Imatges de pÓgina


prehensive and important truths. The Gospels, rich as they are in such instances, do not afford any one more beautiful than the one which I have now read. touching incident which was honoured with the Saviour's notice, is, by a few words from His lips who spake as no one else who bore the nature of man ever spake, made to teach the whole philosophy of Christian liberality. Let the sages of this world tell of the prodigal generosity of nobles and monarchs, and of the disinterestedness of patriots and scholars; we will admire virtue wherever we may find it; we would have our hearts glow at the record of the doings and sufferings of the wise and brave;-but, if we want to learn what it is that renders liberality pleasing in the sight of God, we must come to this simple narrative of the New Testament, and hear the Saviour say, "This poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: for all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living."

The incident recorded by the Evangelist, on which our Lord's remark is founded, requires not illustration. Besides the annual sum of half a shekel, which every Jew paid into the treasury to defray the expenses of the temple services, and to meet the exigencies of the government, pious persons were in the habit of making voluntary contributions for the same objects. As an ardent love of their religion and country glowed in the Jewish mind, all classes appear to have vied with each other in this display of liberality. The rich gave of their abundance, the poor gave of their poverty. He who is recorded to have said, that it "is more blessed to give than to receive,” witnessed with satisfaction their generous emulation, and gave it all the weight of his sanction by pointing with evident approbation to the noble exertions of the poor widow. We can none of us hear the story without admiration. From the voice of Truth we learn to disregard for once the appearances of things, and to judge righteous judgment. The profuse offerings of the rich lose their

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value in our eyes, when we remember that they gave of their abundance; while this poor desolate woman, in giving her two mites, gave "all her living." They and their offerings have passed away,they will have to give an account at the Great Day, of the motives with which they offered, and why they gave no more. The poor solitary being, whom all but One then probably despised, has been set up as a living example to teach us; the first have become last, while the last is first. Let us study her conduct, with a view to learn the duty and measure of Christian liberality.

The Old Testament abounds in lessons of liberality. The children of Israel were not only required to provide for the maintenance of the public worship of Jehovah, and the support of an order of men set apart for the performance of the services of religion; but were enjoined in various passages of the word of God to give according to their means, for the relief of the needy and for the promotion of God's honour. We inherit these inspired instruc

tions; and besides them, we have in the sacred writings of the New Testament other exhortations of a still more urgent nature. From the beginning of the Gospel, liberality has been acknowledged as in a peculiar manner a Christian virtue. The Christian is not a citizen of this world: his home is in heaven. He is here a sojourner travelling to a better country. He is not to live here as if the earth were his place of rest. His portion here is suffering and self-denial. He may not enjoy this world's goods, even if he possesses them. He is to "make to himself friends of the mammon of unrighteousness," by bestowing it on good works. He is to "do good, and to communicate, remembering that with such sacrifices God is well pleased." "As every man hath received the gift, even so he is to minister the same." "Every man according as he is purposed in his heart, so let him give, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loveth a cheerful giver." And, accordingly, we find that the first believers could scarcely think that they ought to retain any private

property at all. "As many as were possessors of lands or houses, sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, and laid them down at the apostles' feet." (Acts iv. 34, 35.) They were so impressed with a sense of the reality of the things eternal, and with love to their Lord and his body the Church, that they eagerly gave up all for his service. The spirit that inspired them should be found in all Christians. Our Lord calls us to forsake all and follow him. If our hearts are not estranged from the love of worldly possessions, we are no more his disciples than the Apostles would have been, if they had refused at his bidding to leave their boats and nets; or than that young ruler was, who turned away sorrowful at the command to sell all that he had, and give to the poor. We may not actually be called to give up all we possess, any more than we are called to attend the person of the Saviour; but it is vain to think that we have any thing of the spirit which should distinguish his disciples, if we retain our property for merely selfish purposes; if

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