We have one of these in the title to our present chapter, which is -- Christ Teaching Liberality. This was a very important lesson for Jesus to teach. One of the sad effects of sin upon our nature is to make it selfish, and covetous. We are tempted to love money more than we ought to do. We are not so willing to part with it as we should be. And we never can be good and true Christians unless we overcome the selfishness of our sinful hearts, and not only learn to give, but to give liberally. The Bible teaches us that God not only expects his people to give, but, as St. Paul says, in one place, to give "cheerfully." II. Cor. ix: 7.
And this is the lesson Jesus taught when he said to his disciples, -- "Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosoms." St. Luke vi: 38.
And when we come to consider these words of Jesus, there are three things to engage our attention. The first of these is the -- LESSON OF LIBERALITY -- here set before us.
The second is -- THE PROOF -- that this lesson is taught all through the Bible.
And the third is -- THE ILLUSTRATIONS -- of this lesson.
And then, when put into its shortest form, our present subject may be thus expressed -- the lesson of liberality; its proofs; and its illustrations.
And the lesson which Jesus here taught is all wrapped up in this little word -- "Give." Here we learn what the will of Jesus is on this subject. This is not simply the expression of his opinion. It is not merely his advice; no, but it is his command. He is speaking here as our Master -- our King -- our God. He commands us to -- give. And when we remember how he said to his disciples, "If ye love me, keep my commandments," we see plainly, that we have no right to consider ourselves as his disciples if we are neglecting this or any other of his plain commands.
And this command about giving is not intended for any one class of persons among the followers of Christ, but for all of them. It is not a command designed for kings, or princes, or rich men only, but for the poor as well. It is not a command for grown persons alone, but for children also. As soon as we begin to get, God expects us to begin to give.
Jesus says nothing here about how much he expects us to give. But, from other places in the Bible, we learn that he expects us to give at least one-tenth of all that we have. If we have a thousand dollars he expects us to give one hundred out of the thousand. If we have a hundred he expects us to give ten. If we have ten dollars we must give one of them to God. If we have only one dollar we must give ten cents of it to Him. If we have but ten cents we must give one of them. If we have no money to give, God expects us to give kind words, and kind actions, our sympathy and love.
Jesus does not tell us here how often we are to give, but simply -- give. This means that we are to learn the lesson and form the habit of giving. His command is -- give. And in giving us this command he is only asking us to imitate his own example. He is giving all the time. The apostle Paul tells us that Jesus is "exalted to the right hand of the Father to -- give." He never tires of giving. "He giveth to all life, breath, and all things." And if we have not the Spirit of Christ in this respect, "we are none of his."
This, then, is the lesson of liberality that Jesus taught when he said -- "give." And that giving is God's rule for getting is what we are taught by our Saviour, when he said -- "Give, and it shall be given unto you."
And now, having seen what this lesson of liberality is, which Jesus taught, let us look at some of the Scripture proofs of it. The same lesson is taught in other places in the Bible. Let us see what is said about it in some of these places.
In Ps. xli: 1 David says -- "Blessed is he that considereth the poor: the Lord will deliver him in time of trouble." Considering the poor here, means being kind to them, and giving them such things as they need. And the blessing promised to those who do this means that God will reward them by giving to them good things in great abundance. And, if this is so, then we have proof here that "giving is God's rule for getting."
We have another proof that "giving is God's rule for getting," in Prov. iii: 9, 10. Here Solomon says -- "Honor the Lord with thy substance, and with the first-fruits of all thine increase: So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine."
When the Jewish farmers gathered in their harvests they were required to make an offering to God, of what had been gathered, before they used any part of it for themselves; and the offerings thus made were called "the first-fruits." God considered himself honored by his people when they did this, because they were keeping his commandments and doing what he wished them to do. And the meaning of this command, when we apply it to ourselves, is that we should give something to the cause of God from all the money, or property we have, and from all the gain, or increase that we make to the same. This is the Bible rule -- the will or command of God for all his people. And then, in the other part of this passage we have the promise of God to all who do this. "So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine."
