The case of Brother I is fearful. This world is his god; he worships money. He has not heeded the warning given him years ago and overcome his love of the world while in the exercise of all his faculties. The dollars which he has since accumulated have been like so many cords to entangle his soul and bind him to the world. As he has gained in property he has become more greedy for gain. All the powers of his being are devoted to the one object, securing money. This has been the burden of his thoughts, the anxiety of his life. He has turned all the powers of his being in this one direction until, to all intents and purposes, he is a worshiper of mammon. Upon this subject he is insane. His example before his family is leading them to think that property is to be valued before heaven and immortality. He has for years been educating his
mind to acquire property. He is sacrificing his eternal interest for treasures upon the earth. He believes the truth, he loves the principles of truth, and loves to see others prospering in the truth; but he has made himself so thoroughly a slave to mammon that he feels bound to serve this master as long as he shall live. But the longer he lives the more devoted will he become to his love of gain, unless he tears away from this terrible god, money. It will be like tearing out his vitals, but it must be done if he values heaven.
He needs the censure of none, but the pity of all. His life has been a terrible mistake. He has suffered imaginary pecuniary want, while surrounded with plenty. Satan has taken possession of his mind and, exciting his organ of acquisitiveness, has made him insane upon this subject. The higher, nobler powers of his being have been brought very much into subjection to this close, selfish propensity. His only hope is in breaking the bands of Satan and overcoming this evil in his character. He has tried to do this by doing something after his conscience has been wrought upon, but this is not sufficient. This merely making a mighty effort and parting with a little of his mammon, and feeling all the time that he is parting with his soul, is not the fruit of true religion. He must train his mind to good works. He must brace against his propensity to acquire. He must weave good works into all his life. He must cultivate a love for doing good, and get above the little, penurious spirit which he has fostered.
In trading with the merchants at -----, Brother and Sister I do not take a course which is pleasing to God. They will dicker to get things as cheap as they possibly can, and linger over a difference of a few pennies, and talk in regard to it as though money was their all --their god. If they could only be brought back, unobserved, to hear the remarks that are made after they leave, they would get a clearer idea of the influence of penuriousness. Our faith is brought into disrepute, and
God is blasphemed by some on account of this close, penny dealing. Angels turn away in disgust. Everything in heaven is noble and elevated. All seek the interest and happiness of others. No one devotes himself to looking out and caring for self. It is the chief joy of all holy beings to witness the joy and happiness of those around them.
When these angels come to minister to those who shall be heirs of salvation, and witness the exhibition of selfishness, of covetousness, of overreaching, and benefiting self at others' disadvantage, they turn away in grief. When they see those who claim to be heirs to an immortal inheritance so penurious in dealing with those who do not profess any higher ambition than to be laying up treasures on earth, they turn away in shame; for holy truth is reproached.
In no way could the Lord be better glorified and the truth more highly honored than for unbelievers to see that the truth has wrought a great and good work upon the lives of naturally covetous and penurious men. If it could be seen that the faith of such had an influence to mold their characters, to change them from close, selfish, overreaching, money-loving men to men who love to do good, who seek opportunities to use their means to bless those who need to be blessed, who visit the widow and fatherless in their affliction, and who keep themselves unspotted from the world, it would be an evidence that their religion was genuine. Such would let their light so shine that others seeing their good works would be led to glorify their Father which is in heaven. This fruit would be unto holiness, and they would be living representatives of Christ upon the earth. Sinners would be convicted that there is in the truth a power to which they are strangers. Those who profess to be waiting and watching for the appearing of their Lord should not disgrace their profession by bantering in deal and standing for the last penny. Such fruit does not grow upon the Christian tree.
Brother I, the Lord is not willing that you should perish, but would rather that you should take hold of His strength and make peace with Him by a conformity of your will to His divine will. If a faithful picture of your course in money getting could be presented before you, you would be terrified. You would be disgusted with your closeness, your penuriousness, your love of money. You would make it the effort of your life to obtain the transforming grace of God, which would make you a new man. The means which came to you from relatives was a curse to you. It only increased your money-loving propensity, and was an additional weight to sink you to perdition.
"The love of money is the root of all evil." When men employ their powers of mind and body in obtaining riches, and are content with the pleasure of laying up wealth which they can never use, and which will prove an injury to their children, they abuse the powers which God has given them. They show that their characters have been made sordid by the absorbing pursuit of gain. Instead of realizing happiness, they are miserable. They have shut up their souls to the wants of the needy, and have given evidence that they had no compassion for the suffering.
