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walked no more with Him, but went back. Some of us, if we believed it, would hasten to join the retreat. They called the Master Beelzebub, he reminded them; what would they not call the servants! Here is one of the tests He gave them: “ Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you ! ”
Warning them of persecution, He told them not to be anxious how they should make their defence before their judges, for it would be given them in that hour what they should speak.
One day He came in when they had been disputing as to who was the greatest. He took a little child, and set him before them as a pattern, and told them that they must become like that; told them that he who is the least is truly great, and that he who would be first should be last of all. The night before the Crucifixion, He went to each, and solemnly washed his feet, and when He had finished, said, “ If I then, the Lord and the Master, have washed your feet, ye ought also to wash one another's feet.” The rite is preserved by a part of Christendom, in its outward form ; its practice as a rule of life, -the practice of service even to humiliation,-does not seem to have commended itself to Christians generally.
Jesus took no account of money, either for His own use or for the extension of His Kingdom. He denounced the love of it. He forbade its accumulation. When the Pharisees, who, St. Luke says, were lovers of money, scoffed at Him because of this teaching, He told them that “that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.” Jesus provided no fund for carrying on the work of His Church.
With equal audacity He declined to recognize payment as the proper reward of toil. If His utterances about laying up treasures are confusion to capitalists, the parable of the labourers who went at different hours into the vineyard, and yet received every man the same penny, upsets all human labour schemes. With perfect indifference, He once, at least, allowed a large sum to be wasted, as some thought, in a pleasant ointment for His feet.
As to His judgment concerning those possessed of wealth, we have to reckon with
these facts: He said, twice at least, probably oftener, to His amazed followers, that it was a hard thing, a thing impossible except with God, for a rich man to enter the Kingdom. The only rich man who, so far as we know, volunteered discipleship, turned away in sorrow when he was told to sell his estates for the benefit of the poor. As the verdict of God upon success in the accumulation of wealth, He pronounced the man who was enlarging his storehouses, -a “ fool.” One day “ He lifted up His eyes on His disciples and said, “ Blessed are the poor (oi ATWxoi ; literally, the beggars). Woe unto you that are rich !'” Those are His words. I find no pleasure in them; no satisfaction, certainly. They are strange and amazing words; but upon considering them and the many like them, we may be prepared to believe that Jesus was not giving expression to a sentiment, but to one of the primary laws of His Kingdom, to a conviction which must take possession of those who would be its members, when He said, “ Not in the abundance of a man's possessions consisteth his life.”
Strange and bewildering indeed to ordinary standards are Jesus's conceptions of human life and its proper conduct. As I have meditated upon His life and words, I have been at a loss to conclude which were the most wonderful: the character of the Kingdom He talked of; His calmness of spirit and absolute simplicity of manner in describing its constitution; or the serene confidence with which He seemed to look for obedience and to dream of nothing but success.
The words which we have been considering were uttered without qualification of any kind by one whom we call Lord and Master. I submit to you, as in profound gravity I do to myself, that we are here face to face with an issue than which none in heaven or earth can be more serious. Are these words to be obeyed, or are they still to be ignored, despised and rejected ? Are they to be compounded with Machiavellianism and made palatable with glosses from Poor Richard's Almanac, or taken as they stand ? Is here not the old issue between faith
and lack of faith? We pretend to accept Christ as the Way, His teachings as the Rule of Life, and we deny them, openly and unblushingly repudiate them, at every turn. We hardly even trouble ourselves to think out a method of evading them. We sit in judgment upon them; such as do not seem convenient and expedient, we fancy He could not have meant, and we therefore conclude that He did not mean them.
With perfect freedom I admit that it is not easy-nay: that it is quite impossibleto vindicate the wisdom of many of these precepts. Are we therefore free to cast them away ? Is it necessary that they should accredit themselves to our judgments ? Wisdom is justified of her children. If any man will do the will, he shall know the doc
they seem to us—short-sighted and impracticable directions, might, if they were tried, be found wise and far-sighted ? But I am not concerned now to demonstrate the wisdom—as to earthly things of Christ's commands. It is enough that they are His commands. Their wisdom may be-nay: