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PARABLE OF THE RICH FOOL The passage we have read now affords a singular instance of man's readiness to bring the things of this world into the midst of his religion. We are told that a certain hearer of our Lord asked Him to assist him about his temporal affairs. "Master," he said, "speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me." He probably had some vague idea that Jesus was going to set up a kingdom in this world, and to reign upon earth. He resolves to make an early application about his own pecuniary matters. He entreats our Lord's arbitration about his earthly inheritance. Other hearers of Christ might be thinking of a portion in the world to come. This man was one whose chief thoughts evidently ran upon this present life. How many hearers of the Gospel are just like this man! How many are incessantly planning and scheming about the things of time, even under the very sound of the things of eternity! The natural heart of man is always the same. Even the preaching of Christ did not arrest the attention of all His hearers. The minister of Christ in the present day must never be surprised to see worldliness and inattention in the midst of his congregation. The servant must not expect his sermons to be more valued than his Master's. Let us mark in these verses what a solemn warning our Lord pronounces against covetousness. "He said unto them, take heed and beware of covetousness." It would be vain to decide positively which is the most common sin in the world. It would be safe to say that there is none, at any rate, to which the heart is more prone, than covetousness. It was this sin which helped to cast down the angels who fell. They were not content with their first estate. They coveted something better. It was this sin which helped to drive Adam and Eve out of paradise, and bring death into the world. Our first parents were not satisfied with the things which God gave them in Eden. They coveted, and so they fell. It is a sin which, ever since the fall, has been the productive cause of misery and unhappiness upon earth. Wars, quarrels, strifes, divisions, envyings, disputes, jealousies, hatreds of all sorts, both public and private, may nearly all be traced up to this fountain-head. Let the warning which our Lord pronounces, sink down into our hearts, and bear fruit in our lives. Let us strive to learn the lesson which Paul had mastered, when he says, "I have learned in whatever state I am therewith to be content." (Phil. 4:11.) Let us pray for a thorough confidence in God's superintending providence over all our worldly affairs, and God's perfect wisdom in all His arrangements concerning us. If we have little, let us be sure that it would be not good for us to have much. If the things that we have are taken away, let us be satisfied that there is a needs be. Happy is he who is persuaded that whatever is, is best, and has ceased from vain wishing, and become "content with such things as he has." (Hebrews 13:5.) Let us mark, secondly, in these verses, what a withering exposure our Lord makes of the folly of worldly-mindedness. He draws the picture of a rich man of the world, whose mind is wholly set on earthly things. He paints him scheming and planning about his property, as if he was master of his own life, and had but to say, "I will do a thing," and it would be done. And then he turns the picture, and shows us God requiring the worldling's soul, and asking the heart-searching question, "Whose shall these things be which you have provided?" "Folly," he bids us learn, nothing less than "folly," is the right word by which to describe the conduct of the man who thinks of nothing but his money. The man who "lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich towards God," is the man whom God declares to be a "fool." It is a dreadful thought that the character which Jesus brings before us in this parable, is far from being uncommon. Thousands in every age of the world have lived continually doing the very things which are here condemned. Thousands are doing them at this very day. They are laying up treasure upon earth, and thinking of nothing but how to increase it. They are continually adding to their hoards, as if they were to enjoy them forever, and as if there was no death, no judgment, and no world to come. And yet these are the men who are called clever, and prudent, and wise! These are the men who are commended, and flattered, and held up to admiration! Truly the Lord sees not as man sees! The Lord declares that rich men who live only for this world are "fools." Let us pray for rich men. Their souls are in great danger. "Heaven," said a great man on his death-bed, "is a place to which few kings and rich men come." Even when converted, the rich carry a great weight, and run the race to heaven under great disadvantages. The possession of money has a most hardening effect upon the conscience. We never know what we may do when we become rich. "The love of money is the root of all evil. While some have coveted after it, they have erred from the faith and pierced themselves through with many sorrows." (1 Tim. 6:10.) Poverty has many disadvantages. But riches destroy far more souls than poverty! Let us mark, lastly, in these verses, how important it is to be rich towards God. This is true wisdom. This is true providing for time to come. This is genuine prudence. The wise man is he who does not think only of earthly treasure, but of treasure in heaven. When can it be said of a man, that he is rich towards God? Never until he is rich in grace, and rich in faith, and rich in good works! Never until he has applied to Jesus Christ, and bought of him gold tried in the fire! (Rev. 3:18.) Never until he has a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens! Never until he has a name inscribed in the book of life, and is an heir of God and a joint heir with Christ! Such a man is truly rich. His treasure is incorruptible. His bank never breaks. His inheritance fades not away. Man cannot deprive him of it. Death cannot snatch it out of his hands. All things are his already--life, death, things present, and things to come. (1 Cor. 3:22.) And best of all, what he has now is nothing to what he will have hereafter. Riches like these are within reach of every sinner who will come to Christ and receive them. May we never rest until they are ours! To obtain them may cost us something in this world. It may bring on us persecution, ridicule, and scorn. But let the thought console us, that the Judge of all says, "You are rich." (Rev. 2:9.) The true Christian is the only man who is really wealthy and wise.

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