My brother, your heart is not callous to the wants and necessities of others. You have generous impulses, and you love to accommodate. Frequently you will readily do a kind act for a brother or a neighbor; but you make money your god, and are in danger of valuing heaven less than you value your money. In money getting there is always danger unless the grace of God is the ruling principle of the soul. When Christians are controlled by the principles of heaven, they will dispense with one hand, while the other gains. This is the only rational and healthy position a Christian can occupy while having and still making money. We would ask Brother
I: What are you going to do with your money? You are God's steward. You possess talents of means and can do much good with them. You can deposit in the bank of heaven by being rich in good works. Bless others with your life. "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."
Remember that the treasures laid up in heaven are not lost. They are secured to yourselves by a judicious use of the means of which Heaven has made you stewards. "Charge them that are rich in this world," says the apostle, "that they be not high-minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; that they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life."
There is danger, Brother I, of your life's being lost, and the gifts which God has bestowed upon you being surrendered to the devil, and you led captive by him at his will. Can you bear the thought? Can you for this short life choose to serve self, and love your money, and then part with it all, and have no title to heaven, no right to the life which is eternal? You have a mighty struggle before you to separate your affections from this earth's treasure. Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Watch, pray, work, are the Christian's watchwords. Arouse yourself, I implore you. Seek for those things which are enduring. The things of this earth must soon pass away. Are you ready to exchange worlds? Are you forming a character for everlasting life? If lost at
last, you will know what proved your ruin--the love of money. You will cry in bitter anguish: "Oh, the deceitfulness of riches! I have lost my soul. I sold it for money. My soul and body I bartered for gain. I sacrificed heaven, fearing that I should have to sacrifice my money to obtain it." From the Master will be heard: Take ye the unprofitable servant, bind him hand and foot, and cast him into outer darkness. We hope this will not be your fate. We hope you will remove your treasure to heaven, and transfer your affections, and fasten them upon God and the immortal treasure.
I have seen that the entire family were in danger of partaking, in a degree, of the father's spirit. Sister I, you have already partaken of this spirit. God help you to see it and make an entire change. Cultivate a love for doing good; seek to be rich in good works. In many things you can do more than you do. You have an individual responsibility before God. You have a duty to do, from which you cannot be excused. Maintain a close walk with God; pray without ceasing. You will have close work if you save your soul. Seek to have a counteracting influence in your family. Take your stand nobly for God. Your organization is unlike your husband's, and you will be condemned of God unless you act for yourself. Make diligent work in saving your own soul, and in exerting an influence to save your family. Let your example show that your treasure is in heaven, that you have invested all in a better home and a better life, which are eternal. Train your mind to value heavenly things, to be elevated, to love God, and to manifest a willing obedience to His will.
You may be tested; you may be proved to see how strong your affection is for the things of this world. You may be made to understand a page of your heart with which you are now unacquainted. God knows your trials as you view the state of your husband and children, who so greatly lack saving
faith. Much more depends upon you than you realize. You should put the armor on. Spend not your precious strength in exhaustive labor which another can do. Encourage your daughter to engage in useful employment and to aid you in bearing the burdens of life. She needs discipline. Her mind is vain. She needs to render all to God; then she can be useful and please her Redeemer.
My sister, work less, and pray and meditate more. Eternal interests should be primary with you. God forbid that your children should be molded into money lovers. True refinement and gentleness of manners can never be found in a home where selfishness reigns. The truly refined always have brains and hearts, always have consideration for others. True refinement does not find satisfaction in the adornment and display of the body. True refinement and nobility of soul will be seen in efforts to bless and elevate others. The weight of eternal things rests very lightly upon your children. May God arouse them before it shall be too late, and they exclaim in anguish: "The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved."
Brother J, your case was presented before me. You occupy a responsible position. You are entrusted with talents of money and of influence. To every man is given a work-- something todo, not merely to engage his brain, bone, and muscle in common labor; it means more than this. You are acquainted with this work from a worldly point of view, and have some experience in it in a religious capacity. But for a few years past you have been losing time, and now you will have to work fast to redeem the past. To possess talents is not enough; you must so use them as to advantage not merely yourself but Him who bestowed them. All that you have is a loan from your Lord. He will require it again at your hand with interest.
