« ForrigeFortsæt »
instead of a blessing; thorns and briers, fit only for burning, are the sad harvest of a neglected soul. And the brighter sides and things of wasted years are no more satisfactory. The bright yellow of the hated charlock and the dazzling scarlet of the poppies give no pleasure to the husbandman; they are only poisonous weeds, despite all their showiness: and the gaieties of a godless life are not pleasures of memory. "What fruit had ye then, in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death."
Think of the riches of the new life in Christ! "Reap in mercy." "Till He come and rain righteousness upon you." According to the measure or proportion of mercy shall God grant to the penitent soul the gifts of grace. This is the glorious standard of blessing. Thirty, sixty, and a hundred fold spring from the seeds sown in the fields; and in the moral sphere God refreshes and enriches us beyond all our thoughts. He blesses, not according to our merits, prayers, or expectations, but according to the freeness and largeness of His mercy. He shall make you wiser, stronger, holier, happier, more useful, beyond all that you can ask or think. Broken up, that fallow ground shall bear golden harvests, roses of Sharon, fruits of Paradise,
"Seek the Lord till He come." Continue the search quite up to the point and time when you shall find. A celebrated gold-mine in Nevada is known as the Eureka, and a mournful history is connected with it. The original owner, after working it without success, was obliged to abandon it. He retired to San Francisco, where he lived in indigence for some time, finally cutting his wife's throat and those of his two children,
and then blowing out his own brains. Those who reopened the mine struck the gold only twelve feet beyond the spot where the poor fellow had ceased working. Do not stop short of the heavenly blessing and sink in despair. "It is time to seek the Lord" If the husbandman permit the auspicious hours to pass, the harvest is lost.
THE DEVIL'S RIDDLE
Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought?-JOB i. 9.
ATAN assumes that the godliness of the patriarch rested on the secular advantage attending it. "Hast Thou not made a hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? Thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land." The accuser then proceeds to predict that if the secular advantage ceased the godliness would cease with it. "But put forth Thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse Thee to Thy face." The inference to be drawn from the Satanic impeachment is that godliness inspired by sordid selfishness is worthless; piety must rest on other and higher grounds than material advantage. So far it must be granted that the devil's theology is orthodox, as indeed his theology usually is; his failure is elsewhere. The true religious life is independent of all arithmetic.
Several subjects do not permit calculation of the worldly order. Certain vocations and relationships are so lofty that they are desecrated by the very thought of financial gain or social advancement; the fine gold
becomes dim at the suspicion of mercenary design. Art cannot be cultivated in the spirit of gain. The ancient masterpieces of sculpture, architecture, and painting arose out of the pure impulse of genius, the passionate love of perfection, and not out of greed. Splendid workmanship is native to solitude and lowliness, as some choice fruits and flowers are reared best on the poorer soils. In the atmosphere of fortune, luxury, and renown genius withers. Great music does not come by the way of the Stock Exchange. The singing robes of the premier poets are commonly threadbare. Science also is easily hurt by commercialism. The true student of nature works in simple love of the truth, knowing nothing of thoughts of aggrandizement. In the opinion of competent judges modern science has been seriously compromised by too close association with industrialism; vast are the material advantages ensured by science, but it must not be cultivated in the commercial spirit. Detachment from the world is essential to all high intellectual work; a glance at fiscal gain or social glory mars the power and efficacy of the most brilliant genius. In the realm of the social affections material considerations are still more intolerable. Love shrinks from sordid reckonings; and if for a moment it should be seduced into any thought of interest, its divine quality is lost. Partnership in business is legitimate enough, yet business under the guise of friendship is a painful confusion impossible to sensitive souls. "Commerce, traffic, speculation are honourable words when properly applied, but they are infamous when applied to marriage," as Marie Bashkirtseff justly declares. Love,
friendship, philanthropy are affairs of the heart, and any alloy of interested motives converts these terms into expressions of the worst forms of fraudulent pre
But coming to goodness, which is another word for godliness, we enter a realm where mercenary thoughts are simply profane. In the lower stages of personal religious experience, as in the earlier stages of national religious development, the bargaining temper of the patriarch Jacob may be condoned; but in the higher stages, which cannot be delayed without serious loss, the huckstering spirit has entirely passed away. "Now when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money. But Peter said unto him, Thy silver perish with thee, because thou hast thought to obtain the gift of God with money." In our day dollars and divinity are associated without causing any special shock, but to men full of the spirit of Christ the association was sacrilegious; the attempt to obtain spiritual power with money, or to get money out of spiritual virtue, was equally impious. The strong language of Peter shows that profit and piety are utterly irreconcilable in religious thought and motive, although they are often and naturally coincident in practical life.
It is the duty of Christian men to preserve their religious life not only from gross secularism, but also from every refinement of interested motives; we must remember that simony may exist in subtle forms, and find application through a wide range. Revelation everywhere represents goodness as of transcendent