The common phrase, “The Sacredness of Property,” is a very noble and suggestive one. It reminds us that questions affecting property are not to be settled by custom, precedent, or the public convenience, by private contract or by public legislation, irrespective of Divine and eternal laws. If property is “sacred,” God has something to do with it. Perhaps many of those who are in the habit of using the phrase in current political and social controversies have hardly measured its meaning.
What is meant by “the Sacredness of Property” becomes clear when we read the four Gospels and the Epistles of the New Testament. The Lord Jesus Christ came to assert authority over the whole of human life. His claims are not met by merely reciting a Christian creed, and offering Christian worship; we must understand, accept, and obey His laws for the direction of conduct. But property has a very large place in human life; it never had a larger place than it has now. In civilized nations, property has its most convenient representative in money, and we are earning money, investing money, spending money, or using the things which money purchases, every day and all the day long. If Christ had not given us laws about property, He would have left a large part of our life free from His control.
He has said so much on this subject, that it would be difficult to compress even a summary of His teaching within the narrow limits of a paper like this. The doctrine of the apostles about property must be dismissed altogether, although there are some passages in the Epistles which express the Christian idea with extraordinary intensity and vividness. Perhaps the surest method of getting at the very heart of the matter will be to concentrate our attention on the two parables in which our Lord has developed His thought about it most fully meaning the parable of the Unjust Steward, and the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, contained in the sixteenth chapter of the Gospel of Luke.
The historical setting of these two parables is full of interest and instruction. The three parables in the previous chapter, the parable of the Lost Sheep, of the Lost Piece of Silver, and of the Prodigal Son, were all intended to justify our Lord’s intercourse with publicans and sinners. It was an offence to the “Pharisees and Scribes “that Jesus of Nazareth, who assumed the position of a religious reformer, should have anything to do with the kind of people that now followed Him in great crowds, religious outcasts, women of bad character, men who had been excluded from the synagogues for their vices, or for their violation of what were regarded as important rehgious commandments. These three parables were part of our Lord’s great polemic against the Pharisees; and in the second half of the parable of the Prodigal Son, in which He represents the elder brother as sullenlycomplaining of the reception which had been given to the younger man who had “wasted his substance in riotous living,” our Lord holds up the Pharisees to execration and scorn.
He then turned to His disciples. The Pharisees complained, that by associating with “publicans and sinners “He was relaxing the obligations of religion and morality; and He therefore declared that His disciples were to strive for a nobler righteousness than the Pharisees themselves were contented with. It was true that He received sinners, but it was to make them saints, saints of a diviner type than the most religious of the men who were criticising Him. This teaching is contained in two parables; and both these parables illustrate Christ’s theory of property.
In the first, our Lord speaks of a steward — an agent — who is accused of wasting his master’s estate. The proofs of his guilt are flagrant, and he is certain to lose his position and his income. He calls together the men who are in debt to his lord, and tampers with their accounts, strikes off fifty per cent, from the debt of one, twenty per cent, from the debt of another, and by this piece of knavery he hopes to make friends who will give him shelter, at least for a time, when he is turned out of his office. His master discovered the fraud, but is represented as having no remedy. The steward has been his agent, and the steward’s orders seem to have been valid. And his master recognises the forethought of his fraudulent servant; the man was an unscrupulous rogue, but he had had the art to look after his own interests. “The sons of this world are for their own generation wiser than the sons of light.” Our Lord Himself tells the disciples to learn a lesson from the Unjust Steward. “Make to yourselves friends by means of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when it shall fail, they may receive you into the eternal tabernacles.” Of course it is not the dishonesty of the steward that our Lord proposes as an example to the disciples, but the forethought. And our Master, to whom whatever property we possess belongs, will not charge us with robbing Him, if we use it in showing kindness to the poor, in relieving the sick, in teaching the ignorant, in recovering the fallen, that they may receive us at last “into the eternal tabernacles.” What was a fresh fraud in the Unjust Steward will be in ourselves fidelity to our trust.
It is not probable that Zaccheus was in the crowd when this parable was spoken; but he might have heard of it; and whether he heard of it or not, his conduct was an excellent illustration of its meaning. His wealth was got badly; like the rest of his class, he had used his power dishonestly and oppressively. When he repented and resolved to serve Christ, what was he to do with it ? He determined to make himself “friends of the mammon of unrighteousness “— “Half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have wrongfully exacted of any man I restore fourfold.”
