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our money well, we are guilty of his madness, that rather chooses to lock up eyes and hands, than to make himself forever blessed, by giving them to those that want them.
For after we have satisfied our own sober and reasonable wants, all the rest of our money is but like sparé eyes, or hands; it is something that we cannot keep to ourselves, without being foolish in the use of it, something that can only be used well, by giving it to those who want it.
Thirdly, If we waste our money, we are not only guilty of wasting a talent which God has given us, we are not only guilty of making that useless, which is so powerful a means of doing good, but we do ourselves this farther harm, that we turn this useful talent into a powerful means of corrupting ourselves; because so far as it is spent wrong, so far it is spent in the support of some wrong temper, in gratifying some vain and unreasonable desires, in conforming to those fashions and pride of the world, which, as Christians and reasonable men, we are obliged to renounce.
As wit and fine parts cannot be trifled away and only lost, but will expose those that have them into greater follies, if they are not strictly devoted to piety; so money, if it is not used strictly according to reason and religion, cannot only be trifled away, but it will betray pecple into greater follies, and make them live a more silly and evtravagant life, than they could have done without it. If, therefore, you don't spend your money in doing good to others, you must spend it to the hurt of yourself. You will act like a man that should refuse to give that as a cordial to a sick friend, though he could not drink it himself without inflaming his blood. For this is the case of superfluous money if you give it to those that want it, it is a cordial; if you spend it upon yourself in something that you do not want, it only inflames and disorders your mind, and makes you worse than you
would be without it. Consider again the forementioned comparison ; if the man that would not make a right use of spare eyes and hands, should by continually trying to use them himself, spoil his own eyes and hands, we might justly accuse hima of still greater madness.
Now this is truly the case of riches spent upon ourselves in vain and needless expenses ; in trying to use them where they have no real use, nor we any real want, we only use them to our great hurt, in creating unreasonable desires, in nourishing ill tempers, in indulging our passions, and supporting a worldly, vain turn of mind. For high eating and drinking, fine clothes, and fine houses, state and equipage, gay pleasures and diversions, do all of them naturally hurt and disorder our hearts; they are the food and nourishment of all the folly and weakness of our nature, and are certain means to make us vain and worldly in our tempers. They are all of them the support of something that ought not to be supported; they are contrary to that sobriety and piety of heart, which relishes divine things; they are like so many weights upon our minds, that make us less able, and less inclined to raise up our thoughts and affections to the things that are above.
So that money thus spent, is not merely wasted or lost, but it is spent to bad purposes, and miserable effects, to the corruption and disorder of our hearts, and to the making us less able to live up to the sublime doctrines of the Gospel. It is but like keeping money from the poor, to buy poison for ourselves.
For so much as is spent in the vanity of dress, may be reckoned so much laid out to fix vanity in our minds.So much as is laid out for idleness and indulgence, may be reckoned so much given to render our hearts dull and sensual. So much as is spent in state and equipage, may be reckoned so much spent to dazzle your own eyes, and render you the idol of your own imagination. And so in every thing, when you go from reasonable wants, you only support some unreasonable temper, some turn of mind, which every good Christian is called upon to re
So that on' all accounts, whether we consider our fortune as a talent and trust from God, or the great good that it enables us to do, or the great harm that it does to ourselves, if idly spent; on all these great accounts it
appears, that it is absolutely necessary, to make reason and religion the strict rule of using all our fortune.
Every exhortation in Scripture to be wise and reasonable, satisfying only such wants as God would have satisfied; every exhortation to be spiritual and heavenly, pressing after a glorious change of our nature; every exhortation to love our neighbour as ourselves, to love all mankind as God bas loved them, is a command to be strictly religious in the use of our money. For none of these tempers can be complied with, unless we be wise and reasonable, spiritual and heavenly, exercising a brotherly love, a godlike charity in the use of all our fortune. These tempers, and this use of our worldly. goods, is so much the doctrine of all the New Testament, that you cannot read a chapter, without being taught something of it. I shall only produce one remarkable passage of Scripture, which is sufficient to justify all that I have said concerning this religious use of all our fortune.
