"Honor the Lord with thy substance, and with the first fruits of all thine increase, so shalt thy barns be filled with plenty."
"There is that scattereth and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it lendeth to poverty."
"The liberal soul shall be made fat, and he that watereth shall be watered also himself."
"He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the Lord; and that which he hath given will He pay him again."
"Whoso stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor, he also shall cry himself, but shall not be heard."
"He that hath a bountiful eye shall be blessed, for he giveth of his bread to the poor."
"He that putteth his trust in the Lord shall be made fat."
"He that giveth unto the poor shall not lack; but he that hideth his eye shall have many a curse."
"Cast thy bread upon the waters, for thou shall find it after many days."
"If thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul, the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones. And thou shall be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not."
"He which soweth bountifully, shall reap also bountifully."
"Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, nor of necessity, for
GOD LOVETH A CHEERFUL GIVER.
* * * * *
HOW THE LORD BLESSES THOSE "WHO GIVE LIBERALLY TO HIS CAUSE.
A disciple of the Lord Jesus, poor in this world's goods, but rich in faith, became greatly perplexed in regard to the meaning of the forty-second verse of the fifth chapter of Matthew. The words are: "Give to him that asketh thee; and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away." After a season of prolonged mental inquiry, as to whether the language was to be regarded as literal or not, she suddenly paused and exclaimed: "It is easy enough to find out; test it and see."
It was Saturday. Her money, all but two dollars, had been expended in providing for the Sabbath. The amount left, which was absolutely needed for the following Monday, she put in her pocket, and went out.
On the street, a friend, whose husband had been for some time out of business, met her and stated their distresses, and asked if she could lend them two dollars to last over the Sabbath.
She was surprised. The test had come sooner than she expected, but, without hesitation, the money was "lent to the Lord," and the now penniless believer went home to wait and see.
Now mark the result. Monday came, and with it the needs to be supplied. While pondering what course to pursue, a knock was heard, and, on opening the door, a lady, with a bundle in her hand, inquired if she could do a little work for her. Replying in the affirmative, and naming the price, the lady took from her pocket-book two dollars, and handed it to her, saying: "It is more than you ask, but you might as well have it." "I was never more astonished," said this true disciple, "and literally shouted for joy. I had tested and proved that the promises of God are yea and amen in Christ Jesus. Glory to God. I have never doubted since; and though often in straits, I have always been delivered."
Would it not be well for Christians to "test" where they cannot understand? "Ye are my friends," said the blessed Lord, "if ye do whatsoever I command you." Obedience will solve difficulties that reasoning cannot unravel. Try and see.
DIVIDING WITH GOD.
A merchant, in answer to inquiries, refers back to a period when, he says, "In consecrating my life anew to God, aware of the ensnaring influences of riches, and the necessity of deciding on a plan of charity before wealth should bias my judgment, I adopted the following system:
"I decided to balance my accounts as nearly as I could, every month; and reserving such a portion of profits as might appear adequate to cover probable losses, to lay aside, by entry on a benevolent account, one-tenth of the remaining profits, great or small, as a fund for benevolent expenditure, supporting myself and family on the remaining nine-tenths. I further determined, that when at any time my net profits, that is, profits from which clerk-hire and store expenses had been deducted, should exceed [USD]500 in a month, I would give twelve and a half per cent.; if over [USD]700, fifteen per cent.; if over [USD]900, seventeen and a half per cent.; if over [USD]1,100, twenty per cent.; if over [USD]1,300, twenty-two and a half per cent.; thus increasing the proportion of the whole as God should prosper, until at [USD]1,500, I should give twenty-five per cent., or [USD]375 a month. As capital was of the utmost importance to my success in business, I decided not to increase the foregoing scale until I had acquired a certain capital, after which I would give one-quarter of all net profits, great or small; and on the acquisition of another certain amount of capital, I decided to give half; and on acquiring what I determined would be a full sufficiency of capital, then to give the whole of my net profits.
"It is now several years since I adopted this plan, and under it I have acquired a handsome capital, and have been prospered beyond my most sanguine expectations. Although constantly giving, I have never yet touched the bottom of my fund, and have been repeatedly astonished to find what large drafts it would bear. True, during some months I have encountered a salutary trial of faith, when this rule has led me to lay by the tenth, while the remainder proved inadequate to my support; but the tide has soon turned, and with gratitude I have recognized a heavenly hand more than making good all past deficiencies."
PROSPERITY AND LIBERALITY.
