The Sermon on the Mount
CHRIST seldom gathered His disciples alone
to receive His words. He did not choose for His audience those only who knew the way of
life. It was His work to reach the multitudes who were in ignorance and error. He gave His
lessons of truth where they could reach the darkened understanding. He Himself was the
Truth, standing with girded loins and hands ever outstretched to bless, and in words of
warning, entreaty, and encouragement, seeking to uplift all who would come unto Him.
The Sermon on the Mount,
though given especially to the disciples, was spoken in the hearing of the multitude.
After the ordination of the apostles, Jesus went with them to the seaside. Here in the
early morning the people had begun to assemble. Besides the usual crowds from the Galilean
towns, there were people from Judea, and even from Jerusalem itself; from Perea, from
Decapolis, from Idumea, away to the south of Judea; and from Tyre and Sidon, the
Phoenician cities on the shore of the Mediterranean. "When they had heard what great
things He did," they "came to hear Him, and to be healed of their diseases: . .
. there went virtue out of Him, and healed them all." Mark 3:8; Luke 6:17-19.
The narrow beach did not
afford even standing room within reach of His voice for all who desired to hear Him, and
Jesus led the way back to the mountainside. Reaching a level space that offered a pleasant
gathering place for the vast assembly, He seated Himself on the grass, and the disciples
and the multitude followed His example.
The disciples' place was
always next to Jesus. The people constantly pressed upon Him, yet the disciples understood
that they were not to be crowded away from His presence. They sat close beside Him, that
they might not lose a word of His instruction. They were attentive listeners, eager to
understand the truths they were to make known to all lands and all ages.
With a feeling that something
more than usual might be expected, they now pressed about their Master. They believed that
the kingdom was soon to be established, and from the events of the morning they gathered
assurance that some announcement concerning it was about to be made. A feeling of
expectancy pervaded the multitude also, and eager faces gave evidence of the deep
interest. As the people sat upon the green hillside, awaiting the words of the divine
Teacher, their hearts were filled with thoughts of future glory. There were scribes and
Pharisees who looked forward to the day when they should have dominion over the hated
Romans, and possess the riches and splendor of the world's great empire. The poor peasants
and fishermen hoped to hear the assurance that their wretched hovels, the scanty food, the
life of toil, and fear of want were to be exchanged for mansions of plenty and days of
ease. In place of the one coarse garment which was their covering by day, and their
blanket at night, they hoped that Christ would give them the rich and costly robes of
their conquerors. All hearts thrilled with the proud hope that Israel was soon to be
honored before the nations as the chosen of the Lord, and Jerusalem exalted as the head of
a universal kingdom.
Christ disappointed the hope
of worldly greatness. In the Sermon on the Mount He sought to undo the work that had been
wrought by false education, and to give His hearers a right conception of His kingdom and
of His own character. Yet He did not make a direct attack on the errors of the people. He
saw the misery of the world on account of sin, yet He did not present before them a vivid
delineation of their wretchedness. He taught them of something infinitely better than they
had known. Without combating their ideas of the kingdom of God, He told them the
conditions of entrance therein, leaving them to draw their own conclusions as to its
nature. The truths He taught are no less important to us than to the multitude that
followed Him. We no less than they need to learn the foundation principles of the kingdom
Christ's first words to the
people on the mount were words of blessing. Happy are they, He said, who recognize their
spiritual poverty, and
feel their need of redemption. The gospel is to be preached to the
poor. Not to the spiritually proud, those who claim to be rich and in need of nothing, is
it revealed, but to those who are humble and contrite. One fountain only has been opened
for sin, a fountain for the poor in spirit.
The proud heart strives to
earn salvation; but both our title to heaven and our fitness for it are found in the
righteousness of Christ. The Lord can do nothing toward the recovery of man until,
convinced of his own weakness, and stripped of all self-sufficiency, he yields himself to
the control of God. Then he can receive the gift that God is waiting to bestow. From the
soul that feels his need, nothing is withheld. He has unrestricted access to Him in whom
all fullness dwells. "For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity,
whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a
contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of
the contrite ones." Isa. 57:15.