6 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit
the throne of his glory. And before him shall be gathered all nations; and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth the sheep from the goats; and he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink ; I was a stranger, and ye took me in ; naked, and ye clothed me; I was sick and ye visited me; I was in prison and ye came unto ine. Then shall he say unto them on the left hand, Depart from
me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was an hungered, and ye. gave me no meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink ; I was a stranger, and ye took me not in ; naked, and
ye clothed me not ; sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. These shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into life eternal.”
I have quoted this passage at length, because if one looks at the way of the world, one would hardly think,
that Christians had ever read this part of Scripture.-For what is there in the lives of Christians, that looks as if their salvation depended upon these good works? And yet the necessity of them is here asserted in the highest manner, and pressed upon us by a lively description of the glory and terrors of the day of judgment.
Some people, even of those who may be reckoned virtuous Christians, look upon this text only as a general recommendation of occasional works of charity; whereas it shews the necessity not only of occasional charities now and then, but the necessity of such an entire charitable life, as is a continual exercise of all such works of charity as we are able to perform.
You own that you have no title to salvation, if you have neglected these good works; because such persons as have neglected them, are at the last day to be placed on the left hand, and banished with a Depart ye cursed.
ere is, therefore, no salvation but in the performance of these good works. Who is it, therefore, that may be said to have performed these good works? Is it he that has sometimes' assisteď a prisoner; or relieved the poor or sick ? This would be as absurd, as to say,
that he had performed the duties of devotion, who had sometimes said his prayers. Is it, therefore, be that has several times done these works of charity ? This can no more be said, than he can be said to be the truly just man, who had done acts of justice several times. What is the rule therefore, or measure of performing these good works? How shall a man: trust that he performs them as he ought?
Now the rule is very plain and easy, and such as is common to every other virtue, or good temper, as well as to charity. Who is the humble, or meek, or devout, or just, or faithful man? Is it he that has several times done acts of bumility, meekness, devotion, justice, or fidelity? No. But it is he that lives in the habitual exercise of these virtues. In like manner, he only can be said to have performed these works of charity, who lives in the habitual exercise of them to the utmost of his power. He only has performed the duty of divine love, who loves God with all his heart, and with all his mind,.
and with all his strength. And he only has performed the duty of these good works, who has done them with all his heart, and with all his mind, and with all his strength. For there is no other measure of our doing good, than our power of doing it.
The Apostle St. Peter puts this question to our blessed Saviour, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him ; till seven times ? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, until seven Matt. iii. 22. times ; but until seventy times seven. Not as if after this number of offences, a man might then cease to forgive; but the expression of seventy times seven, is to shew us that we are not to bound our forgiveness by any number of offences, but are to continue forgiving the most repeated offences against us.
Thus our Saviour saith in another place, if he trespass against thee seven times in a Luke xvii. 4. day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent, thou shalt forgive him. If, therefore, a man ceases to forgive his brother, because he has forgiven him often already; if he excuses himself from forgiving this man, because he has forgiven several others; such a one breaks this law of Christ, concerning the forgiving one's brother.
Now the rule of forgiving, is also the rule of giving ; you are not to give, or do good to seven, but to seventy times seven.
You are not to cease from giving, because you have given often to he same person, or to other persons; but must look upon yourself as much obliged to continue relieving those that continue in wants, as you was obliged to relieve them once, or twice. Had it not been in your power, you had been excused from relieving any person once; but if it is in your power to relieve people often, it is as much your duty to do it often, as it is the duty of others to do it but seldom, because they are but seldom able. He that is not ready to forgive every brother, as often as he wants to be forgiven, does not forgive like a disciple of Christ. And he that is not ready to give to every brother, that wants to have something given him, does not give like a disciple of Christ. For it is as necessary to give to seventy times seven, to live in the continual exercise of all good