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a learned education, and cannot talk fluently ; yet they are ever a
match for those who try to shake their faith in Christ by profane argu-
ment or ridicule, for the weakness of God is stronger than men.

Nor is it only among the poor and lowly that this blessed character
of mind is found to exist. Secular learning and dignity have doubt-
less in their respective ways a powerful tendency to rob the heart of
its brightness and purity ; yet even in kings' courts, and the schools of
philosophy, Nathanaels may be discovered. Nay, like the Apostle,
they have been subjected to the world's buffetings, they have been
thwarted in their day, lived in anxiety, and seemingly lost by their
honesty, yet without being foiled either of its present comfort or its ulti-
mate fruit. Such was our great Archbishop and Martyr, to whom per-
chance we owe it, that we who now live are still members of a branch
of the Church Catholic ; one of whose " greatest unpopular infirmities,"
according to the historian of his times, was " that he believed innocence
of heart, and integrity of manners, was a guard strong enough to secure
any man in his voyage through this world, in what company soever he
travelled, and through what ways soever he was to pass. And sure,
(he adds,) never any man was better supplied with that provision."

I have in these remarks spoken of guileless men as members of
society, because I wished to show, that, even in that respect in which
they seem deficient, they possess a hidden strength, an unconscious
wisdom, which makes them five above the world, and sooner or later
triumph over it. The weapons of their warfare are not carnal ; and
they are fitted to be Apostles, though they seem to be ordinary men.


Such is the blessedness of the innocent, that is, of those who have never
given way to evil, or formed themselves to habits of sin ; who in con-
sequence literally do not know its power or its misery, who have
thoughts of truth and peace ever before them, and are able to discern
at once the right and wrong in conduct, as by some delicate instrument,
which tells truly because it has never been ill-treated. Nay, such may
be the portion (through God's mercy) even of those Avho have at one
time departed from Him, and then repented ; in proportion as they have
learned to love God, and have purified themselves, not only from sin,
but from the recollections of it.

Lastly, more is requisite for the Christian, even than guilelessness
such as Bartholomew's. When Christ sent forth him and his brethren
into the world, He said, " Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the
midst of wolves j be ye therefore wise as serpents and harmless as
doves." Innocence must be joined to prudence, discretion, self-com-
mand, gravity, patience, perseverence in well-doing, as Bartholomew
doubtless learned in due season under his Lord's teaching ; but inno-
cence is the beginning. Let us then pray God to fulfil in us "all the
good pleasure of His goodness, and the work of faith with power ;" that
if it should please Him suddenly to bring us forward to great trials, as He
did His Apostles, we may not be taken by surprise, but be found to
have made a private or domestic life a preparation for the achievements
of Confessors and Martyrs.



Luke vi. 24.
Wo unto you that are rich ! for ye have received your consolation.

Unless we were accustomed to read the New Testament from our
childhood, I think we should be very much struck with the warnings
which it contains, not only •^"•ainst the love of riches, but the very pos-
session of them ; we should wonder with a portion of that astonishment

408 ST. MATTHEW. [Seem.

which the Apostles at first felt, who had been brought up in the notion
that they were a chief rewanl which God bestowed on those He loved.
As it is, we have heard the most solemn declarations so continually, that
we have ceased to attach any distinct nieaning to them ; or, if our
attention is at any time drawn more closely to them, we soon dismiss the
subject on some vague imagination, that what is said in Scripture had
a reference to the particular times when Christ came, without attempt-
ing to settle its exact application to us, or whether it has any such appli-
cation at all, — as if the circumstance that the interpretation requires
care and thought, were an excuse for giving no thought nor care what-
ever to the settling of it.

