Take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be over charged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life—Luke 21: 34.
What a work we realize to be before us, and what necessity for sobriety, vigilance, steadfastness! It is a life work, a life battle against a mighty foe entrenched in our flesh. The powers without are strong indeed, but the civil war within is by far the most to be dreaded. If we become in any measure intoxicated with the spirit of the world; if we give way to self-gratification, love of ease, pleasure, a little indulgence of any of the old disposition of envy, malice, pride, vainglory, vaunting of self, headiness, high-mindedness, wrath, strife, or any such thing—even a little, oh, how great is the peril to which we are exposed!
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The influence of the world, the flesh and the Adversary tends to fill us with surfeiting and drunkenness and the cares of this life. The attitude of watchfulness is necessary, if such an overcharging is to be prevented. Let us therefore be wakeful, alert, incredulous and studious as to ourselves, our thoughts, motives, words, acts, surroundings and the influences operating upon us, to avoid being overcharged. The overcharged one will surely fail of gaining the reward that is for the diligent and faithful only.
Parallel passages: Rom. 13: 11, 13; 1Thes. 5: 6-8; 1Pet. 4: 7; 5: 8, 9; Matt. 13: 12-15,
22; 25: 13; 26: 41; Luke 8: 14; 1Cor. 16: 13; Rev. 3: 2, 3; 16: 15; Luke 12: 40.
Questions: What have been this week's experiences connected with this text? How were they met? What helped or hindered therein? In what did they result?
THE NOMINAL CHURCH
THE Church and the World walked far apart
On the changing shores of time;
The World was singing a giddy song,
And the Church a hymn sublime.
"Come, give me your hand," said the merry World,
"And walk with me this way;
But the good Church hid her snowy hands
And solemnly answered, "Nay,
I will not give you my hand at all,
And I will not walk with you;
Your way is the way that leads to death;
To my Lord I must be true."
"Nay, walk with me but a little space,"
Said the World, with a kindly air,
"The road I walk is a pleasant road,
And the sun shines always there;
Your path is thorny and rough and rude,
But mine is broad and plain;
My way is paved with flowers and dews,
And yours with tears and pain;
The sky to me is always blue,
No want, no toil I know;
The sky above you is always dark,
Your lot is a lot of woe;
The way you walk is a narrow way,
But mine is amply wide;
There's room enough for you and me
To travel side by side."
Half shyly the Church approached the World
And gave him her hand of snow;
And the old World clasped it and walked along,
Saying in accents low,
"Your dress is too simple to please my taste,
I will give you pearls to wear,
Rich velvets and silks for your graceful form,
And diamonds to deck your hair."
The Church looked down at her plain white robes
And then at the dazzling World,
And blushed as she saw his handsome lip
With a smile contemptuous curled.
"I will change my dress for a costlier one,"
Said the Church with a smile of grace;
Then her pure, white garments drifted away,
And the World gave, in their place,
Beautiful satins and shining silks,
Roses and gems and pearls;
While over her forehead her bright hair fell
Crimpled in a thousand curls.
"Your house is too plain," said the proud old World,
"I'll build you one like mine;
Carpets of Brussels and curtains of lace,
And furniture ever so fine."
So he built her a costly and beautiful house,
Most splendid it was to behold;
Her sons and her beautiful daughters dwelt there,
Gleaming in purple and gold;
Rich fairs and shows in the halls were held,
And the World and his children were there;
Laughter and music and feasting were heard
In the place that was meant for prayer.
There were cushioned pews for the rich and gay,
To sit in their pomp and pride;
While the poor, who were clad in shabby array,
But seldom came inside.
"You give too much to the poor," said the World,
"Far more than you ought to do;
If they are in need of shelter and food,
Why need it trouble you?
Go, take your money, and buy rich robes,
Buy horses and carriages fine,
Buy pearls and jewels and dainty food,
Buy the rarest and costliest wine;
My children dote on all these things,
And if you their love would win,
You must do as they do, and walk in the ways
That they are walking in."
Then the Church held fast the strings of her purse,
And modestly lowered her head,
And simpered, "No doubt you are right, sir;
Henceforth I will do as you've said."
Then the sons of the World and the sons of the Church
Walked closely, hand and heart,
And only the Master, who knoweth all,
Could tell the two apart.
Then the Church sat down at her ease and said,
"I am rich and my goods are increased;
I have need of nothing, nor aught to do,
But to laugh, and dance, and feast."
The sly World heard, and he laughed in his sleeve,
And mockingly said aside,
"The Church is fallen, the beautiful Church,
And her shame is her boast and pride."
The angel drew near to the mercy-seat,
And whispered in sighs her name,
Then the loud anthems of rapture were hushed,
And heads were covered with shame.
And a voice was heard at last by the Church
From Him who sat on the Throne,
"I know thy works, and how thou hast said,
'I am rich'; and hast not known
That thou art naked, poor and blind,
And wretched before My face;
Therefore, from My presence, I cast thee out,
And blot thy name from its place."
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