The Candle Of The Lord
In the Bible is the statement that “the spirit of a man is the candle of the Lord.” There is nothing said idly and unmeaningly in the Scripture, and such a declaration as this especially demands attention. The natural question of the mind is, where is the analogy, and what profitable lessons can be drawn from the figure?
One thought is that a candle is made to give light.
It is both made and the object of its making is illumination. It is to shine for the benefit of others. Some few seem to have been manufactured as ornaments, but that is not the rule, and on examination the pretty thing is discovered not to be a genuine candle, but fashioned of some substance which does not support or feed a flame. The genuine candle is for light.
So God made the soul, and created it to shine and burn for the help, direction and comfort of others. Its mission is not for ornament, but usefulness. It is not set up to be admired, but to give light.
A second thought is that a candle needs a candlestick.
The one suggests the other. One is a complement to the other. It is not only convenient and necessary for a candle to be in a candlestick, but it is dangerous for it not to be. It not only rolls around in a very irregular way, but in its very rolling is likely to set fire to the house and destroy it.
The candlestick, according to the book of Revelation, is a church. The soul of a man needs the help and protection of the church. The candle of the Lord has to be set in a candlestick. We must have the communion, comfort and all the assistance possible for us, that is to be realized from religious association. He who tries the independent method, holding himself aloof from Christian organization and religious assemblies, not only deprives others of what he is and has himself, but robs his own spiritual nature of what is possessed in the godly lives of others.
St. Paul likens Christians to a body of which Christ is the head. The human frame is bound together by bone, ligament and muscle, and out of many parts is made to be one in appearance and reality.
We all are pained to see a dislocated member of the body, an arm or leg out of joint, and we even more deplore the sight of a dislocated church member. Amputation, mortification and death are certain to be one of the results if the case is not speedily corrected and healed by grace.
Coming back to the figure of the candle, we repeat, it is for the candlestick. We do best in the church. Taken out and rolling around in a loose and irresponsible way, we are apt not only to injure ourselves but to set fire to and destroy others.
Never did a candlestick have more certainly a socket for the candle than a true church has a place for a true child of God. Moreover, a man never looks better than when standing up straight for God and salvation in the household of faith, the church of Christ.
A third thought is that the candle has to be lighted.
There is nothing in the wick and sperm to strike fire of itself or in any way produce a flame, and so, while capable of securing and supporting the fire when it comes, yet it has to be lighted, it cannot ignite itself.
The soul of a man is in like condition. Left to itself the spiritual flame and light would never be seen. In spite of all its great capacities and possibilities, the spirit is helpless when it comes to creating true spiritual life. It has to be brought to salvation through human and divine agency. God has to light the candle.
We all recollect when the Holy Spirit fell on the wick of our hearts and we blazed up. Thank God with many of us it is still burning. In spite of the storms of life, and the hurricanes of Hell, God’s candle is aflame in our breasts today.
We all likewise remember many blessed sights in the candle lighting line, in our protracted and camp meetings. It is a spectacle never to be forgotten to see a sad, tearstained face suddenly become luminous with salvation. the candle had been lighted within and its radiance flashed through the soul windows, the eyes, and brightened and beautified the face. It reminded us of a house standing dark on the street, when suddenly some one inside lighted the lamps or gas, or turned on the electricity, and then it literally sparkled before us, an object of genuine pleasure to the vision.
A fourth thought is that the candle has to be trimmed.
One who remembers the old-time household luminary all recall its lengthening wick, gathering ashes and fading light. Because of this a pair of scissors or snuffers were kept constantly on hand and frequently applied.
In like manner the Lord’s candle needs attention, and so every soul has a perfect knowledge of spasmodic shining, internal hindrances, and the frequent use of divine snuffers in providential dealings that are too numerous and varied to mention.
We all know what it is to have the ashes knocked off, to be cut down, to be trimmed up and made in various ways to shine better. Under grace every divine stroke and touch improve the Christian’s light.
A fifth truth about the candle is that it is not to be placed under a bushel.
This is Christ’s own statement and appeals to our everyday knowledge. Its application to the Christian life is powerful, even though the figure is such a simple one.
The disposition with many is to hide the heavenly light. Some people are constitutionally timid, some are afraid of being thought hypocrites, some are morbidly conscientious, some are afraid of men, and some have been deluded by the devil. and so through a multiplicity of reasons the candles lighted by the Lord have been obscured, covered up, or removed altogether from human view.
It is wonderful how many Christians want to live under a bushel. A house is not large enough for the body, but a peck measure is sufficient to cover the soul and religions life. They believe in back seats, silent tongues, and a general non-committal policy. God regenerates, sanctifies and blesses them, but they place the bushel of strict silence over everything.
It is bound to impress the reader that if one Christian can thus go into reticence and even complete silence, why not all; and if all did this then not a twinkle or ray of light could be seen in the world for God’s glory and the good of mankind. Every candle of the Lord would be under a bushel. This thought alone shows the falsity and faithlessness of such a course.
