Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house. Test Me in this," says the LORD of Hosts. "See if I will not open the floodgates of heaven and pour out for you blessing without measure.
All must include those which ought to have been brought and had not. It was the paying up of old debts which would show the practical and sincere character of the penitence. Sin brings its own punishment. God will treat us relatively to our treatment of him. He recompensed this restored nation of Israel according to their doings. He blighted their fields and blemished their flocks, so that the]and groaned beneath the curse. The only way to remove the evil was for the people to turn from the evil of their way. The sign of such return would be an earnest effort to fulfil their religious obligations. Of such fulfilment the offering of tithes might be a represntative instance.
I. THE MORAL HELPLESSNESS OF SENTIMENTAL PENITENCE. Remorse is the caricature of penitence on the one side, and sentimentality on the other. And sentimentality may be the more subtle evil. A man may be distressed about the consequences of sin, who has no estimate of the evil of the sin. A man may be carried away by a surrounding excitement of penitence without having any real humiliation of heart. This may be illustrated from the excitement produced by Savonarola's preaching at Florence, and by the bad sides of modern revivals and missions. Convictions which reach no further than a man's sentiments are not merely helpless to influence conduct, but they are morally mischievous, because they delude, persuading the man that he is right, when his motive and heart are untouched. Some men who persist in living in sin nevertheless have seasons of gushing penitence; but it is only surface feeling, they have no root in themselves. The test of repentance is found in this question - What does it make the man do?
II. THE MORAL VALUE OF PRACTICAL PENITENCE. The Apostle Paul calls it "godly sorrow," and reminds of its practical working. "Ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge!" If a man steals from another, all his protestations of sorrow are without moral value unless he restores what he has stolen. God looks for moral value in everything relating to his people; and finds it only when they bring in the tithes which they had been withholding. Restoring, dealing resolutely with cherished sins, "cutting off right hands, and plucking out right eyes," are the revelation of sincerity, depth, and moral value, in all professions of penitence. It is only when God can approve of and accept the penitence thus revealed that he can respond by opening the windows of heaven to pour out blessing. - R.T.
Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse.
I. THE ORIGIN AND MEANING OF TITHES. It was the tenth part of the produce of the soft, and the increase of the flock, or the income of the individual. It was not simply a Mosaic institution. See Jacob's vow at Bethel. Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek. God seems to have instituted this claim, to be a constant acknowledgment on our part of our dependence upon Him for all that we possess. God claims an absolute ownership of the soil and all its produce, and He claimed this constant acknowledgment of His ownership at the hands of men. Tithes were used at first to maintain the ordinances of religion, and to supply the wants of the poor, the fatherless, and the widow, who have ever been the objects of God's care. In addition to these tithes, there were also freewill offerings. Many. of their own free will, gave far beyond the minimum stipulated. Perhaps it was never intended, even under the Jewish economy, that the tithe should be exacted by force. It is evident that it was often withholden. The tithe is certainly not to be exacted by law under the present economy. Yet surely less cannot be expected of us than of the Jews. The earth is still the Lord's, and He demands the same acknowledgment from us that He did from them. It is God that sends sunshine and shower, and causes the seed to germinate and spring up. Is God amply repaid, as the owner of the land, and for His toil, when you give Him the tenth, and that, perhaps, grudgingly? But it is not simply your substance, but yourself, also, that belongs to God. You are not your own. Then surely there ought to be an acknowledgment of His ownership. Have you even tithed yourself for God? Where is the storehouse into which these tithes are to be brought? Where is God's storehouse? The storehouse is just where the tithes are needed. You need to tithe your time and thought for the culture of your own heart and life, if they are to be as a well-kept garden, beautiful unto God. You need to tithe your time for the good of your family, if your house is to be well ordered, and your children trained up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. You need to tithe your time, and thought, and affection, to meet the claims of society — the ignorant and degraded around you loudly call for help. The storehouse for your substance may be found in the homes of the widow, and the orphan, and the poor, and the destitute.
