It is good for a man that he bear the yoke of his youth.
(with Matthew 11:29): — The yoke! The very word has a sound of severity in it! Yet Christ spake it — He, whom all ages since His advent have accepted as the ideal of gentleness! He who alone, amid the boasted culture of the nineteenth century, can bestow real liberty. "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty" — there alone. We gain freedom from false dominions by accepting the kingship of Christ.
I. YOUNG MEN WHO ACCEPT THE YOKE OF CHRIST ARE BEST FITTED FOR AN EARTHLY CITIZENSHIP. England prospers or perishes by character! Selfishness slew Sparta. Cruelty corrupted Athens. Lust laid low the power of Rome. Material wealth does not constitute our prosperity, nor the genius of statesmanship, nor the facilities for commercial intercourse — character makes a nation! and to this hour is I know of no power which can create holy character, purify the heart, cleanse the conscience, and inspire a truly heroic life but the Gospel of Christ — it is the power of God unto salvation, and as such it manifests no over-weening confidence to say "I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ." Upon its social side, our earthly citizenship will be beautiful just in the proportion that Christ reigns in our hearts! Your safety is in making harmony with the spirit and purpose of Christ, the ruling law of all
II. YOUNG MEN WHO ACCEPT THE YOKE OF CHRIST ARE FULFILLING THE HIGHEST IDEAL OF LIFE. Each man has some ideal of life. It is natural to suppose that we do not eat, work, and sleep, with no other aim than the day contains; we were unworthy of the majesty of manhood not to have some conceptions of duty and destiny. Christ found men full of the ideals of life. There was the pharisaic ideal, which combined ecclesiastical hauteur and Jewish privilege; there was the publican ideal, that "money makes the man," and that once wealthy, men could invite wit, genius, and learning to their board; there was the Roman ideal, which was prowess in arms, pride of military pomp and glory of military fame; there was the Philosophic ideal, which mingled contempt for ignorance, with superiority in the schools; there was the commercial ideal, which meant illimitable luxury, and a merchant prince's palace on the Tiber banks; there was the gladiator's ideal, which meant earnest eyes looking down upon the fight, and beauty and fashion craving the victor's love. Everywhere around the Christ were ideals of life! and what was His own? "The cup which my Father hath given Me to drink, shall I not drink it," "Father, not as I will, but as Thou wilt." This was Christ's ideal of life I an ideal that had in it the only true happiness. "My meat and my drink is to do the will of Him that sent Me."
III. YOUNG MEN WHO ACCEPT THE YOKE OF CHRIST PRESERVE THEIR MORAL INDEPENDENCE. They are bound by the law of Christ, and the law of Christ alone. They are not compelled to accept all the yokes, either sanctioned by Puritan custom, or by Ecclesiastical tradition; nor will they look to the law of Christ as to a legal statute book. "Thou shalt not's" would fill not only this world, but the whole stellar system with books which they could not contain. The spirit of Christ is our only safeguard, our only life, our only law, and it is enough.
IV. YOUNG MEN WHO ACCEPT THE YOKE OF CHRIST PASS THE GREAT CRISIS OF LIFE. All things are ready! The Atonement has opened wide the door of mercy, the Spirit of the living God has awakened the conviction of sin, righteousness, and judgment to come; the soul is close to the Kingdom — almost saved. Oh! moment of appalling interest; here is an act we can delegate to none, the acceptance or rejection of Christ, on that moment hangs for each soul all the immortal sanctities of heaven, or the wailings of infinite grief. If probation come again in some future state, it is revealed in some Bible of which I have no copy and is a Divine secret of which I have no key. Viewed in such a light as this, are you prepared now, yes! now; whilst Christ looks with the wistfulness of Divine love in your face, to obey His voice, "Take My yoke upon you."
V. YOUNG MEN WHO ACCEPT THE YOKE OF CHRIST MAKE A BLESSED USE OF THE FORMATIVE PERIOD OF LIFE. "It is good for a man to bear the yoke in his youth." He is supple and sinewy in mind and body. Moreover it is not only the age of a rare enthusiasm, but of unenriched experience, the age when we too often obey a quick impulse, rather than a quiet conscience; an age too when we are apt to despise service as service. Let men be proud of work, proudest of it when it takes the form of service. Let us never forget that our Master came not to be ministered unto, but to minister; that the Lord of angels took on Him "the form of a servant." Never let service be considered vulgar! It is good to bear the yoke in youth; good not to begin where our father's left off, good that we should have something better than an ignorant physical athleticism, and be moral athletes, able to cope with difficulty, preferring an escutcheon with a spade on it to a purchased coat of arms. If, however, it is good to bear the yoke early, in earthly duties, it is good to give of our time, strength, and substance in early youth to the cause of the Redeemer. The great day alone can reveal how much depends upon our enlisting the rising manhood of England in the intelligent service of the Church. May God the Holy Ghost inspire the conviction, that loyalty to Christ demands not only the mental admission of His claims, but the moral wearing of His yoke.
VI. YOUNG MEN WHO PUT ON THE YOKE OF CHRIST GIVE PROMISE OF THE OUTCOME OF SALVATION. The age is not wanting in appreciation of Christian life. The Church, however, in some of its most fervent Evangelical teachers, has made justification the only tenet in its creed. Christianity is life in God; it is more than the first paroxysm of penitential grief, more than the most passionate confession of sin, more than the thrill of a first love, more than occasional rhapsodies of glad emotion, more than an exquisite appreciation of the life of Christ: by this alone can the world know we are Christ's disciples, that "we keep His commandments." This is the true outcome of salvation, the test is not emotive in our feelings, nor mental in our intellectual belief alone, but practical, in yoke bearing after Christ.
(W. M. Statham, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth.
WEB: It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth.