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Christian stewardship. A treatise on the scriptural obligation, method, measure and privilege of systemized beneficence online

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FOURTH T.DITION.

CHRlSTIAiN STEWAllDSHIP.



A TREATISE



ON THE



SCRIPTURAL OBLIGATION, METHOD.
MEASURE AND PRIVILEGE



OF



SYSTEIIZED BExNEFICENCB.



BY REV. J. ASHWORTH,



OF EAST G£N£S££ CONF£R£NCE.



" Remember the word^ of the Lord
more hles.«ed to ^ve tlian to receivi'.
in 6tewardt?,' that a man l;e found fai



AUBUR
WILLIAM J. M
1861.




\W



TBE Kt^V YORK

PUBLIC LIBRARY

964794A

ABTOB, LKK«X AlTO
fILDSJf FOUNDATION!
» 193«



Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year ISSC', by

J. ASHWORTH,

In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the Northern District
of New Yorli.



STKRROTVrEn BY

WILLIAM J . IVl S E S,

AUBUKN N. Y.



CHRISTIAN STEWARDSHIP:

BY REV. J. ASHWORTH.



JUDOMENT OP REVIEWERS.

" I give it as my deliberate opinion, tliat no person of ordinary intel-
ligence and honesty can read this book without having his mind con-
vinced and his heart enlarged." — N'. W. C Advocate.

" I have read it with much interest, and could wish that a copy of it
were in the hands of every professor of religion in the land. * * It is
discussed in all its parts, with marked ability and earnestness. The
book is favorably received, and is doing a good work in the denomina-
tion to which the author belongs ; and being entirely free from any sec-
tarian bias, is equally well adapted for circulation among other denom-
inations. The result would unquestionably be most happy, if such
works as this were more circulated among the members of our
Churches." — Genesee Evangelist (Presbyterian.)

" This is an excellent book, written in an earnest, pointed style ; clear,
logical and evangelical. It will do good. Get the book and read it." —
Northern Christian Advocate.

"This work has real merit. It was selected by Judge McLean, from
a large number of competing volumes for the prize of $300 ; and, in our
judgment, it is better than the work to which the award was given." —
The Northern Independent.

" This work is inestimable in Its value to Christian readers ; and no
family should be without it in their midst. It is adjudged by the most
competent to be the best work ever written upon this subject." — Steuben
Farmer^ s Advocate.

> " Christian Stewardship, by Rev. J. Ashworth, is a work which we
have read with pleasure and profit. * * The main positions taken are
fortified by a collection of examples, personal and collective, that cannot
fail to make a deep impression, and do good. In our judgment, it
would work a wonderful change in the financial transactions of the
Church, could this valuable treatise have, as it merits, an extensive cir-
culation." — Wesleyan.

Rev. Bishop Waugh says : " Christian Stewaedship, by Rev. J.
Ashworth. This is an excellent book, calculated to instruct and move
the reader. I hope it will have an extensive circulation."



*A B S
*^y 5, 1938



Hon. J. McLean, of the United States Supreme Court, sayB : " It has
high merit, and cannot fail to do much good."
Kev. K. Scott, D. D., of Dublin city, says, in a letter to the anther:

* * " Your work on Systematic Beneficence I have read with care and
interest. The subject, in my judgment, is the one most needed by the.
Church, nor can your clear, practical method of treating it fail to produce
conviction in the mind of the candid reader."

Eev. A. C. George says : " This is an excellent book, and ought to
have an extensive circulation. The style is unexceptionable, the ar-
rangement admirable, the argument complete and triumphant. It is a
book which was needed ; notwithstanding all that has been published on
the subject, it will do good."

Eev. H. K. Clarke says : " I have been much interested reading
CimrsTiAN Stewakdsuip, by Kev. J. Ashworth. Its circulation and
perusal must do good."

