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113

XXX

THE PEDANTIC CONSCIENCE

“Ye tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment and the love of God.”—
Luke xi. 42.

IT is possible to overlook large ends in our obtrusive care for small ones. It sometimes happens that we cannot see the wood for the trees. A man may be so intent upon a tombstone that he cannot see the Church. He may be so absorbed in ecclesiastical machinery that he overlooks eternal truth. He can fix his eyes upon his boots and never have a glimpse of the mountains. He can be so engaged with mint and rue that he never catches sight of God’s righteousness, which is “like the great mountains,” and of God’s judgments, which are “like the great deep.” And all this breeds an extraordinary delusion; we come to think that tithing mint and rue is more vital than reflecting the life and love of God. The lesser thing begins to satisfy 114the soul which was intended to find its bread in the infinite. A sprig of mint supplants the tree of life.

Now this delusion seizes upon the soul with great subtlety. It hides itself behind apparent patches of grace. It inclines a man who has violated the holy law of gratitude to find a soothing consolation in charities. The man who gives unfair wages seeks satisfaction in building a row of almshouses. The jerry-builder, who just throws his houses together, makes atonement for the flimsy structure by putting in a pretty wall-paper and plenty of electric bells. We find delight in a trifling conscientiousness while the big necessities are overlooked. We live and love in little byways of truth and virtue, and not in the great highways of the exceedingly broad commandments of God. And so all the big things are belittled. Charity takes the place of love. An occasional kindness becomes the substitute for righteousness. Ecclesiastical postures are more to be desired than the piety which worships the Lord in spirit and in truth.

The smaller things are purposed by our God to be the adjuncts of the bigger things; 115better still, they are purposed to be their fruits and not their substitutes. Our holiness is to be the explanation of our tithes. Our love is to be the fountain of our beneficence. The love of Christ is to constrain us! We are to pass from the big things to the smaller things, from the Great White Throne to our social courtesies, and from Calvary to our beneficence. Everything is to have the seal of the highest. “We love because He first loved.” We are to tithe our very mint and rue because He gave Himself for us.

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