One gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds what is right, only to become poor.
I. THRIFTY SPENDING. All wise outlay of money is a form of thrift, The increase of capital depends upon the observance of certain laws and rules of prudence; and the prudence which enables to amass enables also to spend. Spending in works of benevolence is seldom known to impoverish a man, for it is seldom disjoined from calculation and economy in personal habits. But whether we can trace out the manner of the connection in every instance or not, it is real and profound. Wise distribution is the condition of steady increase. In the highest point of view benevolence is a "lending to the Lord."
II. UNTHRIFTY SAVING. stinginess tends to poverty, because it stints the energies. It springs from a false view of the value of money, or an exaggerated view. The true source of happiness, as of wealth, lies at last in the will, its energy, its industry. He who has so little faith in this as to put all his reliance on the mere means of living, may well become poor outwardly, as he certainly is inwardly.
III. THE SATISFACTION OF DOING GOOD. Here, again, we must look to the reflex effect of actions, The indirect results are the wider and the more important. From every free forth-going of the heart in acts of love and kindness there is a certain return into the heart. It is not sufficiently considered that whatever gives expansion to the mind - large views, broad sympathies - is so much gain in actual power. And again, that we cannot directly do much towards the removal of our own troubles, but obliquely may quell or diminish them by aiming at removing the troubles of others. Fulness of interests in the heart will not give room for grief to gnaw.
IV. SELFISHNESS AND GENEROSITY IN COMMERCE. (Ver. 26.) In time of dearth the avaricious proprietor, keeping back his corn to secure a higher price, brings down upon himself curses; while he who thinks of humanity more than of personal profit earns the blessings of the poor. The maxim that "business is business" is true, but may be pushed too far. If a trader profits by a war or scarcity, that is an accident; but it is not an accident, it is a crime, if he votes for war or interferes with the natural action of the market with a view to personal gain. If the same conditions of trade make the man rich which impoverish the many, he will feel it to be his duty to give the more out of his abundance. - J.
There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth.2 Corinthians 9:6).
I. THE DESCRIPTION OF PERSONS OF VERY OPPOSITE CHARACTERS. "Scatter" is the same word as "disperse" (Psalm 112:9). He that scatters is the liberal soul; the man who, with a free and generous spirit, labours to spread the most useful and extensive influence, by all manner of means; the man who is ready to distribute of his temporal substance for promoting religious and civil liberties and interests, for doing good to the souls and bodies of men, and, particularly, for relieving the necessitous and the distressed. We should manage our religious and charitable distributions, not with contrivance how to shift off our obligations and opportunities for them, but with devising how in the best manner to improve them; not with a grudging, but with a free and cheerful heart. On the contrary, he that withholds, keeps back, or spares, more than is meet or right, is the covetous man, whose narrow, selfish spirit will not suffer him cheerfully to pay his personal or his public debts, much less to practise beneficence at an expense that cannot be demanded by human laws. No arguments derived from humanity or Christianity can work his heart up to bear his proper proportion in generous and beneficent acts.
II. WHAT IS AFFIRMED OF THESE PERSONS RESPECTIVELY. We might consider this increase and want with respect to our best interests, that relate to the enrichment of the soul in goodness. Distributing enlarges the heart, and makes it open, free, and generous, with growing propensions to every good work. The man who withholds is poor-spirited; he has a contracted soul; he is destitute of those amiable graces by which our God and Saviour are most conspicuously imitated and glorified. We may also consider this increase and want with respect to our worldly substance. That is not lessened but improved by distributions on all proper occasions. Withholdings, more than is meet, ever tend to poverty and want. God's blessing on the generous comes either as a visible increase of their outward estates, or as a secret increase of the inward contentment of their own minds. Those who are of a covetous temper, do not enjoy what they possess. According to a just estimation of things, they are no richer by all their silver and gold than if it still lay in the ore of the Indian mines.
III. ACCOUNT FOR THE TRUTH OF BOTH THESE PROPOSITIONS. Every virtuous, spiritual, and holy disposition of the soul increases by frequent and proper exercise; and loses its force and vigour, and aptness for action, by disuse and neglect. This is common to all principles and habits of the moral or religious and supernatural kind.
1. The blessing of God is upon them that scatter, and His blast is upon them that withhold more than is meet.
2. The friendship of men is toward them that scatter, and their disaffection toward those who withhold more than is meet.
(J. Guyse, D.D.)
(W. Arnot, D.D.)
I. THE LIBERAL MAN, AND WHAT HE GETS FROM HIS LIBERALITY. The man here is living in the midst of dependent fellow-creatures, and uses his property in relieving them. Here seems to be the idea of a husbandman throwing his seed in every direction where it may be profitable. The liberal man looks abroad, and where his money is wanted, and where it is likely to do good, there he gives it with the greatest cheerfulness of mind. This is what ought to be. We are not required to give away when we have not in reality the power to do so; but when we possess the power the duty is incumbent. We must "scatter" for the blessing of others. A notion prevails that if we give liberally to others, we hurt ourselves. We are, indeed, told to "do good, hoping for nothing again," yet we may urge as an encouragement that, in sowing the seeds of kindness, we are sure to reap a personal benefit. The men who have been most liberal have, in a general way, prospered most in their worldly undertakings; and certainly they have been rewarded with growth in grace, and a large measure of peace, confidence, and joy in their own souls.
