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the purposes of philanthropy and religion. Supposing the population of Great Britain to amount to 16,000,000, and reckoning only 2,000,000 heads of families, or the eighth part of the population to be connected with a Christian church; and supposing farther, that only one fiftieth of these, or 40,000, have incomes averaging £500; the tenth of those incomes would produce a sum of £2,000,000. Supposing the tenth part of the remaining population, 196,000, to have incomes of #200 a year, the annual tithe would be £3,920,000. Suppose the remaining 1,764,000, to have, at an average, £80 per annum, its tithe would amount to £14,112,000, so that the whole of this supposed annual tithe of income would amount to above twenty millions of pounds, which is more than forty times the amount of the annual funds of the Bible, Missionary, and other philanthropic societies in Great Britain, which do not amount to half a million. In this calculation, I have not taken into account a million or two of grownup individuals, belonging to the different families in the kingdom, who have separate establishments from their parents, and who might be supposed to contribute several millions of pounds. Nor have I taken into the calculation several thousands of the nobility and gentry, who occupy the highest places of society—some of whom could afford from one to ten thousand pounds annually, and which would add a considerable number of millions to the sum above stated. If such sums could be raised, without subtracting any substantial comfort from a single individual, how small is the number of Christians worthy of the name, to be found in our country 1 since the fiftieth, or even the hundredth part of this sum can scarcely be raised among all the ranks and denominations of Religious society. But much more than even the above stated proportion ought, in numerous instances, to be devoted to religion and philanthropy. If, for example, a person has an income of £900 a year, I have no hesitation in saying, that, if he wish to act as a steward under God, for the distribution of his bounty, he ought to consecrate, at least, £400 annually to the promotion of Christianity
and general improvement. And, will any one aver,
that the remaining £500 is not sufficient to procure ev
ery comfort that a rational or Christian character
ought to desire. But the whole £900 it may be said,
is requisite for the individual to keep up the dignity of his station. If keeping up the pomp and dignity of a
station, is to be set in competition with the demands of religion, then let the individual take the world on his
back and march off as far as he can from Christian
society; for such persons have too frequently been a
pest to religious associations. Verily I say unto him he shall have his reward; but a reward after which, I trust in God, I shall never aspire. Let such remember
the Divine admonition, “Ye cannot serve God and
mammon.” There is an absolute incompatibility be
tween the service of the one and of the other; and he
who is not prepared to give up worldly maxims, pomp, , and splendor, and to devote his influence and his superflous wealth, to the cause of religion, ought not to assume the Christian name. • *
2. The voluntary contributions made at different times under the Jewish economy may be considered as a guide to direct us in the hiberality which should be displayed among Christians.
When the tabernacle was about to be reared in the wilderness, there was a noble display of liberality on the part of the people. “They came, both men and women, as many as were willing hearted, and brought bracelets, and ear-rings, and tablets, all jewels of gold; and every man that offered, offered an offering of gold to the Lord. And every man with whom was found blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen, and goats hair, and red skins of rams and badger's skins, brought them. Every one that did offer an offering of silver and brass, brought the Lord's offering; and all the women that were wise-hearted did spin with their hands, and brought that which they had spun, of blue, and of purle, and of scarlet, and of fine linen. The rulers rought onyx stones, and stones to be set for the ephod,
and for the breast-plate, and spice, and oil for the light, and for the anointing oil, and for the sweet incense.” &c.” Such was the holy ardor of both sexes, and of all ranks of the people, in bringing forward these voluntary offerings, that it was judged expedient to issue a proclamation to restrain their liberality. “The people bring much more than enough for the service of the work which the Lord commanded to make. And Moses gave commandment, and it was caused to be proclaimed without the camp, saying, Let neither man nor woman make any more work for the offering of the sanctuary.”f On this occasion, the amount of the offerings of gold and silver alone, was twenty-nine talents, and 730 shekels of gold, and 100 talents, and 1775 shekels of silver, which, reckoning according to the present value of British money, .# nearly equal the sum of four hundred thousand-pounds. To this sum must be added the value of the vast quantity of brass which was used in the construction of the court and furniture of the tabernacle—the rich embroidered curtains which covered it, and which surrounded the court; the jewels that were set in the High Priest's ephod and breast-plate, and various other materials and utensils which are stated in the description of this sacred edifice—all of which must have amounted to an immense sum. Yet all this treasure was brought forward with the greatest alacrity, by a nation that numbered little more than half a million of males, from twenty years old and upwards, and whose whole population must have been inferior to that of Scotland. . . .
