Job 37:21


When clouds are cleared from the face of the sun we cannot bear to look up at the splendour of unveiled light. This is the case even in our thick and humid atmosphere; but it is much more so in the East, where the sun shines in its terrible strength. The unbearable light is a type of the majesty of God.

I. GOD VEILS HIS GLORY IN CLOUDS. The day often beans with clouds about the sun. Then we can look at the splendour of the dawn, because the ever-shifting panorama of crimson and gold that heralds in the day is visible to us in colours that our eyes can endure to look at. God begins the education of his children in a light that is tempered to suit their feeble vision. But a common mistake is to forget that God is condescending to our weakness, and to limit our conception of God to the measured revelation. Thus we form partial and human ideas of God. If his cloud is thick and dark we do not see his glorious light, and then we accuse him of the darkness, and narrow and unjust thoughts of God spring up in our hearts. Difficulties in nature and providence trouble us. Vexations thoughts about the apparent imperfection of God's works fill our minds with doubt. And all the while the simple truth is that God is merciful and considerate, veiling himself in clouds for the very purpose of sparing us.

II. GOD'S UNVEILED GLORY WOULD BE AN UNBEARABLE LIGHT. This we commonly say and instinctively feel. Let us now ask how it should be so.

1. Ignorance is dazzled by absolute knowledge. The beginner is not helped, he is only perplexed, when he is favoured with the most advanced thoughts of the ripe scholar. If all God's truth were suddenly flashed out to us it would be incomprehensible and overwhelming.

2. Sin shrinks from perfect holiness. The centre of God's eternal light is his purity. In our sin we cannot bear to look upon this.

3. Finite life cannot endure the fulness of infinite life. Our sympathies endeavour to respond to the appeals that draw them out. But when those appeals are infinite, our own life is swallowed up in the response. If we entered fully into the life of God, our life would be extinguished as the light of the stars is quenched in that of the sun.

III. GOD EDUCATES US BY GRADUALLY UNVEILING HIS GLORY. The clouds are rolled back by degrees. Twilight is a merciful gift of providence, tempering the first approach of the light, and saving us from the shook of the sudden exchange of night for day. God's education of his people is gradual.

1. Revelation is progressive. Adam could not endure the light which Christ brought. Early ages were trained by degrees to fit them for the growing light of God's truth. We have not reached all knowledge. Christ has many things to tell us, but we cannot bear them now (John 16:12). "God has yet more light and truth to break forth from his Word."

2. Individual lives are prepared for growing light. We cannot endure on earth the glory that shall be revealed in heaven. Our early Christian experience is not capable of receiving all that God wishes to reveal to us; therefore he rolls back the clouds by slow degrees, preparing for the great apocalypse. "Now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face" (1 Corinthians 13:12). - W.F.A.









And now men see not the bright light which is in the clouds.
Faith can see light when to human sense all is dark and dismal; can distinguish stars in the darkest night, sunbeams in the blackest clouds. I do not profess accurately to determine the meaning of our text. Possibly the words are to be interpreted in their literal signification, referring to changes in the weather, by which God, in a manner unknown to man, accomplishes His wise and benevolent purposes. But a cloud is so common a figure to denote adversity, light to denote prosperity, a cold north wind a painful dispensation of Providence, and fair weather a time of comfort and tranquillity, that I do not hesitate to make application of the words to the present condition of believers.

I. THE CLOUDS. Clouds not infrequently gather around the path of the Christian in his pilgrimage to heaven. To look for perpetual sunshine is a vain and foolish expectation in passing through the vicissitudes of this stormy world. If man be born to trouble, assuredly the Christian has no exemption from the common lot of human nature. His example is Christ, and in conformity with Christ his religious character must attain its purity and perfection. Like his great Master, he must learn obedience in the things which he suffers You believe in Providence; now is the time to trust it. You believe in the chastening hand of your heavenly Father: then say to God, "Show me wherefore Thou contendest with me." How will the cloud disperse? In what way will it end? That must be left between yourself and God. The order of Providence has been arranged with reference to the character of the believer.

