Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

of salvation to the man who trusts in his wealth may be illustrated by the following considerations :

First : The disposition of heart, and habits of life, which such a state of mind engenders. The man who is wealthy and trusts in his wealth, is almost sure to become proud, selfsufficient, unsympathetic, worldly, and indifferent alike to the claims of society and the institutions of religion. The man who trusts in his wealth, and who has more than heart can wish, is likely to “set his mouth against the heavens.”

Secondly: The teachings of the Divine revelation on the subject. Moses warned the children of Israel against the

lators), who, not understanding the expression as it stood, took the liberty of supposing it a mistake, and therefore altered kápunnos a camel,' to kápidos 'a cable,’ producing the reading, “It is easier for a cable to go through the eye of a needle,' &c. See Lightfoot and Gill, in loc. ; Michaelis’s Introduction, vol. p. 131 ; Burckhardt's Arabic Proverbs, No. 396, &c.

“The real origin of such a proverb is a question respecting which many conjectures have been offered ; a few of which we may here repeat. The Rev. F.J. J. Arundell, in his Discoveries in Asia Minor (ii. 119-123), says : “As we ascended the hill, I saw something shining on the road, which proved to be one of the needles used by the camel-drivers for mending their camel-furniture. It was about six inches long, and had a large, very long, eye. It had evidently been dropped by one of the conductors of a caravan which was some way a-head of us. This association of the needle with the camels at once reminded me of the passage which has been considered so difficult to be illustrated : 'It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." Why should it not be taken literally? As the usages of the East are as unvarying as the laws of the Medes and Persians, I can easily imagine that even the camel-driver of Rachael carried his needles about with him to mend “the furniture, and the equipment of a camel-driver in those days could not well have been more simple than at present.

The needle, from its constant and daily use, must have held a prominent place in his structure of ideas and imagery; and as we all know how fertile the imaginations of these camel-drivers were in furnishing us with proverbs and legendary tales, why may not the impracticability of a camel's passing through the eye of his needle have been a common expression to denote an impossibility ?

Vol. IX.

3 E

tendency of wealth to injure the soul. (Deut. viii. 11, 14.) Solomon says,

“He that trusteth in his riches shall fall." (Prov. xi. 28.) Christ says, “ The deceitfulness of riches choke the word.” (Matt. xiii. 22.) Paul says, “ They that will be rich fall into temptation.” (1 Tim. vi. 9.) James says, “The friendship of the world is enmity with God.” (Jas. iv. 4.) And John says, “If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” (1 John ii. 15.) Such is the testimony of the Bible.

“ Another explanation, as ingenious, but much less natural and probable, is indicated by the same writer: “Every body has heard of the obelisks of Alexandria, called the Needles of Cleopatra—a name, I apprehend, anciently given to them and similar obelisks. These are usually erected at the entrance of temples. If two such obelisks were existing at Jerusalem, and so close to each other as not to admit the passing of a laden camel, and passable only by the traveller on foot, the proverb might have had its origin from hence.

“Of the same kind, but much more probable, is the explanation suggested by Lord Nugent, in his Lands Classical and Sacred, i. 326. Entering Hebron, he says “We were proceeding through a double gateway, such as is seen in so many of the old eastern cities,-even in some of the modern ; one wide-arched road, and another narrow one by the side, through the latter of which persons on foot generally pass, to avoid the chance of being jostled or crushed by the beasts of burthen coming through the main gateway. We met a caravan of loaded camels thronging the passage. The drivers cried out to my two companions and myself, desiring us to betake ourselves for safety to the gate with the smaller arch, calling it · Es Summ el Kayút,' – the hole or eye of the needle. If—as, on inquiry since, I am inclined to believe—this name is applied, not to this gate in Hebron only, but generally in cities where there is a footway entrance by the side of the larger one, it may perhaps give an easy and simple solution of what in the text (Mark x. 25) has appeared to some to be a strained metaphor ; whereas that of the entrance-gate, low and narrow, through which the sumpter-camel cannot be made to pass unless with great difficulty, and stripped of all the encumbrance of his load, his trappings, and his merchandize, may seem to illustrate more clearly the foregoing verse, · How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God !' It also applies itself to several other passages by which our Saviour illustrates a similar subject : · Enter ye at the strait gate,' etc. (Matt. vii. 13, 14), and others.”

Thirdly: The general history of mankind. Does not the history of Christian evangelization to the present hour, show that not “many of the rich and mighty are called” ? There were two apostates in the first era of the Church, -Judas, and Demas, and it was the love of money that ruined them. There were but two rich men that evinced any love for Christ, and they were both cowards,—Nicodemus, and Joseph of Arimathea.

