real faith and confidence in God. In order to gain riches they accumulate burdens and cares until their minds are almost wholly engrossed with them. They are eager for gains and always anxious for fear of losses. The more money and lands they possess the more eager are they for more. "They are drunken, but not with wine; they stagger, but not with strong drink." They are surfeited with the cares of this life, which affect them as strong drink does the drunkard. They are so blinded by selfishness that they work night and day to secure perishable treasures. Their eternal interests are neglected; they have no time to attend to these things. The great matters of truth are not kept in mind, as is evidenced by their words, their plans, and their course of action. What if souls around them perish in their sins? This is not of so much consequence to them as their earthly treasures. Let souls for whom Christ died sink to ruin; they have no time to save them. In laying plans for earthly gain they show skill and talent; but these precious qualities are not devoted to winning souls to Christ, to the upbuilding of the Redeemer's kingdom. Are not the senses of such persons perverted? Are they not drunken with the intoxicating cup of worldliness? Is not reason laid aside, and have not selfish aims and purposes be come the ruling power? The work of preparing themselves to stand in the day of the Lord, and employing their God-given abilities in helping to prepare a people for that day, is considered too tame and unsatisfying.
The Saviour of the world has presented a most profitable business in which rich and poor, learned and unlearned, may engage. All may safely lay up for themselves "a treasure in the heavens that faileth not." This is investing their powers on the right side. It is putting out their talents to the exchangers.
Jesus illustrated His teaching by the case of a substantial farmer whom the Lord had greatly favoured. The Lord had blessed his grounds, causing them to produce plentifully, thus placing it in his power to exercise liberality to others not so greatly blessed. But when he found that his grounds had
produced so abundantly, far beyond his expectation, instead of planning how to relieve the poor in their necessities, he began to devise means to secure all to himself. As he saw the gifts of heaven rolling into his garners he poured not out his soul in thanksgiving to the bounteous Giver, neither did he consider that this great blessing had brought additional responsibility. In the pure selfishness of his nature he inquires: "What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits?" Taking counsel with his own covetous heart, he said: "This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry." The means of real enjoyment and elevation of soul are activity, self-control, holy purposes; but all that this man proposed to do with the bounties God had given him was to degrade the soul. And what was the result? "God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God."
This poor rich man possessed great earthly treasure, but was destitute of the true riches. How many today are under condemnation for a similar reason. Streams of salvation are poured in upon us from the throne of God. Temporal blessings are given, but they are not improved to bless humanity or to glorify God. The Lord is our gracious benefactor. He has brought light and immortality to light through Jesus Christ. Yes, through Jesus all our blessings come. Oh, that every tongue would acknowledge the great Giver! Let every voice, in clear and joyful strains, proclaim the glad tidings that through Jesus the future, immortal life is opened to us; and invitations are given for all to accept this great boon. All the treasures of heaven are brought within our reach, waiting our demand. Can we be surprised that this poor rich man was called a fool because he turned away from eternal riches, the priceless gift of immortal life, the eternal weight
of glory, and was satisfied with perishable, earthly treasures?
God tests men, some in one way, and some in another. He tests some by bestowing upon them His rich bounties, and others by withholding His favours. He proves the rich to see if they will love God, the Giver, and their neighbour as themselves. When man makes a right use of these bounties, God is pleased; He can then trust him with greater responsibilities. The Lord reveals man's relative estimate of time and eternity, of earth and heaven. He has admonished us: "If riches increase, set not your heart upon them." They have a value when used for the good of others and the glory of God; but no earthly treasure is to be your portion, your god, or your saviour.
My brethren, the world will never believe that you are in earnest in your faith until you have less to say about temporal things and more about the realities of the eternal world. The Lord is coming, but many who profess the faith do not realize that that event is nigh. They cannot fasten their faith upon the revealed purposes of God. With some, the passion for money-making has become all-absorbing, and earthly riches have eclipsed the heavenly treasure. Eternal things have faded from the mind as of minor consequence, while worldliness has come in like a flood. The great question is: How can I make money? Men are alive to every hope of gain. They try a thousand plans and devices, among them various inventions and patent rights. Some dig in the earth for the precious metals, others deal in bank stock, still others till the soil; but all have the one object in view of making money. They become bewildered and even insane in the pursuit of wealth, yet they refuse to see the advantage of securing an immortal inheritance.
When Christ was on earth, He was brought in contact with some whose imaginations were fevered with the hope of worldly gain. They were never at rest, but were constantly trying something new, and their extravagant expectations were aroused only to be disappointed. Jesus knew the wants of the human heart, which are the same in all ages; and He
called their attention to the only permanent riches. "The kingdom of heaven," said He, "is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy there-of goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field." He tells men of treasure beyond estimate, which is within the reach of all. He came to earth to guide their minds in their search for this treasure. The way is marked out; the very poorest who will follow Him will be made richer than the most wealthy upon earth who know not Jesus, and they will be made increasingly rich by sharing their happiness with others.
"Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal." Those who do this will meet with no loss. The treasure laid up in heaven is secure; and it is put to our account, for Jesus said: "Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven." Men may sow here, but they reap in eternity.
It is this eternal treasure that ministers of Christ are to present wherever they may go. They are to urge the people to become wise unto salvation. They are not to allow world-loving, timeserving professed believers to influence their course and weaken their faith. It is not their mission to help individuals or churches to contrive how they can save money by narrow plans and circumscribed efforts in the cause of God. Instead of this they are to teach men how to work disinterestedly and thus become rich toward God. They should educate minds to place the right estimate on eternal things and to make the kingdom of heaven first.
Calebs are wanted in these two fields. There must be in these conferences, not children, but men who will move understandingly and bear burdens, letting their voice be heard above the voices of the unfaithful, who present objections, doubts, and criticism. Great interests are not to be managed by children. An undeveloped Christian, dwarfed in religious growth, destitute of wisdom from above, is unprepared to
meet the fierce conflicts through which the church is often called to pass. "I have set watchmen upon thy walls, O Jerusalem, which shall never hold their peace day nor night." Unless the minister shall fearlessly declare the whole truth, unless he shall have an eye single to the glory of God and shall work under the direction of the great Captain of his salvation, unless he shall move to the front, irrespective of censure and uncontaminated by applause, he will be accounted an unfaithful watchman.
There are some in ----- who ought to be men instead of boys and heavenly minded instead of earthly and sensual; but their spiritual vision has become obscured; the Saviour's great love has not ravished their souls. He has many things to say unto you, but you cannot bear them now. You are children in growth and cannot comprehend the mysteries of God. When God raises up men to do His work, they are false to their trust if they allow their testimony to be shaped to please the minds of the unconsecrated. He will prepare men for the times. They will be humble, God-fearing men, not conservative, not policy men; but men who have moral independence and will move forward in the fear of the Lord. They will be kind, noble, courteous; yet they will not be swayed from the right path, but will proclaim the truth in righteousness whether men will hear or whether they will forbear.