« PreviousContinue »
rebuilding their temple. On its possessions, such a portion, as the completion a renewal was made of state might deem right to demand the offerings and tithes, of which and enforce the payment of, would the Lord complained, by the mouth be willingly and punctually paid of his holy prophets, that the peo- by him. The more interesting ple had robbed him.
question concerns the portion to We must now review the pre- be devoted to God and his service; cepts given under the New Testa- which properly divides itself into ment economy, and the correspond- five branches: the support of the ing conduct of the true followers ministry, the maintenance of pubof Jesus; and I think we shall lic worship, the securing of tenfind that we are under obligations poral supplies to the poor of as binding, as those of Moses, and Christ's flock, general benevolence that though the portion of history to all the needy, and the conductwe shall have to survey, is much ing of missionary labours. In all more concise, it nevertheless is not these respects there is no express deficient in signal instances of dis- command as to the amount or prointerested and devout liberality. portion which it is the Christian's
In reviewing the precepts of the duty to impart, but there is a pasNew Testament on this subject, I sage of Scripture which ought to go at once to those contained in regulate us in this matter, though the writings of the Apostles; not it is almost invariably quoted to that in passing over the instruc- quiet the conscience, and comfort tions of our blessed Lord, I do not the mind, in withholding deem them worthy of the first at- than is meet.” It is this, “ if there tention, but because many of his be first a willing mind, it is acdiscourses being addressed to his cepted according to that a man Apostles under circumstances pe- hath, and not according to that he culiar to the apostolic times, it hath not,” which I understand to may be thought they are not of be, not only a gracious declaration universal application; and because that the Lord accepts the sincere the church was then in its incipient desire to serve him of those, to state, and was not so organized as whom he has not imparted largely to render it needful to afford such of this world's goods'; but I see in explicit rules, as afterwards be- it an implied rejection of those came necessary. The state of the offerings, which, though tendered Jewish nation generally was at this with a profession of hearty good time very different from what it will to this cause, are abominable had been. It had long ceased to in his sight, because they are not be a theocracy, and now was not according to what the man hath. only governed by an earthly prince, On the support of the ministry, but that prince was a foreigner, but little is said in the New Testa and galling enough it must have ment compared with what is enbeen to every true-hearted Israelite joined in the Old. It was no longer to pay tribute to a Gentile ruler. attached to the state, therefore it A Christian believer, however, devolved on each separate comwould cheerfully give the small munity of believers to provide for required sum when he read, “ Let the support of its own minister every soul be subject to the higher and it is a pleasant circumstance powers, the powers that be are or to a mind of a generous stamp, that dained of God; render to all their this matter is left much to private dues, tribute to whom tribute,” &c. discretion. It seems to say to the A portion, therefore, of his earthly believing heart; There is no need
to press this point on you-you tioually enduring a sense of destiknow the value of the truth, you tution, and all the torments conwill therefore highly value him nected with pecuniary difficulties. who is the instrument of dispensing Are not then the trying cares and it to you: your grateful soul will duties peculiar to the minister, in be continually pouring out its addition to those in which every thanks to him who blesses the individual Christian participates, word of grace to you, and the sufficient to oppress his mind with faithful pastor who watches for a weight of anxiety, but must be your soul, as he who must give an also be burdened with a feeling account, and sows unto you spi- that his temporal supplies are inritual things, to him you will not adequate to the wants of himself fail to impart a portion of your and family? I would just ask such worldly things. There are, how. individuals how a minister ever, one or two decided injunc- circumstanced can be “ given to tions, which it may be advisable hospitality ?” When a bishop is just to notice. • Let him that is commanded to be a “ lover of hostaught in the word communicate pitality,” it is evidently the intenunto him that teacheth in All good tion of the Lord, that he should be things.' The Lord hath ordained placed in such circumstances as to that they which preach the Gospel be able to perform the requisition. should live of the Gospel.” Now The maintenance of public worhow were these precepts regarded ship is the next particular, conby the early Christians ? The ho- cerving which we are to learn our noured Apostle, who was instru- duty in the way of giving. I am mental in founding most of the not aware that any mention is primitive churches among the Gen- made in the New Testament of a tiles tells us, that those in Mace- building erected expressly for the donia were forward in shewing purpose of Christian