I have a friend who was never a church member, but was, and is, a millionaire – a generous benevolent millionaire – who once went about doing good by stealth, but with a natural preference for doing it at his office. One day he took it into his thoughtful noddle that he would like...
<p>I have a friend who was never a church member, but was, and is, a millionaire – a generous benevolent millionaire – who once went about doing good by stealth, but with a natural preference for doing it at his office. One day he took it into his thoughtful noddle that he would like to assist in the erection of a new church edifice, to replace the inadequate and shabby structure in which a certain small congregation in his town then worshipped. So he drew up a subscription paper, modestly headed the list with “Christian, 2000 dollars,” and started one of the Deacons about with it. In a few days the Deacon came back to him, like the dove to the ark, saying he had succeeded in procuring a few names, but the press of his private business was such that he had felt compelled to intrust the paper to Deacon Smith.</p>
<p>Next day the document was presented to my friend, as nearly blank as when it left his hands. Brother Smith explained that he (Smith) had started this thing, and a brother calling himself “Christian,” whose name he was not at liberty to disclose, had put down 2000 dollars. Would our friend aid them with an equal amount? Our friend took the paper and wrote “Philanthropist, 1000 dollars,” and Brother Smith went away.</p>
<p>In about a week Brother Jones put in an appearance with the subscription paper. By extraordinary exertions Brother Jones – thinking a handsome new church would be an ornament to the town and increase the value of real estate – had got two brethren, who desired to remain incog., to subscribe: “Christian” 2000 dollars, and “Philanthropist” 1000 dollars. Would my friend kindly help along a struggling congregation? My friend would. He wrote “Citizen, 500 dollars,” pledging Brother Jones, as he had pledged the others, not to reveal his name until it was time to pay.</p>
<p>Some weeks afterward, a clergyman stepped into my friend’s counting-room, and after smilingly introducing himself, produced that identical subscription list.</p>
<p>“Mr. K.,” said he, “I hope you will pardon the liberty, but I have set on foot a little scheme to erect a new church for our congregation, and three of the brethren have subscribed handsomely. Would you mind doing something to help along the good work?”</p>
<p>My friend glanced over his spectac...