But, even if we had ever so little concern in the Scripture denuncia-
tions against riches and the love of riches, the very awfulness of them
might have seemed enough to save them from neglect ; just as the flood,
and the judgment upon Sodom and Gomorrah, are still dwelt upon by
Christians with solemn attention, though we have a promise against the
recurrence of the one, and trust we shall never be so deserted by God's
grace as to call down upon us the other. And this consideration may
lead a man to suspect that the neglect in question does not entirely arise
from unconcern, but from a sort of misgiving that the subject of riches
is one which cannot be safely or comfortably discussed by the Christian
world at this day ; that is, which cannot be discussed without placing
the claims of God's Law and the pride of life into visible and perplexing

Let us then see what the letter of Scripture says on the subject. For
instance, consider the text. " Wo unto you that are rich ! for ye have
received your consolation !" The words are sufficiently clear, (it will
not be denied,) as spoken of rich persons in our Saviour's day. Let the
full force of the word "consolation," be observed. It is used by way
of contrast to the comfort which is promised to the Christian in the list
of Beatitudes.* Comfort, in all the fulness of that word, as including
help, guidance, encouragement, and support, is the pecuhar promise of
the Gospel. The Promised Spirit who has taken Christ's place, was
called by Him " the Comforter." There is then something very fearful
in the intimation of the text, that those who have riches thereby receive
their portion, such as it is, in full, instead of the Heavenly Gift of the
Gospel. The same doctrine is impHcd in our Lord's words in the para-
ble of Dives and Lazarus. " Son, remember thou in thy lifetime re-
ceivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things ; but now he
is comforted, and thou art tormented." At another time He said to His

• Matt. V. 4.


Disciples, " How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the king-
dom of God ! for it is easier for a camel to go through a needle's eye,
than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God."*

Now it it usual to dismiss such passages with the remark that they
are directed, not against those who have, but against those who trust
in riches ; as if forsooth they implied no connection between the having
and the trusting, no warning lest the possession led to the idolatrous
reliance on them, no necessity of fear and anxiety in the possessors,
lest they should become castaways. And this irrelevant distinction is
supposed to find countenance in our Lord's own language on one of
the occasions above referred to, in which He first says, " How hardly
shall they that have riches," then, " How hard is it for them that trust
in riches, to enter into the kingdom of God ;" whereas surely. He only
removes His disciples' false impression, that the bare circumstance of
possessing wealth was inconsistent with a state of salvation, and no
more interprets having by trusting, than makes trusting essential to
having. He connects the two, without identifying, without explaining
away ; and the simple question which lies for our determination, is this :
— whether, considering that they who had riches when Christ came,
were likely in His judgment idolatrously to trust in them, there is, or
is not, reason for thinking that this likelihood varies materially in dif-
ferent ages ; and, according to the solution of this question, must we
determine the application of the wo pronounced in the text to these
times. And, at all events, let it be observed, it is for those who would
make out that these passages do not apply now, to give their reasons
for their opinion ; the burden of proof is with them. Till they draw
their clear and reasonable distinctions between the first and the nine-
teenth century, the denunciation hangs over the world that is, as much
as over the Pharisees and Sadducees at our Lord's coming.

But, in truth, that our Lord meant to speak of riches as being in
some sense a calamity to the Christian, is plain, not only from such
texts as the foregoing, but from His praises and recommendation on the
other hand of poverty. For instance, " Sell that ye have and give
alms ; provide yourselves bags which wax not old." " If thou wilt be
perfect, go sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have
treasure in heaven." " Blessed be ye poor ; for yours is the kingdom
of God." " When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy
friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbours
. . . . but .... call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the Wind."
And in like manner, St. James: "Hath not God chosen the poor of

* Luke ivi. 25. xviii. 24, 25.

410 ST. MATTHEW. [Skrm.

this world, rich in faith, and heirs of that kingdom which He hath
promised to them that love Him ?"* Now I cite these texts in the way
of doctrine, not of precept. Whatever be the line of conduct they
prescribe to this or that individual (with which I have nothing to do at
present,) so far seems clear, that according to the rule of the Gospel,
the absence of wealth, is, as such, a more blessed and a more Chris-
tian state than the possession of it.

