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the venerable Wesley, be "a man of one book," reading others with an eye to a better understanding of this; let him steep his mind and heart well in Methodistic theology-thoroughly study and zealously spread the great fundamental doctrines of Christianity, and eagerly aim at treading in the footsteps of his Divine Lord, consecrating his entire life to "doing good," and he will “make full proof of his ministry," will show himself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
ART. III. THE RIGHT USE OF WEALTH.*
"And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations."-Luke xvi. 9.
THE THE faithless steward did wrong in order to help himself into a temporary and precarious home. We are advised to do right, and to use our property so that it may by righteous and generous appropriation contribute to our enjoyment of a happy and everlasting home. The right use of temporal things, no doubt, has its influence on our future state. Generous deeds will not procure heaven for us, or create a claim to it. That honour belongs to Christ. His atoning death opens the door for us, and the action of the Spirit on our hearts produces in us the moral fitness for heaven. These two doctrines we must adhere to as fundamental and certain. The title to, and meetness for heaven are related to the work of Christ and the Holy Spirit, respectively. Yet when we admit this, there must be a place for good works, which are evidential signs of character. They evidently have some bearing on our future bliss, or we would not hear tell of them so often in relation to it. "And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth; yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them." Rev. xiv. 13. Rev. xiv. 13. Their works follow them for recognition and recompense and honourable mention. "But when thou makest
A Sermon preached on behalf of the Ladies' Benevolent Society, Flag Lane Chapel, Sunderland.
a feast call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind. And thou shalt be blessed, for they cannot recompense thee; for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just." Luke xiv. 13, 14. Here is good assurance that good works will have a future recompense. God knows both how to admit us to heaven for his Son's sake, and to reward all kind deeds that spring from right motive. There are some good deeds entitled to no reward. There are others that are rewarded to the full in this life. But there are others still that either meet no reward till the next life, or are rewarded both here and there. Of this third class we understand the good works recommended in this text. Let us investigate it. We have here, I. A DESCRIPTION OF WORLDLY WEALTH. "The mammon of unrighteousness." Mammon means riches, the word which we find in the margin for explanation. Unrighteousness is commonly equivalent to injustice. Taking it thus, unrighteous mammon will mean unjust wealth. It may well be so called, because it is often unjustly acquired, unjustly expended, and unjustly hoarded up and imprisoned when it ought to be in circulation and use, doing good both for its proprietor and for others. Much sin is committed in relation to money. It is often come at by unworthy means, by fraud and force, and illegal shifts and contrivances. It may be acquired by the merchandise of articles not worth what is paid for them. Or it may be obtained by an exorbitant interest charged on money lent. Or it may be the result of hard labour unpaid or ill-paid, or not paid at the due season. Or it may be amassed by its owner robbing himself for the time being of what his body requires in food and raiment to sustain it in health and comfort and decency. Penurious self-denial in the midst of ample means is an injustice. The same may be said of a man dealing scantily with his family board, and wardrobe, and not allowing his children comfortable maintenance and a fair education. By many such devices which a covetous disposition dictates the purposes of life are frustrated. The Scripture describes several dubious practices and suspicious turns that worldlings are guilty of, and brands them all in clear open terms. It forbids short weights and measures. "Just balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just hin shall ye have; I am the Lord your God." Lev. xix. 36. It brands as a dishonest man the customer who depreciates an article, and by importunity carries it off at less than its real worth. "It is naught, it is naught, saith the buyer; but when he is gone his way, then he boasteth." Pro. XX. 44. It was a bad article,not worth the money asked for it, till he bought it; and on coming into his hands it suddenly rose in its value, and was worth more than he had paid for it. In conscience he ought to go back and pay the full sum he rates it at. Scripture censures the tricks of corn merchants and those who sell the necessaries of life, keeping their goods out of the market to
fetch an extravagant price. "He that witholdeth corn, the people shall curse him; but blessing shall be upon the head of him that selleth it." Pro. xi. 26. "When will the new moon be gone, that we may sell corn, and the Sabbath that we may set forth wheat, making the ephah small and the shekel great, and falsifying the balances by deceit, that we may buy the poor for silver and the needy for a pair of shoes; yea, and sell the refuse of the wheat?" Amos viii. 5, 6. There are things done in the market which the Bible will not sanction. It would be well for all men of large means to study what the Scripture says to them as a class, and to keep out of the way of the curse which it pronounces on ill-gotten wealth or its owners, and to get into the way of the blessing it assures to all who follow its directions in the disposal of their wealth. We check quotation. These passages illustrate what we have affirmed that riches are sometimes acquired by injustice, and for that reason may be called "unrighteous mammon." We will not boldly state that this is the meaning of this passage. By doing so we should offend the generation of commentators who are nearly all set against this explanation on account of the abuse it might minister to. It might countenance money-making by false and fraudulent means and atoning for it by bestowing a large part on charitable and religious institutions, when it ought rather to be restored to its lawful owners. "I, the Lord, love judgment, I hate robbery for burnt offering." Isa. lxi. 8. Isa. lxi. 8. We must not do evil that good may come. Whether this passage means it or not, it is perfectly true that riches are unrighteous mammon when acquired by unrighteous means.
