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GIVING MORE BLESSED THAN RECEIVING.
ACTS 20:35. It is more blessed to give than to receive.
WHEN Paul uttered these words, his heart was full of sorrow. his way to Jerusalem, he had sent for the elders of the church at Ephesus to meet him at Miletus, that he might have the pleasure, and that they might have the improvement, of a parting interview. When they had come together, he faithfully warns them of the dangers to which as a church they were exposed. He commends them to God and the word of his grace. He reminds them that he had labored with his own hands, while with them, for his own subsistence, and for that of those that were with him. To convince them that he sought not their gold nor silver, but that he sought themselves; though he was justly entitled to the means of life and comfort, as the reward of his labors for their souls; he gives them an example of generosity and self-denial which he enjoins that they imitate. He then enforces the duty with the words of Christ: "It is more blessed to give than to receive."
The devotion, the purity, and sincerity of affection, with which this parting scene was marked, is worthy of universal admiration. He had told them, that "the Holy Ghost had borne him witness in every city that bonds and imprisonment awaited him." He had told them "that they would see his face no more." His heart was full of desire for their future welfare. On bended knees he pours out his soul before God on their behalf. "He kneeled down and prayed for them all." Their hearts gave full vent to sorrow. "They fell upon his neck and kissed him." How melancholy and affecting was the sentiment,
ye shall see my face no more." How could they bear the thought? Shall we never again see that face, on which all the anxieties of thy soul for our salvation were so strongly, and so faithfully represented? Shall we see that face no more, over which the tear of compassion so often flowed, while thy lips pronounced those solemn warnings by which we have been excited to escape from hell and sin? Shall we never again be blessed with beholding that brow expanded with the heavenly joy which thy heart felt, when our souls were brought from
sin to God? See the face of him no more, who was our light and our guide on our way to heaven? Solemn and affecting was the occasion! If ever words were spoken with honest seriousness by mortal man, these words were so spoken: "It is more blessed to give than to receive."
To inculcate with success, this sentiment on minds of a certain description, I am well aware, is a vain pretension. Arguments, opposed to dispositions and habits long cherished and indulged, are thrown back upon their author, with all that violence of contempt which is due to an invader of rights and property. Persuasion, too, which seldom fails of success, with hearts where sensibility remains, or where humanity, through exorbitancy of passion, has not been converted into mere ferocity of temper, falls on them as unimpressive, as musical sounds on the deaf Calypso and her nymphs. The love of gain, their darling passion, is all their soul. They cannot be perceived to possess a different quality. Shrivelled and contracted, their minds perform their revolutions in an egg shell. But I trust, I do not address an audience, who never knew the pleasure of a generous action. I address those who know how to be charitable, and liberal, and kind; who have felt so much of human misery, as to take a share in another's wo. I address Christians, whose Master has taught them to feed the hungry, and to clothe the naked. They have heard and admired the benignity of Jesus in preaching the gospel to the poor. They need not be told, that Christians possessing the ability, are bound as instruments of Providence to perpetuate the blessing. In yonder cottage, you discern a little group; dark in visage through exposure to a burning sun; coarse their fare, and coarse their manners. Their chair and their table the rude earth. If not naked, they are covered with rags. The rude winter, regardless of their defenceless condition, assails them with unmitigated fury; half petrified with cold they cling to each other around their little ill-warmed hearth. Are they unimportant beings? Look within them! There lives a soul capable, through grace, of enjoying heaven! There dwells a spirit liable to the burning of eternal fire. Turn your eyes to the wilderness-consider the condition of the untaught savage. He reads indeed of God; but it is upon the surface of the cloud gathering storm! He sees of God; but it is in the glare of the lightning and the ruin of the storm! He hears of God; but it is in the roar of the thunder and the tempest's crash! The broad pages of the books of creation and providence, show no where written upon them the blessed name-Jesus Savior. The still, small voice that invites the lost and wandering home to heaven, the poor heathen has never heard. He has never breathed in the fragrant atmosphere; where are the pastures on which the Savior feeds his flock. Surely to give for their relief is more blessed than to receive.
The principle which my text embraces is materially the same with that which has been extolled in every age. It is this that inspires the patriot's breast, when he offers on the altar of public good his farm and his well-earned wealth; his home, and the companions of his youth; his wife, and the domestic circle; the faint, though only traits of an earthly