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Morals Of Money

( Originally Published 1853 )



THERE is nothing that delights children more than to hear a good story ; and if they can get hold of a book that is filled with well-told stories, they would rather read it than do anything else.

I want to tell my young friends that the very best stories in the world are found in the Bible. Where can you find stories more wonderful than those which the Bible tells about the creation of the world out of nothing ? Would not a little boy, who had never heard of these things, like to know how all the birds and beasts and fishes were made ? Would he not rejoice to be told how the great trees and little shrubs and lovely flowers and green grass were formed ?

And how wonderful it is that God used to speak to men, and angels used to make their appearance on earth ; and when mankind had become very wicked, God sent a terrible rain, and filled the earth with such a mighty flood of waters that the highest hills were covered, and all the people were drowned except one small family whom God preserved alive in the ark.

But if I were to tell you about all the stories in the Bible, I should have to write a much larger book than this one which you are reading about money.

Those stories are all true, and all useful. I hope you will read them several times over, until you can tell your young friends all about them.

Our Saviour told a great many stories to the people who came to hear him. These stories are called parables, and always contain some very useful instruction. He told one about money, and I want to direct your minds to it, because it teaches a very important lesson. You may find it in the nineteenth chapter of Luke.

A certain nobleman, when he was about to go into a far country, called his ten servants and gave to each of them a sum of money called a pound, which was equal to about fourteen dollars.

When he had put the money into their hands, he said to them, " Occupy till I come." By this he meant that they must put the money to some use by which they might gain something more.

When he returned, he called the servants before him, and inquired about the money. One of them came and told him that his pound had gained ten pounds : another told him that his pound had gained five pounds. The nobleman was very much pleased, and promised to reward them both. But another servant came and said, " Lord, behold here is thy pound, which I have kept laid up in a napkin."

This servant did not like his master very well, so he made no effort to gain anything by a profitable use of the money. I should not wonder if his own indolence had as much influence with him as his disdain of his master. The nobleman called him a wicked servant, and took the pound from him, and gave it to him who had ten pounds.

Now what do you think our Saviour intended to teach by this, story ? He designed to teach that if we have money, it is wicked not to make a good use of it. A great many people think their money is their own, and that they can do just what they please with it. But God tells us that the silver and the gold are his. Hag. ii, 8. He puts it into our hands that we may employ it in doing good, and we ought to consider that this is all the right we have to it.

When King David was making preparations for building a temple to the Lord, he gave a great deal of silver and gold himself, and called upon the people to make their offerings for the house of the Lord. They joyfully brought their money, and presented it to the king for that purpose.

David blessed the Lord, and among other things he said, "But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly after this sort ? for all things come of thee, and of thine own have we given thee." 1 Chron.xxix, 14.

It is just as true now as it was in those ancient times, that God owns all the silver and gold in the world ; and it is just as much our duty to make use of what we have to glorify God, as it was for those servants to make a profitable use of the pounds which their master had committed to them.

I fear that a great many young people, and some old ones too, think it would be a very fine thing to have just as much money as they could use if they were to do everything they desire to do, and go wherever they desire to go, and see whatever they wish to see.

Well, if God had made us merely to enjoy pleasure, -that would be delightful indeed. But if he had had no other object than that in our creation, I think he would not have made us just as we are. We are made so that if we attempt to live merely for the enjoyment of pleasure, it is the very way to spoil our pleasures. We are made to be useful, and the man who lives only to do good, finds that he thus secures the highest and purest pleasures.

Now God never puts money into a man's hands, without at the same time imposing upon that man the obligation to do good with it. He says, " Occupy till I comé." And in the day of judgment, he will inquire of every man who has had money, what use he made of it.

I wish I could make every one who reads these pages believe that money is always accompanied by responsibility.

If, then, we keep it laid up in a napkin, or hoard it up as the miser does, we shall be called wicked servants ; and still more wicked shall we be, if we waste it on our own sinful pleasures. The influence of money is very great, sometimes for good, and sometimes for evil, and I cannot think that God has put such an influence into the hands of man without requiring him to employ it for good. He will certainly call us to an account for the use we make of it.

Let me give my young readers a few illustrations of the influence of money.

I once visited a State Penitentiary, in which I saw several hundred men who were never permitted to go outside the walls of their dreary prison. They were all dressed alike in a coarse striped cloth ; they lived upon the plainest kinds of food, and were kept at hard labor from morning till night, week Why were those hundreds shut up to that changeless and dreary life of toil ?

