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required, as was once done, in the case of a certain rich individual, to “sell all that you have, and give to the poor,” as an evidence of the sincerity of your Christian profession ? or what if you were required to submit to persecutions and torments, like the first Christians, or to flee to deserts, and rocks, and mountains, like the pious and persecuted Waldenses? Would you consider such sacrifices too great for the sake of your Redeemer, and for the certain prospect of an eternal weight of glory? If not, how small a sacrifice is that now demanded, compared with the privations and sufferings of those illustrious characters of whom the world was not worthy, “who wandered about in sheep skins, and goats skins, in deserts, in mountains, in dens and caves of the earth, being destitute, afflicted, tormented 7” What would those Christian heroes have thought, had God thought proper to grant them the tenth part of your income 7 How would they have exulted in the Divine Beneficence? and, like Mr. Park, when he received a mess of pottage from an old negro woman in the wilds of Africa—would have exclaimed, “Thou hast prepared a table for us in the wilderness, in the presence of our enemies; our cup runneth over; surely goodness and mercy shall follow us all the days of our lives, and we shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” To the proposal now made, you will perhaps object, that the station of life in which you have hitherto moved, requires you to spend nearly all your income, that you cannot think of being singular, or altogether out of the fashion; that you must forego sumptuous entertainments, and might be considered by your genteel friends and acquaintances, as mean and niggardly; that you behoved sometimes to walk, when you might ride in a carriage; that you would be obliged to occupy a house of seven apartments, instead of ten; to deny yourself the luxury of a fine painting, Ör an elegant piece of furniture, or a sumptuous dress, similar to those of your compeers; that you must provide portions for your children, when you are gone ; along with many similar excuses which might be brought forward. But, on the slightest reflections, you will perceive that these are not Christian considerations, but arguments based on selfish principles and worldly views. To bring forward such excuses, is virtually to declare, that you consider the pomp and fashion of this passing world as more important than promoting the glory of Messiah's kingdom; that you would rather behold missionary enterprizes frustrated, and the heathen perishing by millions, than part with the luxury of a gig, or a landau; that you would rather see the poor starving, and dying of want, as they are now doing in aneighboring island,” than not enjoy with your gay friends your accustomed splendid entertainments; that you would see the industrious laborer without employment, and living in wretchedness, rather than abstract from luxury, a small sum for the melioration of human beings, and the improvement of society; that you would be- * hold another generation rising up in ignorance and vice, rather than part with an expensive and unnecessary piece of furniture, in order to assist in laying the foundation of universal instruction; or, that you would rather see the earth overspread with deserts, and its inhabitants living in the most wretched hovels, than resign two or three apartments not necessary to your comfort, for assisting in the renovation of the world. This is the plain English of all such selfish and fashionable excuses; and I am sure, that no Christian, who has his heart deeply impressed with a sense of Divine things, and of his obligations to God, will consider them as valid. With regard to laying up portions for children, I have already offered some remarks which need not be repeated. As a follower of Christ, you are called “to take up the cross,” and submit to some sacrifices for his sake. The Christian life is a warfare against the world, and the flesh, and “spiritual wickedness in high places;”
and therefore, you must lay your account to strive against many of the passions and propensities of your nature, to counteract, in some cases, your own taste and worldly feelings, and even to be “accounted,” as the Apostles were, “fools for Christ's sake.” But O, my Christian friend! how small a sacrifice is it to resign enjoyments which are little more than ideal, while every comfort, essential to human happiness, is still retained The consideration, of the happiness you may thus be the means of diffusing in various directions, ought to be far more than a compensation, for the slight sacrifice (if it may be so called.) of a portion of your pecuniary treasures. The effect, too, which your conduct, in this respect, may have to excite hundreds of your fellow Christians to follow your example, and the influence it may have, even on future generations, should be a powerful motive to constrain you “to devise liberal things,” in reference to the cause of God and religion, that you may be entitled to the highest rewards given to those who improve the talents committed to their trust, “Well done, good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” In the above remarks, I have supposed a Christian to be possessed of an annual income of £800. Were he possessed of an income of £2000 or £3000, I have In O ... in saying, that he ought to devote at least, the one half to the promotion of the great objects of religion, and general philanthropy; and that one whose income is £200, or under, not descending below £50 or £60, should devote at least, the one tenth of it to the same purpose. This proportion is no more than what was imperatively demanded by government, as a compulsory tax on all such incomes, during the late war; and the same sum is now requested on a voluntary principle, for a higher and nobler object. Let Christians seriously consider, as in the presence of God, and as indebted to him for the hope and prospects of eternal life, whether they dare, orought to refuse it. As to all lower incomes than those alluded to, a certain proportion ought likewise to be allotted for the same objects, except in the case of absolute poverty. Perhaps a twentieth, or a thirtieth at least, is the lowest rate, or proportion which should, in any case be allotted to the service of God.