Christ calls wealth “the mammon of unrighteousness,” because it has had so much to do with human selfishness, dishonesty, and cruelty; because it is often so wickedly obtained and so wickedly used. By-and-by, when all men become Christ’s loyal servants, and when His laws have real authority over secular life, material wealth will receive a nobler description; and the “Sacredness of Property,” instead of being a phrase, will represent a most Divine reality.
But the complete interpretation of the parable is contained in these words : — “He that is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much : and he that is unrighteous in a very little is unrighteous also in much. If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches 1 And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own } No servant can serve two masters : for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”
Our Lord contrasts material wealth with wealth of another kind; to be faithful in the use of material wealth is to be faithful in the use of that which is of | very little value; but fidelity in the inferior trust is a test of fidelity in greater matters. He says further that if we have not been faithful in using material wealth, we shall not receive from God real and enduring riches. Nor is this all : — material wealth is not really our own; we hold it for a time, but we shall have to give it up. If we have not been faithful in our use of what is not ours, we cannot expect that God will give us an inheritance that will be truly and for ever our own.
One great principle underlies these various representations of property. Our wealth — whatever its amount — is not ours but God’s. The corn is His: — it grows on His earth; it is fed by His rain; it is ripened by His sun. The timber is His: — the forests from which we get it were created by His power. The iron and the coal are His : — He laid them up in the mines long before our race appeared in the world. All precious things, silver and gold, diamonds, gems and pearls are His. Wealth is placed in our hands to use it for God; it is not our own; we are stewards; and in our use of wealth we are required to be faithful to Him to whom it belongs. This, I say, is the root of Christ’s thought. He begins by stripping us of everything, by denying our ownership in everything we possess. “The earth is the Lord’s and the fulness thereof.”
This is in harmony with the whole strain of the teaching of the New Testament. Paul describes us as the slaves of Christ. Not only does our property belong to Him; We ourselves belong to Him. We are His, without qualification and without reserve. Our bodies belong to Him, with the muscles which we use in physical labour; and our minds belong to Him, with the knowledge, the keenness of judgment, the tenacity of purpose, with which we conduct our business or discharge the duties of our profession.; We are not our own; we are the slaves of Christ.
If we prefer the more honourable title of “children,” we obtain no firmer hold of material wealth. Yes, we are children — children in our Father’s house. But the house is His, and all that is in it is His. He feeds us and clothes us; but the food and the clothing are not ours but His.
It is the fundamental law of the kingdom of Christ, that when we acknowledge Him as our Prince and Saviour, we renounce our personal claim to all the things we used to call ours — to our money, our time, and our influence; we part with our property in ourselves, and this includes parting with our property in everything. It is just as imperative now as it ever was, that we should forsake all and follow Him. Do you say that this is a stern and tyrannical law, and that it makes life desolate and gloomy? No; it makes life free and blessed. It quenches passions which often consume the strength of men and shorten their days. If wealth is not ours, if it never can be, if when we think of it as ours we are thieves at heart, unjust stewards, making that our own which belongs to God, why should there be any hot pursuit of it? It is pleasant to have the use of wealth for a time, just as it is pleasant to stay in comfortable and luxurious quarters when we are travelling. But we ourselves are none the richer because for a day or two we are guests in a splendid hotel; and if we are travelling through a country which offers poor accommodation, and have to lodge for a few days or a few weeks in rude cottages or village inns, where the furniture is rough, and the walls are bare, and the sheets are coarse, and the table scantily furnished, we suffer only passing discomfort, we ourselves are no poorer; we shall soon be home again. And, perhaps, the parable may be carried a little farther : — we may be all the richer when we reach home at last, because we have spent little and fared badly on our journey.
It is pleasant, no doubt, to have command of money and of a great deal of money, but it is not ours, any more than the rents of the Duke of Sutherland or the Duke of Westminster belong to their agents. We may prefer to have the position of a steward who has the control and administration of a great estate, to the position of a manager who has the control and administration of a small business; the higher position brings with it an increase in the sources of personal comfort, and of some things which are much more valuable than the sources of personal comfort. But in either position the wealth which passes through our hands is not ours.
If it is our habit to take this view of wealth, the disposition to get it unjustly or unfairly will be checked. Other men are God’s stewards as well as ourselves. When we are trying to get by unfair means what is in their hands, we are trying to get possession of property which is not theirs, which cannot become ours, but which is entrusted to them, not to us. It is the case of one agent trying to collect rents from an estate which is under the management of another agent of the same master.
This habit of regarding wealth relieves us of care as well as of a passion for money. We say that we are children in our Father’s house, but how few of us have the spirit of children, the trustfulness, the light-heartedness, the freedom from anxiety and from fear of the future! I doubt whether the true “spirit of adoption “will come from dwelling exclusively, either on those large aspects of the Divine Fatherhood, which are among the principal topics of modern theology, or on those wonderful representations of. the prerogatives of the sons of God in the apostolic epistles, which were the favourite subjects of meditation with the saints of former e^enerations. The precepts of the Sermon on the Mount are a discipline of the spirit of sonship; in obeying the precepts the Divine Fatherhood will be discovered by us, and apart from obedience the discovery will be withheld. “Lay not up for yourselves treasure upon earth … Be not anxious for your life what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on … Behold the birds of the heaven … your heavenly Father feedeth them. Consider the lilies of the field … Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” If we keep these commandments it will be possible for the Spirit to bear witness “with our spirit that we are the children of God, and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ.”
The root of very much of the restlessness of heart by which we are perplexed, and which is not soothed by the most gentle and gracious revelations of the Divine love, is very obvious. We say that we are children in our Father’s house, but we insist on being grown-up children, and we have private speculations of our own in cotton and iron and corn, in railways and ships. No wonder that we are vexed and wearied with anxiety and care. Not until we become children in spirit as well as in name, in practice las well as in title, and cease to hold any property of our own, will the true temper and blessedness of God’s children become ours. When this renunciation has become complete, we shall offer with quite a new spirit and meaning the prayer which Christ taught His disciples, “Our Father which art in heaven, … Give us this day our daily bread.” We shall think of the bread as His, though we may have worked for it; just as the corn which a son has helped his father to harvest is the father’s, not his; just as the fruit which a child has picked for his father is the father’s, not his. But when ever^’thing that once seemed ours passes out of our own possession and becomes God’s property, we cease to be anxious about it, and we live a life of faith, a life of continual and happy trust in the infinite love of our Father in heaven.
Does this conception of the “Sacredness of Property” impoverish us, and leave us with a sense of miserable destitution? On the contrary, if we accept it frankly, we only part with our right to very poor and narrow possessions in order to enjoy illimitable wealth. We come to understand the great paradox which is so unintelligible until it is fulfilled in our own experience : “There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or mother, or father, or children, or lands, for My sake, and for the gospel’s sake, but he shall receive a hundredfold now in this time, kouseSy and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.”
I travel over the estate of a great proprietor; the land is covered with rich crops; every now and then I pass farm buildings well built and well kept; through the trees I see the castle in which the great proprietor is living. Perhaps by his courtesy I am permitted to go through the stately rooms, and I see costly furniture, noble sculpture, beautiful pictures, precious gems curiously worked, ivory, agate, malachite, and jade. Shall I envy him } Why should I ? The things are not his any more than they are mine. They all belong to God. He is God’s child and so am I. He is there only for a time, like the man who shows me over the house; and perhaps the man will live there longer than his master. The duke has the keeping of the pictures and the sculpture; I have the delight of seeing them. He has the responsibility of choosing and buying the ancient coins, the gems and the pottery; and perhaps he is sometimes worried because he is deceived about their value; I have only to admire them. His estates, stretching over two or three counties — perhaps they give him a joy inferior to the joy they give to me; perhaps they enrich his life less than they enrich mine. He receives the rents, but of all that the estate yields the rents are the least worth having. I may hear a song in his running streams that he never heard, and see a grace in his woods that he never saw; in my memory, for years after I have seen it, the heather on the hills may glow with a splendour of which he never caught a transient glimpse; and from the heights which rise above his home my thoughts may take wing to a heaven which he has never visited. Why should I envy him? Men call the estate his; but it is God’s; and if God who loves me as well as He loves the duke, gives me a home for a few years under the smoky skies of a great manufacturing town, and sends the duke to a castle among the hills, it must be all well; and the fairest and most precious part of the duke’s estate may be mine more truly than his.
