« ПретходнаНастави »
THE WISDOM OF THE FOOLISH.
- We are
In all ages those who had themselves little experience of the power of religion, have been disposed to explain it away in others, by suggesting that it could be accounted for on the theory of madness.
There are many examples of this in the Bible. The first we take is from the life of the “ Man of Sorrows." We read of our Lord's friends going out to lay hold of Him, for said they, “He is beside Himself.” And again, after one of those wonderful discourses that are recorded by S. John, we are told how “ There was a division among the Jews again for these sayings, and many of them said, He hath a devil, and is mad, why hear ye Him?” Festus astonished at the earnest words spoken by the prisoner before his judgment bar, fancied he had discovered the source of the Apostle's enthusiasm when he cried out,
Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad.” In reference to the gift of tongues, S. Paul asks the Corinthians whether plain men and unbelievers would not say, on entering an assembly where all were speaking with tongues, that they were mad. And when this was actually said of himself and his fellow Christians, he calmly replies, “Whether we be beside ourselves it is to God." fools for Christ's sake, but ye are wise" (in your own estimation) he tells the Corinthians when he saw them puffed up with unchristian wisdom. Isaiah described the moral atmosphere of his day when he said, “ He that departeth from evil maketh himself a prey’ —or as it is in the margin—"is accounted mad.” In those evil days a good man was preyed upon by the bad because he scorned to defend himself with their weapons, and the thanks he got for not doing so, was to be considered "a fool," "unpractical,” “not up to business," "soft,"
In our own day the same reproach is cast upon religion in one form or another. “Mere enthusiasm" it is called. that
madness lies; let me shun that,” we cry with poor old King Lear. If a young man refuses some appointment on conscientious grounds, his parents stare, speak of their “strange son” and form a decidedly lower opinion of his intellect. “Now don't you be a fool, just do as others do," is the sedative frequently prescribed for uneasiness of conscience. Certain tricks are called "the way of business," and he who murmurs
with childish ingenuousness“ dishonest” is accounted a fool for his pains. We may remember how alarmed many professed to be, for the senses of the thousands who went to hear the preaching and singing of Messrs. Moody and Sankey. We are more nervous about—what is surely in the case of most of us a remote contingency, becoming immoderately religious than about anything else. We would have shares in religion, but they must be of strictly limited liability.
But to all this it may be retorted that in the Bible it is the irreligious who are called mad and foolish. In His parable our LORD tells us that the Prodigal Son only thought of his father's home when hunger had brought him to his senses. “And when he came to himself, he said, I will arise, and go to my Father.” While living a riotous life he was really “ beside himself.” In another parable JEsus told His hearers the sentence pronounced against the man who engrossed in eating, drinking, and money-making had no higher aim. '' But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee.” The Apostle whom Festus called “mad” when speaking of the ancient Greeks so proud of their cleverness, says that “professing themselves to be wise they became fools, because knowing God, they did not glorify Him as God.” And he asks the Corinthians, “ Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world ?” and assures them that the preaching of “Christ crucified” though it might appear “ foolishness” to luxurious Greeks who could not understand self-sacrifice, was nothing less than the wisdom of God—that which revealed His wisdom.
Then, to turn to the Old Testament, Jeremiah speaks of madness as sent in punishment: "They shall drink (of the wine-cup of fury) and be moved and be mad.” He tells the people that they are upon their idols." We can understand this when we see how the idols of position, of money, of fashion, of appetite, turn people's heads, causing too many to fret and overwork themselves into lunatic asylums. And the same prophet says, that “the nations have drunk the
of Babylon and are mad.” How many of the rich drown their senses in the cup of London society each “ Season" and of working men not a few become the fools of Publicans in the same modern Babylon ! Hosea complains that in the Israel of his day “ the prophet is a fool, the spiritual man mad” because he prophesied peace to a sinful generation. When King Saul in fury pursued David “as one doth hunt a partridge on the mountains," and when David, by sparing for the second time his life after finding him asleep in the wilderness, forces from him a fool's
confession, it was given in these words, “I have played the fool, I have erred exceedingly."
In the language of Scripture, especially in the book of Proverbs, fool is the usual character of the sinner, and folly and foolishness are put for sin. “A wise man feareth and departeth from evil; but the fool rageth and is confident.” “A fool despiseth his father's instruction.” “ He that uttereth a slander is a fool.” After speaking of the greatness of God's works, and the depth of His thoughts, the Psalmist exclaims, “A brutish man knoweth not, neither doth a fool understand this." On the other hand “the mouth of the righteous speaketh wisdom.” Having mentioned many hidden things that man has found out, Job asks this question, “But where shall wisdom be found ?” and his answer is, “ Behold, the fear of the LORD, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding."
