Manhood And Money
( Originally Published 1909 )
THE biggest thing in the universe is a well-rounded, royal, splendid man. The smallest thing in the universe is the person whom greed has dwindled, and money has minimized. True manhood is humanity at its highest point. There is nothing better than character; there is nothing lower than greed. When God makes a royal, splendid man, He makes him as nigh like Himself as He can. When the devil fills us with greed, he makes us as nigh like himself as he can.
The miser who spends his whole life ac-cumulating his money, and in his old age sits down upon his fortune with no capacity for enjoying it, is a monumental fool. I repeat it, the curse of this age is we have put gold above God, chattels above character, and mammon above manhood. We have inverted God's order of things, and money is on top and manhood at the bottom. Happy is the man who enthrones God above gold, manhood above money, and character above chattels. Then he is moving along, " right side up with care."
It is historically true that whatever a nation or a man has made its ideal, if that ideal be wrong, at last it has fallen down under its ideal and died. Greece focalised her life and centralised her whole being in her literature, and at last poor old Greece turned up her toes and died under a book. Rome centralised her life and focalised her whole being in her military power, and nothing but a spear now marks the final resting place of Rome. America has concentrated all her energies upon the dollar, and shall we at last lie buried under a silver dollar, the intrinsic value of which is about forty-eight cents?
One splendid, royal man will give more character, and add more to the history of a country, than all its products for a hundred years. Gladstone gave more character to England than all England's commerce for a century. George Washington gave more character to America, and added more to her history, than Wall Street can do in a thousand years. America will live on be-cause of her Washingtons, her Jeffersons, her Jacksons, her Lincolns, and not because of her Vanderbilts, Astors, and Rockefellers.
A man may be both rich and great. He must be if he shall live. Abraham was wealthy beyond the dream of our millionaires, and yet his character was such that we know him only as the Father of the Faithful, and not as the wealthiest of the wealthy. Manhood is enduring, is immortal; nothing else is.
A gentleman asked another some time ago, " How much property did Mr. So-and-So leave? " His friend replied, " He left all he had. He didn't take a dollar with him." It is not what we leave, but what we carry with us. Manhood belongs to both worlds. Lands and stocks and bonds and moneys belong to only one world. This is demonstrated in the fact that the rich man whom the Bible calls Dives, when he left this world, was without means by which he could procure one drop of water to cool his parching tongue, while the poor man, Lazarus, that fed upon the crumbs that fell from the rich man's table, and whose only doctor was the dogs that licked his sores, when he left, joined the companionship of those who were recognised as kings in both worlds.
A father may not have done much for his boy when he endowed him with riches, but a father has done the most and the best for his boy when he rears him rightly and starts him out at twenty-one with a character as solid and a life as pure as that of King Josiah. Agar * was right when he prayed " O, Lord, give me neither poverty nor riches," for poverty handicaps and riches demoralise manhood. A father and mother who skimp and skin and save and lay up for their children; who deny them-selves of real comforts of life, in order that their children may have their accumulation of money, have reached the height of folly. If your boy is of any account, he does not need a dollar you may give him; and if he is of no account, every dollar you leave him will sink him.
Money is valuable only as it helps to develop the manhood in you. It is a curse when it is used for any other reason. Our money to us should be what the wings of a bird are to it. Simply the best means to reach the end, or like a railroad train, simply a vehicle or thing to carry me where I want to go. There is no virtue in poverty, or any vice in riches. It is in the use we may put it to. We may shine in the midst of either, or we may ride them to ruin.
There is something about one honestly earned dollar that is worth a million, if there is a dirty shilling in the pile. Almost any fellow can make money, but only the wise and good man knows how to use it. The secret of accumulation is simply to hold to what you get. Prodigality is as really a manifestation of selfishness as stinginess; wherever the object is simply self, whether self puts it in its pocket or spends it on appetite or passion, the effect on the person is about the same..
One of the most marvellous wills in history was that made by one of our Southern bishops. By reason of his position, he had opportunity to accumulate quite a fortune. But when he came to his last hours and made his will, he simply said, after commending his spirit to God through Christ, " I give and bequeath to my faithful wife, my little farm over in South Carolina. To my widowed daughter and orphan children, the income on my books. To my other children," giving their names in order, " I give nothing, not for the want of love, but for the lack of means."