It is necessary to lay a firm hold of this conception of property, if we are to make any right use of what our Lord says about the duty of charity and about making to ourselves friends who will receive us into “the eternal tabernacles.”
Charitable gifts are too often spoiled by that spirit of Pharisaism against which our Lord had to maintain so severe and incessant a polemic. Men have become accustomed to regard their property as in every sense their own. The Christian Church has permitted this unchristian heresy — a heresy as grave as any that was ever condemned by Council or Synod — to remain uncorrected and unrebuked. In appropriating a part of their property to the relief of the poor, to the development of the intellectual life of their country, and to other public ends, they have supposed that they were exhibiting an illustrious virtue and have plumed themselves on their magnificent generosity. But they were simply discharging a duty, using the property as its true Owner intended, showing fidelity to Him. It would be quite as reasonable for the trustees of a great educational endowment to claim credit for personal generosity because they appropriate the revenue of the trust to the maintenance of schools. The money is not theirs; they are bound to appropriate it according to the terms of their charter. And according to our Lord’s conception of property, all property belongs to God; we are not owners but trustees. The purposes to which it is appropriated are not rigidly defined in any legal instrument; nor can the obligations of the trust be enforced by an appeal to any earthly court; but for the Christian man “the law of liberty” is as real a law as the law of the land, and it is defended by more awful sanctions.
We see the effect of our Lord’s teaching, or of the the spirit of His teaching, in the action of the Pentecostal Church. I suppose that the members of that Church had very imperfect conceptions of what we call Christian Doctrine. They worshipped the Lord Jesus Christ as their Prince and Saviour; and they trusted in Him for the remission of sins, for access into the kingdom of God, for the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and for the great gift of eternal life. But their creed was probably a very short one. They would have been very unsuccessful in defining the doctrine of the Trinity, the doctrine of the Atonement, the doctrine of the New Birth. Their moral life, as a whole, was probably ruled by Jewish rather than by Christian law. Most of them — perhaps all of them — thought it necessary for men to submit to circumcision and to honour all the institutions of Judaism if they were to be saved. But either under the control of Christ’s teaching, or more probably at the instinctive impulse of the new and wonderful life which they had received from Him, they obeyed some of Christ’s laws which the Church of later ages has forgotten.
They looked at property as Christ looked at it. They believed in its “sacredness.” They were all God’s children; their property belonged to their Father and they were ready to share it with all that were in their Father’s household : “Not one of them said that ought of the things which he possessed was his own.” There was no want among them: “For as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold and laid them at the apostle’s feet, and distribution was made unto each according as any one had need.” I do not believe that they established a system of communism. No man on submitting to baptism came under any engagement to surrender his property to the Church. Every man had a perfect right to retain as much of his property as he thought fit; if he chose he might retain it all. Nor was there any law requiring men to bring their weekly earnings and pay them into the Church account. But Christian men who had property held it with a light hand; looked upon it as a trust, and since many of their brethren were in great need they sold houses and lands to create a fund for their support.
This sudden and startling illustration of the spirit of the new Faith must have had an immense effect. It was the visible sign that a new idea had come into the world of the relations between men and God, and between men themselves. It was a decisive proof that a Divine order was emerging, which was destined to transform the social condition of all nations. It was the gospel of the kingdom taught in picture-lessons, and the simplest mind could catch its meaning.
The circumstances of the Church in those great days were, however, wholly exceptional. There were large numbers of persons baptized on the Day of Pentecost who had travelled from distant countries to be present at the Jewish Festival, and who having discovered that the Christ for whose coming their fathers had been waiting so long had now come, remained in Jerusalem to learn all that the apostles could tell them about His Kingdom, about the new truths He had taught, about the new laws which were given to those who acknowledged His authority, and about the new hopes which were to be their solace and their strength. In the case of many of them probably, the funds which would have been sufficient for a shorter stay were exhausted long before they had the heart to return home. Some of the Christian men and women who lived in the city and its neighbourhood may have lost their ordinary employment by becoming disciples of the crucified Jesus of Nazareth. Others may have been so excited by the new revelation which had come to them that they could not follow their trades. Nor were these the only reasons which made a common fund necessary. There was a most vivid sense of brotherhood among those who had passed together into the Kingdom of God; they were not satisfied with meeting together two or three times a week to talk about the great deliverance which God had wrought for His people, and to unite in worship and thanksgiving; they wanted to live together, and so they had common tables in many houses in Jerusalem, and for these provision was made at the common cost.
