Whoever comes to me, and hears my sayings, and does them, I will show you to whom he is like:…
Last April, on the same morning I set my eyes on the island of Corsica where Napoleon I. was born, and on the island of Elba on which he was confined as a discomfited prisoner — the coming shadows of Waterloo hung over his bleak exile. The next day I saw the spot where another famous prisoner landed on his way to Rome, and where he "thanked God and took courage." Napoleon's boasted "rock" of imperial power proved to be but a fog-bank. What a contrast between the defeated and disappointed exile of Elba, and the glorious old prisoner of Caesar who sang triumphantly in his cell: "I have fought a good fight! Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day!" The French Emperor's crown was a lost bauble; the apostle's diadem will blaze with stars through all eternity. There is no sharper contrast in all history between the wisdom of building on the rock and the fatal folly of building on the quicksand. Yet, on a smaller scale, tens of thousands among us are constantly repeating this folly. One man rears his expectations upon wealth. This is his foundation on which he will build up solid happiness for himself and his family. He means to be happy in making money, happy in holding it, and happy in all the social eclat and luxuries which it will purchase for him. "Other men don't know how to keep money or to enjoy it; but 1 mean to enjoy mine." He calls it mine — not the Lord's; and he does not mean that the Lord shall have it. Ere long the coveted riches take wing, like a swallow, and fly away. Even if he holds on to them, they do not give the happiness he dreamed of; they do not fill up the gnawing emptiness of his soul. They do not bring quiet sleep or a contented conscience; his Government bonds cannot stop the heartache. Gold, unless used for God, makes a hard dying pillow. When the richest American of his day was in his last fatal sickness, a Christian friend proposed to sing for him; and the hymn he named was "Come, ye sinners, poor and needy." "Yes, yes," replied the dying millionaire, "sing that for me, I feel poor and needy." Yet at that moment the stock-markets of the globe were watching and waiting for the demise of the man who could shake them with a nod of his head. "Poor and needy!" How the sand sweeps from under a man's soul in much an hour as that! Literary fame is no solider a footing for an immortal being's happiness than wealth. There is hardly a sadder verse in the English language than that which the brilliant Byron addressed to his own weary and wretched soul —
"Count o'er the joys thine hours have seen;
Count o'er thy days from anguish free;
And know — whatever thou hast been,
Tis something better — not to be!"
What a fearful thought that a human soul, in the very height of its coveted intellectual renown, should seek a refuge for its misery in utter annihilation! Last year a poverty-stricken invalid in Brooklyn, who sustained her helpless husband and only child by her needle, made her little dingy home bright as sunshine by her brave, cheerful trust in God. Her daily song was, "The Lord liveth, and blessed be my Rock." In many a hut of poverty, where faith eats its scanty loaf and gives thanks for it; from many a room of sickness, where Jesus has cheered the long wakeful nights; over many a casket in which a darling child was sleeping in its last slumber, has the believer's testimony come forth clear and strong: "I know whom I have believed; He is able to keep that which I have committed to Him until that day." God never intended that we should have more than one rock. All else is quicksand. When we take His inspired Word for our guide, embrace Christ as our Saviour, rest on His atonement for pardon and His grace for support, then are we "founded on a rock." A solid character for this life and a solid hope for eternity can be built on this sure foundation. Christ really underlies a genuine Christian as the everlasting mass of Moriah's rook-bed underlay the ancient temple of Jerusalem. Those only are the solid, reliable, and enduring members in our various Churches, who have Christ embedded in the very depths of their hearts. Such never fall away under the stress of strong temptations.
(T. L. Cuyler, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like: