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“ Let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years," said the great Creator at first, and they have ever obeyed the law of their creation. God's sun still shines upon us, and the moon is His faithful witness in heaven. The Saviour of mankind is called “the Sun of righteousness," and His bride, the Church, is said to be fair as the moon.” The angels or ministers of Churches are called stars ; and
for themselves a permanence of application of this symbolic nomenclature of heaven, for “they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmanent; and they that turn many to righteousness, as the stars for ever and ever.” The well-known dreams of Joseph tell us that the heavenly bodies symbolized earthly relations; and when it is stated by our Lord that there shall be signs in the sun, and moon, and stars, it probably has reference to potentates of the earth. St. Jude speaks of “wandering stars,” which symbolize the eccentric characters of wicked men.
We shall not do violence to sacred history; nor wrest a scripture statement, if, when we compare
the ordinary lawful rulers or leaders of mankind to the sun, and the moon, and the stars, we regard those eccentric beings who have occasionally risen up in the political, intellectual, or ecclesiastical firmament, and exercised a greater or less influence on the affairs of mankind, if we compare them, to those eccentric strangers of the sky which men call comets.
First, in order of time, in the political firmament, appeared Nimrod, a mighty hunter before the Lord. He was an eccentric being; though, on account of distance, we cannot trace the course of his orbit. He was probably the first tyrant, and hunted men more than wild beasts. He founded Babylon, and swept the plains thereabout to glut his lust of power. Sin was growing strong, and men wanted a scourge, and Nimrod scourged them. Some say this earthly comet appeared again in Draco and Nero, and the last time in Buonaparte, but we cannot tell. They are blood red in appearance, and give rise to lamentation, and mourning, and woe.
Next, in order of time, appeared Melchizedek. He was an eccentric being, though very unlike Nimrod. Nobody could trace his exit or his entrance. Abraham saw him, we are sure. He was a king—Melchi Zedek, king of righteousness. He was a Priest, of a higher order than Aaron, and long before Aaron was born. The capital of his dominions was Salem, which means Peace. Oh, he must have shone with mild lustre of beauty, and all who came under his influence must have been highly favoured. We will call him Benefactor, Father, Friend. Did he ever appear again ? Once we are sure he did, and perhaps only once. The Prince of Peace ; Priest after the order of Melchizedek!
Who comes next? Two appear in the heavens at the same time. I will take Balaam first. He was an eccentric being ! He was seen in the plains of
Moab, and from the top of Pisgah or Peor. He was an inspired prophet, doubly inspired, from above, and beneath. He warred against his own soul; committed suicide, if I may so speak, with the sword of the Spirit. He loved the wages of unrighteousness, and was guilty of madness in supposing that God and Mammon could be served together. And has this one ever appeared again? I think he has. Perhaps he appears again in one of us, in that one who says, “Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his;" and who lives the life of the wicked, attracted by covetousness, and the light that is in him being darkness.
And now look at the other-Moses, he was an eccentric being. This world would think so, certainly. He refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter. He esteemed the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt. Conscious of duty, he never swerved. He saw Him that is invisible. The poor degraded slaves, his countrymen, he cheered, guided, and saved. The land of Ham trembled. Pharaoh was discomfited. The sea fled. The wilderness was moved. Miracles were wrought .... He went down somewhere in the land of Moab, and was seen last on the heights of Pisgah. He was a burning and a shining light.
Four hundred years after this Solomon arose. For splendour and greatness never surpassed. The Queen of Sheba went a long journey to see him, and declared
that one-half had not been told her of his magnificence
His influence was great. Wisdom, integrity,
I will make mention of but one more from the sacred records. One other wandering star, fearful to contemplate, awful to trace—Judas Iscariot. He seemed for awhile to move slowly athwart the Church's firmament. There was nothing peculiar in the light he shed, when, all on a sudden, he blazed forth with fire of hell; burst from his orbit, and was lost ; quenched, so to speak, in outer darkness. Oh, it was a horrid
sight !.... To calculate his elements is beyond our power. Has he ever returned again ? I hope not; but I always feel afraid when I see any one treating holy things as if they were matters of barter; as if he supposed gain was godliness; from such I always try to turn away.
I now leave the observatory of inspired men, and ask the outer world if they have noted any
remarkable lights, that have in any measure affected mankind ... They say they have, and give names in rapid sequence I can only take a few, and with your kind indulgence present my report of them.
And first and foremost let me mention Socrates. Strange body, but beautiful light! He was seen in Greece. Common observers were struck at him, but those who could see further were surprised and astonished. We Christians can hardly help thinking his soul was lighted with wisdom from on high. A mild radiance of truth haloed him around. He was not a Sophist, but a true Philosopher. The light that was in him was not darkness. The trail of light that marked his path hath not died away yet, unless indeed it hath coalesced with the bright glory of Christendom. The Sun of righteousness lightens the Gentiles, did He not shine before the orient of His humanity?
Alexander, surnamed The Great, comes next. You know, my brethren, the first observers of heaven, who mapped the starry hosts, fancied they saw the cartoons of many creatures, on the fields of space, and thus