Mark 12:41
As Jesus was sitting opposite the treasury, He watched the crowd placing money into it. And many rich people put in large amounts.
Jesus Lingering in the TempleA. Rowland Mark 12:41
All Her Living. -- Mr. Skelton's Devotion to the PoorMark 12:41-44
Alms-Giving, False and TrueH. R. Haweis, M. A.Mark 12:41-44
Christ Mindful of Our Love ServiceS. Martin.Mark 12:41-44
Consecrated WomanhoodS. F. Leech, . D. D.Mark 12:41-44
Costly GiftsAnon.Mark 12:41-44
Covetousness CorneredMark 12:41-44
Give Till You Feel ItQuarterly JournalMark 12:41-44
Giving Her All to GodLight and LifeMark 12:41-44
Giving in the SanctuaryS. Martin.Mark 12:41-44
Giving Ourselves in the SacrificeDr. Donne.Mark 12:41-44
Helpers of Sacred InstitutionsR. Collyer.Mark 12:41-44
Liberality of the PoorMark 12:41-44
Loving and GivingA. Barnes, D. D.Mark 12:41-44
Motive the Measure of the Acceptability of GiftsFrancis Jacox.Mark 12:41-44
Offerings for God's TreasuryT. T. Lynch.Mark 12:41-44
Over Against the TreasuryEdward Dakin.Mark 12:41-44
Religion the First ThoughtMark 12:41-44
Small GiftsMark 12:41-44
The Due Proportion of Christian BenevolenceT. Roffies, LL. D.Mark 12:41-44
The Duty of Giving in Proportion to Our MeansMark 12:41-44
The Gift of LoveC. P. Craig.Mark 12:41-44
The Gift of PovertyE. Johnson Mark 12:41-44
The Lord's Searching EyeJ. Morison, D. D.Mark 12:41-44
The Poor Widow's Two MitesW. Waiters.Mark 12:41-44
The Power of Humble FidelityH. W. Beecher.Mark 12:41-44
The Power of Mites When CombinedSomerset Express.Mark 12:41-44
The Power of PenceW. Waiters.Mark 12:41-44
The SceneMark 12:41-44
The Treasury TestJohn Ross.Mark 12:41-44
The Two MitesR. Collyer.Mark 12:41-44
The Widow's Acceptable OfferingR. Glover.Mark 12:41-44
The Widow's DonationJ. A. James.Mark 12:41-44
The Widow's FarthingT. T. Lynch.Mark 12:41-44
The Widow's GiftS. Martin.Mark 12:41-44
The Widow's GiftR. Green Mark 12:41-44
The Widow's Gift of Her SonsHandbook to Scripture Doctrines.Mark 12:41-44
The Widow's MiteJ.J. Given Mark 12:41-44
The Widow's MitesJames Molt, M. A.Mark 12:41-44
The Widow's MitesSeeds and Saplings.Mark 12:41-44
The Widow's OfferingEvangelical PreacherMark 12:41-44
The Widow's Two MitesA.F. Muir Mark 12:41-44
The Woman Who Gave Her AllT. Sherlock, B. A.Mark 12:41-44
Two MitesMark 12:41-44

The treasury, "in front of the sanctuary," consisted of thirteen brazen chests, called "trumpets" from their peculiar, shape, "swelling out beneath, and tapering upward into a narrow mouth or opening, into which the contributions were put." The contributions given were towards the sacrifice fund, and they were voluntary. This incident has a deep, permanent interest for all Christians.

I. CHRIST'S OBSERVATION OF RELIGIOUS GIVING. He "sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury." This has been felt to be typical of his eternal attitude: he still sits "over against the treasury" of his Church.

1. It was deliberate. He did it as one who had purposed to do it; and he was not in any hurry. The position was chosen, and was well suited to carry out his intention.

2. It was careful and discriminating. The different classes of people were noted - rich and poor, ostentatious and retiring, mean and generous. He beheld how the people cast in.

3. It was comprehensive. No individual seems to have escaped his attention. Even the poor widow is observed.

4. It was his last act ere quitting the temple for ever.


1. How penetrating! The outward actions and bearing of the donors would doubtless reveal to his eye, who "knew what was in man," their real characters. Now he looks directly upon our secret thoughts and feelings, and is acquainted with all the conditions of mind and heart through which we pass. Be knows the history of the gift, as well as its actual bestowal.

2. How complete! The domestic circumstances of the widow were well known to him. No tax-surveyor could have reckoned the income of the people more accurately.

3. How minute! The exact nature and number of the widow's coins are noted.

III. His judgment AS TO ITS WORTH. His attitude now, as on the day when "he looked round about upon all things," was authoritative and judicial He sat as one who had a right to be there. It is from a supreme elevation of moral sentiment that he looks, for already clearly visible to his spirit is his own great gift - of himself.

1. Given from a spiritual point of view. Not the objective amount, but the motives and feelings of the givers. The spirit of sacrifice, the religious enthusiasm of each, is measured and declared.

2. The standard indicated is not how much is given, but from how much it is given. They all cast in "of their abundance." What they gave was, therefore, a mere superfluity. Their comforts were not decreased, their luxuries still abounded. The need - the absolute poverty - of the widow rendered her gift a sacrifice, and a heroic act of faith. It was prophetic of the Divine charities that were to be awakened in the breasts of regenerate men, when his own great sacrifice should have borne its fruit. The Macedonian Churches (and many a one since) gave not only to their power, but beyond it, their deep poverty abounding to the fiches of their liberality (2 Corinthians 8:1, 2). "Now, many would have been ready to censure this poor widow, and to think she did ill. Why should she give to others when she had little enough for herself?... It is so rare a thing to find any that would not blame this widow, that we cannot expect to find any that will imitate her! And yet our Savior commends her, and therefore we are sure that she did very well and wisely" (Matthew Henry). - M.

And Jesus sat over against the treasury.
The lesson taught by this narrative is — man's treatment of God's treasury the true touchstone of piety.

I. GOD HAS A TREASURY IN HIS CHURCH. God has conferred on man various kinds of material possessions and property for use and enjoyment. Among these, money has become the portable representative and circulating medium of all. Far above these possessions is the privilege of sacred worship. This would be an urgent necessity and a lofty privilege even if man were holy. How much more now that he is a sinner! As all material arrangements are costful, so also is worship. If man could not meet this cost, God would. As man can, Why should he not? Is he not honoured in being allowed to do it? Does not this test his character?

II. MEN CONTRIBUTE TO GOD'S TREASURY IN VARIOUS MEASURES AND FROM VARIOUS MOTIVES. The Divine rule has ever been according to one's power. This principle is definitely stated in an instance for universal guidance (Leviticus 5:7, 11): "As God hath prospered." "According to that a man hath." In the temple scene before us, we behold the devotion of every coin, from the golden mineh, of three guineas value, to the mite of brass, three quarters of a farthing. Motives also differ, often as much as coins. Some give from necessity. Some give from a sense of honesty; if they did not give, debt and dishonour must ensue. Some give with pride and self-righteousness even before God. Some give from habit acquired from youth. Some give with holy love and joy, as a blessed privilege and rich delight: thus did the widow; so also have many done till now.

