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him the happiness of doing infinite good? Compared with this privilege, even the miraculous powers of the apostles, which gave sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, and life to the dead, shrink into insignificance. We may place a Saviour, a heaven within the reach, not of one only, but of thousands. It may be fairly presumed, that every pious, indigent youth, who is educated for the ministry, will preach the gospel to at least a thousand souls. The question, then, whether a pious young man shall be prepared for the ministry, whether the means necessary for his preparation shall be afforded, comes to this; Shall a thousand immortal souls be favoured with the gospel, or possibly live and die, and perish without it? What a question is this for the consideration of accountable beings! Is there, can there be any doubt respecting the proper answer?
Again; reasoning from what has taken place within a few years, it is not perhaps too much to suppose, that every pious and well-educated youth, who is introduced into the sacred ministry, will be instrumental of the conversion and salvation of one hundred persons. These, in their turn, will prove instruments of converting and saving others: some of whom may also become ministers, and preach the gospel to thousands after we are laid in dust. Thus the happy effects produced by one whom we assist to educate, like a river widening as it runs, will flow down to posterity, and produce consequences which finite minds cannot estimate. Compared with such results, how worthless, how insignificant does wealth appear! And yet, when employed in bringing about these results, how unspeakable is its value! Viewed in this light, it is the most valuable of all temporal gifts which Providence bestows: more valuable even than intellectual talents, or literary acquirements; since he who possesses it may call into the service of Christ greater talents than any one man ever possessed. He may exert a power over minds little less than creative. He may call from the poverty and obscurity in which it now lies, the most vigorous intellect; may develope its energies; cause its faculties to expand and brighten; and send it forth to promote, beyond all calculation, the glory of God and the happiness of men; he may.thus prepare it to shine hereafter with great multitude of others, as the brightness of the firmament and as the stars for ever and ever. What, my hearers, is the building of a palace, a pyramid, or a city, in comparison with the erection of such a pillar as this in the temple of our God above?
Learn then, O learn, ye wealthy, the true value of riches! Learn it at the foot of Immanuel's cross. Learn it of him to whose words we have been attending; and who by that cross was crucified to the world, and the world to him. Were he now on earth and possessed of your wealth, to what end would he apply it? But the example is too bright for the imitation, almost too dazzling even for the eye of this cool, calculating age. Christianity, at least as she exists in our hearts, seems to feel, in common with men, the contracting influence of old age, and to have lost the sympathetic, compassionate ardour, which warmed her youthful bosom. see her once more in her pristine form, adorned with the beauty, and strong with the vigour of renovated youth; breathing that fervent benevolence
which she inspired when she first descended from the bosom of Infinite Love; when, not wealth, but blood, was the price paid for the privilege of communicating her blessings to an ungrateful world; and when that price was paid by her disciples more cheerfully than a small portion of wealth is given now. Blessed be God, some symptoms of this desirable renovation begin to appear. Christianity, as it exists at the present day, resembles, in some faint degree, Christianity as it glowed in the breasts of apostles and martyrs. But, brethren, let us strive to make the resemblance more perfect. Let us convince mankind that our heaven-born religion still glows with the ardour of youth, still breathes the angelic sentiment, Glory to God in the highest; on earth peace, and good will to men. And let us never forget, that our approximation to the standard of primitive Christianity, must be estimated by the degree in which we make Christ, and his cause, all and in all, and manifest a readiness to do all things, to suffer all things, and to part with all things for his sake.
BY AUSTIN DICKINSON, A M.
SCRIPTURAL MEASURE OF BENEVOLENT EFFORT.
HEBREWS, XII. 16.-To do good, and to communicate, forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.
WHO that expects to meet the Lord Jesus in the heavens, and to reign with him for ever, would not rejoice to be able to say, I have glorified thee on the earth; I have finished the work thou hast given me to do? But the question is sometimes asked, How much are we required to do, that we may finish our course with joy? The best answer to this question, is that touching eulogy of the Saviour, She hath done what she could. It is to be feared, however, that many, even of those who bear the name of Christ, and hope to share his eternal glory, have not yet come to any settled conviction, that they are bound TO DO ALL THEY CAN to advance his kingdom. To such persons we would suggest a few thoughts on the Duty, the Privilege, and the Manner of contributing for this great object.
