seems since we were young! How quickly it has gone! How every year, as we grow older, seems to go more and more quickly, and there is less time to do what we want, to think seriously, to improve ourselves. So soon, and it will be over, and we shall have no time at all, for we shall be in eternity. And what then? What then? That depends on what now. On what we are doing now. Are we letting our short span of life slip

Idi

away in sleep; fancying ourselves all the while wide awake, as we do in dreams—till we wake really; and find that it is daylight, and that all our best dreams were nothing but useless fancy? How many dream away their lives! Some upon gain, some upon pleasure, some upon petty self-interest, petty quarrels, petty ambitions, petty squabbles and jealousies about this person and that, which are no more worthy to take up a reasonable human being's time and thoughts than so many dreams would be. Some, too, dream away their lives in sin, in works of darkness which they are forced for shame and safety to hide, lest they should come to the light and be exposed. So people dream their lives away, and go about their daily business as men who walk in their sleep, wandering about with their eyes open, and yet seeing nothing of what is really around them. Seeing nothing: though they think that they see, and know their own interest, and are shrewd enough to find their way about this world. But they know nothing — nothing of the very world with which they pride

« PreviousContinue »