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ONDERFUL and very beautiful is this daily
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when our poor film of earth-mist shuts out the generous light, and turns to gray the gold. But the thin faint light is as really sunlight then, as when it floods the harvest fields on a perfect August day.
But far more wonderful and beautiful is the glory, not of sunlight, but of sunshine,—the unhindered, all-conquering splendour of the sun, glowing full-orbed over the rejoicing earth. If that wonder came only once in a century, or once in the average life-time of a man, what anxious preparations would be made to witness it,-to have observers armed at all points so that nothing should be missed of the amazing effects produced by the flood of glory on mountain, meadow, crag, and sea ! Then, when the gorgeous day was over, and the veil was drawn for another
age, what volumes would be written, what views would be produced, what learned discussions would be taken, and what stories would be told to new listeners as they grew up, to prepare them for the next display! Here one would describe what he saw at sun-rise on that transcendent day,—when the mighty orb sailed up over the eastern hill, after sending before him his brilliant heralds to announce his coming :-how, from peak to peak the blaze extended, turning cold gray crags to gold, and
lighting up with heavenly splendour the humble homely sod. And another would tell how he saw the vision first rise from the silver sea, which flashed and trembled with the unwonted glory; how the ships looked like those men see in dreams-floating in a sea of light and entering into an opening heaven. And others, who had only seen it from the house-tops and streets would tell how it glorified even the dingy stones, painting with living colours the poorest thing that lay in the track of its splendour. And little children would tell how they took their playthings to bathe them in the glorious sunshine, as they wondered at the sudden marvel of colour and sheen that came over them. And it would be borne in mind that on that high day no man worked, but held high festival because of the one great wonder of the age. And true and tender religious souls would lift up their hearts to God, and take this new gift of sunshine as a fresh token of His love; and in after days they would tell how God had smiled that day, to keep His children in mind that He loved them, and that He was the God of beauty and light.
And yet this wonderful spectacle is so common that we are always prepared for it, are always expecting it, and do not make much of it when it arrives. Occasionally the colours are unusual, and for an instant we lift our eyes, if we happen to be doing nothing particular; but it seldom occurs to us that a day of ordinary sunshine has in it beauty to show for every hour of it, and food for thought for a year. We look on a picture with some pretty effect of sunshine in it, and we are delighted. Perhaps the busy
rays are threading a path through the thick hanging leaves, and fall in pretty pools of light upon the foothpath that runs between the trees: or the light of the declining sun casts long shadows on the grass and tips the hills with amber light, signalling the moment of its departure with a splendid canopy of brilliant rays : or the glory, finding its way through the city gloom, has supplied the artist with touching contrasts, or helped him to bring out what the sun brings out, or to supply what the sun supplies,-the poetry of life in prosy places. And, in the picture, all this is pleasant and charming. But what are a few feet of canvas, and a little paint, and a little art, to the great reality, which is ours without money and without price? If the artist can teach you to look, to believe, and to find, well ;—if not, you have not found God in finding him; for, at the very best, he is only a guide and an interpreter : and it would be well for him and for you if he could teach you to look for beauty in leaden skies, and in a cold gray day, and in the sunlight which slowly makes its sober way through the dull hiding veil that earth first weaves, then
Now, concerning sunshine, note this,—that it is not only a revealer; it is a positive creator. Science is telling us more and more plainly every day that the sun is the nearest visible representative of God this planet has. The ancient Persians were not far wrong, after all, when they worshiped fire, and bowed the knee to the sun; for the sun, as the source of heat and magnetic power, is the positive creator of every living, if not of every inanimate thing upon this globe. It sends down, with sunshine, force which can
scarcely be expressed in figures. The mightiest mechanical forces known to us are puny, and bear scarcely any appreciable relation to the tremendous force received from the sun during one day of sunshine. It floods the earth, and calls forth a million forms of energy and life. The mighty magnetic forces work in innumerable ways,—here producing fibre, there sap, here colour, there exchanging light for motion, magnetism for heat, or heat for magnetism : here building up a grass blade, and there a forest tree: here painting the petals of a geranium, and there the wing of a thrush: here converted into an apple on the tree, and there turned to blood in a child's veins : here moving the heart of a bird to sing, and there vitalizing a man's brain, so that he can think : here turned to gold on the back of a fly, and there to force in the muscles of a horse: here sweetening the fruits, and there purifying the waters : here providing gracious grasses and wild flowers for the dead, and there filling the air with health for the living. For the sun gives health as well as beauty, life, and power.
Note again concerning sunshine, that it never ceases to exist. And yet nothing seems so fickle as sunshine. It comes tardily, it deals treacherously, it departs hurriedly, it disappoints continually. We welcome it, but it will not tarry; we love it, and it will not stay. We say, like the poor disciple on the Mount of Transfiguration, “It is good for us to be here,”—here let us remain. But, even while we speak, the sunshine is eluding us; and presently we see it
Yet nothing is so constant as the sunshine. It is just the one thing that never changes. The change is all in ourselves. On the darkest midnight, when no man