"And there shall be no night there."--Rev. 20:3
To an ardent and undevout astronomer the total absence of
night would scarcely convey an intelligent and attractive idea of the
blessedness and glory of heaven. Enthroned within his towering observatory,
he watches with intense interest the gradual fading of the golden beams of
day into the gray twilight of evening; and the deepening of evening's
shadows into the darker drapery of night; then, with his glass sweeping the
skies studded with myriad stars and planets, he revels amid the countless
worlds of grandeur now bursting upon his gaze, and which night alone
unveils. Remind him that there will be no night in heaven for his
favorite study; but that, if his faith has caught a glimpse of "Jesus,
the bright and Morning Star," he will know more of astronomy in that
wondrous transit than centuries of discovery on earth could have taught him.
But, wedded to his science, and satisfied with studying merely the
outside glories of heaven, in vain you seek to convince him that the
absence of night will be the revelation of sublimities unimaginable, the
presence of wonders inconceivable, the unveiling of glories indescribable,
such as "eye has not seen nor ear heard, neither have entered into the
heart of man." But, interpreted in its spiritual and metaphorical sense,
this remarkable negative of heaven suggests to the heir of glory some of his
most entrancing and cherished anticipations. Let us first take the lowest.
There will be NO LITERAL NIGHT. This at once
reminds us of the entire absence in heaven of all the weariness and
jadedness--bodily and mental--inseparable from our present state. There is a
limit to the exercise of our physical and intellectual powers, the laws of
which will admit of no arbitrary infringement. If we urge the physical body
beyond its proper bounds, paralysis of power follows; and perhaps the mental
insanity of mind results. The government which regulates both cannot be
outraged with impunity. Able writers on mental disease have clearly
demonstrated that it is not so much the amount of brain-work which paralyzes
power and shortens life, as the superadded element of anxiety. Were
it possible for an individual whose brain is incessantly seething to throw
off the noble yet undue anxiety for others--the result, often, of the lack
of faith in God; or, the more selfish anxiety for his own literary fame--the
effect too frequently of a morbid ambition, vanity, or envy--in all
probability a premature corrosion of the brain would be averted, and
usefulness and longevity greatly prolonged.
But how wise and beneficent this arrangement of God--the
night season of SLEEP! How welcome and grateful to the exhausted
student, the weary laborer, the suffering patient, is the advent of night,
with its diadem of glory and enshrouding curtains, bringing with it the
renewing power and soothing influence of sleep, restoring the balance
of our over-wrought faculties, and raising us new creatures from our couch
of repose! There is much in its philosophy and physiology, not to speak of
its moral instruction, we have yet practically to learn concerning this
sweet necessity of our nature, sleep--ignorance or willful neglect of
which has been productive of much evil which might otherwise have been
avoided. It is an established physiological fact that the human brain
expands in all cases to an astonishing degree during the period of
wakefulness, especially in those individuals whose powers of thought are
concentrated upon abstruse and profound subjects of study; and the fact is
equally demonstrable that, when recuperation is not equal to
expenditure, imbecility, or insanity and self-destruction are often the
certain and sad results. It follows that those who do most brain-work
require a larger amount of recuperative power; or, in other words,
the most sleep--which has been well defined life's manna, dropping
from heaven to create us anew day by day. Such is the wise and beneficent
arrangement God has made for our present condition.
But not bodily or mental alone are the blessings which
the night season brings. It distills equally, yet more certain and
refreshing, its spiritual dew. How appropriate is the night for holy thought
and prayer! "I have remembered Your name, O Lord, in the night." "I
remember You upon my bed, and meditate upon You in the night-watches."
To some the night may be long and weary; but there are those who can testify
that if there are tears, there are also songs in the night; if
sleeplessness, there is also meditation; if there are night-watchings, there
are also night-thoughts. Pillow-prayers and pillow-praises are among the
most fragrant incense and sweetest music that float from earth to heaven.
