The craftsman encourages the goldsmith, and he who wields the hammer cheers him who strikes the anvil, saying of the soldering, "It is good." He nails it down so it will not be toppled.
is - Helpfulness. Not mere help, but fulness of help. There may be a help that is tardy, that is somewhat sparse and stingy; and there may be help which is not helpful in the best sense. This help to which our text refers was accompanied by encouragement - that truest and wisest of all help, which, by giving courage, gives strength. Buildings cannot be built by an architect alone. The inferior hand is as needful as the superior. Read the description: "So the carpenter encouraged the goldsmith, and he that smootheth with the hammer him that smote the anvil, saying, It is ready for the soldering." Each man in his place, and fit for his place. So it must be in human life; and, as civilization develops, each man must attend more and more upon one thing. It will not do to play at art, or architecture, or merchandise, or ministry. Each in his place. So it must be in the Church - there must be mutual help, mutual encouragement. We ought to feel indebted to each other. We ought to be inspirational to each other.
I. HELP IS TO BE UNIVERSAL. They helped "every one." It will not do to evade our own share of toil. Work cannot be done by command or contrivance, but by the constraint of a ready mind. Socialism seems to be disturbing the Continent. It may be a destructive power, but never can be a constructive one. If human beings were machines to be set in order by one hand, it might be so; but they are not. See how Proudhon and Fourier adjust all the social arrangements to a nicety; the Phalange, or the body of associated labourers; the Phalanstere, or the habitation assigned to each, where the four great departments of nature - the material, the organic, the animal, and the social - are provided for. What a scheme! How philosophic it looks - on paper! But what madness to try and make it work, when the derangement of one part would be the derangement of the complicated whole! Who is to restrain the leaders and organizers from craft and selfishness and guile? Difficult as it is to secure good government in general functions in society, who could secure it in a ramified system? Then one will not work, and another will drink, and another will laugh, and another will sleep, and in one brief day some will be better off than others, and the perfect arrangements will fly to pieces before the touchstone of actual life. No; God meant diversity. God meant diligence to be rewarded. Riches and honour come of the Lord, and if there were no incentives to progress and culture and invention, there would be no advancing civilization. Socialism cannot make men work; it would want an army to compel them. The right way is Christ's way. Look every man also on the things of another. Use ability, genius, education, wealth, honour, well, so as to bless others. None are more despicable than those who look alone to being helped. Everything must be ready for them. The way they speak to servants is detestable. They complain if the physician does not come at once - if they are not the first considered by others. Don't they pay? Terrible neglect; they are not helped. Money does not satisfy their indebtedness. Let us see whom they help - if they are swift to speak the generous word, to perform the brave and noble deed. There are, however, some lives - and they must be dread histories - which are spent in fashionable gossip and superficial pleasure-seeking, with no care for others. We see, then,
(1) there must be mutuality;
(2) there must be energy.
Not the help which is mere gift, perhaps easy and costless, but the help which costs service and sacrifice.
II. HELP IS TO BEGIN AT THE NEAREST POINT. "His neighbour" - the nearest person to him. The gospel teaching is to begin at Jerusalem. Home, for instance, is to be a scene of help. There are occasions every day in which we can help each other's comfort, growth, education, freedom from anxiety, and increase in the pleasure of life as life. A man's character is judged of in his home, his Church, his village, his town, his neighbourhood. The eloquent assailer of public wrongs may be other than a patriot at home.
1. This is the help which only he can render; being the neighbour, he is the nearest.
2. This does not bind him by religious "views" or party spirit. He is to help in the great temple of humanity as well as the temple of the Lord God. "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them." There are charities, I find, which, not content with being Christian, wish to know what people's "views" are! What an atmosphere! No. Christ did not ask who were Samaritans, Syro-phoenicians, Greeks, or Jews. "He went about doing good."
III. HELP IS TO BE INSPIRATIONAL, That is to say, it is not to assist laziness or to excuse mere incompetence. "Every one said to his brother, Be of good courage."
1. Courage; for fear is weakness. Those who expect failure court failure. I am wonderstruck at Stanley's courage at the Falls, especially after Pocock was dead. It is marvellous! Think of that poor native who rushed from the presence of the dreadful roaring river into the wilderness.
2. Courage; for God is your Helper. Man is weak! Yes; but read the tenth verse: "Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee." That is an inspiration indeed - God in Christ working in us and with us. He who gave himself' for us, now working in and with us. What courage this inspires! "In me is thine help found." "Woe to them that go down to Egypt for help!" We shall find all worldliness to be weakness in the end.
3. Courage; for no work is so hard as it looks. There are creative times. What is the dreamer worth when difficult duties have to be done?
4. Courage; for cowards make cowards. Live with persons constantly afraid of fire, of midnight marauders, of infection, of disease, and you will become nervous yourself. If children grow up amid the timorous, they become timorous. But born in the fishing-cove on the beach, how they pull out the boat into the wild sea! accustomed to scenes of courage, they learn courage. Never dispirit others. Say not, "This sum will never be raised. These schools can never be built. This class will never prosper." But say rather, "Be of good courage."