We can now see that the poor patient who asked a gentleman when visiting Bedlam, "Have you given God thanks for your senses to-day ?” had more reason than those of us who neglect this thanksgiving. And yet it is every one's duty to ask the Divine Physician of mind as well as of soul and body, to keep him sane, and to carefully follow His prescriptions; especially at the present time, when, while pauperism is generally declining, insanity appears to be on the increase.
Now we say that the pure religion of Christ can make and keep people sane, amongst others in the following ways. To the intemperate threatened with dipsomania whose own constitution is being ruined, and who is rearing in abject poverty, children with characteristics like himself, little capable of bearing in after life arduous toil or protracted anxiety-to such an one the Gospel says, “ You are a slave to the brute that is in you, because
will not become His servant Whose service is perfect freedom. If the Son shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. It was to take from you, Smith, Brown, Jones, or whatever your name may be, that Devil's chain of drunkenness, that your SAVIOUR died and rose again; and shall you not by meditating on all He has done for you be enabled for His sake, and for the sake of your own sanity, not to mention your little ones at home, to raise yourself from the death of this sin, and live again unto righteousness ? Certainly every individual rescued from the slavery and degradation of habitual drunkenness, does something to break the entail of the physical and mental weakness which is the predisposing cause of idiocy and madness.
In old and populous communities the battle of life presses with a very heavy strain on all classes. Only the other day an advertisement for a door-keeper received nine hundred answers, so hard is it at the present time to get a living. And yet if we can say from our hearts, “The LORD is my Shepherd; I shall not want,” we can also say with S. Paul, “none of these things move me.” Over-anxiety would never wake us mad if, believing that God careth for us, we would cast all our care on Him. But no one becomes mad who only desires enough; it is greediness that maddens. When a man permits money-making to be his ruling passion, and the barometer of his emotions rises and falls with the changes of business, it is not wonderful that his mental balance should be endangered by any sudden storm of financial trial. The only cure for such a man is to believe S. Paul's assurance that “Godliness with contentment is great gain,” since we really ought to want nothing more than food and shelter, considering that we brought nothing into this world and can carry nothing out. “ Fret not thyself” is the sensible straight-forward advice of the Psalmist, and nothing does so little good and so much harm to a man's heart, brain, and stomach as the “ fretful stir unprofitable, and the fever of the world.” Whatever
your sorrow may be
“Go, tell it to JESUS, He knoweth thy grief;
He'll lighten thy burden-go, weary one, pray.” This subject ought to make us more charitable, for the more we study cases of insanity the more we see the intimate connection that exists between body and spirit. A man's moral nature may become impaired by an attack of sickness or by an accident. What seems to us great wickedness in another may be ill-health or insanity, partial or complete, temporary or chronic. We see people fall into violent passions, especially little children. Now a violent passion or fit of obstinacy may be caused by a temporary congestion of the brain. The consequence of beating a child for this is that the brain which was already for some cause or another filled with blood becomes more crowded still. It is hardly ever right to beat a child when in a fit of passion. You will do more with a little one of three or four years of age by management. Take him on your knee and say, “My dear child, you are not well; but when you give me a smile I shall give you a kiss in return."
We may remember reading last year in the newspapers of a dig- . nitary of the Church, who was both a good and a learned man, having
committed suicide in a fit of temporary insanity. Sad and strange as it may appear, the fit was caused by nothing greater than a cold. On a Tuesday the good man had been at a religious ceremony in the open air and caught a chill which produced congestion of the lungs and on Friday evening he became delirious. But there was no serious apprehension, for he was left alone on Saturday morning. Thus left he locked the door and wounded himself fatally. When the door was burst open and his wife and others stood appalled at the ghastly scene, he beckoned mournfully for writing materials, and when a pencil and paper were given to him he could write but one word, mad! We learn from this that it is our duty to take care of the health of our bodies, for the loss of it may cause our sorrowing friends to see " that noble and sovereign reason, like sweet bells jangled, out of tune and harsh.” Our mental and even spiritual maladies are often occasioned by some very slight bodily ailment. You must get a physician to regulate your diet, and give you medicines. Take rest and change the air if you can. Many a time the whole emotional atmosphere which has got wrong gets righted by a good walk. Don't go on wrangling with your wife; go out and change the scene, and you will come back with a sweet temper ready to forget and forgive.
Madness means an unbalanced state of mind. A mind exaggerates things which ought not to have any importance-a word, a look, anything rankles. The religion of Christ has power to change all this.
your moderation (sweet reasonableness) be known unto all men, says S. Paul to the Philippians. Let a man pray for power to know and to obey those laws of health which our FATHER in Heaven has appointed in order that His children might have sound minds in sound bodies ; let him do this and the peace of God wbich passeth all understanding shall keep (as a protecting garrison) his heart and mind through CHRIST JESUS.
"A RAY OF LIGHT.”
A WEARY night had passed away,
A ray of light!