II. THE BRIGHT LIGHT. The light is here, though men see it not. Some people are not accustomed to observe the monition of Providence. The events must come in all their reality before they are correctly appreciated. Light and shade are mingled in the dispensations of Providence, as in the scenery of nature; and in the darkest shade we shall discern some light if we look for it in a right disposition of mind. Some will not see shade; others will not see light. The silvery margin of the cloud is a pleasant sign. Or is the bright light a pencil of rays, breaking through an opening in the thin and fleecy cloud, as you may often have observed it in the summer's evening? It tells you the sun has not set. It still shines through the cloud. Or is the bright light the bow in the clouds, the reflected light of sunbeams separated in their rich and beautiful colours? This is the emblem of promise, the token of good. It means promise in sorrow, and promise is ever present in the darkest day of our lives.

III. THE PASSING WIND. The wind here is not that which bringeth up the rain from the chambers of the south, but that which disperses the clouds, and produces fair weather. You may experience something of the same kind of dispersion of your gloom and sorrow. The wind that drives away the cloud may seem rough and cold. But be the wind what it may, rough or gentle, cold or warm, it is sent by the Lord. Our troubles are of His appointment, our deliverance at His disposal; and He will disperse the troubles, and send deliverance at such a time, and by such means as He sees best. Be it ours, then, to see that the trials accomplish the good purpose of God, and then we may expect their speedy removal.

(R. Halley, D. D.)

Prom Elihu we learn that any seeming defect in the Divine arrangements must be attributable, not to any want of skill or wisdom in the Divine Ruler of all things, but rather to the short-sightedness of man's imperfect vision. Taken in this point of view, the text presents us with ample materials for deep reflection upon the Divine character, and at the same time administers to us instructive reproof. How apt are we to indulge in a repining and complaining spirit, when we cannot see the whole machinery of God's government working according to our notions of equity and goodness. "Vain man would be wise," says Zophar to Job; his restless and soaring spirit would fain explore the whole treasure house of knowledge; and yet, with all this panting after wisdom, how little does the most gifted of earth's sons comparatively know of God as revealed in the broad and thinly-leaved volume of the Divine works. If there be so much that is dark and mysterious in the works of God so richly spread around us, and in the works of God so warmly beating within us, what wonder is it if we are unable to track out to our satisfaction the higher dealings of God's moral government? There is, however, always the bright light of wisdom and benevolence shining in the darkest cloud; and it does not shine the less really because unobserved by our short-sighted vision. In all God's dispensations, He doubtless has ever a reason of wisdom and love, though it may be involved in the clouds of obscurity, and unknown to us. We see merely a few of the cross wheels, and are at a loss to understand the meaning of their revolvings. But to Him who ordereth all things, and who seeth the end from the beginning, every wheel appears properly adjusted for its own special work. Remember, then, that upon those who are really living by faith in the Son of God, though they may not always recognise it, the bright light of the heavenly favour is shining in the darkest cloud of Providence; and what we know not now, we shall know hereafter.

(W. J. Brock, A. B.)

The argument is, let man be silent when God is dealing with him; for he cannot fathom God's inscrutable wisdom. The text represents man's life under the figure of a cloudy day.

I. WE LIVE UNDER A CLOUD AND SEE GOD'S WAY ONLY BY A DIM LIGHT. As beings of intelligence, we find ourselves hedged in by mystery on every side. All our seeming knowledge is skirted, close at hand, by dark confines of ignorance. What then does it mean? Is God jealous of intelligence in us? Exactly contrary to this. He is a Being who dwelleth in light, and calls us to walk in the light with Him. By all His providential works He is training intelligence in us, and making us capable of knowledge. The true account is, that the cloud under which we are shut down is not heavier than it must be. How can a Being infinite be understood by a being finite? Besides, we have only just begun to be; and a begun existence is, by the supposition, one that has just begun to know, and has everything to know. How then can he expect, in a few short years, to master the knowledge of God and His universal kingdom? There is not only a necessary, but also a guilty limitation upon us. And therefore we are not only obliged to learn, but, as being under sin, are also in a temper that forbids learning, having our minds disordered and clouded by evil. Hence come our perplexities; for, as the sun cannot show distinctly what is in the bottom of a muddy pool, so God can never be distinctly revealed in the depths of a foul and earthly mind. The very activity of reason, which ought to beget knowledge, begets only darkness now, artificial darkness. We begin to quarrel with limitation itself, and so with God. He is not only hid behind thick walls of mystery, but He is dreaded as a power unfriendly, suspected, doubted, repugnantly conceived. We fall into a state thus of general confusion, in which even the distinctions of knowledge are lost. Reminded that God is, and must be, a mystery, we take it as a great hardship, or, it may be, an absurdity, that we are required to believe what we cannot comprehend. Entering the field of supposed revelation, the difficulties are increased in number, and the mysteries are piled higher than before. God in creation, God in Trinity, God incarnate. Man himself. Man in society. Practically, much is known about God and His ways — all that we need to know; but, speculatively, or by the mere understanding, almost nothing save that we cannot know. The believing mind dwells in continual light; for, when God is revealed within, curious and perplexing questions are silent. But the mind that judges God, or demands a right to comprehend Him before it believes, stumbles, complains, wrangles, and finds no issue to its labour.

