So if a man lives many years, let him rejoice in them all. But let him remember the days of darkness, for they will be many. Everything to come is futile.
I. THERE IS APPOINTED FOR MEN THE LIGHT OF YOUTH, HEALTH, AND PROSPERITY. He who rises betimes, and, turning to the east, watches for the sunrise, and then beholds the glorious orb of day rise from the plain or from the sea, and flood hill and valley, corn-field and pasture, with the radiant splendor of the morning, can enter into the language of the preacher, "Truly the light is sweet, and a pleasant thing it is for the eyes to behold the sun." And if then he looks into the face of a companion, a noble and generous youth, unstained by sin, undimmed by care, untouched by disease, he can well understand what is meant by the morning of life, the luster of youth, and can thank God that such a period, anal such strength, joy, and hope, have been appointed as a part of human experience. In youth and bounding health and high spirits, how fresh and winsome is the present! how alluring the future! Who would wish to cast a shadow upon the brightness which God himself has created?
II. THERE IS APPOINTED FOR MEN THE DARKNESS OF AGE, INFIRMITY, ADVERSITY, AND DEATH. The same individual whom we have regarded in the prime of his powers and the beauty of his joy will, if his life be prolonged, pass through quite other experiences. Clouds will gather about his head, the storm will smite him, the dark midnight will shroud him. There is no discharge in that war - no exemption from the common lot. He may lose his health, his powers of body or of mind, his property, his friends. He must walk through the valley of death-shade. In some form or other trouble and sorrow must be his portion.
III. THE DUTY AND THE WISDOM OF REMEMBERING THE APPROACH OF THE TIME OF DARKNESS. It may be objected that it will be time enough to think of the afflictions of life when they are actually present, and that it is a pity to cloud the sunny present by gloomy forebodings. Those who know the young and prosperous are, however, well aware that their natural tendency is altogether to ignore the likelihood of a great change in circumstances and experience. And to remember the providential appointment that our life cannot be eternal sunshine is, in many respects, a most desirable and profitable exercise. Thus shall we learn to place a due value, and no more than a due value, upon the pleasures, the diversions, the congenial pursuits of youth and prosperity. And, what is still better, thus may we be led to seek a deeper and surer foundation for our life - to acquire spiritual treasures, of which we cannot be deprived by lapse of time or change of circumstances. And thus shall we, by God's mercy, find that the darkness through which we needs must walk is but for a season, and that through it the people of God shall pass into the blessed sunshine of eternal day. - T.
Truly the light is sweet.
Homilist.The light of the sun is at all times sweet and pleasant. Glorious orb! His beams not only reveal, but create ten thousand forms of beauty, that lift the soul to its highest moods of thought and admiration. But there are other lights in life which are very "sweet."
I. There is the "light" of an AMIABLE TEMPER. A countenance beaming with good nature has often dispelled the gloom of a disheartened man and carried sunshine into his heart. Some are amiable by nature, all can be amiable by cultivation.
II. There is the "light" of a NOBLE CHARACTER. Christ said of His disciples, "Ye are the lights of the world," and truly he whose motives are disinterested, whose honesty is incorruptible, whose spirit and aims are Christly, is "light" indeed, a "sweet light." A light that animates, cheers, and refreshes the observer.
III. There is the "light" of GOOD FELLOWSHIP. As social beings we are wondrously influenced by the character of the circle in which we move. By good fellowship is not meant the fellowship of the wealthy, the fashionable, and the gay; but the society of men, the fountains of whose nature are pure, the thoughts of whose minds are fresh, true, and exhilarating, in whose conversation there flows ideas to enlighten, and humour to charm.
IV. There is the "light" of REDEMPTIVE TRUTH. This is the best of all the lights. A light this that not only scatters moral darkness, and makes clear God and His universe, duty, and destiny, but quickens with the highest life all the faculties of the soul, and brings them out in harmony with the Divine will. It is what Paul calls a "marvellous light."
I. ARTIFICIAL LIGHT. Were the world to be henceforth deprived of this, how large a curtailment of human comfort, industry, commerce, study, and even divine worship, would be thereby occasioned through the half of every year! The tiny taper in the widow's cottage is not only essential to her toil, but also the companion of her solitude. The floating light in the chamber of the invalid cheers his solitary midnight hours. The sight of the lighthouse is always grateful to the imperilled mariner.
II. NATURAL LIGHT.
1. Light is sweet in itself. It is so admirably adapted, not only to our organs of vision, but also to the whole of our nervous system as to be the source of no small part of the pleasures we enjoy.
