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very often covers the desire of aggrandizing and enriching themselves, is the spirit of order among others so very pure, that it does not exhibit the desire to retain their advantages ? And if the partisans of equality seek their object especially with regard to property, are there no conservatives who are such pre-eminently of their wealth ? Legislation is covetous : money is the chief corner-stone ; money chooses the arbiters of our social and political destinies ; it does more, it selects the managers of our churches; and, as things go, one would imagine that it is the rich who enter most easily into the kingdom of God. Marriage is covetous: the union of persons is a secondary matter: two fortunes meet, woo, and attract each other, and at length marry; and the most intimate of all connexions degenerates into an arithmetical calculation, and is converted into a business contract. Literature is covetous: that solicitude about perfection, that patient toil, those vigorous studies, that conscientious cultivation of the beautiful, the good, and the true, which formerly characterized our principal writers, cannot be found among their successors. Impatient to publish, and much more so to gain, the literature of the day expends its strength on half-finished, defective, and absurd works, alas ! in many instances, immoral and infidel; but, nevertheless, fitted to the depraved taste of the multitude, and calculated to promote the pecuniary advantage of their authors. What shall I say more? What should we discover, did we endeavour to ascertain the part which the love of money has in those innumerable errors which by turns occupy the mind, and in those absurd systems which overthrow each other, after being maintained for years by the appeal they make to our pecuniary interests; the share it has in those crimes which stain the pages of our public journals, in the murders, poisonings, suicides, lawsuits, divorces, enmity, revenge ; and in all the fruits of sin which we reap in such ample abundance from a field sown by infidelity ?
In fine, men make a COVETOUS USE of the blessing of wealth. Perhaps there never was a time when more money was expended ; but, with some rare exceptions, it is lavished on selfishness, and not devoted to charity. I will only adduce one proof,—the condition of our benevolent and religious Societies. The Saviour has, in our times, inspired his people with the happy thought of employing, in the spread of tlie Gospel, the spirit of association, that mighty power of the age. He has raised up faithful servants, who have given their time, their strength, and their money, to organize institutions consecrated to the benefit of men, and the glory of God. When they have urged upon churches the duty of uniting with them in their pious labours, what has been the result? Assistance has been obtained; the work of the Lord has not been arrested ; great good bas been done ; and, next to God, we bless the authors of these “ sacrifices, with which God is well pleased.” But are the contributions liberal, or at all adequate? Do we in general give as we ought, or as we could ? Do we come near
this mark? No, my brethren! no! our societies exist rather than live. One proposes to publish a Bible for the aged, but must wait till it has secured funds for the object.* Another begins its labours one year with a debt of 15,000 francs; the next, with a debt of 30,000. A third has five Missionaries quite ready to go to the tribes of Southern Africa, importunately asking for them ; but 25,000 francs are necessary to send them forth; and five months have been expended in endeavouring to collect it, and only one-half has been obtained. Poor Bechuanas ! We will give you Missionaries on condition you will pay for them. You must give the half of your miserable income, the last goat you possess, or the fruits of your labour for the year. May you remain ignorant of our avarice, lest you should thereby judge the Gospel which we preach! Again, every thing is embarrassed, mean, and insecure in the proceedings of our Societies; and so will remain till the plan of our liberality has undergone a complete revision, a radical reform. There is no failure of money : it takes a wrong direction. Instead of flowing in the full channels of charity, to water the garden of the Lord, it falls into the gulf of parsimony, or is lost amid the arid sands of prodigality. After all that is required by your necessities, your habits of life, your social comforts, your precautions for the future, the establishment of your family, and your most urgent necessities, there are abundant resources for all good works, provided that some of you would retrench
fanciful and indefensible expenses, and that others of you would dare to lay a bold hand on the useless treasure you are amassing from year to year. And what would be the result, were you to act as the disciples of a crucified Master; to impose upon yourselves real sacrifices; to abstract from your ease, your enjoyments, your pleasures, and from what you call the necessaries of life; in which, however, there is so much that is superfluous ? What would be the result, were you to enter into the spirit of that fine sentiment of David, “Neither will I offer burnt-offerings unto the Lord my God of that which cost me nothing ?”
