« 上一頁繼續 »
upon all occasions submit themselves one to another, actuated always by the fear of God. With the savage there is no rule but the rule of strength, but the Christian rejoices to bow his neck beneath the yoke of weakness. The savage oppresses woman, exposes or destroys the helpless infant, sacrifices the weak old man. The Christian gives honour “ to the weaker vessel,” respects the child as an inheritor of God's kingdom, and venerates the hoary head as “a crown of glory.” The Christian knows that his strength is in his weakness, and that he is not most powerful or most noble when he is seeking good things for himself, or minding “high things,” but when he subjugates his will to God's precepts, and makes himself the servant of his brethren by doing them good.
III. And, further, our Lord shows us that the man who forgets himself will always find his true level.
The proud man pushing himself forward, striving to outstrip others, seeking for himself the foremost place, arouses attention to his claims and conduct, awakes the hatred of his neighbours, creates for himself enemies which would not otherwise oppose him, and thus not only finds a lower level than that on which he sought to place himself, but a lower level than that which he deserves. He begins “ with shame to take the lowest room.” The humble man, upon the other hand, makes every man his friend. No sooner has a man ceased to think for himself, and to mind his own interest and advantage, but every man begins to think for him, and to look that he receives his due. It becomes the business of his neighbours to see that he loses nothing, by his care for others and his self-renouncing love. And thus, when one whose merits are high has chosen for himself a place which is low, there is a loud and universal cry—“Friend, go up higher." Everyone feels at once that he is nobler than themselves and better, and rejoices to take part in raising him to the height of his true dignity and the level which he has fairly won.
Pride is sure to fall, and, what is more, pride deserves to fall.
What can a man have to be proud of ? “Wherefore," we may well ask, are dust and ashes proud ?" A man has no right to be proud, and if he is acting as a man should act he cannot be proud. Pride is self-consciousness. When a man begins to think about himself he grows vain or proud. But a man ought not to think about himself at all. His work, his duty, his conduct, may furnish to a man sufficient food for all his thought, and should leave him no time and no desire to think about himself. If he is doing his duty, and accomplishing the work which has been assigned to him, all his thoughts will be in that, and self will be forgotten in those other things of greater interest and moment to him, with which all his mind will then be full. So that any man who has time to feed upon his pride, and form a high estimate of his own importance, is certainly a man whose merits are of a low order, and who is not entitled to an elevated place.
But if pride is sure to fall humility deserves to rise. Humility is never found except in union with diligence. It is when a man has tried to do his work earnestly and finds how hard it is to satisfy his conscience and to reach the end at which he aims, and it is also when a man has done his best to serve others by acts of self-renunciation,-it is then, when a man is diligent, and when a man is self-denying, then it is that he grows humble, and then it is that he deserves to rise.' For whom is dignity appropriate except for him who has worked better than his neighbours and done for his fellow-men a large amount of good? Who are the true kings and leaders among men but those who have done the world the best service, and who are ablest and most skilful in the works which men are called to do? And these are the men to whom it will be said “ Friend, go up higher.” They will not seek high things, for their aims so far exceed their performances that they are more conscious of failure than of success, and they know themselves too well to value self highly; but God's eye is on them and sees the sacrifices which they offer. And the men for whom they work are alive to their intrinsic nobleness, and rejoice to lift them to that high position, which they are too pure and too humble to seek or court for themselves. It is a great truth, written in all history and all biography, and confirmed by all experience in every sphere of life, that “whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased, but he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”
IV. There, then, is the Christian's rule of honour. “ Sit not down in the highest room,” that is the negative. “Go and sit down in the lowest room,” that is the positive. The Christian, if his place is not appointed for him, will always take the lowest place. Wherever he is, whatever he does, he will never choose for himself a good which others seek for. He will never step in before others and thrust himself forward; but guided by an inward spirit of humility which makes him self-forgetful, his nature and his temper will induce him to shrink from honour, and hide himself from observation, and give up the good
to others which he is glad to lose himself. No rule could possibly be simpler. What in the world is easier than to take the worst? While many are eager, forward, setting self up, racing for pre-eminence, taking the front rank, except upon the day of battle and difficulty, he has nothing else to do but to choose what others reject and to be satisfied with that which all refuse. And when the sun is hidden and the storm lowers upon the sky and the race has to be run backwards, then, too, he has only to reverse his conduct, and as before he shrunk from an advantage so now he is the first to bear the loss. His course is always evident. He has only to be thoughtful for others, only to forget himself.
Let us try, my brethren, to struggle thus for pre-eminence ;
let us strive on this principle to run our race. How well the world would get on, if men would act in this spirit! How many quarrels would never have existed, or would soon cease, if men forgot their own interests ! How easily would men combine and act together, if they would drop that silly burden which they are apt to call their dignity, and be blind to that obtrusive person which they call self! How happy and united a thing society would soon become, if men would work together like brothers, and say, 'Every man for his neighbour,' and not, 'Every man for himself.' Oh that we were Christians in reality. Oh that we had something of that noble spirit which breathed in Him, who left a throne to be our servant and die a felon's death. Oh that we could learn contentment. Oh that we could always choose the last, the worst, the lowest place. Then we should have won the seat of honour. Then we should be sons of God indeed.
THE MIND OF CHRIST.
PHILIPPIANS ii, 5-11.
“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus; who,
being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God; but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name; that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."
who has not some longing for a right mind. It is evident enough to those who think at all, and even to those who are destitute of all reflection, that a sound mind and a sound body are the constituent elements of that somewhat rare phenomenon which we call a happy
And the sound mind is the most essential of these two elements. Many as are the evils which follow from disease of body, they are nothing in comparison with the unnumbered miseries which attend upon disease of mind. A right mind is the best of all blessings and the chief of all goods.
And here St. Paul shows us what a right mind is. He exhibits the model of a right mind. He lays out