I. As it respects the Duty:
Your relation to the great Redeemer and Judge, as accountable stewards of his bounty, makes it your duty to work for his glory, and for the advancement of his kingdom among men. What hast thou that thou didst not receive? Your talents, your property, all your opportunities of usefulness, are from God. He has given them, or rather loaned them to you, for a few fleeting years, and expects you to give account of the purposes for which you improve or abuse them.
By the very nature of your Christian profession, you are also solemnly bound to devote yourself and your possessions for the advancement of Christ's kingdom. In entering into covenant with his church, if you it heartily-if you do it without gross hypocrisy-you make a voluntary sur
render of yourself and of your all to Christ: you promise before God, angels, and men, to be the Lord's. With the vows of God on your conscience, then, you are virtually pledged to do what you can for advancing his kingdom, not merely in your own soul, but in the souls of others to whom your influence may extend. The primitive Christians not only professed, but actually exemplified this spirit of Christ. The apostles "counted not their lives dear unto them, so that they might testify the gospel of the grace of God.” And their first converts did not hesitate to make great sacrifices to aid those intrepid missionaries in rescuing others from the darkness of heathenism, and from the damnation of hell. "As many as were possessors of lands or houses, sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, and laid them down at the apostles' feet." How many a modern professor, though rich, would shrink with disgust from the suggestion of his selling lands for a like holy purpose! But the man, who will let a sinner go down to the second death, rather than part with lands or money to save him, has not the spirit of Him who died for sinners. He does not love his neighbour as himself. He has not the spirit that reigns
A proper regard for the honour of Christ and his Church, also, binds you to be conspicuous, according to your ability, in exertions and sacrifices to advance the Gospel. If, by wilfully withholding, you give the world occasion to say, 'that you are as selfish, covetous, wordly minded, as they are;' you thus bring reproach and shame, not merely on yourself, but on the sacred name of Christ. You thereby cause many to "blaspheme that worthy name." But if, on the other hand, you show before an ungodly world, that you really regard the honour of Christ and the eternal interests of man, you thus compel others to admire the benevolent spirit of the Gospel; and perhaps lead many to unite in glorifying its Author.
You are bound, likewise, by infinite obligations of gratitude to the Saviour, to do what you can to extend his Gospel. O, think of the eternal height of that throne from which He descended; think of the dreadful curse of God to which He submitted; think of those endless agonies from which He redeemed you; think of that eternal weight of glory to which He invites you; and estimate, if you can, your obligations to the Saviour and then, act worthy of Him who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory.
The value of immortal souls should also stimulate and compel you to make great sacrifices, if by any means you may enlighten and save some. You know that many millions, now on the earth, are involved in gross idolatry and crime; ignorant of the only true God and of the only Saviour. You know that every one of them has a soul, that, like your own, must live and expand for ever. You know that every one of them, by being furnished with Living Bread, and growing for ever in the knowledge and likeness of God, is capable of inconceivably more happiness, than has yet been enjoyed by all created beings in the universe;—or by sinking for ever in guilt, is capable of more misery, than has yet been endured by all the millions that have lived on earth or in hell. All past enjoyments or sufferings of all creatures in heaven, earth, or hell, have been but temporary: they can, there
fore, bear no comparison with the bliss or wo of one soul, measured by Eternity. Every soul of every sinner on earth, then, is immeasurably precious. And you know that the New Testament in Christ's blood, if received in faith, can prepare idolaters, as well as you, to stand faultless before the throne; and to become partakers of that "exceeding and eternal weight of glory." But "how shall they believe in Him, of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? and how shall they preach, except they be sent ?"
Viewing yourself, then, as a steward of God's bounty-pledged by a Christian profession-inseparably connected with the honour of Christbound to Him by infinite obligations-and surrounded by millions, each of them more precious than worlds-does not the Duty of exertions to save them bear upon you with infinite weight? Under such responsibilities, must lands, or houses, or money, or family advancement, or ignoble ease, be your chief desire? Must your immortal mind, your heaven-born spirit, be here wrapt up in selfishness and local interest? Or shall it embrace the human family as a common brotherhood; and do what it can, to present every man perfect in Christ Jesus?
