Life and Enlightenment

The translation of life into terms of enlightenment or understanding helps our progress. Ignorance and the deprivation of good which it involves, have been described as darkness by both poet and prophet. Of the froward, Eliphaz declares, "They meet with darkness in the daytime, and grope in the noonday as in the night." The description in Isaiah of those to whom judgment and justice are absent is graphic: "We wait for light, but behold obscurity; ... we stumble at noonday as in the twilight: among them that are lusty we are as dead men" (Rev. Ver.). Similar testimony is born by Hosea when he says, "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge." When Paul received his commission, he recognized that his life-work in the service of those whom he had called Gentiles was "to turn them from darkness to light," thus showing that he himself had received a genuine illumination, and had seen "the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ."

In Paul's mind there was an endless giving of thanks to the Father, "who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son." Thus we may see how clear to him was the truth which the Master spoke to the group in the temple when he declared, "I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." If men through misunderstanding dwell in darkness, "being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart," evidently the gaining of understanding means not only enlightenment, but life as well. By a process of revelation the real becomes the actual to us, and disconnected, unreal beliefs vanish. The text-book of Christian Science, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," explains this in saying, "It is our ignorance of God, the divine Principle, which produces apparent discord, and the right understanding of Him restores harmony." It also declares that "darkness and chaos are the imaginary opposites of light, understanding, and eternal harmony, and they are the elements of nothingness" (pp. 390, 479).

Our stages of progress are marked by continual discoveries of good, and at each discovery we wonder that we had not known and enjoyed earlier what is revealed to us, so self-evident does it appear. Like the artist, we have to be perpetually interpreting anew what we see. He depicts his insight on canvas, and the beauty of nature disclosed in the painting touches the thought with a new sense of the harmony of the creative Mind. One said to Turner, "But I do not see in nature what you bring out in you pictures;" and his reply was, "Madam, don't you wish you could!" Our discoveries are not by any means limited to the realm of the beautiful in nature. We make new appraisements of friends and home and national life, rising thereby to new standpoints of gratitude and praise. The wonder of it all, even when we are entranced with God's love expressed to us in the loveliness of earth's scenery, is in the reminder that all this is but a foretaste of the infinite unfoldments of good. Nature indeed helps to reveal this goodness, as Paul declared to the people of Lystra, showing how "the living God ... left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness." But every man is a true witness when he has won and reveals a character like to his creator. Exactly such a character was manifested by the Prophet of Nazareth, who thus fulfilled the hopes of a long line of prophets, so that a New Testament writer could quote exactly Isaiah's expectation, and declare it fulfilled, saying, "The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up."

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Our Table
December 12, 1914

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