( Originally Published 1853 )
WE read in the Holy Bible, that " we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out." Tim. vi, 7. This is a truth which we ought always to remember. The richest man goes out of the world just as poor as the man who has had nothing but poverty and want for his portion in this life. Go into the graveyard, and you will see that the bodies of the rich and poor lie side by side; and the former molder away just as quick as the latter, and their dust is just as base and worthless. And if we could look into the world of spirits, we should see that it is not those who were rich in this life that are happy and honored there. The pure in heart, whether they possessed much or little of the wealth of this world, are the only ones who are admitted into the kingdom of God.
If those who have money cannot be benefited at all by it in the world to come, it is very important that they should make a proper use of it in this world. But what is a proper use of money ? Should it be spent in purchasing gay clothes for the body, or rich dainties for the appetite, or fine horses and carriages fop the purpose of making a grand show in the world ?
No : God does not put money into the hands of men that they may spend it for such purposes. Much less does he give people money, that they may spend it for intoxicating drinks, which destroy the health, ruin the character, and lead to the commission of a thousand sins against his holy law.
Rather than spend my dollars and dimes for such purposes, I would give them to my children for playthings.
Then they would do no harm ; but when used to gratify sinful appetites, or nourish vanity and other unholy feelings, they are worse than poverty to their possessor.
You recollect that I told you, some pages back, that money does us no good while we keep it. It is only when we part with it, and let somebody else have it, that it really benefits us. Sometimes it benefits its possessor, by bringing him useful articles for the comfort of his body, or books for the improvement of his mind ; and sometimes, though it does not bring him these useful articles, yet it benefits him by bringing very happy feelings into his heart.
What; giving away money bring happy feelings into the heart ! How can that be ? Little Stephen Brown could tell you how ; and perhaps the story of little Stephen will explain it to you better than I can do it in any other way.
Stephen lived with his parents a few miles from a large city and they often had friends from the city to visit them.
The little boy would run and open the gate for them, and show them many other little attentions. One gentleman, seeing that he was a very active and careful boy, threw him a bright half-dollar.
Stephen had never owned so much money before. He thanked the gentleman very politely, and then ran away-with his prize to show it to his parents. He examined the bright coin carefully on both sides, he laughed and skipped with ecstasy. His father told him he must not spend it for anything that would do him no good ; but that he would have an opportunity to show himself a wise and good boy by the manner in which he should spend it.
A few hours after this a pious lady called to collect a little money for the relief of some poor orphan children.
She told the simple and touching story of the orphans ; how death cime, and cruelly tore away their parents from them, and left them in the cold world without comforts, and without any kind friends to care for them.
Mr. Brown took notice that little Stephen listened to every word of the lady's story ; his heart throbbed with pity for the poor children, and the tears glistened in his eyes. When Mr. and
Mrs. Brown handed the lady their donations, Stephen stepped up to his father with the - half-dollar in his hand, and said, " Pa, I can do without this money, but the poor orphans can't : may I send it to them ?"
" Do as you choose," said Mr. Brown.
Stephen then ran with it to the lady, saying, " Here is my -bright money; give it to the poor children, and tell them I sent it. I know they will be glad of it."
She thanked him for his fine donation, and invited him to go, before long, and see how much good his money had done the poor orphans. After she had gone, Stephen could not help talking about the joy which his money would give to those destitute children, and how thankful they would be, that so kind a friend as he- had been found for them.
" But," said Mr. Brown, " when the gentleman gave you the money, you laughed and skipped as hard as you could. You don't do so now ; you don't feel as well now as you did then, do you ?"
After a moment's pause, Stephen replied : "I guess I am not quite so tickled ; but I am a thousand times happier !" His father commended his generosity, and told him that the Saviour once said, " It is more blessed to give than to receive."
I pity those selfish people who never give anything for the relief of the needy, or to send the Saviour's gospel to the ignorant. I pity them because they deprive themselves of so much real happiness. Selfish and miserly feelings always make a person miserable; but generosity and benevolence afford a thousand enjoyments.
Open your heart, then, little reader; think of the sufferings of the poor, the ignorant, and the vicious ; and if you have a few shillings, or a few pennies, don't hide them away as the miser does, don't spend them for candies and nuts, as many children do ; but give them to furnish food for the hungry, or clothing for the naked, or to send the knowledge of salvation to those who are without hope and without God in the world.
I have often wished that the eye of my body could go along with the money I contribute to these good objects, just as the eye of my faith does, and just as the all-seeing eye of God does. I should then see a thousand little touching incidents that would warm my heart and fill my soul with gratitude, that God had enabled me to scatter blessings to so many who were ready to perish.
I once had a little dialogue with myself about a dollar which I had given to the Bible cause. I asked myself a great many questions, and then answered them as well as I could with what knowledge and faith I had.
