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Refuse to hear the voice of the charmer, charm he never so sweetly; let him use ever so soft a manner, so mild an accent, ever so many professions of good-will for him whom he is stabbing in the dark, whom he smiteth under the fifth rib! Resolutely refuse to hear, though the whisperer complain of being “ burdened till he speak.” Burdened ! thou fool! dost thou travail with thy cursed secret, as a woman travaileth with child ? Go, then, and be delivered of thy burden in the way the Lord hath ordained! First, “go and tell thy brother of his fault between thee and him alone :" Next, “ take with thee one or two" common friends, and tell him in their presence: If neither of these steps take effect, then“ tell it to the Church.” But, at
the peril of thy soul, tell it to no one else, either before or after, I unless in that one exempt case, when it is absolutely needful to
preserve the innocent! Why shouldest thou burden another as well as thyself, by making him partaker of thy sin ?
5. O that all you who bear the reproach of Christ, who are in derision called Methodists, would set an example to the Christian world, so called, at least in this one instance ! Put ye away evilspeaking, tale-bearing, whispering: Let none of them proceed out of your mouth! See that you “ speak evil of no man;" of the absent, nothing but good. If ye must be distinguished, whether ye will or no, let this be the distinguishing mark of a Methodist : “ He censures no man behind his back : By this fruit ye may know him.” What a blessed effect of this selfdenial should we quickly feel in our hearts! How would our
peace flow as a river," when we thus “ followed peace with all men !” How would the love of God abound in our own souls, while we thus confirmed our love to our brethren! And what an effect would it have on all that were united together in the name of the Lord Jesus! How would brotherly love continually increase, when this grand hinderance of it was removed ! All the members of Christ's mystical body would then naturally care for each other. “If one member suffered, all would suffer with it;” “ if one was honoured, all would rejoice with it ;” and every one would love his brother with a pure heart fervently."
” Nor is this all : But what an effect might this have, even on the wild, unthinking world! How soon would they descry in us, what they could not find among all the thousands of their brethren, and cry, (as Julian the apostate to his heathen courtiers,) “ See how these Christians love one another !" By this chiefly
would God convince the world, and prepare them also for his kingdom ; as we may easily learn from those remarkable words in our Lord's last, solemn prayer: “I pray for them who shall believe in me, that they may be one, as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee,—that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.” The Lord hasten the time! The Lord enable us thus to love one another, not only “in word and in tongue, but in deed and in truth,” even as Christ hath loved us !
“I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon
of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive
1. Our Lord, having finished the beautiful parable of the Prodigal Son, which he had particularly addressed to those who murmured at his receiving publicans and sinners, adds another relation of a different kind, addressed rather to the children of God. “ He said unto his disciples," not so much to the Scribes and Pharisees to whom he had been speaking before,—“There was a certain rich man, who had a steward, and he was accused to him of wasting his goods. And calling him, he said, Give an account of thy stewardship, for thou canst be no longer steward.” (Verses 1, 2.) After reciting the method which the bad steward used to provide against the day of necessity, our Saviour adds, “ His lord commended the unjust steward;” namely, in this respect, that he used timely precaution ; and subjoins this weighty reflection, “ The children of this world are wiser in their generation, than the children of light:” (Verse 8 :) Those who seek no other portion than this world “are wiser" (not absolutely; for they are, one and all, the veriest fools, the most egregious madmen under heaven; but, “in their generation,"
in their own way; they are more consistent with themselves ; they are truer to their acknowledged principles; they more steadily pursue their end) “ than the children of light;"—than they who see “the light of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." Then follow the words above recited : “And I,"—the only-begotten Son of God, the Creator, Lord, and Possessor of heaven and earth and all that is therein; the Judge of all, to whom ye are to “give an account of your stewardship," when ye “can be no longer stewards;" " I say unto you,"_learn in this respect, even of the unjust steward,—“ make yourselves friends," by wise, timely precaution, “ of the mammon of unrighteousness." “ Mammon” means riches, or money. It is termed “the mammon of unrighteousness," because of the unrighteous manner wherein it is frequently procured, and wherein even that which was honestly procured is generally employed.
“ Make yourself friends” of this, by doing all possible good, particularly to the children of God; “ that, when ye fail,"—when ye return to dust, when ye have no more place under the sun,—those of them who are gone before “may receive you,” may welcome you, into the “ everlasting habitations.”