II. THERE IS ABUNDANCE OF LIGHT ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE CLOUD AND ABOVE IT. This we might readily infer from the fact that so much of light shines through. The experience of every soul that turns to God is a convincing proof that there is light somewhere, and that which is bright is clear. It will also be found that things which at one time appeared to be dark — afflictions, losses, trials, wrongs, defeated purposes, and deeds of suffering, patience, yielding no fruit — are very apt, afterward, to change colour, and become visitations of mercy. And so where God was specially dark, He commonly brings out, in the end, some good or blessing, in which the subject discovers that his heavenly Father only understood his wants better than he did himself. Things which seemed dark or inexplicable, or even impossible for God to suffer without wrong in Himself, are really bright with goodness in the end. What then shall we conclude, but that on the other side of the cloud there is always a bright and glorious light, however dark it is underneath? Hence it is that the Scriptures make so much of God's character as a light-giving power, and turn the figure about into so many forms.

III. THE CLOUD WE ARE UNDER WILL FINALLY BREAK WAY AND BE CLEARED. On this point we have many distinct indications. Thus it coincides with the general analogy of God's works, to look for obscurity first, and light afterward. Illustrate — Creation; animals blind at birth; the manner of our intellectual discoveries, etc. Precisely what is to be the manner and measure of our knowledge, in the fuller and more glorious revelation of the future, is not clear to us now; for that is one of the dark things or mysteries of our present state. But the language of Scripture is remarkable: it even declares that we shall see God as He is. It is even declared that our knowledge of Him shall be complete. Let us receive from this subject —

1. A lesson of modesty. Which way soever we turn in our search after knowledge, we run against mystery at the second or third step. There is no true comfort in life, no dignity in reason, apart from modesty.

2. How clear it is that there is no place for complaint or repining under the sorrows and trials of life. God is inscrutable, but not wrong. If the cloud is over you, there is a bright light on the other side; and the time is coming, either in this world or the next, when that cloud will be swept away, and the fulness of God's light and wisdom poured around you. 3 While the inscrutability of God should keep us in modesty, and stay our complaints against Him, it should never suppress, but rather sharpen, our desire for knowledge.

(Horace Bushnell, D. D.)

These words illustrate —

I. THAT DARK SEASON WHEN CLOUDS OF UNFORGIVEN GUILT OVERHANG AND OPPRESS THE SOUL. Like those dense clouds which, long gathering, thicken into a distinct and compact mass so is the huge guilt of the sinner who is alienate from God. As thick clouds conceal the sun, and obstruct the light of day, so this accumulated guilt hides from the wretched sinner all light of the favour of God.

II. THOSE DARK AND SORROWFUL SEASONS THAT SOMETIMES OCCUR IN THE CHRISTIAN'S CAREER. There are seasons and days when the light of the Lord is withheld, and he must walk on, and work in the darkness. Yet never is his darkness altogether dark. At such times there is no change in God, no withdrawment of Christ. The sun all the while is in his proper place in the heavens.

III. THE CLOUDY SEASONS OF ADVERSITY AND AFFLICTION. It is part of the method of Divine procedure in the education of the human race, and for the development of the higher faculties of our nature, to subject us to suffering. Our lives would become hard and unlovely were it not for the soft sorrows that fall on us, the trials that beat on us, and the clouds that drench us. But whatever the sorrows that overtake us, when they have accomplished their mission they pass away.

(W. T. Bull, B. A.)

There are a hundred men looking for storm where there is one man looking for sunshine. My object will be to get you and myself into the delightful habit of making the best of everything.