"Blessed are they that
mourn: for they shall be comforted." By these words Christ does not teach that
mourning in itself has power to remove the guilt of sin. He gives no sanction to pretense
or to voluntary humility. The mourning of which He speaks does not consist in melancholy
and lamentation. While we sorrow on account of sin, we are to rejoice in the precious
privilege of being children of God.
We often sorrow because our
evil deeds bring unpleasant consequences to ourselves; but this is not repentance. Real
sorrow for sin is the result of the working of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit reveals the
ingratitude of the heart that has slighted and grieved the Saviour, and brings us in
contrition to the foot of the cross. By every sin Jesus is wounded afresh; and as we look
upon Him whom we have pierced, we mourn for the sins that have brought anguish upon Him.
Such mourning will lead to the renunciation of sin.
The worldling may pronounce
this sorrow a weakness; but it is the strength which binds the penitent to the Infinite
One with links that cannot be broken. It shows that the angels of God are bringing back to
the soul the graces that were lost through hardness of heart and transgression. The tears
of the penitent are only the raindrops that precede the sunshine of holiness. This sorrow
heralds a joy which will be a living fountain in the soul. "Only acknowledge thine
iniquity, that thou hast transgressed against the Lord thy God;" "and I will not
cause Mine anger to fall upon you: for I am merciful, saith the Lord." Jer. 3:13, 12.
"Unto them that mourn in Zion," He has appointed to give
"beauty for ashes,
the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness." Isa.
And for those also who mourn
in trial and sorrow there is comfort. The bitterness of grief and humiliation is better
than the indulgences of sin. Through affliction God reveals to us the plague spots in our
characters, that by His grace we may overcome our faults. Unknown chapters in regard to
ourselves are opened to us, and the test comes, whether we will accept the reproof and the
counsel of God. When brought into trial, we are not to fret and complain. We should not
rebel, or worry ourselves out of the hand of Christ. We are to humble the soul before God.
The ways of the Lord are obscure to him who desires to see things in a light pleasing to
himself. They appear dark and joyless to our human nature. But God's ways are ways of
mercy and the end is salvation. Elijah knew not what he was doing when in the desert he
said that he had had enough of life, and prayed that he might die. The Lord in His mercy
did not take him at his word. There was yet a great work for Elijah to do; and when his
work was done, he was not to perish in discouragement and solitude in the wilderness. Not
for him the descent into the dust of death, but the ascent in glory, with the convoy of
celestial chariots, to the throne on high.
God's word for the sorrowing
is, "I have seen his ways, and will heal him: I will lead him also, and restore
comforts unto him and to his mourners." "I will turn their mourning into joy,
and will comfort them, and make them rejoice from their sorrow." Isa. 57:18; Jer.
"Blessed are the
meek." The difficulties we have to encounter may be very much lessened by that
meekness which hides itself in Christ. If we possess the humility of our Master, we shall
rise above the slights, the rebuffs, the annoyances, to which we are daily exposed, and
they will cease to cast a gloom over the spirit. The highest evidence of nobility in a
Christian is self-control. He who under abuse or cruelty fails to maintain a calm and
trustful spirit robs God of His right to reveal in him His own perfection of character.
Lowliness of heart is the strength that gives victory to the followers of Christ; it is
the token of their connection with the courts above.
"Though the Lord be
high, yet hath He respect unto the lowly." Ps. 138:6. Those who reveal the meek and
lowly spirit of Christ are tenderly regarded by God. They may be looked upon with scorn by
the world, but they are of great value in His sight. Not only the wise, the great, the
beneficent, will gain a passport to the heavenly courts; not only
the busy worker, full of
zeal and restless activity. No; the poor in spirit, who crave the presence of an abiding
Christ, the humble in heart, whose highest ambition is to do God's will,--these will gain
an abundant entrance. They will be among that number who have washed their robes and made
them white in the blood of the Lamb. "Therefore are they before the throne of God,
and serve Him day and night in His temple: and He that sitteth on the throne shall dwell
among them." Rev. 7:15.
"Blessed are they which
do hunger and thirst after righteousness." The sense of unworthiness will lead the
heart to hunger and thirst for righteousness, and this desire will not be disappointed.
