It was a simple idea but one that would have far-reaching consequences. Norris Groves as he was usually called started his adult life as a dentist and then trained to be a missionary with the Church of England before adopting a radically different approach. Ignoring 1, years of Christian history with its accumulated institutions and traditions, Groves proposed to do exactly as the earliest Christians did. In the New Testament itself, he sought to discover the mind of the Lord on matters relating to church and mission.
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Anthony Norris Groves was born in in a well-to-do family and eventually became a dentist. Making a good income, burdened, however, for the gospel, feeling that saving money was incompatible with the gospel, Groves began increasingly giving a portion of his income away as his wife agreed.
Eventually they gave away almost everything they owned. As a result, Groves learned to trust God to provide for future expenses, to respond to medical and other disasters and to provide for his children after his death. Before this second edition was issued Groves had taken the step which he here had advocated. The tract is a revelation of the man, and affords an insight into the spirit and the glow which made his ministry attractive to sincere souls, and effectual.
It being long since unobtainable we give it in full. By it he, being dead, may yet speak, and other hearts be enlarged and enriched, to the glory of God. It reads:. My business, however, is not with the consequences of the precept, but with the precept itself.
It looks indeed like a mighty globe of gold; and the eyes of the inexperienced may be caught by it; but the least scratch proves its brassy character. But some may say, Are not all things given us richly to enjoy? Yes; but it would be degrading indeed to the members of the Kingdom of Christ, to make their rich enjoyment appear in consuming on their own lusts like the members of the kingdom of Satan, those things which they are permitted to apply to the exaltation of their Lord and Redeemer.
The subsequent remarks, however, more especially relate to the bestowment of property, and that whether of capital already possessed, or of income to be acquired by industry.
All that is, or that can fairly be, claimed, in investigating the question before us, is, that the various precepts and arguments, along with the uniform practice, of our Saviour and his Apostles, be allowed to explain his meaning in this particular instance.
I shall begin with the passage from which the motto is taken. The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light; but if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness! No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other.
Ye cannot serve God and mammon. Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment.
Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your Heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you, by taking thought, can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Therefore take no thought, saying—What shall we eat?
Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Luke is almost verbally the same. It also concludes with an exhortation somewhat different from that in St. To all arguments drawn from passages of this description, the usual answer is, That the exhortations contained in them are not to be taken literally, but are to be considered merely as loose general statements, strongly, and only in appearance absolutely, made, with a view of producing greater effect.
In endeavouring, therefore, to ascertain their true meaning, let us examine the evidence supplied by the remarks and conduct of our Blessed Lord and his Apostles, in those cases which bear upon the point in question. And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful, for he was very rich.
But a Family left, by our labour and contrivance, in a situation in which, as our Blessed Lord himself declares, it is all but impossible that they should be saved, presents an object of contemplation widely different. Such are the views and feelings which an unbiassed consideration of the words of our Saviour is calculated to produce.
Some, however, may be prepared to assert that his words give no encouragement or allowance to any such conclusions; and this assertion they may support by another—that a love of riches was the peculiar failing of the young man, whose conduct suggested the observations of our Saviour. It ought, however, to be remarked that he does not say, How hardly shall this rich man enter into the Kingdom of God!
Mark And the disciples were astonished at his words. It is next to impossible for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God, because he trusts in his riches. So that the expression is not introduced with a view of making riches appear less dangerous to the possessor, but rather with a view of explaining why they are so dangerous. The repetition of the general declaration in the strongest terms as it is found in the 25th verse, shows that this is the meaning of our Lord; and the increased astonishment of the Disciples plainly gives the same intimation.
But the man whose soul the love of Christ has touched, does not look on the question as one merely involving danger to himself: he looks on wealth, as well as every other gift, as an instrument of bringing glory to his Lord, by feeding the little ones of his kingdom, or in some way extending the savour of his name.
It is not a matter of law, but a golden opportunity on which affection seizes, to bring a leaf to the wreath of praise and honour, that crowns Him Lord, to the glory of God the Father, who has won the hearts, and is entitled to the uncontrolled dominion of his own saints. And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. But how does our Blessed Lord judge, who judges not according to appearance, but righteous judgment?
The rich cast in of their abundance, much; she, of her penury, cast in a little; but it was all that she had, even all her living. We have now only to go one step farther in order to ascertain in what sense the Apostles understood that command of our Saviour now under consideration.
The conduct of them and their adherents is thus recorded by St. Luke Acts 2. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart. The multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things that he possessed was his own; but they had all things common. If this community of hearts and possessions was according to the mind of the Spirit then, why not now?
We have, moreover, to encourage and urge it, not only the example of the Apostles, but that of all those who believed in Jerusalem. I would just remark that such conduct does not essentially involve the institution of a common stock, but will be effectually secured by each individual blending himself with the whole household of faith, feeling their wants, and rejoicing in their welfare, as his own.
This sympathy of the members of the holy family toward each other, is strongly enforced, and beautifully illustrated by St. Again I ask—How do we evade the application of all these precepts and arguments and exhortations and warnings and examples to our own times?