Eev. J. C. Vandercook says : "I have just read the new work on
Christian Stewardship, by Rev. J. Ashworth. * * It cannot fail to do
good wherever it is read. 100,000 copies ought to be scattered through
the land."

Eov. I. McMahon, Principal of E. U. Seminary, says, through Zion's
Herald : " * * I have read it carefully with pleasure and profit I
consider it one of the very best works on benevolence ever issued from
the pres.s. I think it would be almost an impossibility to read it and not
have the heart excited to liberality."

Eev. D. D. Buck says, in the N. C. Advocate: "I have just finished
reading the treatise on Systematic Beneficence by Eev. J. Ashworth.

* * As a plain, Scriptural, practical treatise, I doubt if it has a su-
perior. I am not surprised that Hon. J. McLean, after reading the man-
uscript, considered this among the very best, if not in fact the best of
the many that were written for the prize. I also take pleasure in com-
mending this work, because the author himself, as I have rcjison to be-
lieve, practices what he urges with so much force upon others. The
ministerial a-ssociates of Br. Ashworth will all bear witness to his hab-
itual readiness to give his naiue, his services and his money, to every
good enterprise."

This voluntary expression of opinion is endorsed by the following
influential ministers.

" We, the undersigned, most cordially concur in the above opinion of
Rev. D. D. Buck :

W. H. DE PUY, D. NUTTEN, W. II. GOODWIN,

SCUUYLEU SEOAE, J. M. I'AEK, A. SUTUERLAND

JAMES LANDIiETH, J. J. BROWN, J. N. BEOWN,

J. L. EDSON, M. WHEELER, B. SlIIPM^VN.



Rev. C. PriiuJle, editor of the A^nerican Wesleyan, and Book Agent
at Syracuse, says: "This is really one of the most valuable treatise of the
Scriptural doctrines of Christian Beneficence that we' have ever read. . . .
We earnestly wish that a copy of this volume could be placed in every
family in our connection. The benefits to the reader, and the cause of
God in general, would be greatly increased, we have no doubt." The
sincerity of this commendation is evinced by sending his order in ad-
vance for four hundred copies of the forth-coming edition.

President A^ellis, of Victoria College, says in the Christian Guardian :
"Allow me, through your paper, to call attention to an excellent work
on the subject of proportionate giving. I refer to a book entitled Chris-
tian StewardsMxj, written by the Eev. J. Ashworth, a Methodist minis-
ter of the East Genesee Conference. This treatise is short, cheap and
practical, and is well adapted for pojiular reading. It may, I presume,
be obtained through our Book-Steward, in Toronto. . . . — U. V. College.

"S. S. N."

Eev. H. Mattison says : "From a caref al perusal of this work, I am
prepared to say, that in my opinion, it is the best treatise upon the Bub-
joct that has yet been published. May, 1S59,"

"Among a number of works offered for a prize of $300, this was se-
lected by the Committee as one of the best five. Judge McLean, of the
United States Supreme Court, one of the Committee, selected this as
tJie best of the Jive. No award, however, was made at that time. The
reading of this work will benefit all, even the most liberal ; and to the
mean, and stingy, and selfish, if not entirely beyond the reach of grace,
we would advise a thorough perusal of this arousing appeal, without a
moment's delay."— i?MraZ JsTew Yorker.

"It would probably have received the prize, had the award not been
postponed till another competitor, who had the advantage of perusing
the whole of the essays previously written, could prepare another. The
author has received the highest commendations from the most eminent
Church men." — Rochenter Democrat and American.

"I have carefully read the treatise of Eev. J. Ashworth, pastor of the
Cornhill Chiirch, in Rochester, on 'Systemized Beneficence,' and I do
sincerely and earnestly recommend it to the perusal of all christian
ministers and people. It is a concise and powerful appeal in behalf of
B3'stemized beneficence. J. P. Dukbix."

The author of "Lights and Shades of Missionary Life" says: "I have
carefully read this work, and consider it a valuable contribution to our

religious literature The author has succeeded in giving us mul-

turn in parvo. J. H. Pitzel.'