III. THE SAVIOUR OBSERVES HOW MEN TREAT HIS TREASURY AND BY THIS HE TESTS THEIR LOVE TO HIMSELF. As worship is man's highest act, its gifts should be rich and substantial. Jesus beheld men at the treasury. He still directs His eye thither; not that He needs man's gifts; but deeds and gifts test man's love; also they elevate and refresh man's heart. Men test others' love by deeds and gifts. Jesus challenges us to test the love of God thus.

IV. JESUS ESTIMATES GIFTS CHIEFLY BY WHAT IS RETAINED. This principle alone accounts for the higher worth of the widow's gift.

1. This estimate of gifts according to what is retained agrees with reason. Man's gauge of the moral value of a deed is the power of the doer. The child is not expected to put forth the strength of a man. Less force is looked for from the feeble than the strong man. A small gift from a narrow income is esteemed as much as a large gift from a vast income.

2. This treasury test accords with general life. This principle is acknowledged in all departments of life. Men readily meet the cost of their chosen pursuits and pleasures, in the measure of their means. True patriots willingly pay national charges, according to their ability, Faithful husbands provide for their wives, in the measure of their power. Loving parents nourish their children, as their resources allow. Should not Christians thus provide for the service and glory of Christ? Notice God's rebuke of Israel's neglect of this principle (Isaiah 43:22-24; Jeremiah 7:18).

3. This treasury test accords with universal Scripture demands. God tested man's confidence and honesty by the forbidden fruit. We know the sad issues. Jesus tests our obedience, love, and devotion by a treasury. Besides the large dedication of their property to the national religious service, Israel were commanded to open a treasury to the Lord, to build a tabernacle (Exodus 35; Exodus 36); David to build a temple (1 Chronicles 29); Joash to meet the expenses of worship (2 Kings 12:1, 9). This woman would give her all to His worship. Who doubts her love? But did she act prudently? She acted according to the rule. She acted for the hour and the occasion. She would not make herself an exception to the rule. She gave her all to God. She left the future to Him. Does any one think she starved by this? Behold what a grandeur the smallest service acquires, when it is done for God! Observe what magnificent interest and enduring renown accrue from the devotion of a creature's all to God. Jesus did not disparage the other gifts; He simply indicated their true relative value, and attached to the widow's His highest commendation.Application: —

1. God has a treasury for human hearts, His own heart. He would have your heart centre in love, safety, and joy in His own heart. He wants you there, as a creature who can love, serve, and delight in Him. He claims and demands you for His. Christ has died to redeem and win you back to Him, Will you give yourself to Him now just as you are, that He may make you all that He can delight in, that you may find Him all that your soul can desire?

2. Christ gathers the funds of His kingdom in His Church.

3. All worshippers are required to give as a duty.

4. To give cheerfully is to elevate a duty into a privilege.

5. Jesus thus tests His friends and foes, the obedient and the disobedient.

6. Jesus waits at the treasury for your gift, to receive it at your hands, to bless it, and to teach you how to use it. If Christ is Lord of your mind, and heart, and life, let Him be also of your silver and gold.

(John Ross.)

Surely this must tell us what it did to those that stood by the Messiah. The principle now is exactly the same as it was then, as certainly as any principle governing matter in natural laws. The young man may say, "I am willing to do my share for sacred causes and institutions;" but if he means by that, he will aid them after he gets all his parties, and operas, and sleigh rides, and everything besides that his heart can wish — the gift for which he will not deny himself the least of these things, must be before heaven less than the least. And the man of business may say, "I will help; the Lord has been good to me, I will be grateful;" if gratitude takes the form of that he can well spare, and yet spare nothing out of his life. But after he has purchased with the talents God gave him as a steward everything for himself that he can possibly need, then he really spares nothing, makes no sacrifices, gives only out of his abundance, and is still open to that touch of fear, that he may not even be dealing fairly with the Principal who has committed the talents to his trust; the fear which good old brother Cecil used to say, always gathers about stewards and agents that grow uncommonly rich. So may we all give, no matter what we are, a poor selvage out of the web in our ample and voluminous robes; give the crusts after we have eaten the dinner; spare in the Lent what we could not spend in the Carnival — and it will be the same to every one of us. The wise all-seeing eyes will see us, and what we are doing, and the angel will write in his book of life, "He gave to God and good uses what he did not need himself for any uses." Or we may give out of the real substance; but if we do not give with a real sacrifice, I have no authority from the Lord to say that the poorest Irish washerwoman in this town who gives to the Lord, according to her light, her two mites, which make one farthing, gives it out of her life to say a mass, even for the soul of her wretched sot of a husband who was found dead in the Bridewell — does not take infinite precedence of the best and most generous who have all they want, and then do ever so nobly out of the rest.

(R. Collyer.)


1. It presents Him as the omniscient Teacher of hearts.

2. By what a different standard Christ judges men's actions from that they themselves judge by.

3. His eyes are upon the treasury and those who contribute to it.


1. It shows that offerings to the Lord's treasury must bear some decent proportion to what He has bestowed upon us.

2. Our offerings to be acceptable must be felt to involve some sacrifice.

3. Liberality is a means of grace.


1. THERE ARE HERE LESSONS FOR THE WHOLE CHURCH. What value God sets on tittles.

2. Christ will strictly reckon with the Church for all the wealth bestowed upon her.

(James Molt, M. A.)

AEschines, when he saw his fellow scholars give great gifts to his master, Socrates, he being poor and having nothing else to bestow, did give himself to Socrates, as confessing to be his in heart and goodwill, and wholly at his devotion. And the philosopher took this most kindly, esteeming it above all other presents, and returned him love accordingly. The widow's two mites were welcome into His treasury, because her heart was full, though her purse was empty.

(Dr. Donne.)

There is now — A.D. 1887 — in the French savings banks the sum of £100,000,000 sterling. These savings banks are patronized only by workmen, servants, and small shopkeepers. What missions might be founded and Christian work accomplished, if professors would but cast their mites into the treasury.

(Somerset Express.)

One form of gift which is found with increasing frequency is the in memoriam gift. This touching form of offering in remembrance of some loved one is a beautiful new departure from the old mode, which too often expressed its loss only by the stately monument in the quiet churchyard. The Christian inventiveness revealed in many of the contributions is significant. A young lady gathers snowdrops in the fields around Carnarvon, and realizes £2, which she sends to Dr. Barnardo. A friend of missions puts on one side all the threepenny pieces he receives. Talents, such as painting and drawing, are made to contribute towards sending the Gospel across the seas. In many quaint ways Christian inventiveness helps on the work of God in the world. Another class of contributions are the thank offerings. One sends a shilling — "a thank offering for God's kindness to me on the evening of March 1, when I was out in that severe snowstorm." An old lady of eighty sends a thank offering because she has had no doctors' bills for two years! The thank offerings of parents for the recovery of children from sickness are also frequent. Then there is the sacrifice pure and simple. The ring, the pencil case, the brooch, the treasured coins, given by devoted hearts who feel that if missionaries are willing to give up the comforts of home and kindred, and to sacrifice their lives even for the love they have for the Master, Christians in England should be joyfully ready to support them at all cost. A form of contributions peculiar to these days springs from the growing practice of abstainers to devote the money saved by giving up stimulants to missionary and charitable societies, who thus save their money from doing harm, and spend it in doing good. The last, but not the least, kind of offering is that which comes from the stricken themselves. The life-long invalid, the afflicted, the maimed, with a sympathy born of pain, and a Christ-like desire to relieve and help other lives, are among the most frequent contributors to our societies. The concealment by many of the donors of their identity is another feature of present day charity. In this present time this anonymity brings its reward, for it saves them from the reiterated requests of the importunate letter writers. "If thou hast abundance give alms accordingly; if thou hast but a little, be not afraid to give according to that little.

