The Lamp

From the August 1895 Christian Science Journal by

A Parable

Now in those days King Nullus greatly desired to possess the treasures that were hid in the cave beneath his palace; but the king and his people feared to enter the darkness of the cave less they might be destroyed by the Terror which dwelt therein. And in the night there appeared unto the king a vision, and the voice of the vision spake unto the king and said —” Let the king cause the darkness to be removed from the cave, and behold, the Terror will flee away, and what then shall hinder that the king shall possess the treasures of the cave?” And sleep fled from the eyes of the king, for he said, “The desire of my soul is at hand.” And straightway the king arose from his bed, and called his counselors before him and commanded them to remove the darkness from the treasure cave.

Then the counselors bowed themselves before the king, and went out to do his bidding, but they marveled among themselves, saying, “What is this? No king of ours ever before commanded that the darkness should be removed from the cave.” But the counselors feared the king more than they feared the Terror that dwelt in the darkness of the cave, and they straightway questioned each other—” How shall the darkness be removed that we may escape the anger of the king?”

Then the counselors gathered together a mighty army of carriers with bags and commanded of the carriers to fill their bags with the darkness which was in the cave, and to bear away the darkness in their bags and empty it into the river Oblivion which flowed by the mouth of the cave. And the carriers did so from the sixth hour unto the twelfth hour, even from the dawning of the day until the noon thereof; but behold, the labor of the workman was vain, for the darkness yet filled the treasure cave of the king, and moreover the darkness in the cave was greater at noon than when the carriers had begun their work at dawn.

Then a certain philosopher named Nemo, a learned man, who was not one of the king’s counselors, gat him to the king and said, “O king, live forever! Behold the darkness in the treasure cave of the king is greater than when the carriers began to take it away in their bags. Does not the wise king perceive that there needs must be somewhere in the cave a wellspring of darkness which refills the cave with darkness even faster than the carriers empty it with their bags?”

Thereupon the king greatly marveled at the learning of Nemo, and he commanded that a purple robe be put upon him and a gold chain about his neck, and that Nemo be made chief of all his counselors and captain over all the workmen in the kingdom.

Then straightway Nemo ordered the carriers to cease their useless labors. And Nemo caused deep pits to be digged all around the hill which contained the treasure cave of the king, and caused tunnels to be digged beneath the cave to see if perchance the wellspring of darkness might be discovered and cut off, so that the darkness would no longer flow into the treasure cave of the king.

After many days the workmen in the tunnels found a large hole filled with darkness which came up out of the earth and seemed to fill the treasure cave of the king.

After much labor this hole of darkness was destroyed, so that even the site thereof was no longer known to men. And the tunnels and the pits were again filled up so that the hill seemed the same as before the workmen fell upon it.

Then all the carriers with their bags once again began to carry out the darkness from the mouth of the cave and empty it into the river. And the people shouted for joy and said—” Lo! now will the treasure cave of the king soon be emptied of its darkness;” but behold, even now the darkness in the cave was not lessened by the labors of the carriers, and great fear came upon the workmen and upon all the people, and even upon the counselors and upon Nemo, the chief counselor and upon King Nullus, also. Then again Nemo bowed himself before the king and said—” Behold, O king, the wellspring of darkness has been cut off from the cave, but nevertheless, the carriers with their bags cannot remove the darkness out of the treasure cave of the king. Is it not known therefore to the wise king that the cave must be an enchanted cave, and that only by enchantment may the spell be broken, and the darkness removed from the treasure cave of the king?”

Then the king again greatly marveled and rejoiced at the learning of Nemo, and exclaimed before all the people—” Was ever a king so blessed with such a servant?” And the king, commanded all those who dealt in spells and enchantments, to forthwith assemble in the mouth of the cave to enchant away the darkness thereof. And the enchanters did as they were told and strove mightily with their enchantments, for Nemo had offered them a great reward from whatever treasure might be discovered when they should expel the darkness from the cave. But the enchanters strove in vain— and they fought among themselves, and were sore vexed because they could not cast the darkness out of the cave, and each one said to the other— “If I alone might work mine own enchantment, the darkness would flee from the cave.”

Now there was in the city a certain wise woman whom much people followed saying—” She teacheth the teachings of the great Master of all wisdom.”

But the enchanters scorned and reviled her saying —”This woman hath a demon of foolishness” —”Our fathers taught not so”—” She is not of us.”

