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worthy to be borne in mind, that the vicious poor have, in one view, special claim upon our commiseration, because they have no portion either in this world or in that which is to come. The duty of relieving the needy is one much insisted on in the Scriptures. "To do good, and to communicate, (writes an Apostle,) forget not; for with such sacrifices God is well pleased." And the same Apostle directs Timothy to "charge them that are rich in this world, that they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate, laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life."
2. Another mode of honoring the Lord with our substance is by devoting it to the maintenance of gospel institutions in our own community. It needs no argument to prove that God is honored where his Sabbaths are sanctified, his worship is celebrated, and his word is dispensed; and that he is dishonored where the Sabbath is profaned, his worship is neglected, and his word and ordinances are unheeded. Everybody knows that without the gospel a people will inevitably sink into infidelity, immorality, and profligacy. Everybody knows that where no sanctuary is, there vice in all its forms abounds, and God is insulted by every kind of wickedness. Every considerate person realizes that he is deeply indebted to the gospel for his security, comfort, and temporal prosperity,-that it has to him a value which he cannot estimate in money. And such being the case, every man is under a moral obligation to contribute to its support. And no one who possesses common honesty will refuse to do it. No one will refuse who has an enlightened regard for his own worldly interests. And especially will no one refuse who has any regard for God's honor, or any concern for the spiritual and eternal wellbeing of himself and those around him. But granting that the gospel must be sustained, and that every man ought to aid cheerfully in its maintenance,-what kind of a support should a people accord to him who ministers to them in holy things? This question is now asked by many with unwonted interest. And doubtless it is time it should be; for an ill-judged parsimony on the part of many of our churches is producing its legitimate fruits, in the diminished number of those who devote themselves to the sacred office. The unanswered call for pastors which is now heard from many of the feebler parishes in all parts of our land, conveys a reproof to the Christian public for not having made suitable provision for their spiritual teachers. The answer to the question how much the minister of the gospel should receive must of course depend upon circumstances. But it is certain that a people disposed to honor the Lord with their substance, will afford him if able, something more than a scanty subsistence. They will grant him such a support as will enable him to devote himself to his appropriate work without distraction, or solicitude about his pecuniary concerns. They will not
compel him to study economy so much as to be obliged to neglect his professional studies. They will so provide for him as to secure his highest efficiency and usefulness. Nor do I suppose that a people greatly exceed their duty if they enable their pastor to lay up in store something for subsistence in sickness or old age. Those at least who maintain that they ought to do this for themselves can hardly object to his doing of it. Any people, certainly, provided they really possess the ability, will find it no less for their interest, than for their minister's, to furnish him a liberal support. But whatever they contribute, be it little or much, they should bestow cheerfully, not as a charity, but as a debt.
3. I shall here mention but one other mode in which we may honor the Lord with our substance, and that is, by employing it for the diffusion of the gospel in the benighted portions of the earth. The religion of Christ is designed for men universally. It is fitted to confer upon all others the same blessings which it has conferred upon us. It is indispensable to the temporal well-being of people of every nation and clime, as well as to the salvation of their souls. The Christian Church is required by the great law of love to give the gospel to the whole world. Christ has commanded his disciples to preach it to every creature. The Church has begun to feel and acknowledge her obligation to obey this command. She has in earnest commenced the work of evangelizing the nations. God has smiled upon her efforts, and is urging her forward by the voice of his Providence. He has opened before her almost every land under the whole heaven. And he has given her the means necessary for accomplishing the great work which he is calling upon her to perform. Nothing seems more certain than that, if she display proper energy and perseverance,-proper liberality and prayerfulness,the kingdoms of this world will, ere long, become the kingdoms of Christ. But the work which has been devolved upon his church by her Lord, is a work not for a part of her members, but for the whole. Every individual Christian is in duty bound to bear a share of the burden, and cannot either justly or safely throw it off upon others. He who has bought us with a price, my brethren, has made it our duty to do what we can to enlighten and save those who sit in the region and shadow of death; and we can never free ourselves from the obligation to contribute to this object, so long as there exists a single nation or tribe to which the offer of salvation has not been made. And surely no one who has a heart to honor the Lord with his substance, or indeed in any other way, will ask or desire to be excused from aiding in so beneficent and glorious a work.
Let it be borne in mind, however, that not every act of giving even for such objects as have been mentioned, is a compliance with the injunction contained in our text. Would we honor the Lord with our substance, we must have this end distinctly in
view in our benefactions. The man who contributes to the cause of benevolence, no matter how liberally, from ostentation, or to avoid the charge of meanness, or to escape importunity, or merely because he approves of the object, without any recognition of God's claim, or any feeling of obligation, does not honor the Lord. He may perform an act highly useful in its results, and one which brings honor to himself, but it will not be such an one as God has enjoined, and will not secure the honor that comes from him.
And, moreover, if we would honor the Lord with the property which he has entrusted to our stewardship, the offerings we make to him must bear a reasonable proportion to the amount of our possessions. We may insult as well as honor him with our gifts. The significance and acceptableness of a religious offering does not depend altogether upon its intrinsic value, but also upon the ability of the offerer, and the spirit with which he makes it. The poor widow was highly commended by our Lord for casting two mites into his treasury; but it was because, in the true spirit of self-denial, "she cast in all that she had, even all her living." Had she been anything but a poor widow, she would have received something very different from a commendation from the Saviour. A poor man may honor the Lord by the contribution of a shilling, while a rich one would insult him with the same sum.