I. YOU OUGHT TO MAKE THE BEST OF ALL YOUR FINANCIAL MISFORTUNES. During the panic a few years ago you all lost money. Compression: retrenchment. Who did not feel the necessity of it? Did yon make the best of this? Are you aware of how narrow an escape you made? Suppose you had reached the fortune toward which you were rapidly going? You would have been as proud as Lucifer. How few men have succeeded largely in a financial sense, and yet maintained their simplicity and religious consecration! Not one man out of a hundred. The same Divine band that crushed your storehouse, your bank, your office, your insurance company, lifted you out of destruction. The day you honestly suspended in business made your fortune for eternity. "Oh!" you say, "I could get along very well myself, but I am so disappointed that I cannot leave a competence for my children." The same financial misfortune that is going to save your soul will save your children. The best inheritance a young man can have is the feeling that tie has to fight his own battle, and that life is a struggle into which he must throw body, mind, and soul, or be disgracefully worsted.

II. AGAIN, I REMARK, YOU OUGHT TO MAKE THE BEST OF YOUR BEREAVEMENTS. The whole tendency is to brood over these separations, and to give much time to the handling of mementoes of the departed, and to make long visitations to the cemetery, and to say, "Oh, I can never look up again; my hope is gone; my courage is gone; my religion is gone; my faith in God is gone! Oh, the wear, and tear, and exhaustion of this loneliness!" The most frequent bereavement is the loss of children. Instead of the complete safety into which that child has been lifted, would you like to hold it down to the risks of this mortal state? Would you like to keep it out on a sea in which there have been more shipwrecks than safe voyages? Is it not a comfort to you to know that that child, instead of being besoiled and flung into the mire of sin, is swung clear into the skies? So it ought to be that you should make the best of all your bereavements. The fact that you have so many friends in heaven will make your own departure very cheerful. The more friends here, the more bitter good-byes; the more friends there, the more glorious welcomes. Though all around may be dark, see you not the bright light in the clouds — that light the irradiated faces of your glorified kindred?

III. So also I would have you MAKE THE BEST OF YOUR SICKNESSES. When you see one move off with elastic step and in full physical vigour, sometimes you become impatient with your lame foot. When a man describes an object a mile off, and you cannot see it at all, you become impatient of your dim eye. When you hear of a healthy man making a great achievement, you become impatient with your depressed nervous system or your dilapidated health. I wilt tell you how you can make the worst of it. Brood over it; brood over all these illnesses, and your nerves will become more twitchy, and your dyspepsia more aggravated, and your weakness more appalling. But that is the devil's work, to tell you how to make the worst of it: it is my work to show you a bright light in the clouds. Which of the Bible men most attract your attention? You say, Moses, Job, Jeremiah, Paul. Why, what a strange thing it is that you have chosen those who were physically disordered! Moses — I know he was nervous from the blow he gave the Egyptian. Job — his blood was vitiated and diseased, and his skin distressfully eruptive. Jeremiah had enlargement of the spleen. Who can doubt it who reads Lamentations? Paul — he had a lifetime sickness which the commentators have been guessing about for years, not knowing exactly what the apostle meant by "a thorn in the flesh." I gather from all this that physical disorder may be the means of grace to the soul. The best view of the delectable mountains is through the lattice of the sick room.

IV. Again, you ought TO MAKE THE BEST OF LIFE'S FINALITY. There are many people that have an idea that death is the submergence of everything pleasant by everything doleful. Oh, what an ado about dying! We get so attached to the malarial marsh in which we live that we are afraid to go up and live on the hilltop. We are alarmed because vacation is coming. Eternal sunlight, and best programme of celestial minstrels and hallelujah no inducement. Let us stay here and keep cold and ignorant and weak. Do not introduce us to the saints of old. I am amazed at myself and at yourself for this infatuation under which we all rest. Men, you would suppose, would get frightened at having to stay in this world instead of getting frightened at having to go toward heaven. I congratulate anybody who has a right to die. By that I mean through sickness you cannot avert, or through accident you cannot avoid — your work consummated. "Where did they bury Lily?" said one little child to another. "Oh!" she replied, "they buried her in the ground." "What! in the cold ground?" "Oh no, no! not in the cold ground, but in the warm ground, where ugly seeds become faithful flowers."

(T. De Witt Talmage.)

Homilist.
Take text to illustrate the disposition of men to look upon the dark side of things.

I. THE TEXT WILL APPLY TO THE SCEPTIC IN RELATION TO THE DARK THINGS OF REVELATION. These men see the clouds, and through the unbelief of their heart these clouds blacken and spread until they cover the whole firmament of revelation. That there are clouds hanging over this Book, it is far more Christian to admit than to deny. But, thank God, though we see the clouds, the clouds which the sceptic sees, we do not see them like him. We see a bright light upon them. There are several things which give the darkest of them a bright light.