Brethren, I will not, I cannot, tax you. But compare what you give with the contributions of the first Christians, not merely at Jerusalem, but in other churches. “We do you to wit of the grace
of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia,” said St. Paul to the Corinthians. • The
grace of God bestowed upon them.” Mark the expression! “How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality. For to their power, I bear them record, and beyond their power, they were willing of themselves; praying us with much entreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.” O, my brethren, when will you press us to receive; and when shall we be required to check your zeal ?
• This discourse was delivered in 1841.
Compare what you give with what is contributed in our own times. By whom? the richest nations of the globe ? the English ? the Americans ? No! but by the emancipated Negroes. The five hundred thousand Negroes of Jamaica-slaves who only a short time ago recovered their liberty—have lately contributed, in the course of one year, for purposes of religion and benevolence, from 1,200,000 to 1,500,000 francs ;* an enormous sum, considering their poverty; and double, treble, quadruple, quintuple, perhaps, what has been given during the same time, and for a similar purpose, by all the Protestants of France together. Compare what you give with what the law of Moses required the Jews to give for the support of their worship, and the maintenance of their poor. The tenth part of their income was for the Levites, and the fortieth in addition for the Priests. They were required to give up the produce of fruit-trees during the first four years ; the first-fruits of all their crops; the sixtieth part of their harvests; the produce of the ground during the year of jubilee, which occurred every seven years; and debts contracted during the intervals of jubilee : add to this the personal tax of a half-shekel, numerous sacrifices, oblations, and journeys to Jerusalem ; and it will be found that God imposed upon his people a tribute exceeding the third part of their income.t Who durst propose to us such sacrifices ? And yet,
• We only mention here contributions which have been published. There are many others, on their part as well as our own, which can enter into no human calcu. lation, being known only to God.
+ This calculation is extracted from that beautiful sermon of Saurin, “On Alms." Perhaps this is only an approximation to a correct estimate. We must not, moreover, forget that the condition of the Jews was dissimilar to ours, especially before the appointment of their Kings. This new order of things effected a complete change. (1 Sam. viii. 11-18.) To that time they had had a peculiar form of government, which might be denominated “a republican theocracy;" in which the principal direction of affairs was in the hands of the Priests. The sums calculated by Saurin might embrace civil, as well as religious, taxes ; and, by that supposition, they would correspond not only to our voluntary contributions in favour of religion and benevolence, but, in addition, to the amount we are required to pay to the support of the State. The calculation of Saurin is, however, on the whole, correct. Perhaps the proportion at which he arrives should be decreased; but even then the result must astonish, nay, even confound, us. It must also be remembered, that, independently of these regular contributions, the Jews gave on certain occasions with a liberality that has never been equalled by us. If we can place reliance on the calculations of commentators, David must have given on one occasion, for the erection of the temple, without adverting to preceding offerings for the same object, a sum equivalent to four hundred and fifty millions of our money ; and the Princes of the tribes, to seven hundred and fifty millions. There may be some doubt respecting these calculations; but, taking the sums at the lowest estimate, the amount is enormous; and the feelings which David experienced, on account of this collection, are remarkable. Let us quote a portion of this beautiful narrative : “ Then the people rejoiced, for that they offered willingly, because with perfect heart they offered willingly to the Lord: and David the King also rejoiced with great joy. Wherefore David blessed the Lord before all the congregation : and David said, Blessed be thou, Lord God of Israel our Father, for ever and ever.
should love achieve less under the new dispensation, than the law accomplished under the old ? If God, treating us with all the confidence of a Father, thinks it enough to say, “ Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and thy neighbour as thyself," and leave us to make the application of this perfect rule, shall we abuse that confidence in order to dispense with what we owe to God and our neighbour?