The most obvious danger which worldly possessions present to our
spiritual welfare is, that they become practically a substitute in our
hearts for that One Object to which our supreme devotion is due. They
are present ; God is unseen. They are means at hand of effecting
what we want ; whether God will hear our petitions for such things, is
uncertain ; or rather, I may say, certain in the negative. Thus they
minister to the corrupt inclinations of our nature ; they promise and
are able to be gods to us, and such gods too as require no service, but,
like dumb idols, exalt the worshipper, impressing him with a notion of
his own power and security. And in this consist their chief and most
subtle mischief. Religious men are able to repress, nay extirpate sin-
ful desires, the lust of the flesh and of the eyes, gluttony, drunkenness,
and the like, love of amusements and frivolous pleasures and display,
indulgence in luxuries of whatever kind ; but as to wealth, they can-
not easily rid themselves of a secret feeling that it gives them a footing
to stand upon, an importance, a superiority ; and in consequence they
get attached to this world, lose sight of the duty of bearing the Cross,
become dull and dim-sighted, and lose their delicacy and precision of
touch, are numbed (so to say) in their fingers'-ends, as regards religious
interests and prospects. To risk all upon Christ's word seems some-
how unnatural to them, extravagant, and evidences a morbid ex-
citement ; and death, instead of being a gracious, however awful re-
lease, is not a welcome subject of thought. They are content .to re-
main as they are, and do not contemplate a change. They desire and
mean to serve God, nay actually do serve Him in their measure ; but
not with the keen sensibilities, the noble enthusiasm, the grandeur and
elevation of soul, the dutifulness and affectionateness towards Christ
which becomes a Christian, but as Jews might obey, who had no Image
of God given them except this created world, " eating their bread with
joy, and drinking their wine with a merry heart," caring that " their
garments be always white, and their head lacking no ointment, living
joyfully with the wife whom they love all the days of the life of their
vanity," and '* enjoying the good of their labour."! Not of course,

* Luke xii. 33. Matt. xix. 21. Luke vi. 20. xiv. 12, 13. James ii. 5.
t Eccles. ix. 7—9. v. 18.


that the due use of God's temporal blessings is wrong, but to make
them the object of our aflfections, to allow them to beguile us from
the " One Husband " to whom we are espoused, is to mistake the Gos-
pel for Judaism.

This then, if we may venture to say so, was some part of our
Saviour's meaning, when He connects together the having with the
trusting in riches ; and it is especially suitable to consider it upon this
day, when we commemorate an Apostle and Evangelist, whose history
is an example and encouragement for all those who have, and fear lest
they should trust. But St. Matthew was exposed to an additional
temptation, which I shall proceed to consider ; for he not only pos-
sessed, but he was engaged also in the pursuit of wealth. Our Saviour
seems to warn us against this further danger in His description of the
thorns, in the parable of the Sower, as being " the care of this world
and the deceitfulness of riches ;" and more clearly in the parable of
the Great Supper, where the guests excuse themselves, one, as having
" bought a piece of ground," another " five yoke of oxen." Still more
openly does St. Paul speak in his first Epistle to Timothy ; " They
that desire to be rich, fall into temptation and a snare, and into many
foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.
For the love of money is the root of all evil ; which, while some
coveted after, they have erred from the Faith, and pierced themselves
through with many sorrows."*

The danger of possessing riches is the carnal security to which they
lead ; that of " desiring " and pursuing them, is, that an object of this
world is thus set before us as the aim and end of life. It seems to be
the will of Christ that His followers should have no aim or end, pursuit
or business merely of this world. Here, again, I speak as before, not
in the way of precept, but of doctrine. I am looking at His holy reli-
gion as at a distance, and determining what is its general character
and spirit, not what may happen to be the duty of this or that indi-
vidual who has embraced it. It is His will that all we do should be
done, not unto men, or to the world, or to self, but to His glory ; and
the more we are enabled to do this simply, the more favoured we are.
Whenever we act with reference to an object of -this world, even though
it be ever so pure, we are exposed to the temptation, (not irresistible,
God forbid !) still to the temptation of setting our hearts upon obtaining
it. And therefore, we call all such objects excitements, as stimulating
us incongruously, casting us out of the serenity and stability of heav-
•€nly faith, attracting us aside by their proximity from our harmonious

♦ Matt. xiii. 22. Luke xiv. 18, 19. 1 Tim. vi. 9, 10.