A London correspondent of the Western Christian Advocate, writing some years ago of raising a fund for the extinction of debts on chapels, gives the following incident:
"A gentleman named Wilkes, who was promised a subscription of one thousand guineas to this fund, has a history so remarkable as to be worth relating across the Atlantic. Seven years ago he was a journeyman mechanic. Having invented and patented some kind of a crank or spindle used in the cotton manufacture, and needing capital to start himself in the business of making them, he made it a matter of earnest prayer that he might be directed to some one able and willing to assist him. In a singular and unexpected manner he fell in with an elderly Quaker, a perfect stranger, who accosted him with the strange inquiry: 'Friend, I should like to know if a little money would be of any service to thee.' Having satisfied himself as to Wilkes' genius and honesty, the Quaker at once advanced him the required amount. The praying mechanic started in business on his own account, and everything he has touched of late appeared to prosper.
"Hearing of a field in Ireland offered for sale, in which was a deserted mine, he went over to see it; bought the field for a small sum, recommenced working the mine, and it now turns out to yield abundance of excellent copper. For the year 1852, he promised to give the Missionary Society a guinea a day; but such abundance has poured in upon him during the year, that he felt that to be below his duty, and has, therefore, enlarged his subscription for the present year seven-fold. He is actually giving to that noble cause seven guineas daily, or upwards of [USD]10,500 a year, during this year, 1853; in addition to which he has just given one thousand guineas to the fund above referred to." "It is pleasing to add," says the writer, "that this remarkable man retains the utmost simplicity."
Would that liberality and prosperity might ever go hand in hand. Often, as wealth increases liberality is starved out, and the rich give far less than the poor in proportion to their means and ability.
THE DEACON'S SINGING SCHOOL.
"I am going out to see if I can start a singing school," said a good man, as he stood buttoning up his overcoat, and muffling up his ears, one bitterly cold Winter night.
"A singing school," said his wife, "how will you do that?"
"I have heard of a widow around the corner a block or two who is in suffering circumstances. She has five little children, and two of them down sick, and has neither fire nor food. So Bennie Hope, the office boy tells me. I thought I would just step around and look into the case."
"Go, by all means," said his wife, "and lose no time. If they are in such need we can give some relief. But I cannot see what all this has to do with starting a singing school. But never mind, you need not stop to tell me now; go quickly and do all you can for the poor woman."
So out into the piercing cold of the wintry night went the husband, while the wife turned to the fireside and her sleeping babes, who, in their warm cribs, with the glow of health upon their cheeks, showed that they knew nothing of cold or pinching want. With a thankful spirit she thought of her blessings, as she sat down to her little pile of mending. Very busily and quietly she worked, puzzling all the time over what her husband could have meant by starting a singing school. A singing school and the widow -- how queer! What possible connection could they have?
At last she grew tired of the puzzling thought, and said to herself, "I won't bother myself thinking about it any more. He will tell me all about it when he comes home. I only hope we may be able to help the poor widow and make her 'poor heart sing for joy.' There," she exclaimed, "can that be what he meant? The widow's heart singing for joy! Wouldn't that be a singing school? It must be; it is just like John. How funny that I should find it out!" and she laughed merrily at her lucky guess. Taking up her work again, she stitched away with a happy smile on her face, as she thought over again her husband's words, and followed him in imagination in his kind ministrations. By-and-by two shining tears dropped down, tears of pure joy, drawn from the deep wells of her love for her husband, of whom she thought she never felt so fond before. At the first sound of footsteps she sprang to open the door.
"Oh, John! did you start the singing school?"
"I reckon I did," said the husband, as soon as he could loose his wrappings; "but I want you to hunt up some flannels and things to help to keep it up."
"Oh, yes! I will; I know now what you mean. I have thought it all out. Making the widow's 'heart sing for joy' is your singing school. (Job. xxix:13.) What a precious work, John! 'Pure religion and undefiled is to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction.' My own heart has been singing for joy all the evening because of your work, and I do not mean to let you do it alone. I want to draw out some of this wonderful music."
IT PAYS TO GIVE TO THE LORD.
"A clergyman states, that soon after he dedicated himself to the service of Christ, he resolved, as Jacob did, 'Of all that thou shalt give me, I will surely give a tenth unto thee.' Of the first [USD]500 he earned, he gave [USD]130, and in such a way that it incited a wealthy friend to give several hundreds more, including a donation of [USD]100 to this clergyman himself. For four years, the clergyman says, 'My expenses were small, my habits economical, and the only luxury in which I indulged was the luxury of giving. In the two first of these years I was permitted to give [USD]500.' 'On a review of my ministry of about sixteen years,' he adds, 'I find God has graciously permitted me to give to the cause of my Redeemer nearly [USD]1,200, by which amount about forty life memberships have been created in various evangelical societies. During all these years God has prospered me; has given me almost uninterrupted health; has surrounded me with sweet domestic ties; and my congregation, by means in part perhaps of a steady example, have given more in these sixteen years than in all their long previous history."
ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF BENEFICENCE.
"A liberal donor, in enclosing [USD]100 to a sister institution, but strictly withholding his name, says, 'When I began business, it was with the intention and hope to become rich. A year afterward I became, as I trust, a Christian, and about the same time met with 'Cobb's Resolutions,' which I adopted. Some four or five years later, I read 'Normand Smith's Memoir,' and also Wesley's 'Sermon on the use of Money,' which led me to devote all my gains to benevolent uses, reserving to myself [USD]5,000 while I remained unmarried, part of which I have bequeathed to relatives, and the remainder to benevolent societies. Up to this time -- about sixteen years -- by the grace of God -- nothing else -- I have given about [USD]24,500 to benevolent purposes, and lent about [USD]500 to those in need, which has not been returned; making in all about [USD]25,000."
The Methodist Missionary Society mention one of their donors who, for twenty years, has used the power given him of getting wealth, for his Lord, in which time he has been enabled to appropriate to benevolent purposes more than thirty thousand dollars, while operating with a capital of but five thousand dollars. Another business man of that denomination in Boston, during fifteen years, has appropriated thirty-nine thousand dollars.
SYSTEM IN GIVING.
A correspondent of the American Tract Society says, "It was their publications which induced me to appropriate statedly one-tenth of my income to the cause of the Lord. After acting upon that scale nearly two years, and finding that although my donations greatly exceeded those of former years, my affairs were not thereby involved in any embarrassment; but that, on the contrary, with increasing contributions to the leading objects of Christian benevolence and to general charity, came an increased store and enlarging resources, I concluded, with a heart throbbing with grateful emotions to my Creator, in view of his great love and kindness toward me, that I would increase the proportion."
LENDING TO THE LORD.
"A poor man, some of whose family were sick, lived near Deacon Murray, (referred to in the tract, 'Worth of a Dollar,') and occasionally called at his house for a supply of milk. One morning he came while the family were at breakfast. Mrs. Murray rose to wait upon him, but the deacon said to her, 'Wait till after breakfast.' She did so, and meanwhile the deacon made some inquiries of the man about his family and circumstances.
"After family worship the deacon invited him to go out to the barn with him. When they got into the yard, the deacon, pointing to one of the cows, exclaimed, 'There, take that cow, and drive her home.' The man thanked him heartily for the cow, and started for home; but the deacon was observed to stand in the attitude of deep thought until the man had gone some rods. He then looked up, and called out, 'Hey, bring that cow back.' The man looked around, and the deacon added, 'Let that cow come back, and you come back too.' He did so; and when he came into the yard again, the deacon said, 'There, now, take your pick out of the cows; I a'n't going to lend to the Lord the poorest cow I've got.'"
A STEWARD OF HIS LORD'S BOUNTY.
An aged benevolent friend in a western city, states some interesting facts respecting his own experience in giving systematically as the Lord prospered him. He says, "Our country and professors of religion in it have become 'rich and increased in goods,' but I fear that a due proportion is not returned to the Giver of every good.
"I commenced business in 1809 with [USD]600, and united with the 'Northern Missionary Society No.2,' which met monthly for prayer, and required the payment of two dollars a year from each member. That year I married, and the next united with the Christian church. No definite system of giving 'as the Lord had prospered' me, was fully made until the close of the year 1841. The previous fourteen years had been assiduously devoted to the interests of Sabbath-schools and the temperance enterprise, when I found both my physical and pecuniary energies diminished, the latter being less than [USD]30,000.
"After days and nights of close examination into my affairs, with meditation and prayer, I promised the Lord of all, I would try at the close of every year to see what was the value of my property, and the one-quarter of the increase I would return to him in such way as my judgment, aided by his word and providence, might direct.
"For more than fifteen years I have lived up to this resolve, and though most of the time I have been unable to attend to active business, the investments I have made have more than quadrupled the value of my property, and in that time enabled me to return to Him 'from whom all blessings flow,' [USD]11,739.61."
THE FIVE-DOLLAR GOLD PIECE.