worship. The him this proof of their love, to the disciples first met in a large upper truth which he had proclaimed to chamber, the abode of the aposthem, even after he had quitted tles; and it appears that, at that them, and was pursuing his apos- early period, private dwellings tolic course and founding other were cheerfully given up as the churches; and also when a pri- place of general assembly; and soner at Rome, he says to the without dwelling on this particular, Philippians, ye sent once and again we see that the zeal which would to my necessities, and now your lead a person to consecrate his care of me hath flourished again; own house to this and his view of what ought to be also lead him liberally to contrithe measure of the believer's sense bute to the erection of a of obligation to him who has been nient place of worship. the means of his spiritual illumi The New Testament Scriptures nation is displayed, when in plaad- are very full on the subject of ing for the pardon and restoration ministering to the saints, and the of a runaway slave, he touchingly early Christians went so far as to adds, “ albeit I do not say to thee give up all their personal property how thou owest unto me, even for the benefit of the general body. thine own self besides.” There Without asserting that such a deare many contracted-minded indi- ' votion of our possessions is imviduals who think that no minister perative on us, we cannot but adpreaches so well, as he who is con mire the disinterested conduct of
the primitive churches in this re- had not so learned their duty ; but spect; and we must acknowledge their hearts burned with love to that the spirit which led to such Jesus, and their zeal corresponded acts, is broadly enforced on us, as with their obligations. We find that without which we cannot lay Paul supported by the Maceclaim to discipleship. “Whoso donian churches during his labours hath this world's good, and seeth among the Corinthians, and nuhis brother have need, and shut- merically small and poor, as most teth
up his bowels of compassion of their members were, they could from him, how dwelletb the love not only maintain their own minisof God in him ?" In this grace ter, relieve the distressed brethren of brotherly sympathy and affec- of their own communion, &c. &c. tionate liberality the Macedonian but they had something for the churches are greatly commended, poor saints at Jerusalem, and and presented by the apostle as other places, to whom they sent worthy examples to the whole their bounty by trusty individuals, church : they are said to have known by the name of “ given to their power, yea, and gers of the churches.” beyond their power; and I do not Now what conclusions are we find them any where censured for to draw from this review of both excess in this grace, though they the Jewish and Christian Churches, were in deep poverty; but I ques I. That both dispensations show tion much whether, in the present us, that the cause of God has a day, if such a display of Christian claim on us, superior to every claim charity were to be manifested, the of an earthly kind. It was not worldly policy of some wrong- with them, Mammon first and hearted or wrong-named saints God next; the world first and the would not vehemently exclaim Church next, which is too much against such guilty imprudence. the modern principle of action.
Now for the exercise of charity No; their ali was the Lord's and to all the needy, which is not to his people's if need were. We be neglected, though the “ house- will just state our views of a Chrishold of faith” are to have the first tian's conduct in this matter, in place in our benevolent feelings. illustrations drawn from several
Do good unto all men” is our ranks and classes of life; and as rule in this respect, which is so
not many rich called plain that it needs no comment. (though, blessed be God, there That missionary, exertions were are some, and sone whose praise zealously carried on in the earlier is in all the churches for their ages of the Christian church, holy devotedness to God and his there can be no doubt-indeed all service,) we shall select them from the apostles and first preachers of the middle and lower classes. A the gospel were, in the full sense young Christian man comes into of the word, missionaries; and possession,--say of ten thousand as soon as a church was collected pounds,—his first feeling is im. any where, and a pastor placed mediately to consecrate a part to over it, did that church wait till it God; but while he is meditating, had attained to some stability, and a friend who has heard of the cirhad enlarged to a respectable size, cumstance enters, and proposes his before it thought itself authorized embarking the whole in a to send forth its missionaries to tain lucrative concern; he is dazfound other churches ? No, they zled with the prospect; the gains
" So I did pay
will be so great, he shall soon repay object, bis earnings would liqui. into the Lord's treasury more than date it. But that is a thing unwhat he now withholds; besides, heard of. Unheard of? Shame, by his thus employing the money, shame; that it is! He gives as he will annually be enabled to do much, and more than his neighso much more for the cause of bours, who are equally rich. PerGod; besides, under the gospel haps he does; but does he give in dispensation, there is nothing posi- proportion to yonder poor member tively ordained as to the amount of the same flock ?