Eev, I. S. Bingham, editor of N. C. Advocate, Bays: "Its merits are
fully endorsed bj' competent judges. We could heartily wish that every
Christian in the land would read it. , . . "We regard it as No. 1 among
the many works that have recently appeared upon tlie great subject of
which it treats."

The author of "Life in the Itinerancy," &c., &c., says: "I have been
reading this book in connection with others on the same subject, and am
satisfied that no better work on systematic beneficence is published
among us. There is no department of religions duty, or religious privi-
lege, in which our people need elementary instruction so much as this;
and I doubt whether it can be imparted in any better way than by the

circulation of this book Brethren, lot us send for the book, and

get it among the people, L. D. Davis."

Ask your minister whether he has any for sale. If not, tell him to
send for one for you, to \Vm. J. Moses, the Publisher, at Auburn, N, Y.,
or to Carlton «fc Poiter, 200 Mulberry -street, N. Y., or to Rev. C. Prindle,
Syracuse, or to the author, on his cliarge in the East Genesee Confer-
ence. Pvetail price 50 cents. Fancy binding and gilt edges, 65 cents.
Liberal discount to wholesale purchasers.



INTRODUCTION.



This Treatise was written, in compliance with a proposal
made by the Tract Society of the Methodist Episcopal
Church, for a prize essay on the subject of Systematic Be-
neficence — one of the most important themes for considera-
tion in Christendom, at the present time. It is evidently felt
to be the great question of the day. Hence the repeated pro-
posals for prize essays, on this subject, which have recently
been made by several philanthropic societies in Europe and
America, enlisting the pen of about three Mtndred able essay-
ists. The interest which the writer of this essay felt in the
theme, not the recompense of reward, induced him to write,
for the purpose was formed, while writing, if any prize should
be awarded, it should be appropriated to some benevolent
enterprise. Though originally written in 1853, some sta-
tistics and other references will indicate the fact that it has
since been transcribed and modified. From the various
essays presented to the first committee of adjudication ap-
pointed by the Tract Society of the Methodist Episcopal
Church, this, with four others, was selected, " as being supe-
rior to the rest," in the judgment of the committee.

The Hon. John McLean, of the United States Supreme
Court, selected one of these five, which he recommended
as the prize essay; and Bishop Waugh selected and recom-



iv Introduction.

mended another of ihem. But the majority of the adjudi-
cators decided not to award the prize to any one of these
writers. It should be known tliat Rev. A. Stevens, who fi-
nally obtained the honor of writing the most acceptable es-
say, had the peculiar advantage of reading all the other man-
uscripts, as one of the adjudicators, during the same year,
too, in which he tells us he Avrote his book.* One of the
writers asked Rev. J. T. Peck if it was admissible for the
competitors to examine each other's essays while in the
possession of the committee. "0, no; that would not be
fixir," was the response. Was it fair, then, for Rev. A.
Stevens to read all of them, and have some of them in his
office, to examine, when inclination might dictate, for ten
months of the year in which he wrote his essay 1

The chairman of the committee requested the writer of
this essay, in case it were taken from the committee for
emendation, to " be sure and return it for the second adju-
dication, as it was adjudged by the first committee to be
as good as any j^resented." The thought of revising the
essay occurred, and a note was sent to Judge McLean, giv-
ing a description of this essay, and the number by which
the adjudicators distinguished it ; soliciting his advice, in
case I should spend the time to re-write, wherein it would
need most attention — whether in the general plan, the ar-
guments, or the style, it was most defective.

In answering my note, he said : " Each of the essays which
I examined, in my judgment, did great credit to the writers.
If I mistake not, I selected the number you specify as the
Prize Kssaij, and so stated to the gentlemen with whom I
was associated for that j)urpose. I am not absolutely cer-



* A note on page 21 of A. Stevens' book says, "It was written la
1«54."