II. THAT THIS IMMENSE DIFFICULTY IS SUFFICIENT TO AWAKEN, IN THE MIND OF THE THOUGHTFUL, THE MOST PROFOUND SOLICITUDE. “Who then can be saved ?" This question arose not from idle curiosity, not as a mere proposition for speculative debate, but as a profoundly anxious problem of the heart. There were three things perhaps which served to make the disciples supremely solicitous on this point at this moment :

First: The transcendent importance of salvation to every man. Having been with Christ for some time, they had heard His impressive teaching on the great question of the soul's salvation ; and having had themselves a spiritual foretaste of “eternal life,” they unquestionably felt that if a man missed salvation he missed everything in the universe worth having ; nay, that the very missing of salvation would make self, Christ, and the universe, an intolerable curse to the soul. If this was their impression it was right. “What shall it profit a man?” &c. And if this, moreover, was their impression, it was natural for them to feel the deepest solicitude in the question, “Who then can be saved ?" Another thing that, perhaps, would increase their anxiety on the question was :

Secondly: The commonness of that universal difficulty which Christ specified. They knew that whilst wealthy men were a very insignificant minority in every country and community, yet wealth-desiring and wealth-loving men abounded everywhere. Whilst few possessed wealth, nearly all men desired it, struggled for it, and worshipped it; and it was in a

state of mind common almost to the whole race that the difficulty lay. They would probably thus reason, -Since wealth-loving is such an immense obstruction to salvation, and since all men seem to have more or less of this feeling in them, “Who then can be saved ?” Where are the men to be found free from this money-loving impulse ? Another thing that, perhaps would increase their anxiety on the question was:

Thirdly : The rare excellencies of the young man who had just striven after salvation, but had failed. Here was a young man of considerable religious intelligence, of unblemished moral reputation, who had great respect for Christ, and a great desire for future blessedness ; one too, whom Christ loved, who had made an earnest application for salvation, but who failed, and was gone away from Christ “sorrowful !”

Would they not reason thus,—If a young man of such rare excellencies, so distinguished in certain points of goodness from the great bulk of our kind, fail, who can succeed ?

We can thus account for their anxiety, would that we could adequately feel it! " Who then can be saved ?”

III. THAT THE DIFFICULTY, THOUGH IMMENSELY GREAT, CAN BE OVERCOME BY GOD. “ With man this is impossible,” &c. Two remarks will serve to illustrate this :

First : That the salvation of any man, with this state of mind, is impossible to God as well as to man. So long as a man loves the pelf, powers, and pleasures, of the world he cannot be saved. The tree of life and the fruits of paradise cannot grow in such a heart, the springs of “eternal life” cannot wellup from such a nature. In other words God Himself cannot save a man in his sins.

Secondly: That the salvation of any man, in any way, is impossible to all but God. He alone can overcome this wealth-loving power, as well as every other element in the soul that is antagonistic to salvation. He has done so in millions of instances, and will continue to do so, but never independently of the sinner's own agency.

Germs of Thought.

SUBJECT :-Fidelity Reviewed and its Reward Anticipated.

“I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith : henceforth there is laid up,” &c.—2 Tim. iv. 7, 8.

Analysis of Homily the Four Hundred and Sebenty-eighth.

EVERY word of God is pure, and all scripture is profitable. Yet inspired compositions are not all alike, either in their themes, their strains, or their adaptation to interest and profit their readers. Some portions of the Holy Book are like the better buildings of a city, the taller trees of a plantation, the lovelier objects in a landscape, or the brighter stars of the firmament. They attract general attention, afford peculiar pleasure, and are far more easily kept in remembrance. The frequent sight of these distinguished objects deprives them of the charm of novelty ; but it does not at all diminish their grandeur, their beauty, or their worth.

To these more precious and impressive portions of the inspired word, the text, now to be considered, belongs. We are familiar with its phraseology, and we may be well acquainted with its origin, its meaning, and its application. Still it may be useful to reflect upon it, not simply as the language of its particular writer, but as language which may be appropriated by others on their coming to the close of their earthly existence.

This passage forms an epitomized record of Paul's past life and labors; and an expression of the confidence he felt concerning his future happiness. The epistle containing it is believed to have been the last which he wrote ; and it was written from Rome, where he was then suffering “ trouble, even unto bonds.” On his first visit to the imperial city, he

« AnteriorContinuar »