2. An excellent branch of Christian wisdom is here inculcated by our Lord on all his followers, namely, the right use of money ;—a subject largely spoken of, after their manner, by men of the world; but not sufficiently considered by those whom God hath chosen out of the world. These, generally, do not consider, as the importance of the subject requires, the use of this excellent talent. Neither do they understand how to employ it to the greatest advantage; the introduction of which into the world is one admirable instance of the wise and gracious providence of God. It has, indeed, been the manner of poets, orators, and philosophers, in almost all ages and nations, to rail at this, as the grand corrupter of the world, the bane of virtue, the pest of human society. Hence, nothing so commonly heard, as
Nocens ferrum, ferroque nocentius aurum :
Hence the lamentable complaint,
Effodiuntur opes, irritamenta malorum.
Nay, one celebrated writer gravely exhorts his countrymen, in order to banish all vice at once, to “ throw all their money into the sea : :”.
In mare proximum,
Summi materiem mali ! But is not all this mere empty rant? Is there any solid reason therein ? By no means. For, let the world be as corrupt as it will, is gold or silver to blame? “ The love of money," we know, “is the root of all evil ;” but not the thing itself. The fault does not lie in the money, but in them that use it. It may
be used ill : And what may not? But it may likewise be used well: It is full as applicable to the best, as to the worst uses. It is of unspeakable service to all civilized nations, in all the common affairs of life: It is a most compendious instrument of transacting all manner of business, and (if we use it according to Christian wisdom) of doing all manner of good. It is true, were man in a state of innocence, or were all men "filled with the Holy Ghost," so that, like the infant Church at Jerusalem, no man counted any thing he had his own,” but “ distribution was made to every one as he had need," the use of it would be superseded; as we cannot conceive there is any thing of the kind among the inhabitants of heaven. But, in the present state of mankind, it is an excellent gift of God, answering the noblest ends. In the hands of his children, it is food for the hungry, drink for the thirsty, raiment for the naked : It gives to the traveller and the stranger where to lay his head. By it we may supply the place of an husband to the widow, and of a father to the fatherless. We may be a defence for the
oppressed, a means of health to the sick, of ease to them that are in pain ; it may be as eyes to the blind, as feet to the lame; yea, a lifter up from the gates of death!
3. It is therefore, of the highest concern, that all who fear God know how to employ this valuable talent; that they be instructed how it may answer these glorious ends, and in the highest degree. And, perhaps, all the instructions which are necessary for this may be reduced to three plain rules, by the exact observance whereof we may approve ourselves faithful stewards of “ the mammon of unrighteousness."
I. 1. The First of these is, (he that heareth, let him understand !) “ Gain all you can.”
Here we may speak like the children of the world: We meet them on their own ground. And it is our bounden duty to do this : We ought to gain all we can gain, without buying gold too dear, without paying more for it than it is worth. But this it is certain we ought not to do; we ought not to gain money at the expense of life, nor (which is in effect the same thing) at the expense of our health. Therefore, no gain whatsoever should induce us to enter into, or to continue in, any employ, which is of such a kind, or is attended with so hard or so long labour, as to impair our constitution. Neither should we begin or continue in any business which necessarily deprives us of proper seasons for food and sleep, in such a proportion as our nature requires. Indeed, there is a great difference here. Some employments are absolutely and totally unhealthy; as those which imply the dealing much with arsenic, or other equally hurtful minerals, or the breathing an air tainted with steams of melting lead, which must at length destroy the firmest constitution. Others may not be absolutely unhealthy, but only to persons of a weak constitution. Such are those which require many hours to be spent in writing ; especially if a person write sitting, and lean upon his stomach, or remain long in an uneasy posture. But whatever it is which reason or experience shows to be destructive of health or strength, that we may not submit to; seeing “the life is more" valuable " than meat, and the body than raiment:" And, if we are already engaged in such an employ, we should exchange it, as soon as possible, for some which, if it lessen our gain, will, however, not lessen our health.
2. We are, Secondly, to gain all we can without hurting our mind, any more than our body. For neither may we hurt this : We must preserve, at all events, the spirit of an healthful mind. Therefore, we may not engage or continue in any sinful trade ; any that is contrary to the law of God, or of our country. Such are all that necessarily imply our robbing or defrauding the king of his lawful customs. For it is, at least, as sinful to defraud the king of his right, as to rob our fellow-subjects : And the king has full as much right to his customs as have to our houses and apparel. Other businesses there are which, however innocent in themselves, cannot be followed with innocence now; at least, not in England; such, for instance, as will not afford a competent maintenance without cheating or lying, or conformity to some custom which is not consistent with a good conscience : These, likewise, are sacredly