There is no direction in which a true Christian economy of time and money is more conspicuous than in the style of living adopted in the family state.

Those who build stately mansions, and lay out extensive grounds, and multiply the elegancies of life, to be enjoyed by themselves and a select few, "have their reward" in the enjoyments that end in this life. But those who, with equal means, adopt a style that enables them largely to devote time and wealth to the eternal welfare of their fellow-men, are laying up never-failing treasures in heaven, in the everlasting virtue, gratitude, and happiness of those they have thus saved and blessed.

By taking Christ as the example, by communion with him, and by daily striving to imitate his character and conduct, we may form such a temper of mind that "doing good" on that highest scale revealed by our Lord will become the chief and highest source of enjoyment. And this heavenly principle will grow stronger and stronger, until self-denial loses the more painful part of its character; and then, to save men from sin, and guide them to eternal happiness, will be so delightful and absorbing a pursuit, that all exertions regarded as the means to this end will be like the joyous efforts of men when they strive for a prize or a crown with the full hope of success.

In this view of the subject, efforts and self-denial for the good of others are to be regarded not merely as duties enjoined for the benefit of others, but as the moral training indispensable to the formation of that character on which depends our own happiness. This view exhibits the full meaning of the Saviour's declaration, "How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!" He had before taught that the kingdom of heaven consisted not in such enjoyments as the worldly seek, but in the temper of self-denying benevolence like his own; and as the rich have far greater temptations to indolent self-indulgence, they are far less likely to acquire this temper than those who, by limited means, are inured to some degree of self-denial.

But on this point one important distinction needs to be made; and that is, between the self-denial which has no other aim than mere self-mortification, and that which is exercised to secure greater good to ourselves and others. The first is the foundation of monasticism, penances, and all other forms of asceticism; the latter only is that which Christianity requires.

A second consideration, which may give definiteness to this subject, is, that aiming at a perfect character for ourselves and for others involves not the extermination of any principles of our nature, but rather the regulating of them, according to the rules of reason and religion; so that the lower propensities shall always be kept subordinate to nobler principles. Thus we are not to aim at destroying our appetites, or at needlessly denying them, but rather so to regulate them that they shall best secure the objects for which they were implanted. We are not to annihilate the love of praise and admiration, but so to control it that the favor of God shall be regarded more than the estimation of men. We are not to extirpate the principle of curiosity, which leads us to acquire knowledge, but so to direct it that all our acquisitions shall be useful, and not frivolous or injurious. And thus with all the principles of the mind. God has implanted no desires in our constitution which are evil and pernicious. On the contrary, all our constitutional propensities, either of mind or body, he designed we should gratify, whenever no evils would thence result either to ourselves or others. Such passions as envy, selfish ambition, contemptuous pride, revenge, and hatred, are to be exterminated; for they are either excesses or excrescences, not created by God, but rather the result of our own neglect to form habits of benevolence and self-control.

A third consideration is that, though the means for sustaining life and health are to be regarded as necessaries, without which no other duties can be performed, yet a very large portion of the time spent by most persons in easy circumstances for food, raiment, and dwellings, is for mere superfluities; which are right when they do not involve the sacrifice of higher interests, and wrong when they do. Life and health can be sustained in the humblest dwellings, with the plainest dress and the simplest food; and after taking from our means what is necessary for life and health, the remainder is to be so divided that the larger portion shall be given to supply the moral and intellectual wants of ourselves and others.

There are many so dependent on parents or husbands, as to suffer perplexity as to their own duty on this account. In reference to these difficulties, the first remark is, that we are never under obligations to do what is entirely out of our power; so that those persons who can not regulate their expenses or their charities are under no sort of obligation to do so. The second remark is, that, when a rule of duty is discovered, if we can not fully attain to it, we are bound to aim at it, and to fulfill it just so far as we can. We have no right to throw it aside because we shall find some difficult cases when we come to apply it. The third remark is, that no person can tell how much can be done till a faithful trial has been made. If a woman has never kept any accounts, nor attempted to regulate her expenditures by the right rule, nor used her influence with those that control her plans, to secure this object, she has no right to say how much she can or can not do till after a fair trial has been made.

Is it objected, How can we decide between superfluities and necessities? It is replied, that we are not required to judge exactly in all cases. Our duty is to use the means in our power to assist us in forming a correct judgment; to seek the Divine aid in freeing our minds from indolence and selfishness; and then to judge as well as we can in our endeavors rightly to apportion and regulate our expenses. Many persons seem to feel that they are bound to do better than they know how. But God is not so hard a master; and after we have used all proper means to learn the right way, if we then follow it according to our ability, we do wrong to feel misgivings, or to blame ourselves, if results come out differently from what seems desirable.