1. There is the love of the Infinite Father. This shines through all its pages.

2. The unspotted holiness of our Great Example.

3. The provision He has made for our spiritual recovery.

4. The existence of a blessed immortality. Immortality is a bright light upon all the clouds of revelation. The clouds give variety and interest to the scene — they soften and cool the brilliant and burning rays.

II. THE TEXT WILL APPLY TO THE FACTIOUS FAULTFINDERS OF GOD'S PROVIDENCE. Some people are everlastingly musing on the difficulties of providence.

1. The permission of moral evil is a cloud.

2. The apparent disregard of God to the moral distinctions of society is a cloud. "All things come alike to all," etc.

3. The power which wickedness is often allowed to exercise over virtue, is a cloud — chains, dungeons, stakes.

4. The premature deaths of the good and useful are a cloud. We feel these clouds. But there is a bright light upon these clouds. The belief that they are local, temporary, transitional, is a bright light upon all the clouds. Out of their darkness and confusion will one day come a beautiful system. "Our light afflictions which are but for a moment," etc.

III. THE TEXT WILL APPLY TO THE MISANTHROPIC IN RELATION TO THE CHARACTER OF RACE. There are men who have gloomy and uncharitable views of the character of mankind. All men are as corrupt as they can be — virtue is but vice in a pleasing garb. Very dark indeed are the clouds which these men see hanging over society; there is no ray to relieve their darkness. Stiff, we see bright light upon the clouds — there is not unmitigated, unrelieved corruption. There is the light of social love which streams through all the ramifications of life. There is a light of moral justice which flames forth when the right and the true are outraged. There is the light of true religion. There are men who are throwing on society the right thoughts, putting forth the right efforts, and breathing to heaven the right prayers.

IV. THE TEXT WILL APPLY TO THE DESPONDING CHRISTIAN IN RELATION TO HIS EXPERIENCE. There are hours in the experience of many of the good when all within is cloudy. The proneness to fall into sin, the coldness of our devotional feeling, the consciousness of our defects, the felt distance between our ideal and ourselves, sometimes bring a sad gloom over the heart." We walk in darkness, and have no light. But here are bright lights, however, upon this cloudy experience. In the first place, the very feeling of imperfection indicates something good. "Blessed are the poor in spirit," etc. "Blessed are they that mourn," etc. In the second place, most of those who are now in heaven once felt this. Christ is ready to help such as you. From this subject we learn —

1. To cultivate the habit of looking upon the bright side of things.

2. To anticipate the world of future light.

(Homilist.)

1. We live on the unilluminated side of the cloud between God's throne and His earthly children, and only needful rays shine through; and yet the rays are quite sufficient for your guidance and for mine. We have quite sufficient truth shining through the cloud for us to walk in the paths of obedience, waiting for the time when we shall get above the cloud, and behind the cloud, into the overwhelming brightness that plays forever round the throne.

2. The infinite light behind the throne is infinite love. That cloud is light and love, and every ray that streams through to us is a love ray from the infinite, the abounding and inexhaustible love in the eternal Godhead. God governs the world by most beautiful laws of compensation. Suffering has many compensations, not only in its influence upon the sufferer, in humbling him, bringing him into a sense of dependence, inspiring in him a spirit of prayer, quickening his faith, and working out the principles of righteousness, but suffering hath its happy influence upon others.

3. The future will clear up many a mystery. By-and-by shall come the last great day of revelation, when nothing that is right shall be found to have been vanquished, and nothing that is wrong shall be found to have triumphed. Learn —

(1)God is often inscrutable, but never wrong.

(2)On this side the cloud we have nothing to do but to receive the truth that comes through, and walk by it.

(3)Never get frightened at God's clouds.

(4)Clouds of trial often rain down truth to be gathered from no other source.God usually orders it that through penitence come praise and forgiveness, through trial comes triumph; yea, the cloud itself sends down mercy.

(T. L. Cuyler, D. D.)

How much is said in Scripture about clouds! Clouds are the appropriate signs of mystery, and majesty, and mercy. It is impossible to look upon a cloud without being impressed perhaps more with the appropriateness of it as a vesture of God's greatness and His divinity, than even sea or mountain. Clouds have an interpreted force. They have gentle and bright teachings. They are capable of daguerreotyping upon our paths bright letters, if we will but stop to read them. See whether we can detect some of the light.