And he who is a stranger to their exercise is ignorant of one of the richest
modes of communion with God, and of communion with heaven, practical to man
How appropriate, too, is the night season for death!
All is now still. The world's busy hum has ceased--every object and
every being is in repose--the laborer has retreated to his couch, and the
bird to its nest--and silence, profound as the grave, reigns supreme. It is
as though the pulse of universal life stood still.
"All things are hushed, as nature's self lay dead."
And now is the time for the Christian to die! All
is as tranquil in that death-chamber as death itself. The soft footfall--the
bated breath--the subdued whisper--the rustling of the angels' wings waiting
to escort the spirit home, are the only sounds that break the hush of that
still, solemn hour. What an appropriate time for the believer's departure!
It is the soul's holy pause, before earth is exchanged for heaven. It is
time standing for a moment still--the sun arrested in its course--waiting
the solemn, the glorious advent of ETERNITY!
"How sweet this very hour to die!
To soar from earth, and find all fears
Lost in your light--Eternity!"
"Night is the time for rest:
How sweet, when labors close,
To gather round an aching breast
The curtain of repose,
Stretch the tired limbs, and lay the head
Upon our own delightful bed!
"Night is the time for dreams,
The gay romance of life,
When truth that is, and truth that seems,
Blend in fantastic strife.
Ah! visions less beguiling far
Than waking dreams by daylight are!
"Night is the time to weep;
To wet with unseen tears
Those graves of memory where sleep
The joys of other years;
Hopes that were angels in their birth,
But perished young, like things of earth!
"Night is the time to watch
On ocean's dark expanse,
To hail the Pleiades, or catch
The full moon's earliest glance,
That brings unto the home-sick mind
All we have loved and left behind.
"Night is the time for care;
Brooding on hours misspent,
To see the spectre of Despair
Come to our lonely tent;
Like Brutus 'midst his slumbering host
Startled by Caesar's stalwart spirit.
"Night is the time to muse;
Then from the eye the soul
Takes flight, and, with expanding views,
Beyond the starry pole
Observes athwart the abyss of night
The dawn of uncreated light.
"Night is the time to pray--
Our Savior oft' withdrew
To desert mountains far away--
So will His followers do;
Steal from the throng to haunts untrod,
And hold communion there with God.
"Night is the time for death;
When all around is peace,
Calmly to yield the weary breath,
From sin and suffering cease;
Think of heaven's bliss, and give the sign
To parting friends--such death be mine!"
But what a world and what a condition will that be in
which the mind and the body of the glorified will be occupied with studies
the most profound, with enjoyments the most ecstatic, and in a service the
most incessant, yet never conscious of the slightest satiety, or sensible of
a moment's weariness! Searcher of truth! student of science! laborer for
Christ!--you who often mourn the limit of your powers, and the interruption
of your inquiries, and the cessation of your toil which languor and
sleepiness entail, begrudging the time which repose demands--oh! think how
much is contained in that marvelous negative, "And there shall be NO
NIGHT there!" With every intellectual faculty developed, and with every
moral power sanctified, and with every material organ strengthened, and with
every moment incessantly employed--new subjects of study presenting, new
wonders of glory unveiling, new spheres of service opening; and with them
the powers of the soul expanding to an inconceivable extent, and still
expanding with every fresh theme of thought, and intensified with every
fresh draught of knowledge--oh! what a blessing will the absence of night
Like Israel's Divine Watchman, who "neither slumbers
nor sleeps," and who "faints not, neither is weary," we shall be
girded with power that knows no limit. Study will not exhaust us, thought
will not oppress us, activity will not weary us; and, like the four living
creatures around the throne, who "rest not day nor night, saying, Holy,
holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, who was and is, and is to come," we shall
never fatigue in performing God's holy will, nor faint or tire in
celebrating His high praises.
