صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

saying, I will give all that I can, a single mite given in this spirit will be more acceptable to Christ, than the most splendid donations of the wealthy. Let no man deny that he is able, when he knows in his conscience that he has money at command, for that is to approximate to the sin of Ananias and Sapphira, for when they kept back part of the price of their inheritance, what was this, but saying they were unable to do any more, when they knew, and the Holy Ghost knew, it was an hollow-hearted falsehood? The greatest sympathy is due to Christ's poor people who are really in poverty, but the pretence of inability, is a sin complicated of many base and black ingredients, combining as it does, falsehood, and ingratitude, and covetousness. Let no man judge himself by his neighbour's ability, but according to what God has given him, and when God has made him abler to give than others, he should account this a matter of thankfulness, and regard himself as being honoured, by being able to do more for God than others; for what kind of heart has that son, in affluent circumstances, who will do no more for his father when he is in want, than is done by a brother who is himself stricken with poverty. Nor let any one judge of his ability, by what he has on hand, for a person may have nothing, just because he has given away to other purposes what he ought to have given for Christ. Let all judge of their ability by what they are able to give for luxuries, and unnecessary comforts; by what they are able to give for fashionable furniture, fashionable dress, fashionable education, fashionable entertainments; for surely no one would think it right to be able to give more for these purposes than for Christ. And this is still more true, when we come, more specifically, to that class of luxuries included under the name of stimulants. No man should presume to think that he is a christian, who, after the matter is submitted to him, gives more for wine and spirits, snuff and tobacco, than he gives for the support of the gospel. And it should be regarded as a sort of blasphemy, in all persons who are able to give much for these, to say they are able to do nothing for Christ.

Persons should give cheerfully and cordially; for the Lord loveth a cheerful giver. It is matter of thankfulness to have whereof to give, when we think on the poverty, and want, and wretchedness, that prevail among our fellow-creatures, and consider that we owe our more comfortable circumstances entirely to the distinguishing favour of our God. But it is a far greater blessing to have a heart to give, to have a generous, disinterested, liberal, open-handed soul, if the incongruous expression may be pardoned. In the sublime hymn which David composed at the close of the contributions made in his kingdom for the erection of the temple, we have the most perfect pattern of the spirit in which such efforts should be made. The venerable monarch seems then to have had as complete a realisation of the claims of the Creator, and the dependent position of the creature, as ever was attained by any other person of whom we read. He speaks like one whose eyes were opened to behold the realities of the spiritual world, and who saw all earthly excellence, power, and glory, vanish away in the presence of Jehovah, leaving nothing behind for the admiration of the soul except his infinite excellence, and the feeling of grateful satisfaction for being permitted and enabled to do anything for his cause. • Wherefore David blessed the Lord before all the congregation : and David said, Blessed be thou, Lord God of Israel our father, for ever and ever. Thine, O Lord, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine ; thine is the kingdom, O Lord, and thou art exalted as head above all. Both riches and honour come of thee, and thou reignest over all ; and in thine hand is power and might; and in thine hand it is to make great, and to give strength unto all. Now therefore, our God, we thank thee, and praise thy glorious name. But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly after this sort? for all things come of thee, and of thine own have we given thee. For we are strangers before thee, and sojourners, as were all our fathers : our days on the earth are as a shadow, and there is none abiding. O Lord our God, all this store that we have prepared to build thee an house for thine holy name cometh of thine hand, and is all thine own. I know also, my God, that thou triest the heart, and hast pleasure in uprightness. As for me, in the uprightness of mine heart I have willingly offered all these things: and now have I seen with joy thy people, which are present here, to offer willingly unto thee. O Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, our fathers, keep this for ever in the imagination of the thoughts of the heart of thy people, and prepare their heart unto thee! (1 Chron. xxix. 10–18.) Here is the proper spirit. If it prevailed generally, no church of the living God would ever know what was the meaning of poverty or difficulty in regard to any of its public engagements. Persons generally get thanks when they give; but David gives thanks that he and his people were able to give so willingly: “But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly after this sort?' Let us be thankful when we are able to give; but let us be doubly thankful when we are made willing to give; for an unwilling heart is a far greater curse, and sorer calamity, than an empty hand, and our hearts are naturally cold; and it is matter of rejoicing, when the summer sunshine is so warm as to melt the snow, and make it run down to water God's vineyard, in a copious and refreshing stream.