412 ST. MATTHEW. [Skrm.

round of duties, and making our thoughts converge to something short
of that which is infinitely High and eternal. Such excitements are of
perpetual occurrence, and the mere undergoing them, so far from
involving guilt in the act itself or its results, is the great business of
life and the discipline of our hearts. It is often a sin to withdraw
from them, as has been the case of some perhaps who have gone into
Monasteries to serve God more entirely. On the other hand, it is the
very duty of the Spiritual Ruler to labour for the flock committed to
him, to suffer and to dare; St. Paul was encompassed with excite-
ments hence arising, and his writings show the agitating effect of them
on his mind. He was like David, a man of war and blood ; and that,
for our sakes. Still it holds good that the essential spirit of the Gos-
pel is " quietness and confidence ;" that the possession of these is the
highest gift, and to gain them perfectly our main aim. Consequently,
however much a duty it is to undergo excitements when they are sent
upon us, it is plainly unchristian, a manifest foolishness and sin, to
seek out any such, whether secular or religious. Hence gaming is so
great an ofience ; as being a presumptuous creation on our part of a
serious, if not an overpowering temptation to fix the heart upon an
object of this world. Hence, the mischief of many amusements of
(what is called) the fashion of the day ; which are devised for the very
purpose of taking up the thoughts, and making time pass easy. Quite
contrary is the Christian temper, which is in its perfect and peculiar
enjoyment when engaged in that ordinary, unvaried course of duties
which God assigns, and which the world calls dull and tiresome. To
get up day after day to the same employments, and to feel happy in
them, is the great lesson of the Gospel; and, when exemplified in
those who are alive to the temptation of being busy, it impUes a heart
weaned from the love of this world. True it is, that illness of body,
as well as restlessness of mind, may occasionally render such a life a
burden ; it is true also, that indolence, self-indulgence, timidity, and
other similar bad habits, may indulge in it by preference, as a pretext
for neglecting more active duties. Men of energetic minds and talents
for action are called to a life of trouble ; they are the compensations
and antagonists of the world's evils ; still let them never forget their
place : they are men of war, and we war that we may obtain peace.
They are but men of war, honoured indeed by God's choice, and in
spite of all momentary excitements, resting in the depth of their hearts
upon the One True Vision of Christian faith ; still after all they are
but soldiers in the open field, not builders of the Temple, nor inhabi-
tants of those " amiable " and specially blessed " Tabernacles " where
the worshipper lives in praise and intercession, and is militant amid.


the unostentatious duties of ordinary life. " Martha, Martha, thou art
anxious and troubled about many things ; but one thing is needful,
and Marv has chosen that good part which shall not be taken away
from her."* Such is our Lord's judgment, showing that our true hap-
piness consists in being at leisure to serve God without excitements.
For this gift we especially pray in one of our Collects : " Grant, O
Lord, that the course of this world may be so peaceably ordered by
thy governance, that Thy Church may joyfully serve Thee in all
godly quietness. "t Persecution, civil changes, and the Hke, break in
upon the Church's calm. The greatest privilege of a Christian is to
have nothing to do with worldly politics, — to be governed and to sub-
mit obediently ; and, though here again, selfishness may creep in, and
lead a man to neglect public concerns in which he is called to take his
share, yet, after all, such participation must be regarded as a duty,
scarcely as a privilege, as the fulfilment of trusts committed to him for
the good of others, not as the enjoyment of rights, (as men talk in
these days of delusion,) not as if political power were in itself a good.
To return to the subject immediately before us I say then, that it is
a part of Christian caution to see that our engagements do not become
pursuits. Engagements are our portion, but pursuits are for the most
part of our own choosing. We may be engaged in worldly business,
without pursuing worldly objects ; " not slothful in business," yet
" serving the Lord." In this then consists the danger of the pursuit of
gain, as by trade and the like. It is the most common and widely ex-
tended of all excitements. It is one in which every one almost may
indulge, nay, and will be praised by the world for indulging. And it
lasts through life ; in that differing from the amusements and pleasures
of the world, which are short-lived, and succeed one after another. Dis-
sipation of mind, which these amusements create, is itself indeed, mi-
serable enough ; but far worse than this dissipation is the concentration
of mind upon some worldly object, which admits of being constantly
pursued, — and such is the pursuit of gain. Nor is it a slight aggrava-
tion of the evil, that anxiety is almost sure to attend it. A life of
money-getting is a life of care ; from the first there is a fearful antici-
pation of loss in various ways to depress and unsettle the mind, nay to
haunt it, till a man finds he can think about nothing else, and is unable
to give his mind to religion from the constant whirl of business in which
he is involved. It is well this should be understood. You may hear
men talk as if the pursuit of wealth was the business of life. They will
argue that by the law of nature a man is bound to gain a livelihood for

