Live Coals: Life At Work III

A School of Useful Knowledge

“Business life is a school of useful knowledge. Merchants do not read many books, and do not study lexicons. They do not dive into profounds of learning, and yet nearly all through their occupations come to understand questions of finance, and politics, and geography, and jurisprudence, and ethics.

Business is a severe schoolteacher. If pupils will not learn she strikes them over the head and heart with severe losses. You put $5,000 into an enterprise. It is all gone. You say, “That is a dead loss.” Oh, no. You are paying the schooling. That was only tuition, very large tuition—I told you it was a severe schoolmistress—but it was worth it. You learned things under that process you would not have learned in any other way.

Traders in grain come to know something about foreign harvests; traders in fruit come to know something about the prospects of tropical production; manufacturers of American goods come to understand the tariff on imported articles; publishers of books must come to understand the new law of copyright; owners of ships must come to know winds and shoals and navigation; and every bale of cotton, and every raisin cask, and every tea box, and every cluster of bananas is so much literature for a business man.

Now, my brother, what are you going to do with the intelligence? Do you suppose God put you in this school of information merely that you might be sharper in a trade, that you might be more successful as a worldling? Oh, no; it was that you might take that useful information and use it for Jesus Christ.

Can it be that you have been dealing with foreign lands and never had the missionary spirit, wishing the salvation of foreign people?

Can it be that you have become acquainted with all the outrages inflicted in business life, and that you have never tried to bring to bear that Gospel which is to extirpate all evil and correct all wrongs, and illuminate all darkness and lift up all wretchedness, and save men for this world and the world to come?

Can it be that understanding all the intricacies of business you know nothing about those things which will last after all bills of exchange and consignments and invoices and rent rolls shall have crumpled up and been consumed in the fires of the last great day?

Can it be that a man will be wise for time, and a fool for eternity?”

-T. DeWitt Talmage

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