I can only compare my text in its matchless power to Ithuriel’s spear, with which, according to Milton (Paradise Lost 4:810), he touched the toad and straightway Satan appeared in his true colours. If I can apply my text to certain things today, they will come out in their true light; ‘At the last,’ shall be the rod in my hand with which I shall touch tinsel, and it shall disappear and you will see it is not gold, and I will touch varnish and paint and graining, and you shall understand that they are really what they are, and not what they profess to be: the light of ‘At the last’ shall be the light of truth, the light of wisdom to our souls. It seems to me a fitting occasion for holding up this light this morning, when we have come to the end of the year, and shall in a few short hours be at the beginning of another. This period, like the Roman ‘god’ Janus, has two faces, looking back on the year that is past, and looking forward on the year that is to come, and my four-sided lamp will perhaps gleam afar. I wish that you may have courage enough to look down the vista of the years that you have already lived, and think of everything that you have thought, and spoken, and done, in the light of the beams of this lamp ‘At the last,’ and then I hope you will have holy daring enough to let the same light shine forward on the years yet to come, when your hair shall be grey and the grinders shall fail, and they that look out of the windows shall be darkened. Let us, then, examine the past and the future of life in the light of ‘At the last.’ May it teach us wisdom, and make us walk as in the fear of God.
For meditation: Spurgeon asked his hearers to examine themselves in the light of his imaginary lantern’s four sides, namely death, then judgment (Hebrews 9:27), heaven and hell. ‘Happy New Year’ is no more than sentimental wishful thinking for those who are still without Christ; but those whose eternal prosperity is guaranteed by their trust in Christ’s sacrifice (Hebrews 9:28) can look forward to a ‘Happy New Year’ whatever happens to them during it.