"'A friend,' says a venerable clergyman, Rev. Mr. H -- -- , 'at a time when gold was scarce, made me a present of a five-dollar gold piece. I resolved not to spend it, and for a long time carried it in my pocket as a token of friendship. In riding about the country, I one day fell in with an acquaintance, who presented a subscription-book for the erection of a church in a destitute place.
"'I can do nothing for you, Mr. B -- -- ,' said I; 'my heart is in this good undertaking, but my pocket is entirely empty; having no money, you must excuse me.'
"'Oh, certainly,' said he; 'all right, sir. We know you always give when it is in your power.'
"We parted; and after I had proceeded some distance, I bethought me of the piece of gold in my vest pocket. 'What,' said I to myself, 'I told that man I had no money, when I had by me all the time this gold pocket-piece. This was an untruth, and I have done wrong.' I kept reproaching myself in this way until I stopped, and took from my pocket the five-dollar piece.
"'Of what use,' said I, 'is this piece of money, stowed away so nicely in my pocket?' I made up my mind to turn back, and rode as fast as I could until I overtook Mr. B -- -- , to whom I gave the coin, and resumed my journey.
"A few days after, I stopped at the house of a lady, who treated me very hospitably, for which I could make no return, except in thanks and Christian counsel. When I took leave, she slipped into my vest pocket a little folded paper, which she told me to give to my wife. I supposed it was some trifle for the children, and thought no more of it until I reached home. I handed it to my wife, who opened it, and to my astonishment it was a five-dollar gold piece, the identical pocket-piece I had parted with but a few days before. I knew it was the same, for I had made a mark upon it; how this had been brought about was a mystery, but that the hand of the Lord was in it I could not doubt. 'See,' said I to my wife; 'I thought I gave that money, but I only lent it; how soon has the Lord returned it! Never again will I doubt his word.'
"I afterward learned that Mr. B -- -- had paid over the coin to the husband of the lady at whose house I staid, along with some other money, in payment for lumber, and he had given it to his wife.
"Take my advice, and when appealed to for aid, fear not to give of your poverty; depend upon it the Lord will not let you lose by it, if you wish to do good. If you wish to prosper, 'Give, and it shall be given unto you; for with the same measure that ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.' 'Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.'"
A NEW YEAR'S INCIDENT.
"One New Year's day I was going out to visit some of my poorer neighbors, and thought I would take a sovereign to a certain widow who had seen days of competence and comfort. I went to look in my drawer, and was so sorry to find I had but one sovereign left in my bank for the poor, and my allowance would not be due for two or three weeks. I had nearly closed the drawer upon the solitary sovereign, when this passage of Scripture flashed so vividly into my mind, 'The Lord is able to give thee much more than this,' (2 Chron. xxv: 9.) that I again opened the drawer, took the money, and entered the carriage which was waiting for me. When I arrived at Mrs. A.'s, and with many good wishes for the New Year, offered her the sovereign, I shall never forget her face of surprised joy. The tears ran down her cheeks while she took my hands and said, 'May the God of the widow and fatherless bless you; we had not one penny in the house, nor a morsel of bread; it is he who has heard my prayers, and sent you again and again to supply my need.' You who pray for and visit the poor, and enjoy the blessedness of relieving their temporal wants and of speaking to them of Jesus, you will understand the gladness of heart with which I returned home.
"In the country we had only one post daily; so when evening came on, and it was nearly ten o'clock, I was not a little surprised at receiving a letter. When I opened it, how my heart beat for joy when I read these words from a comparative stranger: 'You will have many poor just now to claim your pity and your help, may I beg you to dispense the enclosed five pounds as you see fit? and I have ordered a box of soap to be sent to you for the same purpose.' These boxes of soap are worth four pounds. Thus did our gracious God send nine times as much as I gave for his sake, before that day had closed."
FENEBERG'S LOAN TO THE LORD.
"A poor man with an empty purse came one day to Michael Feneberg, the godly pastor of Seeg, in Bavaria, and begged three crowns, that he might finish his journey. It was all the money Feneberg had, but as he besought him so earnestly in the name of Jesus, in the name of Jesus he gave it. Immediately after, he found himself in great outward need, and seeing no way of relief he prayed, saying, 'Lord, I lent Thee three crowns; Thou hast not yet returned them, and Thou knowest how I need them. Lord, I pray Thee, give them back.' The same day a messenger brought a money-letter, which Gossner, his assistant, reached over to Feneberg, saying, 'Here, father, is what you expended.' The letter contained two hundred thalers, or about one hundred and fifty dollars, which the poor traveler had begged from a rich man for the vicar; and the childlike old man, in joyful amazement, cried out, 'Ah, dear Lord, one dare ask nothing of Thee, for straightway Thou makest one feel so much ashamed!'"