Give from principle, as unto the Lord, and not unto man; for nothing, however abundantly, and however freely, is given right, unless it is given by one who has given himself to the Lord. And every one who gives himself to the Lord by that act, if it be in good faith, and it ought to be so, considering that salvation is dependent thereon, gives all that belongs to himself, and all his offerings will ascend before the Lord, perfumed with the frankincense of hallowed affections; and the pleasure God has in such acts will be returned in blessings on the head and the heart of the party by whom it is performed, and by blessings on the cause in which he is engaged. Christian principle is the source from which Christ draws his whole financial resources for the war against Satan, and it is one of inexhaustible capacity. The mines of California may be exhausted, but the mine of christian principle is inexhaustible: like the five loaves and the two small fishes, it increases by being consumed, and propagates and diffuses itself by being expended.

We should give with steadfast and courageous hearts. We should not tremble at the sight of real lions, and far less should we conjure up the shadows of lions, to terrify others and to tremble at ourselves ; nor should we have any fear of the lions which other men may paint on the wall. This is done by many, and it is a very criminal thing, especially when persons are not content with acting a timid part themselves, but seek to dishearten others in doing what is good. We refer to all such as say, The end to be arrived at is good, and it ought to be done ; but really we are so few and so poor that it is impossible to do anything. Such are the modern representatives of the spies who went to search out the land, and who came back with the report that it was a good land, a very good land, in which it would be most delightful to dwell; but then the gigantic stature of the Anakim, and the city walls that reached to heaven, rendered it impossible to go up. Whenever a thing is right, a christian should not think whether he can do it, but ought just to begin and do it, as something that must be done; and the word impossible should be unknown and repudiated by every saint; he should hold there is no such word in language, when God in his providence puts any work into his hand. To do otherwise, is to look away from duty, and away from God, and to act as if the Anakim were stronger than Jehovah. Those who look only at the difficulties connected with the performance of duty, and who, instead of going forward in the name of God, say, we cannot go up, should remember that in the wilderness God took all who said so at their word, and would not permit a single man of them to set a foot upon the promised land.

We should give in the exercise of self-denial. "If any man be my disciple, let him deny himself.' And self-denial ought to characterise every other grace, and among others, liberality should bear the impress of its image. No person should dare to say he is unable to give, while he has never exercised self-denial in order to be able to give; and no man should consider that his apology will be sustained in the court of conscience, who says, I am unable to give more, unless his self-denial has encroached upon the region of necessaries. So long as a person has been able to retain all his comforts, all his elegancies, all his luxuries, he has never denied himself in order to give for Christ. He has served the Lord, as yet, merely with that which cost him naught. Self-denial is one of the wells from which the streams of liberality are fed; and what abundance of water is there in this well! By the exercise of self-denial, Britain might give millions in the place of thousands now given for the cause of Jesus. It is a scandal and a disgrace to a land bearing Christ's name, that the sum annually expended in stimulating luxuries, so far surpasses in amount all that is given for the cause of Christ among all denominations, whether supported by national endowments or by voluntary liberality. This shows how much could be done for the cause of God b; the general exercise of self-denial. And on a more limited scale, we see persons in the humbler ranks of life, by the exercise of habitual frugality, and economy, and self-denial, in regard to dress, and entertainments, and show in the world, able to do for God's cause, not only more than persons in the same rank, but far more than persons above them in rank, who have splendid attire upon their persons, and houses fitted up in a style as high as their ambitious and selfish vanity can attain. The latter class are open to the reproof, Is it for you, O ye, to dwell in your ceiled houses, and this house lie waste. To the honour of the Original Secession Church, it abounds with persons in the humbler ranks of life, in the presence of whose manly simplicity many of higher station may well feel themselves in the presence of a spirit superior to their own, and may well blush when they think of what these humble sons of rustic toil' give for God compared with what they give. Long may such a spirit

prevail among the descendants of the martyred peasantry of Scotland: long may they have the sound principle, and good sense, and good feeling, to prefer habitual frugality, and economy, and self-denial, that they may have whereof to give to the Lord, rather than have the low, ignoble, sordid, selfish, puerile, contemptible, degrading satisfaction of making a great appearance in the world, at the sacrifice of being able to do nothing, or almost nothing, for their Saviour! Long may they continue to prefer the Lord's house to their own house, and to sing with David, Lord, remember David, and all his afflictions: how he sware unto the Lord, and vowed unto the mighty God of Jacob; surely I will not come into the tabernacle of my house, nor go up into my bed; I will not give sleep to mine eyes, or slumber to mine eyelids, until I find out a place for the Lord, an habitation for the mighty God of Jacob.'