Alas ! crime had been proved against every one of them. At some fatal moment each of them had committed some dark deed of villany against the laws of the country and the peace of society; and now, through gloomy years of imprisonment, they were paying the just penalty. -

One had 'broken into a store, and robbed the drawers of money ; another had assaulted his neighbor, and attempted to take his life, that he might obtain his money ; another had manufactured counterfeit money, and another had circulated it ; another had robbed the mail, and taken money from the letters ; another had stolen a horse, and sold it in a distant town for half its value, in order to get money.

Some of them, it is true, had committed crimes of a different character ; but very many of those unhappy men had been incited to the fatal act by the expectation of obtaining money. Surely there is no truer saying, even in the book of truth, than this, " the love of money is the root of all evil."

But it is not only the convict in his dungeon who experiences the evils which result from the " accursed lust for gold ;" thousands who are not deemed guilty of crime, are also sufferers. How carefully every man is obliged to guard his property, lest some avaricious sharper should get it away from him ! And after all possible cautions, - how many are wronged and cheated out of their honest earnings !

The desire to get money, and to get itwithout honest and patient industry, is the baneful influence which has transformed so many men into rogues and villains, and driven the rest of the world to perplexing fears and expensive means of protection.

Perhaps some may think it is only the desire of money that leads to such evils, and that if those guilty convicts had possessed money they would not have committed those crimes. It is true, they might not have committed the same crimes ; but is it not likely they would have committed others ? I have already told you that it is wicked merely to hoard up money ; and to spend it for our own pleasures is still more wicked. Why did those guilty men desire money ? Certainly they did not want to do good with it. They wanted to use it in gratifying their sinful desires ; and although, if they had possessed an abundance of it, they might not have perpetrated such deeds as would have shut them up in the penitentiary, yet they would have lived such a life of sinful pleasure as would have fitted them for the dark prison of woe in the eternal world.

Perhaps. we might be allowed to spend money for our own pleasures, if there were no opportunities to use it in doing good to others. But there are many ways in which we may employ our dimes and cents for the benefit of mankind. Numerous causes of benevolence invite our support, and each one of them affords a channel through which oui contributions may be conveyed to the needy or the ignorant or the suffering.

The little boy who has a few pennies, cannot go to Africa or China, and give those pennies to the heathen bos, and tell them to buy a good book with them, and learn something about Jesus the Saviour. Nor can he purchase such a book here, and carry it to those ignorant heathen children. But certain good men have formed a plan for sending the Bible, and other good books, and Christian teachers also, to instruct the people of heathen lands. The agency which has been devised for this purpose is called a Missionary Society. The men who carry it on tell us, that if any one has a little money to spare, and desires to use it in teaching the ignorant worshipers of idols how to worship the true God, they will take the money, and will send books and missionaries to communicate the truths of the gospel to those who are ignorant of them.

Thus the money we have to give may be made just as useful to the heathen as if we could carry it to them ourselves.

By means of Missionary and Bible Societies, and Sunday-School Unions, the Lord has opened an avenue through which every one may contribute his share towards the salvation of the souls of men in all parts of the world.

In this way, by sending our influence, although we may not be able to go as missionaries ourselves to he heathen, we can really obey the Saviour's command to " go and teach all nations." Matt. xxviii, 19.

Is it not strange that many, who never think of disobeying God when he says, "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain," never think of obeying him when he says,

" Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature;" and when he says, " Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven."

We should be just as ready to obey when the command is to do good, as we are when it is not to do evil.

If a little boy has money enough to buy a Testament for a poor heathen child, would he not be a wicked boy if he should choose to let the heathen child die without a knowledge of the Saviour, while he spent his money for nuts or candies, or to see some amusing and vain show ? Let us consider how we shall look at these things when we stand at God's judgment-bar, and see how many poor souls are doomed to everlasting miseries, and reflect that we might have taught many of them the way of life, if we had faithfully obeyed the Saviour's command. How poor and worthless will money then appear in comparison with the salvation of the soul, for which it might and ought to have been used !

And now, reader, my story about money-matters is ended. I have tried to instruct and please you, by telling you how money is made from the metals ; I have endeavored to show you the benefits of industry, by exhibiting the various ways in which money may be honestly earned ; I hope I have convinced you of the folly and wickedness of loving money, instead of placing your affections on things above ; and I shall rejoice, if your benevolent feelings have been strengthened while you bave considered how much good you may do, by giving a little money to promote the spiritual good of your fellow-beings.

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