2. Consider, that all the pecuniary efforts you can possibly make, are essentially requisite for the enlightening and regeneration of society, and that your parsimony may be the means of retarding the universal promulgation of the gospel.
I have already shown, in chapter VI. the vast extent of the enterprize to be undertaken, and of the work to be accomplished, and the immense sums requisite for carrying them forward; from which it will appear, that all the liberality that every Christian can display, is absolutely necessary in order to promote the renovation of the physical and moral world, and to diffuse the knowledge of divine truth among the nations. Almost all the departments of the social state require to be re-modelled—universal education, on a broad and universal basis, requires to be established in every land—the poor require to be furnished with employment, instruction and comfortable habitations—“the face of the earth” requires to be “renewed,” and the deserts, marshes, and barren wastes, transformed into fertile fields, and luxuriant vegetation—the 600 millions which people heathen nations, require to be instructed in the knowledge of the true God, and of Jesus Christ whom he hath sent—the “isles afar off must be visited, and vast continents explored, that their inhabitants may be visited with the day spring from on high and the knowledge of salvation.” . The gospel must be published to all nations, and the way prepared for the triumphant reign of Messiah over all kindreds and people. Every valley must be exalted, and every mountain and hill must be levelled, to prepare a high way for the approach of Him “to whom is given dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve Him”—“whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.” All these extensive and important objects require to be accomplished by the combined efforts of the citizens of Zion, in connection with the movements of Divine Providence and the operations of the Divine Spirit, and an imperious call is addressed to every one to engage in this holy enterprise. Say not ye, therefore, as the ancient Jews, “The time is not come, the time that the Lord's house should be built.” “For, thus saith the Lord of hosts, consider your ways; go up to the mountain, and bring store, and build this house, and I will take pleasure in it, and I will be glorified, saith Jehovah. Be strong, all ye people of the land, and work, for I am with you, saith the Lord of hosts. For thus saith the Lord, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land. And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come, and I will fill this house with glory, saith the Lord of hosts. The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the Lord of hosts. I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms, and I will destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the heathen, and I will give peace, saith the Lord of hosts.” Now, therefore, my brethren, listen to the admonition. “Thus saith the Lord of hosts, consider Your ways;” consider whether you have yet done all that is in your power to accomplish the purposes of the most High. Consider, whether your indifference and parsimony, have not prevented the preparations requisite for rearing the spiritual temple of Jehovah. And, if you are convinced, that, were you weighed in the balance, you would be found wanting, it is now time to make up your deficiency, and to awake to spiritual activity, and to holy enterprises. Will you allow the love of the world to prevent the extension of the gospel, and to retard the approach of the millennial era, and the full glory of Messiah's reign? Yet this ye do, if ye do not come forward, with cheerfulness, to devote all the treasures you can possibly spare, to prepare the way, for the proclamation among all people of “the salvation of our God.” What a sad reflection is