II. THE MEAN MAN, AND THE RESULT WHICH FOLLOWS HIS MEANNESS. To withhold is not always wrong. It may be a right thing, a positive duty. But some men are wretchedly mean; they have not a spark of kind sympathy or of generous sensibility in their souls. They are over-full of their own things. These the text speaks about. There is a measure in the amount of almsgiving which is to be determined by a person's circumstances. To whom much is given, from the same will much be required. If you give God less than God requires of you, then instead of a blessing there will rest on you a curse. God has often taken away from a man the riches which he would not use rightly when he had them. Poverty of pocket is not the worst kind of poverty. It is poverty of soul that is so deplorable.
(William Curling, M.A.)
I. TWO OPPOSING CHARACTERS. One is said to "scatter." Of the blessed man it is said, "He hath dispersed, he hath given to the poor" (Psalm 112:9). The apostle says, "He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly, and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully." Faithfulness implies two things: first, a clear perception, a just apprehension of the purposes for which we are put in trust; and secondly, a conscientious employment of those means by which the purposes are to be accomplished, according to the dictates and directions of the supreme Lord of all. Neither indiscriminate almsgiving nor improvident expenditure derive any countenance from the rule of Christian practice, as finally and unalterably settled in the epistles to the infant Churches. The man who "scattereth" is the man who gives, whether to the service of his God, or to the succour of his fellow-men, on principle; the man whose charities, as they are called (though the term religious obligations would be far more applicable), bear some definite and assignable proportion, not only to his present expenses and indulgences, but to the provision for the family; the man, who devotes to purposes of philanthropy and piety such a proportion of his worldly increase, as his own conscience, enlightened and directed by God's Word, accounts an offering expressive of his gratitude to the Giver of every good and perfect gift. The contrary character to this is he who "withholdeth more than is meet "; he who is actuated, alike in what he saves, and in what he spends, by considerations purely selfish; who professes, indeed, that he accumulates upon principle, but whose principle will not endure the application of the standard of the Word of God, his object being to found or to aggrandise a family, while in prosecuting this object he overlooks or undervalues the salvation of the soul. Many are the subterfuges and evasions by which men endeavour to justify, or at least to palliate, their own conduct in "withholding more than is meet," e.g., difficulty of detecting imposture; perversion of benevolent funds; and the excuse that whatever is spent is a contingent evil, while whatever is hoarded is a certain good.
II. TWO OPPOSING CONSEQUENCES. True wisdom involves the consideration of our latter end. If the habits and actions of the "life that now is" can exert any influence upon the destinies of "that which is to come," the counsel given by our Lord would be the dictate of policy, as well as the command of authority: "Walk while ye have the light." Temporal blessings do usually wait upon the discreet and conscientious dispensation of God's bounty. He that scattereth increaseth even in this world's goods. But Christian benevolence for Christ's sake must not be taken for the whole of the system of Christian practice, of which it only constitutes a part. Towards poverty of soul tendeth that mistaken and short-sighted policy, which men are wont to term prudence and forecast. But to have made no use of God's property for God's purposes will be a ground of judgment and condemnation, as much as to have abused it for our own.
(Thomas Dale, M.A.)
1. We see the absolute necessity of some form of spiritual activity to the increase of the Christian life.
2. The course of thought we have been pursuing suggests to us the spiritual nature of the Divine rewards. We need, badly need, a revision of the vocabulary of the Divine rewards. Too often those rewards are spoken of in terms which degrade rather than honour the high service of God. The reward and the service are one. The rewards of Christ are not less service, but more service and higher toil.
(G. S. Barrett, D.D.)
(G. Lawson.)I. GENEROSITY EXEMPLIFIED.
1. In nature. Clouds give rain, sun gives light, earth gives fruit. "The heart does not receive the blood to store it up, but while it pumps it in at one valve, it sends it forth at another."
2. In the example of Christ (Galatians 1:4).
3. In the early Church (Acts 2:44, 45).
4. In modern times. Peabody, Morley, etc.
II. GENEROSITY EXTOLLED.
1. It is unstinted (Isaiah 32:8).
2. It is profitable. One who has had experience in giving systematically, says, "It pays as an investment, and is a fortune in business." Mr. Haig Miller tells of a gentleman who, on starting in life, said, "I determined that for every £10,000 I made £1,000 should be given back to God and works of charity, and I have had ten times to fulfil my vow." If temporal gain is the motive which inspires giving, the act will be spoiled by the motive; but giving from right motives is often honoured by a present and a bountiful return. The converse of this is true. Withholding "tendeth to poverty." If not poverty of purse, as is often the case, there will be poverty of soul.
3. It is hearty. "God never sent us into this world to do anything into which we cannot put our hearts."
4. It is healthy. "If a man is growing large in wealth, nothing but constant and generous giving can save him from growing small in soul."
5. It is refreshing.
6. It wins the heart. Edward Payson said, when dying, "I long to give a full cup of happiness to every human being." The benedictions of his people were a chief part of his rich reward (compare Job 29:13).
7. It is painstaking. The true friend of the needy does not wait till misery presses its claim at his door; he goes and looks first (compare Luke 19:10).
(J. Parker, D.D.)
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