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property, but even of life itself, from the per's secuting spirit of the Jewish rule: When, therefore, our Saviour says to the young man, if thou wilt be perfect, that is, if thou art der! sirous to profess the more perfect religion of the Gospel, and to become one of my followers,

igo and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and take

up

the cross and follow me, he only prepares him for the great hardships and dangers to which every follower of Christ was then exposed, and the necessity there was for him to sit loose to every thing most valuable in the present life.

This command, therefore, does not in its primary meaning relate to Christians of the present times; nor indeed to Christians at all, properly speaking, but to those who were at that time desirous of becoming so. • But though in a strict and literal sense it can. not be applied to ourselves, yet in its principle and in its general import, it conveys a most useful and most important lesson to Christians in every age and in every nation; it is an ada monition to them not to pique themselves too much on their exact obedience to all the divine commands, not to assume to themselves ise. 177900

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much perfection, as to found upon it a right and a claim to eternal life; not to rely solely on their own righteousness, but on the merits of their Redeemer, for acceptance and salvation. It reminds them also, that they ought always to be prepared to yield an implicit obedience to the commands of their Maker; and that if their duty to him should at any time require it, they should not hesitate to renounce their dearest interests and most favourite pleasures; to part with fame, with fortune, and even life itself; and, under all circumstances, to consider in the first place what it is that God requires at their hands, and to submit to it, whatever it may cost them, without a murmur.

After this conversation with the young ruler, follows the observation made by our Lord on this remarkable incident. Then said Jesus unto his disciples, “ Verily I say unto you, that a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” When his disciples heard it they were amazed, saying, “who then can be saved?” But Jesas beheld them, and said

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unto them, “ With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” This sentence passed upon the rich is a declaration, which if understood literally, and as applying to all Christians of the present day, who may justly be called rich, would be truly terrifying and alarming to a very large description of men, a much larger than may at first per haps be imagined. For by rich men must be understood, not only those of high rank and large possessions, but those in every rank of life, who have any superfluity beyond what is necessary for the decent and comfortable support of themselves and their families. These are all to be considered as rich in a greater or less degree, and this of course must comprehend a very large part of the Christian world. Does then our Lord mean to say, that it is scarce possible for such vast numbers of Christians to be saved ? This does certainly at the first view seem to be implied in that very strong expression,“ that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaBut it

may fairly be presumed, that it was not our Lord's intention to pronounce so

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very severe and discouraging a sentence as this, and to render the way to heaven almost inaccessible to so very considerable a number of his disciples. And in fact on a careful consideration of this passage, of the limitations and abatements necessary to be made in proverbial expressions and oriental idioms, and of the explanations given of it in other parts of Scripture, and even by our Lord himself, it will appear that there is nothing in it which ought to inspire terror and dismay into the heart of any sincere and real Christian, be his situation ever so exalted or affluent.! :

It must be observed then in the first place, what is exceedingly important in this inquiry, that in its original application, this passage does not seem to have attached upon those who were then actually disciples of Christ, but upon those only who were desirous of becoming so; for consider only the occasion which gave

rise to this reflection. It was that very incident: on which we have just been commenting; that of the young rich ruler whom our Saviour exhorted to sell all that he had,

his cross and follow him.b The young man enat relishing these conditions,

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and take up

instead of following Jesus, went away sorrow, ful, because he had great possessionsa. Ile therefore never was, as far as we know, à disciple of Christ'; and it was upon this that Jesus immediately declared, that “ay rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven;" that is, shall hardly be induced to embrace the Christian religion ; for that is frequently the signification of the kingdom of heaven, in Scripture. What then our Lord affirmed was this, that it was extremely difficult at that time, at the first preaching of the Gospel, for any rich man to become a convert to Christianity. And this we may easily believe ; for those who were enjoying all the comforts and elegancies, and luxuries of life, would not be very ready to sacrifice these, and submit to poverty, hardships, persecutions, and even death itself, to which the first converts to Christianity were frequently exposed. They would therefore generally follow the example of the rich man before us'; would turn their backs on the

kingdom of heaven, and go away to the world and its enjoyments. And this in fact We know to have been the case. For it was of the lower ranks of men that our Lord's

disciples

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