EARTHLY AND HEAVENLY TREASURES--SEEKING THE KINGDOM OF GOD--FELLOWSHIP WITH THE FATHER--THE CHRISTIAN MERCHANT--EXAMPLES--MISTAKES.
In concluding this portion of my Narrative, I would add some hints on a few passages of the word of God, both because I have so very frequently found them little regarded by Christians, and also because I have proved their preciousness, in some measure, in my own experience; and therefore wish that all my fellow-saints may share the blessing with me.
I. In Matt. vi. 19-21, it is written: "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." Observe, dear reader, the following points concerning this part of the divine testimony:
1. It is the Lord Jesus, our Lord and Master, who speaks this as the lawgiver of his people,--he who has infinite wisdom and unfathomable love to us, who therefore both knows what is for our real welfare and happiness, and who cannot exact from us any requirement inconsistent with that love which led him to lay down his life for us.
2. His counsel, his affectionate entreaty, and his commandment to us his disciples is, "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth." The meaning obviously is, that the disciples of the Lord Jesus, being strangers and pilgrims on earth, i. e. neither belonging to the earth nor expecting to remain in it, should not seek to increase their earthly possessions, in whatever these possessions may consist. This is a word for poor believers as well as for rich believers; it has as much a reference to putting shillings into the savings bank as to putting thousands of pounds into the funds, or purchasing one house or one farm after another. It may be said, But does not every prudent and provident person seek to increase his means, that he may have a goodly portion to leave to his children, or to have something for old age, or for the time of sickness, etc.? My reply is, it is quite true that this is the custom of the world. But whilst thus it is in the world, and we have every reason to believe ever will be so among those that are of the world, and who therefore have their portion on earth, we disciples of the Lord Jesus, being born again, being the children of God, not nominally, but really, being truly partakers of the divine nature, being in fellowship with the Father and the Son, and having in prospect "an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away," (1 Peter i. 4,) ought in every respect to act differently from the world, and so in this particular also. If we disciples of the Lord Jesus seek, like the people of the world, after an increase of our possessions, may not those who are of the world justly question whether we believe what we say, when we speak about our inheritance, our heavenly calling, our being the children of God, etc.? Often it must be a sad stumbling-block to the unbeliever to see a professed believer in the Lord Jesus acting in this particular just like himself. Consider this, dear brethren in the Lord, should this remark apply to you.
3. Our Lord says about the earth that it is a place "Where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal." All that is of the earth, and in any way connected with it, is subject to corruption, to change, to dissolution. There is no reality, or substance, in anything else but in heavenly things. Often the careful amassing of earthly possessions ends in losing them in a moment by fire, by robbery, by a change of mercantile concerns, by loss of work, etc.; but suppose all this were not the case, still, yet a little while, and thy soul shall be required of thee; or, yet a little while, and the Lord Jesus will return; and what profit shalt thou then have, dear reader, if thou hast carefully sought to increase thy earthly possessions?
4. Our Lord, however, does not merely bid us not to lay up treasure upon earth; for if he had said no more, this his commandment might be abused, and persons might find in it an encouragement for their extravagant habits, for their love of pleasure, for their habit of spending everything they have, or can obtain, upon themselves. It does not mean, then, as is the common phrase, that we should "live up to our income;" for he adds, "But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven." There is such a thing as laying up as truly in heaven as there is laying up on earth; if it were not so, our Lord would not have said so. Just as persons put one sum after another into the bank, and it is put down to their credit, and they may use the money afterwards: so truly the penny, the shilling, the pound, the hundred pounds, the ten thousand pounds, given for the Lord's sake, and constrained by the love of Jesus, to poor brethren, or in any way spent in the work of God, he marks down in the book of remembrance, he considers as laid up in heaven. The money is not lost, it is laid up in the bank of heaven; yet so, that whilst an earthly bank may break, or through earthly circumstances we may lose our earthly possessions, the money which is thus secured in heaven cannot be lost. But this is by no means the only difference. I notice a few more points: Treasures laid up on earth bring along with them many cares; treasures laid up in heaven never give care. Treasures laid up on earth never can afford spiritual joy; treasures laid up in heaven bring along with them peace and joy in the Holy Ghost even now. Treasures laid up on earth, in a dying hour cannot afford peace and comfort, and when life is over they are taken from us; treasures laid up in heaven draw forth thanksgiving that we were permitted and counted worthy to serve the Lord with the means with which he was pleased to intrust us as stewards, and when this life is over we are not deprived of what was laid up there, but when we go to heaven we go to the place where our treasures are, and we shall find them there. Often we hear it said, when a person has died, he died worth so much. But whatever be the phrases common in the world, it is certain that a person may die worth fifty thousand pounds sterling, as the world reckons, and yet that individual may not possess, in the sight of God, one thousand pounds sterling, because he was not rich towards God, he did not lay up treasure in heaven. And so, on the other hand, we can suppose a man of God falling asleep in Jesus, and his surviving widow finding scarcely enough left behind him to suffice for the funeral, who was nevertheless rich towards God: in the sight of God he may possess five thousand pounds sterling, he may have laid up that sum in heaven. Dear reader, does your soul long to be rich towards God, to lay up treasures in heaven? The world passes away, and the lust thereof. Yet a little while and our stewardship will be taken from us. At present we have the opportunity of serving the Lord with our time, our talents, our bodily strength, our gifts; and also with our property; but shortly this opportunity may cease. Oh, how shortly may it cease! Before ever this is read by any one, I may have fallen asleep; and the very next day after you have read this, dear reader, you may fall asleep; and, therefore, whilst we have the opportunity, let us serve the Lord.
5. The Lord lastly adds: "For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." Where should the heart of the disciple of the Lord Jesus be, but in heaven? Our calling is a heavenly calling, our inheritance is a heavenly inheritance, and reserved for us in heaven; our citizenship is in heaven; but if we believers in the Lord Jesus lay up treasures on earth, the necessary result of it is, that our hearts will be upon earth; nay, the very fact of our doing so proves that they are there! Nor will it be otherwise, till there be a ceasing to lay up treasures upon earth. The believer who lays up treasures upon earth may, at first, not live openly in sin, he in a measure may yet bring some honor to the Lord in certain things; but the injurious tendencies of this habit will show themselves more and more, whilst the habit of laying up treasures in heaven would draw the heart more and more heavenward; would be continually strengthening his new, his divine nature, his spiritual faculties, because it would call his spiritual faculties into use, and thus they would be strengthened; and he would more and more, whilst yet in the body, have his heart in heaven, and set upon heavenly things; and thus the laying up treasures in heaven would bring along with it, even in this life, precious spiritual blessings as a reward of obedience to the commandment of our Lord.