II. THE BLESSING HERE PROMISED. Opening the windows has, no doubt, reference to sunshine and showers, which produce the harvest. But every good gift is from above, and, therefore, this expression may symbolise the way in which every blessing is bestowed upon us. How easy it would be for God thus to pour down His blessing upon us till there be not room enough to receive it. This is true of temporal blessing. It is equally true in relation to the spiritual blessing. If we were to comply with the conditions God has here named, how easy it would be for Him to fill this house. This is especially true in relation to personal blessing. In Him are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. You see then the way in which God's blessing can be obtained. You shut heaven or you open it, by the attitude you assume in relation to God. He will ultimately be to you what you persist in being to Him. You may, too, in many ways, prevent or procure blessings for others.
(A. Clark.)1. It is objected, that we are not Jews, and that the command is, therefore, obsolete. But the occasion of tithing, like that of the Lord's day, is found in permanent, unchanging facts, the glory of God and the needs of man. The occasion for tithing is even more urgent to-day than of old, as the work of religion is to be extended throughout the globe.
2. It is objected, that this law of tithing, like the laws concerning sacrifice and circumcision, has been repealed. But this is not true. There is not a syllable in the New Testament which, either directly or indirectly, repeals the law of the tithe.
3. It is objected, that every man is to give "as he purposeth in his heart, and as the Lord hath prospered him," and this is a virtual repeal of the tithe. On the contrary, it really confirms the principle of tithing. We are to give by "purpose"; that is, deliberately, systematically — not according to whim or accident.
4. It may be said, "I am not limited to a tenth, but, like Zaccheus, I may give half, or, like the apostles, all." So much the better. There is no objection to the rule. "Thank-offerings were always commended."
5. The worst objection is, "I cannot afford it." There is the real obstacle — selfishness. But "I want to save for old age." Yes, and for eternity, too. Do not save for your children by robbing God. What shall it profit a man if he gain the tithes, and lose his soul?
Prove Me now herewith
1. God has ever connected the enjoyment and use of certain blessings with the observance of His ordinances, and with obedience to His requirements. We may trace the connection of obedience with our salvation. The obedience of the children of Israel had nothing whatever to do with their election. In like manner our obedience has nothing whatever to do with the provision made for our redemption. I am born again, not because I have obeyed, but that I may obey. I am pardoned and justified, not because I have obeyed, but that I may be in a position to be trained for obedience. What has the obedience of a child to do with his relation to his father? This obedience does not earn or procure, or in any sense purchase and obtain our salvation, but it is the working out of that salvation, so far as our experience and our inward consciousness and enjoyment of that salvation are concerned. Let us therefore distinctly understand this at starting. But look further, and look at certain institutions and ordinances. Just as there is a close connection between the enjoyment of pardon, — the deliverance of our souls from the dominion of sin, and the confession of our sins to God, so there is a close connection between peace of mind, freedom from care, and obedience evidenced in earnest, importunate, and continued supplication.
2. Although God has thus connected blessedness with obedience, and with the observance of His ordinances, the people of God have often neglected them — neglected institutions founded for their benefit, and neglected Divine precepts and prohibitions: and this neglect is traceable to various sources. Sometimes neglect arises from ignorance. How can a man know the mind of God concerning him, who does not search his Bible? But a man may read the Bible, and still be ignorant. Hearing you may not understand, and seeking you may not find. Neglect arises from thoughtlessness and carelessness, and from indolence.
3. Such neglect often brings spiritual adversity, and sometimes exposes to sore affliction. If we have not all the spiritual blessings which God has promised, why are they not in our possession? The connection which God has ordained between obedience and blessedness cannot be severed. Our spiritual adversity, therefore, cannot be traceable to God. The cause can only be in ourselves; and it will be often found in some neglect, — not in the commission of something wrong, but in the omission of duties that we Christians think lightly of. We have restrained prayer, therefore our anxiety and our unrest. We have not acknowledged our sins, therefore our sense of guilt and our fear. We have neglected the Scriptures, or forsaken the assembling of ourselves together.
4. Our awaking to the knowledge that we have not all that God has promised, should be immediately followed by searchings of heart. Here again the cause must be in ourselves.