Another explanation that is relied on as the true sense is—“ deceitful riches" or "false riches," as opposed to the true. So the 11th verse, "If therefore have not been faithful in the unrighteous (or false) mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?" Riches can only be deceitful relatively. The unconscious silver, or gold, or other property, is innocent. It is the heart of man coming into contact with those things that is chargeable with the deceit. Rhetorical licence, however, attributes to them the moral qualities which properly belong to their owners. "The care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word" and render it unfruitful. In many ways riches are deceitful. They carry the heart away from better things, and absorb the affections that are due to God alone. But chiefly they cheat expectations. They are not reliable. When you have them you cannot be sure of keeping them. They are so slippery and treacherous that you have no guarantee for their continuance. It is well known that they have wings, and if not closely watched will take advantage when your back is turned, and pass out of sight and out of reach. The wise man founds his advice on this very circum
stance. "Labour not to be rich, cease from thine own wisdom. Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? For riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle towards heaven." Prov. xxiii. 4, 5. The accidents to which they are liable are numerous. A flourishing business may be ruined by a successful rival establishing himself in the neighbourhood, by the caprice of the public, or by the dishonesty of agents and servants. A ship worth thousands of pounds is at the mercy of wind and wave, and may be thrown away in a storm. Valuable property is often destroyed by fire. Bankrupts ruin both themselves and others who have dealings with them. A single turn of the wheel of public affairs often involves men of wealth in irreparable losses and sinks them so low that they can never rise again. Wealthy Babylon, the medium and emporium of commerce, has been known to fall. And in one hour so great riches come to nought.
Suppose they stay with you, they are still deceitful, inasmuch as they fail to yield the happiness they promise you, or which you promise yourselves from them. The man who imagines he shall be happy when he becomes rich is seriously cheated. On the attainment of the ampler means he panted for, he finds his desires unsatisfied, and is as thirsty as ever. Besides, he has new fears, and solicitudes, and responsibilities, which he overlooked in his calculations. He has more luggage and a heavier burden to carry. His peace of mind is attacked at various points where before he was not liable to be touched. His elevation exposes him to the free action of the wind, which does its worst upon high things. When he was lower down in the scale he was more sheltered and less annoyed, as the wind blew over him. He is higher than he was, but certainly not happier. Deceitful mammon whispered a lie in his heart, which he was simple enough to believe. However, this unrighteous, deceitful mammon, with which so many persons foul their fingers and damage themselves, may be managed rightly and subordinated to the profiting of many, and amongst others to the persons holding it in trust. Hence we have,
II. A DIRECTION HOW TO USE IT. "Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness." The steward in this parable made himself friends by disposing of property which was not his own. We must not do so. He made himself friends by foresight and contrivance. We may make ourselves friends prospectively, and lay up "a good foundation against the time to come." The end he sought was right. The means he used were wrong. With money we may make friends. But let us see to it that we do so by what is our own in the ordinary sense of the word. Shrewd worldlings have an idea that it is best to carry your friend in your pocket, that is, to make your purse your friend by taking care of it, and appropriating its contents to your own use. "Men will
praise thee when thou doest well to thyself." Ps. xlix. 18. Wise as this may be deemed, there is yet a more excellent way. That which we have lying out, away from ourselves, is our best wealth. What we have parted with on right motive and for a right purpose is surer than that we have retained for ourselves. We cannot condemn self-appropriation. In the disposal of our mammon there are several parties concerned. It must be parted out. There is
1. A part for ourselves. There is a danger of us apportioning too much in this division, and so committing a fraud upon God and our poor neighbours whom we make to stand back till we are served and satisfied. Self-maintenance, however, is a duty. Every one that has health and vigour and skill is under the obligation of it. It is the purpose of him that made us. Our coarser necessities impel us to attend to them. Imperious appetites make us spring a livelihood either with our hands or with our wits. And all who can do so should, most certainly. None should lean on others when they are able to bear their own weight. No one that can walk should submit to be carried. It is a base injustice. Let all capable persons be equal to their own necessities, then there will be a better chance of the really indigent being comfortably supplied. Only let those who provide for themselves be careful not to take much more than their need requires. Our real wants are soon supplied. So much for the mouth, to nourish the system. Let it have good nourishing food and sufficient of it. Then so much for the trunk, to protect and warm it. Let it have decent clothing. Then so much for the mind, to sate its appetite for information. The balance left after these claims are reasonably met will be more or less according to our respective producing abilities. What is to be done with the balance? Many presume that they are at liberty to do what they please with it. Because it is not all wanted to meet their actual wants they make to themselves a world of artificial wants. So their surplus is wasted in fictitious channels, and consumed upon themselves to feed ambition or gratify pride, or obtain distinction. Ask them to reduce their artificial necessities for the sake of grave claims which you have to submit to them, their ingenuity falls upon arguments forthwith to prove that these so called artificial wants are real and pressing, and that their expenditure over them is a great benefit to society. It will be well for them if they were moved by such benevolent feelings as their arguments insinuate. Take enough for yourself, but let conscience rule you, and have respect to other claims. There should be,
2. A part for God. As the Proprietor of the world which he made and sustains, an acknowledgment is certainly due to him. We do not mean an acknowledgment with the lips, a praise-offering or prosy thanks, that costs no more than a little breath and a heaving motion of the chest. He values that, and expects it, and