This means that they shall be rich and prosperous. And so we see that this passage from the book of Proverbs, teaches the same lesson of liberality that our Saviour taught when he said -- "Give and it shall be given unto you." It proves that "giving is God's rule for getting."
And Solomon teaches the same, again, when he says, "The liberal soul shall be made fat; and he that watereth shall be watered also himself." Prov. xi: 25.
A "liberal soul" means a person who is in the habit of giving; and to be "made fat" means to be prospered and happy. If you undertake to water a garden, you are giving to the thirsty plants that which they need to make them grow and thrive; and when it is promised that the person who does this shall "be watered also himself," the meaning is that he shall have given to him all that is most important to supply his wants, and make him happy. And this, we see, is only teaching what our Saviour taught when he said, "Give, and it shall be given unto you." It furnishes us with another proof that "giving is God's rule for getting."
In the nineteenth chapter of Proverbs and seventeenth verse we have a very clear proof of the lesson we are now considering. Here we find it said: "He that hath pity upon the poor, lendeth unto the Lord; and that which he hath given will he pay him again." Having pity on the poor, as here spoken of, means giving them such things as they need. Whatever we use in this way God looks upon as so much money lent unto him; and we have his solemn promise that when we lend anything to him, in this way, "He will pay us again." And when he pays again what has been lent to him, it is always with interest. He pays back four, or five, or ten times as much as was lent: to him. This proves that "giving is God's rule for getting."
One other passage is all that need be referred to in order to prove that the lesson of liberality which our Saviour taught is the same lesson which the Bible teaches everywhere. In Eccles. xi: 1, God says, "Cast thy bread upon the waters; for thou shalt find it after many days."
If we should see a man standing on the end of a wharf and throwing bread upon the waters, we should think that he was a foolish man, who was wasting his bread, or only feeding the fishes with it. But suppose that you and I were travelling through Egypt -- the land of the celebrated pyramids and other great wonders. The famous river Nile is there. During our visit the inundation of that river takes place. It overflows its banks, and spreads its water over all the level plains that border on the river. This takes place every year. And when the fields are all overflowed with water, the farmers go out in boats, and scatter their grain over the surface of the water. The grain sinks to the bottom. The sediment in the water settles down on the grain, and covers it with mud. By and by the waters flow back into the river. The fields become dry. The grain springs up and grows. The mud that covered it is like rich manure, and makes it grow very plentifully, and yield a rich harvest. And here we see the meaning of this passage. God makes use of this Egyptian custom to teach us the lesson of liberality that we are now considering. He tells us that the money which we give to the poor, or use to do good with, is like the grain which the Egyptian farmer casts upon the water, and which will surely yield a rich harvest by and by.
This teaches us the lesson of liberality. And when we think of all these passages, we see very clearly that the Bible teaches the same lesson which Jesus taught when he said to his disciples, "Give, and it shall be given unto you." And what we learn, both from the teaching of Christ, and from the different passages referred to, is -- that "giving is God's rule for getting."
And now, having seen some of the Bible, proofs for this lesson of liberality, or for this rule about giving and getting, let us go on to speak of some of the illustrations of this rule. These are very numerous.
And we may draw our illustrations from three sources, viz.: -- from the Bible; from nature; and from everyday life.
There are two illustrations of which we may speak from the Bible. We find one of these in the history of the prophet Elijah. You remember that there was a great famine in the land of Israel during the lifetime of this prophet. For more than three years there was not a drop of rain all through the land. The fields, the vineyards, and gardens dried up, and withered, and yielded no fruit. During the first part of the time when this famine was prevailing, God sent Elijah to "the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan," I. Kings xvii: 7-17. There the ravens brought him food, and he drank of the water of the brook.
