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him to betray your interest. When you move him from his integrity, he but goes down with you to the pit; or if God forgive him, and he is saved, he may first have destroyed you and your children. Let him then be faithful, and still have your affection, then his work will be pleasant, and your danger diminished.
And the ministers of Christ will also need your help. The enterprise in which they are employed is the redemption of men from eternal misery. And they have all the weaknesses of other men, and need in a work so awfully grand, the prompt co-operation of all who value the soul. The seed they sow must be watered with prayer, their duties must be made easy by your friendship, and their trials be softened by your sympathies. When the burdens of the ministry are thus lightened, they are still weighty enough for the shoulders of an angel. Our constant exclamation is, "Who is sufficient for these things?" Next to him who in the very work itself has continued faithful unto death, the high reward of heaven will be his, who has aided our efforts, and has labored with us in the gospel. If you could have helped in building the world, it would have been a service less honorable than that of helping to redeem it. It was built of clay, but must be redeemed with blood; it took its form in a week, but its redemption has been progressing these six thousand years.
You may contribute to save a soul from death, and cover a multitude of sins; may snatch a spirit that can never die, from perdition, and elevate it to a seat high in bliss; may substitute the glories of heaven for the darkness and horrors of the pit; and changed the wailings of the damned into anthems of Alleluia. By motives mighty like these, you are urged to ease the burdens of the ministry, to render the service pleasant and efficient by your sympathies, your counsels, and your prayers. It is sweet to know that we have sometimes the entire confidence as well as the prayers of those whom it is our work to build up in the faith and purity of the gospel. It cheers the solitude of many a midnight hour, that we are preparing a repast for the disciples of the Lord Jesus, who, when they have fed upon the word, will pray for him who published it. May every such prayer for us be answered, and then returned into your own bosoms, and when the lips are cold and the tongue silent that address you, and the sanctuary where you worship has crumbled, and other generations fill the places we occupy, may we be together about the throne, to sing and say, "Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel, who only doeth wondrous things. And blessed be his glorious name for
ever: and let the whole earth be filled with his glory." Amen and
Finally, it is a crime of no small magnitude to treat with neglect or contempt a ministry formed after the pattern of the text. The embassy that God commissions deserves regard. "He that receiveth you, receiveth me." If ministers are faithful, it is not at the option of their people, whether they shall receive or reject their message, and treat kindly, or otherwise, those who hold the high commission of ambassadors of Jesus Christ. To their own Master they are accountable for every doctrine they advance, every duty they urge, and the proper application of every promise they repeat; and you too are obligated to insert that doctrine, if true, into your creed, to practice that duty, and apply legitimately that promise. If they deliver the true gospel, and you reject it, it proves to you a savor of death unto death. Even cold indifference is criminal toward that ministry which has immediate connection with your salvation, and the eternal life of your offspring. God will punish those who treat rudely his ministers. We could point you to the places where sterility and death have reigned for half a century, when the hand had been raised against one whom God sent to them with the news of pardon. The law in Israel, "Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm," has been renewed in other terms under the gospel. Blessed God, let no child of mine ever hurt or offend thy ministers.
THE WEALTHY CHRISTIAN READY TO CONTRIBUTE.
1. TIMOTHY vi. 17-19.
Charge them that are rich in this world that they be not high-minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; that they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.
THE Bible admirably adapts its instructions to every character and condition in human life, from the greatest monarch to the meanest slave. And this fact is an evidence that the Scriptures are from God. They teach with an authority that men uninspired would not have been likely to assume. There is no crouching, no sycophancy, no flattery. Duty is taught to every man in the same style, with the same plainness, and the same assurance. What was said of our Lord, that he taught as one having authority, is true of the whole Bible.
In the text Paul is directing Timothy what he must say to the rich. They may not be high-minded. God distinguishes one man from another. "In thine hand it is to make great.' They may not trust in riches, for they are uncertain, and may take to themselves wings and fly away. They must trust alone in God, the living God, who giveth them richly all things to enjoy. God suffers them to enjoy their wealth, but he also commands them to communicate enjoyment. They are to be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate. They must not even wait to be urged to this duty, but hold themselves in the attitude of handing out to others what God has put into their possession.
