Who will refuse thus systematically to reflect, to feel, to resolve, to give? Will you, professed follower of the self-denying Jesus? Can you, "bought with blood divine," when looking around on the possessions God has bestowed, have a heart to deny that aid which undying millions demand? Is it not beyond expression inconsistent to profess to give yourself to Christ, and then withhold your property from him? -- But what are your relations to him as implied in this profession? and what are his claims upon you, as growing out of it? With the last tribunal and the sorrows of Calvary in view, will you give these a moment's prayerful reflection?

Go back with me to those delightful scenes so full of gentle joy, of ineffable sweetness, and hallowed peace, when first you cast your all on Jesus, and felt

"The Saviour's pard'ning blood,
Applied to cleanse your soul from guilt
And bring you home to God."

Then, calm and trustful in spirit, transported in the freshness of a new-born life, you could sing with a ravished heart,

"I am my Lord's, and he is mine:
He drew me -- and I followed on --
Charm'd to confess the voice divine."

These were precious seasons. "How sweet their mem'ry still!" Then came an hour of tender, impressive, and almost awful interest. You entered the sanctuary of God, and in the presence of men, of angels, and your adored Saviour, avouched the Lord Jehovah, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, to be your God, consecrating yourself and all your possessions, unreservedly, to his service. Was this an unmeaning ceremony? No. You remember the occasion, the hopes and fears of your trembling faith, those sweet experiences, those glimpses of your Redeemer's smiles, which forced the tear to your eye; the solemn and faltering accents of your beloved pastor; and the weeping sympathy of a dear father and mother -- now, perhaps, gone to their rest -- who had long yearned over a thoughtless child. Or you may remember your soul's peaceful trust in God, as you stood alone, with no sympathizing kindred; and felt, as you tasted the cup, -- the emblem of your Saviour's blood, and the pledge of the eternal sacrifice of yourself to him, -- that you could cheerfully forsake brother and sister, father and mother, all, for Christ. It was a touching scene; and you thought you should never forget it. And, ah! it never has been forgotten in heaven. The eternal Judge, and those blest spirits who affectionately stooped to sustain and strengthen you for the irrevocable vow, remember it.

Now have you acted up to this surrender of your all to Christ, especially in relation to the duty of beneficence? In that impressive hour, did you make a mental reservation, withholding certain sources of private gratification, -- the privilege of using your property as you pleased, of seeing yourself and family supplied with the conveniences, the comforts, and even the luxuries of life, ere you attended to the cries of the myriads sinking to woes unutterable for the want of Gospel light? Were you thus unfeeling? Did you think to deceive the heart-searching Jesus? Oh, no! I cannot believe it; and you are appalled at the suspicion. But what did you mean by those all-surrendering vows? What do you mean, often as you renew them at the sacramental board? Let the question come home to your conscience; what do you mean? If they lead you not to hold your property at the call of God, ought you not to tremble lest you never gave yourself away, and are, therefore, with all your professions an heir of hell? Did Christ once weep over covenant-breaking Jerusalem? Does he not now weep over you, as he thinks of all his agonies to rescue you from unquenchable fire; of your voluntary vows; your unfaithfulness; and your mockery, as perhaps you have prayed that the kingdoms of the world might speedily become his; while amid your numerous comforts, you have refused to deny yourself scarce a convenience, or even superfluity, for the salvation of those whom he died to redeem? How inconsistent! Well might tears still bathe the Saviour's cheeks. Oh think, are these the kind returns you owe for pardoning love? It is unreasonable that you spend your worldly goods for him, who shed his blood for you? Go, I beseech you, to your closet, and there plead, till from the heart you can say: "Lord, here I am and all I have. Take the worthless sacrifice, now and forever."

Will the rich, they who have enough and abound, reject this rational scheme of principles, feelings, actions? What treatment is this of the compassionate Giver of your abundance? Do you not owe to him alike your being and possessions? Perhaps you refuse to give even yourselves to him; and employ to private ends those bodily and mental powers with which you are endowed for his service. Is not this robbing God? And how is it with the favors of his hand? Have not the crucibles of your selfish hearts melted and moulded them into household gods? As the streams of Providence have poured in upon you to overflowing, instead of dispersing abroad as God intended, have you not carefully enlarged your own reservoirs so as to retain the whole? Thus grasping all that lies within your reach of that wealth which God has created for the advancement of his kingdom, have you not withheld it from its appropriate channel, and thus become doubly guilty of robbing God?

What a spectacle do you present to holy intelligences! They behold you rational and accountable beings like themselves; upheld in existence by Jehovah's mercy, partaking freely of his bounties, and treasuring up future supplies; but resolutely refusing to share your abundance with the perishing, even when the generosity required would but enhance your personal enjoyment. And yet, perchance, you are the professed followers of the compassionate Jesus. Dare you compare your spirit and conduct with his?

