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motive. To the ambitious man, reputation, advancement in honour and station, is the treasure. To the proud man, the reverence paid to him by the submission of others; to the lover of earthly gratifications, the enjoyments of the world are the treasure, as much as the increase of his substance to the lover of riches. The seeker of pleasure; the ambitious man; the man whose grand concern is to advance himself or his family; all these lay up their treasures upon earth, as much as he who makes wealth his idol. If our heart is so earnestly set upon any of these worldly things, that we seek them more diligently than we seek heaven, then they are our treasure, the principle of our life is wrong, and we are following an object which leads to disappointment and ends in death.
This is further illustrated by an example:
22. "The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.
23. "But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!"
The light of the body is the eye: the eye leads and directs the motions of the body; and what the eye is to the body, such is, to the man, the ruling desire of the heart; the principle of action. If the eye be evil, fails or misleads, the whole body is full of darkness; so if the principle of action be wrong, the whole conduct of life is wrong. Therefore, if it is the principle of a man's life to lay up treasures on earth, to set
his affections there, the light in him is darkness; he works by a wrong rule, he "labours for that which satisfies not;" he will find himself deceived at the last. How great is that darkness which misleads the whole life!
But if his eye be single, if his first object be that which the Gospel prescribes, to lay up treasures in heaven, then his whole body shall be full
light this principle will reduce all the concerns and affairs of life into proper order, and show them in their true colours, their real magnitude.
The rich worldling, in the parable, betrayed his ruling principle when he said, "Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry." Such was the light he followed; and how soon it ended in darkness! "Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be which thou hast provided ?"
St. Paul, on the other hand, showed a very different principle, when he said concerning himself, "The Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying, that bonds and afflictions abide me. But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the Gospel of the grace of God."
Thus his eye was single, looking to one object only; and his whole body was full of light: his
2 Luke xii. 17-19.
3 Acts xx. 23.
whole conduct was directed by a right principle. To "finish his course with joy," to obtain that crown of righteousness" which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give "to his faithful servants," this was his heart's desire, and therefore"bonds and afflictions," the pains of imprisonment and even the pains of death, could not move him, because they could not take away his treasure. This treasure was in heaven; and whatever forwarded his progress towards heaven, however outwardly grievous, would bring its consolation with it, because it would carry him nearer to his treasure. Just as a removal from his home, and his journey through a desert, was welcome to the aged Jacob, because it carried him to the land where his beloved son might be once more seen.
The lover of this world recoils from the thought of death, because he must leave his treasure behind him when he leaves this world; but the faithful follower of Christ is going to his treasure when taken from things below; going only to that scene of glory where his heart has been long fixed, and to those true joys prepared at the right hand of God for them that love Him. "For he knows that if his earthly house of this tabernacle be dissolved, he has a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens."4
42 Cor. v. 1.
WARNING AGAINST FALSE TEACHERS: GOOD AND
MATT. vii. 15—20.
15. Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves." THIS added to St. Paul's sorrow, when forced to leave his Christian disciples at Miletus; he knew that after his departure "grievous wolves would enter in, not sparing the flock." He knew that among the trials which the church must undergo, this must be reckoned; there would be some who, "for filthy lucre's sake, would teach what they ought not:" and others, who being themselves deceived, would lead the flock into dangerous error. Though "good seed is sown in the field," there is "an enemy who soweth tares."3 So it had been in former times. "The word of the Lord came unto Ezekiel, saying, Son of man, say thou unto them that prophesy out of their own hearts, Hear ye the word of the Lord. Woe unto the foolish prophets, that follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing! They have seen vanity and lying divination, saying, The Lord saith; and the Lord hath not sent them: and they have made others to hope that they would confirm the word. Have ye not seen a vain vision, and have 2 Tit. i. 11. 3 Matt. xiii. 27.
1 Acts xx. 29.
ye not spoken a lying divination, whereas ye say, The Lord saith it, albeit I have not spoken? And will ye pollute me among my people for handfuls of barley and for pieces of bread, to stay the souls that should not die, and to save the souls alive that should not live, by your lying to my people that hear your lies ?"
Against these, and such as these, we are to beware being warned beforehand that Satan will use this weapon against the church, that there will be those who corrupt and pervert the gospel of Christ, as well as those who reject and scorn it. And our Lord furnishes a test by which they may be tried: a sign by which they may be known, and the false teachers distinguished from the true: namely, by their fruits: by the fruits which they bear themselves, and the fruits produced by the seed they sow, the doctrines they inculcate.
16. "Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
17. "Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
18. "A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
19. "Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
20. "Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them."
The man that is corrupt himself, is not likely to make others pure and holy: the doctrine
Ezek. xiii. 2, 3, 6, 7, 19.