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Jerusalem in the days of Ezra, we are informed by that sacred historian, that, when“ he weighed the silver and the gold, and the vessels, the offering of the house of the Lord, which the king and his lords and all Israel there present had offered," it amounted to 4 650 talents of silver, and silver vessels an hundred talents, and of gold an hundred talents; also twenty basins of gold, of a thousand drams, and two vessels of fine copper, precious as gold.” The whole value of this dedicated treasure, calculated at the rate formerly stated, would amount to £761,250.7
But, the most munificent donation of this kind any where recorded, is that of David, for the purpose of rearing a temple for the worship of Jehovah.
In chapter xxii. of the first book of Chronicles, verse 14, we are informed, that David “in his trouble prepared for the house of the Lord an hundred thousand talents of gold, and a thousand thousand talents of silver; and of brass and iron without weight," and in chapter xxix. 3—9, it is stated, that beside this sum there were given " three thousand talents of gold, of the gold of Ophir, and seven thousand talents of refined silver to overlay the walls of the houses." His princes, captains, and the chief of the fathers likewise “offered willingly to the amount in gold of " five thousand talents and ten thousand drams, and of silver ten thousand talents, and of brass eighteen thousand talents, and one hundred thousand talents of iron." The whole of these offerings, besides the brass, and iron, amounted to 108,000 talents of gold, and 1,017,000 talents of silver. Now, as the talent of gold has been estimated by some at £5,425, and the talent of silver at £342—the whole of this treasure would not be much less than a thousand millions of pounds sterling. And we are told, that, in so far from being given with a grudge, “ the people rejoiced, for that they offered willingly; because with perfect heart they offered willingly to the Lord; and David the king also rejoiced with great joy, and blessed the Lord before all the congregation,” ascribing
* Ezra viii. 25-27.
the whole of this treasure, and the liberal dispositions of the donors to Him who is the creator of heaven and earth, and the original source of every blessing. “All things come of thee, and of thine own have we given thee. All this store we have prepared to build thee an house, for thy holy name coineth of thine hand, and is all thine own.'
Several other examples might have been produced to illustrate the liberality which was displayed under the Old Testament economy, especially when the people were stirred up to engage in a work of reformation; but' the above may suffice to show that much more liberal offerings were voluntarily brought forward in the Jewish church than have generally been contributed under the Christian dispensation. And will any one presume to deny, that the liberality displayed by pious worshippers among the Jews, ought to be imitated by the faithful under the New Testament economy? The examples of the pious Israelites, in this respect, were undoubtedly intended as a pattern to the Christian church, and the offerings then made may be considered as typical or emblematical of the more splendid offerings which would be exhibited by New Testament saints, when “ God shall appear in his glory to men, and build up the walls of his Jerusalem," and cause “Zion to appear beautiful and glorious in the eyes of the nations." Let it not, however, be imagined, that we are merely to imitate the Old Testament saints, and to rise no higher in our contributions than what was requisite under that economy. For Christians are called to a much more arduous and extensive work than the nation of Israel. THE FIELD of Divine labor in which Christians are called to be employed, " IS THE WORLD;" and the tenth part of this field has not yet been subdued or cultivated. And the call addressed to the church by Him who hath all power and authority in heaven and on earth, is, “ Preach the gospel to every creature." In proportion, then, to the superior grandeur and magnificence of the enterprise should be the munificence of the contributions by which it is to be accomplished. In this enterprise, Christian females as
well as males ought to be actively engaged ; and a noble example is set them by the female Israelites who took an active part in preparing materials for the tabernacle in the wilderness. “ All the women that were wise-hearted, did spin with their hands, and brought that which they had spun of blue and of purple and of scarlet and of fine linen. 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 offered them to the Lord.” In this work of faith and labor of love, every human being, male and female, young and old, ought to take a part, till the fabric of the Christian church be completely reared, and established in every region of the globe.
3. The proportion of wealth whích Christians should appropriate for the service of God, and the renovation of the world, may be deduced from the predictions of the ancient prophets.
