This section of the book is from the "A Man and His Money" book, by Harvey Reeves Calkins , published in 1915.
We have moved through many paragraphs and many pages. We have been telling of economic value, the ownership of it and the stewardship of it. We have sought to say some things, and we have left unsaid as many more. The critical reader will wonder that we have not named some important considerations and that we have barely mentioned others. We have hardly more than suggested the rich veins of Scripture that bear upon the teaching, and we have not followed out the social and economic corollaries so clearly implied. But we have been writing for the average man, and he will be grateful that we have not required of him a larger task. Perhaps these chapters have made clear to him one underlying thesis:
God is the absolute owner of all economic value; in the honorable rendering of the tenth men acknowledge it, in the faithful stewardship of the whole they administer it.
And the end of the matter, what is it? Money? Money for food and shelter, for education and recreation? Money to drive the wheels of trade and industry? Money to finance the program of the world's betterment—the tithe, of course, and then the rest of it? Is money, then, to be the highest altitude of our vision, and the end of the argument?
Why not? It is merest cant to affect a philosophic aloofness when money is the tingling nerve-center of men's life upon the earth. In the face of schoolmen and preachers the quest for money is more and more a commanding call in the world. The social economist may stand before his lecture class and discourse learnedly and dispassionately of money: that it is not actual wealth, that it is merely a measure of value, that it is indeed but a piece of mental machinery, a conceptual but not an actual factor in exchange; and yet, with blazing wrath, he will denounce a social order in which mere "conceptual machinery" is so unevenly at work. The minister may stand before his congregation and warn them against the vanity of worldly wealth, that the pursuit of money enfeebles the spiritual life and vitiates the highest manhood, but he is elated with honest human happiness when wealthy men enable him to project a program of Christian service for the community.
A city missionary walked heavily down the street. The oppression of the city slum was upon his spirit. His hands were ready to reach out in healing ministries, but they were empty hands. His dream of sanitary homes, a day nursery, a recreation hall, and a people's church—it was fast becoming a nightmare to haunt him. A certain family of wealth had partly promised to finance the undertaking, but the matter was hanging in midair, still undetermined. A messenger overtook him and placed a letter in his hands. He read, "We are prepared to supply money as suggested" —and the missionary beheld the City of God coming down out of heaven.
A gentleman entered a home of want and penury, where a widow watched beside her stricken child." It needed not a practiced eye to tell what most was wanted—food, medicine, skillful nursing. A crisp bank note upon the table, and a cheery voice, "As much more every week as long as there is need"—how could mere money minister in the hour of darkness? Yet it was even so.
A bishop sat brooding at his office desk. He was burdened with the care of all the churches, but, mostly, because the college could endure the financial pressure no longer and must cut down its courses. The door opened and the dean entered. His eyes were glowing. He advanced to the bishop's desk, and, without a word, picked up the episcopal silk hat and kicked it against the ceiling. In open-mouthed amazement the bishop looked at him, but, before he could frame his wonder into words, the dean burst forth, "Mr. ------ has just promised a hundred thousand!" Like a boy released from school the bishop leaped to his feet, "Kick it again for me!" he cried; and it was like an episcopal blessing.
What is this miracle of money that men will work for it, wait for it, fight for it, lie for it, pray for it? In truth, it stands for all that men count precious; it means food and drink and raiment and shelter; it stands for books, culture, travel, music, art; it means comfort and service, and every helpful ministry of science. If there be any good within our human compass, money is the measure of it and the attainment of it. Let not the preacher say that it is evil, for men will not believe him. Conflagration and flood may carry devastation, yet no man will believe that fire and water are other than a human benison.
Money is power. When power is committed to the hands of evil men there can follow none other than the works of evil. But power in the hands of righteous men multiplies the work of righteousness. If evil men seek after power, by how much more ought righteous men to covet it! And herein lies the miracle of money. Value came from God, and money, the measure of it and the receptacle for it, fashions it in the hands of righteous men until it fits God's purpose in the world; for life itself has value but in this, that it may fit God's wider circling plans.
Why, then, shall it be counted a small thing that money is the final altitude and the moral end of our argument ? Have done with cant! Is it a small thing that honest toil shall be rewarded and that family life shall be noble and content? Is it a small thing that the state shall be maintained in strength, that trade and industry shall fulfill their peerless calling, that earth and sea and sky shall come under man's dominion? Or shall we name it a small thing to heal the sick and feed the hungry and make glad the hearts of children? Was it a small thing that money, in the hands of Christian missionaries, drew the fangs of famine and won the gentle heart of India for Christ? When a pittance of money founded Robert College and made "New Turkey" a potential fact, was it a small thing beneath the sun? Was money a small thing which created Christian Uganda in the heart of darkest Africa, and gave to vast China the norm of Christian education? It money has power to perform such miracles upon the earth, no man has yet framed an argument large enough to compass its greatness.
But there is a monstrous thing that hangs in the face of our civilization; it is titanic, incredible, portentous. It makes of money both a menace and a madness. Extravagance drives its gilded car in every street. Vulgar display strikes hands with gentle breeding. The vogue no longer discriminates between the lady and the courtesan, and the curse of it falls on unprotected girls in shop and factory. Money-mad, our generation makes a traffic of politics, of sport, of love and romance. The ugly face of Mammon leers in the senate and lifts its eyes in the churches. The money-toll of vice is a despair, the yearly drink bill a damnation. Rich men spend recklessly for mansions and motor cars, and care not for the waste of precious food. The children of the poor have caught the frenzy and know not how to deliver themselves; their pennies are poured into the playhouse, their dollars into the dance. Money was given as the measure and storehouse of value, Mammon has made of it the scourge and madhouse of waste.