In this matter congregations should give wisely, considering well what means may be best suited to their own locality, and whether, in some cases, it may not be necessary to intermingle modes, such as to mingle annual or occasional collections with other ways that may not have been found very successful.

In fine, we should give for principle as well as from principle. As christians, we should give for the maintenance of divine truth, that invaluable and omnipotent element, by which all the triumphs of Immanuel are to be won. As Seceders, we should give for maintaining the rights of the Redeemer's crown, and the liberties of his redeemed people. As Covenanters, we should give to maintain the whole principles of the covenanted church of Scotland, and be thankful that we are, as yet, only called to give gold and silver, where many of our fathers gave their lives.

In order to the success of this, and all other schemes, let us cultivate confidence in God, and never give way to doubt or hesitation, as if we were afraid that the work would perish because our numbers are few, and our resources small. Let us believe in the immortality of Truth, and never doubt that she will support her faithful supporters. Let us also cultivate mutual confidence among ourselves. It is matter of unfeigned satisfaction that this has prevailed so long, and so remarkably, and may it remain so for ever! United in judgment, united in heart, and united in action, there is nothing impossible, nothäng

difficult for us to do, which God may make it our duty to attempt. In conclusion, let us seek more devotedness to God. How much more northern, more remote from Deity,' do our souls dwell than they ought? Do we not live too much in the artic regions of the spiritual world? Are we not all too familiar with the everlasting ice and the perpetual snows of the Poles ? Let us emigrate farther southward, to the land of the vine and the myrtle, to the land of the cedar and the palm, where the voice of the turtle' is to be heard, and the roes and the young harts bound among the mountains of spices,' and when we to these genial climes, these • dominions of the sun,' under their warm and fostering skies, our liberality shall shoot forth into all the magnificent luxuriance of tropical vegetation.


[ocr errors]



[ocr errors]


penditure during the year 121,039 fr. Religious Anniversaries in Paris.—The (£4,842); making together 153,125 fr. various public meetings annually held at (£6,125). The receipts, consisting of doParis, by the religious societies connected nations and subscriptions, were 129,074 fr. with the interests of Protestantism in France It has employed during the year twentyand the subject of foreign missions, took seven ministers of the gospel, six colporteurs, place towards the end of April last. The thirty-one male and female teachers, and following is a brief statistical view of their has supported in the normal school a direcoperations during the past year :-Religious tor, a sub-director, and thirty scholars. Tract Society. This year 89,500 copies of This year the society commences its operatracts have been printed, and 605,000 dis- tions with a deficit of 24,051 fr. (£962). tributed; making 11,605,000 which have - Foreign Mission Society. The receipts been circulated since the foundation of the during the year amounted to 163,629 fr. society, 27 years ago.

Everywhere the 84 c. (£6,545); the expenditure to 59,549 work is prosperous and blessed of God. fr. 46 c. (£2,382); making, with the deThe receipts and expenditure have, this ficit of last year, 74,761 fr. 42 c. ( £2,990). year, increased more than ever, the receipts The balance in band, therefore, is 88,868 fr. amounting to 44,125 fr. 50 c., (£1,764) 42 c. (£3,555). But from this sum must and the expenditure to 42,593 fr. 58 C., be deducted 71,953 fr., (£2,878) due to (£1,704).—Protestant Bible Society. This the Missions in the South of Africa, from society is rather in a languishing condition; the 1st of April last, which reduces the the total yearly receipts, with several lega- amount actually in hand, for the expenses cies, and a donation of 1000 francs from the of the current year, to 16,915 fr. (£677). Bible Society of Basle, amount to 22,014 The estimated expenses of the current year fr., (£880) and the expenditure to 28,393 amount to 88,000 fr. (£3,520). The field fr. (£1,136). 4,070 Bibles, and 7,146 of this society's labours is in South Africa, New Testaments, have been issued from the chiefly in the Bechuana country ; and the depôt. —Penny Protestant Society. This progress of evangelisation among that peosociety, supported by weekly subscriptions ple is very encouraging. During the early of a penny, has only been recently estab- months of last year, there were 181 baplished, and has not yet extended its opera

tisms. The number of converts is about tions to any great extent. Its object is to 2000.-Besides the above, there are various aid the other religious and charitable insti- other societies connected with the general tutions. During the year it has distributed interests of Protestantism and the spread of only 8,000 fr. (£320).—Evangelical Society Evangelical religion throughout France. The of France. The deficit of the society a French and Foreign Bible Society; the Soyear ago was 32,086 fr. (£1,283); the ex- ciety for the encouragement of Early In


« السابقةمتابعة »