This section is from the "How To Pay Church Debts And How To Keep Churches Out Of Debt" book, by Rev. Sylvanus Stall. Amazon: How To Pay Church Debts And How To Keep Churches Out Of Debt.
IV - The Fourth Tithe.
"Thus speak unto the Levites, and say unto them, When ye take of the children of Israel the tithes which I have given you from them for your inheritance, then ye shall offer up a heave offering of it for the Lord, even a tenth part of the tithe. Thus ye also shall offer a heave offering unto the Lord of all your tithes, which ye receive of the children of Israel; and ye shall give thereof the Lord's heave offering to Aaron the priest." - (Num. xviii. 26, 28).
This fourth tithe was that which the Lord required the Levites to pay to the priests. The Levites were those who were descended from Levi by Gershom, Kohath and Merari, and were called Levites as distinguished from the sons of Levi by Aaron, who were called the priests.
Beside these tithes, there were the various forms of sacrifices and offerings comprising the burnt-offering, the meat-offering, the peace-offering, the sin-offering, and the trespass-offering.* In addition to these, there were the numerous provisions for the poor, besides the offerings of the people for themselves as individuals at the purification of women (Lev. xii.), the presentation of the first-born at circumcision, the cleansing of the leprosy (Lev. xiv.), of the unclean (Lev. xv.), at the fulfillment of vows (Num. vi. 1, 20 , at marriages and funerals, etc., etc., besides the frequent offering of private sin-offerings. To meet the various requirements must have demanded from one-fourth to one-third of all the annual production of the entire land.
*The regular sacrifices in the temple service were: I. Burnt-offerings: (a.) The daily burnt-offerings (Ex. xxix. 38, 42). (b.) The double burnt-offerings on the Sabbath (Num. xxviii. 9, 10). (c.) The burnt-offerings at the great festivals (Num. xxviii. II; xxix. 39). II. Meat-offerings: (a.) The daily meat-offerings accompanying the daily burnt-offerings (flour, wine, oil), (Ex. xxix. 40, 41). (b.) The shew-bread (Lev. xxiv. 5, 9). (c.) Special meat-offerings at the Sabbath and the great festivals (Num. xxviii., xxix.). (d.) The first-fruits at the Passover (Lev. xxiii. 10, 14); at Pentecost (Lev. xxiii. 17, 20), both called wave-offerings; the first-fruits of the dough and threshing-floor at harvest (Num. xv. 20, 21; Deut. xxvi. I, II), called heave offerings. III. Sin-offerings: (a.) A kid each new moon (Num. xxviii. 15). (b.) Sin-offerings at the Passover, Pentecost, Feast of Trumpets and Tabernacles (Num. xxviii. 22, 30; xxix. 5, 16, 19, 22, 25, 28, 31, 34, 38). (c.) The offering of the two goats (one sacrificed and the other the scape goat) for the people, and the bullock for the priest himself, on the Great Day of Atonement (Lev. xvi.). IV. Incense: (a.) The morning and evening incense (Ex. xxx. 7, 8). (b.) The incense on the Great Day of Atonement (Lev. xvi. 12).
The law of the tithe and of the offering which were held by worshipers from the first, and which had become world-wide before the time of Moses, were multiplied and intensified under the Jewish dispensation. As more was given, so more was required.
The Tithe In The New Testament Church.
On this subject of the tithe the Old and New Testaments are not to be arrayed as though their declarations were at variance upon this great doctrine. They are an exposition not of two, but of one system of religion - the Christian religion. The same divine principles and moral laws pervade both dispensations alike, and the same lessons are taught in both. It was of the Old Testament that Christ said: "Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life, and they are they which testify of me." These were the "Holy Scriptures" which Timothy had known "from a child," which were "profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness." "They are not two churches," says Leslie, "but two states of the same church; for it is the same Christian church from the first promise of Christ (Gen iii. 15) to the end of the world, and therefore it is said (Heb. iv. 2.) that the gospel was preached unto them as well as unto us." The civil and ceremonial laws, given to a particular people for a particular time, became null and void when that time was accomplished: but the law of the tithe existed from the first, and was neither civil nor ceremonial, but moral, and consequently it is just as binding to-day as any other unchangable moral law.
Since the church is the same, and governed by the same laws under both dispensations, these laws were not reannounced by Christ; they were taken for granted, they were understood, they were recognized, for Jesus declared concerning the law and the prophets that "he came not to destroy, but to fulfil." This was his endorsement, and they needed not to be reannounced. The law of the tithe needed not to be announced any more than the law of the Sabbath, or of prayer, or worship. Jesus sanctioned the great liberality of Zaccheus when he gave "half his goods," and even when a poor widow gave "all her living," the act secured his fullest commendation, and to the young man who came running to him Jesus made the parting with all his "great possessions" the condition upon which rested his salvation. The first worship to the infant Saviour was in the richest treasures of "gold, frankincense and myrrh," and so must all true worship of him ever be attended. When the Pharisees boasted of giving tithes of "mint and anise and cummin," Christ reproved them for omitting "judgment, mercy, faith," but approved of their paying tithes even to the utmost.
There was no occasion for a continual repetition of this law to the apostles and early Christians. When this abiding truth was baptized by the Pentecostal blessing, we find them selling their possessions and goods, and parting them to all men as every man had need - thus again and again we find them even out of a deep poverty abounding in the riches of their liberality, being "willing of themselves."*
*See also, Acts ii. 44, 45; iv. 34, 35; ix. 36, 39; xvi. 15, 33, 34; xx. 35; xxviii. 14, 15; Rom, xv. 25. 28; xvi. I, 2, 6; I Cor, xvi, 1, 2, 15; II Cor. viii. 1, 4; ix. I, 2, 12, 15; Phil. iv. 10, 14, 16: I Thess. iv. 9, 10.
That the law of the tithe was recognized, and the duty of conformity to it enforced, is made very evident in the writings of the Fathers, and in the records of the councils of the church. +
Since the tithe was instituted soon after the creation of man, was observed before the giving of the Law on mount Sinai, was emphasized and intensified
+As our space and purpose in this treatise are too limited to admit of the presentation of the quotations which establish this point, we refer the reader to the following works of the Fathers: Irenaeus. Adversus Haeresus, Lib. 4. Cap. 27, 34; Origen, In Numero Homilia xi., In Genes. Hom. xvi; Cyprian, De Unit. Eccles. ... 23; Chrysostom, Tom. i., Hom. 35, Tom. ii., Ad Eph. Hom. iv., Ad I Cor. Hom. 43, Ad Act. Hom. 18; Ambrose, Ad Hom. 33 et 34; Jerome, Epist. 2, Ad Nepotianum, In Malachiam iii., In Epis. I Cor. In Ezek. xliv.; Augustine, De Reddendis Dec-imis, Ser. 219, In Psalmum cxlvi., Hom. 48; see also, Council of Ancyra (A. D. 314); of Gangra (A. D. 324); of Orleans (first), (A. D. 511); of Mascon (second Council), (A. D. 585); of Seville (first Council), (A. D. 590); of Toledo (fourth), (A. D. 633); of Friuli (A. D. 791). Besides these, many subsequent Councils. In the confessional at this period was asked: "Hast thou at any time neglected to pay thy tithes to God, which God himself ordained to be given? If thou hast done so, or consented to the defrauding of the church therein, first restore to God fourfold the tenth of all kinds of possessions, as well personal as praedial." under the Mosaic dispensation, was recognized by Christ, and the Christian church was built around it, and since it was recognized by the Christian church in the earlier centuries, how does it come that in these later centuries the Christian church has departed from this law?
About three centuries before the Reformation the apostate church of Rome assailed the doctrine of the Divine Eight of the Tithe. She taught that tithes not being of divine right, might be alienated from the support of the priests to the aggrandizement of the church. To justify corrupt practices it was necessary to supplant divine laws by corrupt doctrines. This the Man of Sin did not hesitate to do, but substituted the doctrine of Competent Maintenance for the divine law of the tithe. The State was not slow to learn the lesson. If tithes did not belong to God, and God's ministers were entitled only to a "competent maintenance," why was not the State as justly entitled to the tithes of the people as the Pope? and why could not the State appropriate the tithes and dole out to the clergy a "competent maintenance" as well as the Pope?* Thus, in the sixteenth century, we have the State under the protection of this corrupt doctrine, wresting from the church those tithes which God had devoted to her support. As every student of history knows, the effects were as disastrous as the doctrine was delusive. Here we have, then, briefly, how these tithes, which "are the Lord's," were in the first diverted from the purposes to which God had devoted them, and how they were finally entirety alienated from the Church by the State. The history from that time to this is only too well known to need recording here - a Church dependent upon the State, or dependent upon the merest pittance of the people. From that time to this the history of the church has been one of servile dependence either upon the State or upon the people. At the remembrance of the sad results of the past, and the degrading slavery of the present, we can but sit clown as Israel "by the rivers of Babylon," and "weep when we remember Zion."
*God appropriated the tithes of the people for the maintenance of the Levites; they were not to be used for the support of the State. Under the Mosaic dispensation the Crown was to be supported by presents (I Saml. x. 27); by the products of the royal flocks (I Saml. xxi. 7, 8; II Chron, xxxii. 28, 29); by the royal demesnes, vineyards and olive gardens (I Chron. xxvii. 26, 28); by the spoils of conquered nations (I Kings iv. 21; II Chron. xxvii. 5); by the tribute of conquered nations and of merchants passing through their country [I Kings x. 15]; by taxes and tolls [Ezra iv. 14, 19, 20]; by a tenth, which Samuel forewarned them that the king, like the kings of other nations, would exact [I Saml. viii. 15]. That the treasuries of the Lord's house and of the king's house were distinct, see II Kings xviii. 15, and II Chron. xii. 9.