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"I must work the works of Him That sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world."-St. John ix. 4, 5.
Exposition.-St. Augustine says: "What is that night in which, when it is come, none shall have power to work? Hear what the day is, and then shalt thou understand what night is. Of whom shall we hear what this day is? Let Himself tell us: As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world. Lo, He is the Day. Let the blind wash his eyes in the Day that he may see the Day! So long, saith He, as I am in the world, I am the Light of the world. Therefore it will be a night when Christ shall not be there; that is the reason why none will have power to work. . . But how long is He in the world? Suppose we Him, my brethren, to have been here then, and now to be not here? If we suppose this, it follows that straightway after the Lord's ascension came this fearful night when none can work: if after the Lord's
ascension this night came, when came it that the Apostles did so great works? Was this night come, when the Holy Spirit came, and filled all who were in one place, and gave to them to speak with tongues of all nations? Was it night when that lame man was at Peter's word made whole? Was it night, when, as the Apostles passed by, the sick were placed with their beds so that they might be touched if only by the shadow of them as they passed?-What then? What shall we say of this night? When will be the time that none shall have power to work? This will be the night of the ungodly.-Then let a man work while he liveth, lest he be prevented by that night wherein none can work. Now is the time that faith should work by love; and if we now work, this is the Day, this is Christ. Hear Him promising, and do not imagine Him to be absent. Himself hath said, Lo, I am with you alway.. While thou livest, do, if thou wilt do: for there will then be a night to wrap up the ungodly. Howbeit even now, every unbeliever, when he dies is received by that night: there is no doing anything there! In that night Dives burned, and sought a drop of water from the poor man's finger; he was in pain, he was in anguish, he confessed, but he was not succoured; yea, he assayed even to do good. For he said to Abraham, Father Abra
ham, send Lazarus to my brethren, to tell them what is doing here, lest they also come into this place of torment. O unhappy one! when thou livedst, then was the time for working; now thou art already in the night, in which none can work."
Isaac Williams comments thus: "Not that any night can overtake Christ, but as night is given to mankind to be an emblem of death, and the life of each is the appointed day of his work, our Lord adopts the same figure for His own course in the flesh. Man goeth forth to his work, and to his labour, until the evening. There is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest. In like manner this His day was now on the wane, and verging to its close. But immediately expanding, or rather, changing the emblem, our Lord adds; As long as I am in the world, I am the Light of the world. The course He was to run is our enlightening; the night that succeeds is our night. As the Sun itself, which walks not in the light but itself enlightens, so this, the day of His mortal ministry was the light of the Jews, and the withdrawal of it their night, the night in which they are now wandering. The day of Christ is the light of the world."
The Bible Commentary says: "Day and night are taken in their most general sense, as the sea
sons for labour and rest in regard to the special end in view. After the passion there was no longer the opportunity for the performance of the works characteristic of the historic life of Christ. Then in one sense a night came, and in a yet fuller sense a new day dawned for new works, to be followed by another night, another close. It is not to be supposed that the night here describes an abiding and complete rest of Christ: it presents rest only from the works which belong to the corresponding day."
First Thought.-Our Lord will not have us forget that life here in this world is meant to be a time of work. All creatures have a measure of work assigned them, seeking their food, rearing their young, protecting themselves from their many foes. Almost all men have to work, and to work very hard while they are here in the present life; labour in the sweat of his brow is the portion of fallen man. There are those who have a degree of freedom, so far as men are concerned, in their life work. They have their proper occupations and duties, but they may idle a good deal, and do what they have to do half-heartedly, without being called to account by man. The servant of God must not be like that. He recognizes his work as assigned him by God; it is the work of Him That sent
him. We are not our own; we are God's servants, created to glorify Him, and to do His will.
1. Therefore we may not be indifferent in the doing of our tasks; the best service alone can be acceptable to our Master. He permits us to have holidays, to rest when it is needful; He gives us much joy of our labour very often; but we are not to take advantage of His goodness, we are not to forget that we are here to work for Him.
2. No man who knows of God and the obligations of religion may fancy that because he does his world-work with good fidelity, he is fulfilling the end of his creation. There must be always on the part of the creature the effort to glorify his Maker, and to do one's work as for Him. The most exemplary man of the world works but in vain if he neglect to pray and worship God along with his fidelity to earthly duty. No more does one do his whole duty if he fail to further the work of God's religion, maintaining the Church, and doing his part to advance the spread of the Gospel throughout the world.
3. Yet further let no man think that he is working the works of God Who created him because he is a diligent and uncomplaining toiler in his earthly vocation, if he be not also