5. Now say that neglect is discovered, it should be instantly followed by supplying the omission. Prove me — my love, my hand, my faithfulness. All these omissions, by God's grace, and the grace of the Spirit, may be supplied.
I. WINDOWS ARE FOR LIGHT. Heaven is filled with unsullied light. Its light falls upon the earth. It ever gleams upon men in their benighted wanderings.
II. WINDOWS ARE FOR HEALTH. The atmosphere of heaven is pure. The inhabitants never say, "I am sick." Man's moral health on earth is from the heavenly influences that descend upon him.
III. WINDOWS ARE FOR THE INTERCHANGE OF SENTIMENT, OBSERVATION, AND THE GLANCES OF AFFECTION. The inhabitants of heaven are interested in men. Men are penitent, angels rejoice. Men look up to God, and He regards them from His lofty dwelling-place. He manifests His love to their hearts.
IV. WINDOWS ARE FOR THE EXCLUSION OF NOXIOUS VAPOURS AND REPTILES. Earth's evils cannot enter heaven. Men may enter, but not their sins. Whatever may defile other worlds in God's universe, nothing can defile this one.
V. WINDOWS ARE FOR BEAUTY. Whether of glass or of lattice work, they ornament earth's palaces and temples. Heaven is full of beauty. The incomplete descriptions that are given sometimes ravish us.
(W. Osborne Lilley.)
Homiletic Monthly.Not room enough in our hearts! They are limitless in their sense of need.
1. Sense of poverty. God's title-deed expresses limitless ownership.
2. Sense of bereavement. God fills this with assurance of immortal reunions.
3. Sense of ignorance. God promises the Spirit to "lead you into all truth."
4. Sense of sin. "If sin abound, grace doth much more abound."
5. Sense of uselessness in purpose. Life's energies drained into self, as the Jordan into the Dead Sea, instead of the desires flowing out to bless man kind.
6. Sense of little service with the best intentions. God makes a Christian useful beyond his ability, his planning, and his knowledge.
(Charlotte Skinner.)wont was, he took the question to the Lord in prayer. "Here," said he, "I have given away, believing it to be my duty, for purposes which I regard as yours, one-tenth of my income. Am I doing what is right? Will you give me a sign?" In the year 1852 he devised the first illustrated programme for a public funeral that had ever appeared in London — that of the Duke of Wellington. Now he prayed to God. I am publishing this programme; it may succeed, it may fail. May I ask that, in connection with the publication of this programme, you will give me a sign that will give me clearly to understand whether I am to go on giving, to curtail my subscriptions, or what I shall do?" Well, it turned out that the programme was a great success. And then comes the most remarkable thing. When the balance-sheet came to be made up for that programme, Mr. Marshall found to his astonishment that the net profits that he had realised amounted, to the very penny, to the sum which he had given away since his eighteenth year! When he compared the figures, and found that they exactly corresponded, he felt that his prayer had been answered; and, as he put it in his own quaint way, "I saw that the Lord was determined never to be in debt with me, so I went ahead." Afterwards, as his wealth multiplied, he increased the proportion.1. That faithful and proportionate giving will be rewarded with superabundant spiritual blessing. The statement does not require proof, since experience has stamped it already as an axiom. Other things being equal, that Christian who opens the broadest outlet for charity will find the widest inlet for the Spirit. The health of a human body depends upon its exhalations as well as upon its inhalations. It is reported that a boy who was to personate a shining cherub in a play, on being covered over with a coating of gold-leaf, which entirely closed the pores of the skin, died in consequence, before relief could be afforded. Woe to the Christian who gets so gold-leafed over with his wealth, that the pores of his sympathy are shut, and the outgoings of his charity restrained! He is thenceforth dead spiritually, though he may have a name to live.
