Great Texts of the Bible by James Hastings - Matthew 19:16 - 19:16

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Great Texts of the Bible by James Hastings - Matthew 19:16 - 19:16

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Eternal Life

And behold, one came to him and said, Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?—Mat_19:16.

1. This young ruler, who appears and disappears again so suddenly in the gospel narrative, is one of the most interesting and tragic figures in the Bible. The interest is enhanced by the strong resemblance he seems to bear to the Apostle Paul in circumstances and character. Both were in the prime of early manhood when they came into contact with Jesus. Both were rulers, with all that such a position implied of theological education, social position, and ecclesiastical influence. Both were religious to the full extent of their light, striving to obey the Law and believing that they had succeeded. Both were lovable in disposition. Both were rich. The one, we are told, had great possessions. The wealth of the Apostle of the Gentiles is inferred from various circumstances. It is inferred from the education that he received, from the fact that he was a ruler, from the ease and air of equality with which he addressed nobles, governors, and kings, from the position occupied by his relatives in Jerusalem, from the two years’ imprisonment in which Felix detained him in the hope of obtaining a bribe, from the consideration shown to him on the voyage to Rome, from the unusual permission given him to take Luke with him. It is also suggestive that his favourite description of the gospel is “riches,” a suitable word on the lips of one who had been forced to ask himself if he had received compensation for what he had sacrificed. The point of decision in both men was the same—the necessity to abandon a supposed righteousness; and the touchstone of sincerity in both was the same—their readiness to abandon wealth for Christ. At that point the difference arose. The one went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. The other counted all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus his Lord.

2. Never before had such an one come to Jesus. That he should come at all was much; that he should come at such a time was very much; that he should come at such a time and in such a way was a splendid proof of independence, of courage, and of earnestness. It was utterly unlike those about him. A man whose religion was not a cloak for all kinds of self-indulgence; whose wealth was not a thing that possessed and enslaved him; who had not learned to put the anise and cummin in place of justice and mercy; who did not go priding himself on his long robes, or his long prayers, or his trumpeted alms—free alike from hypocrisy or pride, simple and sincere. Nor was it any sudden outburst of emotion kindled by the sight of that face, by His words of wisdom, or by the tokens of His tenderness. No shallow-ground hearer of the Word was this, receiving it with joy, and then when the sun was up withering away. There was the fixed habit of goodness in him. A blameless youth had led up to a generous and noble manhood. So sincere, so brave, so earnest, no wonder that Jesus beholding him loved him. The look, the tone, the manner of Jesus told how His heart went forth to him.

It may be instructive to set this young man beside that other ruler who came to Jesus. Nicodemus came at the very outset of the Saviour’s ministry, when as yet men had not made up their minds as to His authority, and when at any rate there was neither peril nor social sacrifice in recognizing Him. And yet Nicodemus came by night, under cover of the darkness. He came when Jesus was alone, or when only John was with Him. But now Jesus is excommunicated; He is denounced and condemned, and the authorities have already sought to stone Him. On every side there are those who watch Him with a hatred that only His death will satisfy. To honour Him in any way is to incur their suspicion and denunciation. Yet this young ruler comes openly before all the people. And more than that, there is an enthusiasm in his coming, an ardent admiration for Jesus Christ that no other rich man ever showed. He came running—that was a startling enough thing amidst the leisurely strut of the Pharisee and the languid indifference of the rich. Such enthusiasm has always been regarded as vulgar by the well-to-do; and to be vulgar is with them worse than to be wicked. He came with a respect and reverence that acknowledged alike the greatness and the goodness of the blessed Lord. He kneeled at the feet of the Saviour, and asked Him, as the great authority, “Master, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?”1 [Note: M. G. Pearse.]


The Question

1. By “eternal life” we must understand not merely continued existence, but continued happy existence, than which there can be no higher good. Many people are happy here—at times, and for times. But the old saying, “No one is always happy,” shows how constant is man’s experience of the mutability of happiness. And many men wonder why this is so. The truth is—though few people see it at first—that nothing is, or is real, but what is in harmony with the mind and will of God. He alone can create. What man seems to create, as apart from God, can last only so long as man’s illusion lasts; for it is illusion alone that gives such “works” apparent reality. As in the case of the house founded on the sand, a little time and those natural forces which can overthrow anything illusory will distinguish the apparent from the real. The illusion will vanish like a burst bubble; and what is real—that is, what is in harmony with the mind and will of God—will alone endure. Therefore eternal life can mean only a life (desires, tastes, workings, productions) that is in harmony with the mind and will of God. All else is folly, vanity, emptiness, illusion, which, like the state of childhood, can last its time, and then must pass away.