A sixth fact is that the candle is to give light unto all them that are in the household.
Christ says, “Put it on a table,” that all may see it, and that it might illumine the room or house for the family.
We are to shine and can shine for God in the household. If we are truly religious it is impossible for people not to observe our light and feel our life. A candle shining on the table would not be more manifest if its line than we in ours.
We have noticed that the members of the family do not say much about the candles but they feel its benefit none the less, and move about safely because of the light. So we are not to be disheartened if the family circle does not praise or comment upon our light, and at times seems to overlook us altogether as we are doing our very best. The fact remains that they feel us, and but for the faithful, steady shining that is kept up under every discouraging circumstance and surrounding God only knows what would become of the household.
A seventh fact is that the candle shines afar and so directs the wanderer, and even at times saves.
Who has not seen a light shining quietly miles away across the fields, and been faithfully guided by it to the point of destination? On coming to the house we found a candle had been sitting on a table that while giving light in the room had also shone through the window and sent a gleam far off to the belated and confused traveller.
The writer was once crossing a prairie. Night came down, and our watch showed that first nine and then ten o’clock had come and gone. It was a dark, desolate plain, with the wind making a mournful swishing sound as it swept through the yellow grass. Suddenly we saw a single gleam of light shining peacefully far ahead in the distance. When first seen it must have been ten miles away. It not only cheered us in our lonely ride, but guided us in the journey we were making. By and by after midnight we reached a village on the railroad, but all of its lights combined, in house and street and depot, did not gladden us like that solitary candle which had helped us in that long, lonely journey.
We read once of a ship at sea which had been saved by the light of a single candle shining through a window. The vessel had been blown out of her course, and there was no lighthouse on the coast toward which she was drifting in the darkness, when suddenly the lookout from the foretop caught the gleam of the light in time to warn the helmsman to bear off and away in safety. How little the woman dreamed that night as she placed the candle on her table how many lives would be saved by its faithful shining.
In like manner it is perfectly marvellous what a single devoted Christian life can do in the family and community. In utter absence of fussiness and boisterousness, but in perfect meekness and gentleness, the very tranquillity of the life strangely moves the heart and convinces the head. Such lives not only cheer but actually guide and save scores and hundreds of souls who are struggling with the storms of this life, beating aimlessly about, and drifting upon the breakers of sin and ruin.
God has set His candles here and there in the world to light men on the way to heaven. As we pass from the shining influence of one we find ourselves in the life circle of another. They are lights of the Lord placed in homes and churches, stationed in low and high places, and shine forth and shine on as the months and years roll by. For their light to fail means sorrow, failure and eternal death to many; while their faithful shining in God-appointed places means a happy multitude of bloodwashed souls in heaven.
An eighth fact is that a candle can light others.
We were once presenting this thought to a large congregation of children. We placed quite a row of candles around the altar. Some had been lighted before and been blown out, and some had never been lighted. Taking a burning candle in our hand, we held the flame to the new and dead wicks of first one and then another. As we progressed down the line, an ever-lengthening row of sparkling lights was of course left behind. The scene was a beautiful and impressive one. It was a sermon in figure which doubtless reached every heart and stirred every soul in the audience.
It is a blessed thought that when we are filled with converting and sanctifying grace, we can under God light other people and put them in a flame. We come into their sad, sinful, backslidden and useless lives, and, through word or deed inspired and blessed of God, touch them, the fire falls, the human wick catches the divine flame, the light springs up and a blessed redeemed life begins from that moment, to bless men on earth, and by and by to shine in heaven forever. Every soul we win for Christ means a new candle lighted for God in this world.
What a beautiful sight it must be from the skies to see a long line of shining lives springing up on earth, because of the faithfulness of some Christian man or woman. And what a thrill would fill such a man’s soul if he was allowed, as he was entering heaven, to look back and see the long, glittering line that through Christ he had led into the light, and who were still shining, though he himself was taken away.
Finally, a candle can be blown out, or burn up.
There is a great difference in a candle’s being put out by a blast of wind or going out in the socket of the candlestick from a well-spent and useful life. One is an extinguishment by an unfriendly element, and the other is a natural and proper exhaustion.
There is likewise a great difference between a blown-out Christian and a burned-up Christian. One is a backslider, the other is a martyr or a servant of God worn out by the labor of many years. One falls into sin, the other sinks into the grave.
On Dr. Adam Clarke’s tomb, back of City Road Chapel in London, is the design of a candle expiring in its socket. Underneath is the pathetic sentence, “In giving light to others, I myself have been consumed.” We read the words with tears filling our eyes. The candle of the Lord in his case had not been blown out, but had burned up. It was a glorious end of a blessed life.
The Lord grant us all a like faithful life and triumphant death. May we light other candles to take our place when we are gone. May we bring the heavenly flame to those who never had it, and relight those who have gone out in darkness. May we extend the glittering lines, and multiply the shining ones of grace, and push back the darkness everywhere, until a firmament in the spiritual life will be seen sparkling on the face of the earth.