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MONEY: A Parenthetical Insertion by George MacDonald

A passage worth reading from Thomas Wingfold, Curate, on making a living while following Christ:

“‘Jesus buying and selling?” said Wingfold to himself. ‘And why not? Did Jesus make chairs and tables, or boats perhaps, which the people of Nazareth wanted, without any admixture of trade in the matter? Was there no transaction? No passing of money between hands? Did they not pay his father for them? Was his Father’s way of keeping things going in the world too vile for the hands of him whose being was delight in the will of that Father? No; there must be a way of handling money that is noble as the handling of the sword in the hands of the patriot. Neither the mean man who loves it nor the faithless man who despises it knows how to handle it. The former is one who allows his dog to become a nuisance; the latter one who kicks him from his sight. The noble man is he who so truly does the work given him to do that the inherent nobility of that work is manifest. And the trader who trades nobly is nobler surely than the high-born who, if he carried the principles of his daily life into trade, would be as pitiful a sneak as any he that bows and scrapes falsely behind that altar of lies, his counter.’

From another chapter called “Divine Service”:

“‘Mr. Drew, your shop is the temple of your service where the Lord Christ, the only image of the Father, is, or ought to be, throned; your counter is, or ought to be, his altar; and everything thereon laid, with intent of doing as well as you can for your neighbor, in the name of the man Christ Jesus, is a true sacrifice offered to him, a service done to the eternal creating Love of the universe.’

‘I say not,’ Polwarth went on, ‘that so doing you will grow a rich man, but I say that by so doing you will be saved from growing too rich, and that you will be a fellow worker with God for the salvation of his world.’

‘I must live; I cannot give my goods away!’ murmured Mr. Drew thinkingly, as one that sought enlightenment.

‘That would be to go direct against the order of his world,’ said Polwarth. ‘No. A harder task is yours, Mr. Drew – to make your business a gain to you, and at the same time to be not only what is commonly counted just, but interested in, and careful of, and caring for your neighbour, as a servant of the God of bounty who giveth to all men liberally. Your calling is to do your best for your neighbour that you reasonably can.’

‘But who is to fix what is reasonable?’ asked Drew.

‘The man himself, thinking in the presence of Jesus Christ. There is a holy moderation which is of God.’

‘There won’t be many fortunes – great fortunes – made after that rule, Mr. Polwarth.’

‘Very few.’

‘Then do you say that no great fortunes have been righteously made?’

‘If righteously means after the fashion of Jesus Christ — But I will not judge: that is for the God-enlightened conscience of the man himself to do, not for his neighbour’s. Why should I be judged by another man’s conscience? But you see, Mr. Drew – and this is what I was driving at – you have it in your power to serve God through the needs of his children all the working day, from morning to night, so long as there is a customer in your shop…Purely ideal or not, one thing is certain: it will never be reached by one who is so indifferent to it as to believe it impossible. Whether it may be reached in this world or not, that is a question of no consequence; whether a man has begun to reach after it is of the utmost awfulness of import. And should it be ideal, which I doubt, what else than the ideal have the followers of the ideal man to do with?’

‘Can a man reach anything ideal before he has God dwelling in him, filling every cranny of his soul?’ asked the curate with shining eyes.

‘Nothing, I do most solemnly believe,’ answered Polwarth. ‘It weighs on me heavily sometimes,’ he resumed, after a pause, ‘to think how far all but a few are from being able even to entertain the idea of the indwelling in them of the original power of their life. True, God is in every man, else how could he live the life he does live? But that life God keeps alive for the hour when he shall inform the will, the aspiration, the imagination of the man. When the man throws wide his door tot he Father of his spirit, when his individual being is thus supplemented – to use a poor, miserable word – with the individuality that originated it, then is the man a whole, healthy, complete existence. Then indeed, and then only, will he do no wrong, think no wrong, love perfectly, and be right merry. Then will he scarce think of praying, because God is in every thought and enters anew with every sensation. Then he will forgive and endure, and pour out his soul for the beloved, who yet grope their way in doubt and passion. Then every man will be dear and precious to him, even the worst; for in him also lies an unknown yearning after the same peace wherein he rests and loves.’

He sat down suddenly, and a deep silence filled the room.”

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