The time when tired nature seeks repose from the multitudinous labors of the day. The silent shades of evening steal gently about us, wrapping its cloak of dark mystery and impenetrable gloom over our senses. The ambitious and aspirations of the day are laid aside, giving place to meditations, or perchance more frivolous intent. The fiery monarch of the sky glides into the horizon, and hides his brilliant face behind the western hills, as though he would laughingly say, Now show yourselves, you dull visaged moon, and you silly stars. But the moon, all unconscious of his predecessor’s greater glory, appears, clothed in his borrowed brightness, shedding a mellowed light on all the earth beneath. While the coy and timid stars wink their twinkling merry eyes, trip back into the darkness, until in very boldness they disport themselves upon the whole canopy of the darkened heavens, making the dismal night a thing of beauty. O fickle, changeable moon, who wast ordained of God, thy usefulness knows no end. Controller of tides art thou, O moon, and furnisher of the dew, to give nurture to luscious fruits. A night candle for the belated wayfarer, and above all emblematic of wonderful things in righteousness. O stars, the creatures of the handiwork of God, inhabiting the firmament in the dim, unmeasured distance. Myriads of worlds are the foundation of thy beauteous twinkling, and mayhap living, breathing, thinking creatures fulfill their span of life on thy surface, as on ours. Emblems of eternal and heavenly things are presented to us by thy nightly presence.
“Eveningtime.” “Let there be light,” God said, and light was. At his command the great machinery of a created world began its unwearied, ceaseless labor and toil. “And the evening and the morning were the first day.” ‘Twas eveningtime which ushered in the cycling years, whose almost countless nights and days have meant so much for man upon the earth. ‘Twas then “the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters,” and in confused haste chaos fled away, while harmonious life and motion held their perfect sway. ‘Twas also eveningtime when another life from heaven came down and appeared in Bethlehem, in the land of Juda: a babe in swaddling clothes, cradled in a manger. Poor and unknown, of the people round about, ‘tis true, yet ushered in and announced by an angel from heaven, with a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” The moon and the stars looking down from their dizzy height on this eventful, wondrous scene, making obeisance in silent wonder, as the glory of the Lord shone round about. Emblematic of this scene and its far-reaching results, the dove returned to the ark in the eveningtime; “And lo in her mouth was an olive leaf plucked off.” “On earth peace, good will toward men.” With awe and reverence did the psalmist say, “When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; what is man, that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man, that thou visitest him!” Again, the faded light of day (the eveningtime) portends a time of danger, when the beasts of the forest creep forth to seek and find their prey. Foul crawling things of earth hold high carnival with the things of secret darkness, and so steal away our freedom of the night. From this picture we look within ourselves, and view the daily life of experimental things of faith and righteousness. The Sun of righteousness hath hid his beauteous face behind the hills and mountains of sinful lusts, upon which idols (the work of our own hands) are set up, and now in the eveningtime of our experience, all the powers of darkness issue forth, and do so beset us, and torment us, that we become a stench in our own nostrils. We look for the hand that guided us in the daytime, and find it not. Bethels and Ebenezers which had been set up from time to time in our pilgrimage for our remembrance, we remember nor. The idols which we embraced and fondled, have become staring, offensive things, langhing us to scorn, and saying in derision, Where is now thy God? Insurmountable difficulties and obstacles block our darkened way. We stumble and fall, and out of a bitter, torn and jaded heart we cry, “O that it were with me as in days past.” Upon this dreadful scene the moon and stars look down, and in contemplative mood they say, We, too, are not pure; we are, alas, tainted also with the curse which followed Adam’s transgressions. Behold (saith Job) the moon, and it shineth not, yea, the stars are not pure in his sight. How much less man that is a worm, and the son of man which is a worm. And we (say they) are a part of this dreadful eveningtime. And now, O sorrowful moon, what is thy mission in this created world? Of what art thou a harbinger among the sons of men whom God hath blessed? Dost thou present a picture in emblem of the church of Christ in her wilderness travel! Sometimes in the dark, and again in the light! Because thou art uncertain, O moon, and subject to eclipse! or because as the church obtains its brightness and glory from Christ, the Sun of righteousness, so thou obtainest thine from the natural sun? Surely we read all this in thy countenance, in thy clothing, and in thy exalted position in the world. But is this all that you shew forth! O no; like the creature of many horns, pointing out many ways, you are prolific in leading us into the unfathomable depths of sacred truth. A voice comes to us from the Patmos isle, saying, “And there appeared a great wonder in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars.” Yes, thou leadest us back in remembrance when Israel filled the earth with her fame and her glory. And here again you show your borrowed light. Representing the law that bound Israel down, and held her captive with chains of earth, until Shiloh came, severing her bonds, and setting her free, in fulfillment of the law, by his own death upon the accursed tree. And now, O moon, where art thou! The woman (the church) is clothed with the sun. Her head is crowned with a crown of twelve stars. But thou art under the feet of her who hath risen above thee, becoming victorious through her glorious Lord, the Sun of righteousness. What more canst thou say! Didst not thou stand still at the command of the Lord in the valley of Ajalon, and there stayed until the people of Joshua avenged themselves upon their enemies! O thou art a valiant moon, and obedient. For seasons hath the Lord appointed thee also, and evening sacrifices were offered in Israel when thou wert new and in thy best estate. But what of thee, thou stars, both great and small! Hast thou a word of prophecy! Where is the secret place where thou dwellest in the daytime? only showing thyselves at eveningtime. Hast thou great and mighty secrets, to he divulged only as the Lord directs, and only to whom he has called by his name? Is there one glory of you all, and does each differ from the other in glory? Have not the children of Israel been likened unto thee for multitudes? Each one of you is a world, as is our world also a star; each one representing in our world a nation, a people, a kindred or a tongue. The members bf the body of Christ are gathered out of them all. For thus saith the God of Israel, “I will bring thy seed from the east, and gather thee from the west, I will say to the north, Give up, and to the south, Keep not back, bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth, even every one that is called by my name.” And as they are countless in number, so art thou. So each one of you stand in the pattern or emblem for each individual child of the living God. One of you was selected to guide the wise men from the east to the place where lay the holy child Jesus. thou risest yet higher in thy vocation, for thou in thy secret chambers has knowledge from ancient days of the coming of our gracious Redeemer. Even Balaam declared thee: “There shall come a star out of Jacob.” And also Peter calleth upon them to represent Jesus as the day star (that shall) arise in (our) hearts. Do not thou also represent the angels, who are messengers of the word of God to stricken, broken-hearted Israel! for thy fellows embellish the crown upon the head of the woman, who is clothed with the Sun. And also art thou not emblematic of the ministry of the word, who shine as stars in the gospel heavens, preaching Jesus Christ as the bright and morning Star, and him crucified and risen again in the power and glory of the Father! O what secrets thou boldest in the secret places of the heavens, and at eveningtime thou declarest them. “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth his handiwork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge.” Secrets which have defied and successfully resisted the searchings and investigations of the wisest natural minds. But to the living in Christ Jesus thou dost reveal “the work which God maketh “from the beginning of time to the end of time.
B. F. COULTER.
Signs Of The Times
Volume 70., No. 21.
NOVEMBER 1, 1902.