II. The next passage, on which I desire to make a few remarks, is Matt. vi. 33: "But seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." After our Lord, in the previous verses, had been pointing his disciples "to the fowls of the air," and "the lilies of the field," in order that they should be without carefulness about the necessaries of life, he adds: "Therefore take no thought (literally, be not anxious), saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (for after all these things do the Gentiles seek;) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things." Observe here particularly that we, the children of God, should be different from the nations of the earth, from those who have no Father in heaven, and who therefore make it their great business, their first anxious concern, what they shall eat, and what they shall drink, and wherewithal they shall be clothed. We, the children of God, should, as in every other respect, so in this particular also, be different from the world, and prove to the world that we believe that we have a Father in heaven who knoweth that we have need of all these things. The fact that our Almighty Father, who is full of infinite love to us his children, and who has proved to us his love in the gift of his only-begotten Son, and his almighty power in raising him from the dead, knows that we have need of these things, should remove all anxiety from our minds. There is, however, one thing that we have to attend to, and which we ought to attend to, with reference to our temporal necessities; it is mentioned in our verse: "But seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness." The great business which the disciple of the Lord Jesus has to be concerned about (for this word was spoken to disciples, to professed believers) is, to seek the kingdom of God, i. e. to seek, as I view it, after the external and internal prosperity of the church of Christ. If, according to our ability, and according to the opportunity which the Lord gives us, we seek to win souls for the Lord Jesus, that appears to me to be seeking the external prosperity of the kingdom of God; and if we, as members of the body of Christ, seek to benefit our fellow-members in the body, helping them on in grace and truth, or caring for them in any way to their edification, that would be seeking the internal prosperity of the kingdom of God. But in connection with this we have also "to seek his righteousness," which means (as it was spoken to disciples, to those who have a Father in heaven, and not to those who were without), to seek to be more and more like God, to seek to be inwardly conformed to the mind of God. If these two things are attended to (and they imply also that we are not slothful in business), then do we come under that precious promise: "And all these things (that is, food, raiment, or anything else that is needful for this present life) shall be added unto you." It is not for attending to these two things that we obtain the blessing, but in attending to them.
I now ask you, my dear reader, a few questions in all love, because I do seek your welfare, and I do not wish to put these questions to you without putting them first to my own heart. Do you make it your primary business, your first great concern, to seek the kingdom of God and his righteousness? Are the things of God, the honor of his name, the welfare of his church, the conversion of sinners, and the profit of your own soul, your chief aim? Or does your business, or your family, or your own temporal concerns, in some shape or other primarily occupy your attention? If the latter be the case, then, though you may have all the necessaries of life, yet could you be surprised if you had them not? Remember that the world passeth away, but that the things of God endure forever.
I never knew a child of God, who acted according to the above passage, in whose experience the Lord did not fulfil his word of promise, "All these things shall be added unto you."
III. The third portion of the divine testimony on which I desire to throw out a few hints, is in 1 John i. 3: "And truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ." Observe,
1. The words "fellowship," "communion," "coparticipation," and "partnership," mean the same.
2. The believer in the Lord Jesus does not only obtain forgiveness of all his sins, as he does through the shedding of the blood of Jesus, by faith in his name; does not only become a righteous one before God, through the righteousness of the Lord Jesus, by faith in his name; is not only begotten again, born of God, and partaker of the divine nature, and therefore a child of God and an heir of God; but he is also in fellowship or partnership with God. Now, so far as it regards God, and our standing in the Lord Jesus, we have this blessing once for all; nor does it allow of either an increase or a decrease. Just as God's love to us believers, his children, is unalterably the same, whatever may be the manifestations of that love; and as his peace with us is the same, however much our peace may be disturbed; so it is also with regard to our being in fellowship or partnership with him: it remains unalterably the same so far as God is concerned. But then,
3. There is an experimental fellowship, or partnership, with the Father and with his Son, which consists in this: that all which we possess in God, as being the partners or fellows of God, is brought down into our daily life, is enjoyed, experienced, and used. This experimental fellowship, or partnership, allows of an increase or a decrease, in the measure in which faith is in exercise, and in which we are entering into what we have received in the Lord Jesus. The measure in which we enjoy this experimental fellowship with the Father and with the Son is without limit; for without limit we may make use of our partnership with the Father and with the Son, and draw by prayer and faith out of the inexhaustible fulness which there is in God.
Let us now take a few instances in order to see the practical working of this experimental fellowship, or partnership, with the Father and with the Son. Suppose there are two believing parents who were not brought to the knowledge of the truth until some years after the Lord had given them several children. Their children were brought up in sinful, evil ways, whilst the parents did not know the Lord. Now the parents reap as they sowed. They suffer from having set an evil example before their children, for their children are unruly and behave most improperly. What is now to be done? Need such parents despair? No. The first thing they have to do is, to make confession of their sins to God, with regard to neglecting their children whilst they were themselves living in sin, and then to remember that they are in partnership with God, and therefore to be of good courage, though they are in themselves still utterly insufficient for the task of managing their children. They have in themselves neither the wisdom, nor the patience, nor the long-suffering, nor the gentleness, nor the meekness, nor the love, nor the decision and firmness, nor anything else that may be needful in dealing with their children aright. But their heavenly Father has all this. The Lord Jesus possesses all this. And they are in partnership with the Father, and with the Son, and therefore they can obtain by prayer and faith all they need out of the fulness of God. I say by prayer and faith, for we have to make known our need to God in prayer, ask his help, and then we have to believe he will give us what we need. Prayer alone is not enough. We may pray never so much, yet, if we do not believe that God will give us what we need, we have no reason to expect that we shall receive what we have asked for. So then these parents would need to ask God to give them the needful wisdom, patience, long-suffering, gentleness, meekness, love, decision; and firmness, and whatever else they may judge they need. They may in humble boldness remind their heavenly Father that his word assures them that they are in partnership with him, and, as they themselves are lacking in these particulars, ask him to be pleased to supply their need; and then they have to believe that God will do it, and they shall receive according to their need.