There have been times when many kindly enthusiasts have imagined that the true remedy for the physical miseries of mankind and for many of the worst moral evils which menace the stability of nations, is to be found in giving a complete organization to the spirit of the early Church, and making it the legal order of society. The inequalities of human condition are appalling — appalling in themselves, appalling in their effects on the intellectual, the moral, and the religious life of men. I do not wonder that great socialistic schemes should have filled the imagination and kindled the enthusiasm of many noble and generous souls. Such schemes have, again and again during the last half-century, excited the hopes of a social millennium among the working people of the great cities of France. They have more recently touched the imagination of the working people of the great cities of Germany. In Russia there exist the foundations on which a system of Socialism might be built up, and many speculative Russians have believed that in the village communities of the empire they have the elements of a social order, which would solve the perplexing questions created by the physical sufferings and social discontent of the poorer classes in all the greater nations of Europe. Forty or fifty years ago projects of the same kind attracted some attention in England.
Whether the time will ever come when it will be safe on economical grounds to attempt a social organization, founded on communistic principles; whether such an organization would be friendly to industry, to personal independence, to originality of character; are questions into which it is unnecessary to enter. Monasticism is the only form under which a communistic scheme of life has achieved any considerable and enduring success; and as Monasticism involves celibacy, its success has no value in relation to our social troubles. A communistic social order had a brief existence in the early history of some of the American colonies. In Virginia the experiment was tried under conditions which prevented the possibility of success. In New Plymouth the conditions were exceptionally favourable, but there, too, the experiment was a failure.
The scheme of a community of goods requires a height of virtue to which as yet no considerable portion of the human race has ever attained. To give it a chance of success men must have a noble public spirit, must be free from personal ambition, must be willing to do disagreeable work for the sake of the work itself, and without the constraint of the relentless law — if any man will not work neither shall he eat. No cunningly contrived system of regulations, no ingenious organization of the varying forms of aptitude and faculty, will be of any avail unless all men are both heroes and saints. A revolution so immense as this in the social order, implies a revolution equally immense in human nature; nor is it rational to suppose that this change in human nature can be effected by any change in mere external institutions. If under our present social order those virtues could be created and disciplined which are necessary to the very existence of a communistic system, whatever is unjust and unequal in our present social life would soon disappear. The great problem after all is not, How can we improve our institutions? but, How can we improve men?
What concerns us in the present discussion is that the Lord Jesus Christ never suggests that private \ property should be abolished, but tells us to use it as God’s stewards. A great German defined the difference between Socialism and Christianity in a very clever epigram: — “Socialism says, ‘What is thine is mine’; Christianity says, ‘What is mine is thine’; The difference is infinite.” But the epigram needs correction. Christianity really teaches us to say, “What seems thine is not thine; what seems mine is not mine; whatever thou hast belongs to God, and I, whatever I have belongs to God; you and I must use what we have according to God’s will.”
The “Sacredness of Property” determines what uses of property are legitimate. God intends us, first of all, to provide for our own wants and the wants of our children and dependents. These wants vary with the circumstances of men, with their training, with their occupation, with the functions they have to discharge to society. Every man must form his own judgment as to what expenditure on himself and on his own house God will approve. He is God’s servant, and may use his income in meeting whatever expenses are legitimately incurred in doing God’s work. He may move from a modest house into a mansion, with greenhouses, vineries, stables, and a park, if his income is large enough to cover the increased expenditure, and if he thinks that by the change he will serve God more effectually. But to those who believe in the “Sacredness of Property,” it is clearly unlawful to incur a large increase of personal expenditure without the prospect of securing any corresponding increase in the efficiency of their service. Every man whose income will cover more than the necessities of his own life and work, is also required to use part of it, how much he must judge for himself, in serving others. The form in which this service is to be rendered must be determined by a man’s position, circumstances, and faculty. One man may be specially “called” to shelter the homeless, another to care for orphans, another to promote scientific discovery, another to contribute to the development of art or of literature, another to strengthen great movements for the social and political improvement of mankind. All Christian men will desire to have some share in relieving the common misfortunes of human life, and in making known the gospel of the Divine righteousness and love. The general law is clear and definite : our money is God’s money, and we must spend it for nothing for which God does not want it spent.
