In gratifying the implanted desires of our nature, we are bound so to restrain ourselves, by reason and conscience, as always to seek the main objects of existence - the highest good of ourselves and others; and never to sacrifice this for the mere gratification of our desires. We are to gratify appetite just so far as is consistent with health and usefulness, and the desire for knowledge just so far as will enable us to do most good by our influence and efforts, and no further. We are to seek social intercourse to that extent which will best promote domestic enjoyment and kindly feelings among neighbors and friends; and we are to pursue exercise and amusement only so far as will best sustain the vigor of body and mind.

The laws of the Supreme Ruler, when he became the civil as well as the religious Head of the Jewish theocracy, furnish an example which it would be well for all attentively to consider when forming plans for the apportionment of time and property. To properly estimate this example, it must be borne in mind that the main object of God was to set an example of the temporal rewards that follow obedience to the laws of the Creator, and at the same time to prepare religious teachers to extend the more enlarged views and duties resulting from the dangers of the future life revealed by Jesus Christ.

Before Christ came, the Jews were not required to go forth to other nations as teachers of religion, nor were the Jewish nation led to obedience by motives of a life to come. To them God was revealed both as a Father and a civil ruler, and obedience to laws relating solely to this life was all that was required. So low were they, in the scale of civilization and mental development, that a system which confined them to one spot as an agricultural people, and prevented their growing very rich or having extensive commerce with other nations, was indispensable to prevent their relapsing into the low idolatries and vices of the nations around them, while temporal rewards and penalties were more effective than those of a life to come. Such faith in God, his laws, and those temporal rewards and penalties as secured habitual obedience, were all that was required.

The proportion of time and property which every Jew was required to devote to intellectual, benevolent, and religious purposes, was as follows:

In regard to property, they were required to give one-tenth of all their yearly income to support the Levites, the priests, and the religious service. Next, they were required to give the first-fruits of all their corn, wine, oil, and fruits, and the first-born of all their cattle, for the Lord's treasury, to be employed for the priests, the widow, the fatherless, and the stranger. The first-born, also, of their children, were the Lord's, and were to be redeemed by a specified sum paid into the sacred treasury. Besides this, they were required to bring a free-will offering to God every time they went up to the three great yearly festivals. In addition to this, regular yearly sacrifices of cattle and fowls were required of each family, and occasional sacrifices for certain sins or ceremonial impurities. In reaping their fields, they were required to leave the corners unreaped for the poor; not to glean their fields, olive-yards, or vineyards; and if a sheaf was left by mistake, they were not to return for it but leave it for the poor.

One-twelfth of the people were set apart, having no landed property, to be priests and teachers; and the other tribes were required to support them liberally.

In regard to the time taken from secular pursuits for the support of education and religion, an equally liberal amount was demanded. In the first place, one-seventh part of their time was taken for the weekly Sabbath, when no kind of work was to be done. Then the whole nation were required to meet at the appointed place three times a year, which, including their journeys and stay there, occupied about eight weeks, or another seventh part of their time. Then the Sabbatical year, when no agricultural labor was to be done, took another seventh of their time from their regular pursuits, as they were an agricultural people. This was the amount of time and property demanded by God, simply to sustain education, religion, and morality within the bounds of one nation.

It was promised to this nation, and fulfilled by constant miraculous interpositions, that in this life obedience to God's laws should secure health, peace, prosperity, and long life; while for disobedience was threatened war, pestilence, famine, and all temporal evils. These promises were constantly verified; and in the day of Solomon, when this nation was most obedient, the whole world was moved with wonder at its wealth and prosperity. But up to this time, no attempt was made by God to enlarge the obligations and motives by revelations as to the future life.

But "when the fullness of time had come," and the race of man was prepared to receive higher responsibilities, Jesus Christ came and "brought life and immortality to light" with a clearness never before revealed, and new and heavy responsibilities consequent on the dangers of the life to come. At the same time was revealed the fatherhood of God, not to the Jews alone, but to the whole human race, and the consequent brotherhood of man; and these revelations in many respects changed the whole standard of duty and obligation.

Christ came as "God manifest in the flesh," to set an example of self-sacrificing love, in rescuing the whole family of man from the dangers of the unseen world, and also to teach and train his disciples through all time to follow his example. And those who conform the most consistently to his teachings and example will aim at a standard of labor and self-denial far beyond that demanded of the Jews.

It is not always that men understand the economy of Providence in that unequal distribution of property which, even under the most perfect form of government, will always exist. Many, looking at the present state of things, imagine that the rich, if they acted in strict conformity to the law of benevolence, would share all their property with their suffering fellow-men. But such do not take into account the inspired declaration that "a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth;" or, in other words, life is made valuable not by great possessions, but by such a character as prepares a man to enjoy what he holds. God perceives that human character can be most improved by that kind of discipline which exists when there is something valuable to be gained by industrious efforts. This stimulus to industry could never exist in a community where all are just alike, as it does in a state of society where every man sees possessed by others enjoyments which he desires, and may secure by effort and industry. So, in a community where all are alike as to property, there would be no chance to gain that noblest of all attainments, a habit of self-denying benevolence which toils for the good of others, and takes from one's own store to increase the enjoyments of another.