The Way

If thou wouldst be perfect.

— St. Matthew 19:21

Was the refusal of the young man of necessity final? Because he declined to enter into life, was the door of life closed against him? Verily, I have not so learned Christ. And that the lesson was not lost, I see in this, that he went away sorrowful. Was such sorrow, in the mind of an earnest youth, likely to grow less or more? Could the nature of one who had kept the commandments be so slight that, after having sought and talked with Jesus, he would care less about eternal life than before? Many, alas! have looked upon his face, yet have never seen him, and have turned back; some have kept company with him for years, and denied him; but their weakness is not the measure of the patience or the resources of God. Perhaps this youth was never one of the Lord’s so long as he was on the earth, but perhaps, when he saw that the Master himself cared nothing for the wealth he had told him to cast away, he became one of those who sold all they had, and came and laid the money at the apostles’ feet. In the meantime he had that in his soul which made it heavy: by the gravity of his riches the world held him, and would not let him rise. He counted his weight his strength, and it was his weakness. And how now would he go on with his keeping of the commandments? Would he not begin to see more plainly his shortcomings, the larger scope of their requirements? Might be not feel the keeping of them more imperative than ever, yet impossible without something he had not? It needs all the power of a live soul to keep the law—a power of life, not of struggle; the strength of love, not the effort of duty.