Those who make room in their hearts for Jesus will realize His love. All who long to bear
the likeness of the character of God shall be satisfied. The Holy Spirit never leaves
unassisted the soul who is looking unto Jesus. He takes of the things of Christ and shows
them unto him. If the eye is kept fixed on Christ, the work of the Spirit ceases not until
the soul is conformed to His image. The pure element of love will expand the soul, giving
it a capacity for higher attainments, for increased knowledge of heavenly things, so that
it will not rest short of the fullness. "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst
after righteousness; for they shall be filled."
The merciful shall find
mercy, and the pure in heart shall see God. Every impure thought defiles the soul, impairs
the moral sense, and tends to obliterate the impressions of the Holy Spirit. It dims the
spiritual vision, so that men cannot behold God. The Lord may and does forgive the
repenting sinner; but though forgiven, the soul is marred. All impurity of speech or of
thought must be shunned by him who would have clear discernment of spiritual truth.
But the words of Christ cover
more than freedom from sensual impurity, more than freedom from that ceremonial defilement
which the Jews so rigorously shunned. Selfishness prevents us from beholding God. The
self-seeking spirit judges of God as altogether such a one as itself. Until we have
renounced this, we cannot understand Him who is love. Only the unselfish heart, the humble
and trustful spirit, shall see God as "merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and
abundant in goodness and truth." Ex. 34:6.
"Blessed are the
peacemakers." The peace of Christ is born of truth. It is harmony with God. The world
is at enmity with the law of God;
sinners are at enmity with their Maker; and as a
result they are at enmity with one another. But the psalmist declares, "Great peace
have they which love Thy law: and nothing shall offend them." Ps. 119:165. Men cannot
manufacture peace. Human plans for the purification and uplifting of individuals or of
society will fail of producing peace, because they do not reach the heart. The only power
that can create or perpetuate true peace is the grace of Christ. When this is implanted in
the heart, it will cast out the evil passions that cause strife and dissension.
"Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come
up the myrtle tree;" and life's desert "shall rejoice, and blossom as the
rose." Isa. 55:13; 35:1.
The multitudes were amazed at
this teaching, which was so at variance with the precepts and example of the Pharisees.
The people had come to think that happiness consisted in the possession of the things of
this world, and that fame and the honor of men were much to be coveted. It was very
pleasing to be called "Rabbi," and to be extolled as wise and religious, having
their virtues paraded before the public. This was regarded as the crown of happiness. But
in the presence of that vast throng, Jesus declared that earthly gain and honor were all
the reward such persons would ever receive. He spoke with certainty, and a convincing
power attended His words. The people were silenced, and a feeling of fear crept over them.
They looked at one another doubtfully. Who of them would be saved if this Man's teachings
were true? Many were convicted that this remarkable Teacher was actuated by the Spirit of
God, and that the sentiments He uttered were divine.
After explaining what
constitutes true happiness, and how it may be obtained, Jesus more definitely pointed out
the duty of His disciples, as teachers chosen of God to lead others into the path of
righteousness and eternal life. He knew that they would often suffer from disappointment
and discouragement, that they would meet with decided opposition, that they would be
insulted, and their testimony rejected. Well He knew that in the fulfillment of their
mission, the humble men who listened so attentively to His words were to bear calumny,
torture, imprisonment, and death, and He continued:
"Blessed are they which
are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are
ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against
you falsely, for My sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your
heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you."
The world loves sin, and
hates righteousness, and this was the cause of its hostility to Jesus. All who refuse His
infinite love will find Christianity a disturbing element. The light of Christ sweeps away
the darkness that covers their sins, and the need of reform is made manifest. While those
who yield to the influence of the Holy Spirit begin war with themselves, those who cling
to sin war against the truth and its representatives.