The world of commerce and the marts of trade furnish the battle field. The force on the one side is greed and gain. On the other side, it is character and manhood. What-ever may add to my greed or multiply my gain, hurts character, and whatever shall build up my character and my manhood is the thing to be sought at the expense of money, ease, comfort, and everything.
The best sign of the times I see is the fact that the spirit of benevolence grows among men. The millions contributed to the various charitable and benevolent causes can hardly be computed year by year. Think of one man, who has contributed nearly two hundred millions. Another nearly one hundred millions and scores have given from five to twenty millions. Hospitals, training schools, colleges, libraries, orphanages, etc. ; the aggregate annual benevolences to all these pile up a sum that makes us stagger to look upon. But after all it is better to be good than great, better to be right than rich, and bet-ter to have a conscience void of offence to God and man than to own the world.
Riches are sordid, manhood is made up of the best stuff in the world. Honour, integrity, uprightness, benevolence, kindness, temperance, love, are some of the ingredients that make man immortal, and these elements dominated by a will that commands the situation; an inflexible will, not dogged stubbornness; an imperious will, not hard-headedness, but a will that chooses right, and after that choice is made, abides the choice. A will that chooses not to do wrong, and stays by the choice, conscious that there isn't enough money coined to change it, or bullets enough moulded to alter the determination, and wherever intelligence, courage, mind, is dominated by such a will, and fostered and fed by every element that belongs to an upright man, the result is a first-class character, and there is nothing higher, nothing better, than that.
Take Governor Nichols, of Louisiana. When he was Governor of the State, there was a bill for re-chartering the Louisiana State Lottery, and a more infamous thing never cursed the American Republic than that. Five years before the bill came up for renewing the charter I was preaching in New Orleans, and the first four days the newspapers reported me pretty well. The fifth I struck the Lottery, and, God bless you, the papers dropped me like a hot cake. They never knew I was in town any more. They sprung the question, and I began the fight, and some of them gave me credit for starting the ball in motion, there in New Orleans, against that infamous scheme. Now they had the Legislature, or as many as they wanted of them—they had bought them just like sheep or mules, so much a head, and when they had the majority of the Legislature, and everything was coming their way, then they found out some way that the old Governor was going to veto the bill. So they walked into the Governor's office, and began to talk to him, and they carried him out on a high hill, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world, and some one showed him that there was a million of cash in it, if he wanted it, and the old Governor saw what they were up to. He reached over and got his crutch, and shoved it under his arm, and spoke up, and said, " Gentlemen, I see what you are up to. This leg went off at the Battle of Manassas, this arm went off at the Battle of Sharpsburg, and this eye went out at Richmond ; but, gentlemen, poor as I am, I want to say to you, you can crush this other leg off here, and this other arm off here at the joints, and jab this other eye out, and I will go through this life eyeless, and legless, and armless, to a pauper's grave, but there ain't money enough on earth to buy me. Get out of my office; get out of my office."
The highest type of manhood is to help a brother in need. It is to me a beautiful story, and I want you to hear it in closing. I think I have run up on some things connected with human life as beautiful as the stars and as fragrant as a flower garden.. And these beautiful things that memory takes hold of now have all come to the surface as diamonds in the rough, and they all belong to the sturdy, stalwart men who pull the throttle and bell cord of our railroads. Take this one instance : In the collision near Adairsville, Ga., some months ago, Engineer Dobbs was mortally hurt. He was lying on an improvised litter at Adairsville, when No. 93 rolled down to the depot and stopped. Engineer Dobbs looked up at the approaching engine and said, " That's Van Bell on that engine, isn't it? " They answered in the affirmative. He said, " I want to see Van." The wounded engineer was carried back to the sleeping car. Van Bell got the summons. He stepped down off of his engine, and followed his brother engineer to the sleeping car, and walked into the car among the many passengers with his overalls on, and the smut of his engine on his face. He kneeled by the wounded brother engineer's side, and said, " What can I do for you." The dying, man said, " I want you to pray for me," And the Christian engineer knelt down in the sleeping car among all the passengers, and lifted his voice in earnest prayer to God for the soul of his dying brother. He prayed earnestly and fervently, and remained with him fifteen or twenty minutes, until the wounded engineer told him that he accepted the offered Christ, and surrendered his heart to Him. Then Van Bell bade him hold onto God by faith, and when he was going back to his engine, the conductor said to him, " Van, we have lost twenty minutes." Van replied, " Yes, but what is that? " I had rather lose my job and help a dying brother get right with God, than to hold onto my job and neglect my brother."