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4 By humility and the fear of Yahweh are riches, and honour, and life.
This is one of the sayings of the Bible that cause the scornful reader to stumble. First of all, he says it is not true: that he does not find it so: that it is only by pride and pushfulness, and laying religion on one side, that a man gets on. Secondly, he says it contradicts Paul, who says, "If in this life only we have hope, we are, of all men, most miserable;" and Christ, who says, "Ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake," and "Blessed are ye that weep now."
The muddle in this case is due to lack of penetration, and the lack of penetration is due to a lack of taste and liking for truth in this direction. People are generally sharp in the direction of their loves. Even animals are wonderfully knowing where appetite or the love of their young is concerned. Men who love God can understand His ways and His sayings, where the class who love themselves only find, or profess to find great difficulty.
The statement before us is in perfect harmony with manifest truth. The working of Divine truth is far-reaching. We must give it long enough time to see its final operations. Who are to be the possessors of "riches and honour and life" in the finish of things on the earth on which we dwell? The servants of God, and they alone. "Glory, honour, and immortality to every soul of man that worketh good" (Rom. ii.) "Behold my servants shall eat, shall drink, shall rejoice, shall sing for joy of heart, shall bless themselves in the God of truth, when the former troubles shall be forgotten, whereas ye, who forsake Yahweh, shall be hungry and thirsty, and shall cry for sorrow of heart and howl for vexation of spirit" (Isa. lxv. 13-16).
For them that mourn in Zion-at present the meek, the broken-hearted, the captives, the bound-the Lord has appointed gladness, praise, glory, and wealth, in the finish of things. The old wastes built again, the desolations repaired.
"Ye shall eat the riches of the Gentiles: in their glory shall ye boast yourselves" (Isa. lxvi. 3-6). Now who are they that are thus to finally and permanently attain to the possession of "riches, honour, and life?" Why, those who are now characterised by "humility and the fear of the Lord." It is because of these mental qualities that they are to be so promoted-therefore, "by" those qualities. Those qualities may be inconvenient now, in a world conducted on the principles of pride and God-forgetfulness; but they are the certain passport to even the things the world likes.
The world may taste these things, but it is but for a moment. It is a feverish and unsatisfactory joy while they have them, and in every case it ends in the grave, which waits them all. If it be said the grave waits the humble and God-fearing as well, the answer is the grave cannot hold them. They belong to Christ, who has the keys, and they are out before they know they are in: and when they come out, it is to take "the kingdom and the dominion and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven."
With the wicked who are responsible by their wilful rejection of God, it is far different. They drop into the grave in the midst of their wealth, as into a trapdoor, from which they instantly emerge (as it seems to them) to find themselves dispossessed of everything they valued, and face to face with the dispensation of God's righteous retribution, in which (in the midst of much tribulation and anguish, indignation and wrath) they will be made to realise the enormity of their crime in casting God behind their backs.
Realising, meanwhile, that "by humility and the fear of the Lord are riches and honour and life," be it ours to cultivate these excellent graces which bring peace now and salvation afterwards.
6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
Solomon says, "A child left to itself bringeth its mother to shame." Many work against this principle of Solomon's, and tacitly avow that the best way to train children is to leave them alone and let them unfold themselves.
All experience shows Solomon to be right, and the Solomon contradiction to be wrong. When a child comes into the world, he brings no knowledge with him. His little brain is barbarism closely packed in little space. It is the material out of which a beautiful mentality can be fabricated by manipulation, just as coal, iron, and water become a beautiful useful engine in the hands of an operative mechanic.
"Left to itself," the child will certainly grow up a curse to itself, and a nuisance to all around. It has to be taught and to be properly taught, it has to be made to listen. How is this to be accomplished? The chapter gives a hint before it closes. "Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child: but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him."