Christ has a right to your services. You have become His servant by grace. You are not to serve your own interest, but the interest of Him who has employed you. As a professed Christian you are under obligations to God. It is not your own property that is entrusted to you for investment. Had it been so, you might have consulted your own pleasure in regard to its use. The capital is the Lord's, and you are responsible for its use or abuse. There are ways in which this capital can be so invested--put out to the exchangers--that it shall be earning the Lord something. If it is allowed to be buried in the earth, neither the Lord nor you will be benefited, and you will lose all that was entrusted to you. May God help you, my brother, to realize your true position as God's hired servant. By His own suffering and death He has paid the wages to secure your willing service and ready obedience.
During the trials of the past few years, you have suffered in mind, and have felt it a relief to turn your attention more fully to the things of the world, to the work of acquiring property. God, in His great love and mercy to you, has again gathered you into His fold. New duties and responsibilities are now laid upon you. You have a strong love for this world. You have been laying up treasures upon the earth. Jesus now invites you to transfer your treasure to heaven; for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. In all your deal with your brethren and with unbelievers, guard yourself. Be true to your profession, and maintain true nobleness of soul, which shall be a credit to the truth which you profess.
You occupy a position where others are looking to you. You possess more than ordinary intellect. You are a man of quick perceptions, and you feel deeply. Some of your brethren have not moved in wisdom. They have watched you, and have felt over your case, and have wished to see you more liberal with your means. They have made themselves unhappy over your case. All this is needless in them. These very
ones lack in many things, and if they are faithful in the humble service the Master requires of them they will have all that they can do. They cannot afford to waste their time in anxiously fearing lest their neighbor, who has a larger work entrusted to him, shall fail to do his work well. While they are so interested in the case of another, their own work is neglected, and they are really slothful servants. They were anxious to do their neighbor's work instead of that committed to themselves to do.
They think that if they only had the five talents to handle, they could do much better than the one to whom these talents were entrusted. But the Master knew better than they. None need mourn that they cannot glorify God by talents He never gave them and for which they are not responsible. They need not say: "If I were in another's position in life I would do a great amount of good with my capital." God requires no more of them than to improve upon what they have, as stewards of His grace.
The one talent, the humblest service, if wholly consecrated, and exercised to promote the glory of God, will be as acceptable as the improvement of the weightiest talent. The varied trusts are proportioned to our varied capabilities. To every man is given according to his ability. None should slight his work, considering it so small that he need not be particular to do it well. If he does this he trifles with his moral responsibilities and despises the day of small things. Heaven apportions to all their work, and it should be their ambition to do this work well, according to their capabilities. God requires that all, the weakest as well as the strongest, fulfill their appointed work. The interest expected will be in proportion to the amount entrusted.
Each should diligently and interestedly attend to his own work, leaving others to their own Master, to stand or fall. There are too many busybodies in -----, too many who are
interested in watching their brethren, and for this reason are constantly weak. They will bear testimony in meeting, and because they have not Jesus in their hearts to confess, they will try to impress upon their brethren their duty. These poor souls do not know their own duty, and yet they take the responsibility of enlightening others in regard to their duty. If such would attend to their own work, and obtain the grace of God in their hearts, there would be a power in the church which is now lacking.
Brother J, you can do good. You possess good judgment, and God is leading you out of darkness into the light. Use your talents to the glory of God. Put them out to the exchangers, that when the Master comes He may receive His own with usury. Break your tendrils from the valueless things of earth, and elevate them to entwine about God. The salvation of souls is of greater consequence than the whole world. One soul saved, to live throughout the ages of eternity, to praise God and the Lamb, is of more value than millions in money. Wealth sinks into insignificance when compared with the worth of souls for whom Christ died. You are a cautious man and will not move rashly. Sacrifice for the truth, and become rich toward God. May the Lord help you to move as fast as you should and place the right estimate upon eternal things.
Your children need a deeper work of grace in their hearts. They need to encourage sobriety and solidity of character. If consecrated to God, they can do good and exert an influence which will be saving upon their companions.
Let not the poor feel that there is nothing that they can do, because they have not the wealth of their brethren. They can sacrifice in many ways. They can deny self. They can live devoted lives, and in their words and acts they can honor their Redeemer. The sisters especially can exert a strong
influence if they will cease their gossiping and devote their time to watchfulness and prayer. They can honor God. They can let their light so shine that others, by seeing their good works, will be led to glorify our Father which is in heaven.
As an illustration of the failure on your part to come up to the work of God, as was your privilege, I was referred to these words: "Curse ye Meroz, said the angel of the Lord, curse ye bitterly the inhabitants thereof; because they came not to the help of the Lord, to the help of the Lord against the mighty." Judges 5:23. What had Meroz done? Nothing. And this was their sin. They came not up to the help of the Lord against the mighty.