Page:Our Common Land (and other short essays).djvu/97

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A MORE EXCELLENT WAY OF CHARITY.

apostles preached, they treated the Gospel as good news which the people would care to receive for itself; they honoured it in treating it as if it were a blessing. Of course it is difficult to distinguish between the actions which come from the radiant outpouring of every species of good gift in mere wealth of joyful human love springing from vivid sense of Divine love, which we see in earnest preachers of all ages, from the gift which is meant to be, and felt to be, a bribe. In many cases, probably, the gifts comprise a mixture of love and a purpose to attract, which it would be impossible to separate. But religious teaching, I have no manner of doubt whatever, has suffered of late years incomparably more than it has gained by this confusion. Let the gift, then, stand or fall by its own intrinsic value; if it be helpful in itself, cultivating such right qualities as will make the recipient richer in such outside things as itself, let it be made. If not, withhold it. And for God's sake let