Another instance: Suppose I am so situated in my business that day by day such difficulties arise that I continually find that I take wrong steps by reason of these great difficulties. How may the case be altered for the better? In myself I see no remedy for the difficulties. In looking at myself I can expect nothing but to make still further mistakes, and, therefore, trial upon trial seems to be before me. And yet I need not despair. The living God is my partner. I have not sufficient wisdom to meet these difficulties so as to be able to know what steps to take, but he is able to direct me. What I have, therefore, to do, is this: in simplicity to spread my case before my heavenly Father and my Lord Jesus. The Father and the Son are my partners. I have to tell out my heart to God, and to ask him, that, as he is my partner, and I have no wisdom in myself to meet all the many difficulties which continually occur in my business, he would be pleased to guide and direct me, and to supply me with the needful wisdom; and then I have to believe that God will do so, and go with good courage to my business, and expect help from him in the next difficulty that may come before me. I have to look out for guidance; I have to expect counsel from the Lord; and as assuredly as I do so, I shall have it, I shall find that I am not nominally, but really, in partnership with the Father and with the Son.
Another instance: There is a father and mother with seven small children. Both parents are believers. The father works in a manufactory, but cannot earn more than ten shillings per week. The mother cannot earn anything. These ten shillings are too little for the supply of nourishing and wholesome food for seven growing children and their parents, and for providing them with the other necessaries of life. What is to be done in such a case? Surely not to find fault with the manufacturer, who may not be able to afford more wages, and much less to murmur against God; but the parents have in simplicity to tell God, their partner, that the wages of ten shillings a week are not sufficient in England to provide nine persons with all they need, so as that their health be not injured. They have to remind God that he is not a hard master, not an unkind being, but a most loving Father, who has abundantly proved the love of his heart in the gift of his only begotten Son. And they have in childlike simplicity to ask him that either he would order it so that the manufacturer may be able to allow more wages; or that he (the Lord) would find them another place, where the father would be able to earn more; or that he would be pleased, somehow or other, as it may seem good to him, to supply them with more means. They have to ask the Lord, in childlike simplicity, again and again for it, if he does not answer their request at once; and they have to believe that God, their Father and partner, will give them the desire of their hearts. They have to expect an answer to their prayers; day by day they have to look out for it, and to repeat their request till God grants it. As assuredly as they believe that God will grant them their request, so assuredly it shall be granted.
Thus, suppose I desired more power over my besetting sins; suppose I desired more power against certain temptations; suppose I desired more wisdom, or grace, or anything else that I may need in my service among the saints, or in my service towards the unconverted: what have I to do but to make use of my being in fellowship with the Father and with the Son? Just as, for instance, an old faithful clerk, who is this day taken into partnership by an immensely rich firm, though himself altogether without property, would not be discouraged by reason of a large payment having to be made by the firm within three days, though he himself has no money at all of his own, but would comfort himself with the immense riches possessed by those who so generously have just taken him into partnership: so should we, the children of God and servants of Jesus Christ, comfort ourselves by being in fellowship, or partnership, with the Father, and with the Son, though we have no power of our own against our besetting sins; though we cannot withstand temptations, which are before us, in our own strength; and though we have neither sufficient grace nor wisdom for our service among the saints, or towards the unconverted. All we have to do is, to draw upon our partner, the living God. By prayer and faith we may obtain all needful temporal and spiritual help and blessings. In all simplicity have we to tell out our heart before God, and then we have to believe that he will give to us according to our need.
But if we do not believe that God will help us, could we be at peace? The clerk, taken into the firm as partner, believes that the firm will meet the payment, though so large, and though in three days it is to be made, and it is this that keeps his heart quiet, though altogether poor himself. We have to believe that our infinitely rich partner, the living God, will help us in our need, and we shall not only be in peace, but we shall actually find that the help which we need will be granted to us. Let not the consciousness of your entire unworthiness keep you, dear reader, from believing what God has said concerning you. If you are indeed a believer in the Lord Jesus, then this precious privilege, of being in partnership with the Father and the Son, is yours, though you and I are entirely unworthy of it. If the consciousness of our unworthiness were to keep us from believing what God has said concerning those who depend upon and trust in the Lord Jesus for salvation, then we should find that there is not one single blessing, with which we have been blessed in the Lord Jesus, from which, on account of our unworthiness, we could derive any settled comfort or peace.
IV. There is one other point, which, in connection with several portions of the word of God which bear on the subject, I desire to bring before the believing reader, and it refers to the "scriptural way of overcoming the difficulties with which the believer now meets who is engaged in a business, trade, profession, or any earthly calling whatever, which arise from competition in business, too great a number of persons being occupied in the same calling, stagnation of trade, and the like." The children of God, who are strangers and pilgrims on earth, have at all times had difficulty in the world, for they are not at home, but from home; nor should they, until the return of the Lord Jesus, expect it to be otherwise with them. But whilst this is true, it is also true that the Lord has provided us in all our difficulties with something in his own word to meet them. All difficulties may be overcome by acting according to the word of God. At this time I more especially desire to point out the means whereby the children of God who are engaged in any earthly calling may be able to overcome the difficulties which arise from competition in business, too great a number of persons being occupied in the same calling, stagnation of trade, and the like.
1. The first thing which the believer who is in such difficulties has to ask himself is, Am I in a calling in which I can abide with God? If our occupation be of that kind that we cannot ask God's blessing upon it, or that we should be ashamed to be found in it at the appearing of the Lord Jesus, or that it of necessity hinders our spiritual progress, then we must give it up, and be engaged in something else; but in few cases only this is needful. Far the greater part of the occupations in which believers are engaged are not of such a nature as that they need to give them up in order to maintain a good conscience, and in order to be able to walk with God, though, perhaps, certain alterations may need to be made in the manner of conducting their trade, business, or profession. About these parts of our calling which may need alteration, we shall receive instruction from the Lord if we indeed desire it, and wait upon him for it, and expect it from him.
