XVII. The Gospel to the Poor.

MATT. xi. 5. “The poor have the gospel preached to them.”

THESE words are part of a message sent by Christ to one
who was beginning to be offended in Him. His answer to
the Baptist’s question, “Art thou He that should come, or
do we look for another?” is twofold. He bids His disciples
tell John of His works and of His word, of His miracles,
and of His teaching. “Tell John the things ye see and
hear.” They were to tell of the word as well as of the
wonders. And the word is the everlasting gospel of the
Son of God, that “God so loved the world that He gave
His only begotten Son.” But our Lord speaks of one
special characteristic of this gospel. It is a gospel for the
I. No other system has any good news for the poor.
Poverty is only another word for human imperfection and
weakness. Human life is a life of struggle with nature.
This is no modern discovery, but as old as the first chapter
of Genesis: “Replenish the earth, and subdue it.” And in
this subduing of the earth the strong thrust aside the weak,
and we call the strong the rich, and the weak the poor.
This is the inevitable law of human society as now con-
stituted. There will always be in the world the Dives and
the Lazarus. Christianity claims to be a supernatural king-
dom, and in that kingdom it gives the poor man a place
and a future.
1. There is no gospel in communism for the poor; it
has the sound of good news, but it is a cruel dream of
equality of fraternity, that gives you only equality in
misery and the fratricidal brotherhood of Cain.
2. There is no gospel for the poor in the teaching of the
philosopher. He says that the present state of the poor
man is inevitable. It is the working of the great law which
rules all forms of life, the survival of the fittest growth
by natural selection. If you blot out the supernatural from
the world, these two utterances are all that men have to say
to the poor.
II. Christianity has for the poor good news. The present
condition of things is not eternal. God has another world
in which to redress the inequalities of this, an eternity in
which to console the poor. Not only is Christianity the
gospel for the poor in the after life, but it has the promise
of this life also. It is the gospel of a real brotherhood,
because it reveals a real fatherhood, the fatherhood of God
in Christ.
This is no less a gospel for the rich. Rich you may
live, but you must die a pauper. And in that last supreme
moment of poverty and helplessness, the man must turn
and cling to the gospel of the poor. “Believe in Christ,
and thou shalt be saved.” Preach that gospel to the poor;
and manifest this gospel by your demeanour towards them.
Hasten to close up the yawning gulf between Dives and
Lazarus with deeds and words of lovingkindness. Re-
member the brotherhood in Christ of the poor to you.
W. C. Magee, D.D.