Charity and Good Works (pt. 42)
v Doctrinal Series v
MAN DOES NOT PLACE MERIT IN WORKS
SO LONG AS HE BELIEVES THAT ALL GOOD IS FROM THE LORD
It is wholly different with those who regard reward as the essential end in their works. These are like such as form friendships for the sake of gain, and who make presents, perform services, and profess love seemingly from the heart, but when they fail to obtain what they hoped for, they turn about, renounce their friendship, and devote themselves to the enemies of their former friends and to those who hate them. They are also like nurses who suckle infants merely for wages, and in presence of their parents kiss and fondle them; but as soon as they cease to be fed with delicacies and rewarded just as they wish, they turn against the infants, treat them harshly, beat them, and laugh at their cries.
They are also like those whose regard for their country springs from love of self and the world, and who say that they are willing to give their property and their lives for it; and yet, if they do not acquire honors and riches as rewards, they speak ill of their country and connect themselves with its enemies. They are also like shepherds who care for sheep merely for hire, and if the hire is not given when they wish it, drive the sheep with their crook from the pasture to the desert. Like these again are priests who discharge the duties of their office solely for the sake of the emoluments attached to them, and who, evidently, regard as of little account the salvation of the souls over whom they have been placed as guides.
It is the same with magistrates who look only to the dignity of their office and its revenues; and when they do right, it is not for the sake of the public good, but for the sake of the delight in the love of self and the world, which delight they breathe in as the only good. It is the same with all the rest; the end in view carries every point, and the mediate causes pertaining to the function are renounced if they do not promote the end.
And the same is true of those who demand reward on the ground of merit in matters of salvation. Such after death confidently demand heaven; but when it has been found that they have no love to God or love towards the neighbor, they are sent back to those who can instruct them concerning charity and faith; and if they repudiate their instructions, they are sent away to their like, among whom are some who are enraged against God because they do not obtain rewards, and who call faith a mere figment of reason. Such are meant in the Word by “hirelings,” who were allotted service of the lowest kind in the outer courts of the temple. At a distance, they appear to be splitting wood.
To be continued . . .