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were pleased and happy, a right temper and an amiable one, but still there is no bearing our cross in this. He beholds us and loves us, but He calls us to something of a more real service. He says, “ You have followed me where it was easy, and
you have done well, but now prepare for something far more trying, -I call you to follow me where it is hard. Be quite sure that there is in you, somewhere or other, a temper or an inclination which do not suit my law. Follow me in this point, and you
will know what it is to take up your cross ; follow me always, and this point, and many such points, will be found in you.” It is easy to be temperate in meat and drink when you are neither hungry nor thirsty. It is easy to speak truth when the truth is convenient and creditable. It is easy to work when the work to be done is pleasant, and when you are strong; but to be temperate always, to speak truth always, to do our appointed work always, this is not easy, this is to bear our cross. And here, in how many points is your cross very near to you, the pleasant fault to be shunned, the painful duty to be done, the scornful smile to be endured and unheeded, the unkindness to be borne without irritation or desire to return evil for evil, the regulation to be kept when it may be broken without detection, and apparently with no worse fault than the simple breaking it; all these things, and such as these, which run through your lives daily, which you well know from past experience, which are coming or come to you again this half-year, as they came the last; these are the things with regard to which Christ tells you,“One thing thou lackest ; come, take up thy cross and follow me.” Now
Now may I venture to alter the words of what next follows in the Gospel, while I faithfully keep its spirit: “ They were sad at that saying and went away grieved ; for they were young and at school.” Even so it is, and even such is sometimes the very actual language which may be heard; this is too hard for us; it is not possible to be fully such as we should be at school; there are things, not right we know, but which we cannot help doing; there are things, right we know, but which we cannot here set ourselves to practise; the principles and practice around us must in some degree be ours; we have followed Christ in many things from our youth up, and hope still to follow Him, but this bard saying, to follow Him where it is very painful, to shun the fault which all practise, to do the duty which all nega lect, this we cannot do. And even so it is continually; they go away grieved, for they are young, and they are at school.
“ Then Jesus looked round about and said, How hardly shall they that are young enter into the kingdom of God. It is easier for a camel to go through a needle's eye, than for a young man to possible.”
enter into the kingdom of God. And they were astonished out of measure, saying among themselves, Who then can be saved? And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God, for with God all things are
This is the very real scripture of the passage, as applied to you. What hindered the young man in the story from taking up his cross was his riches; what hinders you, so at least we hear it sometimes said, is your being young and being at school. This is the excuse urged, the extreme difficulty of making the sacrifice required in your actual circumstances, just as the young man found it so difficult in his actual circumstances to sell all that he had. His cross was surely not lighter than ours, but much heavier, but he could not take it up, and he went away grieved, much grieved that he could not be good easily; that the two things which he loved, his duty and his comfort, and which had long been united, were now divided; both he could have no longer, yet it grieved him to part with either. He went away grieving ; and surely with a far deeper grief did our merciful Lord look after him as he went away, and see him whom He had loved, him whom He had hoped to love always, now turning to destruction. But did He call after him and say, “ Turn back, thou young man, for I love thee still, and if thou wilt not follow me taking up thy cross, follow me without
it, when thou wilt and where thou wilt, and no farther.” Alas! nothing of the kind. way led to Calvary, thither His Father's will called Him. He was to bear the cross for us all, not figuratively, but literally. Thither He must go, and thither must those follow Him who would be with Him for ever. Wherefore He looked round about on those who still remained with Him, and said, “How hardly shall they that have riches”— “they that are young and at school,” He says to those to whom that is their difficulty,—“how hardly shall they enter into the kingdom of God!" His disciples were astonished at His words, and they are often astonished still; nay, they say, “ Youth surely is an excuse, the young cannot serve Him fully.” But He says again, “ And therefore it is easier, if this be so, for a camel to go through a needle's eye, than for a young man to enter into the kingdom of God.” Then say we in astonishment beyond measure, “Who then can be
“ saved ?” But He answers, “ With men it is impossible, but not with God, for with God all things are possible.” Yes, if that rich man had not turned away from Christ, but had run up closer to Him, and had thrown Himself at His feet crying out and saying with tears, “Lord I will follow thee; help me to follow thee whithersoever thou goest," then surely his gracious Saviour would have beheld him and loved him far more than at first, and would have given him the strength which he needed, and that which was so hard would have been done, and the rich man would have entered into the kingdom of God. The application lies at the door. You have heard Christ's call, to take up your cross and follow Him, to serve Him always in all things, in small and great, in thought, word, and deed, there most carefully where it costs you most pain to do it. But do not go away grieving, because you are young, and because you are at a place where temptations are many, and faithful steady service of Christ will cost you many a sacrifice. Turn not from Him, but to Him much rather, with earnest prayer that He who bore His most painful cross for you, will enable you to bear your light one for His love; that He will help you daily, as your
trial will come daily; that His strength may be made perfect in your weakness. And then, though the thing be harder than that a camel should pass through a needle's eye, yet shall it be done. The young and they that are at school, with all their carelessnesses, with all their difficulties from without as well as from within, they shall enter into the kingdom of God, for so some have entered, and so shall some enter again, and so may all enter who do not turn away from their cross, but ask Christ's grace to help them to bear it.
February 13, 1842.