1. In the character of God, the cloud has silver linings. "Dark with excessive light His skirts appear." In nature, God appears to us very much more as the God of mystery than as the God of mercy. To me nature is no gospel. The character of God is a great, strange, dark cloudland; but it has its silver lining. He dwells in incommunicable, inaccessible light. Yet on the fringes of that cloud which vests Him, and passes before His throne, we see indications and traces of the benignity and beauty of His character. The Bible is only something like a cloud before the throne of God. He holds back the splendour of His own Being, for we could not bear it.

2. In the pathway of providence the clouds have a silver lining. The providence in which God moves is frequently as cloudy as even the vesture that robes round His own being and character. How unreasonable it is for us to suppose that all providential arrangements are to be known and seen by us. God's justice is terrible, but it is lined with mercy; God's terror is terrible, but it is lined with love; God's power is terrible, but it is lined with wisdom.

3. In the interpretation of truth, the cloud has often a silver lining. The words of the Book have great darkness in them. It is much easier to ask questions on the difficulties of Scripture than it is to answer them.

4. In the ordinances of religion the cloud has a silver lining. Learn that we must be cheerful under the darkness. Finally, there are clouds in some parts of the universe that have no silver linings.

(E. Paxton Hood.)

God appears, the last of the dramatis personae. He comes in the whirlwind, and out of the cloud, sweeping through the heavens: He proclaims His majesty: "Gird up now thy loins like a man, for I will demand of thee, and answer thou Me." The cloud is God's pavilion. It is the appropriate medium through which the Infinite reveals Himself to man. In the nature of the case it is not possible to have a revelation without a corresponding adumbration of Him. He is like the sun, which cannot be seen without a dimness intervening between it and the naked eye. This is God's way of revealing Himself: He must needs obscure His glory in manifesting it. The complaint of Elihu is that men behold the cloud, but not the bright light within it.

I. AS TO GOD'S PERSONALITY. To know Him is the summit of human aspiration. This is life eternal, to know God, and Jesus Christ who is the manifestation of God. It is an easy thing to utter His name; but who can apprehend the tremendous truth suggested in that little word of three letters! Infinitude is embraced in it. When Simonides was entrusted by King Hiero with the duty of defining God, he returned at the close of the day to ask for further time. A week, a month, a year passed by, and then he reported, "The more I think of Him, the more He is unknown to me." There have been campaigns of controversy, centuries of research, libraries of theology, and still here we are asking, What is God? The cloud bewilders us. But one thing we know, God is Love. This is the bright light. Whatever else we fail to grasp, this we may fully apprehend. If Jesus Christ had done no more, as Madame de Gasparin said, than to reveal the Divine Fatherhood, that would have compensated for His incarnation.

II. AS TO GOD'S CHARACTER. His attributes of truth, justice, and holiness, are the habitation of His throne. The thought of the Divine holiness appalls us, for we are defiled, and by our sins infinitely separated from Him. But again, love is the bright light. The cross stands in the midst of the Divine holiness. The cross is preeminently the manifestation of the Divine love. At the moment when Jesus died, the veil of the Temple was rent in twain, and a new and living way was opened up for sinners into the Holiest of all.

III. AS TO THE DIVINE DECREES. Or, God's dealings with us from the eternal ages. The very suggestion offends us. Yet we must be aware that God would not be God if He had not foreknown and foreordained whatsoever cometh to pass. It is vain, however, to undertake to simplify the doctrine. But here, again, love is the bright light. God's decrees are founded in His mercy. Election has never kept one out of heaven, but it has brought an innumerable multitude into it.

IV. AS TO DIVINE PROVIDENCE. Here, surely clouds and darkness are round about Him. Pain, sorrow, disappointment, are our common portion. We are all burden bearers. Why must we be? Here, again, love is the bright light. All God's dealings with us are illumined by the thought that He does not willingly afflict us. He is making all things work together for our good. Not long ago, in the Chinese quarter at San Francisco, under one of the theatres, I saw a child of six years with her mother in a narrow room, with joss gods all round them. For a coin, the little one sang to us. It was a strange place for a gush of heaven's melody. This is what she sang: —

"Jesus loves me, this I know,

For the Bible tells me so."Oh, that we might all carry away with us the assurance of our Father's love! Whatever darkness may gather, this is the bright light.

(D. J. Burrell, D. D.)

