Chapter XLVI The saints possess an abundance of all things

To be content with what one has is true wealth

The world is full of Marthas, hustling and bustling, intent on gathering things from all directions and caring for them, yet never having enough. These Christias, on the contrary, have a different temper: for each desires only to sit quietly at the feet of the Lord, satisfied with whatever befalls him there. They regard the grace of God dwelling in them as their truest riches and comfort themselves with that alonee. The external possessions which the world calls riches they look upon as more burden than profit, but they use them for the necessities of life — the necessities, I say. Therefore, whatever God has granted any of them, whether it be much or little, they regard as sufficient. They believe in, and fully rely upon, God’s care, and thus regard it as improper to desire anything beyond what God has granted them.

2 I observed a strange phenomenon here: some had plenty of wealth, of silver, gold, crown, and sceptres (for God has even such among His own), while others almost nothing save their half-clad body, emaciated with hunger and thirst. Yet the former professed to have nothing, while the latter to have everything, and both were of an equally cheerful spirit. Then I understood that he alone is truly wealthy and lacks nothing who knows how to be content with what he has, whether it be much, little, or no money: a large, small, or no house; expensive, cheap or no clothing, many, one, or no friend, high, low, or no position, or office, or honor, or fame: in brief, to be something or nothing is equally indifferent to them in the conviction that whatever God desires for them, or leads them to, or lifts them up to, or seats them to, thus should they go, stand, or sit; all that being better than they understand.

True Christians do not lack anything

3 Oh, the blessed and most desirable abundance! How happy are they who are wealthy in such a fashion! For even though in the eyes of the world some of them may appear wretched and miserable, yet in reality they are a thousand times better provided for, even in temporal matters, than many of the worldly-rich. For the latter must protect themselves, being subject along with their riches, to a thousand accidents, in danger of losing their goods by fire, water, rust, thieves, and other exigencies. The former, having God for their guardian, ever find in Him the source of living-supply of all their needs; for He feeds them daily from His supplies, clothes them from His store, grants them for their necessities out of His treasury — if not beyond their needs, at least always what is truly needful. If His bounty is not in accordance with their own reason, it is always according to His providence in which they trust a thousand times more readily than in their own reason.