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Christian Devotedness by Anthony Norris Groves


The texts which seem to give another aspect to this question, such as, |He that provident not for his own, etc.| -- |The parents ought to lay up for the children, etc.| -- |Provide things honest in the sight of all men,| are considered together in a note at the end of the Pamphlet. [see APPENDIX]

[It should be remembered that in this passage the words |take no thought| should have been rendered |Be not anxious|. See the Revised Version.]

|He could not tell into whose bands his wealth would pass; nor would it be any comfort to him, even for his children or friends to possess it, when he was torn from all which he loved and idolized, and plunged into the pit of destruction; and perhaps they too were preparing by it for the same dreadful end| -- (Scott).

|Though possessions are useful to sustain life, yet no man is able to prolong life, and to make it any thing more happy and comfortable to him, by possessing more than he needs or uses, that is, by any superfluity of wealth. The only way to be the better for the wealth of the world, is to dispose and distribute it to the service of God, and benefit and comfort of others|-[Hammond].

[The argument is not distinctly affected, but it is to be observed that the Lord did not here speak of being |saved|, but of entering the Kingdom. That the disciples at that time thought the two ideas were the same does not establish it, for prior to the gift of the indwelling Spirit of truth they misunderstood other things that the Lord said. Matt.16.22: Luke 22.36: Acts 1.6. For the same thought compare Mat.5.20; 18.1-3: 1 Cor.6.9, 10 ) Gal.5.19, 21: Eph.5.5; all addressed to persons already |saved|.]

Although this Essay seems to have respect rather to those who have much to bestow, than those who have little, yet what the Apostle says as an encouragement to labour, may be applied to every man however humble. -- |Let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth| (Eph.4.28). |I have coveted no man's silver, or gold, or apparel. Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me. I have showed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive'| (Acts 20.33-35).

|What shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gideon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; -- of David also, and Samuel, and of the Prophets: who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: and others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover, of bonds and imprisonment: they were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheep-skins and goat-skins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented: (of whom the world was not worthy: ) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth| (Heb.11.32-38).

[In 1842 Mr. and Mrs. Groves adopted a child of eight as daughter, |an orphan who was commended to their care by her father on his death-bed. This charge was a source of great comfort to them: they undertook it as unto the Lord, who truly gave them their hire. The child, being early converted to God, grew up to be a very efficient help in their mission work, when other labourers were withdrawn; and she became to them, in every way, as a beloved daughter| (400).]

|I see here Parents who are toiling night and day. 'What are you doing?' 'I have a large family of children; and I am endeavouring to lay up a portion for them.' 'Why then do you not in truth lay up a portion for them! What! will you lay up a little dust, and call that a portion? Is that a portion for an immortal soul? You are rather hanging a millstone about the necks of your children which may sink them deeper into ruin. You may thereby tempt them to plunge into the world: and there they may scatter what you have treasured up, and called a portion! 'The Lord is my portion, saith my soul,' -- is the declaration of David; and till you lead your children to this portion, you are making no real provision for them'| (Cecil).

|Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoso hath this world's good, and teeth his brother have need, and shutters up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?| (1 John 3.16, 17). And |how dwelleth the love of God in him| who can behold his fellows, by millions, perishing with ignorance -- that hunger of the soul -- , without putting forth every effort, and making every sacrifice, that they may receive the bread of life.

The Christian Motto should be -- Labour hard, consume little, give much, and all to Christ.

|Wherefore should I fear in the days of evil, when the iniquity of my heels shall compass me about? [Revised Version |iniquity at my heels|, that is, enemies who would work iniquity.] They that trust in their wealth, and boast themselves in the multitude of their riches; none of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him; (for the redemption of their soul is precious, and it ceaseth [faileth] for ever;) that he should still live for ever, and not see corruption. For he seeth that wise men die, likewise the fool and the brutish person perish, and leave their wealth to others. Their inward thought is, that their houses shall continue for ever, and their dwelling-places to all generations; they call their lands after their own names. Nevertheless, man being in honour abideth not: he is like the beasts that perish. This, their way, is their folly; yet their posterity approve their sayings. -- The upright shall not be ashamed in the evil time; and in the days of famine they shall be satisfied. I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread| (Psalm 49.5-13; and 37.19 and 25) -- |God hath fed me,| says Scott, |all my life long. I die, but God can provide for my children, and children's children without me; I cannot without Him. I have not, since I came here, allowing for my house, cleared L100 a year: yet the Lord hath provided; and I live in plenty, and can give something, and, if more money were good for me, he would give it.| -- What he farther says, in speaking of the |carnal| anxiety of Parents for the temporal welfare of their children, though applied by himself to the clergy in particular, is equally applicable to the laity. |I often think what St. Paul would say to ministers in our days, on this ground; when of those in his days he says, -- All seek their own, not the things of Jesus Christ -- (see my note on the passage.) I have long lamented that we cannot serve God by the day, and leave it to ham to provide day by day for us and ours| (Scott's Letters -- London-1824; pages 296-7).

