« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
suppose that its desires are to be met and fulfilled by allowing them to terminate on the things of time and earth ? What is an atom to a world ?-and what are all worlds but just so many atoms to the soul of man? It is only by rising into something above itself and greater than itself that it can become truly happy; but it has no superior except God; and into God's infinite fulness it must rise to partake true blessedness either in time or in eternity. Joseph in prison was a happier man than Pharaoh in his palace. Alexander sat weeping on the throne of the world, while Lazarus, who was fed with the crumbs which fell from the table of the rich man, could look up into an opening heaven, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
That wealth, directed to wise and beneficent ends, insures its own return. It is like bread-corn cast upon the waters, which, finding an appropriate soil, will take root and vegetate, and yield a corresponding harvest. Elsewhere the wise man tells us, that “he that hath pity upon the poor, lendeth unto the Lord; and that which he hath given Him will He pay him again." “Would'st thou be rich ? Give unto the poor ;-thou shalt have thine
own with usury; For the secret hand of Providence prospereth the charitable always ; Good luck shall he have in his pursuits, and his heart shall be glad
within him.” Not that the 'hope of return is to be the motive from which you give. The spring of all benevolent action must rise higher far. But if the motive be pure, and the object be good, then it may be taken as a general principle that riches so spent will be productive of results which will bring their own happiness and reward; and to him who is faithful in that which he hath, more shall be given him. Heaven will bless the labour of his hands, and he shall have yet more abundantly.
That such an use of worldly substance is only a fitting expression of the debt of obligation which every Christian owes
God. If you are a believer in Christ, then, as such, God hath loved you, and redeemed you with the blood of his own Son, sanctified and transformed you, and begotten you to the hope of eternal glory. And can your gratitude ever equal his claim ? If you have presented body, soul, and spirit a living sacrifice to Him, what else can you keep back ? His love demands your soul, your life,
all. That, for this consecration of your property to God and to good, you have the highest and purest examples. How many have thus devoted their all, and become the subjects of a
to the grace
voluntary poverty, that they might advance the cause of God and promote the happiness of man! But we turn to the Model of all excellence, the Pattern of every virtue.
-6 Ye. know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.” If he emptied himself of his essential glory, and came down to the condition of our humanity, that he might lift us up to communion with God, and into the enjoyment of every conceivable good, then nothing should limit the influences of His love on our hearts. Christianity has done nothing for us if it has not destroyed the selfishness of our nature, and made our bosoms dilate and expand with a divine benevolence.
Now, if there exist all these grounds for an enlightened and Christian distribution of your property, then what a tremendous responsibility attaches to its possession! Possessing the one, you cannot get away from the other. Before you can free yourselves from your accountableness
you must cease to hold your wealth. Nor let it be forgotten that the responsibility is in the degree of what is enjoyed. To whom much is given, of the same much shall be required. It will come out, amid the solemnities of the last day, what use you have made of your riches. Fidelity on earth is inseparable from glory in heaven. It is to him who is true to his trust here - whatever that trust may be—that the Saviour and the Judge will then address the cheering plaudit—« Well done, good and faithful servant; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord;" and bright will be the crown which shall encircle his brow; and full will be the bliss which shall flow into his soul.
Trust not in uncertain riches. If they increase, set not your heart upon
them. Do not lose the wealth of immortality in chasing a shadow. Whatever be your possessions on earth, be careful to lay up treasure in heaven. Rise, through faith in Christ, into communion with God, and He will fill
unto His own fulness. The riches of his grace will become your immediate, inalienable, immortal possession—a possession which continues undiminished and the same amid all the changes which time may disclose or which eternity may conceal; and which beyond the grave will swell into one boundless, everlasting property of blessedness and joy. In the presence of God our Saviour is fulness of joy: at His right hand there are pleasures for evermore.