No night in heaven! Think of this, you sick and
suffering saints, to whose over-wrought brain, to whose shattered
nerves, to whose anguished hearts and restless pillow the refreshment and
ease of sleep comes not. Oh! what a precious boon to you will a nightless
heaven be! No slow, anxious, sleepless hours then--gazing at the shadows
dancing upon the wall--watching the flickering flame of the dimly burning
night-lamp--or listening to the heavy tread of night's guardian as he paces
to and fro beneath your casement--intensely longing for the first streak of
day "as those who watch for the morning."
Oh! what a perfection of heaven--to need no repose!
Sleep! you have proved to me a kind and faithful friend; you have come
at my need, and, as with an angel's wing, have fanned my fevered brow; and
like the dew of Hermon have sweetly distilled upon my aching eyelids; and
like the flood-waters have drowned in oblivion my cares, anxieties, and
sorrows; and so, strengthened and refreshed by your kind and renewing
influence, I have risen with the morning's light, and have gone forth to
life's daily duties, service, and trials, as a "bridegroom coming out of
his chamber, rejoicing as a strong man to run a race."
But, sweet sleep! I shall no more need you in
heaven!--for there will be no night of fatigue, no night of suffering, no
night of sorrow, no night of sleeplessness there. Until then, come, you
angel of loveliness and love, and shroud my pillow with your soft, balmy
wings; and when morning light breaks upon my eyelids, I will uplift my
praises to Him who gives His beloved sleep!
"Come, sweet oblivion of all care,
And reign triumphant in my breast;
There's no alloy to comfort there,
And I need rest.
Soon as the morn steals on the night,
I'd have you flee away;
And I'd resume, with mind more light,
The duties of the day."
But let us study this negative attribute of heaven in its
metaphorical teaching. There shall be NO INTELLECTUAL NIGHT in
heaven. Intellectual night--as natural--is inseparable from our present
existence--it would seem, indeed, a necessary part of our education for
heaven. Darkness is the type of IGNORANCE. "The people who sat in
darkness saw a great light." Ignorance is the rule, and knowledge the
exception, of our present condition. It is rather what we do not
know, than what we do know, that forms the distinctive feature of
this life. There is a limit to our range of knowledge, even as there is a
limit to our faculty of knowledge. "We know in part." "Now we see through
a glass darkly." We admit that the subjects of human study are vast, and
their range illimitable; but the faculty of grasping these subjects, and the
power of compassing that range, are by sin paralyzed and cramped. The limit
is not so much in the fields of study as in the power of traversing those
fields. We know in part here, and in part only can we know.
Take, for example, our spiritual attainments. How limited
is our knowledge of God, of Christ, of truth! How meager our experience of
His grace; less than all is our knowledge of ourselves. In human knowledge
we are but "children;" in divine knowledge, but "babes." Contrasted with the
future development of the mind, the vast range of its research, and the
sublime subjects of its study, our present grasp of intellect is infantile,
and our present acquirements but rudimentary. And when the longest life of
inquiry has closed, and its results are piled upon the shelves, or stored
within the archives of earth's literary treasures, compared with the eternal
day of intellectual life which awaits us--to quote the simile of Newton, the
greatest philosopher that ever lived--we have but been gathering pebbles
upon the shores of knowledge, the ocean of which still stretches out before
us in all its fathomless and illimitable extent.
Yes, there will be no intellectual night in heaven.
Problems in human science, the solution of which baffled us here--mysteries
in divine truth, for the unravelment of which no thread was provided--the
facts and prophecies and revelations of God's Word, which now are accepted
as matters of faith rather than of reason--the character and government of
God--the glory and work of Christ--the inexplicable agency of the Spirit in
regeneration--will then be seen in light so transparent, and will be bathed
in luster so divine, that a new-born babe, the moment it opens its eyes in
glory, knows more of all these intellectual and sacred wonders, and grasps
them with a stronger power of thought, than the profoundest philosopher or
the most learned theologian on earth.