By wealthy, I mean those who have large incomes, as contrasted with those who have a bare subsistence from their labours, or those who have inheritances entailed upon them, so that they cannot enjoy the privilege of disencumbering themselves.

Now many may say, these commands are so clear that none could misunderstand them, but not so these under consideration; perhaps if we were to analyze a little deeper our hearts, we should find that the one owes its clearness to our freedom from any consequent burden on finding them clear; the other its indistinctness from the reverse, not having yet learnt the glorious liberty of depending on and yielding all to Christ. In heaven they are seen to be, I have no doubt, equally clear, equally commands, or rather privileges, of the saints of God.

How different the spirit and conduct of our Blessed Lord! Did he fear to leave, without temporal Provision, his widowed Mother to the promises and providence of God? No; he left her unprovided to an unprovided (Acts 3.1 and 6) disciple: and this he did, not at a time when probabilities were greatly in favour of a comfortable competence being easily procured, but when he knew that difficulties and dangers would beset them at every step. Surely had laying up beforehand been the duty of a child, our Saviour would have exhibited this virtue among that constellation of virtues which shone forth from his character; for he knew that we were to follow his example. Why then did he act thus, whilst we hesitate to follow his steps? Because he knew the truth, nature, and extent, of the promises of God, which we doubt or deny. Some will say -- |But this was a provision!| Yes, -- the very provision which God will ever make for those that trust in Him, -- a provision at the moment of necessity.

|I will also leave in the midst of thee an afflicted and poor people, and they shall trust in the name of the Lord. They shall feed and lie down, and none shall make them afraid| (Zeph.3.12 and 13).

|He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposely in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work: (as it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor; his righteousness remaineth for ever. Now he that administereth seed to the sower, both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness:) being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God. For the administration of this service not only supplies the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God; (whiles by the experiment of this ministration they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the Gospel of Christ, and for your liberal distribution unto them, and unto all men:) and by their prayer for you, which long after you for the exceeding grace of God in you| (II Cor.9.6-14).

[I cannot refrain from inviting any candid and careful reader to compare the rendering of this passage as given with the rendering in the Revised Version, as an instance of the real need there was for a revision of the English version. Especially is this seen from verse 10 and onward. Let him notice the words -- ministereth and administration, experiment, professed; the change from |both| -- expressing a desire, to |shall| -- making a promise or assurance. And if he can compare the Greek he will notice the opening of verse 10, where the construction of the Greek was missed, |bread for food| being connected wrongly with the words following instead of with the words preceding, and |your| was inserted; and then the last clause quoted (verse 14) made clear and emphatic in the Revised Version.]

It might be an examination of not less importance, to ascertain why provision for future possible wants is almost the only point, in which the Christian and the man of the world stand on the same ground, pursue the same ends, and govern themselves by the same maxims; and how it happens that this part of our duty, if it indeed be such, coincides so exactly with our natural propensities.

What is here meant is -- that the principle, contended for, by no means precludes the carrying on such pursuits as require a large stock. But, as he, who had ten talents, used them as a servant, and brought the interest to his Master, so the Christian Merchant lives and labours as a servant purchased by his Lord, and considers his gains, as designed for his Master's service, not his private emolument. If he so arts, whatever his station may be, he has given up all for Christ. He remains where he is, not for his own private advantage, but that, as a faithful steward, he may pour forth the rich abundance, which God grants to his labours, to nourish and build up the Church, and enlarge the confines of his Master's kingdom, and the only personal advantage he has above his poorer brother is, he has more anxieties (but for Christ, who sweetens them) every step he advances up, and therefore would have no personal inducement to get up but the sense of duty, that he may have more abundantly to give to him who needeth, and the guinea dedications and speeches from the rich, would pass out together as no longer needed; for one action of real dedication would contain more argument than a thousand speeches about it, from those who are laving in all the luxuries of life, and yield more help than a thousand guineas, and there would be left for the poorer, and the poorest would bring in their blessed two mites.

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