2. That faithful and proportionate giving will be rewarded with abundant temporal prosperity. "Honour the Lord with thy substance and with the first-fruits of all thine increase: so shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine" (Proverbs 3:9. 10). This is but one specimen of many from the Old Testament. "Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom" (Luke 6:38). Let us now throw light upon this subject from a few inserted leaves from a pastor's notebook. One says, "I knew a widow of limited means who was remarkable for her liberality to benevolent objects. But a sad change came into her by an unexpected legacy which made her wealthy, and then her contributions began to fall below the amount of her straitened finances. Once she volunteered: now she only gives when importuned, and then it is as meagre as if the fountains of gratitude had dried up. Once when asked by her pastor to help a cause dear to her heart in her comparative poverty, and to which she gave five dollars then, now she proffers twenty-five cents. Her pastor called her attention to the surprising and ominous change. 'Ah,' she said, 'when day by day I looked to God for my bread, I had enough to spare; now I have to look to my ample income, and I am all the time haunted with the fear of losing it, and coming to want. I had the guinea heart when I had the shilling means, now I have the guinea means and the shilling heart.' It is a fearful risk to heart and soul to become suddenly rich. This is one of the reasons why God lets many of His best children acquire wealth so slowly, so that it may not be a snare to them, may not chill their benevolence; that when wealth comes, the fever of ambitious grasping may be cooled, and that benevolence may overtake avarice." Now the only way to avoid this peril is to cultivate two habits, and let them grow side by side, — the habit of economy and the habit of charity. If one's economy grows steadily and alone, it will tend to dry up his charity; if one's charity grows steadily, it will dry up his means, unless balanced by the other virtue of economy. Therefore, let both grow together, then our giving will increase just in proportion to our getting.
(J. A. Gordon, D. D.)
(T. De Witt Talmage, D. D.)1. With regard to the pardon of our sin for Christ's sake.
2. With regard to the purifying influence of the Gospel.
3. With regard to our guidance in the investigation of religious truth.
4. With regard to the supply of our temporal wants.
5. With regard to the happiness of personal religion.
6. With regard to answers to prayer.
I. THE GRAVE ACCUSATION MADE BY GOD AGAINST THIS PEOPLE — "Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed Me." This accusation was a startling one. Whoever would have thought that men would rob God? They might rob their fellows, but surely they would never rob the Lord. As Malachi uttered these words they made a great sensation. I imagine all Jerusalem was in an uproar over his utterance. The merchants forgot their merchandise as they discussed it in the bazaars. Priests gathered with scribes in solemn council, and agreed that the man who had made such a statement was mad. Yet this message was absolutely true. They were committing the awful sin of robbing God: and when the excitement and anger had died down they were forced to admit its truth. Men are robbing God in like manner to-day. God says, "Ye are not your own: ye are bought with a price," and yet they withhold themselves from Him. Is not that robbery? The Holy Ghost speaks, "Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost? Yet instead of permitting Him to dwell there, its rooms are filled with sinful guests. Is not that robbery also? You say these are strong, stout words. True! but God's messages are never vague or uncertain. Great evils demand powerful remedies. Hence God calls robbery, robbery, and sin, sin. He puts His finger upon the plague spot, and says, That is where you are wrong." The cupboard of your life may be shut to others, and looks like some fair adornment on the wall. He knows the secret spring, and reveals the skeleton of thy sin which lies hidden within. "Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed Me."
II. THE SAD RESULT OF SUCH A SINFUL COURSE — "Ye are cursed with a curse," etc. In the south of Scotland there stands the ruin of a famous abbey. Its broken columns and arched windows, its trellised doorways and roofless aisles, its damp chapels and deserted altar, all speak sadly of a former glory and a departed greatness. The curse of man has fallen upon it. Methinks, that as Malachi looked upon the life of his countrymen he saw only a ruin which shadowed forth its former beauty and greatness. Decay was stamped upon it. Its worship had become an abomination. "Ye offer," said Jehovah, "polluted bread upon Mine altar." "The table of the Lord is contemptible" (Malachi 1:7). God's covenant was despised (Malachi 1:6). Justice and judgment were perverted. The sorcerer, the adulterer, the false-swearer, and the oppressor fattened upon the woes of others (Malachi 3:5). Israel was a moral ruin and a spiritual desolation. She was despised by men and cursed by God. It is an awful thing to fall beneath God's curse; and yet every soul which robs God has that curse upon him. History tells us that wherever the axe of Richard the Lion-hearted swung, the stoutest mail was splintered like matchwood, and the bravest men went down. God is a "man of war": the "Lord of Hosts" is His name. "He taketh up the isles as a very little thing." His strong arm can make the choicest defences a ruined heap. He shall utterly destroy His foes. Men shall look for them, and they shall not be found. Hast thou wondered why thy soul hath not prospered? Is God's curse resting upon thee? How can it prosper when it is robbing God?
III. THE JUST DEMAND WHICH GOD MAKES — Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in Mine house." In the preceding verse you will notice that God complains of robbery from two sources, i.e., tithes and offerings. The tithing God requires: the offerings were freewill gifts over and above the tithes. Hence in this demand God speaks of tithes only. Under the Jewish economy everything connected with life and worship was built up upon one great principle, i.e., ownership by God. Whilst they remained true it never failed. The land was His, and so its first-fruits, whether of corn, fruit, or cattle, had to be redeemed by an offering to Him. The firstborn of children were His, and they, too, had to be redeemed. The same principle ran through their worship. Whenever they appeared before Him they brought an offering. If they were too poor to give a bullock, they gave a lamb; if too poor for this, they brought pigeons or turtle doves. If to the tithes there are added these offerings, then a very modest calculation shows that every pious Jew must have given about one-seventh of his entire income to the Lord. It was only when their spiritual life grew dim that these offerings and tithings ceased. But, says some one, "God does not demand such things to-day; we are not under law, but under grace." True; but as Christ is better than Moses, and grace is laden with richer blessings than the law, our generosity ought to flow out in yet larger abundance; for the greater the blessing the greater the gratitude, and the greater the gratitude the greater the gifts. However much conditions change, principles remain. Tithes meant at least three things.
1. They meant money. The produce of the field was the Jews' money. It might be corn, fruit, oxen, sheep, or asses; but it was in these that his wealth consisted, and of these he gave his tenth to the Lord. To-day the coin of the realm is the medium of circulating wealth, but the principle of devoting some portion of it to the Lord is the same.
2. Tithes meant time. If the produce represented money, the cultivation of it represented time. The ploughing, harrowing, sowing, etc., which the successful farmer had to do, made great demands upon his time. If you would bring all the tithes, your time will not be exempted. Let me put this truth in another form. Suppose it took five minutes to pay a visit to a home. Then if fifty Christians gave this one-tenth of time per day to visitation, they could pay no less than 900 visits daily.
3. Tithes meant talent. The man who would succeed in cultivation must use his talents in mastering and applying the principles of agriculture. God asks the produce and the time, but He demands the talents also. Have you the talent of speech? God wants it. Of song? He requires it. Of organisation? He asks it. Of literary ability? He will use it. Of humbler working power? He seeks it, and if you withhold it you are robbing God. "Bring ye all the tithes" — not one, but all.
IV. THE ABUNDANT BLESSING WHICH GOD PROMISES TO THOSE WHO OBEY HIM — "A blessing that there shall not be room enough to receive it." The figure is that of a great flood. Just as the banks of a river are unable to hold the waters in flood-time, so will God bless the person who obeys Him. He will fill to overflowing such an one with Divine gifts. The seraphic Fletcher had to cry out, "Lord, stay Thy hand." This blessing means —
1. Prosperity. "And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the Lord. of hosts" (Malachi 3:11).
2. Honour. "And all nations shall call you blessed (Malachi 3:12).
3. Happiness. "And ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the Lord of hosts" (Malachi 3:12). How attractive would such a people be. To such would men cry, "We will go with you, for God is with you.'" Too long has God's Israel been satisfied with leanness, barrenness, dearth, and death. Worldliness, rationalism, and formalism are eating out her life. As it is with the Church, so it is with every individual. The Church's life is the exact counterpart of the individuals who compose it. Recently I heard it stated that means were being invented to stop the rain from falling in certain districts. Whether such a thing is possible I cannot say. But this I know, that unless you bring all the tithes into the storehouse you will shut up God's heaven of blessing, and there will be famine in your soul. God wants to bless.
