For you I contended with Death, and paid your death, which you owed for your former sins and your unbelief towards God. Having heard these considerations on both sides, decide for yourself and give your vote for your own salvation. Should a brother say the like, should a child, should a wife, should any one whosoever, in preference to all let Christ in you be conqueror.
'Who is the rich man that is being saved?' | Fred Clark
For He contends in your behalf. You may even go against wealth. Say, Certainly Christ does not debar me from property. The Lord does not envy. But do you see yourself overcome and overthrown by it? Leave it, throw it away, hate , renounce, flee. Even if your right eye offend you, quickly cut it out. Whether hand, or foot, or soul , hate it. For if it is destroyed here for Christ's sake, it will be restored to life yonder.
And to this effect similarly is what follows. Now at this present time not to have lands, and money, and houses, and brethren, with persecutions. For it is neither penniless, nor homeless, nor brotherless people that the Lord calls to life, since He has also called rich people; but, as we have said above, also brothers, as Peter with Andrew, and James with John the sons of Zebedee, but of one mind with each other and Christ. And the expression with persecutions rejects the possessing of each of those things.
There is a persecution which arises from without, from men assailing the faithful , either out of hatred , or envy , or avarice , or through diabolic agency. But the most painful is internal persecution , which proceeds from each man's own soul being vexed by impious lusts , and diverse pleasures, and base hopes, and destructive dreams; when, always grasping at more, and maddened by brutish loves, and inflamed by the passions which beset it like goads and stings, it is covered with blood, to drive it on to insane pursuits, and to despair of life, and to contempt of God.
More grievous and painful is this persecution , which arises from within, which is ever with a man , and which the persecuted cannot escape; for he carries the enemy about everywhere in himself.
Thus also burning which attacks from without works trial, but that from within produces death. War also made on one is easily put an end to, but that which is in the soul continues till death. With such persecution , if you have worldly wealth , if you have brothers allied by blood and other pledges, abandon the whole wealth of these which leads to evil ; procure peace for yourself, free yourself from protracted persecutions ; turn from them to the Gospel ; choose before all the Saviour and Advocate and Paraclete of your soul , the Prince of life.
For the things which are seen are temporary; but the things which are not seen are eternal. The first shall be last, and the last first. So let this stand aside for the present. But I think that our proposition has been demonstrated in no way inferior to what we promised, that the Saviour by no means has excluded the rich on account of wealth itself, and the possession of property, nor fenced off salvation against them; if they are able and willing to submit their life to God's commandments, and prefer them to transitory objects, and if they would look to the Lord with steady eye, as those who look for the nod of a good helmsman, what he wishes, what he orders, what he indicates, what signal he gives his mariners, where and whence he directs the ship's course.
For what harm does one do, who, previous to faith , by applying his mind and by saving has collected a competency? Or what is much less reprehensible than this, if at once by God , who gave him his life, he has had his home given him in the house of such men, among wealthy people, powerful in substance, and pre-eminent in opulence? For if, in consequence of his involuntary birth in wealth , a man is banished from life, rather is he wronged by God , who created him, in having vouchsafed to him temporary enjoyment, and in being deprived of eternal life. And why should wealth have ever sprung from the earth at all, if it is the author and patron of death?
But if one is able in the midst of wealth to turn from its power, and to entertain moderate sentiments, and to exercise self-command, and to seek God alone, and to breathe God and walk with God , such a poor man submits to the commandments, being free, unsubdued, free of disease, unwounded by wealth. But if not, sooner shall a camel enter through a needle's eye, than such a rich man reach the kingdom of God. Let then the camel, going through a narrow and strait way before the rich man, signify something loftier; which mystery of the Saviour is to be learned in the Exposition of first Principles and of Theology.
Imperfect people in Heaven?
Well, first let the point of the parable , which is evident, and the reason why it is spoken, be presented. Let it teach the prosperous that they are not to neglect their own salvation , as if they had been already fore-doomed, nor, on the other hand, to cast wealth into the sea, or condemn it as a traitor and an enemy to life, but learn in what way and how to use wealth and obtain life. For since neither does one perish by any means by fearing because he is rich, nor is by any means saved by trusting and believing that he shall be saved, come let them look what hope the Saviour assigns them, and how what is unexpected may become ratified, and what is hoped for may come into possession.
