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destroy the husbandmen, and will give the vineyard unto others.”] More characteristic, that is to say, of the Christian life than the most generous almsgiving or the most suggestive æstheticism is the manifestation of consistent fidelity in the conduct of one's own affairs. The first searching of a man's heart should not concern the Christian distribution of his gains, but the Christian getting of his gains. The highest commendation of Jesus is given, not to the munificent almsgiver, but to the faithful steward, the watchful porter, the scrupulous servant. It was once said of the Messiah that “his voice should not be heard in the street"; but, if we may translate those words into the language of modern business, it is precisely “in the street" that the message of Jesus to the rich is delivered; and no self-deception of the prosperous can be greater than the belief that this judgment of Jesus on the conduct of one's daily business can be' mitigated or transferred.
Who, then, is the Christian rich man? It is he who recognizes that in the management of his wealth he is in the presence of a constant and subtle temptation ; that, as Jesus said, there is in the nature of increasing wealth a peculiar quality of “deceitfulness," so that the money which is at first one's servant is at any moment likely to become one's master. The Christian rich man knows well that it is hard for him to enter the
1 Mark xii. 9.
kingdom of God. He observes the characters of many men shrivel in the flame of prosperity. He sees that conditions of luxury, ease, and lack of the friction of life contribute to a slackening of moral fibre. He holds before himself, therefore, the solemn alternatives of Jesus, — the mastery of wealth, or the abandonment of it. Thus the wealth of the Christian rich man becomes to him a trust, for the use of which he is to be scrupulously judged. He administers his affairs with watchfulness over himself and with hands clean of malice, oppression, or deceit. He does not hope to atone for evil ways of making money by ostentatious benevolence in spending it. He is to be judged according to his ways of accumulating wealth as rigidly as for his ways of distributing wealth. He is not hard in business and soft in charity, but of one fibre throughout. His business is a part of his religion, and his philanthropy is a part of his business. He leads his life, he is not led by it. His five talents produce other five. And who is the Christian rich woman? It is she who finds it not impossible to be rich in purse and poor in spirit. She accepts her opportunity watchfully. She knows herself a servant of whom much is required. In the midst of a world of foolishness and vanity she maintains simplicity and good sense. She is equally at home among the rich and the poor. No severer test of the Christian life than this can be proposed for any woman, and no fairer type of character is to be met than that which
issues from such a test, having passed through the needle's eye. If Jesus Christ should come again, he would know what it has cost a man to put under his foot the lust of riches, or a woman to keep her heart clean from the temptations of self-indulgence. Into the homes of such men and women, however splendid their homes may be, Jesus would enter gladly, as he entered the home of Zacchæus or that of Martha and Mary. On such a man, on such a woman, he would look with a peculiar love, as he looked on the young man with great posses sions. The conflict with Mammon has prepared for such a soul the way to eternal habitations. The servant stands ready for the Master's reckoning, and the Master comes and says: “Well done, ... enter into the joy of thy Lord.”
THE TEACHING OF JESUS CONCERNING THE CARE OF
Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee? or athirst, and gave thee drink? And when saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? And when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it unto one of these my brethren, even these least, ye did it unto me.
WHEN one turns from the problem of the exist. ence of the rich to the problem of the care of the poor, he enters a region of thought and duty much more familiar to the follower of Jesus Christ. From the first days of Christian history until now the duties of compassion for the unfortunate and of help for the helpless have been among the elementary virtues of the Christian life. The transition made by the ministry of Jesus in the history of philanthropy is hardly less remarkable than the transition made in the history of theology. With the new thought of God came a new love for man. The “Caritas” of the Christian was a fundamentally different quality from the “Prodigalitas" of the Roman. This statement, however, must be at once
relieved of a common but unjustified form of exaggeration. Modern apologists of Christianity are in the habit of describing the contrast between pre-Christian philanthropy and the charity which followed the teaching of Jesus as a contrast between absolute darkness and dazzling light, a revolution in human relationships which for the first time in history disclosed the meaning of the great word Love. “The world before Christ came," it is freely affirmed, “was a world without love;” “Egoism was the ruling spirit of antiquity;" “The human race had forgotten God;” “ The family and marriage were only political institutions ;” “Without the gospel society would have been dissolved, humanity would have perished hopelessly in a bottomless abyss;" “ Poverty was considered a disgrace that could only be endured by low and bad men.”i These defenders of the Christian religion err through excessive zeal. It is not only inherently improbable that the virtues of Christianity should have been thrust upon a wholly unresponsive world, as though a flower stuck into a sterile soil should come to bloom, but it is also a superficial scholarship which discovers in the ancient world no good ground for the sowing of such virtues.
1 Uhlhorn, “Christian Charity in the Early Church,” 1883, Ch. I; Schmidt, “The Social Results of Early Christianity," 1889, pp. 107, 115, 139. See also, for further social apologetics of Christianity, C. L. Brace, “Gesta Christi,” 1884. Compare the more discriminating treatment in Lecky, “ History of European Morals,” 1870, Vol. II, Ch. IV.