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John Wesley on the Use of Money

Below is a summary of the John Wesley’s sermon 53 – ‘On the use of money’

Introduction

  1. For, let the world be as corrupt as it will, is gold or silver to blame : “The love of money,” we know, “is the root of all evil:” but not the thing itself. The fault does not lie in the money, but in them that use it. It may be used ill : and what may not
  2. But it may likewise be used well: it is full as applicable to the best, as to the worst uses. It is of unspeakable service to all civilized nations, in all the common affairs of life. It is a most compendious instrument, of transacting all manner of business, and, (if we use it according to Christian wisdom), of doing all manner of good.
  3. But, in the present state of mankind, it is an excellent gift of God, answering the noblest ends. In the hands of his children, it is food for the hungry, drink for the thirsty, raiment for the naked. It gives to the traveller and the stranger where to lay his head. By it we may supply the place of an husband to the widow, and of a father to the fatherless. We may be a defence for the oppressed, a mean of health to the sick, of ease to them that are in pain; it may be as eyes to the blind, as feet to the lame; yea, a lifter up from the gates of death.
  4. It is, therefore, of the highest concern, that all, who fear God, should know how to employ this valuable talent; that they should be instructed, how it may answer these glorious ends, and in the highest degree. And, perhaps, all the instructions, which are necessary for this, may be reduced to three plain rules

Gain all you can

  1. “Here we may speak like the children of the world: we meet them on their own ground. And it is our bounden duty to do this: We ought to gain all we can gain, without buying gold too dear, without paying more for it than it is worth.
  2. “no gain whatsoever should induce us to enter into, or continue in, any employ, which is of such a kind, or is attended with so hard or so long labour, as to impair our constitution.
    1. Neither should we begin or continue in any business, which necessarily deprives us of proper seasons for food and sleep in such a proportion as our nature requires. Indeed, there is a great difference here: Some employments are absolutely and totally unhealthy.
  3. “We are, Secondly, to “gain all we can,” without hurting our mind any more than our body.
    1. Therefore, we may not engage or continue in any sinful trade, any that is contrary to the law of God, or of our country.
    2. There are yet others which many pursue with perfect innocence, without hurting either their body or mind. And yet, perhaps, you cannot : either they may entangle you in that company, which would destroy your soul.
    3. None, therefore, can here determine for another, but every man must judge for himself, and abstain from whatever he in particular finds to be hurtful to his soul.
  4. We are, Thirdly, to “gain all we can,” without hurting our neighbour.
    1. Hereby all pawn-broking is excluded : seeing whatever good we might do thereby, all unprejudiced men see with grief to be abundantly overbalanced by the evil.
    2. We cannot, consistently with brotherly love, sell our goods below the market-price. We cannot study to ruin our neighbour’s trade, in order to advance our own.
    3. Much less can we entice away, or receive any of his servants or workmen whom he has need of. None can gain, by swallowing up his neighbour’s substance, without gaining the damnation of hell.
    4. Neither may we gain by hurting our neighbour in his body. Therefore, we may not sell any thing which tends to impair health.
    5. And so is whatever is procured by hurting our neighbour in his soul, by ministering, suppose, either directly or indirectly, to his unchastity or intemperance; which certainly none can do, who has any fear of God, or any real desire of pleasing him. It nearly concerns all those to consider this, who have any thing to do with taverns, victualling-houses, opera-houses, play- o houses, or any other places of public, fashionable diversion. – – – – – If these profit the souls of men, you are clear; your employment is good, and your gain innocent. But, if they are either sinful in themselves, or natural inlets to sin of various kinds, then, it is to be feared, you have a sad account to make. O, beware, lest God say in that day, “These have perished in their iniquity, but their blood do I require at r o thy hands.”
  5. Gain all you can by honest industry: Use all possible diligence in your calling. Lose no time : If you understand yourself, and your relation to God and man, you know you have none to spare.”
    1. “Never leave any thing till to-morrow, which you can do to-day. And do it as well as possible. Do not sleep or yawn over it: Put your whole strength to the work.”
  6. Gain all you can, by common sense, by using in your business all the understanding which God has given you.
    1. It is amazing to observe, how few do this: how men run on in the same dull track with their forefathers. But whatever they do, who know not God, this is no rule for you.
    2. It is a shame for a Christian, not to improve upon them, in whatever he takes in hand. You should be continually learning, from the experience of others, or from your own experience, reading, and reflection, to do every thing you have to do, better to-day than you did yesterday.”