No overtasking the brain there--no crushing of the mind
by the weight of thought, or bounding its range of intellectual research--no
languor in thinking--no exhaustion in studying--no mental cloud-veil--for
"there shall be no night there;" and when countless centuries of thought
and study have passed, the mind will be as youthful and fresh, as vigorous
and luminous, as at the moment when it first emerged from its night of
intellectual darkness into the perfect and eternal day of intellectual
O blessed Land! when my mind, unclouded by sin, unwarped
by prejudice, unimpaired by disease, will be commensurate with its unlimited
range of thought, and its exhaustless subjects of study; where all the
mysteries of knowledge will be unraveled, all its facts confirmed, and all
its discrepancies harmonized! Depths which my line cannot now sound--truths
which my reason cannot now compass--texts which my learning cannot now
explain--contradictions which my ingenuity cannot now adjust--will in that
world all stand forth bathed in the golden sunlight of perfect day, where
not an infirmity will cramp the energy, nor a cloud shade the luster, nor a
sin taint the sanctity of my intellectual powers; but where I shall be equal
to the world of thought in which my soul shall expatiate, knowing even as I
It is a blessed reflection, too, that, in a world of pure
and perfect intellect, Christian doctrine--now impaired by the subtleties of
human thought, obscured by the poverty of human language, entangled by the
theories of human philosophy, and robed in the antiquated garments of bygone
ages--will then stand out in all its native and sublime simplicity. The soul
unclothed, the mind unshackled, wandering through amaranthine bowers,
inhaling the life-inspiring odors of paradise, plucking fresh fruit from the
tree of knowledge, sustained by nectar draughts of peace, gladness, and joy
flowing from beneath and around the throne of God and the Lamb--oh! what a
world of intellectual bliss and glory awaits us! What an ocean of
research--the character and government of God! what a body of divinity--the
person and work of Christ! what an gallery of mystery and wonder--the
operation and grace of the Spirit! what themes of thought and subjects of
study--the revelations and teachings of the Bible! "Now we see through a
glass darkly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then shall I
know even as also I am known."
There will be no night of error in heaven. The
perversion of divine truth is among the saddest results of the Fall. To
twist truth into error, and to clothe error with the garb of truth, has ever
been one of Satan's master and most successful efforts. The dreary but
momentous inquiry of Pilate still trembles upon many an anxious lip,
"What is truth?" The history of error is one of the saddest, as the most
voluminous and instructive, the pen of man ever wrote. From the first moment
of its introduction to the present hour, the conflict of truth and error, of
human doctrine and divine teaching, has been as fierce and fiery as it has
been incessant and prolonged.
Oh! how has the 'virgin form of Truth'--to quote the
simile of Milton--been mutilated, dismembered, and scattered--a limb here,
and a fragment yonder--until, to a superficial eye, she has 'no form or
loveliness' that men should either recognize or desire her! With what
damnable heresies, Christ-denying doctrines, and God despising practices
have the inventors and 'apostles of error' sown and flooded the
world!--propagating their schisms and their falsehoods often by the prison
and the chain, the faggot and the sword. How has the teaching of the Bible
been adulterated, the simplicity of Christ distorted, the Gospel of God
caricatured by the ungodly and deceitful, who have erred from the faith, not
knowing the Scriptures; substituting for divine doctrines human tradition;
the teaching of men for the revelation of God--plunging countless immortal
souls into endless perdition and despair!
In this connection let us remark that, all theological
error, all false doctrine, and will-worship, have had their rise and origin
in the ignoring of CHRIST as THE TRUTH. Here is the beginning of all
doctrinal error. The moment a church or an individual moves off from CHRIST
as the great central truth of the Bible, the anchor is slipped, the cable is
broken; and the bark, loosed from its moorings and drifting towards the
lee-shore of soul-destroying error, is wrecked and engulfed amid its rocks
and surf. Hold firmly to CHRIST, my reader, if you would you stand fast in
the faith, and be courageous in your combat with false doctrine like men. Do
not depart from Him, your Center. Fasten the anchor of your faith firm upon
the doctrine of His Deity, Atonement, and Mediatorship. Draw all truth from
Christ, test all teaching by Christ, examine every spirit in the light of
Christ; take no lower standard, submit to no inferior test, listen to no
stranger voice, enter by no other door than--CHRIST.
