And he spoke a parable to them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully:…
Of this man nothing ill is actually said, nothing bad really appears. If we look at him as he is described, it is hard to say how he was worse than most of us. It is true that he spoke overmuch of my this and my that: "I have no room," he said, "to bestow my fruits; I will pull down my barns, and build greater, and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods." But do we not all do the same? The crops which have rewarded long toil, the profits yielded to patient enterprize, the little hoard painfully earned and saved, do we not call them ours, and think them ours too? Do we not talk of our corn, of our earnings, of our balance in the bank — and this not merely for convenience of speech, but because we regard ourselves as the actual independent owners of them? Do we not very generally forget that, in truth, all that we have is not ours, but God's — lent to us by Him, that part may be given back directly for His service, that the rest may be profitably spent to His glory, and that all may be given account of at the last day? It is true, also, that he spoke too rashly of the future, as if that also were his own: "I will pull down my barns, and build greater"; and yet more, "Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years." But do not we for the most part do the same? When things have prospered with us, when our returns come in, do not we too make pleasant plans, and promise ourselves so much ease, so much enjoyment for the future? Do we not make promise to ourselves of building this new house or setting up that new carriage, of taking a pleasant journey here, or making a happy home there, and have no thought of God in it all? Yea; and though we should add a D.V. or a "God willing" to it, is it not generally a mere pretence of submission — as much as to say, we are aware that He can prevent it, if He chooses, but we do not at all suppose He will? Again, it is true that the man was profane in addressing such words as he did to his soul: "Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; eat, drink, and be merry." Souls do not eat or drink, neither can they rest and enjoy themselves on the strength of so many hundreds a year, and when he used the word it should have reminded him that the higher part of his nature required other and better provision for the many years to come. But no doubt he spoke ignorantly, meaning only to address himself, and regarding himself on the whole as a being whose chief end was to eat and drink and amuse himself — as an organization mainly capable of enjoying meats and drinks, of welcoming cessation from toil, and of delighting in the good things of this world. Have we, as a rule, attained any higher view? Do not we, with far less excuse than he, commonly speak and think of ourselves as if we lived and moved and had our being in the things of this life — as if eating and drinking, ease and merriment, were sufficient to satisfy us? Or, if we rise above these things, do we not seek others equally inappropriate to the true life of the soul — intellectual delights, social pleasures, high positions — gifts of civilization to our modern days, good and noble in their way, but transitory, earthly, and therefore incapable of sustaining those immortal souls, which can only be filled with the love of God, which can be satisfied with nothing less than Him. "Soul," we say to ourselves, "thou art very well off; the world hath gone well with thee; thou hast enough and to spare; thou hast no cause to envy anybody, while many have reason to envy thee; thou hast done well, and art decidedly to be congratulated." This is no untrue fancy, as your heart and mind know well: thus does the soul whisper to itself, as it surveys its position; thus does it speak, and thus does God answer it — "Fool, fool that thou art, with all thy silly self-complacency and self-satisfaction; fool, with all thy worldly wisdom and temporal success; fool, with thy well-dressed person and well-filled purse, with thy well-furnished house and well-stored mind; fool, that congratulatest thyself on the possession of these things, and rememberest not that they must perish in an hour, and that thou hast nothing else." "Fool" — it is God that says it, not I; it is His verdict on me, just as much as on you, when I begin to glory in earthly things. He is a fool that takes comfort in a well-fed body while his soul is starving, that regards with satisfaction his veil-dressed person while his soul is still unclad in righteousness, that gazes with complacency upon the length and richness of his rent-roll while his tale of good works remains short and poor, that prides himself on the beauty of his earthly habitation while he is preparing for himself no goodly mansion in the world to come, — a fool, in short, wire suns himself in the momentary warmth and sunshine of to-day, and reeks not of the eternal darkness which must begin for him to-morrow. It may be that we are all fools together, minding earthly things out of all reasonable proportion to the heavenly things. If so, let us endure to be convicted of folly now, that we be not branded as fools before the universe; let us accept the rebuke now, while our souls are our own, lest we meet with it then, when they shall be demanded of us.
(R. Winterbotham, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: