My dear young friend,
You must maintain quite a correspondence. I would rather have thought one or
two letters in a day would be sufficient for you. That you receive so many is
indeed a surprise to me. Indeed, it is a surprise to me that there exist so many
who clamor for your charity. This is not good. You must be very well known to
receive so many demands.
It is rather different with us. All these matters are regulated by the
church. I exclude, of course, those acts of charity a man should perform in his
The great surprise to me is this – that in a time of plenty such as yours
there should be so many agents pressing you to provide. I would have thought
that our time would have been the more needful, as yours appears to be one of
abundance. But perhaps I take too simple a view.
The central thought in charity must always be this: God values the heart, not
the gift. I am a man of property; a small gift from me may be a large one to
someone else. But God knows the giver. He who lacks nothing measures everything.
This you must keep in mind. Often we give from a mixture of motives. We may
feel many eyes looking on us as we give; or it may simply be an emotion of
warmth in giving. Often enough the gift is in our own interest, or we have some
hope of reward. It is hard to keep a pure heart in this.
God gives us his example in this. If we give from a pure heart, expecting
nothing in return, then we shall receive our recompense from Him.
My advice to you in this is simple. First, always give out of view of the
eye. Surely those who handle money for the church can be trusted in this. By
doing this you remove all hope of man’s reward and place the matter in God’s
hands. Second, give with wisdom. Place no gift in the hands of the idle; it does
them no service. In all such things give the matter over first to God and let
him direct the gold.
It has been my privilege to give much in my life. But I am mindful of the
widow’s mite. I hope that my Lord will find that I have done my best, both in
what I gave and how I gave it.
In generosity and wisdom, I remain,
Isaac the alchemist