The People's Bible by Joseph Parker
And he arose from thence, and cometh into the coasts of Judaea by the farther side of Jordan: and the people resort unto him again; and, as he was wont, he taught them again.Ambition Rebuked
This passage, which will hardly ever be required for public use, suggests some points which ought not to be neglected by the preacher.
(1) Jesus Christ taught. The word is very significant. Ignorance was never approved by the Saviour. He saved through light, never through darkness. He conducted specific intellectual processes, as well as processes distinctively moral. It was his delight to simplify truth.
(2) Jesus Christ taught the people. Not a particular class, but the people as a whole. His appeal was to humanity. His teaching was as impartial as the sunshine. This is the glory of Christian truth. It challenges all hearts, in all ages, and in all lands. It is a heavenly rain, not a local fountain.
(3) Jesus Christ honoured the holy teachers who had gone before him: "What did Moses command you?" Truth is one. We are not to go to new teachers for new truths. We find new phases, new applications, and the like, but Truth is one, because God is one. This is our security amid all changes of ministers and teachers. In so far as the men have been true to God, each can say, What did my predecessor tell you?
(4) Jesus Christ honoured the tenderest relations of the present life (Mark 10:7-9). He did not ignore the present because of the future. He treated no vow with levity. There is a spurious spirituality which overrides social bonds and human compacts, but Jesus Christ never gave his sanction to such blasphemy. Without a home himself, he yet guarded the home-life of the world; able to live alone, he yet upheld the sacredness of social institutions. He taught the whole law—the law of home, the law of society, the law of the Church: "There is one lawgiver."
This profound exposition was given in reply to men who tempted him. Even the enemy may occasion some truths to be more fully revealed. The lawyer tempted Christ, and behold the picture of the Good Samaritan was painted! We are indebted to the darkness for the stars.
13. And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them.
14. But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.
15. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.
16. And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them.
Even the disciples did not know their Lord. The persons who are nearest to us may actually know nothing of our character. The disciples had mistaken ideas of greatness: to them the greatness was not in life, but in circumstances. Jesus reversed this idea: the tree is in the seed: he cared for children, and so he profoundly cared for men. Jesus "was much displeased;" this displeasure enhanced the value of the benediction. The blessing was thus shown to be no cold compliment, nor a merely social courtesy; it was an act of the heart. The displeasure would be as memorable as the blessing. The disciples measured themselves by their manliness; Jesus taught them to measure themselves by their childlikeness. Notice three remarkable things:—
(1) The power of parental instinct. The mothers knew, without having received any formal intimation, that a man like Jesus Christ must love little children. They did not wonder whether he did or not, they knew that he must The heart soon finds out the quality and purpose of Christ. Let thy heart speak, O man, and it will tell thee that the Saviour is thy friend, and that he will hail thee as a suppliant.
(2) Parents may be interested in the Christian welfare of their children without being much concerned for their own. This is a startling possibility. There are men who seldom open their Bibles who rejoice in the Biblical knowledge of their children: so with Sabbath-keeping, church-attendance, and the choice of companions. They have more than a merely outward respect for religion, yet its redeeming mystery has no place in their hearts! They admire, but they do not repent.
(3) Jesus gives more than even parental love expected. The parents wished that Jesus would touch their children. They would have been pleased had he taken the children's hands into his own. What did Jesus do? "He took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them." See what he was asked to do, and see what he did! "He is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think." The children were almost in heaven! A practical question may be asked here: Are our lives worthy of the advantages we enjoy in childhood? Some of us were brought to Christ, and were given to him in many a fervent prayer: have we gone upwards or downwards since?
17. And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?
18. And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God.
19. Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother.
20. And he answered and said unto him, Master, all these have I observed from my youth.
21. Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.