5. Courage; for hindrances will flee before faith. Say to the mountain, "Be thou cast into the sea." Strange that it should obey thee! But it does, for it was a mountain of the mind. Courage is not quixotic; it is founded on faith - on the Word, and cross, and throne of the Lord Jesus Christ. Mutual hell) is what we want. Not the sentimental grievance from some that they are not the subjects of perennial attention and ever-delicate consideration, but the help which is the spirit of all Christian life, because it was the law of his life" who came, not to be ministered unto, but to minister." - W.M.S.
1. One of the greatest safeguards against evil is plenty to do. I see a pool of water in the country, and I say, "Thou slimy fetid thing, what does all this mean? Didn't I see you playing with those shuttles and turning that grist-mill?" "Oh yes," says the water, "I used to earn my living." I say again, "Then what makes you look so sick? Why are you covered with this green scum? Why is your breath so vile?" "Oh," says the water, "I have nothing to do. I am disgusted with shuttles and wheels. I am going to spend my whole lifetime here, and while yonder stream sings on its way down the mountain-side, here I am left to fester and die accursed of God because I have nothing to do!" Sin is an old pirate that bears down on vessels whose sails are flapping idly in the wind. The arrow of sin has hard work to puncture the leather of an old working-apron.
So the carpenter encouraged the goldsmith.
1. Men see in their own work hardships and trials, while they recognise no hardships or trials in anybody else's occupation. Every man's burden is the heaviest, and every woman's task is the hardest. We find people wanting to get other occupations and professions. Now, the beauty of our holy religion is that God looks down upon all the occupations and professions; and while I cannot understand your annoyances, and you cannot understand mine, God understands them all. I will speak this warning of the general hardships of the working classes. You may not belong to this class, but you are bound as Christian men and women to know their sorrows and sympathise with them, and as political economists to come to their rescue. You do a great wrong to the labouring classes if you hold them responsible for the work of the scoundrelly anarchists. You may do your duty toward your employes, but many do not, and the biggest business firm to-day is Grip, Gouge, Grind and Company. By what principle of justice is it that women in many of our cities get only two-thirds as much as men, and in many cases only half? Here is the gigantic injustice, that for work equally well, if not better, done woman receives far less compensation than man. Has toil frosted the colour of your cheeks? Has it taken all spontaneity from your laughter? Has it subtracted the spring from your step, and the lustre from your eye, until it has left you only half the man you were when you first put your hand on the hammer and your foot on the wheel? To-morrow in your place of toil, listen, and you will hear a voice above the hiss of the furnace, and the groan of the foundry, and the clatter of the shuttle — a voice not of machinery, nor of the task-master, but the voice of an all-sympathetic God, as He says, "Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest." Let all men and women of toil remember that this work will soon be over. Have they not heard that there is a great holiday coming? Oh, that home, and no long walk to get to it! I wish they would put their head on this pillow stuffed with the down from the wing of all God's promises. "There remains a rest for the people of God."
2. Another great trial is privation of taste and sentiment. I do not know of anything much more painful than to have a fine taste for painting and sculpture and music and glorious sunsets and the expanse of the blue sky, and yet, not to be able to get the dollar for the oratorio, or to get a picture, or to buy one's way into the country to look at the setting sun and at the bright heavens.
3. Then there are a great many who suffer not only in the privation of their tastes, but in the apprehension and the oppressive surroundings of life.
(T. De Witt Talmage, D. D.)
2. Another encouragement is the fact that their families are going to have the very best opportunity for development and usefulness. That may sound strange to you, but the children of fortune are very apt to turn out poorly. The son of the porter that kept the gate learns his trade, gets a robust physical constitution, achieves high moral culture, and stands in the front rank of Church and State.
3. Again, I offer as encouragement that you have so many opportunities of gaining information. The Countess of Anjou gave two hundred sheep for one volume. Jerome ruined himself financially by buying one copy of . Oh, the contrast!
4. Your toils in this world are only intended to be a discipline by which you shall be prepared for heaven.
(T. De Witt Talmage, D. D.)
I. TO THOSE WHO PROFESS THE FAITH OF CHRIST. Is there no work for you to do? Join some of the regiments; belong to the artillery, or the cavalry, or the infantry of the Church. Woe unto them that are at ease in Zion.
II. TO THOSE WHO PROFESS NOT TO BE CHRISTIANS.
1. There are some of you who say you are kept back by your worldly engagements. Will you let your store, your office, your shop, stand between you and heaven?
2. There is somebody who says: "I am afraid someone will laugh at me if I become a Christian." Will you allow your soul to be caught in such a thin trap as human scorn? Can these people who laugh at your seriousness insure you for the future?
3. There may be young people who say, "We are too young yet. Wait a little while, after we have enjoyed the world more; and then we will become Christians." I ask any young man if that is fair — to sit down at a banquet all your life long, and have everything you want, and then at the close, when you are utterly exhausted, say, "Lord Jesus, there are dregs in that cup; you may drink them. Lord Jesus, there are crumbs under that table; you may take them up"?