In the complex, of vivid, operative convictions connected with Eternal Life there is, first, a keen yet double sense of Abidingness—an absolute Abidingness, pure Simultaneity, Eternity, in God; and a relative abidingness, a quasi-eternity, Duration, in man (qua personality). And the Eternity is always experienced by man only within, together with, and in contrast to, the Duration. And both Eternity and Duration stand out, in man’s deepest consciousness, with even painful contrast, against all mere Succession, all sheer flux and change. Here the special value lies in the double sense that we are indeed actually touched, penetrated, and supported by the purely Eternal; and yet that we ourselves shall never, either here or hereafter, be more than quasi-eternal, durational. For only this double sense will save us from the perilous alternatives of an uncreaturely sheer fixity and an animal mere flux and change. We thus gain a perennial source of continuity and calm. There is, next, the keen sense of Otherness in Likeness. We are genuinely like, and we are genuinely unlike, God, the Realized Perfection. Hence there is ever a certain tension, a feeling of limitation or of emptiness, a looking for a centre outside of, or other than, our own selves. Here again this double sense will be profoundly helpful in our troubles. For thus we are never free to lose reverence for the deepest of what we are, since it is like God, and actually harbours God. And yet we may never lose humility and a thirst for purification, since even the deepest and best of ourselves never will be, God.1 [Note: F. von Hügel, Eternal Life, 365.]

2. Where had the ruler got hold of the thought of eternal life? It was far above the dusty speculations and casuistries of the Rabbis. Probably from Christ Himself. He was right in recognizing that the conditions of possessing it were moral, but his conception of “good” was superficial, and he thought more of doing good than of being good, and of the desired life as payment for meritorious actions. In a word, he stood at the point of view of the Old Dispensation. “This do, and thou shalt live,” was his belief; and what he wished was further instruction as to what “this” was. He was to be praised in that he docilely brought his question to Jesus, even though, as Christ’s answer shows, there was error mingling in his docility. The fact that he came to Christ for a purely religious purpose, not seeking personal advantage for himself or for others, like the crowds who followed for loaves and cures, nor laying traps for Him with puzzles which might entangle Him with the authorities, nor asking theological questions for curiosity, but honestly and earnestly desiring to be helped to lay hold of eternal life, is to be put down to his credit. He is right in counting it the highest blessing.

3. Probably when he came to our Lord with his question the ruler had an idea that Christ would recommend him to build a synagogue or ransom some of his countrymen who were slaves, or do some striking religious act; for when our Lord gives him the simple answer that any child of his own household could have given him, he answers, “What commandment?” fancying He might mean some rules for extraordinary saintliness which had not been divulged to the common people; and evidently, when our Lord merely repeated the time-worn Decalogue, the young man was disappointed, and somewhat impatiently exclaimed, “All these have I kept from my youth up.” He probably did not mean to vaunt his own blamelessness of life. Not at all. He merely meant to state that all his life he had had these commandments before him, and if this were all our Lord had to tell him, then that was no fresh light for him at all. All the good they could do him he had already got; and that was not all the good that could be got, he felt. “What lack I yet?” We are told that the Talmud describes one of the classes of Pharisees as the “tell-me-something-more-to-do-and-I-will-do-it” Pharisee. The young man plainly belonged to this class. He thought he was ready to make any sacrifice or do any great thing which would advance his spiritual condition.

A sermon by the Archbishop of York emphasizing that the test of religion is love for one’s neighbours fills her with delight; a sermon on the third anniversary of her baptism by the vicar of St. Mary Abbot’s, in which “he laid stress on the impossibility of doing without first being,” is noted with ardent enthusiasm a few days afterwards. Then she makes an approving note of some words of Dr. Parker: “He spoke against men who met together in a nice room to discuss how to do something for the suffering masses; if you want to reach them—go to them yourself.” “I feel no doubt of religion,” she wrote on the threshold of 1891, and she immediately hurried to reflect that it was life essentially: “There is a tremendous difference between admiring and believing in Christianity on the one hand, and on the other putting ourselves under the Divine influence hour by hour.” She was discovering the old problem of how to be what one believed, and she was just the person to solve it with almost a ruthless rectitude. She had come to the briar patches already.1 [Note: J. Ramsay MacDonald, Margaret Ethel MacDonald, 66.]