2. Now suppose the believer is in a calling in which he can abide with God, the next point to be settled is, "Why do I carry on this business, or why am I engaged in this trade or profession?" In most instances, so far as my experience goes, which I have gathered in my service among the saints during the last fifteen years and a half [i. e. in 1845], I believe the answer would be, "I am engaged in my earthly calling that I may earn the means of obtaining the necessaries of life for myself and family." Here is the chief error from which almost all the rest of the errors which are entertained by the children of God, relative to their calling, spring. It is no right and scriptural motive to be engaged in a trade or business or profession merely in order to earn the means for the obtaining of the necessaries of life for ourselves and family, but we should work because it is the Lord's will concerning us. This is plain from the following passages: 1 Thess. iv. 11, 12; 2 Thess. iii. 10-12; Eph. iv. 28. It is quite true that, in general, the Lord provides the necessaries of life by means of our ordinary calling: but that that is not the reason why we should work, is plain enough from the consideration that if our possessing the necessaries of life depended upon our ability of working, we could never have freedom from anxiety, for we should always have to say to ourselves, And what shall I do when I am too old to work, or when by reason of sickness I am unable to earn my bread? But if, on the other hand, we are engaged in our earthly calling because it is the will of the Lord concerning us that we should work, and that thus laboring we may provide for our families, and also be able to support the weak, the sick, the aged, and the needy, then we have good and scriptural reason to say to ourselves, Should it please the Lord to lay me on a bed of sickness, or keep me otherwise by reason of infirmity, or old age, or want of employment, from earning my bread by means of the labor of my hands, or my business, or my profession, he will yet provide for me. Because we who believe are servants of Jesus Christ, who has bought us with his own precious blood, and are not our own, and because this our precious Lord and Master has commanded us to work, therefore we work: and in doing so our Lord will provide for us, but whether in this way or any other way he is sure to provide for us, for we labor in obedience to him; and if even a just earthly master give wages to his servants, the Lord will surely see to it that we have our wages, if, in obedience to him, we are engaged in our calling, and not for our own sake.
How great the difference between acting according to the word of God and according to our own natural desires, or the customs of the world, will be plain, I trust, by the following case: Suppose I were engaged in some useful trade. Suppose I had the certain human prospect that within the next three months my labor would bring me in nothing, for certain reasons connected with the state of mercantile affairs. As a man of the world I should say, I shall not work at all, because my labor will not be paid; but as a Christian, who desires to act according to God's holy word, I ought to say, My trade is useful to society, and I will work, notwithstanding all human prospects, because the Lord Jesus has commanded me to labor; from him, and not from my trade, I expect my wages. In addition to this, the Christian ought also to say, Idleness is a dreadful snare of the devil; he has especial opportunity to get an advantage over the children of God when they are unoccupied; and, therefore, I will work though I have no human prospect of obtaining payment for my labor, but shall get only the cost price of the material, and shall have to give my work for nothing. Moreover, the Christian ought to say, Though according to human probability I shall have to labor for nothing during the next three months, yet I will work, because the Lord may speedily alter the state of things, contrary to all human expectation; but whether he be pleased to do so or not, I labor because I am the Lord's, bought by his precious blood, and he commands me to labor.
But there are motives still lower than to be engaged in our earthly calling merely that we may earn the means of obtaining the necessaries of life, why even Christians, true children of God, may be engaged in their calling, such as, to obtain a certain sum of money, and then to retire from business and to live upon the interest; or to provide something for old age; or to obtain a certain amount of property, without intending to give up business. If it be unscriptural to be engaged in our calling merely even for the sake of earning the means for procuring the necessaries of life for ourselves and family, how much more unbecoming that a child of God should be engaged in his calling for the sake of any of the last-mentioned reasons.
This second point, then, Why do I carry on this business? Why am I engaged in this trade or profession? ought first to be settled in the fear of God, and according to the revealed will of God; and if we cannot say, in honesty of heart, I do carry on my business, I am engaged in my trade, or art, or profession, as a servant of Jesus Christ, whose I am, because he has bought me with his precious blood, and he has commanded me to work, and therefore I work,--I say, if we cannot say this in honesty of heart, but must confess that we work on account of lower motives, such as that we may earn our bread, or on account of still lower motives, and such as are altogether unbecoming a child of God, who is not of the world, but of God, such as to obtain a certain sum of money in order to be able to live on the interest without having to work, or to provide something for old age, or to obtain a certain amount of property without intending to give up business;--if these are our motives for being engaged in our calling, I say, can we be surprised that we meet with great difficulties in our business, and that the Lord in his abounding love to us, his erring children, does not allow us to succeed? But suppose this second point is scripturally settled, and we can honestly say that, because we are servants of Jesus Christ, we are occupied as we are; we have further to consider,--
3. Whether we carry on our business, or are engaged in our trade, art, or profession, as stewards of the Lord. To the child of God it ought not to be enough that he is in a calling in which he can abide with God, nor that he is engaged in his calling because it is the will of his Lord and Master that he should work, but he should consider himself in his trade, business, art, or profession, only as the steward of the Lord with reference to his income. The child of God has been bought with the precious blood of the Lord Jesus, and is altogether his property, with all that he possesses, his bodily strength, his mental strength, his ability of every kind, his trade, business, art, or profession, his property, etc.; for it is written, "Ye are not your own; for ye are bought with a price." 1 Cor. vi. 19, 20. The proceeds of our calling are therefore not our own in the sense of using them as our natural heart wishes us to do, whether to spend them on the gratification of our pride, or our love of pleasure, or sensual indulgences, or to lay by the money for ourselves or our children, or use it in any way as we naturally like, but we have to stand before our Lord and Master, whose stewards we are, to seek to ascertain his will, how he will have us use the proceeds of our calling.
