Page images
PDF
EPUB

layeth out, it shall be paid him again." “ Whosoever shall give to drink a cup of cold water in My name shall in no wise lose his reward.” The whole history of the Church is witness. Who made such gains as they that sold all they had, and gave to the poor, that they might bear their cross in following the Lord ? Who found houses and lands an hundredfold, but they that forsook all to follow Him ? What was it that brought in the gold and silver, and lands and goods of the earth, without measure, to the use and service of the Church, but the first great venture of faith, the first full and confiding investment which they made in the beginning who “ sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need or being “ possessors of lands or houses, sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, and laid them down at the apostles' feet; and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need ?” It was the voluntary poverty of the first Christians that endowed the Church. We live of their usury, and on the profits of their investment. The land of Barnabas has borne the tithe of Christendom. I am not now speaking of the lasting returns which are laid up in heaven “in bags that wax not old;" I am speaking strictly

"2

1 St. Mark ix. 41. 2 Acts ii.4

3 Acts iv. 34.

of this world. And it is most true to say, that they will find at last the best return of all their ventures who go counter to the false expediency of this scheming, calculating world, and lay out their incomes with a thankful and trustful heart for the service of God and the consolation of His poor. When the prophet came to Sarepta, he asked food, in a time of famine, of a lone widow, who had a son depending on her; both were ready to perish. In her barrel was a handful of meal, in her cruse a little oil. Yet the prophet said, “ Make me a little cake first, and after that make for thee and for thy son.” What request could be more untimely, exacting, unreasonable? Was she not a widow, and her son an orphan, and both destitute? Must she not first care for her own child, especially in a time of famine ? So the world would argue; and for its reward receive an empty barrel and a dry cruse.

To conclude, then ; let us ever bear in mind that the probation of many men lies, for the greatest part, in the matter of their temporal affairs'; in the way in which they seek gain, and use the goods and possessions of the world. Their chief dangers arise from the largeness of their personal wants, and the scale they have pitched for their appearance in the sight of the world. When once men have committed themselves too far in this point, it becomes every day more difficult to withdraw; and then they are put to all manner of expedients, shifts, and schemes, to maintain themselves in their position. This drives them into ambiguous lines of business, and into acts of an equivocal meaning ; slight, it may be, at first, but by degrees enlarging into a wide surface of dangerous practice, and into concealed embarrassment. Money is the poison of thousands, whose character, in other respects, is high and admirable. It is strange over what minds money keeps its hold ; and how near a man may go to moral greatness, and yet be crippled and stunted by this one passion. Money is his measure; and with all his gifts and enlarged views of mind, and his almost great points of character in other respects, money ascertains the real standard of his moral being. Beware, then, of money, and the desire for it, of carefulness and mistrust of God. Give alms of all that ye possess. Labour in your lot, be content with such things as ye have, and be careful for nothing. He who fasted in the wilderness,

1 1 Kings xvii. 13.

and for the five thousand made five loaves to be enough, is with you. He will feed you with the bread that came down from heaven, even that meat “ which the Son of man shall give unto you; for Him hath God the Father sealed.”I

I St. John vi. 27.

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]
[ocr errors][ocr errors]

" Then the devil taketh Him up into the holy city, and setteth

Him on a pinnacle of the temple, and saith unto Him, If Thou be the Son of God, cast Thyself down : for it is written, He shall give His angels charge concerning Thee: and in their hands they shall bear Thee up, lest at any time Thou dash Thy foot against a stone. Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God."

[ocr errors]

THERE

[ocr errors]

THERE seems to be a manifold cunning in this invitation of the tempter.

“ He setteth Him upon the pinnacle of the temple,” from which no mere man could cast himself and live. He bade Him cast Himself down ; scheming either to destroy the person of the Son of God, or to discover His character and power. And yet he so shaped his proposal as to insinuate an imagination of intense spiritual evil.

The pretext suggested in this temptation by

[ocr errors]

the devil to our Lord was, that the Sonship of the true Messiah and the promises of God were a pledge to secure Him from all evil. “If Thou be the Son of God' He will take care of Thee: His angels shall bear Thee up." From this we may gather what was the evil to which Satan tempted the Saviour of the world. It appears to suggest a presumptuous dependence on God in things where He has not promised to extend it: and a consequent presumption in running into dangers. And this, after all, will be found to resolve itself into a temptation to self-confidence. “ If Thou be the Son of God :" this was the chief plea. "If Thou be, all must be safe to Thee. Ministering angels wait upon Thee. Nothing can work Thee harm.'

We may take this as a type of a very subtil and dangerous class of temptations; those, I mean, which beset persons of a truly religious life. When people have lived for many years in the daily practice of religion, and have been long free from habits of transgression, dangers of a new kind begin to surround them. Whatever is habitual bas a tendency to become unconscious, and whatever is unconscious is liable to sudden or vehement surprises. The very freedom such people enjoy from ordinary temptations, the clearness of their daily path, makes them to feel like men dwelling in peace in a coun

« PreviousContinue »