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was a young, and a rich man, and from the account of the same circumstances in Luke we learn that he was a ruler, or a person of more than common importance among the Jews. Let us think for a few moments of this interesting young man. He had all that he needed to procure such happiness as this world can afford. He migh spend his time in gathering instruction from books or in traveling to see the wonders of the world He looked forward to many happy years to come, for he was yet young, and had not felt any weariness of life, nor begun to suffer from disease and disappointment. Yet in the midst of his worldly enjoyment, no doubt the thought sometimes crossed his mind that by and by the day of death would come, and he must leave all his riches, and go away into another world. He heard of a religious teacher who was able to direct the people of this world to the place where all is peace and joy, and no fear of death can enter. This teacher was Jesus Christ. The young man turned aside from the pleasures of life, and followed the multitude which constantly pressed around the Saviour. He made his way through the crowd, and coming near to Jesus, addressed him as you have read above.
The expression, "Good Master," was one which the Jews commonly used when addressing a religious teacher, and the young man did not use it because he knew and believed that Jesus was truly good. Our Saviour knew this, and he therefore said to him, "Why callest thou me good?" Not that Jesus was unwilling to be called good by those who spoke sincerely; but this man did not know his real character; he said "good master”
in a flattering manner, as he was accustomed to speak to the proud Pharisees, who loved flattery. But the benevolent Saviour, though he did not like the manner in which the young man addressed him, still attended to his question, saying, “If thou wilt enter life keep the commandments." The Old Testament, you recollect, was at this time written, and the Jews had it in their houses, the young man therefore knew what the law of Moses required, but he wished to know what part of it he must keep. Jesus was so kind as to repeat to him several of the commandments which we have in the twentieth chapter of Exodus. The young man answered, "All these things have I kept from my youth up; what lack I yet?" Perhaps he really thought he had kept all the commandments, and Jesus did not dispute him, but he proves to us, and I think the young man too must have seen it, that he had deceived himself, and was far from being as good a man as he thought himself. He thought he had done many good works, and was nearly perfect; but if he lacked anything, Jesus could inform him what it was, and he could perform it, and soon fit himself for heaven. But this is far from being the way to prepare for heaven. We should be constantly doing good deeds, but we should not expect to purchase heaven by them. Jesus says, "I am the way, the truth, and the life." We must love Jesus, and trust in his righteousness, if we would have eternal life.
In the twenty-first verse the Saviour says, "If thou wouldst be perfect, go and sell that thou hast and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven; and come follow me." It is repentance
and faith in Jesus that prepares us for heaven, but our works show whether we have this faith in our hearts. Jesus says, "If ye love me keep my commandments," and this young man soon showed that he had not the love of Jesus in his heart, because he was not willing to obey him. "But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions." Now we see that though he thought he loved his neighbor as himself, he was not willing to part with his possessions for the benefit of others. To give up his riches, and follow Jesus with the poor disciples, and have no home on earth, and no employment here but that of doing good, was more than he was willing to do, even though he was assured that he should have treasure in heaven.
I suppose my readers are all much younger than this man was, and it may be you have not yet begun to love riches, for children think less of great possessions than of pleasure and amusement; but if you live long you will find that the love of money, and of all the fine things which money can purchase, is a sin that clings close to the heart, and often causes people who give themselves up to it, to turn away from religion as the rich young man turned away from Jesus.
"He went away sorrowful," disappointed that he could not obtain eternal life by doing some good deed, and still enjoy his riches. He was not sorry that his heart was not right with God, but sorry that the Saviour's rules were so strict. Poor young man! Does not your heart pity him as you think how he turned away from Jesus, and went back to seek all his happiness in the fading plea
sures of this world. He was one whom God had blessed with all the good things of this life, and now he had been favored to see the Redeemer of the world, and even to speak with him, and ask him the way of salvation. Had he been willing to be taught of Christ, as a little child is taught by its parents, he would soon have found it easy to give up his possessions and follow him. Jesus would have given him a disposition like his own, meek, lowly, and contented; and he would have found the happiness of serving God far greater than all he had enjoyed with his riches. But he made a wretched choice. Is my reader willing to follow such an example?
You will find many temptations besides the love of money to draw your heart from God, but do not forget that you must leave all and follow Jesus if you would have treasure in heaven. You cannot follow him as this man might have done, by going around with him to do good, but you can give yourself to him, and ask him in prayer what he would have you do; and you can follow just where his word, and the good spirit he puts in your heart, may direct. The Bible says, "What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul." To lose the soul, my dear children, is to lose every thing. It is to go away into the world where wicked beings are, and be eternally miserable without one hope of ever leaving that dreadful abode.
THE DEATH OF JOHN THE BAPTIST.
MATT. xiv. 1-12.
1. At that time Herod the tetrarch heard of the fame of Jesus,
2. And said unto his servants, This is John the Baptist; he is risen from the dead; and therefore mighty works do show forth themselves in him.
3. For Herod had laid hold on John, and bound him, and put him in prison, for Herodias' sake, his brother Philip's wife.
4. For John said unto him, It is not lawful for thee to have her.
5. And when he would have put him to death, he feared the multitude, because they counted him as a prophet.
6. But when Herod's birthday was kept, the daughter of Herodias danced before them, and pleased Herod.
7. Whereupon he promised with an oath to give her whatsoever she would ask.
8. And she, being before instructed of her mother, said, Give me here John Baptist's head in a charger.
9. And the king was sorry: nevertheless for the oath's sake, and them which sat with him at meat, he commanded it to be given her.
10. And he sent and beheaded John in the prison.
11. And his head was brought in a charger, and given to the damsel; and she brought it to her mother.
12. And his disciples came, and took up the body, and buried it, and went and told Jesus.
WHILE Matthew is writing for us an account of the preaching and miracles of our Saviour, he has occasion to tell us of the death of John the Baptist. This, I hope you recollect is the good man whom God sent to prepare the way for Jesus; and he who baptized the Saviour in the river Jordan. Above, we are told that Herod the tetrarch, that is a ruler of the country, heard of the fame