22. And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.
The young man was farther from Christ than was the young child. The child was brought: the young man came, but he was farther away. His earnestness was good, for he "came running," as one in great urgency; his attitude was good, for he "kneeled" to the Saviour, as one who is humble-minded; his inquiry was good, for he asked, "What shall I do to inherit eternal life?" Men are not saved by good points, but by a good spirit. Men who ask great questions should expect great answers. Was the demand excessive? Manifestly not; it cannot be excessive to give up time for eternity, to forfeit a troubled hour for a happy immortality, to give up a speck of dust for an infinite inheritance. In his treatment of this young man, Jesus Christ showed—(1) That he was not anxious to add to the mere number or respectability of his followers. What an opportunity of doing so was here! A man with a carriage! A man who could make money questions quite easy! Some of us would have smoothed the way for his entrance into the Church—we should have talked about culture, refinement, speciality of sensibility, and the like. Jesus Christ showed (2) that outward amiability is not to be mistaken for spiritual character. "Jesus beholding him loved him." There was charm of countenance: there were remnants of a beautiful child-life; there was a struggle with the spirit of worldliness. Every man is more or less beautiful as he knocks at the gate of the kingdom: he stands between two worlds: the far-off light flushes his face with peculiar glory. (3) That the wisest and the best, as well as the dullest and the worst, must bear the same cross. "Take up the cross and follow me." What, the cross in youth? Yes. What, the cross where there is so much morality? Yes. Will it not be enough to lighten the crosses of other people? No! A requirement like this, made under such circumstances, ought to secure for Jesus Christ, viewed as a merely human teacher, the confidence and veneration of mankind.
23. And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!
24. And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God!
25. It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.
26. And they were astonished out of measure, saying among themselves Who then can be saved?
27. And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.
How hard it is to give up one world for another! Wherein lies the difficulty? (1) This world is seen, the higher world is invisible; (2) this world gives immediate pleasure, the expectation of the higher world is often associated with sacrifice, self-mortification, and pain; (3) it seems so easy to work for both worlds, as the division between them is so marked. What has business to do with theology? How can money interfere with prayer? Can stocks, funds, investments, speculations, become as a cloud between a man and his Maker? See how Jesus Christ puts the matter: "How hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God!" The emphasis is upon the word "trust." There are rich men who are poor in spirit. We should rejoice when the riches of the world fall into the hands of good men, because it is better for all great forces to be under Christian than under unchristian control. There is no merit in poverty. There is no wickedness in wealth. The one question relates to the spirit, not to the circumstances. The 25th verse must be read in the light of the 24th: "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man who trusts in his riches to enter into the kingdom of God!" The confidence that is put in riches is so much confidence subtracted from the honour of the Father.
28. Then Peter began to say unto him, Lo, we have left all, and have followed thee.
29. And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel's,
30. But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.
31. But many that are first shall be last; and the last first.
Peter's all! What a tone of self-compliment there is in Peter's statement! "We are the right men: we have done the right thing: we are comfortably off; let the rich young man do what he may." Is there anything more deadly in its effect upon the spirit than religious self-satisfaction? The piety that gathers its skirts up, and avoids the mud of common life, is the most diseased and intolerable of all respectability. How pathetic was the reply of Jesus! No man serves him for nought! He who loses his life for Christ's sake, finds it,—finds it immortalised and glorified. "Seek ye first the kingdom of God," etc.
32. And they were in the way going up to Jerusalem; and Jesus went before them: and they were amazed; and as they followed, they were afraid. And he took again the twelve, and began to tell them what things should happen unto him,
33. Saying, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be delivered unto the chief priests, and unto the scribes; and they shall condemn him to death, and shall deliver him to the Gentiles:
34. And they shall mock him, and shall scourge him, and shall spit upon him, and shall kill him: and the third day he shall rise again.
Jesus went before: went alone: separated himself from the people and from his disciples. There was something in the action which filled the observers with painful amazement. His own thoughts were society enough for him meanwhile. He had seen the end. He had come to a turn on the life-road from which he could point out the Cross to others; as for himself, he had always seen it—seen it from unbeginning time, but now he had to point out to others that grim, dread object. No wonder he wished to be alone for a time. It is not easy to find the beginning of a sentence which is to convey tidings so startling and so terrible,—so Jesus goes alone to prepare himself to tell of the sacrifice. Observe (1) Jesus knew all that was coming upon him, so he was not surprised into suffering and death; (2) Jesus himself told the disciples, so he showed his perfect knowledge of the future; (3) Jesus said he would rise again, so his death was a sacrifice, not a martyrdom. He who had power to rise i had power to prevent the taking of his life. The resurrection showed that the crucifixion was not a necessity arising out of Christ's weakness.
35. And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, come unto him, saying, Master, we would that thou shouldest do for us whatsoever we shall desire.
