Walk While Ye Have the Light
by Charles Sammis
(Editors note: This article was published in the October-November-December 1989 issue of the Midnight Cry Messenger.)
What is the import of the above admonition and the solemn warning which the Saviour gives in connection with it? “Lest darkness come upon you.” We have the tremendous solemnity of it brought before us in the dying remarks of a man nearly eighty years old. He took the following retrospect of the dealings of God with his soul:
“When I was just entering my sixteenth year, religious impressions were made on my mind with unusual force. I seemed to hear a voice continually saying to me, ‘Seek religion now!’ My former amusements lost their relish. Still I was not willing to renounce them wholly and obey the voice which urged me to seek religion immediately.
“One day after much reflection, I deliberately promised God that, as soon as the season of youthful amusements was past, I would devote myself to religious pursuits. My anxieties immediately left me. I returned to my amusements, and the whole subject was soon forgotten.
“When I was twenty-five, the monitory voice returned, reminded me of my promise and again pressed upon me the importance of eternal things. Though I had not thought of my promise for years, I acknowledged its obligation. But an immediate fulfillment seemed more impracticable than it had nine years before. I vowed with increasing solemnity that, when the cares of a rising family should subside, I would certainly attend to the concerns of religion. Again I applied myself to worldly avocations, and soon buried all thoughts of the admonition I had received.
“At fifty, when the cares of my family were dismissed, the heavenly monitor returned. ‘Fulfill your promise; seek religion now!’ was continually pressed upon my mind. The subject made me unhappy. But after much deliberation, I sought relief to my troubled feelings by solemnly renewing my promise to God. I said, ‘When the pressure of business is past, I will devote my whole attention to a preparation for eternity.’
“No sooner had I fixed my mind on this course than my anxieties left me. The strivings of the Spirit ceased, and ceased forever. When sickness warned me of approaching death. I sought to fix my feelings on this subject; but it was in vain. I felt that I was forsaken of God, but it did not move me. I had no love to God, no repentance for sin, no wish to forsake it. I felt nothing but the solemn gloom of despair. I knew I was in the hands of a justly offended God from whom I expected no mercy, and could ask none. With these feelings, I am about to enter the eternal world. To you I can only say, Profit by my example. ‘Quench not the Spirit.’ Seek religion now if you would avoid a miserable eternity. Put not off the concerns of your soul.”
The one who relates this incident says, “The sentence died upon his lips. He fell back upon his bed and, with a groan that seemed to speak the pains of another world, his immortal spirit took its flight to the presence of his final judge to receive at His hand according to the deeds done in the body.”
This account illustrates how gross can be the darkness of the soul that does not walk while there is light. It is a favored occasion when the Spirit of God strives with the heart. Then, how near is heaven and eternal life! Yet how great is the danger that attends such an occasion! It is then that the tempter exerts himself to the utmost to present sin and a life of selfishness in the most attractive form, and the way of the cross as a way to be despised and shunned. To heed the seductions of Satan at such a time, and put off the decision for God until later, is to run the risk of losing one’s soul. And to yield to the pleadings of the divine Spirit is to find forgiveness and reconciliation with God.
It is said that at a time of great religious interest in a town in New England, three young men, who were exceedingly depraved, made sport of the work of God. On one occasion, when the Holy Ghost seemed to fill the place where they were trifling, and numbers were burdened with sin and anxious to know what they should do to be saved, an arrow from the Almighty, entering the heart of one of these young men, put an end to his mirth.
His countenance immediately changed; a sense of his amazing guilt filled him with indescribable anguish. He broke away from his companions and at the close of the meeting, retired to his habitation, not to trifle, but to cry for mercy. Sleep departed from him. Trembling and astonished, he sighed and prayed and asked in bitterness of spirit, “What shall I do to be saved?” The language of his heart was “Oh my sins, my sins! Can one so guilty as I be pardoned?”
Some hours after, so the account goes, he was enabled to ease his burdened soul upon the mercy of an infinite Redeemer. He found peace in believing. The tempest was now past — he was reconciled to God. When the light came to his conscience, he feared to extinguish it. Yielding to the convictions brought to him by the Spirit of grace, he was saved. This is universally true — light rejected leads to darkness.
A New England minister, many years ago, related an instance illustrating this truth. “A young lady,” he said, “was once awakened by the Holy Spirit and brought to contemplate seriously her interests for eternity. She saw herself justly condemned as a transgressor of the divine law, and knew that she ought to flee to Christ as her only refuge. Conscience, together with the Word of the Spirit of God, urged her to repent immediately and submit to the authority of Jesus.
“She was brought, apparently, to stand upon the very threshold of God’s spiritual kingdom, and seemed just ready to enter. The Spirit called, urged and pressed upon her His claims; but still the work was not done. At length the blessed Spirit was grieved and withdrew His influence. She went back to the world, became a thoughtless, trifling, sinner and could sport upon the very brink of eternal burnings.
“One day,” this minister continues, “while I was conversing with a family in the discharge of my pastoral duties, a messenger entered the room in haste and requested me to go to a neighboring house to pray with a young woman who was apparently dying. And on entering the room, I witnessed a scene which, while reason remains, I can never forget, and which I have no power adequately to describe.
“The young lady, just mentioned, was there prostrated upon a bed of languishment. And to all appearance she was soon to enter the retributions of another world. Her affrighted looks, her agitated frame, her piteous cries, were enough to make us feel how fearful it is for a sinner to fall, unpardoned, into the hands of the Living God.
“I approached the bed and attempted to point her to Jesus, the sinner’s Friend, but to no purpose. A cloud covered her mind, and an agony of distress filled her agitated bosom. To drink of the wrath of God, to feel the gnawings of the worm that never dies, were overwhelming to her despairing soul. I prayed with her, but she found no peace. And I was obligated to leave her without seeing one ray of light dart through that oppressive gloom which hung so heavily upon her depressed spirit.”
Jesus said, “Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth.” These words are as solemn and as fraught with warning as any to be found in Holy Writ.
A more tragic spectacle cannot be imagined than that of a soul stumbling upon “the dark mountains,” without light, and knowing not whither he is bound. To walk while the light of the divine Spirit fills the conscience and heart is to walk surely — in the path that shines “more and more unto that perfect day.”
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