Daily Reading for March 26 • Richard Allen, First Bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, 1831
Our blessed Lord has not committed his goods to us as a dead stock, to be hoarded up, or to lie unprofitably in our own hands. He expects that we shall put them out to proper and beneficial uses, and raise them to an advanced value by doing good with them, as often as we have opportunity of laying them out upon the real interest and welfare of his poor children and subjects. By doing acts of mercy and charity, we acknowledge our dependence upon God, and his absolute right to whatever we possess through his bounty and goodness; we glorify him in his creatures, and reverence him by a due and cheerful obedience to his commands. . . .
Some may, perhaps, say, “Well, I have refrained from debauchery, folly and idleness; I have earned my honest penny, and kept it, and laid up a comfortable provision for my family.” Be it so; this is laudable and praiseworthy, and it were to be wished that many more in this country would do so much. But may not such a one be asked, have you been charitable withal? Have you been as industrious in laying up treasures in heaven, as you have been in hoarding up the perishable riches of this world? Have you stretched out your hand, as you had opportunity, beyond the circle of your own house and family? Have your poorer neighbors cause to bless you for your kind and charitable assistance? Have you dedicated any portion of your labors to God, who blessed them, by doing good to any besides your own? Has the stranger, the widow or the fatherless ever tasted of your bounty? If you have never done things of this kind, but have hitherto slighted, overlooked or put off occasions of this sort, your talent, is as yet hid in a napkin, it lies yet buried in the ground, huddled up within yourself. . . .
The love of this world is a heavy weight upon the soul, which chains her down and prevents her flight towards heaven. Habitual acts of charity loosen her from it by degrees, and help her in her struggle to disengage herself and mount upwards. A dying person would give the whole world, were it in his possession, for any rational assurance of acceptance with God, and an inheritance in the kingdom of heaven; why then will any man who knows he must one day die, neglect the insuring it to himself by such works of mercy in his health and strength, as he may be assured will help him to mercy in a dying hour? “Blessed are the merciful,” saith our dear Redeemer, “for they shall obtain mercy.” . . .
To be slow and uneasy at almsgiving, argues a strong distrust in Providence, either that God cannot or will not make up to us what we thus bestow. To suppose he cannot, is to deny his Almighty power and consequently that he is God. To imagine he will not, is to suspect his truth, who has not only promised eternal treasures in heaven, but has also engaged his sure word that he will repay it, even upon earth, as if it were lent to himself. He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth to the Lord, and that which he hath borrowed, he will repay him again. With how great reason did our Saviour so solemnly charge his disciples to beware of covetousness, since we see it borders so nearly upon infidelity.
From The Life, Experience, and Gospel Labors of the Rt. Rev. Richard Allen by Richard Allen (Philadelphia: F. Ford and M.A. Riply, 1880).