Introduction. v

tain a to the number, but I think the hand-writing was the
same as your note. I hope you will publish the essay, as I
should like to compare it with the one which may take the
prize. Independently of the great merit of the composition,
I feel some personal considerations, as my friends did not
agree with me. I do not now recollect anything to correct
in the plan, the arguments or the style. . . ." When
acknowledging the reception of this letter. Judge McLean
was asked whether he would favor the essay with a few
introductory lines, providing his expressed wish for its
publication should be complied with. To which he says,
" . . . I will write to Mr. Phillips, of the Book Room at
New York, for a copy of my letter on the subject of the es-
says. Indeed, the publication of that letter would be the
best introduction that I could give. I hope soon to procure
a copy of my letter, when I will write to you. . . ."

Soon afterwards, I met Avith Eev. Z. Phillips, and he in-
formed me that " Judge McLean had written for a copy of
his letter, but Rev. J. T. Peck had the letter in his posses-
sion, and no copy had been sent." After the lapse of six
months, I wrote to Rev. J. T. Peck, at the Book Room,
asking whether the request of Judge McLean was to be
granted or not. But he declined giving a copy, saying,
" The letter which relates to the several essays read, would
not be available to you," &c. Modesty would incline man-
kind generally to concede the right to such a man as the
Hon. J. McLean, of judging for himself, as to the " availa-
bility" or propriety of publishing that letter. Why not as
" available" and appropriate to publish the opinion of Judge
McLean, relative to the comparative merits of the several
essays submitted to him for adjudication, as for Rev, J, T
Peck and others to publish their opinion, that the " Grcac



vi Introduction.

Reforrriy^ written by Rev. A. Stevens, was sufficiently dis-
tinguished above all the other essays submitted to their
judgment, to entitle him to the award of S'300.

In lieu of the withheld letter, we give the following fa-
vorable recommendation, which was sent for publication in
this essay.

" I take pleasure in recommending the publication of an
essay on the subject of Systematic Beneficence, by the Rev.
J. Ashworth, of Rogersville, N. Y., which I read with atten-
tion, one or two years ago. It was written with much abil-
ity and research, and if published and circulated, in my
judgment, it cannot fail strongly to recommend the inter-
esting subject discussed. John McLean."

" Cincinnati, 1855."



CONTENTS.



Page

Introduction, . . . ' 3

CHAPTER I.

THE BENFICENCE OF GOD.

3ec. 1. Implied in his Name and Nature. — Sec. 2. Con-
firmed by his Providence. — Sec. 3. Admitted by-
common consent. — Sec. 4. Man a Special Recip-
ient. — Sec. 5. System apparent in the dissemination
of Divine Gifts 9

CHAPTER II.

HUMAN BENEFICENCE.

Sec. 1. Originally designed by the Creator. — Sec. 2.
Result of the 'Fall. — Sec. 3. Prevalence of Selfish-
ness. — Sec. 4. Redemption the Antidote. — Sec. 5.
Beneficence now demanded. — Sec. 6. A Criterion in
Man's final Adjudication 18

CHAPTER III.

DIVINE INSTRUCTION PERTAINING TO SYSTEMATIC

BENEFICENCE,

iSec. 1. To the Jewish Church. — Sec. 2. To the Chris-
tian Church 33

CHAPTER IV.

examples op systematic beneficence, with ev-
ident tokens of divine approval adduced,
from the patriarchal, mosaic and christian
dispensjitions. . , 63



viii Contents.

PAGE.

CHAPTER V.

ADVANTAGES OF SYSTEMATIC BENEFICENCE.