36. And he said unto them, What would ye that I should do for you?
37. They said unto him, Grant unto us that we may sit, one on thy right hand, and the other on thy left hand, in thy glory.
(1) The natural result of extreme ambition is selfishness. What did the sons of Zebedee care for other people? (2) Ambition may not be the less criminal for being associated with religious position and influence. The feeling shown by these men should always be discouraged. There is an earnestness that is fanaticism. The ambition that is unholy is always also unreasonable.
"That the sons of Zebedee wished for ecclesiastical, rather than secular honours, may be thought probable from the allusion that is made here to the supreme dignities in the great Sanhedrin. The prince of the Sanhedrin (hanasi) sat in the midst of two rows of senators or elders; on his right hand sat the person termed Ab (the father of the Sanhedrin); and on the left the Chacham or sage. These persons transacted all business in the absence of the president."—(Adam Clarke.)
The sons of Zebedee asked for honour in the kingdom, they did not ask for fellowship in the preliminary suffering. Bengel well remarks: "Very different were those whom our Lord was first to have on his right hand and on his left."
38. But Jesus said unto them, Ye know not what ye ask: can ye drink of the cup that I drink of? and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?
39. And they said unto him, We can. And Jesus said unto them, Ye shall indeed drink of the cup that I drink of; and with the baptism that I am baptized withal shall ye be baptized:
40. But to sit on my right hand and on my left hand is not mine to give; but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared.
Lange says: "Different views are entertained of this reply." De Wette explains it: "Your request arises from an incorrect view of the character of my kingdom, which is spiritual." Meyer paraphrases: "Ye know not that the highest posts in my kingdom cannot be obtained without sufferings such as I have to endure." Luther says: "The flesh ever seeks to be glorified before it is crucified, exalted before it is abased." Referring to the latter part of Mark 10:40, Adam Clarke says: "The true construction of the words is this: To sit on my right hand and on my left, is not mine to give, except to them for whom it is prepared of my Father." Dr. Clarke argues that the words "it shall be given to them," "are interpolated by our translators." Bishop Horsley says the meaning is, "I cannot arbitrarily give happiness, but must bestow it on those alone for whom, in reward of holiness and obedience, it is prepared, according to God's just decrees."
The practical ideas of the passage might be homiletically expressed thus:—(1) Human ignorance should restrain human ambition,—"ye know not what ye ask;" (2) human weakness should modify the expression of human confidence,—"are ye able? they say, we are able;" (3) human history should be left to the development which God has purposed for it,—"ye shall drink; ye shall be baptised; but—;" (4) human position will be determined by human character.
41. And when the ten heard it, they began to be much displeased with James and John.
The primary conditions of brotherhood had been violated by the two brethren and their mother, and the ten had a right to be angry. All men who wish to outreach their brethren deserve indignation. Religion does not annihilate anger, it regulates its expressions and penalties. The incident may be homiletically used, as—(1) A warning against an unbrotherly disposition; and (2) an example of Christ's method of treating unbrotherly men. Jesus Christ does not expel them; he declares their ignorance, he points out their weakness, he shows that suffering is the portion of those who follow him, and that such suffering is to be endured, apart from promised official position in his kingdom.
42. But Jesus called them to him, and saith unto them, Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them.
43. But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister:
44. And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all.
45. For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.
This exhortation shows that the spirit of self-abasement is to distinguish the entire course of the Christian life. The Church is not to look to secular governments for precedents or patterns, but to the Son of man alone. The ἄρχοντες were proud, domineering, fond of power, and self-sufficient; nothing could be more foreign to the spirit of Christianity, and this was emphatically the time to say so. Jesus Christ adapted his teaching to the varying phases of human nature; at this time the phase of ambition was uppermost, and the exhortation took its course and tone accordingly. Adaptation is the secret of successful teaching. The teacher who speaks to the line of actual experience will never want a theme, and if his teaching be wise he will never speak without profit to his hearers. (1) Christian influence is not official; (2) Christian influence is spiritual; (3) Christian influence can be legitimately attained only by the Christian spirit,—"whosoever will be great among you let him be your minister (διάκονος), and whosoever will be chief among you let him be your servant (δοῦλος)." It has often been explained that διάκονος means a servant of a superior order, always near his master's person and admitted to a certain degree of his confidence, whereas δοῦλος means a slave, one who may be employed in the most menial service. The distinction, however, is not always maintained in the Christian writings. For example, in Matthew 18:23, we have a king "which would take an account of his servants (δούλων);" all the officers of Oriental courts were regarded as slaves, but the servants here referred to are the provincial officers employed to collect the revenue for government; in the Persian court they were called satraps. In Matthew 25:21, the word is used, "Well done, good and faithful servant (δοῦλε)." Without insisting upon any fanciful or even real distinctions between these words, the spirit of the exhortation is perfectly intelligible; abasement is the condition of true and permanent eminence. The simplicity of the condition is not without its dangers, for is it not possible to simulate humility? Is there not a stooping to conquer, which is merely an attitude of the body, not a gesture of the soul? There is an amiability which covers a hard and relentless heart; there is an outward austerity which may conceal the tenderest geniality of spirit.