4. It is evident that the young ruler made the mistake of forgetting that goodness can come only from God. He apparently imagined that goodness is inherent in man, if he only knew how to exercise it. “What good thing shall I do?” And the Lord answered, “Why askest thou me concerning that which is good?”—as if there were several good things: good works, and good eternal life? There is but one true Good, and that is not a thing, but a Being. God is the One Good, and the One Life. It is as if our Lord would say, “You ask Me a question which I cannot answer directly; because, if I did, you would not understand Me. Eternal life is not a commodity to be purchased at a price. God and eternal life are one. If you have God, you have eternal life; if you enter into God, you enter into eternal life.” Or, more plainly, if your idea of life, what you like, desire, work for, is one with God’s idea of life, you are thereby one with God. Your will is “at-oned” to His will; and therefore what you will you will have eternally, because you will what is eternal. For God is good, and good is God; and therefore whatever is good—the good thought, the good desire, the good deed—these, and these only, are eternal.

We should mark and know of a very truth that all manner of virtue and goodness, and even that Eternal Good which is God Himself, can never make a man virtuous, good, or happy, so long as it is outside the soul. Therefore although it be good and profitable that we should ask and learn and know what good and holy men have wrought and suffered, and how God hath dealt with them, and what He hath wrought in and through them, yet it were a thousand times better that we should in ourselves learn and perceive and understand who we are, how and what our own life is, what God is and is doing in us, what He will have from us, and to what ends He will or will not make use of us. Further we should learn that eternal blessedness lieth in one thing alone, and in nought else. And if ever man or the soul is to be made blessed, that one thing alone must be in the soul. Now some might ask, “But what is that one thing?” I answer, it is goodness, or that which has been made good, and yet neither this good nor that, which we can name, or perceive or show; but it is all and above all good things.… All the great works and wonders that God has ever wrought or shall ever work in or through the creatures, or even God Himself with all His goodness, so far as these things exist or are done outside of me, can never make me blessed, but only in so far as they exist and are done and loved, known, tasted and felt within me.1 [Note: Theologia Germanica, chap. ix.]

5. The ruler also forgot that goodness is not a thing to be done, or an attribute of actions, but an element of character in the person who performs the actions. There is no more common mistake in religion and ethics than this, and scarcely any mistake more fatal. It shifts the centre of gravity in religion from the centre to the circumference, from the soul to the outward act. The form of his question, “What good thing shall I do?” reveals the short-coming of his apprehension as to how the case really stands. He puts the question much as one might ask, “What premium must I pay to insure my life for a thousand pounds?” The premium is paid, not from the love of paying it, but as the only way of procuring a good we desire to obtain. Note how our Lord, in His reply, at once tries to shift the question to a different, and higher, ground. The question is, “What good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?” The answer is, “If thou wilt enter into life.” Eternal life is not a thing you can have, as you have an estate, or a balance in the bank. It must have you: you must enter into it. A man and his estate are two, and can be separated: a man and his eternal life are one, and cannot be separated.

The young ruler is in the position of a man who comes to his medical adviser complaining of a slight uneasiness which he supposed a tonic or a change of air may remove, and is told that he has heart disease or cancer. Or he is in the position of a sanguine inventor, who has spent the best years of his life on a machine and at last puts it into the hands of a practical man merely to get the fittings adjusted and steam applied, and is told that the whole thing is wrong in conception and can never by any possibility be made to work.1 [Note: Marcus Dods.]

6. The man was thus under an entire misapprehension as to his own spiritual condition. Exemplary in conduct, very much the model of what a wealthy young man ought to be, he had naturally some self-complacency. He had become a ruler of the synagogue, and was probably a man of influence, of large charity and much good feeling, so that the people who saw him come to consult Jesus would suppose that it was something of a condescension on his part. He was not perfectly satisfied, however, about his spiritual condition, but he thought a very little addition to his present attainments would set him above suspicion. He was well enough as he was, but he wished, as any young man with anything in him does wish, to be perfect. He was of an ardent, aspiring temper, and would leave nothing undone that he could measure his human nature and strength with, so he came to Jesus, not to be taught the mere rudiments, but to receive the finishing touches of a religious education.

In Cleon Browning pictures man perfectly civilized, having left the lower and unconscious forms of life and grown to the only life, the life of culture, the pleasure house.

Watch-tower and treasure-fortress of the soul,

Which whole surrounding flats of natural life

Seemed only fit to yield subsistence to;

A tower that crowns a country.