Few things are so indefinite, or at least undefined, as darkness and light. Grief and gladness are not any more alike to all, than darkness and light are the same to every one of us. As I reckon my happiness according to the memory of some past affliction, so I estimate my troubles by remembering my joys. My past and future make one another. I never can take the weeping that endures for a night, without preparing the way for the joy that cometh in the morning. This cannot be other than a very gracious doctrine.

1. Nothing is more brilliant, nothing more simple, more available, than the gospel of Christ; but nothing is more easily injured or covered up by the fancies and fictions exhaling upwards from ourselves. Truth is truth, always the same, do what you will with it; but you may put curtains and clouds between truth and yourselves that shall leave you in the darkness of error. It is not the fault of the sun when the clouds eclipse it.

2. We bring you to Christian hope as the light of the new life — the sense of pardon through a surety, and the hope of glory as the purchase of another. Only remember that your iniquities may have separated between you and your God.

3. The countenance of the Father of lights may be covered and concealed, when there is no false doctrine, no backsliding, directly from us to make the barrier our own.

(H. Christopherson.)

Evangelical Preacher.
Here appears to be a figurative allusion to the occurrences which are under the control of Divine providence, under the similitude of the clouds, and the bright design which is sometimes beyond the reach of the human mind to understand.

I. THESE OCCURRENCES RESEMBLE THE CLOUDS SOMETIMES.

1. In their sudden appearance.

2. In their various magnitude.

3. In their happy effects. Every cloud brings its proportion of gloom, yet each cloud is a vehicle of blessing.

II. THERE IS SOMETHING CHEERING IN ALL THE DISPENSATIONS OF PROVIDENCE.

1. The character of God is a bright light. Giving splendor and beauty to the events of Providence, as the rising sun fringes with golden brightness the darkest cloud it meets in its course.

2. The promises are a bright light in the clouds. This is the light of truth, bright with the faithfulness of the Eternal. There is no exigency can arise, but there is an appropriate promise. Some of them are very comprehensive. It is well to have the memory stored with these promises.

3. The past conduct of the Lord is a bright light in the clouds. The review of the past should encourage confidence in reference to the present and the future. The moral influence of reflection on past mercies is to awaken hope even when God appears to clothe Himself with clouds and thick darkness.

III. CAUSES WHICH PREVENT US FROM SEEING THE BRIGHT LIGHT IN THE CLOUDS.

1. Constitutional or physical dejection will do this. The health or sickness of the body has a much greater influence over our spiritual enjoyments than some Christians imagine. Body and soul are too closely allied not to sympathise most deeply with each other.

2. There are, however, other causes, both intellectual and moral, such as defective views of Divine truth. Some have such imperfect and erroneous views of God's Word that they seem to have no consolation in any time of trouble.

2. Want of faith in the wisdom and goodness of God. Faith is just that to the soul which sight is to the body. The sun shines though the blind man sees it not: so Christ, "The Light," shines, but only the believing mind sees Him. Others see not this bright light.

(Evangelical Preacher.)

Three objects.

1. The "bright light," which is the symbol of God's personality.

2. The "clouds," which are a symbol of those obscurities which hide God from our eyes.

3. The "wind," which is the symbol of that Divine power by which these obscurities are removed, so that men may see God. The whole difficulty of Job was that he could not see God. He could not understand why God afflicted him.

I. THE DIFFICULTIES OF FINDING GOD ARE HERE SET BEFORE US. The obscurity is often in ourselves. It is often traceable to the infinite and illimitable nature of God. How is God to reveal Himself so as to satisfy the human mind and heart? Only in the way which God has chosen, could God effectually reveal Himself to creatures like ourselves. There must be gradual approaches of His mind to ours. There must be a condescension to our finiteness. God makes the path to Himself as plain as He can, considering the difficulties which are naturally in our way. Look first at the clouds. Our ignorance is a cloud. Finiteness is another name for this ignorance; and finiteness means fallibility, i.e. liability to err. The nature of man, limited and feeble in comparison with the subject on which his thoughts have to be engaged, makes man feel that about him are mists and shadows which he cannot penetrate.

II. THE REMOVAL OF THE DIFFICULTIES. They can only be removed by God. God can drive away man's feebleness by His own freely given grace, The will of God is engaged in our salvation.

III. FEW THINGS IN NATURE ARE STRONGER THAN THE WIND. The wind is the symbol of God's Spirit. God has come to us in His Son Jesus Christ, and God speaks by His Spirit, through His Word.

(Samuel Pearson, M. A.)

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