2. Light is sweet on account of the manifold and varied beauties, magnificence, and grandeur which it unveils to us.
3. Light is sweet on account of the cheerfulness and confidence which it inspires. Gloom and dread are usually spirits of darkness. Though we are sometimes afraid of things we see, we are far more frequently afraid of what we merely imagine. Hence fear often vanishes at the dawn of day. This is one reason why light is conducive to health and length of life. Inspired penmen frequently associate death with darkness (Job 3:5; Job 10:21, 22; Psalm 23:4; Psalm 49:19; Psalm 88:12; Jeremiah 13:16); light with life (Job 33:28, 30; Psalm 56:13; Ecclesiastes 7:11).
III. INTELLECTUAL LIGHT. This light irradiates the chambers of the soul, and thus enables reason to perform her high and important functions. It shines upon the balance-beam of judgment, and thus enables us correctly to decide. By the aid of this light we hourly gather up ideas from without, and store, and arrange, and amplify, and compare, and compound, and contrast them in the laboratory of our souls. It is this light which illumines the closet of memory, and thus enables us to review the bygone, recall the past, and revivify the dead. This light enables us to anticipate the future, and thus originates and sustains hope within our bosoms. To this light, too, we are indebted for the power of being able rationally to love, and thus to partake the sweetness of social converse and domestic joy. In all these, and in numerous other ways, it is a source of blessedness to us.
IV. SCRIPTURAL LIGHT. "The commandment is a lamp, and the law is light." "Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." By this light we discern our characters and their shortcomings; our hearts and their desperate wickedness; our sad deserts and our terrific prospects. But it does not leave us thus. It shows us God, too; not merely as the God of holiness and justice, but also as the God of mercy, grace, and love, who is ready to pardon our transgressions, receive us graciously, and love us freely. Moreover, it shows us Christ as the brightness of His Father's glory, God over all, blessed for ever. It shows us the power and willingness of the Eternal Spirit to enlighten our minds, regenerate our hearts, and sanctify and save our souls. It also shows us the world in its vanity and vexatiousness, its sinfulness and its sorrows; and it shows us heaven in its holiness and love, its glory and its blessedness. Truly this light is sweet, and a pleasant thing it is thus to behold the Lord God as our sun and shield. And there are times in the experience of every Christian when this light has special sweetness.
1. When we first derive therefrom a soul-gladdening hope of salvation.
2. When we find its directions specially suited to our circumstances.
3. When we find its promises specially suited to our wants.
4. When we are thereby enabled to obtain soul-reviving views of God, of Christ, of providence, of the future of the Church's history, and of heaven at last.
V. SPIRITUAL LIGHT. The same Divine Spirit who enkindled the lamp of revelation for us by the agency of His inspired servants has imparted to us spiritual light by the operation of His grace. It is sweet —
1. On account of the discoveries it makes to us. It shows us ourselves. It shows what monuments of Divine forbearance we have been. It shows us the way to the throne of grace. It reveals to us the way of acceptance with God.
2. On account of the transforming influence it exerts. By the light of heaven the sick are often restored to health, and the feeble frequently made strong. So by the light of grace the sinner's soul is renovated, strengthened, sanctified, and saved.
VI. ETERNAL LIGHT. Heaven is emphatically termed, "The inheritance of the saints in light." "There shall be no night there." In closing we remark —
1. How abundant, how varied, how precious, how suitable, and how gratuitous are God's bestowments.
2. We learn why it is that sinners hate Christ and His Gospel, the Bible and its teachings (John 3:19, 20). But surely this must enhance their guilt, and will aggravate their doom.
3. This subject will enable us to account for much of the darkness and distress of soul in which even true believers are at times involved. We wander from the light, or are too distant from it to derive the full pleasure and advantage which it is designed and adapted to impart.
4. It assures us that personal religion is a truly blessed thing. Our sorrows and our gloom are to a great extent the result of our shortcomings; but the light of grace is "truly sweet."
5. It shows the necessity of faith. That which sight is to the body, faith is to the soul, Light may be around us in all its beauty and effulgence, but without the power of vision we can make no discoveries thereby.
6. Be thankful for the light.
7. Pity those who are in darkness. Many such are around you; millions are in other lands. Carry the light to all you can; send it to those to whom you cannot go. Above all, pray God to "send out His light and His truth," that the light of His revealed will may be universally diffused, the light of His grace universally enjoyed.
TopicsDark, Darkness, Enjoy, Futility, Indeed, Joy, Man's, Meaningless, Mind, Purpose, Rejoice, Remember, Vanity, Whatever, Yea, Yes, Yet
Outline1. directions for charity
7. death in life and the day of judgment
9. in the days of youth
Dictionary of Bible ThemesEcclesiastes 11:8
4811 darkness, symbol of sin
LibraryA New Years Sermon to the Young
'Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth, and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment.... Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them.'--ECCLES. xi. 9; xii. 1. This strange, and in some places perplexing Book of Ecclesiastes, is intended to …
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