But is this indeed the spirit in which children of God generally are engaged in their calling? It is but too well known that it is not the case! Can we then wonder at it, that even God's own dear children should so often be found greatly in difficulty with regard to their calling, and be found so often complaining about stagnation or competition in trade, and the difficulties of the times, though there have been given to them such precious promises as, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you;" or, "Let your conversation (disposition or turn of mind) be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." Heb. xiii. 5. Is it not obvious enough that when our heavenly Father sees that we his children do or would use the proceeds of our calling, as our natural mind would desire, that he either cannot at all intrust us with means, or will be obliged to decrease them? No wise and really affectionate mother will permit her infant to play with a razor, or with fire, however much the child may desire to have them; and so the love and wisdom of our heavenly Father will not, cannot, intrust us with pecuniary means, except it be in the way of chastisement, or to show us finally their utter vanity, if he sees that we do not desire to possess them as stewards for him, in order that we may spend them as he may point out to us by his Holy Spirit, through his word.
In connection with this subject, I give a few hints to the believing reader on three passages of the word of God. In 1 Cor. xvi. 2, we find it written to the brethren at Corinth, "Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God has prospered him." A contribution for the poor saints in Judea was to be made, and the brethren at Corinth were exhorted to put by for it, every Lord's day, according to the measure of success which the Lord had been pleased to grant them in their calling during the week. Now, ought not the saints in our day also to act according to this word? There is no passage in the word of God why we should not do so, and it is altogether in accordance with our pilgrim character, not only once or twice, or four times a year, to see how much we can afford to give to the poor saints, or to the work of God in any way, but to seek to settle it weekly. If it be said, I cannot ascertain how much I have gained in the course of the week by my business, and therefore I cannot give accordingly; my reply is this, Seek, dear brethren, as much as possible, to bring your business upon such a footing as that you may be able, as nearly as possible, to settle how much you have earned in your calling in the course of the week. But suppose you should be unable to settle it exactly to the shilling or pound, yet you will know pretty well how it has been with you during the week, and therefore, according to your best knowledge, contribute on the coming Lord's day towards the necessities of the poor saints, and towards the work of God, as he, after your having sought his guidance, may lead you.
Perhaps you say, the weeks are so unlike; in one week I may earn three or even ten times as much as in another week, and if I give according to my earnings from my calling during a very good week, then how are such weeks, when I earn scarcely any thing, or how are the bad debts to be met? How shall I do when sickness befalls my family, or when other trials productive of expense come upon me, if I do not make provision for such seasons? My reply is, 1. I do not find in the whole New Testament one single passage in which either directly or indirectly exhortations are given to provide against deadness in business, bad debts, and sickness, by laying up money. 2. Often the Lord is obliged to allow deadness in business, or bad debts, or sickness in our family, or other trials which increase our expenses, to befall us, because we do not, as his stewards, act according to stewardship, but as if we were owners of what we have, forgetting that the time has not yet come when we shall enter upon our possessions; and he does so in order that, by these losses and expenses, our property which we have collected may be decreased, lest we should altogether set our hearts again upon earthly things, and forget God entirely. His love is so great, that he will not let his children quietly go their own way when they have forsaken him; but if his loving admonitions by his Holy Spirit are disregarded, he is obliged in fatherly love to chastise them. A striking illustration of what I have said we have in the case of Israel nationally. The commandment to them was, to leave their land uncultivated in the seventh year, in order that it might rest, and the Lord promised to make up for this deficiency by his abundant blessing resting upon the sixth year. However, Israel acted not according to this commandment, no doubt saying, in the unbelief of their hearts, as the Lord had foretold, "What shall we eat in the seventh year? Behold, we shall not sow, nor gather in our increase." Levit. xxv. But what did the Lord do? He was determined the land should have rest, and as the Israelites did not willingly give it, he sent them for seventy years into captivity, in order that thus the land might have rest. See Levit. xxvi. 33-35. Beloved brethren in the Lord, let us take heed so to walk as that the Lord may not be obliged by chastisement to take a part of our earthly possessions from us in the way of bad debts, sickness, decrease of business, and the like, because we would not own our position as stewards, but act as owners, and keep for ourselves the means with which the Lord had intrusted us, not for the gratification of our own carnal mind, but for the sake of using them in his service and to his praise.
It might also be said by a brother whose earnings are small, should I also give according to my earnings? They are already so small that my wife can only with the greatest difficulty manage to make them sufficient for the family. My reply is, Have you ever considered, my brother, that the very reason why the Lord is obliged to let your earnings remain so small may be the fact of your spending everything upon yourselves, and that if he were to give you more you would only use it to increase your own family comfort, instead of looking about to see who among the brethren are sick, or who have no work at all, that you might help them, or how you might assist the work of God at home or abroad? There is a great temptation for a brother whose earnings are small to put off the responsibility of assisting the needy and sick saints, or helping on the work of God, and to lay it upon the few rich brethren and sisters with whom he is associated in fellowship, and thus rob his own soul!
It might be asked, How much shall I give of my income? The tenth part, or the fifth part, or the third part, or one half, or more? My reply is, God lays down no rule concerning this point. What we do we should do cheerfully and not of necessity. But if even Jacob, with the first dawning of spiritual light (Genesis xxviii. 22), promised to God the tenth of all he should give to him, how much ought we believers in the Lord Jesus to do for him: we, whose calling is a heavenly one, and who know distinctly that we are children of God, and joint heirs with the Lord Jesus! Yet do all the children of God give even the tenth part of what the Lord gives them? That would be two shillings per week for the brother who earns one pound, and four shillings to him who earns two pounds, and two pounds per week to him whose income is twenty pounds per week.
In connection with 1 Cor. xvi. 2, I would mention two other portions: 1. "He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he that soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully." 2 Cor. ix. 6. It is certain that we children of God are so abundantly blessed in Jesus, by the grace of God, that we ought to need no stimulus to good works. The forgiveness of our sins, the having been made forever the children of God, the having before us the Father's house as our home;--these blessings ought to be sufficient motives to constrain us in love and gratitude to serve God abundantly all the days of our life, and cheerfully also to give up, as he may call for it, that with which he has intrusted us of the things of this world. But whilst this is the case, the Lord nevertheless holds out to us in his holy word motives why we should serve him, deny ourselves, use our property for him, etc., and the last mentioned passage is one of that kind. The verse is true, both with reference to the life that is now, and that which is to come. If we have been sparingly using our property for him, there will have been little treasure laid up in heaven, and therefore a small amount of capital will be found in the world to come, so far as it regards reaping. Again, we shall reap bountifully if we seek to be rich towards God, by abundantly using our means for him, whether in ministering to the necessities of the poor saints, or using otherwise our pecuniary means for his work. Dear brethren, these things are realities! Shortly, very shortly, will come the reaping-time, and then will be the question whether we shall reap sparingly or bountifully.
