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for God, of the things which the world tells him are his. Should this Spirit of Christ's spread, we shall begin almost to realize the state of Israel in the wilderness, where he that had gathered much, had nothing over, and he that had gathered little had no lack.
(iv.) I need not remind this congregation of the Church's action in recent years (since followed to some extent by the Nonconformists) in making all seats in Church free to all alike ; and so breaking down the middle wall of partition between the poorer and the richer brethren, and placing all in Christ as equal members of His body before the throne of grace. Educationally, therefore, spiritually, in almsgiving, in worship, the Church of Christ has tended to fuse rich and poor more together, and to weld all into one great middle class.
V. Yet this same even tenour of living, not much elevated, if not much depressed from its ordinary level, has its temptations. Perhaps it has no deep sympathy with the poor, from not having tasted poverty ; perhaps it does not recognize that same dependence upon God for daily bread which those do for whom nothing at all is laid up.
Yet being fed' with food convenient for me, ought I not to praise God for it; and to live a thankful life?
If, then, political philosophers would widen out the Middle Class as much as possible, so as to increase the stability of the state ; if the Church would level up the poor and outcast, and teach humility and charity to the rich ; surely it should be the part of each one, not to look with jealousy upon the poorer brother, but lend a helping hand to lift him up; surely it should be our part to look not only upon our own things, but on the things of others also, and to try and take as wide a view, and feel as deep a sympathy as possible, both with high and low, with rich and poor, for God is the Maker, Christ is the Redeemer, of all.
Were riches to increase, I might set my heart upon them, and thus deny God, and say, Who is the Lord ? Were penury my lot, I might be led to steal; and repining my lot, to curse and take the name of God in vain ; but if God have assigned me neither poverty nor riches, but placed me high up, or low down, it may be, still in the great middle class, let me give Him the glory, not only with my lips, but in my life, by striving heart and soul to do my duty by Him, by my neighbours, by myself, in that state of life to which it has pleased Hirn to call me.
St. MARK VI. 3.
IS NOT THIS THE CARPENTER ?"
you will hear people, “unlearned and unstable," wresting St. Paul's words, “Not many
wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble," and trying to set up a class gospel, little less odious than the exceeding exclusiveness of the Jews in our Lord's day. The Jews would have it that only Abraham's blood could possibly be cared for by God : these will have it that because the poor have the Gospel preached to them, it is only they who have place in the Kingdom of Heaven. In a large town-congregation like this, with men of all ranks and all degrees of culture and education, gathered, as children, round the knees of our Father which is in Heaven, there is little need to combat so untrue an assumption - an assumption which cuts at the root of Christ's great intention in coming into the world—that all men may become one in Him. But if you will look at Christ's especial followers, you will see that all sorts and conditions of men have place in His immediate band of attendantsJohn Baptist, a priest; Joseph, a carpenter, yet with royal blood in his veins ; Peter, a fisherman ; Matthew, a taxgatherer ; Barnabas, a land-owner and Levite ; Paul, a scholar and a gentleman. Here is consecrated to the service of God in His Church, the handicraftsman, the professional man, the man of means, the man of culture, the clergyman.
Yet, having indicated to all men (for Christ is the Head, not of a class, but of all) the right to be His devoted followers, in office or out of office, in His Church, we are bound, from the text — uttered, it is true, by his calumniators, yet, probably, a true word spoken with a hostile intent, Is not this the carpenter ?to admit that Christ chose to dignify one class more than others by casting in his lot specially with it. What woman does not feel that her sex has been glorified by the Son of God taking to Him human nature from the womb of her sister, the Blessed Virgin Mary! What king does not feel ennobled by the Son of God being born of King David's blood ! What wedding couple does not feel that grace and beauty and consecration is cast around their union, in that Christ showed His Divine glory first at the marriage feast in Cana of Galilee! and what handicraftsman, what carpenter does not feel that work has now become Divine, for Jesus worked at the bench, Jesus handled the saw and chisel! “Is not this the carpenter?”
I.—But we must notice what particular trade it was that Jesus chose to work at.
He might have been a shepherd, like Moses or David; He might have been a gatherer of sycamore fruit, like the prophet Amos. But these He did not choose. These are pastoral, agricultural pursuits--always a great industry, then almost the only great industry. Was it that He cast His glance down the vista of the ages, and saw how, in this nineteenth century, the shepherd would be pushed out of his place in these teeming centres of population of ours; and the mechanic, the artificer, the handicraftsman, the manufacturer, would become so prominent a person in the world? Did He consider that He would be the Good Shepherd in parable, that He might win, by that poetic similitude, a pastoral people; He would be a carpenter in reality, that He might create a bond of sympathy for the hard-headed, matter-of-fact people of to-day?
(i.) But what is a carpenter? Probably I am right in saying his is the craft which stands at the head of the building trades. During these last bitter weeks of frost,* which have almost closed the builder's yard, it has been my lot to see something of the distress among those engaged in that occupation. Though men in other branches of the building trade have sought relief, scarcely one carpenter has asked it from us. On the whole, they are a careful and a well to-do class of operatives.
But it is a thoughtful craft to pursue. At Nazareth there would not be many carpenters : and the one or two who were there would be called upon to do all that the village needed doing.
Houses and sheds to be built or repaired ; furniture, such as tables and seats,