Is there in the Holy Scriptures any limitation as to the time when the love which distinguished the primitive church was to be in exercise? Is not humiliation and suffering, the very character of this dispensation, as of the life of Him who introduced it?
Let the disputes and divisions in the Church of God, and the ,, who have never heard the name of salvation by the blood of Jesus declare. What then is the ground of evasion? Why, that those were apostolic times and apostolic men. Could there be a stronger reason urged for following their steps? Those, who may be inclined to ask—Were not the miraculous powers, entrusted to the Apostles for the advancement of Christianity, also subservient to their personal comfort, amidst their want and pain and distress?
We would refer those who enquire to the words of the Apostle Paul. I have been in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. To admit an opinion—is to admit a truth; and to admit a truth—is to admit the obligation to act upon it, against our earthly constitution.
Why has this spirit for so many centuries been slumbering? Because men have been seeking, every one his own things, and not the things of Christ. It is not meant absolutely to say that every man should become a Missionary, in the proper sense of the term. Can we, with any truth, be said to love that neighbour as ourselves, whom we suffer to starve, whilst we have enough and to spare? May I not appeal to any, who have experienced the Joy of knowing the unspeakable gift of God, and ask—Would you exchange this knowledge, with all the comforts and blessings it has been the means of imparting, for a hundred worlds, were they offered?
Let us not then withhold the means by which others may obtain this sanctifying knowledge and heavenly consolation. It has been remarked that some pious men have, from their imprudence, left their children a burden upon the Christian public, and thus disgraced their profession. Here I would leave the sovereignty of the Lord unlimited. Yet surely, they are the natural external expressions of internal love; and although they be insincerely assumed by Hypocrisy, it is her homage to truth; and although the self-righteous Pharisee may present the semblance of devotion, as a vain and hateful barter for heaven, yet it requires very little spirituality of mind to discern that this arises in a different source and terminates in a different object: the one begins in self and ends in self; the other begins in Christ, and ends in Christ.
When, therefore, the Lord requires his Church to be careful for nothing, it is only that He might display his watchfulness and carefulness over her. Surely it is a most unspeakable privilege to be allowed to cast all our cares upon God; and to feel that we are thereby delivered from the slavery of earthly expectations, and made free to speak the truth m love, without fear or apprehension?
If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father, which is in heaven, give good things to them that ask him? Think not that this is carrying things too far. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Here our Blessed Lord tells us to love one another, as He has loved us; and then points to the laying down his life, as the most exalted proof of that love which could be given. We all know what a persuasive power the deaths of the Martyrs exerted on the minds of those who witnessed them; and, in its just measure and proportion, would the dedication of property, time and talents, have a similar effect at the present day.
If we call on those, who know nothing of the savour of that Name which is as ointment poured forth, to give up all for Christ, and this you literally do to every Hindoo and Mahomedan; let us, who thus call, and who profess to know much of the power of His Name, do so likewise; that they may catch a kindred spirit from a living exhibition. Let us evidence, in very deed, that we love not the world, neither the things of the world, but that the love of the Father is in us.
There is no one calling himself a Christian, who does not profess to desire, and there is no one really a Christian, who does not in earnest desire for his children, both the apprehension and attainment of this blessing. How then is a Christian to direct most powerfully and practically, the opening and susceptible minds of his children towards this Word of Truth? It must have a direct and almost invincible tendency to impress that mind with a conviction of the sincerity of our love of the Truth, of the reality of our devotion towards its great Author, of our deep feeling of its necessity as the only guide to purity and happiness, and of our ardent desire that all men may know and receive and embrace it.
But, on the contrary, every appropriation towards providing temporal comforts, and conveniences, and pleasures, either for them or for ourselves, has a tendency directly the reverse. The true servant of God knows, better than any man, the real value of money, the value of time, the value of talent of whatever order. He knows also that there is no means, humbly laid at the foot of the cross, which He, who hung there, does not bless, and send forth, with the blessing resting on it, to accomplish purposes of mercy.
Nay, is not this now the aspect, even of the professing Church of Christ? Should any one rise, and say, However this may be with others, it does not apply to me. He might, on the other hand, be led sometimes even to suspect the possibility of its being only a temptation of Satan, laid in his way, with a view of limiting the half of his usefulness.
The whole heart is misled; the judgment is biassed; and the understanding darkened. He has no personal interest in the pecuniary advantages attendant on any situation; and his only question is—whether it be one in which he may best serve and glorify his Master. He dares not to ask a question so full of unbelief, nor presumes to turn the very abundance of the past mercies of God into an argument against trusting Him for the future. Yet he does not hesitate to obey and the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews tells us why , because he believed that God was able to raise his son up from the dead.
Was this then tempting God?
The "simple standard of God's word"
Anthony Norris Groves was born in in a well-to-do family and eventually became a dentist. Making a good income, burdened, however, for the gospel, feeling that saving money was incompatible with the gospel, Groves began increasingly giving a portion of his income away as his wife agreed. Eventually they gave away almost everything they owned. As a result, Groves learned to trust God to provide for future expenses, to respond to medical and other disasters and to provide for his children after his death.
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