• Luke X. 41, 42. t Vide 1 Tim. ii. 2.

414 ST. MATTHEW. [Serm;

his family, and that he finds a reward in doing so, an innocent and
honourable satisfaction, as he adds one sum to another, and counts up
his gains. And perhaps they go on to argue, that it is the very duty
of man since Adam's fall, " in the sweat of his face," by effort and
anxiety, " to eat bread." How strange it is that they do not remember
Christ's gracious promise, repealing that original curse, and obviating
the necessity of any real pursuit after "the meat that perisheth !" In
order that we might be delivered from the bondage of corruption, He
has expressly told us that the necessaries of life shall never fail his faith-
ful follower, any more than the meal and oil the widow-woman of Sa-
repta : that, while he is bound to labour for his family, he need not be
engrossed by his toil, — that while he is busy, his heart may be at leisure
for his Lord. " Be not anxious, saying, what shall we eat ? or, what
shall we drink 1 or wherewithal shall we be clothed 1 For after all
these things do the Gentiles seek ; for your Heavenly Father knoweth
that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom
of God and His righteousness ; and all these things shall be added unto
you." Here is revealed to us at once our privilege and our duty, the
Christian portion of having engagements of this world without pursuing
objects. And in accordance with our Divine Teacher are the words of
the Apostle, introductory of a passage already cited. " We brought
nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
And having food and raiment, let us be therewith content."* There is
no excuse then for that absorbing pursuit of wealth, which many men
indulge in, as if a virtue, and expatiate upon as if a science. " After
all these things do the Gentiles seek !'' Consider how difierent is the
rule of life left us by the Apostles. " I speak this for your own profit,"
says St. Paul, " that ye may attend upon the Lord without distraction."
" This I say, brethren, the time is short ; it remaineth, that both they
that have wives be as though they had none, and they that weep as
though they wept not, and they that rejoice as though they rejoiced not,
and they that buy, as though they possessed not, and they that use this
world, as not abusing it, for the fashion of this world passeth away."
" Be anxious for nothing ; but in every thing, by prayer and supplica-
tion with thanksgiving, let our requests be made known unto God."
And St. Peter, " Casting all your anxiety upon Him, for He careth
for you.'f

I have now given the main reason, why the pursuit of gain, whether
in a large or small way, is prejudicial to our spiritual interests, that it

» Matt. vi. 1 Tim. vi. 7, 8.

t 1 Cor. vii. 29—31. 35, Phil. iy. 6. I Pet. v. 7.


fixes the mind upon an object of this v/ftrld ; yet others remain behind.
Money is a sort of creation, and gives the acquirer, even more than the
possessor, an imagination of his own power ; and tends to make him
idolize self. Again, what we have hardly won, we are unwilling to
part with ; so that a man who has himself made his wealth, will com-
monly be penurious, or at least will not part with it except in exchange
for what will reflect credit upon himself, or increase his importance.
Even when his conduct is most disinterested and amiable, (as in spend-
ing for the comfort of those who depend on him,) still this indulgence
of self, of pride and worldliness insinuates itself. Very unlikely there-
fore is it that he should be liberal towards God ; for religious offerings
are an expenditure without sensible return, and that upon objects for
which the very pursuit of wealth has indisposed his mind. Moreover,

Online LibraryJohn Henry NewmanParochial sermons (Volume 1) → online text (page 46 of 76)