Thus strife is created, and
Christ's followers are accused as troublers of the people. But it is fellowship with God
that brings them the world's enmity. They are bearing the reproach of Christ. They are
treading the path that has been trodden by the noblest of the earth. Not with sorrow, but
with rejoicing, should they meet persecution. Each fiery trial is God's agent for their
refining. Each is fitting them for their work as colaborers with Him. Each conflict has
its place in the great battle for righteousness, and each will add to the joy of their
final triumph. Having this in view, the test of their faith and patience will be
cheerfully accepted rather than dreaded and avoided. Anxious to fulfill their obligation
to the world, fixing their desire upon the approval of God, His servants are to fulfill
every duty, irrespective of the fear or the favor of men.
"Ye are the salt of the
earth," Jesus said. Do not withdraw yourselves from the world in order to escape
persecution. You are to abide among men, that the savor of the divine love may be as salt
to preserve the world from corruption.
Hearts that respond to the
influence of the Holy Spirit are the channels through which God's blessing flows. Were
those who serve God removed from the earth, and His Spirit withdrawn from among men, this
world would be left to desolation and destruction, the fruit of Satan's dominion. Though
the wicked know it not, they owe even the blessings of this life to the presence, in the
world, of God's people whom they despise and oppress. But if Christians are such in name
only, they are like the salt that has lost its savor. They have no influence for good in
the world. Through their misrepresentation of God they are worse than unbelievers.
"Ye are the light of the
world." The Jews thought to confine the benefits of salvation to their own nation;
but Christ showed them that
salvation is like the sunshine. It belongs to the whole world.
The religion of the Bible is not to be confined between the covers of a book, nor within
the walls of a church. It is not to be brought out occasionally for our own benefit, and
then to be carefully laid aside again. It is to sanctify the daily life, to manifest
itself in every business transaction and in all our social relations.
True character is not shaped
from without, and put on; it radiates from within. If we wish to direct others in the path
of righteousness, the principles of righteousness must be enshrined in our own hearts. Our
profession of faith may proclaim the theory of religion, but it is our practical piety
that holds forth the word of truth. The consistent life, the holy conversation, the
unswerving integrity, the active, benevolent spirit, the godly example,--these are the
mediums through which light is conveyed to the world.
Jesus had not dwelt on the
specifications of the law, but He did not leave His hearers to conclude that He had come
to set aside its requirements. He knew that spies stood ready to seize upon every word
that might be wrested to serve their purpose. He knew the prejudice that existed in the
minds of many of His hearers, and He said nothing to unsettle their faith in the religion
and institutions that had been committed to them through Moses. Christ Himself had given
both the moral and the ceremonial law. He did not come to destroy confidence in His own
instruction. It was because of His great reverence for the law and the prophets that He
sought to break through the wall of traditional requirements which hemmed in the Jews.
While He set aside their false interpretations of the law, He carefully guarded His
disciples against yielding up the vital truths committed to the Hebrews.
The Pharisees prided
themselves on their obedience to the law; yet they knew so little of its principles
through everyday practice that to them the Saviour's words sounded like heresy. As He
swept away the rubbish under which the truth had been buried, they thought He was sweeping
away the truth itself. They whispered to one another that He was making light of the law.
He read their thoughts, and answered them, saying,--
"Think not that I am
come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill."
Here Jesus refutes the charge of the Pharisees. His mission to the world is to vindicate
the sacred claims of that law which they charge Him with breaking. If the law
of God could
have been changed or abrogated, then Christ need not have suffered the consequences of our
transgression. He came to explain the relation of the law to man, and to illustrate its
precepts by His own life of obedience.
God has given us His holy
precepts, because He loves mankind. To shield us from the results of transgression, He
reveals the principles of righteousness. The law is an expression of the thought of God;
when received in Christ, it becomes our thought. It lifts us above the power of natural
desires and tendencies, above temptations that lead to sin. God desires us to be happy,
and He gave us the precepts of the law that in obeying them we might have joy. When at
Jesus' birth the angels sang,-- "Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace,
good will toward men" (Luke 2:14), they were declaring the principles of the law
which He had come to magnify and make honorable.
When the law was proclaimed
from Sinai, God made known to men the holiness of His character, that by contrast they
might see the sinfulness of their own. The law was given to convict them of sin, and
reveal their need of a Saviour. It would do this as its principles were applied to the
heart by the Holy Spirit. This work it is still to do. In the life of Christ the
principles of the law are made plain; and as the Holy Spirit of God touches the heart, as
the light of Christ reveals to men their need of His cleansing blood and His justifying
righteousness, the law is still an agent in bringing us to Christ, that we may be
justified by faith. "The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul." Ps.
