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can see his way, the sunshine is still pouring its glory upon the earth; but our portion of it has turned itself away. On the other side, while we shudder at the frightful gloom, children are laughing at their play, the reapers are busy with the corn, and the glory of forest, sea, and meadow replies to the glory of the sky. And on dull November days, when, at mid-day, only a few thin gleams find their way to us, the fault is all our own.
The fogs are earth-born, and come between us and the sunshine. If you could mount up beyond the thin veil of mist that folds us in on those dreary days, you would find the faithful sunshine there, brilliant and beautiful as ever, and only waiting for the right conditions, the open door, that it may enter in.
It is this thought which brings me to that, in the inner life, which answers to sunshine in the outer world. For there is a sunshine of the spirit, even as there may be a winter in the soul. And, though the way may be rough, and the sky dark for the time, how sweet it is to remember that there is sunshine still ; light always there, love always there, hope always there,—waiting for us, and never, never in danger of departing for ever. The poet Gray talks of
. "Hope" as "the sunshine of the breast;" and that, at least, is always ours, --indeed God's angel, “ a very present help in time of trouble." The poet Pope also speaks of “the soul's calm sunshine” which is the product of virtue : and that, too, is a precious sustainer,--the sweet, bright consciousness of right which ought to have great power to sustain, brighten, and cheer us. It is this serenity of mind of which Addison speaks when he says that "it consecrates every field and wood, and turns an ordinary walk into a morning or evening sacrifice.” Now, to a great extent, this sunshine is in our power. We can use ourselves to look on the best and most hopeful side of things (for this to a very large extent is a habit). Think the best and not the worst of people's motives and desires, and take the most hopeful view of all things. This will yield a sunshine of its own, and put much happiness within easy reach. The poet Spenser sings of a gracious creature whose angel face, as the great eye of heaven, shined bright, and made “a sunshine in the shady place.” It is a perfectly divine faculty; and the smallest capacity for it should be cultivated : for God is the God of joy, and light, and beauty, and you do His will when you make "a sunshine in the shady place."
Then, once more, note concerning sunshine that it hides. Yes! strange as it seems, the glory of sunshine hides
many worlds for the one near world which it reveals. Blanco White has wonderfully put that, in describing how the terror of the man who first saw or first felt the awful. ness of approaching night would be changed for wonder as, with the disappearance of the sun, “ creation widened on his view :" and he draws a grand thought from that;
“Who could have thought what darkness lay
Concealed within thy beams, O Sun?" And “if light can thus deceive, wherefore not life?” That is to say,—If light here can hide worlds beyond, why may not life here hide life beyond ?
And this brings us to our last thought concerning sunshine. There are those who call heaven the summer-land, and it is a charming phrase. We must believe, if we believe anything at all as to life beyond, that all change in this respect must be improvement. Retrogression, as a fixed fact, and as one of the appointed and pre-arranged incidents of continued life, would be in contradiction to everything we know of God's laws here; and we have not only a perfect right, but necessity is laid upon us to assume progress as the steadfast condition of change of being. And what advance can there be like that which is described in the passage from a world of clouds to the summer-land? I confess, for my own part, that I do not think I have seen the true sunshine yet. This is a world of signs, hints, and shadows; and sunshine itself is only a shadow—a mere hint and symbol of the true glory of the summer-land. Shakspeare wonderfully describes the inner meaning of day-dawn and sunset;
"The morning steals upon the night,
Melting the darkness.” Think of that, “melting the darkness.” That is the real glory of the dawn: it steals in with mighty but quiet power to “melt the darkness. And then, as to sunset,
“Look, how the sun begins to set :
How ugly night comes breathing at his heels." What a picture! but how true! ugly darkness always following hard on the heels of the declining day. And this is a type of life,--when ugly death, at last, like night, "comes breathing” at our “heels.” Yes! but there is a daybreak after that; and the eternal morning, as the great poet says of this summer morning of earth, will “steal upon the night” “melting the darkness.”
Now if that be so, we ought to be very pure and very happy,—very pure because we are going into a world of light, where all evil, like the dust in a dingy house, will be intensely revealed by sunshine; and very happy because we have the best world and the sweetest life to
may have a hard time of it here, with a mist that never will be lifted, over all the scene; but be of good cheer; the summer-land is very near, the dear old friends are at the door, the work amid the fogs is nearly over, and for you awaits the eternal sunshine.
HE writer of the Acts of the Apostles tells of a certain
man lame from his birth, who was “laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple.” The people who did this had probably no other thought than the very poor and mercenary one, that it had been found a profitable thing to bring the poor cripple and lay him down at the gate called Beautiful, beyond which the crowd passed for the worship of the temple. People's hearts were likely to be touched then, and charitable feelings would naturally lie on the surface: and so it came to pass that in the Pagan and in the Christian worlds, before temple gates and church doors, the poor came or were brought to beg alms of the passers by.
But to us, looking upon the scene at a distance, a lovely meaning gathers about it, like a gleam of golden sunlight: for it was at the gate that was called Beautiful that this poor cripple lay, asking alms. Looking back upon that scene, cripple, crowd, and temple, vanish ; a lovelier gate is visible; and, lying before it, I see, not one lame man but millions, who are brought daily to God's gate Beautiful, asking alms.
Human life, in its normal, natural state, is beautiful at every stage; and as the scene changes or each stage is passed, sweet surprises greet us, or fresh needs arise.