Save all you can

  1. Do not throw it away in idle expenses, which is just the same as throwing it into the sea.
    1. Expend no part of it merely to gratify the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eye, or the pride of life. 2. Do not waste any part of so precious a talent, merely in gratifying the desires of the flesh; in procuring the pleasures of sense of whatever kind; particularly, in enlarging the pleasure of tasting. I do not mean, avoid gluttony and drunkenness only: an honest heathen would condemn these. But there is a regular, reputable kind of sensuality, an elegant epicurism, which does not immediately disorder the stomach, nor (sensibly at least) impair the understanding. And yet, (to mention no other effects of it now,) it cannot be maintained without considerable expense. Cut off all this expense: Despise delicacy and variety, and be content with what plain nature requires.”
  2. “Do not waste any part of so precious a talent, merely in gratifying the desire of the eye, by superfluous and expensive apparel, or by needless ornaments. Waste no part of it in curiously adorning your houses, in superfluous or expensive furniture: in costly pictures, painting, gilding, books: in elegant, rather than useful, gardens.”
  3. ” Lay out nothing to gratify the pride of life, to gain the admiration or praise of men.”
  4. “And why should you throw away money upon your children, any more than upon yourself, in delicate food, in gay or costly apparel, in superfluities of any kind? Why should you purchase for them more pride or lust, more vanity, or foolish and hurtful desires : They do not want any more : they have enough already: Nature has made ample provision for them. Why should you be at farther expense to increase their temptations and snares, and to pierce them through with many sorrows:”
    1. Do not leave it to them to throw away. If you have good reason to believe they would waste what is now in your possession, in gratifying, and thereby increasing the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eye, or the pride of life; at the peril of theirs and your own soul, do not set these traps in their way.
    2. How amazing, then, is the infatuation of those parents, who think they can never leave their children enough What! cannot you leave them enough of arrows, firebrands, and death Not enough of foolish and hurtful desires 2 Not enough of pride, lust, ambition, vanity Not enough of everlasting burnings? Poor wretch Thou fearest where no fear is. Surely both thou and they, when ye are lifting up your eyes in hell, will have enough both of “the worm that never dieth, and of the fire that never shall be quenched . “

Give all you can

  1. “But let not any man imagine, that he has done any thing barely by going thus far, by “gaining and saving all he can,” if he were to stop here. All this is nothing, if a man go not forward, if he does not point all this at a further end. Nor, indeed, can a man properly be said to save any thing, if he only lays it up. You may as well throw your money into the sea, as bury it in the earth. And you may as well bury it in the earth, as in your chest, or in the Bank of England. Not to use, is effectually to throw it away. If, therefore, you would indeed “make yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness,” add the third rule to the two preceding. Having first gained all you can, and secondly saved all you can, then give all you can.
  2. “When the Possessor of heaven and earth brought you into being, and placed you in this world, he placed you here not as a proprietor, but a steward. As such he entrusted you for a season with goods of various kinds.
    1. First, provide things needful for yourself, food to eat, raiment to put on, whatever nature moderately requires, for preserving the body in health and strength.
    2. “Secondly, Provide these for your wife, your children, your servants, or any others, who pertain to your household.
    3. “If, when this is done, there be an overplus left, then “do good to them that are of the household of faith.”
    4. “If there be an overplus still, “as you have opportunity, do good unto all men.” In so doing, you give all you can ; nay, in a sound sense, all you have: for all that is laid out in this manner, is really given to God.
  3. You “render unto God the things that are God’s,” not only by what you give to the poor, but also by that which you expend in providing things needful for yourself and your household.
  4. “If then a doubt should at any time arise in your mind, concerning what you are going to expend, either on yourself or any part of your family, you have an easy way to remove it. Calmly and seriously enquire,
    1. In expending this, am I acting according to my character? Am I acting herein, not as a proprietor, but as a steward of my Lord’s goods
    2. Am I doing this in obedience to his Word? In what portion of it does he require me so to do?
    3. Can I offer up this action, this expense, as a sacrifice to God through Jesus Christ?
    4. Have I reason to believe, that for this very work I shall have a reward at the resurrection of the just?
    5. If any doubt still remain… Try whether you can say to the Searcher of Hearts, your conscience not condemning you, “Lord, thou seest, I am going to expend this sum, on that food, apparel, furniture. And thou knowest, I act therein with a single eye, as a steward of thy goods, expending this portion of them thus, in pursuance of the design thou hadst in entrusting me with them. Thou knowest I do this in obedience to thy word, as thou commandest, and because thou commandest it. ‘Let this, I beseech thee, be an holy sacrifice, acceptable through Jesus Christ’ And give me a witness in myself, that for this labour of love, I shall have a recompense, when thou rewardest every man according to his works.” Now, if your conscience bear you witness in the Holy Ghost, that this prayer is well-pleasing to God, then have you no reason to doubt, but that expense is right and good, and such as will never make you ashamed

Conclusion

  1. Gain all you can, without hurting either yourself or your neighbour, in soul or body, by applying hereto with unintermitted diligence, and with all the understanding which God has given you.
  2. Save all you can, by cutting off every expense, which serves only to indulge foolish desire: to gratify either the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eye, or the pride of life. Waste nothing, living or dying, on sin or folly, whether for yourself or your children.
  3. And then give all you can, or, in other words, give all you have to God. Do not stint yourself, like a Jew rather than a Christian, to this or that proportion.
  4. Render unto God, not a tenth, not a third, not half; but all that is God’s, be it more or less: By employing all, on yourself, your household, the household of faith, and all mankind, in such a manner, that you may give a good account of your stewardship, when ye can be no longer stewards: In such a manner as the Oracles of God direct, both by general and particular precepts: In such a manner, that whatever ye do may be “a sacrifice of a sweet-smelling savour to God; ” and that every act may be rewarded in that day, when the Lord cometh with all his saints.

 

 

 

 

The original source can be found below.

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