II. Let us now consider the promise whereby we are encouraged to perform the duty enjoined in the text: "So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.” We are here taught that God will repay us for our beneficence with temporal prosperity,-that he will reward us with increased substance for the substance with which we honor him. We are told that Christian liberality is the true road to worldly prosperity, to say nothing of the spiritual good resulting from it. Do we believe this doctrine, my hearers? Have we a practical faith in this portion of God's word? For my own part, I see not why it is not as well worthy of credence as the rest of the Bible. I know not why we may not rely upon it as safely as upon any other of the Divine promises. And yet it is but too evident that many, even among the Lord's professed people, have little or no confidence in this particular assurance of his,-not even enough to induce them to verify its truth by experiment. Were there but a practical belief of this promise throughout the Church, the Lord's treasury would never be found empty, and the means would never be wanting for carrying forward any truly benevolent and important enterprise. If we need any confirmation of God's word, we may find it by observing the course of his Providence; for his word and Providence always speak the same language. Solomon gives us in the text the result of his observation; and, probably, no man ever observed more closely and carefully than he. A multitude of witnesses might be cited to
prove that it is profitable to honor the Lord with our substance. Mr. Baxter, whose name I have already mentioned, gives us, in these words, the result of his experience: "This truth I will speak for the encouragement of the charitable, that what little money I have now by me, I got it almost all, I scarcely know how, at that time when I gave most; and since I have had less opportu nity of giving, I have had less increase. If we look about us we shall find both on a large and small scale, abundant exemplifications of the truth, that giving to the Lord does not impoverish. When has the American Church enjoyed so much of prosperity, temporal as well as spiritual, as since she entered upon the work of sending Missionaries, Bibles and Tracts, into all lands? And why is God now pouring into her coffers the gold of California, except to enable and encourage her to abound more and more in this work? Does any Christian man, any man who has faith in God, and really believes his word,-imagine that the Church in this land is not the richer for what she has done for the heathen world? She has, indeed, expended millions in her benevolent efforts, but has she not now more millions at her disposal-millions which she can easily spare,-than she ever had before? As with the Church at large, so with particular churches. Show me one that is intent upon honoring God with its substance, and I will show you one that he is prospering. And the same is true of individuals. God honors those who honor him. The liberal soul he makes fat. He fulfils the promise,-"Give and it shall be given unto you,-good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom." There are, doubtless, exceptions, real or apparent, but such is the general fact. It is a mistake to suppose that beneficence tends to impoverish us. And a still grosser mistake is it to imagine that a community is any the poorer for sustaining gospel institutions among themselves. The gospel, even in a pecuniary point of view, is worth all that it costs. God never designed that it should be, in any sense, a debtor to those that sustain it. And so well is this understood by worldly men, that it is not uncommon for them to build churches and sustain the ministry in places where they own large property, merely because they find their advantage in so doing. Should this place, or, indeed, any other place around us, be deprived of the gospel, it admits of little question that, in a few years, more would be annually expended in vicious indulgences, and in punishing crime, than is now paid for all religious purposes whatever. God so administers the affairs of this world, that our duty and our interest always coincide with each other. There is, indeed, a limit beyond which we are not required to pass, in our contributions to religious and charitable objects. Where that limit is each one must determine for himself. There is little danger that we shall exceed it, but much that we shall stop short of it. We need to bear in mind, my hearers, the claim which God has to our sub
stance. We need to remember that we are to account to him for the use we make of it, as really as for any other portion of our conduct. Whatever be the amount we possess, we are bound to honor him with it. If God has given us much he requires much of us; and if he has conferred but little, he requires but little. Would we increase our possessions, let us honor the Lord with what we already have; not forgetting another inspired declaration: "There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty."
ALL-SUFFICIENCY OF THE SCRIPTURES.
We are much mistaken, if there is not a tendency in our times, even among some theologians, to a style of thinking, profitable neither to themselves nor to the church, and well calculated to promote the spirit of skepticism. It is the restless ultraism of human philosophy, proud of its wisdom, adventurous and presumptuous in its speculation, enriching its fancy sketches and wonderful dreams with the embroidery of genius, startling mankind with new religious theories, scouting all the old paths, sometimes making a bid for the reputation of originality, blazing over the horizon of Scripture thought with secrets from the far-off land, supplementing the Bible, and implying its insufficiency to guide the faith of men. To our apprehension, there is more weakness than wisdom, more darkness than light, more skepticism than faith, more sin than piety, in this course. To the earnest Christian the revealed track is plain enough, entirely sufficient for every want of his intellect and heart: it is a strong and solid pathway, erected across the deep and dangerous marsh of life, on which the discreet and cautious believer is content to tread, and make his way to heaven; yet the wild and furious speculators keep stepping off on either side; and there they are, gasping for breath, sometimes arraigning their Maker, and not at all satisfied to be men. It is dangerous to follow them: one who makes the attempt, will have to jump over so many hedges, as most likely to produce death by a concussion of the intellect. While it is difficult to have much respect for their intellectual habits, we pity them, and earnestly wish that they were wiser men. For legitimate thought, whether in philosophy or religion, we go to all lengths; but of the foolish effort to transcend the boundaries of reason, and usurp the functions of Omniscience, we have a very poor opinion. It is not the sober philosophy that makes the intellect modest, or the heart docile.
The sum, then, of what we would say, is, that the Scriptures are sufficient, all-sufficient fort heir own purposes. They must so appear to God; and they will so appear to man, whenever he