It is a magnificent conception of the educated, refined, civilized man. And then comes the awful awakening to its utter unsatisfactoriness.

But alas,

The soul now climbs it just to perish there!

And then he pictures the visions from that tower of capacity for joy, spread round it, meant for it, mocking it, and the agony of the soul finding itself less capable of enjoyment even than before. The very fatigue consequent on the realization has brought destruction to it.

We struggle, fain to enlarge

Our bounded physical recipiency,

Increase our power, supply fresh oil to life,

Repair the waste of age and sickness: no,

It skills not! life’s inadequate to joy.

Most progress is most failure.

He fails just as he is learning the value of gifts which he longs to use and cannot. To his patron Protus he writes:—

Thou diest while I survive?

Say rather that my fate is deadlier still,

In this, that every day my sense of joy

Grows more acute, my soul (intensified

By power and insight) more enlarged, more keen;

While every day my hairs fall more and more,

My hand shakes, and the heavy years increase—

The horror quickening still from year to year,

The consummation coming past escape

When I shall know most, and yet least enjoy.

The progress of culture without the spiritual outlet which communion which Christ brings, without the vision of the Eternal, beyond time and sense, being one with us, is only more and more unsatisfying. When we have kept all the commandments of science and philosophy and civilization, the question will recur, “What lack I yet?”1 [Note: R. Eyton, The Ten Commandments, 157.]


The Answer

1. Jesus said to him, “If thou wilt be perfect—if thou wilt supply what is lacking—sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven.” This is intended to bring out an application of the law which he had not observed. There is one of the commandments the purpose of which is to pierce the heart and bring not merely the outward action to view, but also the actuating impulses. It is interesting to note that in the case of the Apostle Paul, whose resemblance to the young ruler has been referred to, it was thus that his boasted righteousness dissolved. “I had not known sin, except through the law: for I had not known coveting, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.” So here, too, Jesus brought out the unobserved covetousness by asking the young ruler to sacrifice his wealth for the eternal life he was anxious to acquire.

There is no passion so tenacious as covetousness. Most of the passions which rule men are exposed before long to some withering influences. The passions of young life are bound up with our physical nature, and with changed physical conditions their supremacy may be undermined. The passions of manhood, like ambition and the love of power, are shaken by stormy weather.… Covetousness, unlike other passions, grows stronger with advancing years. The power of pleasure dies, the value of fame is found to be unsubstantial, but wealth is hard, solid, lasting—more real than the vain things which charmed our younger years. So wealth is loved, and covetousness grows, and becomes a tyrant vice with increasing years. It was a true instinct which led Dante to picture avarice as an invincible foe. In his pilgrimage he passed safely by the leopard of pleasure; he feared, yet was not vanquished by, the lion of ambition; but the lean wolf of avarice drove him step by step back to the darkness. Such is the power of covetousness. It is a vice which renews its strength and is tenacious and remorseless.1 [Note: W. Boyd Carpenter, The Son of Man Among the Sons of Men, 148.]

2. This young man was plainly told that in order to inherit eternal life he must give up his pleasant home, all his comforts, his position in society, and become a poor, houseless wanderer. This always seems a very harsh demand to make of a well-intentioned youth. One might have expected that, instead of thus bluntly laying down an ultimatum, our Lord would have won him by gentle, gradual, seductive methods. But often the decision of the surgeon who sees what must in the long run be done, and knows that every hour lost is a risk, sounds abrupt and harsh to those who have no such knowledge; and we can scarcely question that the method which our Lord adopted with this young man was not merely the only wise method, but the kindest possible method. This young man’s possessions happened to be what prevented him from following Christ; but some pursuit of ours, or some cherished ambition, or some evil habit, or some love of ease, or mere indifference, may be as completely preventing us from learning of Christ and from living as He lived and so attaining true likeness to Him.

“Never fear to let go,” he says in his philosophical notes; “it is the only means of getting better things,—self-sacrifice. Let go; let go; we are sure to get back again. How science touches the lesson of morals, which is ever, Give up, give up; deny yourself,—not this everlasting getting; deny yourself, and give, and infinitely more shall be yours; but give—not bargaining; give from love, because you must. And if the question will intrude, ‘What shall I have if I give up this?’ relegate that question to faith, and answer, ‘I shall have God. In my giving, in my love, God, who is Love, gives Himself to me.’ ”2 [Note: Life and Letters of James Hinton, 206.]