But after awhile the brook dried up. Then God told him to go to the city of Zarephath, or Sarepta, on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, and that he had commanded a widow woman there to sustain him. He did not tell him the name of the woman; nor the street she lived in; nor the number of her house. Elijah went. When he came near the place he met a woman, picking up some sticks of wood. I suppose God told him that this was the woman he was to stay with. Elijah spoke to her, and asked her if she would please give him a drink of water. When she was going to get it, he called to her again, and said he was hungry, and asked her to bring him a piece of bread. Then she told him that there was not a morsel of bread in her house. All she had in the world was a handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse, and that she was gathering a few sticks, that she might go and bake the last cake for herself and her son, that they might eat it and die. And Elijah said, "Fear not; go, and do as thou hast said; but make me thereof a little cake first, and bring it unto me, and after make for thee, and for thy son. For thus saith the Lord God of Israel, The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the Lord sendeth rain upon the earth."
This was a hard thing to ask a mother to do. It was asking her to take the last morsel of bread she had, and that she needed for herself and for her hungry boy, and give it to a stranger. Yet she did it; because she believed God. I seem to see her turning the meal barrel up, to get the meal all out. Then she pours out the oil from the cruse, and drains out the last drop. She mixes the meal and the olive oil together, as is the custom in that country still, and makes a cake which can soon be baked. She takes it to the man of God, who eats it thankfully, and is refreshed. Then she returns to the empty barrel and cruse, and finds as much in them as she had lately taken out. She prepares some bread for herself and her son, and they eat it thankfully as bread sent from heaven. The next day it is the same, and the day after, and so on through all the days of the famine. We are not told how long it was after Elijah went to the widow's house before the days of the famine were over. But suppose we make a calculation about it. The famine lasted for three years. Now let us suppose, that the first half of this time was spent by the prophet at the brook Cherith. Then his stay at the widow's house must have been at least eighteen months. And, if this miracle of increasing the meal and the oil was repeated only once a day, there would be for the first twelve months, or for the year, three hundred and sixty-five miracles; and for the six months, or the half year, one hundred and eighty-two more; and adding these together we have the surprising number of five hundred and forty-seven miracles, that were performed to reward this good widow for the kindness she showed to the prophet Elijah, when she gave him a piece of bread, and a drink of water! What an illustration we have here of the truth we are considering, that giving is God's rule for getting.
But the best illustration of this subject to be found in the Bible is given in our Saviour's own experience. He not only preached the lesson of liberality, but practised it. He is himself the greatest giver ever heard of. In becoming our Redeemer he showed himself the Prince of givers. He gave -- not silver and gold; not all the wealth of the world, or of ten thousand worlds like ours; but "He gave Himself for us." He can say indeed, to each of us, in the language of the hymn:
"I gave my life for thee,
And what is the result of this glorious giving to Jesus himself? St. Paul answers this question when he says, "Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him; and given him a name which is above every name; that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father," Phil, ii: 9-11. Because of what he gave "for us men, and for our salvation," he will be loved and praised and honored in heaven, on the earth, and through all the universe, above all other beings, for ever and ever. What a glorious illustration we have here of the truth of this statement, that "giving is God's rule for getting." These are some of the illustrations of this lesson of liberality that we find in the Bible.
And now, let us look at some illustrations of this subject, that we have in nature.
Solomon suggests one of these when he says, "There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth." Prov. xi: 26. He is evidently speaking here of a farmer sowing his fields with grain.
Now suppose that we had never seen a man sowing; and that we knew nothing at all about the growth of grain, or how wonderfully the seed sown in the spring is increased and multiplied when the harvest is reaped. Then, the first time we saw a farmer sowing his fields, we should have been ready to say, "What a foolish man that is! He is taking that precious grain by the handful, and deliberately throwing it away."
Of course, we should have expected that the grain thus thrown away, or scattered over the ground, would all be lost. But, if we could have come back to visit that farmer when he was gathering in his harvest, how surprised we should have been! Then we should have learned that for every handful of grain that the farmer had scattered, or, as we thought, thrown away, in the spring, when he was sowing, he had gained forty or fifty handfuls when he reaped in his harvest. Then we should have understood what Solomon meant when he said, "There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth." And we should have here a good illustration of our Saviour's lesson of liberality, when he said, "Give, and it shall be given unto you;" and of the Bible truth we are now studying, that "giving is God's rule for getting."