But while this passage refers to the life hereafter, it also refers to the life that now is. Just as now the love of Christ constrains us to communicate of that with which the Lord intrusts us, so will be the present reaping, both with regard to spiritual and temporal things. Should there be found, therefore, in a brother, the want of entering into his position as being merely a steward for the Lord in his calling, and should he give no heed to the admonitions of the Holy Ghost to communicate to those who are in need or to help the work of God, then can such a brother be surprised that he meets with great difficulties in his calling, and that he cannot get on? This is according to the Lord's word. He is sowing sparingly, and he therefore reaps sparingly. But should the love of Christ constrain a brother, out of the earnings of his calling, to sow bountifully, he will even in this life reap bountifully, both with regard to blessings in his soul, and with regard to temporal things. Consider in connection with this the following passage, which, though taken from the Book of Proverbs, is not of a Jewish character, but true concerning believers under the present dispensation also: "There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty. The liberal soul shall be made fat; and he that watereth shall be watered also himself." Prov. xi. 24, 25.
In connection with 1 Cor. xvi. 2, I would also direct my brethren in the Lord to the promise made in Luke vi. 38: "Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again." This refers evidently to the present dispensation, and evidently in its primary meaning to temporal things. Now let any one, constrained by the love of Jesus, act according to this passage; let him on the first day of the week communicate as the Lord has prospered him, and he will see that the Lord will act according to what is contained in this verse. If pride constrain us to give, if self-righteousness make us liberal, if natural feeling induce us to communicate, or if we give whilst we are in a state of insolvency, not possessing more perhaps than ten shillings in the pound, were our creditors to come upon us; then we cannot expect to have this verse fulfilled in our experience; nor should we give at any time for the sake of receiving again from others, according to this verse; but if indeed the love of Christ constrain us to communicate according to the ability which the Lord gives us, then we shall have this verse fulfilled in our experience, though this was not the motive which induced us to give. Somehow or other the Lord will abundantly repay us, through the instrumentality of our fellow-men, what we are doing to his poor saints, or in any way for his work, and we shall find that in the end we are not losers, even with reference to temporal things, whilst we communicate liberally of the things of this life with which the Lord has intrusted us.
Here it might be remarked, But if it be so that even in this life, and with regard to temporal things, it is true that "to him that gives shall be given, good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over," and that "he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully," then in the end the most liberal persons would be exceedingly rich. Concerning this remark we have to keep in mind, that the moment persons were to begin to give for the sake of receiving more back again from the Lord, through the instrumentality of their fellow-men, than they have given; or the moment persons wished to alter their way, and no more go on sowing bountifully, but sparingly, in order to increase their possessions, whilst God is allowing them to reap bountifully, the river of God's bounty toward them would no longer continue to flow. God had supplied them abundantly with means, because he saw them act as stewards for him. He had intrusted them with a little which they had used for him, and he therefore intrusted them with more; and if they had continued to use the much also for him, he would have still more abundantly used them as instruments to scatter abroad his bounties. The child of God must be willing to be a channel through which God's bounties flow, both with regard to temporal and spiritual things. This channel is narrow and shallow at first, it may be; yet there is room for some of the waters of God's bounty to pass through. And if we cheerfully yield ourselves as channels for this purpose, then the channel becomes wider and deeper, and the waters of the bounty of God can pass through more abundantly. Without a figure, it is thus: At first, we may be only instrumental in communicating five pounds, or ten pounds, or twenty pounds, or fifty pounds, or one hundred pounds, or two hundred pounds per year, but afterwards double as much; and, if we are still more faithful in our stewardship, after a year or two four times as much, afterwards perhaps eight times as much, at last perhaps twenty times or fifty times as much. We cannot limit the extent to which God may use us as instruments in communicating blessing, both temporal and spiritual, if we are willing to yield ourselves as instruments to the living God, and are content to be only instruments, and to give him all the glory.
But with regard to temporal things it will be thus, that if indeed we walk according to the mind of God in these things, whilst more and more we become instruments of blessing to others, we shall not seek to enrich ourselves, but be content, when the last day of another year finds us still in the body, to possess no more than on the last day of the previous year, or even considerably less, whilst we have been, however, in the course of the year, the instruments of communicating largely to others, through the means with which the Lord had intrusted us. As to my own soul, by the grace of God, it would be a burden to me that however much my income in the course of the year might have been, I were increasing in earthly possession; for it would be a plain proof to me that I had not been acting as a steward for God, and had not been yielding myself as a channel for the waters of God's bounty to pass through. I also cannot but bear my testimony here, that in whatever feeble measure God has enabled me to act according to these truths for the last fifteen years [this was written in 1845]; I have found it to be profitable, most profitable to my own soul; and as to temporal things, I never was a loser in doing so, but I have most abundantly found the truth in 2 Cor. ix. 6, and Luke vi. 38, and Prov. xi. 24, 25, verified in my own experience. I only have to regret that I have acted so little according to what I have now been stating; but my godly purpose is by the help of God, to spend the remainder of my days in practising these truths more than ever; and I am sure that when I am brought to the close of my earthly pilgrimage, either in death, or by the appearing of our Lord Jesus, I shall not have the least regret in having done so; and I know that, should I leave my dear child behind, the Lord will abundantly provide for her, and prove that there has been a better provision made for her than her father could have made, if he had sought to insure his life or lay up money for her.
Before leaving this part of the subject, I mention to the believing reader, that I know instance upon instance in which what I have been saying has been verified, but I will only mention the following: I knew many years ago a brother as the manager of a large manufactory. Whilst in this capacity he was liberal, and giving away considerably out of his rather considerable salary. The Lord repaid this to him; for the principals of the establishment, well knowing his value to their house of business, gave him now and then, whilst he thus was liberally using his means for the Lord, very large presents in money. In process of time, however, this brother thought it right to begin business on his own account, in a very small way. He still continued to be liberal, according to his means, and God prospered him, and prospered him so that now, whilst I am writing, his manufactory is as large as the one which he formerly managed, or even larger, though that was a very considerable one. And sure I am that if this brother shall be kept by God from setting his heart upon earthly things, and from seeking more and more to increase his earthly riches, but shall delight himself in being used as a steward by God, cheerfully communicating to the need of God's poor children, or to his work in other ways, and doing so not sparingly, but bountifully, the Lord will intrust him more and more with means; if otherwise, if he shut up his hands, seek his own, wish to obtain sufficient property that he may be able to live on his interest, then what he has to expect is that God will shut up his hands, he will meet with heavy losses, or there will be an alteration in his affairs for the worse, or the like.
