Reference > Fiction > Nonfiction > Warner, et al., eds. > The Library

C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
Our Stewardship
By John Wesley (1703–1791)
From a Discourse entitled ‘The Good Steward’

WE shall not receive [Greek]—our own things—till we come to our own country. Eternal things only are our own: with all these temporal things we are barely intrusted by another—the Disposer and Lord of all. And he intrusts us with them on this express condition, that we use them only as our Master’s goods, and according to the particular directions which he has given us in his word.  1
  On this condition he hath intrusted us with our souls, our bodies, our goods, and whatever other talents we have received; but in order to impress this weighty truth on our hearts, it will be needful to come to particulars.  2
  And first, God has intrusted us with our soul,—an immortal spirit, made in the image of God; together with all the powers and faculties thereof,—understanding, imagination, memory, will, and a train of affections, either included in it, or closely dependent upon it,—love and hatred, joy and sorrow; respecting present good and evil, desire and aversion; hope and fear, respecting that which is to come. All these St. Paul seems to include in two words, when he says, “The peace of God shall keep your hearts and minds.” Perhaps indeed the latter word, [Greek], might rather be rendered thoughts; provided we take that word in its most extensive sense, for every perception of the mind, whether active or passive.  3
  Now of all these, it is certain we are only stewards. God has intrusted us with these powers and faculties, not that we may employ them according to our own will, but according to the express orders which he has given us: although it is true that in doing his will we most effectually secure our own happiness; seeing it is herein only that we can be happy, either in time or in eternity. Thus we are to use our understanding, our imagination, our memory, wholly to the glory of Him that gave them. Thus our will is to be wholly given up to him, and all our affections to be regulated as he directs. We are to love and hate, to rejoice and grieve, to desire and shun, to hope and fear, according to the rule which he prescribes, whose we are, and whom we are to serve in all things. Even our thoughts are not our own in this sense: they are not at our own disposal; but for every deliberate motion of our mind, we are accountable to our great Master.  4
  God has, secondly, intrusted us with our bodies (those exquisitely wrought machines, so “fearfully and wonderfully made”), with all the powers and members thereof. He has intrusted us with the organs of sense; of sight, hearing, and the rest: but none of these are given us as our own, to be employed according to our own will. None of these are lent us in such a sense as to leave us at liberty to use them as we please for a season. No: we have received them on these very terms, that as long as they abide with us, we should employ them all in that very manner, and no other, which he appoints.  5
  It is on the same terms that he imparted to us that most excellent talent of speech. “Thou hast given me a tongue,” says the ancient writer, “that I may praise thee therewith.” For this purpose was it given to all the children of men, to be employed in glorifying God. Nothing, therefore, is more ungrateful or more absurd than to think or say, “Our tongues are our own.” That cannot be, unless we have created ourselves, and so are independent of the Most High. Nay, but “It is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves:” the manifest consequence is that he is still Lord over us, in this as in all other respects. It follows that there is not a word of our tongue for which we are not accountable to him.  6
  To him we are equally accountable for the use of our hands and feet, and all the members of our body. These are so many talents which are committed to our trust, until the time appointed by the Father. Until then, we have the use of all these; but as stewards, not as proprietors: to the end, we should “render them, not as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin, but as instruments of righteousness unto God.”  7
  God has intrusted us, thirdly, with a portion of worldly goods, with food to eat, raiment to put on, and a place where to lay our head; with not only the necessaries but the conveniences of life. Above all, he has committed to our charge that precious talent which contains all the rest,—money: indeed it is unspeakably precious, if we are wise and faithful stewards of it; if we employ every part of it for such purposes as our blessed Lord has commanded us to do.  8
  God has intrusted us, fourthly, with several talents which do not properly come under any of these heads. Such is bodily strength; such are health, a pleasing person, an agreeable address; such are learning and knowledge in their various degrees, with all the other advantages of education. Such is the influence which we have over others, whether by their love and esteem of us, or by power—power to do them good or hurt, to help or hinder them in the circumstances of life. Add to these that invaluable talent of time, with which God intrusts us from moment to moment. Add, lastly, that on which all the rest depend, and without which they would all be curses, not blessings; namely, the grace of God, the power of his Holy Spirit, which alone worketh in us all that is acceptable in his sight….  9
  Brethren, “Who is an understanding man and endued with knowledge among you?” Let him show the wisdom from above, by walking suitably to his character. If he so account of himself, as a steward of the manifold gifts of God, let him see that all his thoughts, and words, and works, be agreeable to the post God has assigned him. It is no small thing to lay out for God all which you have received from God. It requires all your wisdom, all your resolution, all your patience, and constancy;—far more than ever you had by nature; but not more than you may have by grace. For his grace is sufficient for you; and “all things,” you know, “are possible to him that believeth.” By faith, then, “put on the Lord Jesus Christ”; “put on the whole armor of God”: and you shall be enabled to glorify him in all your words and works; yea, to bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ!  10

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