The expression, "to give his life a ransom for many," is not to be taken as limiting Jesus Christ's atonement The atonement is not the subject of discourse; Jesus Christ is speaking of himself simply as an example of service,—a service so profound and so pure as to include even the surrender of life itself.
The whole address bears upon Christian position, the spirit by which it is to be attained, and in which it is to be held. Jesus Christ is not speaking against secular authority, civil magistracy, and the like; his remarks are exclusively confined to the affairs of his own kingdom. There must be rulership in civil society, and in religious society as well. Rulership is by no means arbitrary; it is founded upon the instincts and necessities of human nature. In civil society sovereignty may descend from generation to generation without regard to the fitness of the sovereign; in Christian society true rulership is a question of character and capacity. The modest, cultivated, intellectual Christian will, in time, attain his proper position. Zealous and foolish mothers may secure for their children an external position of authority, but the real authority will always be held by men who have drunk most deeply into the spirit of Jesus Christ. Such men care nothing for authority for its own sake; they are not the slaves of officialism; yet even in the absence of nominal status they wield the profoundest and most durable influence over the thought and sentiment of the Church.
46. And they came to Jericho: and as he went out of Jericho with his disciples and a great number of people, blind Bartimæus, the son of Timæus, sat by the highway side begging.
47. And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out, and say, Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me.
48. And many charged him that he should hold his peace: but he cried the more a great deal, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me.
49. And Jesus stood still, and commanded him to be called. And they call the blind man, saying unto him, Be of good comfort, rise: he calleth thee.
50. And he, casting away his garment, rose, and came to Jesus.
51. And Jesus answered and said unto him, What wilt thou that I should do unto thee? The blind man said unto him, Lord, that I might receive my sight.
52. And Jesus said unto him, Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole. And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way.
(1) A man representing the side of human life which is marked by deprivation,—no sight, no bread. (2) A man seizing a great opportunity,—"when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth." (3) A man resisting the most obstinate difficulties,—"many charged him that he should hold his peace." (4) A man repeating his prayer until the answer came,—"Jesus commanded him to be called." (5) A man stating his own case in his own words,—"Lord, that I might receive my sight." (6) A man turning to a right use the gifts of God,—"he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way." Application—(1) You are needy; (2) you have heard that Jesus passeth by; (3) you have sight; how are you using it?
