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about as much as themselves; but God saw that I gave without principle, proportion, or plan.
My life would probably have ended without the least sense of obligation, had not one fell stroke deprived me of my principal resources, and another left me with a bare subsistence. Like another prodigal, they brought me to myself. But it was too late for the good I might have accomplished. The threatening had been executed, the talent was taken from me and given to another. But the event may benefit others if they will only listen to the voice of experience.
To all who have pecuniary ability, whatever may be its degree, I would repeat the command of God: “ honour the Lord with thy substance," and do it while it is in your power. Remember your Lord may come unexpectedly, as he did to me, and take your possessions from you, or he may come when “ye think not” and remove you from the world. Make the most of this talent while you have it, and exchange as much of it as you can for the incorruptible and inalienable wealth of the skies. Yourself and all others will be the gainers by this transfer. “Make unto yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness, that when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations." You will find the wealth which you send forth in the streams of benevolence here, transmuted into living gems to deck your own crown, while you and they add another cluster of jewels to the diadem of the great Redeemer.
Who would not condemn the madness of the husbandman, who not only whiled away the time of planting, but actually consumed all his grain without reserving seed for a future harvest ? Such, and infinitely greater, is the frenzy of him who, knowing that he must live forever on the fruit of his present doings,” makes no provision for the future, but consumes upon his lusts and fancies all that he receives. “ Whatsoever a man soweth," saith the Lord, with a reference to this very duty, " that shall he also reap."
Cherish no longer the preposterous fancy of the rich, that this one talent not only releases them from the responsibility of all others, but leaves them at liberty to employ it as they please. Is not this the interpretation of the conduct of those who inherit wealth, and, if possible, even more so of those who, having amassed property, retire from active life to enjoy it? Though they may be adorned with the brightest genius, and capable of the greatest personal effort, their talents are seldom devoted to any commendable purpose. As far as usefulness goes, nine are hid, while the tenth is seldom employed, except as a napkin in which to hide them.
Their time, which might be employed in a thousand ways to bless the world, is consumed in self-indulgence. They are rich enough, they need not labour. They will leave the missionary service, the ministerial office, and the other arduous duties of Christianity to those who have not been entrusted with their wealth. They forget that while they are equally accountable for those other talents, which, if they were not independent in their worldly circumstances, they would be constrained to employ, they have this additional one to answer for at the bar of their Judge.
O wealth, who would court thee if they knew thy fearful responsibility! “Occupy till I come,” was as much addressed to him of ten talents as of one; and, at the time of reckoning, a distinct account was demanded for every separate talent. 6 From them to whom much is given, much shall be required.”
Do you want inducements to elicit your sympathies and contributions ? Requite the Saviour for his unmerited kindness to you. “For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was
for your sakes he became poor, that ye, through his poverty, might be rich.”
The cause of that blessed Redeemer is languishing. Much more might be done to glorify his name and save the perishing objects of his compassion, if the means were furnished. Do you love him as
much as your children? and can you leave his kingdom in actual want, for fear that your children may possibly come to want? Are their temporal comforts, in your esteem, of equal importance with the eternal glories of his kingdom — the everlasting triumph of his ransomed ones?
Cold, calculating, worldly-minded selfishness, may pursue its own course of reasoning on this subject; but while the Macedonians were commended for giving " beyond their power” — while all the widow's living, and all the goods of the early Christians, and their services besides, were acceptable to God, we need never fear that the offerings of the most ardent love will not meet his gracious approbation.
Do you require other motives? Turn over the pages of your Bible. You will meet them every where : “Give, and it shall be given you.” “God loveth a cheerful giver.” “To do good and to communicate forget not, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.” “The liberal soul shall be made fat." “And God is able to make all grace abound towards you, that ye always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.” “For the iniquity of his covetousness was I wroth, and smote him." “Whoso stoppeth his ears against the cry of the poor, he also shall cry himself, but shall not be heard."
If the commands, and promises, and threats, and warnings, and examples of inspiration do not constrain you to give, are you a Christian ? This will, probably, be one of the tests of character recognised at the judgement of the great day. How will you endure it?
But you must not only give, you must do it systematically. Act on the apostolic plan of laying aside once a week ; at least, do not abandon this, till you have devised a better.
Do you inquire how much you must bestow? The Scripture answers, “Freely ye have received, freely give." Much is said about the difficulty of determining the proportion. Love knows no mea. sure — no formal rules of proportion. Where it reigns in the heart, - where Christ and His kingdom are esteemed above wife, and children, and friends, and self, and all things else, there is very little probability of mistake, - no party concerned can be unreasonably aggrieved, or in the least injured.
Alas! how little have the more opulent Christians thus far done in the performance of this branch of their duty. What they have given has generally been a small part of their surplus income, none of which could be spent, and all of which, had it been bestowed, would not have been felt. Luxuries have seldom been reduced.