I also mention two other cases, to show that the Lord increases our ability of communicating temporal blessings to others if we distribute according to the means with which he has intrusted us, though we should not be in a trade or business or profession. I know a brother who many years ago saw it right not only to spend his interest for the Lord, but also the principal, as the Lord might point out to him opportunities. His desire was not, as indeed it ought never to be, to get rid of his money as fast as possible, yet he considered himself a steward for the Lord, and was therefore willing, as his Lord and Master might point it out to him, to spend his means. When this brother came to this determination, he possessed about twenty thousand pounds sterling. According to the light and grace which the Lord had been pleased to give, he afterwards acted, spending the money for the Lord, in larger or smaller sums, as opportunities were pointed out to him by the Lord. Thus the sum more and more decreased, whilst the brother steadily pursued his course, serving the Lord with his property, and spending his time and ability also for the Lord, in service of one kind or another among his children. At last, the twenty thousand pounds were almost entirely spent, when at that very time the father of this very brother died, whereby he came into the possession of an income of several thousand pounds a year. It gives joy to my heart to be able to add, that this brother still pursues his godly course, living in the most simple way, and giving away perhaps ten times as much as he spends on himself or family. Here you see, dear reader, that this brother, using faithfully for the Lord what he had been intrusted with at first, was made steward over more; for he has now more than one third as much in a year coming in as he at first possessed altogether.
I mention another instance: I know a brother to whom the Lord has given a liberal heart, and who bountifully gave of that over which the Lord had set him as steward. The Lord, seeing this, intrusted him with still more, for through family circumstances he came into the possession of many thousand pounds, in addition to the considerable property he possessed before. I have the joy of being able to add also concerning this brother, that the Lord continues to give him grace to use his property as a steward for God, and that he has not been permitted to set his heart upon his riches, through the very considerable increase of his property, but that he continues to live as the steward of the Lord, and not as the owner of all this wealth.
And now, dear reader, when the brethren to whom I have been referring are brought to the close of their earthly pilgrimage, will they have one moment's regret that they have used their property for the Lord? Will it be the least particle of uneasiness to their minds, or will their children be the worse for it? O no! The only regret they will have concerning this matter will be, that they did not serve the Lord still more abundantly with their property. Dear reader, let us each in our measure act in the same spirit. Money is really worth no more than as it is used according to the mind of the Lord; and life is worth no more than as it is spent in the service of the Lord.
Whilst the three points mentioned--1. That our calling must be of that nature that we can abide in it with God; 2. That unto the Lord we should labor in our calling, as his servants, because he has bought us with his blood, and because he will have us to labor; 3. That as stewards we should labor in our calling, because the earnings of our calling are the Lord's and not our own, as he has bought us with his blood;--I say, whilst these three points are particularly to be attended to in order that the Lord's blessing may rest upon our calling, and we be prospering in it, there are, nevertheless, some other points to be attended to, which I mention in love to my brethren in the Lord, by whom they may be needed.
4. The next point is, that a believer in the Lord Jesus should do nothing in his calling which is purely for the sake of attracting the world; such as, for instance, fitting up his shop or rooms of business in the most costly manner. I do not in the least mean to say that his shop or rooms of business should not be clean, orderly, and of such a character as that there may be no positive hindrance in persons going there. All the needful conveniences that are expected may be there, and ought to be there. But if any child of God seek to have the front of his shop, or the interior of his shop, or of his place of business, fitted up in a most expensive way, simply for the sake of attracting attention, then let him be aware that, just in so far as he is trusting in these things, he is not likely to succeed in his calling, because he puts the manner of fitting up the shop in the room of trust in the Lord. Such things the Lord may allow to succeed in the case of an unbeliever, but they will not prosper in the case of a child of God, except it be in the way of chastisement, just as the Lord gave to Israel in the wilderness the desire of their hearts, but sent leanness into their souls. Should any brother have fallen into this error, the first thing he has to do, when the Lord has instructed him concerning this point, is to make confession of sin, and, as far as it can be done, to retrace his steps in this particular. If this cannot be done, then to cast himself upon the mercy of God in Christ Jesus.
5. Of the same character is, to seek to attract the attention of the world by "boasting advertisements," such as "no one manufactures so good an article," "no one sells this article so cheap," "we sell the best article in the city," etc. Suppose these statements were quite correct, yet they are unbecoming for a child of God, who has the living God to care for him and to provide for him, and therefore needs not to make use of such boasting, whereby he may seek to insure custom to himself and keep it from others. The law of love is, "Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them." Matt. vii. 12. Now what do I wish in this particular that others should do to me, but that they should not seek to keep away persons from dealing with me; but if I use such like expressions in my advertisements, as have been mentioned, what do they imply but that I wish all people should come to me, and deal with me? If, however, already under the old covenant it was said, "Thou shalt not covet," how much more sinful and altogether unbecoming is it for us children of God, who are in fellowship with the Father and the Son, to make use of such means in order to insure to ourselves pecuniary advantages. But, however much the Lord may allow a man of the world to prosper in using such means, they are only hindrances to the child of God to getting on in his calling, because the Lord sees that they are substituted instead of trust in himself; and should the Lord for a season allow his child apparently to be benefited by them, it will only be for his chastisement and connected with leanness in his soul. Therefore, my brethren in the Lord, I beseech you to put away all these things out of your calling, lest you should be hindering instead of furthering your real welfare.
