"It is better to have little with fear for the Lord than
to have great treasure with turmoil." Proverbs 15:16
The verdict of the world is very different.
Notwithstanding the often-repeated declarations of Scripture, myriads are
daily hastening to become rich. Onwards they rush with unabated ardor, to
reach the object of their ambition; and, despite failure, misfortune, and
frequent disappointment, they return afresh to the struggle. And, alas! how
often do they receive, as their miserable reward, premature old age, and the
unquenched cravings of avarice and passion! Wise was the prayer of Agur--"give
me neither poverty nor riches! Give me just enough to satisfy my needs" for
the pangs of poverty excite complaining, and the possession of riches is
sure to arouse the envious. He, who would walk securely along the pathway of
life, will choose the middle course; and his prayer will be "Teach me, O
Lord, in whatever state I am, therewith to be content."
Christian! religion does not forbid you to
acquire RICHES--nor to be industrious in your worldly calling. But, if your
plans should prosper--your barns be filled with plenty, and your treasures
be increased--remember, there is danger in your fullness. Your heart
may be weaned from God, and all your best and purest affections may be
perverted. "The fear of the Lord" alone can keep you safe. Then will you
regard yourself as a steward, bound to devote your substance to the glory of
God, and to promote His cause and kingdom on the earth.
And, should your lot be one of POVERTY, still, "the fear
of the Lord" will keep you from repining. Think how many are in sorer
straits, who have to bear heavier burdens, and on whose every plan seems to
have been written the inscription, "Failure and disappointment." Because
your path has for a season been a thorny one--because some of your hopes
have been blasted--because everything is not ordered according to your
wishes, are you to sit down, murmuring and dissatisfied? Are you wiser than
your heavenly Father? Would He lay upon you an unnecessary burden? No, has
He not told you--has not your own experience proved; that riches alone
cannot confer happiness?--that better is the crust of bread and the cup of
water, with God's blessing, than all the riches of the earth without His
favor? Seek, by His grace, to learn contentment with your lot, to regard it
as the appointment of your heavenly Father. When your cup is full, pray that
it may be carried with a grateful hand; when the stream of earthly happiness
is dried up, lean on the arm of your covenant God, and say, "All was
needed." Look forward, Christian, whatever be your circumstances, to your
portion in eternity. Let the language of your soul be–
"From darkness here, and dreariness,
We ask not full repose;
Only be Thou at hand, to bless
Our trial hour of woes.
Is not the pilgrim's toil o'erpaid
By the clear rill and palmy shade?
And see we not, up earth's dark glade,
The gate of heaven unclose?"
"Riches profit not in the day of wrath;" but, having the
"fear of God," and being numbered among His chosen ones, you are secure of
happiness. Heaven and its joys await you; the pleasures which are at God's
right hand shall be yours; the riches of eternity you shall inherit, when
thrones and dominions, and all that earth contains, shall crumble into
ashes. Submit yourself, then, without a murmur to the hand of God, to assign
you prosperity, or to visit with adversity. Seek thus, not only to secure
your own peace and comfort, but to be a blessing to all around you; for, a
contented mind sheds a halo on every side, and diffuses happiness wherever
it exists. And, do not forget, that true contentment consists "in a ready
and cheerful compliance with the will of God--in our patient continuance in
our honest employments and callings--in our thankful use of external
blessings, and our honest endeavors to procure them--in the diligent effort
to do good in our stations, so long as we continue in them; and not, either
in shunning all contact with the world, or murmuring because some other
position has not been assigned us." Let this, then, be the spirit of your
daily prayer– "Give us, O Lord, Your heavenly grace, that we may learn, in
whatever state we are, therewith to be content. May we so learn to do and
endure Your will, that at length, through the discipline here undergone, we
may be fitted for Your heavenly kingdom, through Jesus Christ our Lord."
"O faithless, unbelieving heart!
So slow to trust that tenderest Friend,
Who aye will needful strength impart,
Who loving, 'loves unto the end.'
"No longer doubt, nor fear nor grieve,
Nor on uncertain evils dwell;
Past, present, future, calmly leave
To him who will 'do all things well.'"
"Father, I know that all my life
Is portioned out for me;
And the changes that will surely come,
I do not fear to see;
But I ask You for a patient mind,
Intent on pleasing Thee.
"I ask You for a thoughtful love,
Through constant watching, wise,
To meet the glad with joyful smiles,
And to wipe the weeping eyes;
And a heart at leisure from itself,
To soothe and sympathize.
"I would not have the restless way,
That hurries to and fro,
Seeking for some great thing to do,
Or secret thing to know;
I would be treated as a child,
And guided where I go.
"Wherever in the world I am,
In whatsoever estate,
I have a fellowship with hearts
To keep and cultivate,
And a work of lowly love to do,
For the Lord on whom I wait.
"So I ask You for the daily strength,
To none that ask denied,
And a mind to blend with outward life
While keeping at Your side–
Content to fill a little space,
If You be glorified.
"And if some things I do not ask
In my cup of blessing be,
I would have my spirit filled the more
With grateful love to Thee,
And careful less to serve You much,
Than to please You perfectly.
"There are briars besetting every path,
Which call for patient care;
There is a cross in every lot,
And an earnest need for prayer;
But a lowly heart that leans on You
Is happy everywhere.
"In a service which Your love appoints
There are no bonds for me,
For my secret heart is taught 'the truth'
That makes Your children 'free;'
And a life of self-renouncing love,
Is a life of liberty."