All that is saving, satisfying, and comforting in this
life--all that is bright, pure, and hopeful in the life that is to come,
centers in, and flows from, the Lord Jesus Christ, "who of God is made
unto us wisdom and righteousness, sanctification and redemption." Christ
is essentially and emphatically "the Truth;" and to know Him is to
compass all truth. Christ is essentially and emphatically "the Life;"
and to possess Him is to have life eternal. "This is life eternal, that
they might know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have
If the 'apostles of error' have seduced you--if false
doctrine has ensnared you--if papistical delusion or infidel
sophistry has drawn you from 'the truth as it is in Jesus,'--if,
searching sincerely and earnestly, but fruitlessly and despairingly, for the
divine and precious jewel, you roam from mine to mine, anxiously inquiring,
"What, and where, is truth?"--our exhortation to you is--Believe! simply and
only believe, in the Lord Jesus Christ, and your inquiry will be met, your
question answered; and, casting away your doubts, you shall exclaim, with a
yet deeper significance and profounder emphasis than the Grecian
philosopher, "I have found it! I have found it!"
But there will be no night of error in heaven. Blessed
negative! All will be truth, and all will be true there! False
doctrine will not assail the divine citadel of our religion; deceitful men
will not sap the foundation of our faith; doubt and distrust will not shade
the brightness of our hope. The decoy-lights of error will then be
extinguished; the blinding mists of ignorance dispelled; the misconceptions
of the superficial, and the prejudices of the bigot, will all be entirely
and forever banished. The "BEAST, and those who had received his mark and
worshiped his image," the "FALSE PROPHET and those who had been
deceived by his miracles," will then be "cast alive into a lake of
fire and brimstone"--for there will be no night of error in heaven.
There will be NO PROVIDENTIAL NIGHT in heaven. How
dark, long, and weary is often this night with us here! In the present life
our path is at times draped with gloomy, painful, and inexplicable clouds.
"God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform."
So strange in shape, somber in hue, and crushing in
effect, are often the events and circumstances of our personal history, we
are stunned and appalled, paralyzed and awed at the 'thick darkness' in
which our God moves, at the overshadowing cloud which He makes His
chariot--wondering where the scene will end. What prophet will explain to us
the handwriting upon the wall? Who will interpret the symbols of an event
that has suddenly plunged us in a world of mystery?
God is speaking to us from the 'secret place of
thunder'--His voice issues from out the cloudy pillar. He has nipped the
bursting bud, plucked the lovely flower, broken the graceful sapling,
uprooted the strong oak, sowing life's landscape with the snowflakes of
winter, congealing all its flowing springs, and tincturing all its sweet
rivers with the bitterness of Marah. Like Moses, we are awed into silence by
these dreadful emblems of His majesty and power, and wrapping our faces in
our mantle, bow our heads in reverence to the ground.
But the absence of night in heaven bids us look beyond
the present scene of suffering and sorrow to that glorious world where shall
be no drapery of dark and mysterious providences. In that light, pure and
transparent as the atmosphere which encircles the throne of God, we shall
read all the lessons of His love, interpret all the symbols of His
providence, understand all the mysteries of His dealings.
Our education then complete--the last task done, the last
lesson learned, the last discipline experienced--we shall emerge from the
gloom of this night of providential dispensation into that world of glory
upon whose noontide splendor no shadow shall ever fall, and upon whose
landscape the sun shall never set. How wise will then appear all the way our
covenant God led us, through the wilderness, across the desert, home to
Himself! We shall then see that every dispensation was right, every stroke
needed, every step an advance in our heavenly ascent, and that every cloud
that veiled God's love was one of its truest and holiest expressions. And
until this night of mystery passes, ushering in the perfect day whose sunny
sky no providential clouds will ever darken, let us resolve all our Heavenly
Father's dealings into infinite wisdom, rectitude, and goodness, fully
assured that, "as for God, His work is perfect."