(Edward Dakin.)

Jesus commends the worshipper who put in the smallest gift. This was strange. Why did He do it? Two reasons.

1. Because she gave her heart with it: and God wants hearts, not coins, and coins only when they carry with them hearts.

2. Because hers was really a great gift in proportion to her means. Sixpence from one may be really more than a sovereign from another. The sixpence may come from one who has but few shillings a week; the sovereign from one who has thousands a year. This woman gave all. Hers was a great sacrifice.

Dean Ramsay relates of a certain penurious laird in Fife, whose weekly contributions to the church collection, notwithstanding his largely increasing wealth, never exceeded the sum of one penny, that he, one day, by mistake, dropped into the plate at the door a five-shilling piece, but, discovering his error before he was seated in his pew, hurried back, and was about to replace the silver coin by his customary penny, when the elder in attendance cried cut, "Stop, laird, ye may put what ye like in, but ye maun tak' naething out." The laird, finding his explanations went for nothing, at last said, "Aweel, I suppose I'll get credit for it in heaven." "Na, na, laird," said the elder, "ye'll only get credit for the penny." It is not the amount of our gift, but the proportion of it, and the spirit of it which are noticed, and commended by Christ.

The eldest son of a widowed mother went out to missionary work in Western Africa. In a short time he filled a missionary's grave. There was another son left at home, and he came to his mother and said, "Mother, let me go, and I will take my stand by my brother's grave. I will preach to my brother's people. I will tell them of my brother's God." He went, and it was not long before there were two graves in that heathen land, and the brothers were sleeping side by side; at least their ashes were; their spirits, no doubt, were safe in the heavenly land. The news came to the mother, and the story said she wept sore. Her mourning friends tried to comfort her, "Oh," she said "you do not understand my grief. I am not mourning because two of my lads have filled a missionary's grave in Africa. I grieve because I have not a third son to die in the same cause."

(Handbook to Scripture Doctrines.)

Xenophon tells us of Socrates, that when he sacrificed he feared not his offering would fail of acceptance in that he was poor; but, giving according to his ability, he doubted not but, in the sight of the gods, he equalled those men whose gifts and sacrifices overspread the whole altar; for Socrates ever deemed it a most indubitable troth, that the service paid to the Deity by the pure and pious soul was the most grateful service. As with what Plutarch relates of Artaxerxes, out on a royal progress, during which people presented him with a variety of gifts; but "a labouring man, having nothing else to give him, ran to the river, and brought him some water in his hands. Artaxerxes was so much pleased that he sent the man a gold cup and a thousand darios."

(Francis Jacox.)

Quarterly Journal.
A religion which costs nothing is good for nothing. Like a certain kind of faith which we read of, "it is dead, being alone." How much meaning was conveyed in the reply which one man made to another who offered to contribute a small amount to some benevolent object, and said, "I can give this and not feel it!" "Would it not be better for you, my friend, to increase it to such an amount that you will feel it?" So in every case. A person should feel what he does, and should do what he will be likely to feel, or morally there will be but very little good resulting from it.

(Quarterly Journal.)

Light and Life.
In the beautiful Island of Ceylon, a few years ago, the native Christians decided that they must have a church built for themselves. To the amazement of all, Maria Peabody, a lone orphan girl who had been in the schools at Oodooville, came forward and offered to give the land upon which to build — the best site in her native village. Not only was it all she owned in this world, but it was her marriage portion, and in making the gift she renounced all hopes of being married. As this, in the East, is regarded as an awful step, many thought her beside herself, and tried to dissuade her from her purpose. "No," said Maria, "I have given it to Jesus, and as He has accepted, you must." Maria Peabody's schooling had been paid for years by a coloured servant in Salem, Massachusetts, whose wages were rather more than a dollar (4s.) a week.

(Light and Life.)

Religion is the road to honour. Little did this woman imagine she was doing an act that would be handed down, for the admiration of mankind, to the end of time. This is the only instance recorded in history, of an individual going the whole of his or her possessions. Observe from this incident: —

1. That God employs man's instrumentality, for carrying on His work. Not of necessity, but to exhibit His grace and power.

2. That we should combine in our religion, piety, zeal, and humanity. We must corns to Christ ourselves, before trying to benefit others. We must make it a matter of conscience to influence others for good. While caring for men's souls, we must also have regard to the comfort of their bodies.

3. That the Saviour is ever watching His treasury, and those who come up to it, or pass it by. He notes all our opportunities for doing good, and whether we embrace or reject them. How this should impel us to look to our motives, spirit actions; and stimulate us to do our utmost.

4. That there is great propriety in contributing to collective funds for public objects. The relief of men's bodily miseries cannot be met without hospitals, dispensaries, etc.; so it is our duty to support them. Especially should we take care that everything connected with public worship is well sustained. It was a gift for the service of the temple that won this high commendation from the Saviour.

(J. A. James.)

In that court of the temple called the court of the women, there stood thirteen vessels, shaped liked trumpets, to receive offerings. Shaped like trumpets! surely a sarcasm is lurking here. As the rich man drops in much, the clash of it sets the trumpet blowing, and all the temple knows what a liberal man is passing by. But two mites would cause the trumpet to sound very faintly, if at all. Yet Love can see love, and will honour it. Christ views it not relatively to what it will buy, but to the love that gave it. But there is an ascetic or envious disparagement of riches in Christ's praise of this tiny offering. Great gifts are just as capable of illustrating pure motives as small ones.

1. If, then, Christ thought much less of the rich men's gifts than they did themselves, it was because they gave

(1)for ostentation, loving (so to say) the trumpet much more than the temple,

(2)without a grateful sense of personal obligation, and

(3)with little spiritual appreciation of the true glory of Jehovah's service, or

(4)because usage so required, and policy urged their observance of the usage, though their heart inwardly grudged the offering.

2. And if Christ thought much more of the widow's gift than any of these men would have done, or even His own disciples, it was because of

(1)the grateful love she manifested,

(2)the deep sense of religious blessings she evinced,

(3)the self-respect that valued a share in spiritual obligations, and would not allow penury to be an excuse for withholding an offering,

(4)that confiding trust shown towards God, which would not divide the last farthing with Him, giving Him one mite and keeping the other, but which gave him both.

(T. T. Lynch.)

Observe these four points.

I. THE CONTRAST. It is not the poor, or widows, that Christ contrasts with rich men, but a widow. She was, perhaps, in almost as great contrast to many of her own class as to these; for many of the poor forget God, and offer Him nothing, because they have but little; and many widows make widowhood worse by murmuring. But circumstances may be imagined in which it would not have been right for the widow to give away her last farthing. But why suppose she was in such circumstances? A heart that so loved God, as hers did, would understand Him too well to divert the last farthing from the service of her sick child, if she had one. Then, perhaps, God would have received only a mite. She threw herself utterly on God's Providence, and would not withhold from Him even the half of her last farthing.