4. I heard some say, "I am too old." If thou canst not do any more than tremble towards the Cross, if thou art too weak to-night to hold the staff, if all thy soul seems to be bowed down with sorrow, just stumble the way, and put thy withered arms around that Cross, and life, and joy, and pardon, and salvation will come to you.
5. I hear someone say, "Give me more time to think of this!" What is time?
(T. De Witt Talmage, D. D.)
II. It is a scene of CHEERFUL, COURAGEOUS TOIL. The carpenter encourages the goldsmith. Many people discourage. The carpenter is querulous, and he says, "Look here, Mr. Goldsmith, I think you had better do your work so." "What do you know about goldsmithing?" says the other; "you are a carpenter; attend to your own business," and thus angry words pass between them. It is so in our churches. "Singing," says one; "what do you know about singing?" "You don't preach quite right," says one. "Would you like to try?" A sensible man says, "I cannot preach; I think my minister knows how to preach, and I will pray for him if he makes a mistake now and then." He knows how to encourage him.
III. It is a scene of PROMPT INDUSTRY AND THOROUGH WORK. When a man gets a reputation for dilatoriness his fate is sealed. The model Church does thorough work, and does it promptly.
IV. THEY ARE ALL WORKING FOR ONE COMMON END. The Church has one end. This man attends to the singing; this man to the children; this man looks after the working men's class; this man attends to outdoor relief; another visits the mothers; others attend to this, that, and the other, but they are all working for one end. The Church is a unity — a unity in spirit, in aim, in end.
(E. P. Thwing.)I. THEY WERE ALL AT WORK. Many of us like activity. In the intellectual world all is life and go. In the political world it is the same. "Rest and be thankful" belongs to other days. It should be just like that in the Church of Jesus Christ. Here, stagnation means death.
II. THE ENCOURAGEMENT WHICH THEY GAVE EACH OTHER. Men will work, and work well, when their efforts are appreciated. Even the dumb animals which have become the companion and worker for man seem to understand encouragement, and will, in many ways, show their appreciation of it.
III. THE QUALITY OF THEIR WORK. "It was fastened with nails, and could not be moved." Work done under the circumstances of the text was sure to be good — do your work well. Do not catch the spirit of the age. This is the day of the jerry builder. Quantity is often considered rather than quality. Outward show is the order of the day. It is important for us all to remember that what we can do for God depends upon what we are before God. We can only teach what we know.
(C. Leach, D. D.)
I. ITS BASIS IS LAID IN NEIGHBOURLINESS AND BROTHERLINESS. Does anyone ask, "Who is my neighbour?" Let him read again the parable of the Good Samaritan. In that story neighbourliness stands for love, sympathy, kindness, help, and all those qualities that constitute practical religion. It bridges, at a leap, the chasm of national distinctions. My neighbour's house may be near or far in situation, his rental may stand at £80 a year, and mine at £20. His walls may be adorned with the costliest pictures, and I may be indebted to the enterprising activity of tradesmen at Christmas-time for any adornment on mine; or the financial positions of each may be transposed, but we are neighbours. We live to help each other. Is there trouble anywhere? That is enough, my place is there; and when the hour of distress comes for me, I shall not be without a friend. But there is a deeper word still In the new society, we are brothers. "Every one said to his brother, Be of good cheer." This strikes a yet tenderer chord. "Have we not all one Father?" This will settle the relations between capital and labour by uniting master and man in a common bond of reciprocal interest. Carry it to its furthest issue, and it will solve all questions of national and international strife by brining in the reign of "Peace on earth and goodwill to men."
II. AS TO ITS RAISON D'ETRE.
1. The new society exists for kindly speech to one another. "Every one said to his brother, Be of good courage." A word in season, how good it is! There is helpfulness and inspiration in kindly, encouraging speech. The ministry that never fails is the ministry of encouragement.
2. It exists for kindly speech of one another. In the new society we pledge ourselves to think and act towards the living as we do for those who have passed into the Great Silence. Many have died before their time for want of a Society of Encouragers. Sympathy is vain that is reserved for the eulogy of the dead or flower-wreaths for the coffin-lid. Expend it now.
3. The new society exists also for mutual effort. "They helped every one his neighbour." The kindly word is valuable and precious, but it is better still when crystalised into action. What the world wants is the practical application of the religion of Jesus Christ, whose human life is summed up in the brief sentence: "Who went about doing good."
4. The new society is a society of workers "The carpenter encouraged the goldsmith." You can put your own trade or profession in. All may be included whose calling is honest, just, and pure. What is wanted is a sense of comradeship, and this the new society provides. The isolation is removed. We no longer work alone, but side by side, in the world's great workshop.
III. THE UNITING BOND OF ALL IS LOVE. Love is the common bond that unites man to man, neighbour to neighbour, brother to brother, and all together to Him who is Love s primal fount and source.
Home Magazine.A traveller, standing outside Cologne Cathedral, expressed his admiration of its beauty. "Yes," said a labourer, who was near; "it's a fine building, and took us many a year to finish." "Took you!" exclaimed the tourist; "why, what have you to do with it?" "I mixed the mortar, sir," was the modest yet proud reply.
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