Yonder is the great ocean; it is one of the grandest of nature's works. And the ocean gives us a good illustration of the lesson of liberality which our Saviour taught. The waters of the ocean are spread out for thousands of miles. As the sun shines on the surface of the ocean, it makes the water warm, and turns it into vapor, like the steam that comes from the boiling kettle. This vapor rises into the air, and helps to form the clouds that are floating there. These clouds sail over the land, and pour out the water that is in them, in refreshing and fertilizing showers of rain. This rain makes the rills start from the sides of the mountains. The rills run down into the rivers, and the rivers flow back into the sea again. In this way the ocean is a great giver. It has been giving away its water for hundreds and thousands of years, ever since the day when God made it.
Now, let us suppose that the ocean could think, or speak; and that it had power to control its own motions. And suppose that the ocean should say: -- "Well, I think I have been giving away water long enough. I am going to turn over a new leaf. The sun may shine as much as it pleases. I won't let another drop of water go out from my surface. I am tired of giving, and I mean to stop doing it, any longer." Let us pause for a moment here, and see what the effect of this would be upon the ocean itself.
We know that all the water in the ocean is salt water. But when the sun takes water from the ocean, in the form of vapor, it is always taken out as fresh water. It leaves the salt behind it. Then the water on the surface of the ocean, from which this vapor has been taken, has more salt in it than the water underneath it. This makes it heavier than the other water. The consequence of this, is that this heavier water, on the top of the ocean, sinks to the bottom; and at the same time the lighter water at the bottom rises to the top. And so a constant change is taking place all over the ocean. The water from the top is sinking to the bottom, and the water from the bottom is rising to the top. And this is one of the means which God employs to keep the waters of the ocean always pure and wholesome. But if the ocean should stop giving away its water, as it has always been doing, then this constant change of its waters would cease. The ocean would be left still and stagnant. It would become a great mass of corruption; and the breezes from the ocean, that now carry health and life to those who breathe them, would carry only disease and death. And the thousands of people who now love the ocean and seek its shores every summer, to get strong and well by breathing the air that sweeps over its surface, and by bathing in its foaming surf, would all be afraid of the ocean; and would keep as far away from its shores as they could. And so we see how the ocean stands before us as a grand illustration of the lesson of liberality which our Saviour taught when he said, "Give, and it shall be given unto you." The ocean gives away its water continually, and, in return for this, God gives it freshness and purity, and makes it a blessing to the world. And so the ocean illustrates the truth of the lesson we are now studying, that "giving is God's rule for getting."
And yonder is the great sun, shining up in the sky. We do not know as much about the sun as we do about the ocean, because it is so far away from us. The ocean is very near us. We can walk along its shores, and plunge into its waters, and sail over its surface. We can study out all about the laws that govern it, and what the effect of those laws is upon it. But it is very different with the sun. It is about ninety millions of miles away from us. This is too far off for us to know much about it. And yet, we know enough about the sun to get from it a good illustration of God's rule about giving and getting. The sun, like the ocean, is a great giver. It is giving away light all the time. It was made for this purpose; and for this purpose it is preserved. If the sun should stop giving, and should try to keep all its light and heat for itself, the effect would be its ruin. By ceasing to give it would be burnt up and destroyed. And so, when we see the sower sowing his seed, or the reaper gathering in his harvest; when we look upon the ocean, and see the clouds formed from its waters, as they go sailing through the sky; or when we see the sun rising in the morning, going forth again to his appointed work of giving light to a dark world; let us remember that these are nature's illustrations of the lesson of liberality which Jesus taught when he said, "Give, and it shall be given unto you." They all help to show how true it is, that "giving is God's rule of getting."
And now we may go on to look for our illustrations of this subject from everyday life.