Sec. 1. It would discipline our Benevolent Affections.
Sec. 2. Rectify our Motives in making Money. —
Sec. 3. Convince the World of the reality of our Re-
ligion. — Sec. 4, Prevent Contention with Mammon,
when conferring- our Charities. — Sec. 5. Ensure a
more judic ous distribution of our Philanthropic
Eunds. — Sec. 6. Those having charge of the Funds
of Benevolent Societies could act more under.>tand-
ingly in tlieir appropriations. — Sec. 7. This system
would ensure a large increase of such Funds. — Sec.
8. Save much Funds now expended on Agencies. —
Sec. 9. Funiish an Antidote for one of the first and
most prevalent Sins of the Christijui Church. — Sec.
10. The donors would enjoy more of the exquisite
pleasure of giving. — Sec. 11. It would give a new
impulse to our Christian graces — Sec. lli. It would
increase our treasure in heaven 100

CHAPTER VI.

IMPEDIMENTS TO THE PRACTICE OF SYSTEMATIC

BKNEFICEXCE.

Sec. 1. Lack of mature consideraiion. — Sec. 2. Stronger
confidence in Money than in God — Sec. 3. Loving
Money more than God. — Sec. 4. A greater desire
for Display than for the spread of the Gosijel. — Sec.
5. Pecuniary Engagements. — Sec. 6. Treasuring up
Fortunes for Children. — Sec. 7. The intention to
leave Legacies for benevolent purposes, .... 132

CHAPTER VII.

THE DUTY OF PASTORS.

Sec. 1. To set the Example of Systematic Beneficence.
Sec. 2. To teach the Duty to others, 161



CHAPTER I.



®^e §curfeeua al (iioi



Sec. 1. Implied in his Name and Nature.
Skc. 2. Confirmed by his Providence.
Sec. 3. Admitted by Common Consent.
Sec. 4. Man a Special Recipient.

Sec. 5, System apparent in the dissemination of the Divine
Gifts.

Sec. 1. One of the appropriate and distin-
guishing titles of God, as proclaimed by him-
self, signifies : The All-Sufficient and Bountiful
Giver of all good, ''Abundant in Goodness."
"The eyes of all wait upon thee, and thou giv-
est them their meat in due season. Thou open-
est thine hand and satisfieth the desire of ev-
ery living thing.'^

The benevolence of God, which inclines him

to take pleasure in dispensing his gifts among
1*



10 Christian Stewardship.

his creatureSj is an essential part of the Divine
nature. He is immutably and eternally the
fountain of goodness. The overflowing of his
beneficence is as boundless as his works. The
celestial sphere, with its vast concourse of sen-
tient intelligences, blessed with happiness to
the full extent of their capacities, was the first
production of his goodness.

But the wide extent of that celestial region
was not sufficiently capaciolis for the develop-
ment of his munificence. The boundaries of
his beneficence must be enlarged. By his cre-
ative energy, innumerable other worlds were
launched into the regions of space, peopled
with living intelligences, to whom his goodness
might be displayed in the dissemination of his
gifts. Among those for our special observation,
is the world which we inhabit, with its innu-
merable variety of living creatures, designed
for happiness to the fidl extent of their ca^jaci-
ties.

Sec. 2. Confirmed hy his Providence.

The bounding herds that roam the forest,
the finny tribes that sj^ort in the waters, the
feathered songsters whose cheerful voices axe



The Beneficence of God. 11

ever attuned to chant their Maker's praise —
whether skipping in the arbor, or light and
free, soaring away in the blue ethereal — these
all, infinite in their variety, proclaim with united
voice, the goodness of God in his providence.
" Lord, how manifold are thy works ! in wis-
dom hast thou made them all : the earth is full
of thy. riches ; so is this great and wide sea,
wherein are things creeping innumerable, both
small and great beasts. There go the ships ;
there is that Leviathan, whom thou hast made
to play therein. These wait all upon thee ;
that thou mayest give them their meat in due
season. That thou givest them they gather :
thou openest thine hand, they are filled with
good.— Ps. 104 : 24-28.

Sec. 3. Admitted by Common Consent.

