ON FOLLOWING THE LIGHT OF CHRIST
Consider first, those words of the Son of God, John viii. 12, ‘i am the light of the world: he that followeth me, walketh not in darkness, but shall have the light of life.’ Poor man by sin had forfeited the true light, he was fallen from the light of truth and life, when he fell from his God; he was fallen into the darkness of ignorance, error, and vice, and was sitting in the shadow of death. God sent the true light from heaven, ‘which enlighteneth every man that cometh into this world, when he sent his Son from heaven, in the bowels of his mercy, as the orient (or dayspring) from on high to visit us, to enlighten them that sat in darkness, and in the shadow of death, and to direct our feet in the way of peace,’ Luke i. 78, 79. Jesus Christ then came from heaven to be our light; to enlighten our souls with the light of his heavenly truth; to bring us forth from the darkness of our errors and vices, to impart to us the light of faith as a lamp to shine unto us, in this dark place of this wretched world, till the true day dawn, and the day-star arise in our hearts, 2 Pet. i. 19; to give us here the light of his divine grace, for the time of our mortal pilgrimage, and to bring us hereafter to the light of glory, where, in the light of God, we shall see God the light for all eternity. Embrace, my soul, this light that comes down from heaven to visit thee, and see thou follow it in the whole conduct of thy life. O take care lest thou incur the judgment of condemnation by the light’s coming into the world, and thy loving darkness rather than the light, John iii. 19.
Consider 2ndly, that Jesus Christ came down from heaven to enlighten the world, both with his heavenly doctrine and with his heavenly life. he came from God to be our teacher, and to open in our favour his school of heavenly truths, truths to which the world was quite a stranger at that time, and which the children of this world, who being blinded with their passions, love darkness more than light, will not understand even to this day, because they will not come to this great light, lest their works should be reproved by it, ‘for their works are evil,’ John iii. 19, 20. This light of Christ reproves our self-love and all its unhappy offspring, with all our darling inclinations and affections; it confute’s all the maxims of flesh and blood, and all the errors we are so apt to entertain, with relation to worldly honour, interest, and pleasure. It discovers to us the emptiness and vanity, the mere nothing of all that passes away with time, and shows us that nothing is truly great, or deserves our esteem or affection, but what is eternal. This light of Christ teaches us to know both God and ourselves; it teaches us all virtues, poverty of spirit, humility, self-denial, meekness, patience, penance, conformity to the will of God and divine charity: it shows us the way to all perfection, and to a happy eternity; it conducts to our God himself, and to the light of life that is with him.
Consider 3rdly, that in order to come at the light of life, we must follow Christ, not only by believing his doctrine, but by walking in his footsteps, and by an imitation of his virtues. ‘We must imitate his life and manners,’ says a holy man, ‘if we would be truly enlightened and delivered from all blindness of heart; let it then be our chiefest study to meditate on the life of Jesus Christ.’ A Kempis, L. i. c. i. Yes, Christians, by often meditating on the life of Christ, we shall learn how we ought to behave on all occasions; the bright light of his virtues will show us what we are to avoid, and from what we are to fly, as well as what we are to embrace, and what we are to follow on every occasion. ‘He is the way, the truth, and the life,’ St. John xiv. 6. The light of his life shining on us, by the means of daily meditation, will conduct us into this way, will guide us to this truth, and will bring us safe to this life, even to the very fountain’s head of eternal life.
Conclude to follow henceforward in the practice of thy life, the heavenly light both of the doctrine and of the example of Jesus Christ. Walk after him and his light, and thou shalt neither walk in darkness here, nor go into darkness hereafter. This following the light of Christ, will bring thee to the happy society of the children of light, in the region of light everlasting.