In those prophecies which have a respect to the future glory of Messiah's reign, there are frequent references to the treasures which will be brought forward to promote the prosperity of his kingdon. In the seventy-second Psalm, which contains predictions respecting the prosperity and universal extension of the kingdom of the Redeemer, we are told, that “ the kings of Tarshish and of the Isles shall bring presents; the kings of Sheba and Seba shall offer gifts," and that " the gold of Sheba" shall be brought as an offering to his service-evidently implying that the converts from among the Gentiles would consecrate a portion of their wealth for the promotion of his kingdom, and that the treasures, thus devoted, would be large and munificent in proportion to the rank and riches of the donors. In the sixtieth chapter of Isaiah, this subject is introduced, and exhibited in every variety of aspect. That portion of prophecy has for its object to delineate the prosperity of the gospel church in the latter days, its universal extension, the joy of its members, and the rich and diversified gifts which would be voluntarily brought
forth and devoted to its interests. • The abundance of the sea," or the wealth conveyed in ships,“ shall be converted unto thee, the forces,” or, as it should be rendered, “ the wealth of the Gentiles shall come unto thee; the multitudes of camels shall cover thee, the dromedaries of Midian and Ephah; all they from Sheba shall come; they shall bring gold and incense, and shall show forth the praises of the Lord.” Camels and dromedaries constitute the principal riches of a portion of Arabia, where the descendants of Midian and Ephah resided ;. and the country of Sheba was distinguished for its gold. Hence we are told by the prophet Ezekiel, “the merchants of Sheba traded at the fairs of Tyre in spices, in gold, and in all precious
“The flocks of Kedar shall be gathered together unto thee; the rams of Nebiaoth shall minister unto thee; they shall come up with acceptance upon mine altar and I will glorify the house of my glory.” As the chief wealth of the Arabians consisted in their camels and dromedaries, so the wealth of the inhabitants of Kedar consisted chiefly in their flocks in which they traded with the merchants of Tyre as stated by the prophet, “The Arabians and all the princes of Kedar traded with thee in rams and lambs and goats.”+
These descriptions plainly intimate, that in whatever commodities the riches of any people consist, the converts of Zion will bring a large portion of these treasures, as an expression of their gratitude, to promote the honor of God, and the extension of his kingdom ; and, that they will consider it as a matter of course, when they make a profession of their faith in the Redeemer and enter the gospel church, that they will bring along with them their worldly substance to be devoted to his service. This is likewise stated in the following passage, “Surely the isles shall wait for me, and the ships of Tarshish first, to bring thy sons from far, their silver and their gold with them unto the name of the Lord thy God, and to the holy one of Israel, because he hath glorified thee.” The grand motive which will animate the hearts of these converts is here
* Ezek. xxvii. 22.
+ Ibid. ver. 21.
expressed—“ Because he hath glorified thee.". Their hearts will be so inflamed and expanded with a sense of the grace and condescension of the Redeemer, with the importance of the great salvation, and with the high dignity to which they are exalted as “the sons of God,” that they will consider the consecration of their earthly treasures, as nothing more than a small expression of their gratitude, "to him who loved them and washed them from their sins in his own blood, and who hath made them kings and priests to God and his Father.” It is farther stated as a display of the munificence of Zion's converts at that period, and of the eternal and spiritual grandeur of the church :--" The glory of Lebanon shall come unto thee, the fir tree, the pine tree and the box together, to beautify the place of my sanctuary, and I will make the place of my feet glorious.” This description may denote, that the temples reared for the worship of Jehovah, and every thing connected with his service will be beautified with every chaste ornament befitting the sanctity of his ordinances, and the entightened views and improved condition of the citizens of Zion. And it may likewise intimate, that persons endowed with splendid accomplishments, extensive knowledge, persuasive eloquence, and with heavenly dispositions, will be raised up to adorn the church of God, and to display the beauties of holiness, as the timber of the different kinds of trees here mentioned, adorned the sanctuary and the most holy place in the temple of Solomon. In both these respects, the riches of Zion's citizens will be required, and it will be abundantly supplied.
The above stated predictions, and several others which might have been quoted, evidently show, that, in New Testament times, when God is about “to appear in his glory to men,” and “to repair the desolations of Zion," immense treasures of all descriptions will be voluntarily contributed by her converts to promote her prosperity and to accomplish the purposes of Divine benevolence. All that has hitherto been given for the support of the true church of Christ, will bear no proportion to the vast treasures which will then be