And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!The Disciples Astonished
Jesus Christ is here moralising; that is to say, turning an incident to moral and spiritual account and use. He is musing aloud. The little transient anecdote has passed, but Jesus Christ's doctrine respecting the event abides for ever, an eternal voice in the Church. Mark is the only writer who takes notice of the look and gesture of our Lord on this memorable occasion. We have noted often that Mark is the one who takes most notice of the Lord's looks, as if the devoted disciple never turned his eyes away from the Lord's expressive face; as if indeed the tongue could not say all that Christ wanted to say; as if he who would know the Lord's meaning wholly must keep his eyes steadfastly on the Lord's countenance. Although Jesus Christ is moralising, he is not conceding anything. He does not call the young, rich man back, and say, You can take this kingdom upon your own terms. Jesus Christ does not build up his party or Church or society by compromise. The Lord's Church is a Church of the Cross, a society of crucified hearts. No man is in the Church who has not been crucified. He may be inquiring about the Church; he may even entertain admiration for the framework and general policy of the Church; but he is not inside until he has entered by the door of the Cross. There is no other door. We are crucified with Christ, or we are not in his society. Who, then, is in the Church? We must lay emphasis upon this word "hardly," so as to get out of it the meaning—with what infinite difficulty shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God. They will barely get in; they will hardly be in at all; if they do enter in it will be by an agony not to be expressed in words. It is much to have a Lord that recognises difficulties. This Lord of ours is not one who, by a wave of the hand, passes men into the Church; he says, It is hard work getting into the kingdom of God; it is difficult to give up one world for another. Here is the one world; it is visible, tangible, what we call real (though therein we are false), what we call certain (though therein we repeat our falsehood). Where is the kingdom of God? When you have found God you will find his kingdom. The kingdom of God is not in meat or in drink; the kingdom of God cometh not with observation; the kingdom of God is not a visible framework which men can estimate and walk around and form opinions about; the kingdom of God is a new consciousness, a new selfhood, a new creatureship, a new life, the beginning and pledge of eternity. If the kingdom of God were a set of doctrines which we could buy or appropriate or understand, we might as well have that kingdom as not have it; for it amounts to nothing more than assenting to a number of things which other men have written at the dictation of other men ages past, and if there is anything in it we may as well have it. That is not the kingdom of God; that is a make-up of man's own; the kingdom of God is spiritual, penetrative, vital; changing the spirit, changing the soul. If any man be in Christ Jesus, he is a new creature; the old self is not only dead, but buried, forgotten; every thought, every impulse, every desire is new. If the Lord did not recognise difficulties some of us could not live. It is hard for some men to pray; it is good for you to whom it is hard if you can get as far in prayer as "Our Father." If you put a full-stop there it will be taken as if other men had spoken all the prayer, clear away down to the resonant and grateful Amen. That is all you could do. You did that with difficulty; you are of the earth earthy; you love the world, you hug the dust, you are the victims of the senses: yet there is just one feeble ray of the upper light struggling with the darkness of your materialism, and you have got as by miracle and agony to "Our Father." It is easy for other man to pray; prayer becomes their native tongue: silence to them would be penalty; they must speak devotional language, fall into devotional attitudes, and their very sighing is attuned to a religious emphasis. But it is hard for such men in some cases to give. That is their curse; they will pray with you all day, but they will not give you anything. It is easy for some men to give time, advice, sympathy; but it is impossible for them to give money. It is easy to others to give money, but they cannot or will not give time; they are busy, busy—doing nothing; busy wasting their lives; busy pursuing nothing, and overtaking it. One man's difficulty is another man's pleasure. For want of this discrimination we have talked in cruel generalities, so that they to whom another feather's weight would become a burden intolerable, have been distressed for want of that fine discrimination which separates character from character, not in vulgar lumpishness, but in fine gradation, in exquisite weight and balance.
"How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God." Then is it easy for poverty to enter that kingdom? It is as difficult for poverty to get in as for wealth to get in. There is no virtue in poverty; there is no vice in wealth. The more the good man has the better. I pray that every good man may become just as rich as he can bear to be, and yet retain his piety, because the more he has the more the poor have; he is only treasurer, steward, custodian for Christ. How hardly, with what difficulty, shall they that have any kind of riches enter into the kingdom of God! Do not limit the word "riches" to the word "money." There are many kinds of riches, and all kinds of riches constitute difficulties in the way of spiritualisation. The poorest, commonest kind of wealth is money. Some are wealthy in morality. They can never see the kingdom of God. No "good" man can enter the kingdom of God: his goodness will be the ruin of him. Here is a young man who has kept all the commandments; not a day or a week, but all his life; handled them with consummate ease, made familiars of them, pets, idols; done them over and over again, could not help doing them, liked to do them. Was he in the kingdom of God? He was not within millions of leagues of that dominion of light