II. THE LESSON. Christ might have said, "See how these rich men can offer openly in the temple; how much better would it be to give private aid to this poor widow. That would be real love; this is but paraded zeal." He might have said this, but He did not. Instead of directing attention to what the poor want done for them, He pointed to what they (in spite of their poverty) do; instead of teaching His disciples liberality towards them, He here bids all men learn from their liberality.

III. THE MASTER'S ATTITUDE. Christ sat over against the treasury, as if placing Himself there on purpose to observe. Our gifts are offered under the Divine eye. We know the difference between a bad half-crown and a good one; but we think a half-crown from a bad man and from a good one of the same value. Christ, doubtless, thinks otherwise. He tries the heart as well as the money; notices what our spiritual temper is, and what proportion our gifts bear to our possessions.

IV. THE MOTIVE. Though money came plentifully to the treasury, and the splendid temple was sustained by splendid offerings, yet this vigour of the "voluntary principle" did not prevent Christ from being crucified, nor avail to keep the temple standing. It was not the purified will of believing hearts that brought the plentiful money. There may be strong motives for supporting "religion," when there is in the heart bitter enmity against the very religion sustained.

(T. T. Lynch.)

I.God still has a treasury.

II.The poorest may make some offering.

III.Christ stiff watches over against the treasury.

IV.God's estimate of gifts differs from ours.

V.God looks at motives as well as gifts.

VI.An individual unconscious of God's high estimate.

(T. Sherlock, B. A.)

I. Great hearts are often found where great sorrows have been before them.

II. Little services and little gifts are needed by man and noted by God. If we can only give even two mites, God will not despise the offering.

III. Had this woman listened to excuses, she would have lost her great honour and reward.

IV. More justice should be done to the giving of the poor, for their generosity still surpasses that of any other class. God notes their gifts of money, whose necessary smallness permits them to be overlooked by men. O what a gospel for the poor is here!

(R. Glover.)

Evangelical Preacher.
I. THE OCCASION DESCRIBED. Gill says there were thirteen chests placed, six of which were to receive the free-will offerings of the people. Macknight says they stood in the second court, and each had an inscription, signifying for what use the offerings were destined. The chief objects were to repair and beautify the temple. The whole, however, was voluntary.

II. THE LESSON TAUGHT. That the value of the offering depends chiefly on the state of the heart.

1. Some that were rich gave liberally.

(1)No doubt, some gave ostentatiously.

(2)Perhaps some gave in a self-righteous spirit.

(3)Probably some gave only because it was customary.

(4)Possibly some gave dishonestly, who should have paid their debts; and thus gave "robbery for burnt offering," which God declares that He abhors.

(5)Others, no doubt, gave grudgingly.

2. Of the poor widow it is said that she gave but two mites, which make a farthing. What were the motives which rendered her offering so precious in the Saviour's sight?

(1)Her love to God.

(2)Her trust in His providing care.


(Evangelical Preacher.)

A woman who was known to be very poor, came to a missionary meeting in Wakefield, and offered to subscribe a penny a week to the mission fund. "Surely," said one, "you are too poor to afford this?" She replied, "I spin so many hanks of yarn a week for my living, and I'll spin one hank more, and that will be a penny a week for the society."

From this passage we may learn:

I. That God is pleased with offerings made to Him and His cause.

II. That it is our duty to devote our property to God. We received it from Him; we are stewards, etc.

III. That the highest evidence of love to the cause of religion is not the amount given, but the amount compared with our means.

IV. That it may be proper to give all our property to God, and to depend on His providence for the supply of our wants.

V. That God does not despise the humblest offering, if made in sincerity. He loves a cheerful giver.

VI. That there are none who may not in this way show their love to the cause of religion. The time to begin to be benevolent is in early life.

VII. That it is every man's duty to make inquiry, not how much he gives, but how much compared with what he has; how much self-denial he practises, and what is the motive with which it is done.

VIII. Few practise self-denial for the purpose of charity. Most give of their abundance — what they can spare without feeling it, and many feel that this is the same as throwing it away. Among all the thousands who give, how few deny themselves of one comfort, even the least, that they may advance the kingdom of Christ.

(A. Barnes, D. D.)

I. CHRIST'S NOTICE OF APPARENTLY TRIVIAL THINGS. This is not incompatible with true greatness. Things are not always as trivial as they appear. The fact affords encouragement to those whose means are small and whose opportunities are few.


1. It is unobtrusive. The widow did not want to be observed. "Take heed that ye do not your alms before men," etc. The gifts most acceptable to God do not always appear in the subscription list.

2. It is spontaneous. "The Lord loveth a cheerful giver." Love must rule us in giving, as in other matters. The word charity stands for love.

3. It is self-denying. God is best pleased when our gifts cost us something. He judges less by what is given than by what is left behind.

4. It involves trust in God. She cast in all that she had. Faith asks no questions. It concerns itself with present duty, and leaves the future with God. Have you of your abundance or of your penury cast into the treasury? If Christ gave Himself for you, is it unreasonable that He should ask you for your money?

(Seeds and Saplings.)


1. There should always be a due proportion observed between an individual's contributions and his means. Appearances are often considered. Precedent and example have a painful influence. Strongly excited feeling is not unfrequently a cause of error and of sin in our benevolent contributions, nor must it be concealed that men are often lured, in the present day, by the fame and splendour of an institution, rather than by its intrinsic merits, to contribute to its funds. There should be a due proportion observed between an individual's contributions and his means; a man's means are to be determined by what he has — what he owes — what he can obtain by exertion — and what he can save by economy.

2. There should be a proportion observed between an individual's contributions and his station.

3. There should also be a proportion between our benevolent contributions and our opportunities of doing good.

II. TO THE OBJECTS OF BENEVOLENT CONTRIBUTION. The souls of men are to be preferred before their bodies; we must do good to them who are of the household of faith. Remarks:

1. See that what you give in the cause of Christian benevolence is from love to Christ, and to the souls of men.

2. Give as much as possible in secret, and this will at once relieve you from the suspicion that you give to be seen of men.

3. Never pride yourself on what you give.

4. Consider what Christ gave for you, and be ashamed that you should give Him so little in return.

(T. Roffies, LL. D.)

I. THE GIVER: a widow, and a poor widow. The widow alone understands widowhood; it must be felt to be known. God knows its grief. Sorrow often makes people selfish, but this benevolent donor was a widow, and she was poor. Perhaps a young widow whose husband had been cut off before he could provide for his own house. Poverty, like rain, comes from several quarters, and is not easy to be borne, whether the wind that brings it blow from east or west, from south or north. With poverty we generally associate getting, not giving. This poor widow was pious and generous; the tree is known by its fruit.

II. THE GIFT. Money was her gift; hard to get, hard to hold, hard to part with; the severest test of religious integrity. The commercial value is small, but the value to her is great. Wealth called it small, commerce called it small, religious custom reckoned it small; but in relation to the means and heart of the donor, and in the judgment of God, the gift was exceeding great.

III. THE PLACE, OR SCENE OF THE GIFT. It was bestowed in the temple of God, deposited in one of the thirteen boxes in the women's court. It is meet and right that we give where we receive.