We do not, I repeat it, pretend to impose a tax upon you, when God has not done it. What we desire—what God himself has purposed in establishing so beautiful an order—is, that charity should tax Fou, " every one as God hath prospered him.” (1 Cor. xvi. 2.) But the love of money stifles this charity. One man lives in the enjoyment of all the delicacies of life, and abandons a relative, a brother, perhaps even a father, or a mother, to contend with the privations and toils of poverty. Another wealthy man expends less during one year
the support of charitable institutions, than he lavishes away in one day in the maintenance of his family. A fashionable female, who can with difficulty spare five or ten francs for the advancement of the kingdom of God, can find five hundred or a thousand to squander in a few hours in an evening entertainment. A wealthy country Esquire, from whom it is difficult to extract a few francs for the evangelization of France, or even the whole world, can furnish some thousands for the Thine
, O Lord, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O Lord, and thou art exalted as Head above all. Both riches and honour come of thee, and thou reignest over all ; and in thine hand is power and might; and in thine hand it is to make great, and to give strength unto all. Now therefare
, our God, we thank thee, and praise thy glorious name. But who am I, and that is my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly after this sort ? for all things come of thee, and of thine own have we given thee. For we are strangers before thee, and sojourners, as were all our fathers : our days on the earth are as a shadow, and there is none abiding. O Lord our God, all this store that we have prepared to build thee an house for thine holy name cometh of thine hand, and is all thine own. I know also, my God, that thou triest the heart, and hast pleasure in uprightness. As for me, in the uprightness of mine heart I have willingly offered all these things : and now have I seen with joy thy people, which are present here, to offer willingly unto thee. O Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, our fathers
, keep this for ever in the imagination of the thoughts of the heart of thy people, and prepare their heart unto thee.” (1 Chron. xxix. 9_18.) We must also remember, that when Moses had solicited offerings for the building of the tabernacle in the wilderness, “ the wise men who wrought all the work of the sanctuary came every man from his work which they made; and they spake to Moses, saying, The people bring much more than enough for the service of the work which the Lord commanded to make. And Moses gave commandment, and they caused it to be proclaimed throughout the camp, saying, Let neither man nor woman make any Etre work for the offering of the sanctuary. So the people were restrained from bringing.” (Exod. xxxvi. 4_6.)
How are the times changed ! And how humi. listing is this to us! The plan of our pecuniary contributions needs a complete Perision. What is required is not only larger gifts, but now principles.
erection of a more splendid or commodious house. O, my friends, bear with my freedom of speech! I refer to none of you in particular; and I request that no one will apply these remarks to any
but himself. But I speak of things which every one knows and sees ; and, should I hold my peace, the very stones would cry out. What covetousness in the world! What covetousness in the church! What covetousness in the city! What covetousness in the country !
But I return to you, my dear hearer. I am not now immediately concerned with society generally, but with you alone. Lay your hand upon your conscience. Forget the poor singer who addresses you. Suppose that Jesus Christ, your Lord and God, should approach you, and say, with that look which pierces the heart, and with that divine unction which stirs it to the very bottom, “ Friend,” (thus he accosted the covetous Judas,) “ art thou my friend, or the friend of money ?"
feel that the truth condemns you, do not exclude the light; do not tear away the arrow which pierces your heart. You are living in sin, and in sin which will destroy you. You must escape ; whatever it costs you, you must escape. If the Lord says to all, “Take heed, and beware of covetousness,” he says to you, “ Take heed, and save yourselves from covetousness.” But how? I will tell you in closing, and with brevity : a few words will suffice, if you are sincere; if not, all the arguments in the world will effect nothing.
“ Save yourself from avarice!" O, but that is the work of God alone. It is; but God can do it: he has done it for others. We have seen the most confirmed money-lovers transformed into liberal men. Witness Zaccheus, that publican, that man of wicked life, enriched by doing wrong to his neighbour; not only is he effectually changed, but he is changed in one day. Take him for your model. Zaccheus did two things : first, he became a disciple of Christ ; secondly, he disposes of his property for Christ. Do likewise. Give this day your heart and your hand to the Lord.
You must begin with the heart. The love of money is in the heart: what must be done to expel it? Must you adopt the resolute determination to contend with and vanquish it? That is the advice of the moralists of the age ; and for that reason they have cured no one. Even Seneca could exhibit an example of covetousness, while thundering against it in his eloquent pages. The Gospel takes a totally different method. It opens the heart to another love, the love of Christ. There is in the heart of man a thirst, only tantalized by the love of money, wbich the love of Christ will quench. Give your heart to Christ. It is not difficult : to love him, you have only to contemplate him. You have read the Gospel, but not with attention. Return to it; asking, on your bended knees, the Holy Spirit of Christ to explain and apply his word. Behold Him, that holy and just One! separate from sinners, raised above the heavens, descending to earth, " to seek and save that which was lost,"—to seek and save you! See