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prudent man! A man that minds the main chance. Such is, and always has been the wisdom of the world! But God saith unto thee, "Thou fool!" Art thou not "treasuring up to thyself wrath against the day of wrath, and revelation of the righteous judgment of God?”
5. Perhaps you will ask, But do not you yourself advise, "To gain all we can, and to save all we can? And is it possible to do this, without both desiring and endeavouring to be rich? Nay, suppose our endeavours are successful, without actually laying up treasures upon earth ?"
I answer, it is possible. You may gain all you can, without hurting either your soul or body: you may save all you can, by carefully avoiding every needless expense; and yet never lay up treasures on earth, nor either desire or endeavour so to do.
6. Permit me to speak as freely of myself, as I would of another man. I gain all I can, (namely, by writing,) without hurting either my soul or body. I save all I can, not willingly wasting any thing, not a sheet of paper, not a cup of water. I do not lay out any thing, not a shilling, unless as a sacrifice to God. Yet by giving all I can, I am effectually secured from "laying up treasures upon earth.” Yea, and I am secured from either desiring or endeavouring it, as long as I give all I can. And that I do this, I call all that know me, both friends and foes, to testify.
7. But some may say, "Whether you endeavour it or not, you are undeniably rich. You have more than the necessaries of life." I have. But the Apostle does not fix the charge, barely on possessing any quantity of goods, but on possessing more than we employ according to the will of the Donor.
Two and forty years ago, having a desire to furnish poor people, with cheaper, shorter, and plainer books than any I had seen, I wrote many small tracts, generally a penny a-piece; and afterwards several larger. Some of these had such a sale as I never thought of; and, by this mean, I, unawares, became rich. But I never desired or endeayoured after it. And now that it is come upon me un
awares, I lay up no treasures upon earth: I lay up nothing at all. My desire and endeavour, in this respect, is to "wind my bottom round the year." I cannot help leaving my books behind me whenever God calls me hence. But in every other respect, my own hands will be my Executors.
8. Herein, my brethren, let you that are rich, be even as I am. Do you that possess more than food and raiment ask, "What shall we do? Shall we throw into the sea, what God hath given us?" God forbid that you should! It is an excellent talent: it may be employed much to the glory of God. Your way lies plain before your face; if you have courage, walk in it. Having gained, in a right sense, all you can, and saved all you can: in spite of nature, and custom, and worldly prudence, give all you can. I dọ not say, "Be a good Jew," giving a tenth of all you possess. I do not say, "Be a good Pharisee," giving a fifth of all your substance. I dare not advise you, to give half of what you have; no, nor three quarters, but all! Lift up your hearts, and you will see clearly, in what sense this is to be done. "If you desire to be a faithful and a wise Steward,' out of that portion of your Lord's goods, which he has for the present lodged in your hands, but with the right of resumption whenever it pleaseth him, 1. Provide things needful for yourself; food to eat, raiment to put on; whatever nature moderately requires, for preserving you both in health and strength. 2. Provide these for your wife, your children, your servants, or any others who pertain to your household. If, when this is done, there be an overplus left, then do good to "them that are of the household of faith." If there be an overplus still, "as you have opportunity, do good unto all men." In so doing, you give all you can: nay, in a sound sense, all you have. For all that is laid out in this manner, is really given to to God. You render unto God the things that are God's, not only by what you give to the poor, but also by that which you expend in providing things needful for yourself and your household.
9. O ye Methodists, hear the word of the Lord! I have a message from God to all men; but to you above all. For above forty years I have been a servant to you and to your fathers. And I have not been as a reed shaken with the wind: I have not varied in my testimony. I have testified to you the very same thing, from the first day even until But who hath believed our report? I fear not many rich, I fear there is need to apply to some of you those terrible words of the Apostle, "Go to now, ye rich men! Weep and howl for the miseries which shall come upon you. Your gold and silver are cankered, and the rust of them shall witness against you, and shall eat your flesh, as it were fire." Certainly it will, unless ye both save all you can, and give all you can. But who of you hath considered this, since you first heard the will of the Lord concerning it? Who is now determined to consider and practise it? By the grace of God, begin to-day!
