"When he finally arrives, blazing in beauty and all his
angels with him, the Son of Man will take his place on his glorious
throne. Then all the nations will be arranged before him and
he will sort the people out, much as a shepherd sorts out sheep
and goats, putting sheep to his right and goats to his left.
"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Enter, you
who are blessed by my Father! Take what's coming to you in this
kingdom. It's been ready for you since the world's foundation.
And here's why:
I was hungry and you fed me,
I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
I was homeless and you gave me a room,
I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
I was sick and you stopped to visit,
I was in prison and you came to me.'
"Then those 'sheep' are going to say,
'Master, whatare you talking about? When did we ever see you
hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did
we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?' Then the
King will say, 'I'm telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did
one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was
me - you did it to me.'
"Then he will turn to the 'goats,' the ones on his left,
and say, 'Get out, worthless goats! You're good for nothing but
the fires of hell. And why? Because-
I was hungry and you gave me no meal,
I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
I was homeless and you gave me no bed,
I was shivering and you gave me no clothes,
Sick and in prison, and you never visited.'
"Then those 'goats' are going to say,
'Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you
hungry or thirsty or homeless or shivering or sick or in prison
and didn't help?'
"He will answer them, 'I'm telling the solemn truth: Whenever
you failed to do one of these things to someone who was being
overlooked or ignored, that was me - you failed to do it to me.'
"Then those 'goats' will be herded to their eternal doom,
but the 'sheep' to their eternal reward."
From John Wesley's sermon "On Visiting the Sick" we
By the sick, I do not mean only those that keep their bed, or
that are sick in the strictest sense. Rather I would include
all such as are in a state of affliction, whether of mind or
body; and that, whether they are good or bad, whether they fear
God or not.
"But is there need of visiting them in person? May we not
relieve them at a distance? Does it not answer the same purpose
if we send them help, as if we carry it ourselves?" Many
are so circumstanced, that they cannot attend the sick in person;
and where this is the real cases it is undoubtedly sufficient
for them to send help, being the only expedient they can use.
But this is not properly visiting the sick; it is another thing.
The word which we render visit, in its literal acceptation, means
to look upon. And this, you well know, cannot be done unless
you are present with them. To send them assistance is, therefore,
entirely a different thing from visiting them. The former, then,
ought to be done, but the latter not left undone.
"But I send a physician to those that are sick; and he can
do them more good than I can" He can, in one respect; he
can do them more good with regard to their bodily health. But
he cannot do them more good with regard to their souls, which
are of infinitely greater importance. And if he could, this would
not excuse you: His going would not fulfill your duty. Neither
would it do the same good to you, unless you saw them with your
own eyes. If you do not, you lose a means of grace; you lose
an excellent means of increasing your thankfulness to God, who
saves you from this pain and sickness, and continues your health
and strength; as well as of increasing your sympathy with the
afflicted, your benevolence, and all social affections.
The sermon continues: "One great reason why the rich, in
general, have so little sympathy for the poor, is, because they
so seldom visit them. Hence it is, that, according to the common
observation, one part of the world does not know what the other
suffers. Many of them do not know, because they do not care to
know; they keep out of the way of knowing it; and then plead
their voluntary ignorance as an excuse for their hardness of
heart. "Indeed, sir," said a person of large substance,
"I am a very compassionate man. But, to tell you the truth,
I do not know any body in the world that is in want." How
did this come to pass? Why, he took good care to keep out of
their way; and if he fell upon any of them unawares, "he
passed over on the other side."
The sermon concludes: "Seeing then this is a duty to which
we are called, rich and poor, young and old, male and female,
(and it would be well if parents would train up their children
herein, as well as in saying their prayers and going to church,)
let the time past suffice; that almost all of us have neglected
it, as by general consent. O what need has every one of us to
say, "Lord, forgive me my sins of omission!" Well,
in the name of God, let us now from this day set about it with
general consent. And I pray, let it never go out of your mind!
that this is a duty which you cannot perform by proxy; unless
in one only case, -- unless you are disabled by your own pain
or weakness. In that only case, it suffices to send the relief
which you would otherwise give. Begin, my dear brethren, begin
now else the impression which you now feel will wear off; and,
possibly, it may never return! What then will be the consequence?
Instead of hearing that word, "Come, ye blessed! -- For
I was sick, and ye visited me;" you must hear that awful
sentence, "Depart, ye cursed! -- For I was sick, and ye
visited me not!"
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