Let us see. and time. Thus the conscience “I am very weary,” says the is lulled. In a short time the hard-working labourer to his wife, money is doubled, trebled; and is
as at the return of evening he enters God then thought of? No; with his humble dwelling; “ I am very wealth bas come in worldliness; weary, but this debt sits heavy plate on the table has brought on my mind, Betty.” " What leapness into the soul : so true debt, John? I thought you paid it now, as in the apostolic days, that last week.” that "
they that will be rich fall that; but the one I am thinking of into temptation and a snare, and is the chapel debt, which we are into many foolish and hurtful lusts, often hearing about, and puts which drown men in destruction spokes in the way of much good. and perdition.” “ How hardly Now I have been thinking you shall they that have riches enter must give a shilling next Sabbaththe kingdom of heaven!" How day out of the five you
get on does another, in similar circum- Saturday night, and we'll try to stances, act ?
He reads the word, do without something or other to “ Honour the Lord with thy sub. make it up ; and I think I'll go stance, and with the first-fruits of out now and see if I can't get an thine increase.” To the Lord he errand which will put something consecrates a tenth, and his ap- in my pocket for it; for
know propriation of the thousand to dif- the saying • Every little makes a ferent religious purposes is to him mickle;' and don't
remember matter of prayerful thought. He the Jewish widow? Why when feels he is the Lord's steward, and shall we Christian people come that to him he must give account. up to them Jews? Why she He next seeks direction from on gave all her living! when did ever high as to the employment of the any of us do that? And the remaining nine thousand. He is bright light had’nt shined into her heard and answered, and is blessed soul! That's what I have been with abundant prosperity,--even thinking of; so just, Betty, give
than his neighbour. In a dry crust, and while I'm apostolic times he would have away, be praying that I may get laid his all at the disciples' something to do and bring home feet, but, sad to say ! the deaden- an honest penny for the good ing influence of modern profession cause." “ Ġo to now, ye rich has an effect too powerful even men, weep and howl for” the miserover his mind, ardent as he is in able spirit ye are of; “ your gold every benevolent object, and even and silver is cankered; and the self-denying. There is a debt on rust of them shall be a witness his chapel; he has laboured nine against you."
The money ye years for his family; were he to have kept back from the Lord' hath labour the tenth year for this single a voice which hath “entered into
the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth. ment, but in fact, disfigure your Ye have heaped treasure together persons. You are the individuals for the last days!"
who ought to do much for the I would draw an illustration world—you have no family claims, from another class. I am credibly all your wants are supplied. informed, not that I understand But I must hasten to my much of the matter myself, that IId and last conclusion, which most young ladies of the middle is, that if every member in all our ranks, between the periods of their churches were lo act upon Scriptural emancipation from the school-room principles, and follow Scripture exand their marriage, receive from amples, our churches and the world their parents a certain annual sum would soon be in a different state for their apparel and pocket ex- from that in which they now are. penses. I am told the sum varies Our ministry would be respectably from £20 to £80, or £100, accord- and comfortably maintained; our ing to the age and expectations chapel debts would be cancelled, of the parties. These individuals for daily the chest would be filled, compose a large body of our popu- till our treasurer would
he had lation, and many of them are laud more than enough; our poor church ably engaged in works of mercy; members would have to thank but we are perpetually assailed by God for adequate supplies; the the
cry from one or other of them, needy poor around us would be reOh! our society is in debt-we lieved and benefited; and from all have so many poor to clothe! Do our churches Missionaries, for belp us a little, pray give us a home and foreign service, would trifle. Why, my fair friends? Your be sent out-not thirty a-year from poor ought to be in flourishing three-hundred churches, but as in circumstances. You have more the Apostolic times, many from money
know how to each church. God grant that our spend—witness the cockade and eyes may see such blessed days, if coxcomb appendages to your hats, it be his will ! and other ridiculous superfluities, I remain, Gentlemen, your's, &c, with which you attempt to orna
THE RELIGIOUS OPINIONS OF GENERAL WASHINGTON. Now that the fratricidal hatred nour less from the splendour of his against America and her illus- situation than from the dignity of trious chieftains has passed away his mind, before whom all borwith that generation of English- rowed greatness sinks into insig
who resisted her natural nificance. I cannot, indeed, help independence, candid men of all admiring the wisdom and fortune parties are ready to do jus- of this great man; not that by the tice to the character of General phrase, fortune, I mean to deroGeorge Washington, and few gate from his merit; but notwithEnglishmen would now question standing his extraordinary talents the truth of the following eulogium and exalted integrity, it must be which Charles James Fox pro considered as singularly fortunate nounced upon him in the British that he should have experienced House of Commons in 1794. a lot which so seldom falls to the
“ Illustrious man! deriving ho- lot of humanity, and have passed