Now when the woman saw that the enchanters failed in their enchantments and that their spells could not cast out the darkness from the cave, she sent a message unto the king, saying —”If peradventure I might bring into the treasure cave of the king, the ancient Lamp of Truth and read thereby from the Book of Wisdom which lieth open upon the altar in the midst of the cave, the spell of darkness shall be surely broken, and the king shall have the desire of his heart touching the treasures which are hidden in the cave.”

Then the king told the words of the message unto Nemo, and inquired of Nemo:” Who is this woman that sets at naught the king’s enchanters?” And Nemo answered and said unto the king, “I know her not; but this of a truth I know,— Surely the woman hath a demon and compasseth to work evil upon the king and upon his people. Behold, I am learned in all the wisdom of enchantments, and since the days of Solomon the wise, who gathered together under his throne every book of enchantments known to enchanters, there has been no record that our fathers ever brought a lighted lamp into the treasure cave to cast out the spell of darkness therefrom. Let the wisdom of the king heed not the foolishness of the woman.”

But King Nullus answered and said unto Nemo, “Even so, but behold she is only a woman, and what signifieth a lamp? Let her now take her lamp into the cave and read what she will from the Book of Wisdom, lest, peradventure, the people who follow her shall say, ‘If only the woman were let her way, the spell of darkness might not now be in the treasure cave of the king.’ “

And straightway the king sent his messenger unto the woman, saying, “Do as seemeth well to thee touching the darkness in the king’s treasure cave.”

And Nemo bowed himself before the king, and went and told the enchanters all things concerning the message of the king unto the woman. And the enchanters were exceeding wroth with the woman, and vainly sought occasion to accuse her of blasphemy before the king, and certain of them would have slain her had they not greatly feared the king.

Now when the enchanters in the mouth of the cave looked out and beheld the woman approaching with her lamp, they shouted into the cave with great shouts, and cried out against the darkness with loud cries, and renewed their spells and enchantments with all their might, but the darkness and the Terror that was in the darkness heeded them not, and fled not from the cave. But nevertheless when the woman bearing her lighted lamp entered into the cave, the enchanters laughed her to scorn, and reviled her, saying, “Thou foolish woman! what need for thy useless lamp? Dost thou not see that our enchantments have broken the spell of darkness, and, behold, even now it fleeth from the cave?”

And the woman answered them not a word, but looked upward and smiled as she took her blazing lamp and set it beside the Book of Wisdom upon the altar in the midst of the cave.

Now when Nemo heard the shouts and cries of the enchanters, he looked into the cave, and behold the darkness had fled, and Nemo and the enchanters without let or hindrance gathered up such of the treasures of gold and silver and precious stones as they saw in the cave, and ran unto the king to claim the reward. And the king heaped honors upon the head of Nemo, and he gave unto Nemo the Princess Fortuna to wife, and made Nemo heir to the throne of his kingdom. And as for the enchanters, Nemo greatly rewarded them for the great things they had claimed to do. But as for the woman, she was forgotten by the king and by his counselors and by the enchanters. But while she sat in the cave and read from the Book of Wisdom by the light of her lamp, the cave was filled with glory, and the people joyously gathered around the woman, for there was no more Terror in the cave, and the woman spoke words to the people which made the glory of the Book of Wisdom shine into their hearts so that the shadows and the fears fled from the hearts of the people even as the darkness and the Terror had fled from the cave before the lighted lamp of the woman. And the woman showed the people that there were great treasures in the cave of which Nemo and the enchanters and, the king had never dreamed —treasures to be desired above gold and silver and precious stones. When the people took of these treasures abundantly as they would, behold the treasures increased in richness and in amount, and the lame walked, the dumb spake, the blind saw, and peace filled the hearts of the people who were healed of all manner of disease. For in the light of the lamp of the woman, and in the glory of the Book of Wisdom when the light of the lamp of the woman was shed upon it, all diseases were healed, and all shadows fled, and Peace, like a river, flowed through all the cave, and the people, looked, and behold, the cave was great enough to contain all the nations of the earth, and yet it was filled by the light of the lamp of the woman and the glory of the Book of Wisdom. And the people marveled greatly, and rejoiced with an exceeding great joy, and they said, “Behold, the Lamp of the woman is like unto the Tree of Life whose leaves are for the healing of the nations?”

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