Thus they lay up in store for themselves a good foundation, a treasure upon which they may draw at any future period of want. Hence to be liberal renders them ultimately the more wealthy, and what is more important, enables them to lay hold on eternal life. Thus their duty and their interest are united, and are equally plain. To do good with their wealth is an important means of bringing them to heaven. It is that test of piety which God will demand of the rich. Hence said our Lord "How hardly do they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God." We cannot then be kind
to this large and respectable class of men, unless we urge them to liberality, as an indispensable test of their hope. They have some liberty of choice as to the objects they will the most liberally patronize, but may not choose whether they will or will not be ready to communicate, for if they will not, they can have no evidence that they shall lay hold on eternal life.
In proceeding, I shall present an object, which seems to me to stand among the first, and urge its claims upon a single class of the wealthy. Let me say, that It is the duty of professors of religion who have wealth to consecrate their property to the spread of the gospel.
Ye disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, your Savior has set up a church in this world, has promised that the gates of hell shall not prevail against her, and that she shall one day embrace all nations; and calls upon you to consecrate your property to the diffusion of that gospel by which he brings men into covenant with him and makes them happy. Will you hear me, while I offer five arguments to induce you to obey him in this reasonable requisition. I will enter upon the point without detaining you a moment, and when I have done, you must act as you think proper. I assert in the
I. Place, That "the earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof," and hence that he has a right to make this draft upon you. If I fail in establishing this point, you may lay down the book, and not read another line.
You acknowledge God as the creator of all things. Here I found his claim; it is prior to all others. He who built all worlds, and peopled them, and gave that people all their good things, may, make a demand upon them to any amount within their power, with the certainty that it cannot be protested. are all the beasts of the forest, and the cattle upon a thousand hills." The same is true of your silver, your merchandize, your children, your servants, and all that you have. If not, then name the good thing that you can be sure will be yours to-morrow. Begin, if you please, at the bottom of the catalogue of your comforts, and ascend, through the whole series, to the wife of your bosom, your health, and your life, and tell me which of the whole will be yours to-morrow. Dare you name nothing? Then whosesoever they are, they surely are not yours. For he who has nothing that he can hold a day, has nothing but what is borrowed. And if the good things you possess are not yours they are the Lord's, or whose are they?
And what was the Lord's at the first, because he made it, he has carefully watched over and preserved. Not merely could we have had nothing, if God had not made it, but we could have kept nothing, if God had not preserved it. There is no kind of independence about us; we should have been beggars, if God had not cared for us. There was an eye that watched more narrowly than we did or could, or our wealth had long since taken to itself wings and had flown away. You will own, my Christian friends, that it was the blessed God that watered your fields, and gave success to your commerce, and health to your children, that guarded your house from fire, and your lives from danger, else you would have been pennyless or have perished years since. How many, once as rich as you, are now poor; or as healthy as you, are now in the grave; had a home as you have, but it burned down; had children, as it may be you have, but the cold blast came over them, and they died. And was it not the kindness of God that saved to you what you have? May he not then lay a tax upon your wealth, as large as he pleases?
But I am not through the argument. God has never alienated his right. He has suffered Satan to be styled the God of this world, the prince of the power of the air; but he owns nothing. The territories that he promised the Lord Jesus, if he would fall down and worship him, were not a foot of them his. And though men are permitted to hold under God certain rights, and which they sometimes term unalienable, still God never has, and never will, renounce his right to dispose at pleasure of all that we term ours. In a moment, if he pleases, day or night, he puts us out of our possessions, and the places that knew us know us no more for ever. Hence we can serve God only with what is his already, what he has never alienated. "Of thine own we give thee." Now that which God has put into our hands, and the right to which he has never relinquished, we may not, without the charge of embezzlement, appropriate otherwise than as he shall command us.
But I have not done. God has often asserted his claim to what we term ours. Once he claimed the whole world, and by a sudden and fearful dispensation, displaced every tenant that had ever occupied its soil, providing afterward for the single family that loved him. And none will say that God went without his own dominions, to lay a world waste that was the property of another. When he burned the cities of the plain, he but asserted, though loudly and fearfully, his right, and pressed home to the bosom and the conscience of every foe and friend he had, his claim to be