"We cannot see the twinings
In God's long cord of love;
We cannot trace the windings
By matchless wisdom wove.
"Even as a thread, when raveled,
Still holds the hidden end,
So love's mysterious windings
Around our footsteps blend.
"That cord can ne'er be broken,
'Tis held by God alone;
The Lord's seal is the token--
He knows, He keeps His own.
"And when the Father chastens,
His children's faith to prove,
The cord is held by Jesus--
The unseen end is--LOVE!
"Love, deep, divine, unsearchable,
Love is the binding cord;
And hid beneath the chastening
Twines round the saints of God."
There will be NO NIGHT OF PERIL. Of the New
Jerusalem it is said, "And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by
day, for there shall be no night there"--clearly implying the freedom of
the favored citizens of that glorious city from the invasion of every foe. O
you who are the subjects of cruel enmity and persecution, against whom lying
tongues are leveled, and malicious shafts are flung; whose labors are
misinterpreted, whose achievements are unrecorded, whose motives are
misunderstood, and whose names are cast out as evil for Christ's sake!
rejoice that through these jasper gates no foe of the saints shall ever
pass, no barbed arrow of malignity shall ever fly, no peril to soul or body
shall ever enter. "There the wicked cease from troubling, and the weary
are at rest."
The moment you cross its threshold you breathe an
atmosphere untainted by a breath of calumny, undisturbed by a sound of
harshness, undimmed by a cloud of envy, jealousy, or revenge. Wide as is
heaven's door--never shut at all by day--no persecutor, no reviler, no
slanderer, no evil-speaker, no envenomed tongue, no avowed enemy, no
anonymous assassin, no wily thief, no bloodthirsty murderer, shall enter.
Night has its terrors as its attractions, its alarms as
its soothings, its disturbings as its repose, its sighs as its songs, its
restless tossings, its troubled dreams, its fancied apparitions, its
feverish pillow--even as it has its ambrosial dews, its pensive thoughts,
its heavenly musings, its praises and its prayers. But in heaven "you
shall not be afraid of the terror by night;" for the gates of the holy
city shall be open all the day, "into which no foe shall ever enter, and
from whence no friend shall ever depart."
There will be NO NIGHT OF SPIRITUAL DESERTION, DARKNESS,
AND DESPONDENCY. All this is inseparable from our present condition,
and forms a necessary part of the soul's education for heaven. If it was
essential that the Divine Sun should pass through the terrible eclipse of
the cross--and O my soul! what a night of nights was that! when Jesus cried
from the depths of His soul's darkness and woe, "My God, my God, why have
You forsaken Me?"
Much more essential is it to our holiness,
obedience to the divine will, and fitness for heaven, that we should at
times walk in darkness having no light, travel many dreary stages without
the sensible presence of Christ, exclaiming, "The Lord has forsaken me!
My God has forgotten me! Has He in anger shut up His tender mercies, and
will He be favorable no more?" Not a star to guide, nor a ray to cheer
the soul's perplexity and gloom! Beloved! Is this your present experience?
Are there no sweet visits from Jesus, no fatherly manifestations of God, no
light beaming from the Sun of your soul to cheer you on your way? Behold the
path trodden by the flock, nor less by the Shepherd of the flock, leaving us
an example that we should follow His steps.