Benevolence is a perfection of the Divine Na-
ture, which all men cheerfully attribute to God.
Whether we enquire of the profound philoso-
pher, or of the simple child of nature, relative
to this feature of the Divine character, we re-
ceive the same answer. " My Father,'' says
Copway, an Indian Chief, ^' taught me to call
that Spirit, Ka-sha-3Ion-e-doo, (benevolent



12 Christian Stewardship.

Spirit,) for his ancestors taught liim no other
name to give that Spirit who made the earth,
with all its variety and smiling beauty/' How-
ever varied the views and opinions of men may
he relative to other features of the Divine char-
acter, here they harmonize. All look to him
as " the Father of lights, from whom cometh
every good and every perfect gift.''

Sec. 4. Man a Special Reciinent.

Of all the creatures which God has made,
man has most reason to speak of his goodness.
In the Divine council, it was said, at the time
of his creation, " Let us make man in our im-
age, after our likeness." Wherein this like-
ness was peculiar to man, may be spoken of in
a succeeding chapter. Let it suffice to say, in
this connection, that when, by the introduction
of selfishness, this image of God was defaced,
he set his heart on man to deliver him. Infi-
nite Wisdom and Benevolence were called into
exercise, to devise a plan, by which fallen man
might be delivered from the consequences of
sin, and fully restored to the image of his be-
nevolent Creator. The amazing plan of re-
demption, so astonishing to angels and men,



The Beneficence of Gob. 13

was the result. " God so loved the world that
he o-ave" — not an ano:el — no ! ^' He so loved
the world that he gave his only begotten Son/'
" the brightness of the Father's glory, and the
exj)ress image of his person." God so loved
the world ! Who can tell how much that im-
plies ? The Great Teacher does not attempt
to tell. He has put an infinite meaning into
that " so" and there left it for the eternal
study and delight of angels and men.

What greater proof could we possibly have
of the Divine Beneficence ? This may well be
denominated the Eiches of his Goodness.

What a demonstration has the Savior given
of his love to fallen man, in laying down his
life for our redemption ! " Greater love hath
no man than this, that a man lay down his
life for his friends."

Washington exposed his life in defence of
his country. LaFayette spent a fortune to
promote the cause of our national freedom.
But ^^ ivhile lue ivere yet enemies, Christ died
for us. This is the love of Christ " that passeth
knowledge." Here we have Infinite Beneficence
incarnate. Her form was seen, her voice was



14 Christian Stewardship.

heard, when the only begotten Son of God
appeared on earth, to lay down his life for his
enemies.

Sec. 5. God is systematic in the dissemina-
tion of Ms Gifts.

In the distribution of the gifts of Providence,
the Ruler of the universe governs his acts by
system.

To superficial observers, it might seem as if
the bounties of his providence, scattered so
profusely over the earth, were distributed by a
careless hand, without much attention to order
So we might erroneously imagine, while look-
ing, on a clear winter evening, upon the vast
concave of the heavens, bespangled with innu-
merable shining orbs, that these luminaries
were scattered through the regions of space,
without any reference to order ; but the ob-
serving astronomer, who marks the position
and movement of each, learns that they are all
controlled by invariable laws.

Similar traces of regularity may be seen in
the government of God, pertaining to this
world. He has given to man, who tills the
ground, positive assurance, that he may rely on



The Beneficence of God. 15

a systematic arrangement^ for " seed time and
harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and
winter, and day and night," " while the earth
remaineth/'

Who can estimate the general confusion that
would take place in all departments of society,
by a derangement of this established system ?
Who would break up the fallow ground, if he
had no assurance of seed time and harvest ?
Who would scatter his seed in the earth, if
Divine Providence no longer gave assurance of
seasonable showers and genial sun, to fertilize
the earth ? Who could live in our pestilent


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Online LibraryJ AshworthChristian stewardship. A treatise on the scriptural obligation, method, measure and privilege of systemized beneficence → online text (page 1 of 9)