II. But, to contribute for the advancement of Christ's kingdom is not merely a Duty;-it is a glorious PRIVILEGE.
The habit of giving with a proper spirit, tends continually to widen and elevate the mind. By employing our hearts and hands in works of charity, we become co-workers with God-we share in the honour of executing His benevolent plans-we become associates with those loftier "spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation." By such employment our character is elevated in the scale of intellectual and moral beings. We take a higher rank among the creatures of God; and are qualifying ourselves, by healthful exercise, for still more elevated and more honourable employment in His kingdom of glory;-qualifying to become kings and priests unto God for ever and ever.
The habit of contributing, with a proper spirit, is a source of purest enjoyment to the giver and the more expansive his benevolence, the more does his felicity resemble that of the SUPREME. He, whose heart has glowed with benevolence from eternity, and who, in return, has received the homage and gratitude of uncounted millions-He, who knows what of pleasure or of pain has dwelt in every bosom-He hath testified, It is more blessed to give than to receive. And every man, who, in the spirit of Christ, has eminently contributed to bless the world, will heartily respond to this testimony. If we look abroad among our acquaintance, we find, perhaps, one among a thousand, who is evidently living not to himself; but whose mind is ever contriving, or whose hand is labouring to augment the means of spiritual blessedness; and we involuntarily pronounce him the happiest man among the thousand. He is happy in life and in death. For while with one hand he scatters blessings on the world he is leaving, with the other he reaches forth to an unfading crown, and to imperishable riches at God's right hand. But, O Death! how terrible art thou to that man who is at ease in his possessions! who loveth them more than his neighbour or
his God! and, O Eternity! Eternity! how long and how dismal will be the period of thy revolutions to that man who trusts in these uncertain riches; and is not rich towards God!
III. To those who feel, in some measure, the Duty and the Privilege of contributing to advance the Gospel, we would say as to the Manner ;
In the first place, as far as the nature of the case will admit, have some settled plan, or system, in regard to the amount and particular objects of your religious charities. Every man, of common intelligence, feels the importance of previous arrangement, and order, in the management of his temporal concerns. How then, without guilt, can he be content to have no system in this important work? It might be of incalculable use to the individual, as well as to the general cause of benevolence, if each Christian would, at the commencement of the year, sit down, and, with the map of the world and the realities of eternity before him, make a solemn conseeration of such amount, or of such proportion of his income, as, in sober judgment, he can contribute during the year. In such a transaction he would not dare deliberately to put off God with a pittance. Or rather, I should say, in such holy intimacy with the God of benevolence, he would feel his heart new-opened-he would have no disposition to stipulate in penurious measure. Such special acts of consecration are repeatedly recommended by Scriptural precept and example. "Vow, and pay unto the Lord, your God: Let all that be round about him bring presents unto Him that ought to be feared." "And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and raiment to put on; then shall the Lord be my God; and of all that thou shalt give me, I will surely give the tenth unto thee." It is impossible not to regard with unqualified respect the few instances of a similar character known at the present day. And were such examples common in the Churches, we should witness a much stronger and steadier flame of benevolent enterprise. Prone, as God knows even good men are, to pervert His gifts for selfish purposes, He does very properly require of them a special bond-a solemn, irrevocable covenant-devoting a reasonable portion for His service and glory.
As preparatory to the foregoing, it would not be amiss, especially for those who complain of frequent calls, to make a little estimate of what they have given the year past, and to compare the amount with what has been needlessly or wickedly expended! O, shrink not from this estimate, however mortifying to spiritual pride; for a full reckoning must one day be made, under circumstances infinitely more solemn and then wo unto him who now dealeth with himself deceitfully.
In contributing for the spread of the Gospel, it is likewise important, as far as possible, to act in concert with others, in regard to the time of giving, and the particular objects to be accomplished. Union is strength. And human nature, in all, is so constituted as to be powerfully influenced by example. It is for this reason that we are commanded to "let our light so shine before men, that they may see our good works, and glorify our Father who is in heaven." The well known example of a certain poor widow who cast