And now I can imagine that some of my readers — practical, sagacious, religious men — will be ready to say that this theory of the “Sacredness of Property” is extremely visionary — the kind of theory likely to commend itself to an enthusiast unfamiliar with the business and affairs of the world, but absurdly useless for the guidance of conduct. That is exactly what the Pharisees thought about our Lord when they heard this theory of property from His lips. “The Pharisees who were lovers of money heard all these things, and they scoffed at Him.”
And how did He answer their scoffing?
It was against the spirit which leads us to regard our property as our own — not God’s — that the awful parable of the rich man and Lazarus was directed. The Pharisees scoffed at our Lord’s “visionary “account of property; this parable is His reply. The intense and natural curiosity of men about the future life has led them to pass over the tremendous moral and practical lessons of the parable in their endeavour to discover what it reveals concerning the fate of the impenitent. But what was it that our Lord meant the parable to teach?
It is a parable about a rich man and a beggar. The rich man is not said to have been a bad man, in the current sense of the word. He was rich, but he may have got his wealth honestly. He was “clothed in purple and fine linen,” but I suppose that he paid for them. He fared “sumptuously every day;” but for anything that is said in the parable, he was neither a glutton nor a drunkard. He was rich and he enjoyed his riches. That is all. He thought that his wealth was his own, to spend as he liked. It never occurred to him that it all belonged to God.
Lazarus, the beggar, was laid at the rich man’s gate and was glad to get the broken meat which came from the rich man’s table. On the sufferings and misery of Lazarus it is not necessary, for the immediate purpose of this paper, to say anything. He died and “was carried away by the angels into Abraham’s bosom” to a place of honour at the great festival of the blessed.
The rich man also died and was buried, and after we are told of the rich man’s death and burial there follow immediately these startling words: “And in Hades he lifted up his eyes being in torment, and seeth Abraham afar off and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said. Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am in anguish in this flame.”
Instead of discussing the questions which are suggested by this account of the rich man’s doom, we shall do well to consider how he incurred it. The doom was terrible, and, apparently, without hope. There is no need to suppose that he was condemned to material flames, any more than there is need to suppose that Lazarus was literally reclining in Abraham’s bosom. But whatever may be the nature of the suffering represented by the “torment” and the “flame,” Christ means us to understand that the suffering is appalling, intolerable; and the “great gulf” seems to suggest that there is no escape from the fiery anguish to the happy seats of the saints.
Does any man dare to suggest that this parable is an illustration of the severity and mercilessness of the Christian conception of God? It is an illustration of precisely the opposite of that. We see here the indignation of Infinite Love at white heat. The “rich man “thought that his property was his own, and that he had a right to use it for the purposes of self-indulgence. He clothed himself in “purple and fine linen;” he kept a sumptuous table. He had no active, earnest pity for Lazarus who was lying at his gate or for hundreds of others as miserable as Lazarus. He never thought that since his property belonged to God he was guilty of a flagrant breach of trust in not using it for the relief of those whose sufferings touched the Divine heart and to whom he should have been the minister of the Divine pity. To God this was intolerable. The “flame “is the fiery displeasure which God feels at his selfishness; and to soothe the anguish which the consciousness of the Divine displeasure inflicts, no saint or angel will dip his finger in water and try to cross the tremendous gulf.
This awful menace needs nothing to heighten its terror. It is just as truly a part of the revelation which Christ has made to our race, as the gentlest words of His compassion for human sorrow, or the largest assurances of His eagerness to forgive human sin. It belongs, indeed, to the very substance of the Christian gospel, or, at least, it is the deep shadow cast by its intense and glorious splendour. For the divinest element of the gospel is the declaration that Christ came to make His very life our own. If His life has not become ours, His great purpose has failed, and He has not saved us.
But in those who have received the life of Christ, there will be ‘the “mind” which is also in Him. His estimate of riches, of earthly honour, of all the pleasant things of this world, will be theirs. They will call nothing their own; they will hold everything as a trust from God.