"Till heaven and earth
pass," said Jesus, "one jot or one tittle shall in nowise pass from the law,
till all be fulfilled." The sun shining in the heavens, the solid earth upon which
you dwell, are God's witnesses that His law is changeless and eternal. Though they may
pass away, the divine precepts shall endure. "It is easier for heaven and earth to
pass, than one tittle of the law to fail." Luke 16:17. The system of types that
pointed to Jesus as the Lamb of God was to be abolished at His death; but the precepts of
the Decalogue are as immutable as the throne of God.
Since "the law of the
Lord is perfect," every variation from it must be evil. Those who disobey the
commandments of God, and teach others
to do so, are condemned by Christ. The Saviour's
life of obedience maintained the claims of the law; it proved that the law could be kept
in humanity, and showed the excellence of character that obedience would develop. All who
obey as He did are likewise declaring that the law is "holy, and just, and
good." Rom. 7:12. On the other hand, all who break God's commandments are sustaining
Satan's claim that the law is unjust, and cannot be obeyed. Thus they second the
deceptions of the great adversary, and cast dishonor upon God. They are the children of
the wicked one, who was the first rebel against God's law. To admit them into heaven would
again bring in the elements of discord and rebellion, and imperil the well-being of the
universe. No man who willfully disregards one principle of the law shall enter the kingdom
The rabbis counted their
righteousness a passport to heaven; but Jesus declared it to be insufficient and unworthy.
External ceremonies and a theoretical knowledge of truth constituted Pharisaical
righteousness. The rabbis claimed to be holy through their own efforts in keeping the law;
but their works had divorced righteousness from religion. While they were punctilious in
ritual observances, their lives were immoral and debased. Their so-called righteousness
could never enter the kingdom of heaven.
The greatest deception of the
human mind in Christ's day was that a mere assent to the truth constitutes righteousness.
In all human experience a theoretical knowledge of the truth has been proved to be
insufficient for the saving of the soul. It does not bring forth the fruits of
righteousness. A jealous regard for what is termed theological truth often accompanies a
hatred of genuine truth as made manifest in life. The darkest chapters of history are
burdened with the record of crimes committed by bigoted religionists. The Pharisees
claimed to be children of Abraham, and boasted of their possession of the oracles of God;
yet these advantages did not preserve them from selfishness, malignity, greed for gain,
and the basest hypocrisy. They thought themselves the greatest religionists of the world,
but their so-called orthodoxy led them to crucify the Lord of glory.
The same danger still exists.
Many take it for granted that they are Christians, simply because they subscribe to
certain theological tenets. But they have not brought the truth into practical life. They
have not believed and loved it, therefore they have not received the power and
come through sanctification of the truth. Men may profess faith in the truth; but if it
does not make them sincere, kind, patient, forbearing, heavenly-minded, it is a curse to
its possessors, and through their influence it is a curse to the world.
The righteousness which
Christ taught is conformity of heart and life to the revealed will of God. Sinful men can
become righteous only as they have faith in God and maintain a vital connection with Him.
Then true godliness will elevate the thoughts and ennoble the life. Then the external
forms of religion accord with the Christian's internal purity. Then the ceremonies
required in the service of God are not meaningless rites, like those of the hypocritical
Jesus takes up the
commandments separately, and explains the depth and breadth of their requirement. Instead
of removing one jot of their force, He shows how far-reaching their principles are, and
exposes the fatal mistake of the Jews in their outward show of obedience. He declares that
by the evil thought or the lustful look the law of God is transgressed. One who becomes a
party to the least injustice is breaking the law and degrading his own moral nature.
Murder first exists in the mind. He who gives hatred a place in his heart is setting his
feet in the path of the murderer, and his offerings are abhorrent to God.