To recognize the spiritual content of money, and rescue it from sordidness and greed, this shall be the saving evangel for our generation. It is fine blundering to frame a message for men who lived yesterday and yet to miss the subtle edge of life to-day. Irreligion is not the enemy that grips the men of our time, intemperance is no longer tolerated by men who think, the swagger of atheistic science stirs men to ridicule but not to rivalry. Why shall living preachers thresh again the straw of other years ? It was not fully threshed? What then? Another generation is here, and its king-sin is not irreligion, not drunkenness, not atheism; the age-long sins of pride and hate and adultery and covetousness, these abide; yet these, by and large, are less blood-red to-day than yesterday. War abides, but war is not the sin, it is the nemesis of our generation. The king-sin of our day is presumption, and its chiefest god is gold.
Men greet each other at the club, they talk of money; they drive a touring car on Sunday afternoon, the talk is money; a new family enters the community life, its status—money; politics grows stale, and art and even war, but never money. The commercial note is the commanding one. Money compels attention; truth may wait. Money will build a new church, why not a new creed? Why speak of patience when men can "get rich quick" ? Let youth hustle maturity out of the path, and, when experience warns of danger, the children shall laugh, "Go up, bald head!" Let reverence cover her face, ashamed, for moneyed impudence succeeds much better. The rich men of Babel build towers in all the land, for clay can still be had for money. Is it therefore a strange thing that money has become a fever in the blood, and that men will plan by day and dream by night in the tenseness of endeavor? Let no man wonder that folly swells, and that boldness grows big with presumption, for money is all but omnipotent upon the earth.
Money is power, and power means mastery, and mastery is the native habit of a man. It is therefore less than intelligent to cry down the race for riches; and, because it is unintelligent, men will not heed the preaching that warns them of their wealth. If a saving gospel shall find the rich men of to-day, or reach the men who shall be rich tomorrow, it must recognize material values, as they actually exist, and then exalt those values into spiritual potency. It must be the preacher, and not the promoter, who calls men to be rich.
The subtle currents that lift and depress value must be recognized as spiritual forces. Money must not be left a sordid thing in the alleys of avarice; it must be enthroned among the spiritual gifts which good men covet. The Christian ideal of holiness must be exalted before our youth— loyalty commanding all power.
When intelligent Christian teaching shall drive away the unclean vapors that have fogged the face of money, three things shall come to pass. First, men shall enter upon the quest of money as they who seek heavenly treasure. Getting "a job" shall be as joining an embassy, and the first "raise" as knighthood from the King. Second, the pursuit of money shall be as the pathway of holiness. Thus only shall commerce, trade, and industry be cleansed from their foulness. If money is filthy lucre, and must remain so, then money-making is hopeless infamy for Christian men. Let them be content with their wages, and live at peace, but let them shun the place of preferment and flee from responsibility. But money is not sordid and men shall not dishonor it by slander. It is the measure of a fine and subtle element. Value is spiritual energy, and money is the token of its presence. The day shall come when money-making that is not also value-making shall be purged from the economic body as men purge themselves of poison. The dishonored dollar shall be the one that came to hand with no value in the making, that wrought no service; and the dishonored dollar shall lie in the hand of a dishonored man.
Finally, when the spiritual content of money is discerned, stewardship shall understand its high calling of partnership. Shall we poll the manhood of our generation, and call out the men who dare range forward? Cecil Rhodes thought in continents, but his forward range touched only the grooves of the Anglo-Saxon. It was daring, but it was narrow. Poll the men who acknowledge God's ownership of the world, whose tithe of value is rendered in honor, that his worship shall be intelligent upon the earth. Shall we pencil upon the margin of the page the income of average Americans, and reckon the stupendous total that honor would render every year, if the whole tithe were brought into the storehouse? The exhibit would startle men who are accustomed to the puny offerings of the churches; and yet partnership would say, "It is an acknowledgment, but it is only the beginning of my stewardship."
Poll again the manhood of our generation, and call out the men who dare range forward. They are thinking not only in continents, but in races. They dipt into the future, far as human eye could see, Saw the Vision of the world, and all the wonder that would be.
They are not content to look out upon the labors of other men. They are investors and not dreamers. The miracle of value, which came from God, has reached them, and they have turned it into money. But they are not content with this. It is not full partnership. It is their exhilaration to join in the working of another miracle. Money shall be sent forth into the world again, once again to work the works of God. Thus again shall money become value, and so return to God who gave it.
A man and his money! The money is sent forth into the world to work new miracles upon the earth. But what of the man? Surely he has rendered an exalted service. Surely his stewardship has risen into high partnership, and surely that partnership shall abide. It is even so. The knowledge of it shall thrill him with a noble joy. And yet for him there shall remain a felicity more perfect than any loyal service, a higher joy than any exalted partnership; there shall remain for him the pure, sweet joy of worship—worship as it was in the beginning, before the stress of sin began and the passion of redemption, and as worship shall be in the eternities beyond. The rendering of the tithe, and the stewardship of every value shall remain for him a token of one unchanging word: God is Sovereign Lord. The money is sent forth into the world; but the man himself bows down at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the Lord of the whole earth.