This is a recommendation of corporal punishment-at the right moment. The world is going away from this, as it is from a great many other inculcations of wisdom. They even suggest that Solomon did not mean this, but that by the "rod" he meant the law of the parents orally enjoined. This extraordinary suggestion is sufficiently disposed of by the words of Solomon in the next chapter: "Withhold not correction from the child, for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die." And again, "Chasten thy son while there is hope; let not thy soul spare for his crying."
A child does not cry for the wise instructions of its parents. Solomon meant flagellation, of course. In this, there may appear to be a brutalising element. It all depends upon how it is employed. It is like every other good thing: it becomes evil if extremely or unskilfully used. But the cure for its wrong use is not its disuse. Its disuse will produce many more evils than its wrong use. The strongest and most useful men in history have all been men brought up under the coercion of parental authority.
Spoiled children are a crying shame: an affliction and a disgrace both to themselves and their parents. Just as there is nothing more beautiful under the sun than an obedient and intelligent and well-trained family, so there is nothing uglier than to see wilful, whimpering youngsters whose only law is their own likes and their parents' weakness. It was not without a reason that Paul made wise government in the house the test of a man's fitness for public service: "If a man know not how to rule his own house, how should he take care of the ecclesia of God?" (1 Tim. iii. 5). The rule of family government is simple if parents are enlightened and firm with the due flexibility.
While there are many things in which parents will take their children into confidence almost as equals, there are two things in which they should never hesitate to punish: if children disobey them or do flagrant wrong (as lying, stealing, cruelty, &c.) It is mistaken kindness to let them off with a reprimand: it will pay to make them suffer. It may be painful at the moment, but afterwards it will yield sweetness and satisfaction beyond measure. It ought to be a law that the child should not be allowed to cry because its wishes are thwarted. Crying for such a cause should be a crime, and should be punished. The rule would work infallibly.
Firmly, consistently, and kindly applied, such a method of treatment would banish the ugly phenomenon of whimpering children from every house, and changes nuisances into sources of comfort, interest and joy. Parents are afraid to use the whip for fear of alienating the affections of their children. It is a mistake. Things work the other way. No parents are loved so well as those who are not afraid to enforce the law of righteousness. No parents are despised and slighted so much, at last by their children, as those who are afraid to whip them.
Their methods breed tyrants, and louts and boors. Enlightened and firm government produces men and women fit to be sons and daughters of God. "Train up a child in the way that he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it." Try it. Never mind the scornful and shallow philosophy of street fools. The wisdom of God shall come forth justified in everything at last. The saints are "called" that they may govern the world at last. Part of their preparation lies in present experience. How are they going to be able to enforce God's authority on public communities, if they do not now do it in their own families?
The Christadelphian 12/1896
9 He that hath a bountiful eye shall be blessed; for he giveth of his bread to the poor.
"He that hath a bountiful eye shall be blessed."
It may not be so now. Such a man rather seems a goose to be plucked by the sly foxes: sheep to be devoured by prowling wolves. But appearance is not always reality. It steadily remains an appointed truth that blessedness and nothing but blessedness awaits the merciful men who are bountiful for God's sake.
Such were his servants the prophets, "of whom the world was not worthy, who wandered about in sheep skins, in dens and caves of the earth, destitute, tormented, afflicted." How will they appear when "the time of the dead" has come, when God in anger rises in judgment against angry nations, and deals out bountiful "reward to his servants, the prophets, and to them that fear His name, small and great?"
It will then be apparent to all the world that this statute of the sanctuary is invulnerable in the strength of truth, and that, however much God's bountiful children may be prevailed against in this age of confusion and sin, their blessedness stands like a rock awaiting them at their awaking, and will prevail, like Jacob's blessing on Joseph, "unto the utmost bound of the everlasting hills."
Let not the bountiful man lose heart: let not his love wax cold because iniquity may abound among those who have a name to live and are dead. Let him persevere faithfully unto death, remembering that he to whom our service is dedicated is an observant watcher amid all the darkness, contemporary with all its times, and waiting to chase it away with His everlasting presence.
The Christadelphian, Dec 1896.