The Jews cultivated a spirit
of retaliation. In their hatred of the Romans they gave utterance to hard denunciations,
and pleased the wicked one by manifesting his attributes. Thus they were training
themselves to do the terrible deeds to which he led them on. In the religious life of the
Pharisees there was nothing to recommend piety to the Gentiles. Jesus bade them not to
deceive themselves with the thought that they could in heart rise up against their
oppressors, and cherish the longing to avenge their wrongs.
It is true there is an
indignation that is justifiable, even in the followers of Christ. When they see that God
is dishonored, and His service brought into disrepute, when they see the innocent
oppressed, a righteous indignation stirs the soul. Such anger, born of sensitive morals,
is not a sin. But those who at any supposed provocation feel at liberty to indulge anger
or resentment are opening the heart to Satan. Bitterness and animosity must be banished
from the soul if we would be in harmony with heaven.
The Saviour goes farther than
this. He says, "If thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy
brother hath aught against thee; leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way;
reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift." Many are
zealous in religious services, while between them and their brethren are unhappy
differences which they might reconcile. God requires them to do all in their power to
restore harmony. Until they do this, He cannot accept their services. The Christian's duty
in this matter is clearly pointed out.
God pours His blessings upon
all. "He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the
just and on the unjust." He is "kind unto the unthankful and to the evil."
Luke 6:35. He bids us to be like Him. "Bless them that curse you," said Jesus;
"do good to them that hate you, . . . that ye may be the children of your Father
which is in heaven." These are the principles of the law, and they are the
wellsprings of life.
God's ideal for His children
is higher than the highest human thought can reach. "Be ye therefore perfect, even as
your Father which is in heaven is perfect." This command is a promise. The plan of
redemption contemplates our complete recovery from the power of Satan. Christ always
separates the contrite soul from sin. He came to destroy the works of the devil, and He
has made provision that the Holy Spirit shall be imparted to every repentant soul, to keep
him from sinning.
The tempter's agency is not
to be accounted an excuse for one wrong act. Satan is jubilant when he hears the professed
followers of Christ making excuses for their deformity of character. It is these excuses
that lead to sin. There is no excuse for sinning. A holy temper, a Christlike life, is
accessible to every repenting, believing child of God.
The ideal of Christian
character is Christlikeness. As the Son of man was perfect in His life, so His followers
are to be perfect in their life. Jesus was in all things made like unto His brethren. He
became flesh, even as we are. He was hungry and thirsty and weary. He was sustained by
food and refreshed by sleep. He shared the lot of man; yet He was the blameless Son of
God. He was God in the flesh. His character is to be ours. The Lord says of those who
believe in Him, "I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and
they shall be My people." 2 Cor. 6:16.
Christ is the ladder that
Jacob saw, the base resting on the earth, and the topmost round reaching to the gate of
heaven, to the very threshold of glory. If that ladder had failed by a single step of
reaching the earth, we should have been lost. But Christ reaches us where we are. He took
our nature and overcame, that we through taking His
nature might overcome. Made "in
the likeness of sinful flesh" (Rom. 8:3), He lived a sinless life. Now by His
divinity He lays hold upon the throne of heaven, while by His humanity He reaches us. He
bids us by faith in Him attain to the glory of the character of God. Therefore are we to
be perfect, even as our "Father which is in heaven is perfect."
Jesus had shown in what
righteousness consists, and had pointed to God as its source. Now He turned to practical
duties. In almsgiving, in prayer, in fasting, He said, let nothing be done to attract
attention or win praise to self. Give in sincerity, for the benefit of the suffering poor.
In prayer, let the soul commune with God. In fasting, go not with the head bowed down, and
heart filled with thoughts of self. The heart of the Pharisee is a barren and profitless
soil, in which no seeds of divine life can flourish. It is he who yields himself most
unreservedly to God that will render Him the most acceptable service. For through
fellowship with God men become workers together with Him in presenting His character in
The service rendered in
sincerity of heart has great recompense. "Thy Father which seeth in secret Himself
shall reward thee openly." By the life we live through the grace of Christ the
character is formed. The original loveliness begins to be restored to the soul. The
attributes of the character of Christ are imparted, and the image of the Divine begins to
shine forth. The faces of men and women who walk and work with God express the peace of
heaven. They are surrounded with the atmosphere of heaven. For these souls the kingdom of
God has begun. They have Christ's joy, the joy of being a blessing to humanity. They have
the honor of being accepted for the Master's use; they are trusted to do His work in His
"No man can serve two
masters." We cannot serve God with a divided heart. Bible religion is not one
influence among many others; its influence is to be supreme, pervading and controlling
every other. It is not to be like a dash of color brushed here and there upon the canvas,
but it is to pervade the whole life, as if the canvas were dipped into the color, until
every thread of the fabric were dyed a deep, unfading hue.