What became of that dollar ? said I; was it lost ? did the agent use it for himself ? No, he is a good and faithful man ; and beside this, I saw, in the Bible Society's report, that he had paid it into the treasury.
Well, was that the end of it ? No ; the society was able to publish four Bibles more than it would have done, if-I had not given that dollar. Four new Bibles were made by my dollar, and each one of them contained everything which my Bible does. And 0, how many wonderful things do I find in my Bible !
It tells me how God made the world and all things that are in it ; how he loved poor sinners, and sent his Son to die for them. It teaches me the way to heaven ; it comforts me when I am distressed ; it strengthens me when I am weak ; and I expect that it will at last bring me to the enjoyment of eternal life in God's heavenly kingdom. Do you think I could spare my Bible ? No, no ; I could spare anything and everything else better than I could spare that.
But each one of those four Bibles which were made by my dollar, was just as fully stored with wonderful and precious things as this one of mine is. Well, what became of those four Bibles ?
Why, the Bible Society sends out its Bibles, and sells them to those who will buy them, or gives them away to poor families who cannot pay for them.
Those Bibles, then, must have been sent out in that way, and distributed to four different families.
About the time they were thus distributed, I heard of the happy results of reading a certain Bible, and I thought that the eye of my faith could see that the Bible which did the good was one of the four that were made by my dollar.
In a certain neighborhood there were a number of ignorant, superstitious, and degraded families, very much given to intoxication, fighting, and numerous other vices. An agent of the Bible Society went through that neighborhood, offering his Bibles for sale, and giving them away where the people were too poor, or were unwilling to purchase them.
Ile could sell no Bibles among those families, and only one family could be persuaded to receive one as a present.
But that one Bible brought a world of blessings to those degraded people.
The family that had received it ventured to look into it, and read a few passages. They found strange things in their new book. They read on and on, and wondered as they read. They told their neighbors some of the new wonders which they had found. The neighbors came in, and frequently a roomful of those ignorant people might have been seen seated and listening to the precious word of God. What astonished them most was, the great difference between the teachings of God's word, and the teachings of those crafty men who had been their religious instructors.
The Spirit of God made his word plain to their minds, and impressed it on their hearts. They saw that all their foolish ceremonies, which did not restrain them from drunkenness and many other sins, could not save them from the wrath of God.
" That book," said one of them, " is true, and our priests are deceiving us.
They keep the word of God from us, so that they. may cheat us out of our money. And that is not the worst of it ; they will cheat us out of our souls, if we follow them."
" Yes," said another, " I feel in my heart that that book is true."
" And indeed," said the third, " if that book is true, we are all lost."
" But sure," answered the fourth, and if that book is true, we may all be saved: But we must not go to the priest for the pardon of our sins ; we must go to the good Jesus, who alone has power to forgive sins."
Thus they read and talked until their hearts were broken with contrition then they cried to the merciful Saviour, and he heard their prayer, forgave their sins, and made them happy in his love.
They threw away their intoxicating drinks, ceased to quarrel and fight, used the language of prayer instead of profanity, kept the Sabbath-day holy, and became a sober, pious, and happy people.
I know not how many souls may be saved from hell and carried to heaven through the influence of that one Bible.
If I should meet their happy spirits in the kingdom of glory, do you think I shall be sorry I gave that dollar to the Bible agent ?
It may be that it was not one of the four Bibles which my money paid for, that effected so much good. Well, what if it was not? Those Bibles were distributed somewhere, and have perhaps been as useful to poor sinners in other places. If I could not keep my eye on them, God has watched them, and he tells us that his word shall not return unto him void, but it shall accomplish that which he pleases, and shall prosper in the thing whereto he sends it. Isa. 1v, 11.
I suppose, too, that the dollar which I sent to the Missionary Society, and the one which I paid to the Sunday-School Union, have accomplished as much good as the one which made the four Bibles.
I shall never know all the good that has thus been done, until I meet the redeemed spirits in the day of judgment who have been enlightened, instructed, and saved by such humble means.
What if I had kept those dollars ?
Why, none of the good which has resuited from them would have been effected. Many souls that will now be saved, would have been lost forever.
And many, many souls will be lost, because those who have money will not give it to furnish them the word of life.
0 that I had a thousand such dollars scattered about doing good, just as the dollar given to the Bible agent did. Only think ! A thousand dollars doing good all at once ! Some scattering Bibles among the destitute, some furnishing Sunday-school books to ignorant children, some sending pious tracts to warn the careless sinner of his danger, others aiding the missionary to carry the glad news of a Saviour's love to the benighted idolater, and others procuring comforts for the sick, the widow, and the orphan.
Yes, it is more blessed to give than to receive, and if I cannot have many dollars scattered abroad doing good, I will try to have a few ; and if I cannot give dollars for these good objects, I will give a few dimes, or a few pennies, and the blessing of God will attend them, and make them all useful to the souls and bodies of the needy.