Truly, you, who have redundant stores, sustain tremendous responsibilities; would that you might realize them. You enjoy glorious privileges; will you slight them? With the power, under God, of relieving the sorrowful, enlightening the ignorant, elevating the degraded, and diffusing a vital energy through every pore of this suffering world, will you stand like some bleak Alpine cliff, breathing perpetual frost, merely an object for the curious to gaze upon? so live that your selfish heirs shall rejoice at your death, and the judgment-day clothe you with eternal shame?

Do you say, "My money is my own; I may use it as I please?" Hark! God thunders, "Thy gold and thy silver is mine." Will you trifle with Jehovah's voice, and incur his righteous wrath? Hear the terrible denunciations of James: "Go to, now, ye rich men, weep, and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire." Absorbed in the pursuits of gain, or whirling on your glittering rounds of pleasure, you may heedlessly disregard the appeals of distressed humanity, and proudly congratulate yourselves on your exalted positions, your honors and flatteries; but, rely upon it, you are only heaping "treasure together for the last day." Every call of charity from which you turn coldly away will be a drop of anguish to your undying soul. How trifling your gifts to the Lord, compared with the vastly greater sacrifices of many far poorer than yourself, and whom, perhaps, you now despise. When these shall shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father, where, O, where will you be found? O, how will all that affluence in which you have garnered up your hopes appear, when hearing the voice of your Final Judge, "Inasmuch as you did it not to one of the least of these my brethren, ye did it not to me;" and bereft of your treasures and your hopes together, you find the prison of despair a dread reality, where covetousness will eternally work without restraint, and unrelieved; a fire shut up in the soul, agonizing it evermore?

Will the young refuse to enter upon this systematic course of doing good? -- You who are in the warm glow of youthful affections and sympathies, I presume are not prepared to answer in the negative. You feel that it would be delightful, the highest grade of human excellence, to go about scattering charities -- feeding the hungry, relieving distress, smoothing the dying pillow, and sending the light of salvation to those on whom the dayspring of the Saviour's mercy has never dawned. This, perhaps, you intend to do at some future time; but you cannot now; you have not the ability; you must first amass the means. But let me warn you; here lies the treacherous pitfall. You have within a subtle and malignant principle, whose maturity is utterly destructive of benevolence. This the very employment of acquiring the means of charity will fan to a flame, unless, in all your plans and avocations, you carry along with you the spirit of Christ's good-will to men. The work of charity must be begun in the infancy of the selfish tendencies. A small blaze among the withered leaves of autumn a child may extinguish; but when the winds have hurled it, and the wild fire is running and leaping from point to point, streaming up trees and wrapping the forest in sheets of flame, it will take the energies of thousands to quench it. So it is with the principle of avarice. It must be repressed early, before its giant coils wind around the entire heart, crushing its better purposes. Hence, as the morning of life is peculiarly favorable to the formation and fixing of habits, the importance of inuring yourself to battle with this inward foe, in this flexible season. Put on the armor at once, and learn to wield it; for victory is as much dependent on skill as on strength.

Let the spirit of benevolence be the warmest aspiration of the youthful breast. Let it be the early, the earnest, the daily inquiry, "What can I do for my race?" Good to others should be your aim when means are small. True, its light at first may be no more than the feeble glimmerings of the glow-warm by the pathway of the benighted traveller; yet it will be genial, soothing many a sad and torn heart. In the very commencement of business, then, cherish a Christ-like spirit; and, adopting a system of accordant action, maintain it all along the path of life; so that when you arrive at its close, it will be seen, a line of light stretching around the world, with many a flower of Paradise blooming on its borders. But wait till you obtain the means before you begin to seek in earnest the benefit of others, and, unless Divine Grace powerfully interpose, by the time, in your own judgments, the means are procured, your hearts will have become like the nether millstone.

Be persuaded, then, to lay your youth a victim on the altar of charity. Let your whole being burn there till life is extinct; and when you enter upon the peaceful rest of heaven, you will find multitudes there, aided thither by your timely munificence, with whom you may unite in transporting hallelujahs forever.

Finally, let me entreat readers of every class deeply to ponder the subject here unfolded. No rational being, with any sense of his responsibilities, can treat it with indifference. I beseech you, pass not over these pages with a hasty glance, and then throw them aside. Meditate upon them till your hearts burn within you. Pray over them till you feel a harmony of soul with Christ; and, in this spirit, come to a solemn determination whether you will adopt or reject this system of views, of affections, of resolutions, and of accordant actions. Do one or the other. No other course is either rational or christian. And while you deliberately decide, realize that the eye of the Triune Jehovah is fixed upon you, and that that dread Judge, before "whose face the earth and the heavens" shall flee away, will review the transaction. How solemn your position! What amazing consequences are depending on your present determination! It will affect your usefulness here, and your relations in eternity. You are striking a chord of the mighty harp of the universe, which will tremble with the songs of the redeemed, or the moanings of the damned. Can you touch it heedlessly?

part iii
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