The Christian tells of a minister in Ohio, who in 1860 was engaged to statedly supply a congregation who were in arrears for a whole year's salary to their former pastor, and were only able to promise their 'supply' five dollars a Sunday till the old debt should be paid. At the close of the year, only about two-thirds of this amount had been paid. So it was not strange that their 'supply' soon found himself in arrears for many things. That year the cost of his periodicals alone had amounted to sixteen dollars. This he could not pay, and as none of them could be stopped without payment of arrearages; the debt must continue to increase.
On New Year's day the minister was called to marry a couple, and gave the fee, five dollars, to his wife saying, "I want you to get yourself a dress with this." There was a kind of material much worn then, which she had very much admired, a dress of which would cost four dollars. So she went to the Mission periodical to find the address of the Mission Secretary, thinking to send the extra dollar there. But as she glanced over its pages and noticed the trials and straits of the missionaries, and the embarrassment of the Board that year, her heart was touched and she felt that they needed the money more than she did the dress, and instead of the one she concluded to send the five dollars.
She went to her husband and read her letter to him. "O," said he, "I'm afraid we are too poor to give so much." With a little feeling of disappointment she said, "Well, give me the change and I will send what I had intended at first." "No," said he, "you have given it, and I dare not take it back."
And so with a prayer that God would accept and bless the gift she signed her letter, "A Friend of Missions," thinking, as no one would know the author, that was the last she would hear about it in this world.
The ladies of that congregation were accustomed to meet weekly at the parsonage to sew for those in need. The next week a lady who was visiting in the place came with her friends, and as she entered the parlor she tossed a bundle into the lap of the minister's wife, saying, "Mrs. -- -- , here is a present for you."
The present was a dress pattern of the same kind of material she had intended to purchase. And as she thought to herself, "God has given me this in place of what I have given," she was reminded of the words, "Give, and it shall be given to you." But that was not the end.
A short time afterwards she received a letter from the Secretary of the Board of Missions, enclosing a printed copy of her own letter, and asking if she were the author of it; and added, "If so, a large-hearted man in New York has authorized me to send you twenty-five dollars, with a special request that you purchase a dress worth five dollars, and give the rest to your husband and children." There was her five dollars back, with four times as much more added to it.
THE BROWN TOWEL.
The editor of The Christian Woman tells the story of a poor woman who, in her anxiety to give to the Lord, could find nothing but a poor brown towel.
"They must be very poor who have nothing to give," said Mrs. Jarvis, as she deposited a pair of beautiful English blankets in a box that was being filled by the ladies of the church to be sent to the poor.
"And now, ladies, as you are nearly through, I would like to tell you an incident in my history; I was once very poor."
"You once very poor?" said a lady.
"Yes; I was once very poor. There came to our village a missionary to deliver a lecture. I felt very desirous to go; but having no decent apparel to wear, I was often deprived of going to church, although I was a member.
"I waited until it was late, and then slipped in and took a seat behind the door.
"I listened with streaming eyes to the missionary's account of the destitution and darkness in heathen lands. Poor as I was, I felt it to be a great privilege to live in a Christian land and to be able to read my Bible.
"It was proposed by our pastor that the congregation should fill a box and send it out with the missionary on his return.
"O," thought I, "how I would like to send something." "When I returned home my poor children were still sleeping soundly, and my disconsolate husband waiting my return, for he had been out of employment some time. After he had gone to bed I went to looking over my clothes, but I could find nothing that was suitable that I could possibly spare; then I began looking over the children's things, but could find nothing that the poor dears could be deprived of; so I went to bed with a heavy heart, and lay a long time thinking of the destitution of the poor heathen, and how much better off I was.
"I got to thinking over my little stock again. There was nothing I could put into the box except two brown towels.
"Next day I got my towels, pieced out the best one, and when it was almost dark, put on my bonnet, went to the church, slipped my towel into the box, and came away thinking that the Lord knew I had done what I could.
"And now, ladies, let me tell you it was not long after that till my husband got into a good situation; and prosperity has followed us ever since. So I date back my prosperity to this incident of the brown towel."
Her story was done, and, as her carriage was waiting at the door, she took her departure, leaving us all mute with surprise that one so rich and generous had been trained to give amid poverty.
