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Letters from an Ancient Mind

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 own household.

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

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