3. But the demand of Jesus was not simply to sacrifice his wealth. Jesus makes no such merely negative claim on men. He desires to put Himself in the place of that which the heart has worshipped. He adds, “And come, follow me.” That is, He must have the first place in the heart and life of those who seek eternal life. Christian life is not mere renunciation. It often appears to be such to those who look only at the renunciation by which they are asked to enter on life. To make that renunciation is a great venture of faith. The man who makes it does not yet see that what he will get will make ample amends for what he loses. Christ is Himself the fountain of spiritual life to those who come to Him. He is life. Coming to Him and following Him is life indeed. Many seek life by flinging a loose rein on the neck of their passions, others in the exercise of the intellectual and social gifts they possess. But the richest life is that which calls into exercise the highest elements of our nature, those elements which bring us into touch with the spiritual and the eternal. The life Christ gives is eternal. It is above the powers that bring the lower elements of life to an end. And it is the satisfying life—the life that will compensate for any sacrifice that has to be made to attain it.

Our Saviour, with that wonderful consideration that belongs to Him, never demanded anything unreasonable. Some He has bidden to leave all and follow Him. Some He bids to go home to their friends, and there, within the circle of their own influence, declare what great things God has done for them. The way of the Cross, the way to Heaven, can never be the way of self-indulgence and self-pleasing, whether coarse or refined. It seems to me that a refined, self-pleasing, indulgent sentimentalism, with its pretty phrases, its exquisite propriety of emotion, with nothing endured, with nothing done, is one of the subtlest religious perils of the day. It is as the Son of God, come down from Heaven, that Christ said, “Believe on me”; but it is as the Son of Man, living a human life, that He said, “Follow me.” He showed how men might live in the world, and yet not be of the world; or, in St. Paul’s phrase, how they might use the world without abusing it, and make life a nobler, purer, and holier thing.1 [Note: Bishop Fraser’s Lancashire Life, 254.]

4. Let us remember that Jesus was already girt for the great sacrifice. He was hastening to surrender Himself utterly to it. He who was rich had become poor and had humbled Himself to death, even the death of the cross. The claims of the world and of wealth could scarcely find a place in His thoughts. Already He for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame. And now the enthusiastic approach of the young ruler, most welcome to his Lord, is answered with this splendid opportunity of service. He may bring his devotion and his longing after goodness into the service of the Saviour; he may go with Him as one of His chosen disciples to Jerusalem, and to the judgment-hall, and to Calvary, and find eternal life in thus following his Lord and in such fellowship with Him. Is not this the meaning of the Master’s words—that He would fain have had this brave and earnest spirit as one of His chosen band? The word was that which was spoken to the disciples in Cæsarea Philippi when Jesus had first revealed to them that He must die, and it is recorded only once besides. If the young man had but seen the meaning of the words as the Saviour did, in the light of eternity, in the light of the glory of God, how sublime an offer it would have appeared, what trust and confidence it declared, what an opportunity for highest service it afforded!

Have you ever seen those marble statues in some public square or garden, which art has so fashioned into a perennial fountain that through the lips or through the hands the clear water flows in a perpetual stream, on and on for ever; and the marble stands there—passive, cold,—making no effort to arrest the gliding water? It is so that Time flows through the hands of men—swift, never pausing till it has run itself out; and there is the man petrified into a marble sleep, not feeling what it is which is passing away for ever. It is just so that the destiny of nine men out of ten accomplishes itself, slipping away from them, aimless, useless, till it is too late. Now is a time, infinite in its value for eternity, which will never return again. Now—or Never. The treasures at your command are infinite. Treasures of time—treasures of youth—treasures of opportunity that grown-up men would sacrifice everything they have to possess. Oh for ten years of youth back again with the added experience of age! But it cannot be.1 [Note: F. W. Robertson, Sermons, ii. 289.]


The Choice

1. “He went away sorrowful.” The completeness and immediateness of the collapse are noticeable. The young man seems to speak no word, and to take no time for reflection. He stands for a moment, as if stunned. The eager look passes from his face and the shadow of a great disappointment darkens his brow. For the first time he found his resources insufficient to secure the object of his desire. He discovered that there were some things which money, however plentiful, could not buy; that there were possessions which could not be inherited, but must be earned. He turned away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. The great testing had come, the clouds which portended a great storm had already gathered, and soon the placid bosom of the lake would be heaving and swelling under the stress and strain of a mighty tempest. He would never be the same man again. The depths of his nature had at last been stirred, and the effect of the storm must give him a deeper peace than he had ever known before, or intensify the unrest which he had already experienced.

