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and hold his riches, if he hold them at all, for Him whose servant he is. To one the command may be, “Sell all thou hast, give to the poor, and come and follow me;" because he can be saved only in that way. To another the command may be, “Occupy till I come;" administer what I have given thee under the law—“Love thy neighbour as thyself," until I call thee to account. He to whom riches prove a snare and a temptation too great for his strength, must give them up; whilst he who can hold them as instruments of good, becomes the servant of God.
Christ took the institutions of men as he found them, and seemed to require that they should be changed only as the hearts of those who lived under them changed. He knew that no change could be permanent unless founded in the hearts and minds of the people. He did not require that the rich and poor should change places, nor that all men should be lifted above the state of poverty ; for he said, “ The poor always ye have with
WITH CHANGE OF HEARTS AND MINDS.
you."* He did not require that the master should give up his slave, nor that the slave should quit or resist his master. He did not offer resistance to the laws or public authorities, or in any manner teach that his kingdom was of this world. He simply taught that men should love their neighbours as themselves, and left that great law of human conduct to accomplish all the changes and revolutions necessary for the progress of his doctrines and the best interests of men, He utterly refused to take any authority or administration in temporal matters. To him who asked him to interfere in the division of an inheritance, he replied, “ Man, who made me a judge, or a divider over you ?”+ When the woman taken in adultery was brought to him for judgment, he said, “ He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone
* John xii. 8.
† Luke xii. 14.—This is somewhat in contrast with the course of the Bishops of the Established Church of England, who have taken charge of the administration of estates, and have become judges and dividers over their fellow-men.
at her.” And when her accusers had slunk away, he said to the woman, “ Neither do I condemn thee. Go, and sin no more. "* He did not require him whom he exhorted to sell his goods, to bring the proceeds to him for distribution, but to give to the poor himself. To those who tempted him in regard to paying tribute to the Roman emperors, he replied, “Render unto Cæsar the things that are Cæsar's, and unto God the things that are God's.” To Pilate he said, “ My kingdom is not of this world.”
The most striking illustration of our Saviour's life and doctrines is to be found in his exemplification or parable of the last judgment. When all nations are gathered before the final Judge, and when the blessed are placed on his right hand, and the guilty on his left,—“ Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world : for I
* John viii. 7, 11.
+ Matt. xxii. 21.
# John xviii. 36.
was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: naked, and ye clothed me: sick, and ye in prison, and ye came unto me.
And to the question of the righteous, when had they done these things, the reply is, “Verily, I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."* The condemnation of the wicked is placed upon the ground that “Inasmuch as ye did it not unto one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.”+ There is here nothing about churches, creeds, confessions, catechisms, prayer-books; nothing of theology, faith, or doctrine; and yet this is the last judgment, characterized by the final Judge Himself.
Can it be more strongly enforced that the mission of the disciples of Christ on earth is one of charity and mercy? If the tree bear
* Matthew xxv. 31.
+ Ibid. xxv. 45.
not these fruits, it is none of his planting. There cannot be a doubt that he who loves God supremely, and his neighbour as himself, cannot err fatally in his theology. He may require for his profit, encouragement, and spiritual sustenance, all the means of grace and instructions within his reach; but no amount of this sort of work constitutes Christianity, nor insures salvation. There must, in the infinite variety of minds, be an infinite variety in the way of regarding these subjects; and every one is bound, under the instructions given in the word of God, to think for himself. These instructions are not so detailed but that every believer must in very many things be left to his own discretion : he is a steward, bound to execute his Lord's will, but with a large discretion as to the mode of performance. Those servants who received the talents from their master, to be employed by them in his absence, used their own discretion in the manner of it, and he who buried his in a napkin was con