"Teacher," he replied, "I have kept all these from my youth."
I. HOW IT WAS MADE.
1. Earnestly. The manner of the man is vividly portrayed by St. Mark: "running, and kneeled to him." This spirit is a primary requisite. Seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, he seized the passing opportunity and despised the judgment of onlookers.
2. Intelligently. What he was seeking was definitely before his mind. His previous training had prepared him to think of the object he sought more or less correctly. He used the word "inherit," which implied something different from "have," or "possess" (Matthew).
3. With real but defectively justified acknowledgment of Christ's character. This vague instinct which he expressed in the title "Good," had to be grounded in some true apprehension of the nature and character of Jesus ere it could be accepted as satisfactory. How radical this misconception was appears as he answers the question regarding the commandments.
II. HOW IT WAS ANSWERED.
1. With the needful correction to the question. It is of the utmost importance that we clearly perceive what real "goodness" is, and to whom alone it can belong, ere we seek it.
2. With a provisional test. The commandments; perhaps those emphasized which bore most directly upon his position and circumstances. Self-restraint is a first requisite, and that is witnessed to by the Law. But he still stands outside the true conception of "goodness," for he answers from the conventional and not from the absolute and spiritual standpoint. "The Law is our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ," by showing us our imperfection and need of a Saviour.
3. With a final test. "One thing thou lackest: go, sell whatsoever thou hast etc. Self-restraint being insufficient, self-denial and that specially corresponding with his circumstances, is invited. This was the crucial test. It has to be varied according to the difference in individual tastes, ideals, circumstances, etc., of different people.
4. By a look of love. It was spontaneous, full of attraction, and, up to a certain degree, of approval; then of yearning sorrow and concern. Such questions and such a disposition can never be received by Christ with indifference.
III. IN WHAT IT RESULTED. "His countenance fell," etc. There was grief, disappointment, perhaps even a little resentment, and also inward shame. Not decision; rather indecision. Tested by highest test and found wanting. Drawn by tenderest love of the Son of God, yet unwilling to yield. The grieved heart may yet return: its sad disconsolateness is its most hopeful attribute. - M.
Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife?
I. The family is a DIVINE INSTITUTION. We are not left to look upon it as a chance arrangement of individuals of the human species; it is a definitely fixed form of association.
2. It has been recognized all along the ages by the providence of God. When David (Psalm 68:6) says: "God setteth the solitary in families," a more literal and more pertinent translation would give us this: "God maketh the lonely to dwell in a home." The all-wise Creator has provided in the wide adaptations of nature for an abode of its own sort for every creature of His hand. He has set the coney in the rock, the ant in the sand, the fish in the river, and the whale in the sea; but to no one of them all has He given a home but to man.
3. It has been sanctioned by God in His Word (see Mark 10:7-9).
4. It has been symbolized and spiritualized in the Church (see Ephesians 3:15). And the relation between Christ and His people is like that between a husband and wife (see Ephesians 5:22-32). John saw the Church, "the bride, the Lamb's wife," descending out of heaven, "having the glory of God" (Revelation 21:9, 10).
II. The family is A RELIGIOUS INSTITUTION. That is to say, it has a distinct and valuable purpose to serve in aiding men to glorify God and enjoy Him forever as their chief end.
1. It is designed to perfect Christian character. The relations of a believer to his Saviour are essentially filial. The saints are the children of God. The Almighty Father, taking upon Himself the three obligations of a parent — government, education, and support — calls upon each Christian for the three duties of a son — subordination, studiousness, and grateful love. Hence, all our celestial connections with God are most perfectly and easily taught through our earthly connections with each other in a well-ordered home.
2. Again: the family relation is designed to concentrate Christian power. For it is the earliest outflow into practical use of the principle that in union there is strength.
3. In the third place, the family relation is designed to cultivate the Christian spirit. There ought to be in all organizations which are worth anything what the French people call esprit de corps; a peculiar, pervading tone of public sentiment and opinion, full of a generous confidence and pride, running through all its members. Each soldier feels his connection with the company to which he owes allegiance, thence with the regiment, and so with the entire corps. He is jealous of its honour, he is zealous for its name.
4. Once more: the family relation is designed to increase the Christian census. Children belong to the kingdom of God (see Mark 10:14).
(C. S. Robinson, D. D.)I. THE NATURE OF THIS CONTRACT. It is for life, and dissoluble only for one sin. It is subject to Divine laws. It is mutual. It must be based upon affection. It implies the surrender of various rights, but not of all, i.e. conscience. In case of difference of opinion, and within proper limits, the authority is with the husband.
II. THE DUTIES IMPOSED BY THIS RELATION UPON BOTH IS IMPOSED CHASTITY. Likewise mutual affection. Also the duty of mutual assistance. The husband made by Scripture and by law the head of the domestic society; hence the duty of submission. Virtue and dignity of submission.
1. The want of experience is often a great hindrance to the happiness of married life; hence it frequently happens that the first years of married life are not the happiest.
2. The married life is often disturbed by the extravagance and folly of the husband or wife; for difficulties arise therefrom, and much bitterness is likely to spring up. Love is the universal law of marriage. Love will not easily find fault or rashly give offence. Poverty cannot quench it. The Christian rule for all applies doubly to man and wife — "weep with them that weep, and rejoice with them that rejoice." Different dispositions and tastes may sometimes make mutual sympathy difficult. The sympathy of love and the sympathy of taste are distinct things. A source of unhappiness in married life is the habit of dwelling on individual right instead of remembering that love should not measure the service it bestows, nor that it receives. If difference of opinion does arise, the Christian duty is for the wife to yield. The marriage life was intended to promote human happiness; but it brings with it peculiar duties, and the happiness marriage was intended to impart will be wanting, if the duties of the married life are neglected.
(A. Bibby, M. A.)
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