The sun's eclipse is not its withdrawal,
but the veiling only of its light. The spiritual gloom and mental depression
now shrouding you is not the darkness of hell, nor the despondency of
despair; it is the Lord's wise and gracious dealings, designed but to lead
you into the experience of truth, to teach you lessons, and confer upon you
blessings, known and learned only in the night season of soul-exercise. But
all this is done away in heaven. Not a passing shadow crosses the
sunshine of the spirit. With the corruptions of the body, will be
entombed the infirmities of the soul. With every quiver and pang of
the body laid at rest, will be every mental doubt and fear. Disencumbered of
the vehicle which clogged its progress, repressed its aspirations, and
shaded its hope, the soul will expand and expatiate in a world of
ever-growing wonder, and ever-widening range, freed from every element that
contributed to its night of gloom and woe.
Oh! the bliss of the glorified saints!--no longer
tormented with doubts and fears, no more questioning their interest in
Christ, their adoption by God, their hope of glory! The agonizing question,
"Am I a Christian?" is now answered by the perfect realization of the fact.
"Am I a child of God?" is now met by the beatific vision of His face. The
distressing fear, "Have I union with the Savior?" is now lulled to rest upon
His glorified bosom; and the trembling uncertainty of ever reaching heaven
at last is lost in the blissful consciousness of being actually, safely and
No longer anxiously inquiring, "Have you seen Him whom my
soul loves?" You will gaze upon His transcendent countenance outshining ten
thousand suns, hear His loving voice sweeter than ten thousand harps, and
bask in the rays of His presence as they sweep in circling glory around the
throne before which you stand 'without a fault.' "In Your presence is
fullness of joy, and at Your right hand there are pleasures for evermore."
No more soul-despondency--mental cloud-veil--or heart-sorrow--for the night
of gloom and disquietude will forever have passed. Oh! to think that I shall
never lose the sensible presence of God--never lose sight of Jesus, my
soul's Beloved--never grieve the Holy Spirit by whom I am comforted and
sealed--and never more wander from the bosom which so often soothed me in
grief, sheltered me in danger, and upon which I shall now forever recline!
The negative of night in heaven assures us of THE ABSENCE
OF ALL THE LONELINESS AND SOLITUDE OF THE WILDERNESS which conducts
us there. The Christian pilgrimage is in some of its stages, isolated and
lonely. Created for communion, fitted for companionship, yearning and
sighing for love, sympathy, and fellowship, the Christian is often as Joseph
separated from his brethren–he travels a lonely path, and is like a pelican
in the wilderness, a sparrow alone upon the house-top. This may be the way
God is leading you, my reader. It is often with you a night of weeping
because it is a night of loneliness. You eat your morsel alone. You
sit and meditate and suffer in solitude, often longing for Christian
society, sighing for the communion of saints, yearning for affection,
sympathy, and fellowship; but it is your heavenly Father's appointment, and
it must be right--it must be in love. This is the school, and this the
discipline, of your training for the full, the perfect, the eternal
fellowship of heaven. "They wandered in the wilderness in a SOLITARY
way." But it was the right way to Canaan!
Such was a part of the suffering by which Christ, though
a Son, learned the lesson of obedience--the school of solitude.
Separated from His brethren, denied by one disciple, betrayed by another,
forsaken by all--oh! how isolated and lonely was the path He trod, the life
He lived. But was He all alone? Oh, no! Listen to His words: "And yet I
am not alone, for my Father is with me." Does not your heart, lonely
one, echo these words? You are not all alone. Lover and friend God has put
far from you, and your acquaintance has gone into darkness; He has written
you a widow--made you an orphan--removed the being whose life seemed
essential to your own--and, like a green tree whose foliage the wintry
blasts have scattered, and in whose leafless branches the birds sit and
sorrowfully sing, your heart is smitten, and sad and lonely.
Oh! you will never know until you reach heaven how
necessary this peculiar path was to your fitness for its fellowship. It was
just the school your soul required--just the discipline your heart needed.
But in heaven your dark, lonely night of weeping will give place to a bright
and eternal morning of fellowship and joy. There we shall meet again all
those who crossed the river a little while before us, then lining the shore
to greet and welcome our arrival home.