At the dedication of the tabernacle, some time afterwards, the offerings of the twelve princes, or heads of the tribes of Israel, were likewise munificent, amounting in silver vessels to 2400 shekels of the sanctuary, and in gold vessels to 120 shekels, which, o; the silver shekel at five shillings, and the gold shekel at
* Exod. xxxv. 22–29. t xxxvi. 5, 6. f Xxxviii. 24, 25.,
§ Bishop Cumberland calculated the amount in English coin, to be £182.568. But as this calculation was made about a century ago, this sum requires to be more than doubled to express the present value of British money.
£30,” according to the present value of British money) would make £4200, or £350, for each of the princes. Besides these, there were likewise offered thirty-six bullocks, and 216 sheep, goats and lambs, which would amount to about £800 more. At the dedication of the Temple, Solomon offered a sacrifice of 22,000 oxen, and 120,000 sheep,t which, in value, was equal to more than £460,000, a sum which is greater than the amount of the whole funds of the “British and Foreign Bible Society,” during the first nine or ten years of its existence. When Hezekiah commenced a work of reformation among the people of Judah, similar costly sacrifices were voluntarily brought forward by the people. “The number of burnt offerings which the congregation brought, was 70 bullocks, 100 rams, 200 lambs; and the consecrated things, 600 oxen, and 3000 sheep; which would equal in value about £13,000. These, and other consecrated things, the people offered with the greatest cheerfulness and alacrity: “For as soon as the commandment came abroad, the children of Israel brought, in abundance, the first fruits of corn, wine, and oil, and honey, and all the increase of the field, and the tithe of holy things, which were consecrated to the Lord their God, and laid them by heaps,”: so that Hezekiah and his princes when they saw the heaps which had been collected from every part of the land, for four months, were filled with gratitude, and “blessed Jehovah, and his people Israel.” All these offerings flowed from the voluntary contributions of the people; and, although the Almighty does not need “to eat the flesh of bulls, or to drink the blood of goats,” yet we are commanded to offer unto God thanksgiving, and to pay our vows to the Most High.” These offerings, in connection with their typical references, were intended as a manifestation of the gratitude of the people to God for all his goodness, and an evidence of their desire to co-operate with him in promoting his merciful and gracious designs; and, with similar views ought all the contributions and offerings of Christians to be brought forward. When Josiah, the great grandson of Hezekiah, made preparations for a solemn passover to the Lord, “he #. to the people for the passover offerings, 30,000 ambs and kids, and 3000 bullocks.” “And his princes gave willingly to the people, the priests and the Levites. Hilkiah, Zechariah and Jehiel, rulers of the house of God, gave to the priests, for the passover, of. fering, 2600 small cattle and 300 oxen. Conaniah also, and Shemaiah and Nethaneel, his brethren, and Ha‘shabiah, and Jehiel, and Jozabad, chief of the Levites, gave to the Levites for passover offerings, 5,000 small cattle, and 500 oxen.” The expense of all these offerings, according to the value of such property in the present-day, would amount to about one hundred thousand pounds, of which 60,000 was given by the king. The offerings of the three rulers of the temple amounted to £13,400, or £4,350 to each; and those of the six chiefs of the Levites to £25,000, which is about £4,166 to each individual, which must certainly be considered as munificent donations, when we consider, that they were contributed only for one particular solemnity.” And let it also be remembered, that they were all vol. untary offerings, independent of the regular tithe and other contributions required from Jewish worshippers. Where have we such munificent donations from those members of the Christian Church who have incomes of several thousands a year ! If two or three philanthropic individuals, in the course of a generation, bestow such contributions for the interests of religion, it is considered as a kind of phenomenon in the Christian world. When the Israelites returned from Babylon to
* About the beginning of last century the Jewish silver shekel was valued at 2s. 6d. and the gold shekel at £15, corresponding to the value of money at that period; but as British money has increased in value since that time more than one-half, the silver shekel ought not to be valued at less than 5s, nor the gold one at less than £30 of British money at its present standard.—See Num. vii. 85–88 : , t 2 Chron. vii. 5.
t2 Chron. xxix. 32; xxxi. 5–7.