If we are only watchful we shall meet with illustrations of this kind continually. It would not be difficult to fill a volume with them. Here are a few out of many that might be given.
"The Travellers in the Snow." Two travellers were on a journey in a sleigh during a very severe winter. It was snowing fast as they drove along. One of the travellers was a liberal, generous-hearted man, who believed in giving; and was always ready to share whatever he had with others. His companion was a selfish ungenerous man. He did not believe in giving; and liked to keep whatever he had for himself. As they drove along, they saw something covered up in the snow that looked like the figure of a man. "Look there," said the generous man to his friend, "that must be some poor fellow overcome by the cold. Let's stop and see what we can do for him."
"You can get out, if you like," was his reply, "but it's too cold for me. I intend to stay where I am;" and he wrapped his furs closely round him.
The other traveller threw aside his furs and jumped out of the sleigh. He found it was a poor man, who had sunk down in the snow a short time before, overcome by the cold. He shook the snow from him, and began to rub his hands and face and feet. He kept on rubbing for a good while. At last the man began to get warm again and was saved from death. Then the generous-hearted traveller helped him into the sleigh, and shared his wrappings with him. The exertion he had made in doing this kind act put him all in a glow of warmth. He made the rest of the journey in comfort. But when they stopped at the end of their journey, the selfish man, who was not willing to do anything for the help of another, had his fingers, and toes, and nose, and ears frozen. This illustrates the lesson of liberality; and shows that "giving is God's rule for getting."
Here we see the truth of the lines which someone has written:
"Numb and weary on the mountain
"The Officer and the Soldier." In one of the terrible battles in Virginia, during the late war, a Union officer fell wounded in front of the Confederate breastwork, which had been attacked. His wounds brought on a raging fever, and he lay on the ground crying piteously for water. A kind-hearted Confederate soldier heard the touching cry, and leaping over the fortifications, with his canteen in his hand, he crawled up to the poor fellow and gave him a drink of water. O, what a comfort this was to the wounded man! His heart was filled with gratitude towards this generous and noble soldier. He pulled out his gold watch from his pocket, and cheerfully offered it to his benefactor; but he refused to take it. Then he asked the soldier's name and residence. He said his name was James Moore, and that he lived in Burke County, North Carolina. Then they parted. This noble soldier afterwards lost a limb in one of the Virginia battles, and returned to his home as a cripple.
The officer recovered from his wounds; but he never forgot the kindness of that Confederate soldier. And when the war was over, and he was engaged in his business again, he wrote to James Moore, telling him that he intended to send him the sum of ten thousand dollars in four quarterly installments of twenty-five hundred dollars each; and that he wished him to receive the same in token of the heartfelt gratitude with which his generous kindness on the battle-field was remembered. Certainly these were two noble men. It is hard to tell which was the more noble of the two. But when the crippled soldier thought of the drink of water which he gave to the wounded officer, and of the ten thousand dollars which he received for the same, he must have felt how true our Saviour's words were, when he said: "Give, and it shall be given unto you." And he must have felt sure of the lesson we are now considering, that "Giving is God's rule for getting."
"The Secret of Success." Some time ago a Christian gentleman was visiting a large paper mill that belonged to a friend of his, who was a very rich man. The owner of the mill took him all through it, and showed him the machinery, and told him how the paper was made. When they were through the visitor said to his friend, "I have one question to ask you; and if you will answer it, I shall feel very much obliged to you. I am told that you started in life very poor, and now you are one of the richest men in this part of the country. My question is this: will you please tell me the secret of your success in business?"