A merchant of St. Petersburg, at his own cost, supported several native missionaries in India, and gave liberally to the cause of Christ at home. On being asked how he could afford to do it, he replied:
"Before my conversion, when I served the world and self, I did it on a grand scale, and at the most lavish expense. And when God by his grace called me out of darkness, I resolved that Christ and his cause should have more than I had ever spent for the world. And as to giving so much, it is God who enables me to do it; for, at my conversion, I solemnly promised that I would give to his cause a fixed proportion of all that my business brought in to me; and every year since I made that promise, it has brought me in about double what it did the year before, so that I easily can, as I do, double my gifts for his service."
And so good old John Bunyan tells us,
"A man there was, some called him mad,
And there are truth and instruction in the inscription on the Italian tombstone, "What I gave away, I saved; what I spent, I used; what I kept, I lost." "Giving to the Lord," says another, "is but transporting our goods to a higher floor." And, says Dr. Barrow, "In defiance of all the torture and malice and might of the world, the liberal man will ever be rich; for God's providence is his estate; God's wisdom and power, his defense; God's love and favor, his reward; and God's word, his security."
Richard Baxter says, "I never prospered more in my small estate than when I gave most. My rule has been, first, to contrive to need, myself, as little as may be, to lay out none on need-nots, but to live frugally on a little; second, to serve God in any place, upon that competency which he allowed me: to myself, that what I had myself might be as good a work for common good, as that which I gave to others; and third, to do all the good I could with all the rest, preferring the: most public and durable object, and the nearest. And the more I have practiced this, the more I have had to do it with; and when I gave almost all, more came in, I scarce knew how, at least unexpected. But when by improvidence I have cast myself into necessities of using more upon myself or upon things in themselves of less importance, I have prospered much less than when I did otherwise. And when I had contented myself to devote a stock I had gotten to charitable uses after my death, instead of laying it out at present, in all probability, that is like to be lost; whereas, when I took the present opportunity, and trusted God for the time to come, I wanted nothing and lost nothing."
These are a few of many evidences, that where we give from right motives, we are never the poorer, but the richer for doing it. "The liberal soul shall be made fat, and he that watereth, shall be watered also, himself."
LENDING TO THE LORD.
As a series of religious meetings was held in a Baptist church in -- -- , and the hearts of God's people were greatly encouraged, the church was consumed by fire. It was proposed to continue the meetings in the Congregational church, but the workmen were coming the next morning to demolish and rebuild it. It was then proposed to hire the workmen to delay, that the people might assemble for three days more, but nothing was done; when the Congregational pastor walking his study, and thinking that some souls might be gathered in, went to the workmen, and handed them [USD]10 from his own pocket, which he could ill afford; the meetings were continued, and a number of souls hopefully converted to God. The day following, as he passed the house, the man to whom he paid the [USD]10 called to him, and constrained him to receive back the whole amount, saying it was of no value compared with the saving of a soul.
THE LIBERAL FARMER.
A farmer in one of the retired mountain towns of Massachusetts, began business in 1818, with six hundred dollars in debt. He began with the determination to pay the debt in six years, in equal installments, and to give all his net income if any remained above those installments. The income of the first year, however, was expended in purchasing stock and other necessaries for his farm.
In the six next years he paid off the debt, and having abandoned the intention of ever being any richer, he has ever since given his entire income, after supporting his family and thoroughly educating his six children.
During all this period he has lived with the strictest economy, and everything pertaining to his house, table, dress and equipage has been in the most simple style; and though he has twice been a member of the State Senate, he conscientiously retains this simplicity in his mode of life. The farm is rocky and remote from the village, and his whole property, real and personal, would not exceed in value three thousand dollars. Yet sometimes he has been enabled to give from [USD]200 to [USD]300 a year.
EXPERIENCE OF A SADDLER.
Normand Smith, a saddler of Hartford, Conn., after practicing for years an elevated system of benevolence, bequeathed in charity the sum of [USD]30,000.
An anonymous writer says of himself, that he commenced business and prosecuted it in the usual way till he lost [USD]900, which was all he was worth, and found himself in debt [USD]1,100.
Being led by his trials to take God's word as his guide in business as well as in heart and religion, he determined to give his earnings liberally unto the Lord.
The first year he gave [USD]12. For eighteen years the amount increased by about 25 per cent., and the last year he gave [USD]850, and he says he did it easier than during the first year he paid the [USD]12. Besides, though with nothing but his hands to depend on when he began this course, he paid the whole debt of [USD]1,100 with interest, though it took him nine years to do it.
JACOB NOT BLESSED UNTIL HE BECAME A LIBERAL GIVER.
