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Mornings In The College Chapel by Francis Greenwood Peabody

LII THE CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE OF WEALTH

Matthew xxv.14-30.

In the parable of the talents the use of money is of course only an illustration of spiritual truth. Yet the story has its obvious lessons about the uses of money itself. The five-talent man is the rich man; and his way of service makes the Christian doctrine of wealth. And, first of all, the parable evidently permits wealth to exist. It does not prohibit accumulation. Jesus is not a social leveler. His words are full of tenderness to the poor, but when a certain rich young man came to him, Jesus loved him also; and when one man asked him, saying: |Master, speak to my brother that he divide the inheritance with me,| Jesus disclaimed the office of a social agitator, saying: |Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you.| Thus Jesus cannot be claimed for any pet scheme which one may have of the distribution of wealth. But let not the Christian {130} think that on this account the Christian theory of wealth is less sweeping or radical than some modern programme. The fact is that it asks more of a man, be he rich or poor, than any modern agitator dares to propose. For it demands not a part of one's possessions as the property of others, but the whole of them. The Christian holds all his talents as a trust. There is in the Christian belief no absolute ownership of property. A man has no justification in saying: |May I not do what I will with mine own?| He does not own his wealth; he owes it. The Christian principle does not divide the rich from the poor; it divides the faithful use of whatever one has from its unfaithful use. Wealth is a fund of five talents of which one is the trusted agent; and to some five-talent men who have been faithful in their grave responsibilities, the word of Jesus would be given to-day as gladly as to any poor man: |Well done, faithful servant, enter into the joy of thy Lord.|

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