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THE POWER OF DARKNESS.
their defective vision, and through the mist of those passions and prejudices that are common to our poor humanity ? There should be much more latitude allowed for those differences of opinion which are inseparable from our present state ; but, forgetting to temper the ardent zeal with the loving and liberal spirit of the great Apostle, Christian men have allowed differences to grow up into quarrels, and quarrels to ripen into divisions, till they, who once took sweet counsel together, and walked to the house of God in company, part, saying, “ Can two walk together, except they be agreed ? A time approaches, blessed be God, when this unseemly state of matters shall cease. According to old legends, the ghosts all vanished at cock-crowing. And, as the day dispersed the spectres, and the rolling away of the mist from the landscape rolls away also the mistakes it led to, even so, when the day of the Lord comes, it will settle all controversies-great and small. In " the seven-fold” light of Zion, God's children shall see "eye to eye." They shall not only behold " Him as he is," and "the truth" as it is, but, with loving surprise, their brethren as they are. There shall be no differences, because there shall be no darkness. “Now we see through a glass darkly; but then face to face ; now I know in part; but then shall I know, even also as I am known.”
Meanwhile, He, who is sovereign in his dealings, and gives no account of His ways, has not equally distributed the light of saving truth ; nor is there anything in the kingdom of grace corresponding to a remarkable fact in nature. Under the equator each day consists of twelve hours of light, and as many of darkness, the whole year round. But pass by one long stride to the polar regions, and, according as the season is sum
mer or winter, you stand beneath a sky which either enjoys perpetual day, or is wrapped in perpetual night. There, Dr. Kane and his ship's crew, for instance, never saw the sun for one hundred and forty long and weary days ; but were left, as in those Pagan lands on which the gospel has never shone, tou nbroken night. During all that long period the sun never rose above the horizon to cheer their icy prison with one beam of light. Yet, taking the whole year round, the inhabitants of these dreary climes have the same period of light as we and others; for theirs are nightless summers, on which the stars never rise, and the sun never sets, but wheels his burning chariot round and round the pole. Now, in regard to saving light and knowledge, we find nothing corresponding to this phenomenon. Strange mysterious providence! there is no such equal diffusion of gospel truth. We dare not doubt that God's ways are equal, and that eternity will shed a wondrous and glorious light on this gloomy mystery; but over a vast surface of our unhappy world we see only darkness—"gross darkness"-unbroken night-nations that never hailed the rising of a better sun.
But, leaving the Heathen in the hands of God, we find some Christian nations in such darkness, as to make it almost a marvel to us how they find their way to heaven. I cannot, and would not doubt, that the Church of Rome, for instance, has true saints within her--chosen ones, who shall be plucked as brands from the fire, cast out, like praying Jonah, safe upon the land. Still, within that church the people enjoy at best "a dim religious light." The gospel, permitted to reach them only through blind or selfish priests, suffers like change with the sunbeam that streams through the colored windows of their gorgeous but
gloomy cathedrals; and, with a cloud of saints interposed between him and the eye of the sinner, the Saviour, like the sun behind misty vapors, stands shorn of his resplendent glory.
Again, in those few countries where in full freedom to use the Bible, and in the general use of it, the gospel may be said to shine with unclouded splendor, God's people do not all walk in the same degree of light. Be it owing to peculiar circumstances, or to some defect of vision, they are not all equally enlightened. Some are offensively narrow-minded. Some are so short-sighted that they can hardly recognize Christ's own, and therefore their own brother, unless he belong to the same church, and remember the Saviour at the same table with themselves. They are great upon little things. More given to hate the error than love the truth which they see in others, their temper is sour and ungenial. I do not assert that they have not the eaglewings which rise to near communion with God, but they want that long-sighted eagle-eye which discerns distant objects, and embraces in its range of vision a broad and wide expanse. Be ours the charity which beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things!
Again, while some saints enjoy a clear assurance of their salvation, and stretching toward heaven, behold the land that is very far off, as seamen from their outlook descry the mountain-tops, when their bark is ploughing a waste of waters, and yet a long way from land, there are other Christians who pass their days in a state of despondency. The sun seldom breaks out to cheer them. Their faith has a hard fight with their fears. It is little they know of rejoicing in the Lord, and joying in the God of their salva
tion. By help of God's word, their compass, they succeed, no doubt, in steering their way to heaven, but it is over a troubled sea and under a cloudy sky ; nor are they ever happy enough to be altogether delivered from doubt and fear, till fears as well as faith are lost in light, and they find themselves safe in glory.
Again, while some, who draw all the doctrines they believe directly and freshly from the fountain of God's word, are enlightened, catholic in spirit, and sound in the faith, it is otherwise with others. Calling this or that man Rabbi, they yield too much submission to human authority. They draw the water of life, so to speak, not at the spring but at the well; and tasting of the pipe it flows through, their creed, and faith, and doctrines are adulterated by a mixture of earthly, though not fatal, errors.
If we allow to these views their due influence, how ought they to expand our hearts, and teach us a tender regard toward those from whom we differ! Blindness of mind, surely, if not willful, claims our gentle pity, more even than blindness of body. We all through a glass darkly." Perhaps we are mistaken. Perhaps our brethren are right. The possibility of this should teach us to differ meekly, and to avoid, even when denying the infallibility of the pope, the arrogance of one who thinks himself infallible. at any rate, I am sure, that, as objects are not only obscured but also magnified by mist, many points of difference between Christian men appear much larger now than they shall do when regarded by the serene light of a deathbed, and yet more certainly in the transparent atmosphere of heaven. And were it not well if good men would never forget that piety, though not consistent with indifference, is consistent with a
measure of error. Admit that, by heaping “gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble” on the true foundation, others have done wrong ; yet they shall be saved, though as by fire. The errors of many are de lusions ; and it is both literally and figuratively true that delusions of the brain are less dangerous than disease of the heart. A man, through the darkness, may wander to a greater or less extent from the plain, patent, direct road, and yet get home. And happiest though they be who pursue their journey in unclouded sunshine, yet to the upright" there ariseth light in the darkness" - shed by the Spirit within their souls, streaming down direct from heaven. And I have often thought it shall be with those whose hearts beat true to God and Jesus Cwrist, as with one who loves his father and his mother, and longs once more to see their faces, and to hear their voices, and after weary years of exile, to dwell again among brothers and sisters beneath the old roof-tree. Little light serves to show him the road. Bent on getting home, he will cross the mountains, and ford the river, and travel waste and pathless moors through the mists of the thickest day. What although errors, like exhalations from the swampy ground, have risen up in many churches to obscure the heavenly light? Where there is genuine love to Jesus Christ, and God, and man, may we not cherish the hope that there is truth enough to conduct to heaven the steps of every pilgrim who is honestly and earnestly inquiring the way to Zion? “ There shall be a highway out of Egypt.” “ They shall come from the east and from the west, and from the north, and from the south,”—from various climes, and from diverse churches,-"and shall sit down in the kingdom of God." Nor do I despair of any getting to that