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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 74 pages of information about The Faithful Steward.

In the second place, what is the Nature of a Scriptural System of Beneficence?  This is an important inquiry.  Every system, as we have seen, must be founded in principle—­a principle rooted in the active powers, resting down upon the main-springs of the soul, so as to be moved forward by all the mental energies combined.  But it must not only rest on principle; it must rest on right principle.  The moral character of a system depends on the character of the moral feelings from which it rises; and it is the moral character of any scheme of action, which, under the government of God, gives it permanent efficiency; for to succeed, it must have his co-operation and aid.  Besides, a system of benevolence is designed to combat the selfishness of the heart; a principle, strong, subtle, insidious, and developing itself in ten thousand different ways.  Diametrical opposition to this, therefore, must be its leading characteristic.  The natural sympathies, and conscience, and reason, must, indeed, be enlisted in its service; but all these united are insufficient to support enduringly a system of munificence against this formidable antagonist.  For selfishness may entirely submerge the sympathies, so that he who can weep with his bereaved neighbor at the grave of his child, may, with the malignity of a fiend, be inwardly pleased at the death of an enemy.  Selfishness may so control the conscience, that it will utter no upbraiding accents; and so bewilder the keen-sightedness of reason, that one may put darkness for light, and bitter for sweet, and sin for holiness, while complacently feeling that he is standing on the everlasting hills of truth.  Neither the natural sympathies, nor conscience, nor reason, then, can form the substantial basis of a system of action which is to battle with the selfishness of the human heart.  It must be informed with a higher and nobler principle.  Holy love is such a principle.  This, in its very nature, is superior to all other affections of the soul.  The object on which it is fastened is the Great Supreme, and all other objects disappear before it, as the stars before the morning sun.  A system, then, inwrought with this heaven-born principle, controlling, quickening, inspiring all the moral energies of the soul, may resist this mighty foe of the heart; and it forms the only insuperable bulwark to his malignant inroads.  This position accords with the Scriptures.  They approve of no external act, only as it proceeds from a holy heart; otherwise, they stamp it as self-righteousness or superstition.  A system of benevolent action, resting on any other foundation, falls under the same condemnation; it contains no element of life, nothing truly pleasing to God.  Men may endeavor to find other bases on which to rear schemes of charity; they may bring to the task the most penetrating sagacity, and traverse again and again the secret windings of the mind, to find some other lurking principle which can resist and subdue the batteries of covetousness; but all their efforts will be vain.  Whatever they may erect will be built upon the sand; the winds and floods will sweep it away.  There is no foundation which can withstand the underminings of the depraved heart, and the shocks of a depraved world, but the rock of holy love.

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