The Master accordingly, when asked, Which is the greatest of the commandments? By Him, then, being loved beforehand, and having received existence , it is impious for us to regard anything else older or more excellent; rendering only this small tribute of gratitude for the greatest benefits; and being unable to imagine anything else whatever by way of recompense to God , who needs nothing and is perfect; and gaining immortality by the very exercise of loving the Father to the extent of one's might and power.
For the more one loves God , the more he enters within God. And on His interlocutor inquiring, Who is my neighbour? But He introduces one on his way down from the upland region from Jerusalem to Jericho , and represents him stabbed by robbers , cast half-dead on the way, passed by the priest , looked sideways at by the Levite, but pitied by the vilified and excommunicated Samaritan ; who did not, like those, pass casually, but came provided with such things as the man in danger required, such as oil, bandages, a beast of burden, money for the inn-keeper, part given now, and part promised.
Which, said He, of them was neighbour to him that suffered these things? In both the commandments, then, He introduces love ; but in order distinguishes it. And in the one He assigns to God the first part of love , and allots the second to our neighbour. Who else can it be but the Saviour Himself?
Or who more than He has pitied us, who by the rulers of darkness were all but put to death with many wounds, fears, lusts , passions , pains, deceits, pleasures? Of these wounds the only physician is Jesus, who cuts out the passions thoroughly by the root — not as the law does the bare effects, the fruits of evil plants, but applies His axe to the roots of wickedness.
He it is that poured wine on our wounded souls the blood of David's vine , that brought the oil which flows from the compassions of the Father , and bestowed it copiously. He it is that produced the ligatures of health and of salvation that cannot be undone — Love, Faith, Hope. He it is that subjected angels , and principalities, and powers, for a great reward to serve us.
For they also shall be delivered from the vanity of the world through the revelation of the glory of the sons of God. We are therefore to love Him equally with God. And he loves Christ Jesus who does His will and keeps His commandments. For not every one that says unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven ; but he that does the will of My Father. He then is first who loves Christ; and second, he who loves and cares for those who have believed on Him.
For whatever is done to a disciple , the Lord accepts as done to Himself, and reckons the whole as His. Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was an hungered, and you gave Me to eat: I was thirsty, and you gave Me to drink: and I was a stranger, and you took Me in: I was naked and you clothed Me: I was sick, and you visited Me: I was in prison , and you came to Me. Then shall the righteous answer, saying, Lord, when saw we You hungry, and fed You?
Or thirsty, and gave You drink?
Who is the Rich Man that Shall Be Saved?
And when saw we You a stranger, and took You in? Or naked, and clothed You? Or when saw we You sick, and visited You?
Or in prison , and came to You? And the King answering, shall say to them, Verily I say unto you, inasmuch as you have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, you have done it unto Me. Again, on the opposite side, to those who have not performed these things, Verily I say unto you, inasmuch as you have not done it unto one of the least of these, you have not done it to Me. And in another place, He that receives you; receives Me; and he that receives not you, rejects Me. Such He names children, and sons, and little children, and friends, and little ones here, in reference to their future greatness above.
Despise not, He says, one of these little ones; for their angels always behold the face of My Father in heaven. And from this unrighteousness it is permitted to work a righteous and saving thing, to refresh some one of those who have an everlasting habitation with the Father.
See then, first, that He has not commanded you to be solicited or to wait to be importuned, but yourself to seek those who are to be benefited and are worthy disciples of the Saviour. But better than this is the saying spoken by the Lord in another place, Give to every one that asks you. And this saying is above all divinity, — not to wait to be asked, but to inquire oneself who deserves to receive kindness. Then to appoint such a reward for liberality, — an everlasting habitation!
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O excellent trading! O divine merchandise! One purchases immortality for money; and, by giving the perishing things of the world, receives in exchange for these an eternal mansion in the heavens! Sail to this mart, if you are wise, O rich man! If need be, sail round the whole world.
Spare not perils and toils, that you may purchase here the heavenly kingdom. Why do transparent stones and emeralds delight you so much, and a house that is fuel for fire, or a plaything of time, or the sport of the earthquake, or an occasion for a tyrant's outrage? Aspire to dwell in the heavens, and to reign with God. This kingdom a man imitating God will give you. By receiving a little here, there through all ages He will make you a dweller with Him. Ask that you may receive; haste; strive; fear lest He disgrace you.
For He is not commanded to receive, but you to give.