10. O ye Lovers of Money, hear the Word of the Lord! Suppose ye that money, though multiplied as the sand of the sea, can give happiness? Then you are "given up to a strong delusion, to believe a lie:" a palpable lie, confuted daily by a thousand experiments. Open your eyes! Look all around you! Are the richest men the happiest? Have those the largest share of content, who have the largest possessions? Is not the very reverse true? Is it not a common observation, That the richest of men are, in general, the most discontented, the most miserable? Had not the far greater part of them more content, when they had less money? Look into your own breasts. If you are increased in goods, are you proportionably increased in happiness? You have more substance: but have you more content? You know that in seeking happiness from riches, you are only striving to drink out of empty cups. And let them be painted and gilded ever so finely, they are empty still.
11. O ye that desire or endeavour to be rich, hear ye the Word of the Lord! Why should ye be stricken any more? Will not even experience teach you wisdom? Will ye leap
into the pit with your eyes open? Why should you any more fall into temptation? It cannot be, but temptation will beset you, as long as you are in the body. But though it should beset you on every side, why will you enter into it? There is no necessity for this: it is your own voluntary act and deed. Why should you any more plunge yourselves into a snare, into the trap Satan has laid for you, that is ready to break your bones in pieces, to crush your soul to death? After fair warning, why should you sink any more into foolish and hurtful desires? Desires as inconsistent with reason, as they are with religion itself! Desires that have done you more hurt already, than all the treasures upon earth can countervail.
12. Have they not hurt you already, have they not wounded you in the tenderest part, by slackening, if not utterly destroying your "hunger and thirst after righteousness?" Have you now the same longing that you had once, for the whole image of God? Have you the same vehement desire as you formerly had, of "going on unto perfection?" Have they not hurt you by weakening your faith? Have you now faith's "abiding impression, realizing things to come?" Do you endure, in all temptations, from pleasure or pain, "seeing him that is invisible?" Have you every day, and every hour, an uninterrupted sense of his presence? Have they not hurt you, with regard to your hope? Have you now a hope full of immortality ? Are you still big with earnest expectation of all the great and precious promises? Do you now "taste the powers of the world to come?" Do you "sit in heavenly places with Christ Jesus ?"
13. Have they not so hurt you, as to stab your religion to the heart? Have they not cooled (if not quenched) your love of God? This is easily determined. Have you the same delight in God which you once had? Can you
"I nothing want beneath, above;
I fear not. And if your love of God is in any wise decayed,
so is also your love of your neighbour. You are then hurt in the very life and spirit of your religion! If you lose love, you lose all.
14. Are not you hurt with regard to your humility? If you are increased in goods, it cannot well be otherwise. Many will think you a better, because you are a richer man: and how can you help thinking so yourself? Especially, considering the commendations which some will give you in simplicity, and many with a design to serve themselves of you.
If you are hurt in your humility, it will appear by this token: : you are not so teachable as you were, not so adviseable: you are not so easy to be convinced, not so easy to be persuaded. You have a much better opinion of your own judgment, and are more attached to your own will. Formerly one might guide you with a thread: now one cannot turn you with a cart-rope. You were glad to be admonished or reproved: but that time is past. And you now account a man your enemy, because he tells you the truth. O let each of you calmly consider this, and see if it be not your own picture!
15. Are you not equally hurt, with regard to your meekness? You had once learned an excellent lesson of him that was meek as well as lowly in heart. When you were reviled, you reviled not again. You did not return railing for railing, but contrariwise, blessing. Your love was not provoked, but enabled you on all occasions, to overcome evil with good. Is this your case now? I am afraid not. I fear, you cannot "bear all things." Alas, it may rather be said, you can bear nothing: no injury, nor even affront! How quickly are you ruffled! How readily does that occur, "What! to use me so! What insolence is this! How did he dare to do it? I am not now what I was once. Let him know, I am now able to defend myself." You mean, to revenge yourself. And it is much, if you are not willing as well as able; if you do not take your fellowservant by the throat.
16. And are you not hurt in your patience too? Does