It may be that you have property, but not piety. Your heart does not throb with pure love to God, and hence you have no disposition to devote your wealth to any higher or more sacred object. You leave that to the saints, as you are pleased to denominate those who deem the things of time infinitely inferior to the things of eternity. But keep in memory that your want of piety does not free you from the responsibility connected with the possession of wealth. Not less than the good man you will have to answer for the use you make of your riches. You cannot plead ignorance of your duty, nor want of opportunities for the wisest and the most discreet exercise of your charity ; and does not The Book say, that he who knows his master's will and does it not shall be beaten with many stripes? The wilful neglect of commanded duty increases the burden of conscious sin; and the consequence of sin is death-eternal death.
We have not even a whisper to breathe against the possession of wealth, provided only that you are faithful to your solemn trust. Still
, money touches only the outer and the coarser elements of your nature. It is a material thing, and can insure for you nothing more than material good. It can never overtake the desires and the longings of your deathless spirit. The soul has its deeper—mightier yearnings, and these yearnings can be met and satisfied only by that which corresponds with its own spiritual and immortal being. In other words, nothing can overtake the profound poverty of man's moral nature, but the boundless provision of infinite love as it is set forth in the gospel of Christ. To rise, through faith in the one all-atoning sacrifice of God's Son, into the enjoyment of pardon and peace, acceptance and life, inward purity and conscious happiness, adoption into the family of God, and a well-grounded hope of everlasting bliss—this—this is possession worthy of a name. Nor can these infinite blessings become your property, either in time or through eternity, otherwise than by a total renunciation of self and of all self-dependence, followed by a confiding faith and joyous trust in the one only Saviour— Jesus Christ; the surrender of your whole nature to the sanctifying and transforming power of the Holy Spirit, and the consecration of your entire being to the service and the glory of Him, of whom, and to whom, and through whom are all things ; to whose redeeming mercy we commend you, and in whose presence we pray that you may at last stand perfected and glorified.
J. F. SHAW, BOOKSELLER, SOUTHAMPTON ROW, AND
PATERNOSTER ROW, LONDON; AND W.INNES, BOOKSELLER, SOUTH HANOVER STREET, EDINBURGH.
J. & W. Rider, Printers, 14, Bartholomew Close, London.
GOD IS INFINITELY GOOD. “I hope for a happy immortality. I well know that I have sometimes done evil, for no one can say that he is exempt, not even the most holy; but I believe that, after satisfying Divine justice by an abode in purgatory, my purified soul will pass into paradise. Behold the mercy of my God, who wills not the condemnation of sinners, but has provided a method for the expiation of their sins, by a few ages of suffering. What goodness, thus to open a door into heaven to those who are yet unworthy when quitting this earth! Oh, yes! God is good: Deus bonus est et benignitas ejus manet in sæcula sæculorum.”
“ I have no reply to your Latin,” said the man forty years of age," but I reject your purgatory. My God is better than yours; he neither sends me to purgatory, nor condemns me to annihilation. My God opens
his heaven to me at the moment of death, and gives me happiness without mixture, without delay, and without tears. You must admit that, according to my ideas, God is much more merciful than you représent him
“ Monsieur is right,” interrupted the admirer of J. J. Rousseau ; "God is too good to punish all our peccadilloes. He knows our weakness; he is aware of our constitution. If God punished all the guilty, no one would escape. No doubt an honest man ought not to kill nor to steal, but who has not his weaknesses ? If God has committed to us so many talents, he does not prohibit us from using them; if he has implanted in our hearts the love of pleasure, we are not called upon to repress it; and if we sometimes misuse these talents, and abuse these pleasures, will not God pardon us? Has he not made us what we are? Yes, God is good, and provided we do no wrong to any one, he will pardon us. As to the very wicked, undoubtedly God will not treat them as he will us; there is a limit to everything. In' fine, the goodness of God is great, and as his heaven is great also, it will not cost him much to give us a place there, notwithstanding some weaknesses inseparable from our humanity.” “ According to you,” rejoined my neighbour, “God will