IV. And what, fourthly, was THE OBJECT OF THIS GIFT? These two mites were given as a free-will offering to the support of the temple, its institutions and its services, and the offering them with this intent constituted this "certain poor widow" a contributor to all that he temple yielded — to all it offered to heaven, and to all it gave to the children of men. The incense and the light and the fire and the shewbread and the daily sacrifices were, in part, this woman's oblation. She helped to clothe the priests in their holy garments, to supply the altars with oblations, and to preserve the order, decency, and beauty of the house of God. Say not, she gave only two mites. This voluntary offering, although commercially so small, as really contributed to support the temple, as the immense revenue derived from tithes and other appointed contributions. Jehovah received these two mites, and the world was by this offering made a debtor.

V. THE SPIRIT OF THE OFFERING. Was it gratitude for benefits received? She may have valued more highly the benefit of God's sanctuary, since she became a mourning widow, than while she was a rejoicing wife. She had there heard words of consolation which had healed her wounded heart (Psalm 68:5; Psalm 146:9). What impulse opened her hand? Was it the force of hallowed and pleasant association? Her fathers worshipped there. She could say, "Lord, I have loved the habitation of Thy house" (Psalm 26:8). The spirit of the offering was the spirit of true piety and of real godliness.

VI. THE DIVINE RECOGNITION OF THE GIFT. Jesus Christ saw the gift, estimated, approved, and commended the giver. He did not speak to her, but of her, in an undertone to the disciples. "No person takes any account of what I do," some disciples are heard to complain. Thy fellow servants may fail to recognize, but the Master never fails. Jesus is in a position to see, and He is disposed to observe. Everything that is human is interesting to Him, and all that is right is attractive. Some people only see faults. Jesus approves all that He can approve. He gives the testimony of a good conscience.


1. That the greatness of a gift depends upon the possessions of the individual after the gift has been made.

2. That grief need not hinder giving. The child of sorrow doubly needs the returns which acts of piety and charity invariably bring.

3. And shall we not be taught by this incident to learn well-doing from each other? The Head Teacher bids His disciples learn from this certain poor woman. He makes her a kind of object lesson.

4. Let us learn to act as under our Great Master's eye. He sees us. He speaks of you, it may be to His angels and glorified saints. And what can He say of you?

(S. Martin.)

It is meet and right that we give where we receive. The tree yields its fruit on the very spot where it has been nourished by the earth; there, where it has received the light and air and heat of heaven, does it hold up as into the face of heaven its increase. The child gives joy to the parent in the home whose very walls remind the mother of her anguish. The place of an unsealed spring is the seat of a flowing fountain. And it seems but meet that, in the place where we receive, we give. And what a place of blessing is a true house of the Lord; it is Bethel and holy ground, it is beautiful Zion and Bethesda, a house of light, and life, and love, of healing, and salvation, and redemption.

(S. Martin.)

He who knows how much I am loved, knows how I love; He who knows all that I receive, and how I receive, knows what I give, and in what spirit. It is possible that my very gifts to His Church may grieve Him. Not that He is hard to please; He waits, looks, longs to delight in the doings of His disciples. Their good works may be concealed like violets in the tall grass of the forests, but He will scent their fragrance; they may be feeble as the newborn infant, but He will rejoice over them as over the bright beginning of blessed life; they may be imperfect as some flower or fruit in a formative state, but He will see the end from the beginning; they may wear an appearance of evil, but He will look deeper than the surface; they may be condemned by His disciples, but they shall be approved by Himself, and He will show to the universe that He is not unrighteous, to forget any work of faith or service of love.

(S. Martin.)


1. We have all tried to notice this among children. One little child runs all the errands, makes all the sacrifices, but beyond that is a little nobody; plain, small; not brilliant. This is the two-mite child of the family; the small piece of home heroism, of a worth surpassing all the gifts and graces of the household besides; the little one Christ would see if He came and sat down in the house.

2. We notice this again in the Church. Some naturally attract applause by their gifts; others no more attention than this widow with her two mites. They say their poor word. It is their sorrow that they cannot do more; but the joy of heaven that they do so much.

3. This is true of the whole life we are living. There are many never seen or known who cast in more than the brilliant characters who cast in of their abundance.

II. It was an illustration of this law of our life, THAT THE MOST GOD-LIKE DEED IS THAT WHICH BELONGS TO THE SACRIFICES WE MAKE, giving for sacred things and causes that which costs us most, and is most indispensable, and yet is given back to God. Nothing was worth a thought in this poor widow's gift, but the sacrifice it cost her to give. The whole worth of it lay in that piece of her very life which went with it, but that made the two mites outweigh the whole sum of silver and gold cast in by the wealthy, which cost nothing, beyond the effort to give what a very natural instinct would prompt them to keep. They gave of their fulness, she of her emptiness; they of the ever-springing fountain, she, the last drop in her cup. It was not the sum, but the sacrifice that made the deed sublime.

III. We learn, in this simple and most obvious way, of that whole world of grace and truth that culminated on Calvary.

(R. Collyer.)