Original Secession Magazine.In this part of the Divine Word we have first a duty prescribed, and secondly a promise containing high encouragement to its performance. The prescription of duty is expressed in these words, "Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in Mine house, and prove Me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts," and the promise follows, "if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and, pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it." God's ancient people had, in the days of Malachi, greatly failed in doing this duty, and here God charges them with robbery of no ordinary kind. Tithes were only a part of the contributions of their worldly substance which the Israelites were required to devote to the service of God; and as a leading part, they seem to be employed in the text as a part for the whole. There was very much required of them besides the tithes. They were to bring the first fruits, the male firstlings of all clean beasts, and the redemption price of such as were unclean. It does not appear, however, that coercive measures were employed to enforce the furnishing of the various kinds of offerings, except by exclusion from participating in spiritual privileges, which in many cases followed as a necessary consequence of failure in this duty. The kings and rulers in Israel are not reproved for not employing power and authority to enforce the payment of tithes or other offerings. This seems to have been left between God and the consciences of individuals.
I. Let us advert to the LAW OF PROPORTION IN THIS MATTER. Here it may be remarked —
1. That our offerings should bear a proportion to our resources. This was the law under the Old Testament, and it is so under the New. Hence the apostolic injunction, "Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him" (1 Corinthians 16:2). This truth is also taught in these words — "If there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not" (2 Corinthians 8:12).
2. Remark that our offerings are to bear a proportion to the exigencies of the public cause of God. These axe different at different times. When the tabernacle was constructed in the wilderness, which by God's special appointment was to be formed in many of its parts of costly materials, a very large demand was made on the resources of the Israelites, which was met by an unwonted measure of liberality, even till there was more than sufficient for the work.
3. There is also to be a proportion between what is contributed to the treasury of the Lord and expended on other objects. It is in this respect that there is a very general failure in this duty. God had to complain of His ancient people, by the prophet Haggai, that they dwelt in their ceiled houses while His house lay waste. And perhaps there is nothing in which true Christians fail more than in the disproportion between what they give freely for other objects — not always necessary objects — and what they devote to God as His portion, and for the promotion of His cause.
4. There is to be a proportion of its kind between the offering and the glory and claims of that God to whom it is presented.
II. OF THE SPIRIT IN WHICH OFFERINGS SHOULD BE PRESENTED TO THE LORD.
1. This will manifest itself in giving God the first share of our worldly increase. This is no doubt one thing taught in the prescription of the first fruits. This is expressly taught in these words, "Honour the Lord with thy substance, and with the first fruits of all thine increase" (Proverbs 3:9).
2. It is to be rendered willingly (2 Corinthians 9:7).
3. We are to esteem it an honour and a privilege to be called and enabled to make offerings of our temporal substance to the Lord, David felt deeply how great an honour and privilege it was to have the heart and the ability to perform this duty, when he and his people contributed liberally to the building of the Temple (1 Chronicles 29:13, 14).
4. This should be rendered as an expression, though small, very small, of our gratitude to God (2 Corinthians 8:9). What blessedness would they have in the performance of this duty; first, in the purposes of their heart regarding it, and then in fulfilling them, having fellowship with God in all. Though the immediate and special subject of the text plainly is literal tithes and other external offerings, these offerings, however costly, behoved to be accompanied with such offerings are are spiritual, in order to acceptance with God. With out the spiritual the literal could not be offered in a right spirit. This kind of tithes must also be brought into the storehouse. Here there are the offerings of prayer and of praise, of Bible reading and spiritual meditation; the offerings of worship to God in the closet, in the family, and in the public assembly, as well as those of Sabbath sanctification, self-examination, and fasting; the observance of the Lord's Supper, and personal and social vowing. From this subject learn —
1. One thing which has a special influence in drawing down an abundant temporal blessing on individuals and a people is a due rendering of literal offerings to the promotion of the cause of God.
2. One thing which has special influence in drawing down the curse of God on the worldly interests of individuals or a people is the withholding of a due measure of literal offerings from God.
(Original Secession Magazine.)I. The first proposition that lies at the basis of this challenge is: THERE IS A CLOSE CONNECTION BETWEEN RELIGION AND PROSPERITY. I do not mean spiritual prosperity, but prosperity in the material things of life. There is a close and intimate relationship between the righteousness which is enjoined upon us of the Lord and the prosperity which is promised to follow. The Old Testament makes no secret about it; it does not mince matters. Irrespective of all appeals to motives of selfishness, and the fact that it lays itself open to reproach from critical and cynical people, it boldly and plainly declares that if the children of Israel will be obedient to the covenant and keep the commands God has enjoined upon them, they shall he rewarded in return with plenty, with prosperity, with an abundance of happiness and peace. All the history of all the nations of the earth confirms that declaration, at any rate from national standpoints. The nations that rise to pre-eminence rise in virtue of their righteousness. No nation has ever fallen through external forces. It has fist of all been honeycombed and undermined with inward deterioration, and then when the first breath came from without, it was sufficient to bring about its overthrow and ruin. And England will never fall if England is true to the tradition of godliness and of honour. When it comes to personal matters, the same principle must apply. But immediately difficulties appear. We recall at once the Book of Job. We remember the 37th Psalm. These have their explanation in the Providence of God. But notwithstanding these, the general rule holds good that religion tends to prosperity. I remember when the only son of a distinguished mayor of one of the largest cities in the North of England got converted. His father was not troubled with too much seriousness in matters of religion. He was one of the keenest of business men, and one of the most level-headed fellows in the country. He shook hands with me as I sat in the private room, and said: "Mr. Chadwick, what has happened to my lad to-night is worth more than you think. I would have given £100,000 for it." I thought he was not serious until I looked up and saw the tears in his eyes. He repeated it. "The commercial value to the lad is worth more than £100,000," he said. I found out he was not far wrong. I have met with more than one father who would have given more than £100,000 if he could have guaranteed his son's conversion, and it would have been cheap at the price. Godliness is profitable to the life that now is, as well as to that which is to come. I am not going to contend that every man who becomes a Christian will become a millionaire; I am not convinced that being a millionaire is a sure indication of prosperity. Barney Barnato was a millionaire, and at last he jumped into the sea to cool his brain! If a man to make millions sacrifices his soul his millions are bought at too big a price. Neither am I going to contend that all Christian men will be equally prosperous. If a man is born with only ninepence to the smiling, that is threepence short. Christ can never make up the threepence short, and he will always be short, converted or not converted. My contention is that God can do more with ninepence than the devil can do with half a crown; and that there is nothing in this world so calculated to make the best of a man as the religion of the Lord Jesus Christ, intelligently grasped and enthusiastically lived. Of course, you will ask me, what about the good men who do not get on? Well, there are lots of them, and they are problems. But I have never known a good man fail to get on because of his religion. A great many people go on the assumption that religion can enable them to dispense with the common principles of success. That can never be. If a man brings cattle to the market when the fair is over he will not succeed, and he must blame himself that he did not get up sooner in the morning. His religion should be manifested by promptitude, and not, by pious expressions. Religion never makes up for laziness. Religion never makes up for bad workmanship and lack of punctuality I would not give much for the religion which does not make a man a better worker and a more punctual workman. It is not brain that is wanted, but things coupled with character. That which commands the highest price in the market to-day is efficiency and trustworthiness. It is the greatest insult to this generation to say it is impossible for a man to maintain his integrity and get on. He may not get on very fast, but he will have a peaceful life and be prosperous if there is a God in heaven and truth in the Book.
II. THERE IS A CLOSE CONECTION BETWEEN WHAT A MAN GIVES AND WHAT HE GETS. Some men will never lose less until they give more. God calls for the whole tithe, not for a tithe. I believe people who give much lose much of the blessing of it, because they give contrary to the principles laid down in the Bible. They often give as the result of impulse or rivalry and competition. God has never let go His right to the things material. Everything a man gets God snips a bit out of it, to remind the man that he did not get it by his own skill and wit. God gave it to him, and man is not the proprietor but the steward. And the principle laid down is this — that a man has got to settle between himself and his God what the proportion ought to be which he should give to God. I think a tithe is a generous maximum for the poor and a mean minimum for the rich. Unless a man cultivates a habit of systematic giving when he has not much to give, he will give little when he is rich.
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