Jacob went out from his father's house "with his staff," a poor man. But at Bethel he vowed to give to God the tenth of all that God should bestow on him. Commencing thus, God blessed him, and in twenty years he returned with great riches.
THE LORD'S INSURANCE MONEY.
A tradesman in New York had pledged to give to the Lord a certain portion of his business receipts as fast as they were collected. He called this The Lord's insurance money, for, said he, "so long as I give so long will the Lord help me and bless me, and in some way he will give me the means to give, so it is no money lost. Rather it is a blessing to my heart to keep it open in gratitude, a blessing to dispose of it to gladden other hearts, and the surest way to keep the Lord's favor with me."
The results of his experience were blessed indeed, as he said, "I never realized before how closely the Lord is connected with all my interests, and how he helps me in all my business plans. Things happen constantly which show me constantly that some one who knows more than I is benefiting me -- protecting me. Bad debts have been paid which I did not expect. Errand boys, just getting into sly and bad habits, have been discovered ere their thefts had proceeded far. As I needed competent help in my business, it has come just as it was wanted. When customers were failing, somehow their debts to me were paid, although they failed to pay others. A severe fire came to my office and apparently seemed to have swept all my valuables away. But it was stopped at just the right moment, and not one thing valuable was lost. The insurance companies paid me enough to replace every damage, and the office was renewed better than before. The Lord sends me business enough to pay for my debts, yet others are dull. I cannot tell why it is, except that I always pray for my business, and ask the Lord to bless it for the good of others, and that the means which come from it may be used for his cause. When I stop giving, business stops coming. When I stop praying specially for it, perplexities arise. As long as I pray for it, it all moves easily, and I have no care or trouble. The Lord is my Banker, my Helper, my Insurer, my Deliverer, my Patron, and my Blessed Savior of temporal things as well as spiritual."
GIVE AND IT SHALL BE GIVEN.
"'Cheerful giving,' writes an aged minister, 'is what enriches the giver and brings down a blessing from above. A poor clergyman attended one of Zion's festivals in a distant city. The railroad company supplied him with a return ticket, and though many of his brethren would secure treasures from the book-stores, but a solitary twenty-five cent scrip was in his possession, and he would need that to pay for refreshment on his way home. It was the last day of the feast. Mention, again and again, was made of the widow's mite, or poor men's gifts, and, as the boxes were passed, he felt sad that, in his deep poverty, he could not cast in a single penny. As the assembly was dismissed, it was announced that collectors would stand at the door to gather up the fragments which ought to be in the Lord's treasury. With slow steps this good man passed down and put that last money he possessed into the waiting box.
"In a few moments, a gentleman of the city invited him to his, table to dine, with quite a number of the dignitaries of the church. During the repast, the host was called from the table for a little time. At the conclusion of a pleasant entertainment, the poor minister was taken one side and an envelope put into his hands, with this remark: 'I was called from the table by a man who has long owed me a small debt, which I thought was lost a long time since, and I cannot think what it was paid to-day for, except that I might give it to you.' The envelope contained twenty-five dollars. When the books are opened, that rich steward will see how his money was used, and thank God, who put it into his heart to dispose of it thus."
"LENDING TO THE LORD."
"A physician who is not a professor of religion, in a neighboring city, has for many years exhibited an unshaken faith in that declaration. He told me that he has made many experiments on it, and the Lord has fulfilled his words, 'That which he hath given will He pay him again,' in every case. One of his 'experiments' came under my observation.
"It was a bleak and chilling day in the Winter of 1847-8. The doctor was going his rounds and met a poor colored boy in the street. He was nearly frozen to death. He accosted the doctor, and asked him most piteously for a little money, stating, at the same time, that his master, an old Quaker, had excluded him from the house, and compelled him to remain in the barn; he could stand it no longer, and desired to go home -- twenty miles up the river. The doctor now had the materials for another test of the promise. 'You shall not suffer if I can help you,' was his cheering reply to the boy. He requested him to call at his office, and went to a neighboring hotel and told the landlord to keep the boy until farther orders. Late in the evening the boy again appeared at the office, and stated that the landlord had said, 'We don't keep darkies over night.' The doctor immediately started out in search of new quarters, and, after some difficulty, found a colored woman who was willing to keep the boy for a few days. In a short time the river, which had been closed with ice, was open. The doctor paid the bills, gave the boy a dollar, and bade him God speed. That is what he calls lending to the Lord. Now for the payment. When he called at the house of the colored person to pay the bill, he 'accidentally' met an old lady, who scrutinized him closely, and at length said, 'A'n't you Doctor B -- -- ?' 'Yes,' was the reply; 'but who are you?' 'No matter about my name; I owe you four dollars, which you have long since forgotten, and which I did not intend to pay you till I saw what you have done to that poor boy. The Lord bless you for your kindness. Next week you shall have your money.' She came according to her promise and offered the money, but the doctor was unwilling to take it, as he had no charge on his books. She forced it on him. He afterwards simply remarked, 'My meeting that woman was not a mere accident; the Lord always fulfills his promise. I generally get my capital back, with compound interest.'"