2. He loved his comforts and his position better than he loved Christ. That is the whole state of the case. He did not oppose Christ. He was willing to consult Him. He was prepared to follow His advice to a certain extent. He recognized that He was a Teacher whom it would never do to argue with or scoff at. He owned Him a Teacher of the truth, but he could not obey Him; he did not love enough to follow Him; he was not fascinated by Christ. It is needless to say that, wherever such a comparative estimate of things spiritual and things worldly exists, the result must always be the same. Wherever a man is more concerned about his profits and his possessions than about his character, this will one day disastrously appear. Wherever love of Christ unsuccessfully competes with something inferior, this must one day show itself by the man cleaving to the inferior thing, and preferring to go with it.

Tolstoy, the Russian socialist, has said that “the rich are willing to do anything and everything for the poor, except get off their backs!” Through a similar but universal perversity, the unconverted man is willing, more or less, to do anything and everything toward God that might lie in his power—heathen-like—except to yield Him real heart-friendship!1 [Note: G. E. Faber.]

3. Henceforward he disappears from the gospel history; yet we are not forbidden to hope that the Saviour who loved him may have again repeated to him His command, “Follow me.” The sorrow which he felt was, no doubt, real; and it may have been so lasting as to make him reconsider the wisdom of his choice. And the times were coming when his nation was to pass through bitter trials, and when the wealth of many who trusted in riches was suddenly taken from them. In the ordinary course of nature this young man would have lived to see this time of great calamity for the Jewish people, and it may well have been that he who would not, of his own accord, give up all for Christ, may afterwards have suffered the loss of all things, and yet have found that it was love that sent the trial, and that the Lord was making good His promise to him of treasure in heaven.

In Dante’s great poem there is a lost spirit without a name of whom he says, “I looked and saw the shade of him who through cowardice made the great refusal.” And he places him among those whom he calls “hateful alike to God and to God’s enemies.” But was there not in that sorrowful and grieved departure a proof of nobleness? How many rich men of to-day, if summarily bidden to sell all their goods and give to the poor, would go away grieved and sorrowful? Would they not rather go away, like Naaman, in a rage, scornful that any could make so outrageous a proposal, and talking angrily about the importance of class distinctions? Was not that sorrow most of all at his own failure; at finding his own weakness? We can follow him in thought to a happier destiny than Dante has depicted. It may well be that he went up to the Passover, and there again saw the Christ of whom he thought so much—saw Him accursed and crucified. And, strengthened by that great example, he may have given to his risen Lord that service which he had shrunk from before. We can think of him as foremost among those of whom we read, “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 apostles’ feet.”

“What lack you yet? A pathway, do you want,

Of noble struggle after perfect good?

A chance I give you: leave your cherished sphere

Of virtuous deeds; sell all and follow Me.”

Think not this test a trial hard and stern,

Coldly applied by Christ to shame his pride:

No, ’twas a genuine offer, not bestowed

On many. Men were often sent away:

Not the relinquishment of outward wealth

The chief thing Christ required; but that the man,

Set free from earthly things, should then begin

A loftier career, beside Himself.

Think what this offer meant. Christ saw in him

High capabilities: His heart went out

To that young man. But it was not to be:

His weakness was revealed; before his eyes

Rose the heroic vision, and he saw

It was beyond his power. The record ends

With his discomfiture. He went away,

A sadder, wiser man. We know no more.

Eternal Life


Allen (G. W.), Wonderful Words and Works, 85.

Bain (J. A.), Questions Answered by Christ, 52.

Cockin (G. S.), Some Difficulties in the Life of our Lord, 114.

Cooper (E.), Fifty-Two Family Sermons, 116.

Davidson (A. B.), The Called of God, 299.

Eyton (R.), The Ten Commandments, 147.

Goodwin (H.), Parish Sermons, iii. 198.

Lucas (B.), Conversations with Christ, 182.

Maclaren (A.), Expositions: St. Matthew xviii.–xxviii., 47.

Morrow (H. W.), Questions Asked and Answered by our Lord, 210.

Prothero (G.), The Armour of Light, 253.

Salmon (G.), The Reign of Law, 194.

Shedd (W. G. T.), Sermons to the Spiritual Man, 34.

Christian World Pulpit, xxxviii. 152 (M. Dods).

Church Pulpit Year Book, 1906, p. 182.

Homiletic Review, New Ser., xxxvii. 424 (G. E. Faber).

Preacher’s Magazine, xii. 7 (M. G. Pearse).