still further. Surely this must be a sore trial to the Almighty, and a constant source of sorrow and even anguish. How lovely to be able to refresh the soul of God, as Job did, in face of pious but incorrect orthodoxy!1
Matt. 23 draws our attention to the other danger. Our Lord's awful denunciation of the religious teachers of His day, who made their pupils twofold more a child of Hell than themselves, is enough to give edge to James' words. "My brethren be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation." (James 3,1), and to send the teacher to his knees again and again, seeking for truth and deliverance from error.2 Peter points out that false teachers are to be the bane of Christianity, even as false prophets ruined Judaism: and so it has turned out, especially in these last days.3 Flocks follow shepherds, and many a flock has been robbed and spoiled through the perversity of its shepherd. Our Lord has a special place for the faithful steward who gives the right food in time of need to his people.4
How then to account for the multitude of doctrines? Is the Book at fault through obscurity or error? If that be so we must give up the doctrine of inspiration, and let the Bible be renamed "Man's Word"! No; the fault must lie with us, the teachers. So often we have not considered that stricter judgement that awaits us,5 but imagined that we could teach what suited us with impunity. St. Paul and St. Peter speak of teachers whose motives were mercenary,6 or wicked,7 or who sought popularity,8 or feared consequences.9 No doubt laziness too can play its part,10 or pride,11 or reverence for tradition,12 and refusal to receive correction from another's mouth.13 Whatever the cause, the History of the Church has by its multiplying of sects and doctrines shown to us the weaknesses of human nature and the fierceness of the attack which Satan has made upon us.
In the final analysis the only thing that matters is the verdict of The Great Absent Teacher who listens to His pupils who sit in His seat, "The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat" (Matt. 23,2). Let us then fill our cups with snow water and put them to the Master's lips and earn a great reward.14
If we can but speak to people the truths that Our Lord wants them to hear, we shall indeed be comforters of Him