Here comes a merchant; the times are hard, he tells you; nothing doing, taxes heavy, losses large, and things so bad generally, that you have to say, "What a misfortune it must be to be a merchant." But you have to notice that his chariot is of the latest style, and by the best maker; his robes of the finest texture and colour; his diamonds of the purest water; and, altogether, for a man in such hard trial, he looks very well. Yesterday he looked over his accounts; he will not tell you wharf he saw there, but, certainly, he did not seem any worse for the sight. This morning, before he goes to his store, he will go to the temple; he will be thankful, to the extent of offering a lamb; and then there is a little balance, when all is done, that he would like to drop into the treasury. A little balance! but it would buy all that widow has in this world, — the hut she lives in, all the furniture, and all the garments she has to keep her from the cold. Very low the priest, who stands by the chest that day, bows to the generous gift; the holy man would be horrified if you told him he was worshipping a golden idol, but it is true for all that. Then the great merchant passes on, and you see him no more; he has given out of his abundance; 'he will not need to deny himself one good thing for what he has given. If a new picture strikes his fancy, he will ask the price, and then say, "Send that round to my house;" he will have his venison, all the same, whether it is a sixpence a pound or a dollar; and at the end of the year he will have his balance undamaged, in spite of the hard times. He has given out of his abundance; but, considering the abundance, he has not given as the widow did. Then there comes a lady. You can see that she is not looking well, and the world goes hard. This has been a hard year for her. She has had to give parties, and attend parties; to dress, and dance, and smile when she wanted to weep; and lose her rest, and be a slave that the slaves themselves, if they had any sense of what she is, and has to do, might pity. The season is over, and now she must think of her soul — her poor soul. She must repent in dust and ashes; go to the temple; give to the poor, and to the support of the true faith; and altogether lead a new life. It is the most exquisite "make up" of dust and ashes on the avenue that morning. She sweeps on in her humility, gathering her garments of penitence about her, lest even a fringe should touch the beggar at the gate. She stops a moment to give her gift; low bows the priest again as she passes, and she takes her place among the women, and says her prayers, and her soul is shriven. May we venture to watch her back to her home, and see the luxury that waits her? Is there one jewel, or one robe the less for what she has given, or one whim the less gratified, when the time for penitence is over, and the season opens? I see no sign of that. I never hear her say, "This and that I will forego, that I may give." She has given of her abundance; she simply purchased a new luxury, and got it cheap, and she fades out of sight and out of life. You see others come with better gifts, not so much, it may be, in mere money value, but more in those pure eyes that are watching that day, not for the amount of the gifts, but for their meaning. A decent farmer follows the fine lady, forehanded, and fall of industry. His crops have done well; his barns are full; his heart is open. He has come to the city to sell his produce; has sold it well, and is thankful, and he will make his offering of two doves in the temple, and give something for the sacred cause, and to the poor besides, because his heart is warm and grateful, and, as he says, he will never feel what he gives to God and the poor; there will be plenty left at the farm when this is given; and then who knows but that the Lord will give a greater blessing next year, for does not the wise book say, "He that giveth to the poor lendeth to the Lord, and that which he giveth shall be rendered to him again?" So it is at once a free gift, and in some way, a safe investment. He is glad to give the money, and yet to feel that this is not the last of it. Very pleasantly the holy man smiles on him too, as he drops his shekels and passes on; he has been there before; he will come again. He is one of those fast friends who can always be counted on to give while the fruitful fields answer to the diligent hand. He is a sort of country connection to these commissioners of the Most High, and will always be received, as he is today, with grace and favour. And very low indeed the good man bows to that stately centurion who comes now. He is not a member of this church; indeed, he is not a member of any church; for, like all his nation of that rank, he thinks that all churches are very much alike, and none of them of much account, except as managers of the common people. But it is a good thing to keep in with them; there is no knowing what you may want; and so he comes now and then, and looks on at the service, tosses his Roman gold into the chest, nods and smiles to the cringing priest, and feels that he has done well. Then with all these come the good and sincere men and women, with not much to spare, but who make a conscience of giving, and manage to get an education for their children, and everything decent; who never want any simple and wholesome thing they need, and are able to lay up a little beside for a rainy day; as various as they are now, they were then, who would do something for these things which to them were so sacred; and it was when givers like these came, that the widow came with her two mites — the smallest matter, possibly, that anybody ever thought of giving. I think if she was like most women, the utter littleness of what she had to spare, would be a shame to her; she would be tempted, on the mere ground of her womanly pride, to say, "Since I cannot give more, I will not give anything: to put in these two mites when others are pouring in their gold and silver, will only show how poor I am." So it was like giving her life to give so little; and yet these two mites that meant so little to the treasury, meant a great deal to her. They meant darkness, instead of a candle on a winter's evening; a pint of milk, or a fagot of sticks, or a morsel of honey, or a bit of butter, or a bunch of grapes, or a pound of bread. They meant something to be spared out of the substance and essence of her simple and spare living. And this these wise and loving eyes saw at a glance. Jesus knew that the two mites were all she had; and so as they made their timid tinkle in the coffer, they outweighed all the gold. He saw what they came to, because He saw what they cost, and so His heart went with the two mites; and while the holy man, who had made such deep obeisance for the larger gifts, let this trifle pass unnoticed, Christ caught up the deed and the doer, and clad them both in the shining robes of immortal glory.




1. She had given more, because she had given with a larger heart, with more real love.

2. She had given more in proportion to her possessions.

3. She had given more in the force of her example.

4. She had given more in its beneficial influence on the character of the giver.

5. She had given more in the relation of the gift to its future reward.Learn:

1. The right use of money.

2. The value of the offerings of the poor.

3. That the Lord sits over against the treasury.

(W. Waiters.)

Those whose means are small may take encouragement to give what they can. There is a mighty power in the combination of littles. We see this in nature, and in the institutions of society. One star would afford small light to the midnight sky, but countless myriads shining together brighten it with their glory. One drop of rain could have no moistening effect on the earth's dry and thirsty soil, but millions of such drops make the barren land fruitful. There are two bodies of religionists who show us in a striking manner what may be done by the combination of a large number of small contributions, by regular, systematic giving on the part of all their members, even the poorest. I refer to the Roman Catholics and the Wesleyan Methodists. Both sects number the poor largely among their members, and derive no inconsiderable support from their offerings. The sums they annually raise furnish in a most striking manner an illustration of the power of pence.

(W. Waiters.)

There were many gifts, many of them of vanity, many of them of pride, many of them of superstition, many of them of mere custom and necessity; but hers was a voluntary gift of love. And that fact consecrated it. Love imparts a value to a gift which nothing but love can stamp upon it.

I. THIS IS A STRIKING. ILLUSTRATION OF OUR LORD'S SYMPATHY FOR THE HEART OF HUMAN LIFE, INSTEAD OF FOR ITS EXTERIOR. He was sitting in the very culmination of the pride and beauty of the Jewish ceremonial. He was not attracted by sumptuous trains of these gorgeous gift bringers. He saw that which interpreted the innermost and the best nature, the gentle, generous, and piteous. When human strength disdains to notice, there is the very point at which Divine strength notices most. Where men see least to be admired, under uncouth forms of helplessness, there Christ looks with sympathy and compassion. This imparts to the Divine government an aspect of comfort and encouragement. If human life takes care of the successful, the Divine government takes care of the weak and obscure. The .great Eye is not looking out for the great deeds alone, but for those whose deeds are in secret.

II. MANY OF THE SECRET FIDELITIES OF LIFE HAVE POWER TO OUTLAW, IN USEFULNESS, THE PRODUCTS OF AMBITIONS, DESIRES AND DEEDS. All the rich gifts of the temple are now forgotten. We do not know what Rabbi was syllabled with admiration among his fellows on that day. The only person who has come down to us was the least conspicuous. The gentle light of that example shines still. All the ages have not buried her. How little she thought she was enriching the world. Christ is still the same. We think those gifts most influential which have most of record; but it is not so. While many a proud philanthropist will scarcely be seen, many strange philanthropists will emerge from among the poor, and take their places as princes in God's glory. So God works Himself, in secret might. So gives He a pattern for us to work after. It is not the thunder which makes the most racket, that does the most work. The things in this world that are accomplishing great deeds are silent things, and hidden things. And we are told, in a kind of strange paradox, that the things which are not, are ordained to bring to nought the things that are. The most inconspicuous things often belong to God's most potential working. The root neither strives nor cries, and yet, all the engines of all the ships and shops on earth, that puff and creak with ponderous working, are not to be compared for actual power with the roots of one single acre of ground in the meadow. All the vast pumps of Harlem Lake, and all that serve our needs, adjoining, are not to be compared for force with that might which inheres in one single tree. It is a fact revealed only to those who study natural history, that leaves, that vegetation, that dews, and rains, and heat, that the natural attractions which prevail in the world, without any echo or outward report, have an enormous power in them, and that they are the means by which God works. He works in silence, and inconspicuously, and almost hiddenly. And so they work importantly who work by thought, by love, by zeal, by faith unrevealed; who work in places not seen by the public eye, in season and out of season, from the mere desire to do good, and not from the mere love of being found out in doing it. Look upon your scarfs, so brilliant. The colour shines afar off. Comely it is on the shoulder of beauty. How exquisite is the dye that comes from the cochineal insect. And yet how small is that insect — scarcely, I may say, so big as the point of a pin — which feeds so inconspicuously on the under side of the leaf of the cactus, nourishing his growth quite unconscious that as one of all the myriads of all these little shining points he will by and by help to produce these glowing colours which civilization and refinement will make so meet and comely in distant lands! So it is with good deeds. The great things in this world are the sum of infinitesimal little things. And those who are in sympathy with God and nature, are not to reject in men the ripening, the development of themselves or their true spiritual life, because the effect is but little. That effect will be joined to other things which are like itself obscure, and others and others will make their contributions; and little by little the sum of these specks of gold will make masses of gold; little by little these small insects will make great quantities of colouring matter; little by little small things will become large in magnitude. Do not be ashamed, then, to live in humility, if you fill it up with fidelity. Never measure the things that you do, or do not, by the report which they can make.

III. THERE ARE TWO SPHERES IN WHICH MEN MUST WORK. The first is that which judges of causes by their apparent relations to the end sought. That is important; but it is not the only sphere. It is the visible, material sphere — the one which belongs to the region of physical cause and effect. We are obliged to work in that sphere according to its own laws. But in the moral sphere men must judge of acts by their relations to the motives and dispositions which inspire them; and they are great or little, not according to what they do, but according to the sources from which their actions spring. In engineering that only is great which does. It matters not what the intention is; he who in the day of battle is not victorious, is not saved by his intention. No matter hew wisely you mean, if your timber is not squared and fitted right, the result is not right. In the outward sphere effect measures the worth of the plan. In that sphere effect must always be measured by the cause; and the worth of the cause must be proved by the effect. And that is the lower sphere. In the moral sphere it is the other way. There, no matter what the effect is, you do not measure in that direction. Pray. Your prayer accomplishes nothing? The measure is not "What did it do?" Speak. Your words fall apparently uncaught and unprofitable? You do not measure in that direction. You measure the other way. What was it in your heart to do? What was your purpose? In the moral sphere we look at the bow — not at the target. From what motive did the soul project its purpose? What gave that sigh? What issued that speech? What created that silence? What produced that moral condition? In that sphere the heart measures, estimates, registers. This gives rise to thoughts which, perhaps, may have relation to ourselves. There are many who will work if you will show them that their working will insure immediate good results. They will work in the moral sphere if they can work according to the genius of the visible or the physical sphere. They will work if they can do what others do. They do not work because they love to work. They do not work because they feel that it is their duty to work, simply, without regard to consequences. They are willing to work under the stimulus of a vain ambition. They will work if they may be praised. They will work if they are to receive an equivalent for their working in some appreciable form. The equivalent, oftentimes, for exertion, is praise or popularity. Do, then, whatever there is to be done without questioning and without calculation. Make progress in things moral. If need be, utter stammering words. Would you console the troubled if you only had a ready tongue? Take the tongue that you have. Ring the bell that hangs in your steeple, if you can do no better. Do as well as you can. That is all that God requires of you. Would you pray with the needy and tempted if you had eminent gifts of prayer? Use the gifts that you have. Do not measure yourself according to the pattern of somebody else. Do not say to yourself, "If I had his skill," or, "If I had his experience." Take your own skill and your own experience, and make the most of them. Do you stand over against trouble and suffering, and marvel that men whom God hath blessed with such means do so little? Do you say to yourself, "If I had money, I know what I would do with it"? No, you do not. God does; and so He does not trust you with it. "If I had something different from what I have, I would work," says many a man. No; if you would work in other circumstances, you would work just where you are. A man that will not work just where he is, with just what he has, and for the love of God, and for the love of man, will not work anywhere, in such a way as to make his work valuable. It will be adulterated work. What if you have not money? If you have a heart to work, it is better than if you had great riches. And if you find that you are hesitant, reluctant, and are acting accordingly, be sure that you do not belong to the widow's school. Did she say to herself, as she handled her fractions of a penny, "What is the use of my throwing these in? They will scarcely be taken out. They are all that I have, with which to buy my day's food. There it will do very little good; here it will do a great deal of good"?

(H. W. Beecher.)

What is it to be a consecrated woman?

I. Such consecration involves heart dedication to Christ and His service.

II. Such consecration embraces the sacred devotion of time to the work God carries on through female agents. She saves her odd minutes as the jeweller saves the cuttings of gems and gold.

III. Such a consecration implies the devotion of culture to the Divine glory and uplifting of humanity.

IV. Such consecration embodies the ability to do varied work of a beneficent nature, whereby God is glorified,

V. Such consecration involves the sanctification of the pence to the Divine glory.

(S. F. Leech, . D. D.)

The Saviour noticed not merely, the fact or acts of contribution, but also the wonderfully diversified modes in which the acts exhibited themselves. Mode is inseparable from act, and, when outward, reveals the inward essence of the act. We may suppose that our Saviour looked in, through the diversified modes that struck His outward eye, to the diversified characters of the contributors, as they passed in succession before Him. If so, it would be with far more interest and innerliness than was ever manifested by Lavater, and with an intuition that was unerring. "On Sundays, after the sermon," says the poet Goethe, "it was Lavater's duty, as an ecclesiastic, to hold the short-handled, velvet alms bag before each one who went out, and to bless as he received the pious gift. Now, on a certain Sunday he proposed to himself, without looking at the several persons as they dropped in their offerings, to observe only their hands, and by them silently to judge of the forms of their donors. Not only the shape of the finger, but its peculiar action in dropping the gift, was attentively noted by him, and he had much to communicate to me on the conclusions he had formed." As the idiosyncrasy and form of the whole body was revealed to Lavater's eye by the form and action of the fingers, so the idiosyncrasy and moral condition of every soul were unveiled to our Saviour's gaze, as He noticed "how" the offerings were cast in.

(J. Morison, D. D.)

Peggy had been consigned by her dying mother in Ireland to the care of a lady, who brought her up as a servant, giving her only clothes and food as her wages. Her residence with this lady led to Peggy's attendance on the ministry of the gospel, which met, in her case, with a heart prepared by Divine grace to receive it. She imbibed it as the thirsty earth the shower; her appearance became altered, and her whole demeanour greatly improved. Her mistress, finding her services increasingly valuable, and fearing that the temptation of higher wages might cause her to seek another place, offered, of her own account, to give her a small sum of money annually. For this she was truly thankful; and some months having elapsed, she came to me (says a Christian minister in London) one evening after service, apparently with great joy, and slipped a piece of paper into my hand. On examination I found it to be a one-pound note. "Peggy," said I, "what is this?" "Your reverence," said she, "it is the first pound I could ever call my own since I was born; and what will I do with it? Ah! will I forget my country? No; it is for poor Ireland; it is for my countrymen to have the blessed gospel preached to them." I admired her disinterestedness, but thought the sacrifice too great, as I knew she must want such a sum for very important purposes. "Peggy," I said, "it is too much for you to give; I cannot take it." "Oh, your reverence," she replied, with her characteristic energy, "if you refuse it, I shall not be able to sleep for a fortnight! "And she went away, leaving the money in my hand, and exclaiming, "God bless my poor country with the ministry of the gospel."

A missionary, in a report of his field of labour says: "I can imagine someone saying, as he reads this report, 'Well, I will give £5 to the cause; I can give that, and not feel it.' But suppose, my Christian brother, you were to give £20, and feel it?" There is vast meaning in the advice, "Give till you feel it." It is by this principle that churches are founded, and gospel institutions sustained. If this rule were to be put in operation everywhere, there would hardly be a feeble church in our land, or a church in debt, or a sanctuary out of repair, or a minister half-sustained, or a true cause of charity without adequate support.


A poor woman, after the death of her husband, had no means of support for herself and two little children, except the labour of her own hands, yet she found means, out of her deep poverty, to give something for the promotion of the cause of her Redeemer; and would never fail to pay, on the very day it became due, her regular subscription to the church of which she was a member. In a hard winter she found it very difficult to supply the pressing needs of her little family, yet the few pence for religious purposes had been regularly put by. As one season for the contribution came round, she had only a little corn, a single salt herring, and a five-cent piece remaining of her little store. Yet she did not waver. She ground the corn, prepared her children's supper, and then with a light heart and cheerful countenance set out to service, where she gave joyfully the five cents, the last she had in the world. Returning from the church she passed the house of a lady, to whom a long time before she had sold a piece of pork — so long, indeed, that she had quite forgotten all the particulars of the transaction; but seeing her this evening, the lady called her in, apologizing for having been so tardy in the settlement, and then inquired how much it was. The poor woman could only reply she did not know; but the lady, determined to be on the safe side, gave her two dollars, besides directing her housekeeper to put up a basket of flour, sugar, coffee, and other good things for her use. She returned home with a joyful heart, saying, as she displayed her treasures, "See, my children, the Lord is a good paymaster, giving us a hundredfold even in this present life, and in the world to come life everlasting."

Once upon a time there was a king, and he was very powerful and great. He was also very good, and so kind to his people that they all loved him very much. To show their gratitude to him for all his kindness and the many favours he was constantly bestowing upon them, and also to show the very great love which they had in their hearts for him, the people resolved to make him a present. Now there was a poor woman who loved the king very, very much, and she wished to contribute something to the present for her dear sovereign; but she was so very poor that she had nothing at all in the world to give but only one little brown farthing. And a rich neighbour came to her, and said, "You can never put that dirty brown farthing among the bright gold pieces offered to the great king. Here are some new silver shillings, they will not look so bad; you can put them in, and it is all the same, for I was going to give them at any rate." But this poor woman replied, "Oh no; when I bring a gift to the good king, it must be my very own. I am very sorry I have nothing better to give; but I will just slip it in quietly, so that the king won't take any notice of it; and if he throws it away afterwards, I don't mind. It is all I have, and I will have the pleasure of giving it to him whom I love so very, very much." So this poor woman went forward with the rest; but she walked very slowly, and hung down head, being sorry her gift was so small; and when she passed the king she never once looked up, but just slipped her little brown farthing into the plate among the rest of the gifts. When she was turning away she felt someone give her a tap on the shoulder, and when she looked round the king was looking down at her, and smiling very graciously. "My good woman," he said, "was it you who put in this costly gift?" And as she looked in his hand she saw something very like her old brown farthing; but just as she was wondering if that could be what the king meant, the farthing began to grow brighter and brighter, till the poor woman could scarcely look at it, for it had changed into a beautiful locket, all shining with gold and diamonds and other precious stones. The poor woman gave a little sigh of disappointment in bet heart, but she looked up straight into the king's face, and said, "Oh no, I only gave one little brown farthing." "Take it into your hand and see," said the king, still smiling. So she took it as he bade her, and then she saw that it was her farthing after all. "Yes," she said, feeling greatly surprised, "that is the very farthing I put in, for I tried hard to clean it up, and could only get it to look a little bright at the edge." So she laid it back again in the king's hand, and as soon as he touched it, there it was shining and sparkling as before. Then the king said, "I thank you very much for this beautiful gift; it is very precious to me." And he took it, and hung it upon the chain that was round his neck, and the poor woman went home quite happy, because the king had been pleased to accept her gift, and loving him a thousand times more than before, if that were possible. Now it is more than eighteen hundred years since that day, and the great and good king has been wearing that poor woman's brown farthing at his chain all the time. And whenever any poor woman wishes to offer him a gift from the great love that is in her heart, and is afraid to bring it because it seems so small, he points to the shining locket, and says, "Why, this was once only a little brown farthing, and it pleased me as much as the rich man's gold; for with me a man is accepted according to what he hath, and not according to what he hath not?"

(C. P. Craig.)

A gentleman called upon a rich friend for a contribution to some charitable object. "Yes, I must give you my mite," said the rich man. "Do you mean the widow's mite?" asked his friend. "Certainly," was the reply. "I shall be satisfied with half as much as she gave. How much are you worth?" "Seventy thousand dollars." "Give me, then, your cheque for thirty-five thousand; that will be half as much as the widow gave, for she, you know, gave 'all that she had, even all her living.'" The rich man was cornered. Covetous people often try to shelter themselves behind the widow's mite; but it is a dangerous refuge.

Alms-giving is degraded in two ways — when it is done to be seen of men, and when it is done to save your soul. You cannot tender to God 1s. 6d. or £1 for a sin committed. You cannot wipe out guilt with half a crown. The Jews thought you could. The Roman Catholic Church, in its worst days at least, openly taught that you could. The priests invited the dying to insure against hell or purgatory by leaving their property to the church or the poor. The fallacy is not yet quite extinct. The other day a witty ecclesiastic was listening to a rich merchant who, after dinner, boasted that, although no better than he should be, he gave £2,000 away to the poor every year. He did not know, nor apparently care, who got it, but it went. "Well," said his clerical listener, "that is the largest insurance against fire I ever heard of!" Now, mark this, if in alms-giving the donor is thinking more of himself than of the recipient of his gift, his act is not Christian charity, but selfishness. If he gives, in order to be praised, or to save his soul, or merely to relieve his own feelings, without regard to the effect of his gift, that is not Christian charity. The impulse is good, but not alone. It does more harm than good, without reflection, common sense, and eves wisdom. Every penny given to a knave robs a deserving person. There are plenty such: find them out, and when you find them, do not pauperize them. Help them to help themselves. Every Christmas we are deluged with circulars; choose the right institutions and pleas to support; avoid the professional beggars of this world, in print or out of print, who prey on the credulous and impulsive, and can give no satisfactory account of their stewardship. I am not against extras at Christmas. If we brighten our homes for our friends, God forbid that we should forget the poor; but again I say, be careful. Let us comfort the sick, seek out the deserving poor, think of poor dependents, old servants, the people in our own neighbourhood; let us do all we can to lighten the burden of unobtrusive sufferers, helping the thrifty poor, the sick, the aged; but let us avoid bolstering up the blatant impostor!

(H. R. Haweis, M. A.)

The salary of the Rev. Philip Skelton, an Irish clergyman, arising from the discharge of his ministerial duties and from tuition, was very small; yet he gave the larger part of it away, scarcely allowing himself to appear in decent clothing. Returning one Lord's day from public worship, he came to a cabin where an awful fire had occurred. Two children had been burnt to death, and a third showed but faint signs of life. Seeing the poor people had no linen with which to dress the child's sores, he tore his shirt from his back piece by piece for their use, and cheerfully submitted to the inconvenience to which it exposed him. Some time after this, when a scarcity of food was felt around him, he sold his library, though his books were the only companions of his solitude, and spent the money in the purchase of provisions for the poor. Some ladies hearing of this, sent him £50 to replace some of his most valuable books with; but, while gratefully acknowledging their kindness, he said he had dedicated the books to God, and then applied the £50 also to the relief of the poor.

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