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Man’s Judgment
by [?]

“I wouldn’t give much for his chance of heaven!” was the remark of a man, whose coarse, well-worn garments contrasted strongly with the dark, rich broadcloth of the person to whom he referred. In the tones of the individual who uttered this sentence was a clearly apparent satisfaction at the thought of his rich neighbour’s doubtful chance of admission into heaven. It was on the Sabbath, and both had just passed forth from the sacred edifice, to which each had that morning gone up for the avowed object of worship.

“Why do you say that?” asked the friend to whom the remark was addressed.

“You know the Scriptures,” was the confident answer. “‘How hardly shall they who have riches enter the kingdom of heaven.'”

“You believe, then, that the mere fact of possessing riches will keep a man out of heaven?”

“No; I wouldn’t just like to say that. But, riches harden the heart, and make men unfit for heaven.”

“I doubt if riches harden the heart more than poverty,” was replied.

“How can you say so?” was warmly objected. “Isn’t the promise everywhere to the poor? To whom was the gospel sent?”

“The rich and poor spoken of in the word of God,” said the friend, “do not, it is plain, mean simply those in the world who possess natural riches, or who are in natural poverty. Remember, that the Bible is a revelation of heavenly truth, for man’s eternal salvation; and that its teachings must have primary regard to what is spiritual, and refer to man’s internal state rather than to his mere worldly condition. Remember, that the Lord, while on earth, said, Blessed are the poor in spirit, (not the poor in this world’s goods,) for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. And we may, without violence to even the letter of the word, conclude that when He speaks of its being hard for the rich to enter the kingdom of heaven, that only the proud in spirit, those who rested self-confident on the riches of their worldly and natural wisdom, were meant. That it would be easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for such rich men to enter heaven, is plain from our Lord’s words when he set a child in the midst of his disciples, and told them that, unless they became as that little child, they could not enter the kingdom of heaven. Not externally and naturally as that child, for that was impossible; but poor in spirit, teachable, and innocent as a child.”

The first speaker, whose name was Maxwell, tossed his head, and slightly curled his lip as he replied–

“I believe just what the Bible says. As for your forced meanings, I never go to them. A plain matter-of-fact man, I understand what is written in a plain, matter-of-fact way. The Bible says that they who have riches shall hardly enter the kingdom of heaven. And I can see how true the saying is. As for Clinton, of whom I spoke just now, I repeat that I wouldn’t give much for his chance. It is well that there is a just God in heaven, and that there will come a day of retribution. The Diveses have their good things in this life; but our turn will come afterwards. We sha’n’t be always poor. Lazarus went, a beggar, from the rich man’s door, and was received into Abraham’s bosom.”

“What has made you so bitter against Clinton, just now?” inquired the friend.

“I’m not bitter against him in particular–I speak of rich men as a class. They are all selfish, unfeeling, and oppressive. Look at the good Clinton might do, as a steward of God’s bounty, if he chose. He might make our wilderness blossom as the rose. But settlement-day will come, ere long, and then a sorry account of his stewardship will he have to render.”