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Self Denial.

Self Denial.

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I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint by the
way. — Matt. xx. 21.

I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint by the
way. — Matt. xx. 21.

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Oct 16, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint by the way. — Matt. xx. 21. OUR Saviour knew what it was to fast. His fast was a strong expression of His determination to fulfil all duty, as well as to honor every outward form wisely appointed for the good of man. There would be among His followers individuals who must fairly crucify the flesh before they could be penetrated by the life of the soul. To such He would give an example of a triumph over the ordinary needs of human nature, through a struggle with its importunate cravings, a resistance even "unto blood." To each of us practically He so gives a timely warning to keep the body in subjection by any and all means. Have we not, too, a word here specially to the Christian himself free from all temptation to drunkenness? May not the self-denial of one strong through the habitual control of the body, be a help to the weaker brother who feels within

MI ISTERI G. 107 himself an inborn craving that may lead to a destroying habit of vice? When more established Christians are willing to forego the pleasures and elegancies and social amenities of wine at their feasts, or the stronger drinks at entertainments among men, it will be easier for the struggling brother, whose one indulgence may

be the backward, downward step to a disgraceful fall, and a hopeless return to a career of sin and shame ! When there are hosts of refined and self-controlled men and women and boys and girls who dare to say, "I am for total abstinence," the tempted will more easily do likewise ! How many a youth after a first carouse, a first humiliation through intoxication, would promptly resolve never again to touch the dangerous cup if sustained by public opinion and a large mass of consistent Christians, above all suspicion of a tendency to sink into a drunkard's grave. Who will set his face and his example deliberately against the practices that lead to the vice that fills our prisons, our insane asylums, and our almshouses, — a vice that destroys the brain of the thinker, robs the workman's arm of its strength, and brings poverty and sorrow and shame into thousands of homes? Our Saviour knew what hunger was as few ever can know it; He felt a tender compassion towards those who to any extent suffered its gnawing

108 OUR ELDER BROTHER. pain. His miracles were not idle exhibitions of power. His touch was to help or to heal. His multiplying of the loaves and fishes seems to have sprung as well from His true compassion as from His willingness to prove that He himself, the Bread from Heaven, was willing giver of daily bread to the needy. It was His tender mercy, too, to show plainly that sources most insignificant could, at His command, be sufficient for great things.

What cheer these marvellous loaves bring to the anxious heads of families, who cast a dreary look towards the unpromising future, and can only lift up in prayer helpless hands that have craved in vain honest work ! For strong and busy hands, with only the prospect of an inadequate result from their untiring efforts, there is a voice of comfort. Your humble labors may be blessed a hundredfold ! Your little store, your small success, may be so increased as to keep the "wolf from the door." Fear not! Trust in the Great Giver of Bread. There are persons who have been willing to take a certain number of days in the year for self-denial, in imitation of the example of Christ, after which time of seclusion and abstinence they have been ready to return with new zest to their ordinary life of pleasure and self-indulgence. This may be a useful exercise, but it is not a

MI ISTERI G. 109 faithful following of the Elder Brother. His sacrifice once offered began before His birth with the "Lo, I come! " and found its climax at the death on the cross. It is written even now, He "niaketh intercession for us," His lost, wandering brethren. Let us not consider that our self-denial, that any form of self-denial, can be accepted as our finished work. We are to make an offering day by day and hour by hour, through forgetfulness of self, and loving fulfilment of distasteful duties. We must deny ourselves and take up our cross daily, not merely at an appointed season, or on some great anniversary set apart for specially

solemn observance. We perhaps shrink from the thought of this lifelong self-denial. How consoling to us in this prospect are the precious words, "I have compassion on the multitude; I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint by the way ! " We have no hard task -master, no Pharaoh to wring the utmost from toiling Israel ! Our Lord, as a tender Elder Brother, would lay no too heavy burdens on the little ones. He appoints our sacrifices and our pains in a spirit of love. He would discipline and strengthen us and prepare us for nobler and nobler effort. He is ready to help when the way is hard and the courage sinks and the load is intolerable. We do not

110 OUR ELDER BROTHER. labor and bear and struggle alone. He, the Great Cross-bearer, is among us and with us. "My Father worketh hitherto and I work " is still the gracious word of our Lord. We are working together with Hiin for our salvation and the rescue and the joy of our suffering brethren on earth. Fear not that ye shall faint by the way ! Ye shall rather come off "conquerors through Him who hath loved " you!

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