In heaven there is no solitude or loneliness, no chilled
affection or fickle friendships--no misunderstandings, woundings, or
separations. This long, dreary, troubled night is passed, and the sun of the
soul's affection and fellowship never sets. Wedded hearts are united by a
bond which sin cannot taint, which infirmity cannot peril, and which neither
poverty, adversity, nor death can impair or dissolve. Each glorified spirit,
while retaining its personal identity, its loves and memories, will yet be
so perfectly blended with the whole, and all so swallowed up in God, as to
constitute one vast and endless unity, "distinct as the billows--one as the
sea." Oh! let the thought soothe your loneliness, and the hope alleviate
your solitude, that before long this dreary night will be one perfect
sunlight and eternal day of fellowship and love!
In the LITERAL AND ETERNAL ABSENCE OF NIGHT in heaven,
how magnificent the contrast! "There shall be no night there; and they
need no candle, neither light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them
light." As stars fade and disappear in the increasing beams of the
rising sun, so the dim and partial light that irradiated and cheered our
path on earth will all be lost in the glory of God which then will fill and
illumine the heavenly temple. Oh! what must be the purity of that world, and
the splendor of that day, of which God is the light and Christ the Sun
thereof! There will then be no need of the faint 'sun' of human ministries,
and of the dim 'candle' of church ordinances; for we shall be admitted to
the beatific vision of the immediate manifestation of Deity, in the
overwhelming effulgence of which all other lights expire. "They need no
What do you think, child of AFFLICTION! of that
world in which there shall be no night of sorrow? What do you think,
child of LONELINESS! of that home in which there will be no night of
solitude? What do you think, child of pining SICKNESS! of that place in
which there will be no night of sleepless suffering? What do you
think, MOURNING ONE! of that night in which there will be no night of
weeping? Cheer up! The night is far spent--the day--the perfect, endless day
of glory--is at hand, when "no longer will you need the sun or moon to give
you light, for the Lord your God will be your everlasting light, and he will
be your glory. The sun will never set; the moon will not go down. For the
Lord will be your everlasting light. Your days of mourning will come to an
end. All your people will be righteous. They will possess their land
forever, for I will plant them there with my own hands in order to bring
myself glory. I, the Lord, will bring it all to pass at the right time."
Until that day in which we shall emerge from our present
night of sin, ignorance, and sorrow, into a nightless world of glory, let us
not forget that, long and dark though our present night season may be, we
are, as believers in Jesus, not children of the night, but of the day.
Putting off the works of darkness, let us put on the armor of light, and
walk as children of light, illumining this dark, benighted world with the
light and luster of true holiness.
It is not all night with the believer in this world. By
God's light he walks through darkness; and standing where stood the
apocalyptic angel in the sun, and thus drawing his light from Christ, he
will "let his light so shine before men, that they may behold his good
works, and glorify his Father who is in heaven." Let your light,
beloved, be not a borrowed, but a solar light; take your religion, your
creed, your profession, not indirectly from others, but directly and only
from Christ. "Now are you light in the Lord, walk as children of the
light." Following Christ, your Light, your feet shall not stumble,
however dark and dreary your night of difficulty, need, and sorrow may be.
"Walk in the light, as He is in the light," then shall your path be
as "the shining light, shining more and more unto the perfect day."
"Walk in the light! and you shall know
That fellowship of love
His Spirit only can bestow
Who reigns in light above.
"Walk in the light! and sin, abhorred,
Shall never defile again;
The blood of Jesus Christ, our Lord,
Shall cleanse from every stain.
"Walk in the light! and you shall find
Your heart made truly His
Who dwells in cloudless light enshrined,
In whom no darkness is.
"Walk in the light! and you shall own
The darkness passed away,
Because that light is on you shone
In which is perfect day.
"Walk in the light! and you shall see
A path, though thorny, bright;
For God by grace shall dwell in thee,
And God Himself is Light"