Obrazy na stronie


to fit their sons for such good work. Had Matthew's mother or his father discouraged him, where would have been the first Gospel of the New Testament?

Those who, like St. Matthew, have seen something of the monetary temptations of life, or have sprung from a class which has to face those temptations in their intensity, are, perhaps, as well calculated to be ministers of Christ's Church as any. They know, or their fathers can tell them, best what the cares of this life and the deceitfulness of riches mean. And, if by God's grace they have not choked the word, as Judas did, but, with St. Matthew, have let it come to maturity, they will be able, as having suffered and been tempted, to succour those who are tempted in a money-loving and wealth-worshipping age.

Thus, to clergymen and laymen alike, St. Matthew is an example how Christ is to be followed. For Him we must leave all actually or in spirit. Him we must follow through every changing scene through which His footsteps lead.



Higb in Office.





HREE points specially strike me in the character

of Daniel ; he was an honest man, he was religious man, he was a brave man.

He was an honest man, for he administered the revenues of the kingdom incorruptly; he was a religious man, for he found time to pray three times a day to God; he was a brave man, for he went on praying, under penalty of being thrown to the lions, and he did not get up from his knees when he heard the spies coming towards his chamber at his prayer time.

I. The administration of a kingdom like Persia was no small matter. One hundred and twenty princes, governing as many provinces--some only recently conquered, we may believe, and hardly consolidated into the empire-were superintended by three presidents, of whom Daniel was one.

Before him would be brought many difficult questions, such as the taming of rebellious cities, the assessment of their various imposts, the auditing of the accounts of the magistrates and collectors, the seeing that no hurt happened to the King in prestige, in prerogative, or in purse; but that his power as sovereign over all was duly maintained, and his revenue suffered no damage, either from impatience of taxation among the peoples, nations, and languages reduced to his allegiance, or from the peculation and malversation of the subordinate governors and satraps.

Daniel, a foreigner, a Jew, placed in the highest offices in the land, would naturally raise against himself the envy of his less fortunate competitors for power : and if, as is probable, he had been scrupulously careful in requiring integrity and honesty among his subordinates in dealing with the public revenue, allowing them to exact

more than that which was appointed them, and forbidding extortion or oppression among their subject peoples, and requiring them to show an accurate balance sheet of their receipts and expenditure, and return the proper amount without fraudulent deductions, into the King's treasury, we can well believe, that in that age he would not be the most popular of men. Nay, as he was one of three, it is quite likely that his two coadjutors were not swayed by the like feelings with himself, and grudged that their tenure of office should yield them no harvest of bribes or hush-money from their grasping and extortionate inferiors; and felt themselves abashed and reproved by the unselfish justice of their colleague. At any rate, certain it is, that they wanted to get rid of him. But when they wanted to be rid of him, and to this end sought to


get him out of favour with the King, they could find none occasion against him, in the matter of the kingdom and its administration, forasmuch as he was faithful, neither was there any error or fault found in him.

An example to all in public station; to all administrators of revenue, national, municipal, parochial, charitable. He that ruleth, let him do it with diligence; he that ministers, with the integrity of an honest man

II. But he was withal a religious man. Religion and honesty do not always go together : more's the pity! We have heard of a banker who always called his clerks in to prayers before the business of the day began; but finished his own career in one of the Queen's prisons for having the while been defrauding his customers. Some people will say “Oh, his religion was all hypocrisy.” In a sense it was; but in a sense it was not. It was hypocrisy before God who sees the heart ; for He requires not only devotion of the heart to Himself in prayer and praise, and fervent ecstasy of soul; but likewise that we should be true and just in all our dealing with others. But as regards the man himself, I do not suppose that he instituted this family prayer with the conscious intention to deceive others. Most probably it was the relic of earlier and better days, before frauds had begun with him ; and was even carried on as the one-sided offering of a soul slowly slipping away from its thorough allegiance to its God, but which yet had not all gone back from him. The old cults of Greece and Rome had their mysteries and archaic ceremonies, their sacrifices and ancestral ritual, by which they supposed the gods of their country were propitiated and kept friendly and attached to their land; and these customs might be celebrated year by year, for generations and generations, without their having or being conceived to have any bearing on the morals and good living of the people who frequented them. But it is the glory of the true religion of God, that it binds devotion and morals in one; that it requires truth in the inward parts ; that it hath this seal, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity; that in the celebration of its highest act of worship, the Holy Eucharist, it feels no incongruity in writing up the Ten Commandments by the Table of its Lord.

Yet in our days we sometimes observe the reverse phenomenon: a man scrupulously exact in all business relations; as honest as the day in his mercantile dealings; to whom I could trust my whole fortune: yet a man who does not frequent the Holy Communion, who is only occasionally and formally at Church, who is not marked by private devotion, in a word, who is not a religious man. How do you account for this ?

No doubt, virtue may exist without a true and adequate knowledge of God. The Chinese have kept the Fifth Commandment well; Roman matrons notoriously the Seventh ; yet these worshipped not the one God. Must we not say then, that the image of God in which man was originally made, is not all rubbed out from man, even in the worst of times ? that some light still remains with all men from Him who lighteneth every man that cometh into the world ?

But in the case of the honest, though irreligious merchant, may we not account for it another way ? It is true he does not consciously regard God; but he regards greatly the opinion of the mercantile world around

« PoprzedniaDalej »