and love and liberty, growth and progress and beauty, sweetness and security, benevolence divine. The difficulty is that some persons cannot distinguish between morality and Christianity. Morality is a question of manner. Etymologically, "morals" is a word which means manners; it means indeed manners that might be limited by attitudes, relations of an external and mechanical kind. Does piety of the true sort, then, exclude morality? Nay, verily, it includes it and glorifies it; puts it in its right place; divests it of all propitiatory value, and looks upon it as a necessity, arising spontaneously out of vital relations with God. It is not to be exhumed, it is to be emitted as flowers emit their fragrance. Persons who are rich in their respectability are not in the Church; persons who can sneer at the ill-behaviour of others are not in the Church; people who can point a finger of scorn at an erring life are not in the Church of Christ; people who are so noble as never to forgive have nothing to do with Christ, and ought never to mention his name by way of profession. There are men who are theologically exact enough to preside over a theological perdition, but who are not Christians; they can hold grudges in their hearts against other men. The man who can hold a grudge cannot pray; no prayer can get through a throat stuffed with that wool. We know nothing about this kingdom of God as revealed in Christ until we are prepared to be crucified in every finger, in every hair of the head, and to have spear-thrusts all over the life. Who, then, is in the kingdom of God? O thou cruel question, ring on! we cannot answer thee. Some are rich in ancestry. They are the most difficult persons in the world to deal with; they are nothing in themselves, but, oh, how grand they are in their predecessors, who in their turn were nothing, but grand in their progenitors. The most curious part of the psychology of such a case is that such people are often as humble as humility itself in ninety-nine points, but on the hundredth point the sky is not blue enough to shine upon them, and the sun acquires his dignity through lighting them to their occupation. All this must be cut off, or there will be no kingdom of God. Little mechanical morals, musty antiquated respectability, and even intellectual genius, and money, must all be cut off, one after the other, or all together: such tumours overswell the man, so that he cannot crush himself into God's narrow door. This is Christianity.
Look at the poor disciples! "They were astonished at his words;" and again (Mark 10:26), "And they were astonished out of measure." What a difference between the Lord and his followers! Jesus Christ spoke from an altitude that made the whole universe on a level; but those who were dwelling a thousand worlds lower down in the great house of space were amazed and bewildered, embarrassed and overwhelmed, by everything the great Lord said. This is not wholly to be deprecated. Even astonishment has a part to play in our spiritual education. When we have reached the nil admirari stage of development, at which we wonder at nothing, we might as well have the extinguisher placed upon us, for the universe is played out, and creation is underfoot, a thing without value, fascination, or utility. Blessed is he who keeps his astonishment young, fresh, expressive; happy in perpetual festival is he who still loves the wayside flowers, and who when he sees the first violet exclaims as if he had seen a new planet. Do not let little things lose their charm; do not allow spring to come back with her lapful of simple beautiful field-flowers and you take no notice of the largess; welcome the vernal queen. What she brings is from heaven: all flowers grow there; here they are exotics: let them take you back, by progress, beauty, suggestion, unspoken sympathy, to their native clime: flowers are the thoughts of God. At the same time our piety must pass beyond the stage of astonishment, and find its rest in the point of service. Christianity must renew its youth by giving itself away for the benefit of others.
How impossible it is to crush all self-consciousness out of men! No sooner had Peter heard this discourse, so tender in its eloquence, than he began to say unto the Lord, "Lo, we have left all." Think of Peter's "all"! How long would it take to write an inventory of that fisherman's "all"? Yet he pronounced the word "all" with such elongated emphasis that anybody would have thought he had really made some sacrifice for Christ. How nobly did the Saviour reply; how he blotted out Peter's contribution; how he made the senior apostle ashamed of himself, as he "answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel's, but he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life." Every man is overpaid. Here we see the right use of religious hyperbole or exaggeration. Think of a man having a hundred mothers! Jesus Christ often uses self-correcting phrases. The Lord often puts our lessons at the point of impossibility, that we may next drop to the point of reality. "An hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands." Every Christian has these; the realisation is already accomplished. All houses belong to the Christian heart; all children belong to the regenerated, Christ-expressing soul; the last born into the family of God owns creation: other ownership is legal, nominal, mechanical. The poet holds the landscape, and no other man ever did hold it; the Christian holds all wheatfields and vineyards, the cattle upon a thousand hills are his; nay, saith Paul, when we are counting up our little riches, all things are yours, angels, and principalities, and powers, and things present, and things to come, and height and depth, and life and death, are yours. We do not realise our possessions; we turn whiningly away from infinite riches, and groan because the body has certain wants which cannot be instantaneously appeased or satisfied. We must live in divine exultancy; we must find our riches in God. Herein is it true that no good soul can ever be poor; herein is the twenty-third psalm the psalm of life—"The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want."