"I don't know that there is any great secret about it," said his friend, "but I will tell you all I know. I got a situation, and began to work for my own living when I was only sixteen years old. My wages, at first, were to be forty dollars a year, with my board and lodging. My clothing and all my other expenses were to come out of the forty dollars. I then made a solemn promise to the Lord that one-tenth of my wages, or four dollars out of the forty, should be faithfully laid aside to be given to the poor, or to some religious work. This promise I kept religiously, and after laying aside one-tenth to give away, at the end of the year, besides meeting my expenses, I had more than a tenth left for myself. I then made a vow that whatever it might please God to give me, I would never give less than one-tenth of my income to him. This vow I have faithfully kept from that day to this. If there be any secret to my success -- this is it. Whatever I receive during the year, I feel sure that I am richer on nine-tenths of it, with God's blessing, than I should be on the whole of it, without that blessing. I believe that God has blessed me, and made my business prosper. And I am sure that anyone who will make the trial of this secret of success, will find it work as it has done in my case."
This man was certainly proving the truth of our Saviour's words, when he said -- "Give, and it shall be given unto you." And his experience shows most satisfactorily that "giving is God's rule for getting."
"The Steamboat Captain and the Soldier." During the late war there was a steamboat, one day, in front of a flourishing town on the Ohio River. The captain, who had charge of her was the owner of the boat. The steam was up; and the captain was about to start on a trip some miles down the river with an excursion party, who had chartered the boat for the occasion. While waiting for the party to come on board, a poor wounded soldier came up to the captain. He said he was suffering from severe sickness, as well as from his wounds. He had been in the hospital. The doctor had told him he could not live long; and he was very anxious to get home, and see his mother again, before he died; and he wished to know if the captain would give him a passage down the river on his boat. On hearing where his home was, the captain said that the party who had chartered his boat were going near that place; and he told the poor soldier that he would gladly take him to his home.
But, when the excursion party came on board, and saw the soldier, with his soiled and worn clothes, and his ugly-looking wounds, they were not willing to let him go; and asked the captain to put him ashore. The captain told the soldier's sad story, and pleaded his cause very earnestly. He said he would place him on the lower deck and put a screen round his bed, so that they could not see him. But the young people refused. They said as they had hired the boat, it belonged to them for the day, and they were not willing to have such a miserable-looking object on board their boat; and that if the captain did not put him off, they would hire another boat, and he would lose the twenty dollars they had agreed to give him for the day's excursion.
The good captain made one more appeal to them. He asked them to put themselves in the poor soldier's place, and then to think how they would like to be treated. But still they refused to let the soldier go. Then the noble-hearted captain said: "Well, ladies and gentlemen, whether you hire my boat or not, I intend to take this soldier home to-day."
The party did hire another boat. The captain lost his twenty dollars. But, when he returned the poor dying soldier to the arms of his loving mother, he felt that the tears of gratitude with which she thanked him were worth more than the money he had lost. The gentle mother dressed the wounds of her poor suffering boy; and nursed and cared for him, as none but a mother knows how to do. But she could not save his life. He died after a few days; and the last words he spoke, as his loving parents stood weeping at his bedside were -- "Don't forget the good captain." And he was not forgotten. For after the soldier's funeral was over, his father went up the river to the town where the captain lived. He found him out. He thanked him again for his kindness in bringing home his dying boy; and made him a present that was worth four or five times the twenty dollars he had lost for the hire of his boat.
But this was not the end of it. For not long after this, the captain and his wife were taken suddenly ill with a fatal disease that was prevailing in that region of the country. They both died; leaving two little orphan children, with no one to take care of them. The soldier's father heard of it; and he went at once and asked that he might be permitted to take the two helpless little ones and adopt them as his own children. He took them home; and was a father and a friend to them as long as he lived.
How beautifully our Saviour's words -- "Give, and it shall be given unto you," are illustrated in this story! How clearly we see here, that "Giving is God's rule for getting!"
I have just one other illustration before closing this subject. We may call it:
"The Miser and the Hungry Children." In a village in England were two little motherless girls who lived in a small cottage. Sally, the elder, was about eight years old and her sister Mary was six. They were very poor. Their father was a laboring man, and he found great difficulty in supporting himself and his children.
Once, in the midst of winter, these two little girls were left alone all day, as their father had gone out to work. They had their breakfast in the morning with their father, before he left. But they had no dinner, nor anything to eat during the rest of the day. About the middle of the afternoon, Mary said to her sister: "Sally, I'm very hungry. Is there anything in the closet that we can get to eat?"
