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Riches and the Kingdom of God.

Riches and the Kingdom of God.

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ST MARK x. 23. "How hardly shall they that have riches enter
into the kingdom of God ! "

ST MARK x. 23. "How hardly shall they that have riches enter
into the kingdom of God ! "

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Jul 29, 2014
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved


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RICHES AD THE KIGDOM OF GOD. REV. J. LLEWELY DAVIES, M.A. ST MARK x. 23. "How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God ! " WHEEVER the ew Testament is looked into with any fresh spirit of inquiry, a contrast is re- vealed which can hardly fail to produce some strong effect on the mind of a modern reader. The contrast I mean is between the doctrine of the ew Testament about poverty and riches, on the one hand, and the circumstances and habits of a wealthy industrial community, on the other. This contrast may be misunderstood and mis- represented ; various inferences, more or less erro- neous, may be drawn from it : but that the contrast does exist in a startling degree ought not to be denied. It is real, and demands our constant and most serious attention. Let me revive your recollection of what the ew Testament teaches about poverty and riches RICHES AD THE KIGDOM OF GOD. 169 by two or three illustrations which happen to be brought before us to-day. It is St Matthew's day ; and we read of a man named Matthew, or Levi, whose business it was to receive the customs or dues which the Romans exacted from the subject Jewish population. It was a gainful occupation ; partly, because it was
so odious a one that no one would undertake it without the chance of being able to make a good deal of money by it. But there was nothing ne- cessarily immoral in it Matthew was sitting at his official place on the beach of the Lake of Gali- lee, when Jesus of azareth passed by, and said to him, Follow me. And Matthew arose and followed him. That is to say, he abandoned his occupation of publican or collector. We are not to suppose that the incidents recorded in the ew Testament took place generally in the abrupt way in which the narrative relates them. The process reported in two brief phrases may have been a gradual and deliberate one. Matthew no doubt resigned his post in an orderly manner. But he did resign it at the call of Jesus, and became one of his followers. He thus became associated with a remarkable band. Jesus had come forth from the family of a 170 RICHES AD THE KIGDOM OF GOD. carpenter, probably a well-to-do family, and had begun the life and work of a prophet He pro- claimed the nearness of the kingdom of God, and taught, and did works of healing. He drew fol- lowers after him, from whom he chose twelve, naming them his envoys or apostles. These were mostly fishermen, not particularly poor men, for they owned fishing boats, but they all left their trades to go with Jesus and to do his bidding. We do not exactly know how they all lived ; they may have received money from their respective families in consideration of what they had given up. But it is certain that they lived very hardly, having a common purse, and giving out of that to the re-
lief of the poor. Matthew, who was one of the Apostles, became also in after years the compiler of one of the Lives of Jesus. In his Gospel we find the longest and most characteristic example of the moral teaching of his Master, commonly called the Sermon on the Mount. From this discourse is taken the Gospel for this Sunday after Trinity; and we learn from it that Jesus spoke to his disciples as to poor men, that he did not urge upon them the duties of indus- try and providence, but bade them rely upon the bounty of the heavenly Father who fed the birds RICHES AD THE KIGDOM OF GOD. 171 and adorned the flowers. He warned them, poor as they were, against care, and against the desire of riches. Matthew was also, as an Apostle, one of those who had the charge of organizing the Church of Christ in its first days. It was done, as they be- lieved, under a special impulse of the Divine Spirit. The most characteristic feature of the social life of the Church was that its members had all things common. They were mostly from the poor class, and when any one who had possessions was con- verted, he threw what he had into the common stock. This actual community of possessions did not last long ; but its principle survived as of abso- lute authority in the Church. It was a part of the Gospel carried with them into the world by the Apostles, that in the Kingdom of God as they founded it upon the earth no one was to count what he had as his own, that private riches were dangerous to the soul, that the brother of low de- gree was to rejoice in that he was exalted, but the

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