4. Light and Darkness
Here are two more words which we every day borrow from their first, natural meaning, to describe states not of the outside world, but of people's minds. Let the class suggest phrases in which these and similar words are understood by everybody to refer to states of mind. I am wholly "in the dark" on this subject, one might say, when perhaps he is standing in the sunshine or by the lighted lamp. This news "throws some light" on the question. "The dark ages" — were they years when the sun did not shine? A "benighted" land — is it one where the sun has set? Is an "enlightened" nation one whose skies are bright? We say of people that they live according to their "lights." "Keep it dark." The game, "throwing light."
What does it mean, that we are "in the dark," or are "gaining light"? We are in the dark upon a subject of which we are wholly ignorant, or in regard to which we are misinformed. We gain light as we gain knowledge upon the subject, become intelligent, and finally wise. (D. L. W. 96; A. C. 4403-4420.) Look again at the familiar phrases mentioned above and see if this is not the light and darkness they refer to.
The most serious kind of darkness is ignorance and false belief in regard to the Lord and heaven and good life; and the most precious light is knowledge, intelligence, wisdom in regard to these subjects. Such darkness in the minds of men angels lament; such light they rejoice to see. The Bible in its spiritual meaning tells us of this light and darkness. (A. E. 526, 527.) Let the class recall verses where darkness, light, day, night, and other such words occur, and perhaps they will be able in a simple way to suggest their spiritual meaning.
It is predicted of the time when the Lord should come, "Behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people." (ISA. lx, 2.) Does it mean that there would be natural darkness, or that the darkness of ignorance and false beliefs would prevail? And of the Lord's coming we read, "Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the lord is risen upon thee. . . . And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising." (isa. lx. 1, 3.) Was it a brightness seen with the eyes? or was it the light of intelligence in heavenly things, which the Lord brought to men's minds? (A.C. 10574.) Again, "The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light; they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined." (isa. ix. 2; A. C. 3863.) The Gospel also says of the Lord's coming,
"The light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. . . . That was the true light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world." (John i. 5, 9.) It teaches the same Chapter of the ignorance and falsity in men's minds, and the perfect wisdom of the Lord; and it tells us that all our light, all our ability to understand any truth, is given us by the Lord. (A. E. 294.) "In thy light shall we see light." (Ps. xxxvi. 9; A. E. 483; A. C. 353.) "I am the light of the world," the Lord Himself said. (john viii. 12; A. E. 864.) And the Lord said of those whom He taught and sent out to teach others, "Ye are the light of the world. . . . Let your light so shine before men." (Matt. v. 14, 16.) The disciples, or more abstractly, the messages of truth they carried, were to spread light from Him to all the world. (A. E. 223.)
In what other way than by His own personal presence and by the presence of His disciples does the Lord send us the light of knowledge, intelligence, and wisdom in heavenly things? By His Word. We can truly say, "Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. . . . The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple." (Ps. cxix. 105, 130; A. E. 274.) What is the meaning of the prophet's warning, "Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness"? (ISA. v. 20; A. C. 1839.)
Remember also that where we read in the Gospels, or elsewhere in the Word, that events took place in the night or the darkness, this not only tells a natural fact, but also is representative of spiritual darkness. "There was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days: . . . but all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings." (Exod. x. 22, 23.) Like all the plagues of Egypt this represented the state of the Egyptians' minds, and the state of every mind which clings to natural and evil life and refuses to obey the Lord. The Israelites had light, for they represent those who are seeking deliverance from bondage to natural and evil life. These are intelligent in spiritual things, but the others are densely stupid. (A. C. 7712, 7719.) "Egyptian darkness" has become a common phrase for a state utterly without intelligence.
At the Lord's birth, "There were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flocks by night." (luke ii. 8.) What does it tell of the state of the world into which He came? There were a few who cared for innocence, and these were keeping watch in a night of ignorance and false belief. The disciples toiled all night and caught nothing. (Luke v. 5.) By night the Lord saw the disciples "toiling in rowing, for the wind was contrary unto them; and about the fourth watch of the night he cometh unto them, walking on the sea." (mark vi. 48.) The weary toil of the night means the disciples' vain effort and our own, when our minds are in darkness because far from the Lord. The fourth watch, or the dawn, is when we perceive that the Lord is near. (A. E. 514.) "Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning." (Ps. xxx. 5; A. C. 10134.)
Were there times of spiritual darkness in the Lord's human life? He "continued all night in prayer." (Luke vi. 12.) The Lord was betrayed in the night, and forsaken by His disciples, and denied. When He said to the disciples, "All ye shall be offended because of me this night" (mark xiv. 27), and to those who took Him, "This is your hour, and the power of darkness" (Luke xxii. 53), did He mean merely the natural night? or did He rather mean the night of denial in men's minds? (A. C. 6000.) Does it tell us something of the mind of Judas at the Last Supper, and of our own minds when we betray the Lord, that "he went out, and it was night"? (john xiii. 30.) Was it true in any but a natural sense, that as the Lord hung upon the cross, " there was darkness over all the earth"? (Luke xxiii. 44; A. E. 401.)
"There shall be no night" in the holy city; "and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light." (Rev. xxii. 5.) These words describe a church in which there will be no false faith, and where men will not be led by their own intelligence, but will be in spiritual light from the Lord. (A. R. 940; A. E. 1343.) In heaven it is even outwardly true that there is no night, though there is twilight and rest; for in the spiritual world brightness without is inseparable from brightness within, and the minds of angels, though they rest from their intensest activity, are never dark. (H. H. 126-132, 155.)
We say that a face "beams" with kindness, or that it "lights up" with intelligence. In heaven, interior intelligence or love of truth makes the faces of angels actually shine. (H. H. 347; A. E. 401.) Such shining of the face has also been seen by men on earth and is spoken of in the Bible. "It came to pass, wnen Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tables of testimony in Moses' hand, . . . that the skin of his face shone. . . . And till Moses had done speaking with them, he put a vail on his face." (Exod. xxxiv. 29-35.) This was because Moses was the representative of the Lord's Word in its letter. The shining of his face was a symbol of the inner wisdom of the Word shining through the letter, which must be veiled because the people were not able to receive it. (A. C. 6752, 10691; A. E. 937.)
Remember how the Lord was seen by the apostles on the mountain of transfiguration: "His face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light." (matt. xvii. 2; H.H. 129; A. E. 412.) Remember also that the Lord is seen by angels, clothed with the glory of the sun of heaven. (H. H. 118; D. L. W. 97.) "Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment," says the Psalm. (Ps. civ. 2; A. E. 283; A. C. 9433.) What Divine quality is it which becomes visible to spiritual sight as bright light surrounding the Lord? His Divine wisdom. The ancients knew that the Lord's wisdom appears to spiritual sight as light going forth from Him, and from this ancient knowledge the custom still remains with painters of encircling the head of the Lord with rays of light. (D. L. W. 94.)
Heat and light are often found together; is this an accident, or is there some real relation between them? Heat a piece of iron in a forge, or a bit of lime in a blowpipe, or the particles of carbon with which burning-gas is charged, or a thread of carbon in the exhausted globe of an incandescent lamp, and what is the result? A bright light. Heat is the cause of light. Is there any such relation between love, the mental warmth, and wisdom, the mental light? Our interest in a subject makes it easy to understand it; love is quick to perceive. Wisdom in heavenly subjects comes not with great learning alone, but with the faithful effort to do right, that is, with an earnest heart. "The fear of the lord is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all they that do his commandments." (Ps. cxi. 10; A. R. 527; A. E. 696.) There is no true faith where there is no charity. (T. C. R. 385.)