"If therefore thine eye
be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body
shall be full of darkness." Purity and steadfastness of purpose are the conditions of
receiving light from God. He who desires to know the truth must be willing to accept all
that it reveals. He can make no compromise with error. To be
wavering and halfhearted in
allegiance to truth is to choose the darkness of error and satanic delusion.
Worldly policy and the
undeviating principles of righteousness do not blend into each other imperceptibly, like
the colors of the rainbow. Between the two a broad, clear line is drawn by the eternal
God. The likeness of Christ stands out as distinct from that of Satan as midday in
contrast with midnight. And only those who live the life of Christ are His co-workers. If
one sin is cherished in the soul, or one wrong practice retained in the life, the whole
being is contaminated. The man becomes an instrument of unrighteousness.
All who have chosen God's
service are to rest in His care. Christ pointed to the birds flying in the heavens, to the
flowers of the field, and bade His hearers consider these objects of God's creation.
"Are not ye of much more value than they?" He said. Matt. 6:26, R. V. The
measure of divine attention bestowed on any object is proportionate to its rank in the
scale of being. The little brown sparrow is watched over by Providence. The flowers of the
field, the grass that carpets the earth, share the notice and care of our heavenly Father.
The great Master Artist has taken thought for the lilies, making them so beautiful that
they outshine the glory of Solomon. How much more does He care for man, who is the image
and glory of God. He longs to see His children reveal a character after His similitude. As
the sunbeam imparts to the flowers their varied and delicate tints, so does God impart to
the soul the beauty of His own character.
All who choose Christ's
kingdom of love and righteousness and peace, making its interest paramount to all other,
are linked to the world above, and every blessing needed for this life is theirs. In the
book of God's providence, the volume of life, we are each given a page. That page contains
every particular of our history; even the hairs of the head are numbered. God's children
are never absent from His mind.
"Be not therefore
anxious for the morrow." Matt. 6:34, R. V. We are to follow Christ day by day. God
does not bestow help for tomorrow. He does not give His children all the directions for
their life journey at once, lest they should become confused. He tells them just as much
as they can remember and perform. The strength and wisdom imparted are for the present
emergency. "If any of you lack wisdom,"--for today,--"let him ask of God,
that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him."
"Judge not, that ye be
not judged." Do not think yourself better than other men, and set yourself up as
their judge. Since you cannot discern motive, you are incapable of judging another. In
criticizing him, you are passing sentence upon yourself; for you show that you are a
participant with Satan, the accuser of the brethren. The Lord says, "Examine
yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves." This is our work.
"If we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged." 2 Cor. 13:5; 1 Cor.
The good tree will produce
good fruit. If the fruit is unpalatable and worthless, the tree is evil. So the fruit
borne in the life testifies as to the condition of the heart and the excellence of the
character. Good works can never purchase salvation, but they are an evidence of the faith
that acts by love and purifies the soul. And though the eternal reward is not bestowed
because of our merit, yet it will be in proportion to the work that has been done through
the grace of Christ.
Thus Christ set forth the
principles of His kingdom, and showed them to be the great rule of life. To impress the
lesson He adds an illustration. It is not enough, He says, for you to hear My words. By
obedience you must make them the foundation of your character. Self is but shifting sand.
If you build upon human theories and inventions, your house will fall. By the winds of
temptation, the tempests of trial, it will be swept away. But these principles that I have
given will endure. Receive Me; build on My words.
which heareth these words of Mine, and doeth them, shall be likened unto a wise man, which
built his house upon the rock: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds
blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon the rock."
Matt. 7:24, 25, R.V.