"No," said Sally; "I've looked all through the closet; but there isn't a crust of bread, or a cold potato; nor anything to eat. I wish there was something; for I'm hungry too."
"O, dear! what shall we do?" cried Mary; "I'm too hungry to wait till father comes home!"
"Mary," said her sister, "suppose we ask our Father in heaven to give us something to eat? Let us kneel down, and say the Lord's Prayer. When we come to that part about 'daily bread' we'll say it over three times, and then wait, and see if God will send us some."
Mary agreed to this. They both kneeled down, and Sally began: "Our Father, who art in heaven; hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come; thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven: give us this day our daily bread; give us this day our daily bread; give us this day our daily bread." Then they waited quietly, to see if anything would come.
And now, while this was going on inside of that little cottage, let me tell you what was taking place outside.
Not far from this cottage lived an old man who was a miser. He had a good deal of money, but he never gave any of it to others; and never would spend a penny for himself, if he could possibly help it. But, on that afternoon, he had left home to go to the baker's and buy a loaf of bread. He got the loaf, and, as it was a stormy afternoon, he put it under his coat before starting to walk home. Now, it happened, that just as he was passing the cottage in which the little girls were, a strong blast of wind blew the rain in his face, and he stepped into the porch of the cottage and crouched down in the corner, to shelter himself from the wind and rain. In this position his ear was brought quite close to the keyhole of the door. He heard what the little girls had said about being hungry. He heard their proposal to pray to the Father in heaven to give them bread. He heard the thrice repeated prayer -- "give us this day our daily bread." And then came the silence, when the little ones waited, and watched for the bread. This had a strange effect on the miser. His hard, selfish heart, which had never felt a generous feeling for anyone, warmed up, and grew suddenly soft in tenderness towards these helpless, hungry little ones. Tears moistened his eyes. He put his thumb on the latch of the door. The latch was gently lifted and the door opened. He took the loaf from under his coat and threw it into the room. The little girls, still waiting and watching on their knees, saw the loaf go bouncing over the floor. They jumped up on their feet, and clapped their hands for joy.
"O, Sally," said little Mary, "how good God is to answer our prayer so soon! Did He send an angel from heaven to bring us this bread?"
"I don't know who brought it," answered Sally, "but I am sure that God sent it."
And how about the miser? For the first time in his life he had given to the poor. Did the promise fail which says, "Give, and it shall be given unto you?" No; God's promises never fail. He went to the bakery and bought another loaf for himself, and then he went home with different feelings from what he had ever had before. The warm, soft feeling that came into his hard heart when he gave the loaf to those children did not pass away. It grew upon him. He had found so much pleasure in doing that one kind act that he went on and did more. And God blessed him in doing it. He began to pray to that God who had answered the prayer of those little girls for bread in such a strange way. He read the Bible. He went to church. He became a Christian; and some time after, he died a happy Christian death. But before he died, as he was the owner of the cottage in which the little girls lived, he gave it to their father. What a beautiful illustration we have here of our Saviour's words -- "Give, and it shall be given unto you!" This miser gave a loaf of bread to these hungry children and God gave him the grace that made him a Christian! And as we think of this we may well say that "giving is God's rule for getting."
And thus we have considered the lesson of liberality which our Saviour taught; the proofs of that lesson found in the Bible; and the illustrations of it from the Bible, from nature, and from everyday life. The three things to be remembered from this subject are the lesson -- the proofs -- the illustrations.
I will quote here, in finishing, three verses which teach the same lesson that our Saviour taught when he spoke the words from which I have tried to draw the lesson of liberality. The title at the head of them is taken from Solomon's words in one of the passages from the book of Proverbs, which we have already used.
"THERE IS THAT SCATTERETH AND YET INCREASETH."
"Is thy cruse of comfort wasting?
"For the heart grows rich in giving;
"Is thy heart a well left empty?