THE PRAYING SHOE-MAKER.
A shoe-maker being asked how he contrived to give so much, replied that it was easily done by obeying St. Paul's precept in I Cor.16: 2: "Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him." "I earn," said he, "one day with another, about a dollar a day, and I can without inconvenience to myself or family lay by five cents of this sum for charitable purposes; the amount is thirty cents a week. My wife takes in sewing and washing, and earns something like two dollars a week, and she lays by ten cents of that. My children each of them earn a shilling or two, and are glad to contribute their penny; so that altogether we lay by us in store forty cents a week. And if we have been unusually prospered, we contribute something more. The weekly amount is deposited every Sunday morning in a box kept for that purpose, and reserved for future use. Thus, by these small earnings, we have learned that it is more blessed to give than to receive. The yearly amount saved in this way is about twenty-five dollars; and I distribute this among the various benevolent societies, according to the best of my judgment."
THE HISTORY AND BUSINESS SUCCESSES OF LIBERAL GIVERS.
Mr. Nathaniel R. Cobb, a merchant connected with the Baptist church in Boston, in 1821, at the age of twenty-three, drew up and subscribed the following covenant, to which he faithfully adhered till on his death-bed he praised God that by acting according to it he had given in charity more than [USD]40,000.
"By the grace of God, I will never be worth more than [USD]50,000.
"By the grace of God, I will give one fourth of the net profits of my business to charitable and religious uses.
"If I am ever worth [USD]20,000, I will give one-half of my net profits; and if I am ever worth [USD]30,000, I will give three-fourths; and the whole, after [USD]50,000. So help me God, or give to a more faithful steward, and set me aside.
FAITH IN GOD'S LIBERALITY.
A clergyman, himself an exponent of God's bountiful dealings with men, was called upon in test of his own principles of giving to the Lord.
Preaching, in the morning, a sermon on Foreign Missions, an unusually large contribution was taken up. In the afternoon, he listened to another sermon, by a brother, on Home Missions, and the subject became so important that he was led closely to agitate the question how much he should himself give to the cause. "I was, indeed, in a great strait between charity and necessity. I felt desirous to contribute; but, there I was, on a journey, and I had given so much in the morning that I really feared I had no more money than would bear my expenses.
"The collection was taken; I gave my last dollar, and trusted in the Lord to provide. I proceeded on my journey, stopping to see a friend for whom I had collected forty dollars. I was now one hundred and forty miles from home, and how my expenses were to be met, I could not imagine. But, judge my surprise, when, on presenting the money to my friend, he took a hundred dollars, and, adding it to the forty, placed the whole of it in my hand, saying he would make me a present of it.
"Gratitude and joy swelled my bosom; my mind at once remembered my sacrifice of the day before, and now I had realized the literal fulfillment of the promise, 'Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down and running over, shall men give into your bosom.'"
HE GAVE HIS LAST [USD]5 TO THE LORD.
A missionary agent thus relates this incident in the life of a poor physician:
"I preached a missionary sermon in the town of -- -- -, and a physician subscribed and paid five dollars. A gentleman standing by told me that the five dollars was all he had, or was worth; that he had lost his property and paid up his debts, and moved into town to commence practicing, with no other resources than that five-dollar bill. He and his wife were obliged to board out, as he was not able to keep house.
"I resolved, at once, that I would keep watch of that man, and see what the Lord would do with him. About a year after this interview, I visited the place again, and found the physician keeping house in good style.
"During the Summer, while the cholera raged in the country, by a series of events, guided, as he believes, by the providence of God, most of the practice was thrown into his hands, and he had taken more than [USD]2,500."
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BELIEVE NOTHING OF YOUR GOD BUT WHAT IS MOST NOBLE AND GENEROUS. -- PRES. EDWARDS.
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MORE THINGS ARE WROUGHT BY PRAYER THAN THE WORLD DREAMS OF. -- TENNYSON.
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