6. Likewise of a similar character is the following point, which God may suffer to be a real hindrance to his children in their calling; it is, To seek the very best, and therefore the most expensive, situations which can be had in a town or city. Now, I do by no means intend to say, that in our trade, business, art, or profession, we should seek the most obscure, retired, out of the way place possible, and say, "God will provide, and I need not mind in what part of the town I carry on my calling." There are most assuredly certain things to be considered. The persons who are likely to buy the articles I sell, or employ me, are to be considered, and I have not to say, it matters nothing to me whether I make them come a mile or two to my house, or to the most dirty and disagreeable part of the town; this would be the extreme in the other way. But whilst there is a certain consideration to be used with reference to those who may employ us in our calling, yet if the trust of the child of God respecting temporal prosperity is in the fact that he lives in the best situation, the Lord will surely disappoint him. He will have to pay a very high rent for the best situation, and yet not succeed, because his trust is in the best situation. He is substituting it for dependence upon the living God for customers. He is robbing his soul, not only in not taking the customers as from the hands of the Lord, but he is also obliging his heavenly Father, in the very love of his heart, to cause him to be disappointed, because he is not trusting in him. If the child of God were saying and acting thus: the best situation would cost me fifty pounds a year more rent than one which is not really inconvenient for my customers, nor in an improper neighborhood, and the like; this fifty pounds I dedicate unto the Lord, to be paid in instalments for his work or his poor saints, whenever the rent-day comes; such a brother would find himself to be no loser, if this indeed were done in dependence upon the Lord, and constrained by the love of Jesus. But if the fifty pounds more is paid for rent, and yet the living God, in the very love of his heart, should be obliged to withhold prosperity from his child in his calling, because he sees that he is laying undue stress upon the situation of the house, then not only the fifty pounds extra rent per year is lost, but also that which the Lord is obliged to withhold from his child besides, in order to teach him the lesson; and thus year after year, by our own fault, we may have scarcely anything to give for the work of God.
7. The next obstacle to prosperity in our calling which I now would mention is, That children of God often use such expressions as these with reference to their calling: "This is our busy time," or "This is our dead time;" which implies that they do not day after day deal with God about their calling, but that they ascribe their having much or little to do to circumstances, or to times and seasons. That the people of the world should do so is not to be wondered at; but that the children of God should act thus, who in the most minute affairs of life should seek the help of God, and deal with God about them, is a matter of sorrow to the spiritual mind, and is altogether unbecoming saints. But what is the result? The Lord, according to the expectations of his children, allows them to be without employment, because they say, "This is our dead season." "He did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief," contains a truth which comes in here. But what is the right way of looking at the matter? It is this: the child of God should say, though generally about this time of the year there is little employment to be expected, looking at it naturally, just as want of employment is neither good for the outward nor inward man, and as I only desire employment to serve God in my business, to have to give to those who are in need, or help in other ways the work of God, I will now give myself to prayer for employment, for I can by prayer and faith as a child of God obtain blessings from my heavenly Father, though not in the ordinary course of things. If thus the child of God were to say and to act, he would soon have employment in his calling, except the Lord meant to use his time otherwise in his work, which he would point out to him.
8. A further reason why God may be obliged to resist children of God in their business, may be this, that they with the greatest carefulness seek to obtain persons for their shop who are considered "good salesmen," i. e. persons who have such persuasive ways, as that they gain an advantage over the customers and induce them not only to buy articles for which they ask, whether suitable or not, but that they also induce them to buy articles which they did not at all intend to buy when they came to the shop. Concerning this I notice, in the first place, that if the child of God puts his dependence upon the "good salesmen," let him not be surprised if his heavenly Father should be obliged to disappoint him, because he sees his child lean upon the arm of flesh, instead of trusting in the living God; and therefore the business does not succeed. Further, it is altogether wrong for a child of God to induce the customers, by means of such men or women who have a persuasive tongue, to purchase articles whether they suit or not, and whether they are needed or not. This is no less than defrauding persons in a subtle way, or leading them into the sin of purchasing beyond their means, or at least spending their money needlessly. However such sinful tricks may be allowed to prosper in the case of a man of the world, in the case of a child of God they will not prosper, except God allow them to do so in the way of chastisement, whilst leanness and wretchedness are brought into the soul. I knew a case of this kind where it was the whole bent of the mind of a professed believer to obtain such "good salesmen," and where even a Jew was kept outside the shop, walking up and down, to induce persons to come in and buy; and yet that same professed believer failed twice in his business.
9. Another evil with reference to business, and why children of God do not get on in their calling, is, that they enter upon business often without any capital at all, or with too little. If a believer has no capital at all, or only a very small capital, in comparison with what his business requires, then ought he not to say this to himself: "If it were my heavenly Father's will that I should enter upon business on my own account, then would he not somehow or other have intrusted me with the needful means? And since he has not, is it not a plain indication that for the present I should remain a journeyman (or shopman, or clerk, as the case may be)?" In a variety of ways the means might come. For instance, a legacy might be left to him, or money might be given to him by a brother in the Lord for that very purpose, or a brother or sister might propose to the individual to lend him money, yet so that if he were unable to pay it again they would not consider him their debtor. But if in some such way the Lord did not remove the hindrance, and the brother would still go into business, he would, through the bill system and other things connected with the want of capital, not only bring great distress into his mind, and subject himself to the possibility of at last being unable to pay his creditors, whereby dishonor would be brought upon the name of the Lord, but he likewise could not be surprised (as he went into business contrary to the will of God, since he pointed out to him that he was not to do so for want of means) if he should find that he cannot get on, and that the blessing of God manifestly is wanting. In such a case as this, if it can be done, the retracing our steps is the best thing we can do; but often this cannot be done, as others are involved in the matter, and then we have to make acknowledgment of our sin, and seek God's merciful help to bring us into a right position.
10. But suppose all these nine previous points were attended to, and we neglected to seek God's blessing upon our calling, we need still not be surprised if we met with difficulty upon difficulty, and could not get on at all. It is not enough that we seek God's help for that which manifestly is of a spiritual character; but we should seek his help and blessing by prayer and supplication for all our ordinary concerns in life, and if we neglect doing so we shall surely suffer for the neglect. "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." Prov. iii. 5, 6.
Though these few remarks are written by one who never was in business himself, yet the truths therein set forth have been learned by him in the school of God, and he has had them abundantly confirmed through his pastoral labors during the last fifteen years and a half. [This was written in 1845.]