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comfort, or exceeding the bounds of moral obligation. “But this, I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully,” 2 Cor. ix. 6. The extent of contributing to benevolent and religious objects must be in proportion to the ability possessed ; “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required,” Luke xii. 48.
There are undoubtedly many pious people who would cheerfully give more to the cause of God if they had the means; but, “If there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man bath, and not according to that he hath not,” 2 Cor. viii. 12.
As to the mode of giving, the scriptures must be our guide. They teach us the spirit we should manifest. “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity; for God loveth a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you ; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work,” 2 Cor. ix. 7, 8.
What is given for the spread of the gospel, and the extension of the kingdom of Christ in the world, should be given cheerfully and freely. I have somewhere read two anecdotes bearing on this point, the substance of which is as follows:-Some of the islanders in the South Seas contributed freely, according to their means, to the missionary cause. Being destitute of silver and gold, they gave oil, cotton, arrowroot, and hogs. If any offerings were not freely presented, they were rejected, as they were informed there was no compulsion to give. One day a native brought a hog to the treasurer, and, throwing it at his feet, said, in an angry tone, “Here's a pig for your society.' “ Take it back again,” was the reply; “God does not accept angry pigs." The object of the institution, and the importance of supporting it
from right motives being explained to the man,
he exceedingly mortified at having to take his hog home again.
In Tahiti, a person brought a quantity of cocoa-nut oil to king Pomare in a bad spirit, exclaiming, “Here are five bamboos of oil; take them for your society.”
No,” said the king; “I will not mix your angry bamboos with the missionary oil; take them away." And he had to return with the gifts in his hands, grieved at having betrayed his meanness, and subjected himself to the rebuke of his more liberal neighbours.
Christians may not only manifest a spirit of benevolence by devoting a portion of their substance to religigious objects, but also by,
3. Example and active exertion. Paul's advice to Timothy is worthy of notice. “Be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity," 1 Tim. iv. 12. “Likewise, also, the good works of some are manifest beforehand; and they that are otherwise cannot be hid.” Ignorance prevails to a fearful extent. Men are blinded by the god of this world. They are ignorant of God, of Christ, and of the plan of salvation; "Having no hope, and without God in the world.” Hence the necessity of instruction. Men must be warned and instructed. To this urgent duty the apostle Paul was fully awake when writing to the Colossians : “Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.” But we must not conclude that ministers are the only qualified and authorised persons to teach the ignorant the way to heaven. There are many who are not qualified for the pulpit, but who are especially adapted for visiting the sick, and directing the penitent to “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” To instruct men in a spiritual point of
view, and to be instrumental in turning them from darkness to light, from sin to holiness, and from satan to God, is the highest good that can be conferred upon them. “Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way, shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins," Jam. V. 20. Signals to activity are waving in every wind; and voices from heaven, earth, and hell urge the church to greater efforts and increased zeal in prosecuting her high and glorious mission on earth. The love of God should constrain us to exert our influence to do good as we have opportunity. “For this thing the Lord thy God shall bless thee in all thy works, and in all thou puttest thine hand unto." Observe,
II. THE PRINCIPLE WHICH SHOULD INFLUENCE THIS
It should not be that of ostentation, nor merely for the sake of imitating some one who has contributed largely, and obtained the applause of men.
These are low and grovelling motives, and are unworthy of individuals professing godliness. Our deeds are good or bad according to the prineiple by which we are actuated. This was a point noticed by our Lord in his Sermon on the Mount. “ Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogue and in the streets, that they may be seen of men. But when thou doest thine alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right band doeth,” Matt. vi. 2, 3. It should be,
1. From a sense of duty. “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good ; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?" Micah vi. 8. “Thousands of
“ men,” said the late Dr. Chalmers, “ breathe, move, and live, pass off the stage of life, and are heard of no more. Wby? They did not a particle of good in the world;
and none were blessed by them, none could point to them as the instruments of their redemption; not a line they wrote, not a word they spoke could be recalled, so they perished: their light went out in darkness, and they were not remembered more than the insects of
yesterday. Will you thus live and die, 0! immortal man? Live for something. Do good, and leave behind you a monument of virtue that the storms of time can never destroy. Write your name, by kindness, love, and mercy, on the hearts of the thousands you come in contact with year by year, and you will never be forgotten. No! Your name, your deeds, will be as legible on the hearts you leave behind, as the stars on the brow of evening."
Having ascertained what is our duty to our Maker and to each other, we should resolve to act accordingly, whatever difficulties may throng the path of duty. We must not be actuated by impulses and momentary excitement in matters of religion, but from a conviction that this is “not a work of one day or two;" there must be principle, firmness, and perseverance. The christian character should be adorned by “Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report,” Phil. iv. 8.
True charity and religious principle are inseparably connected. This is illustrated in the following anecdote, furnished by the Rev. R. Young.
Some time ago, a poor woman in Cornwall, who thought she ought to do something for God's cause, brought her offering, and presented it. A gentleman who witnessed the act, said to her, “My good woman, you are very poor,-neither God nor man requires this sacrifice at your hands.” She looked at him, and, with an expression most significant, replied, “Sir, who made you a ruler and a judge over
me? Had you been standing at the treasury when the poor woman cast in her two mites, you would no doubt have addressed her in the same way; but our Saviour was there, and his language to her was that of encouragement and approbation; and the poor widow lost nothing, but gained much by this sacrifice; and I trust in God that it will be the same with myself.” How encouraging to read, that “God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name,” Heb. vi. 10. Our liberality must flow, 2. From a principle of humanity. “When the ear
. heard me, then it blessed me; and when the eye saw me, it gave witness to me: because I delivered the
that cried, and the fatherless, and him that had none to help him. The blessing of him that was ready to perish came upon me: and I caused the widow's heart to sing for joy. I put on righteousness, and it clothed me: my judgment was as a robe and a diadem. I was eyes to the blind, and feet was I to the lame. I was a father to the poor : and the cause which I knew not I searched out,” Job. xxix. 11-16.
One of the best evidences we can furnish of our regard for the weal of man, is to promote his present and future happiness. All are subject to afflictions, bereavements, and disappointments; and equally uncertain as to how long we have to live on earth, and all must meet at the judgment-seat of Christ. These considerations should induce us to act towards each other and towards all men with due respect and affection ; for he who fails in his duty to man must be a careless observant of his duty to God.
We must extend our thoughts beyond ourselves, or we shall violate the principles of religion, and incur the displeasure of the Almighty. Reciprocal affection, mutual sympathy, and christian generosity, are character