Parable of the Two Lamps

Parable of the Two Lamps

“Parable of the Two Lamps”:

One summer evening while on my porch, a stranger approached. I brought another chair from within, and we chatted together till the twilight had deepened into darkness. Then he said: “You are a student, and doubtless have much work to do o’nights. What kind of lamp do you use?” And without waiting for a reply he continued: “I have a superior lamp I should like to show you.” I replied with confidence, “My friend, I have a lamp, one that has been tested and proved. It has been to me a companion through many a long night. Step inside; I will show you my lamp, then you may tell me whether yours can possibly be better.” We entered my study room, and with a feeling which I assume is akin to that of the athlete about to enter a contest with one whom he regards as a pitably inferior opponent, I put the match to my well-trimmed Argand. My visitor was voluble in his praise. It was the best lamp of its kind he said. He averred that he had never seen a
lamp in better trim. He turned the wick up and down and pronounced the adjustment perfect. “Now,” said he, “with your permission I’ll light my lamp.” He took from his satchel a lamp then known as the “Rochester.” Its light made bright the remotest corner of my room. In its brilliant blaze my own little Argand wick burned a weak, pale yellow. Until that moment of convincing demonstration I had never known the dim obscurity in which I had lived and labored, studied and struggled. “I’ll buy your lamp,” said I.” I took my new acquisition to the laboratory that same night, and found that it burned fully four times the intensity of my student lamp. Two days after purchasing, I met the lamp peddler on the street about noontime. To my inquiry he replied that business was good, the demand for lamps was greater than the factory supply. “But,” said I, “you are not working today.” His rejoinder was a lesson. “Do you think that I would be so foolish as to go around trying to sell l
amps in the daytime? Would you have bought one if I had lighted it for you when the sun was shining? I chose the time to show the superiority of my lamp over yours; and you were eager to own the better one I offered, were you not?” Such is the story. Now consider the application thereof. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father, which is in heaven.” The man who would sell me a lamp did not disparage mine. He placed his greater light alongside my feeble flame, and I hastened to obtain the better. (Parables of James E. Talmage, Albert L. Zobell, Jr., Deseret Book Company, 1973)