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me in; naked, and ye clothed me; I was sick, and ye visited me; I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee; or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in ; naked, and clothed thee; or when saw we thee sick, and in prison, and came unto thee ? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily, I say unto you, inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
On the other hand, the cause, expressly assigned for the condemnation of the wicked at the same awful day, is their omission of these very duties. How delightful, then, will it be, to go from this world with a consciousness that the duties of charity have been all performed by ourselves! How melancholy, how dreadful, to stand before the Judge with a conviction that they have all been neglected!
1 TIMOTHY vi. 9, 10.
They, that will be rich, fall into iemptation, and a snare, and iniu
many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For, the love of money is the root of all evil; which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. .
In the two preceding discourses, I examined the Nature, and Benefits of Contentment ; the immediate object of Injunction in the Tenth Command : and of Charity; a duty which it obviously implies. The subject, which next offers itself to considera. tion, is the Covetousness, which is the immediate object of Prohibition in this precept. This 1 shall discuss under the two general heads of Avarice and Ambition.
The former of these shall occupy the present discourse.
The spirit of Covetousness extends, indeed, both its views, and desires, to the objects of Sensuality, as well as to Wealth, and Distinction. But, beside that these are not commonly considered as the proper objects of covetousness, 1 have already discoursed so extensively concerning several sensual gratifications,
as to render it unnecessary again to bring them into a particular examination.
In the present discussion, it is my design to consider,
All these subjects are directly mentioned in the Text. Of those, who will be rich, it is said, that they fall into many foolish lusts. These lusts are also said to be hurtful, and to drown men in destruction and perdition. It is further said, that the love of money is the root of all evil. Some, who had coveted after it, in, or before, the days of St. Paul, he declares, erred, or were seduced, from the faith; and pierced themselves through ; wegiersigav, pierced tkeniselves all around ; with many sorrows. Here, we find the Folly, Guilt, and Mischiefs, of Avarice asserted in the strongest, as well as the most explicit, terms. What is thus testified by St. Paul, the common sense of mankind has, in every age and country, attested in the most ample manner.
All nations, wherever wealth has existed, have declared Covetousness to be eminently foolish, sinful, and mischievous. A stronger spe
, cimen of this testimony can hardly be given, than in the appropriation of the name, Miser, a wretch, to the avaricious man.
The proofs, which I shall givé, at the present time, of the Folly of Avarice, are the following.
1. The pursuits of the Avaricious Man are altended by many unnecessary anxielies, labours, and distresses.
The mind of an avaricious man is always the seat of eager desire. So peculiarly is this the fact, that the words Covetous and Covetousness, although originally signifying any inordinate desire, denote in common usage, when unqualified by other phraseology, the inordinate desire of wealth ; and are equivalent to the words Avaricious and Avarice. This fact, more strongly than any reasoning could, proves, that the love of riches is, usually, in an eminent degree, inordinate. But, whenever our desires sustain this character, the mind becomes proportionally anxious. Our attainment of the coveted object is, in most cases, necessarily uncertain. Between the fear of losing, and the hope of acquiring, it, the mind is necessarily suspended. As these Vol. IV.
desires are continually exerted, the suspense becomes, of course, continual also. A state of suspense is always a state of anxiety. Here, the anxiety is regularly great, and distressing ; because the desires are incessant, eager, and sufficiently strong to control all the powers of the mind.
But this anxiety is unnecessarily suffered. All the prudence and industry, which can be lawfully exerted for the acquisition of wealth, may be employed, and all the property, which can be lawfully acquired, may be gained, without the exercise of a single avaricious feeling, and without the sufferance of a single avaricious anxiety. The contented man often becomes rich, to every desirable degree, amid the full possession of serenity, peace, and self-approbation.
Nor are the Labours of the avaricious man of a less unfortunate nature. His mind is continually strained with effort. The strength of his desires, goads him into an unceasing course of contrivances to gratify them. His thirst for property drives him to an incessant formation of plans, by which he hopes to acquire it. The fear of lessening what he has acquired, hurries him into an endless, and wearisome, train of exertions, to secure himself from losses. Thus, a course of mental toil is voluntari. ly assumed by him, resembling, not the independent labours of a freeman, but the drudgery of a slave. The mind of an old miser is thus in a continual state of travail ; and struggles through life under the pressure of an iron bondage.
A mind, hurried by eager schemes of effort, is always a tyrant to the body. Accordingly, the bodily labours of the miser commence before the dawn; worry him through the day; and scarcely permit him to lie down at night. A mere dray-horse, he is destined to a course of incessant toil. The only changes of life to him are from dragging loads, to bearing burdens ; and like those of the dray-horse, they are all borne, and drag ged, for the use of others.
To the pains, springing hourly from this unintermitted toil, are added the daily reproaches of conscience; the sufferings of disease, and accident, to which such a life is peculiarly exposed; the contempt of those around him; the denial of their pily lo his sufferings ; and their universal joy in his mortification.
2. The wishes of the avaricious man are followed by innumerable Disappointments.
The property, which he covets, he often fails to acquire. His plans, although forined with his utmost sagacity, and with extreme care, are not unfrequently frustrated. His debtors become bankrupt. His hard bargains are avoided. His deeds, or other obligations, are defective. His agents are often unskilful; often unfaithful; and, while they are employed merely because they will serve him at a cheap rate, frequently make their service distressingly expensive. Storms, also, will blow, in spite of his wishes. Shelves will spread; and rocks will stand in the way of his ships, as well as in the way of others. The gain, which he looks for, will, often, only appear to excite his most anxious desires, and mock him with the most painful disappointment.
Scarcely less is he wounded, when the gain in view is partially acquired. The advantage of a bargain, the amount of a crop, or the profits of a voyage, are less, than his expectations have promised. As his calculations are all set high, and made by the hand of ardent desire; they, of course, overrun his success. But moderate success frustrates immoderate desire little less than absolute disappointment.
Should we even suppose his success to equal his expectations; he will be still disappointed. He covets wealth, for the good, which he supposes it will confer. This good, is not the supply of his wants, the communication of conveniences, or the ministration of luxuries. Luxuries and conveniences, he has not a wish to enjoy; and his wants might be supplied by a tenth, a twentieth, or even a hundredth, part of what he possesses. Personal importance, influence, and distinction, constitute, eminently, the good, which the miser expects from his gains. But this object he often fails to accomplish ; and, in the measure which he expects, always. Some of those around him will, in spite of both his wishes, and labours, be richer than himself. Others will possess superior understanding: and others superior excellence. Some, or all, of these will acquire more reputation, weight, or influence, than himself. Thus he is compelled to see men, who are his rivals, whom he hates, or whom he either