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the hand of Avarice. But to lose these blessings is to lose infinitely.
At the same time, the miser wastes of course his day of Probation. His life is wholly occupied by the pursuit of wealth. Of sin and ruin, of holiness and Heaven, he has not time even to think. His life is too short for the accomplishment of his main object. Suns, for him, rise too late; and set too soon. Too rapidly do his days succeed each other; and too early do they terminate their career.
His last sickness arrests him, while he is counting his gold : and death knocks at his door, while he is in the midst of a gainful bargain. Thus he is hurried, and goaded, through the journey of life, by his covetousness; and finds no opportunity to pause, and think upon the concerns of his soul; no moment, in which he can withdraw his eye from gain, and cast a look toward Heaven. It is easier, saith our Saviour, for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of God.
Thus it is evident, that they, that will be rich, fall into templation, and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition ; that the love of money is the root of all evil; and that such, as covet after it, pierce themselves through with many
The Private Mischiefs of Avarice are those, which affect unhappily the interests of families, and neighbourhoods.
To these little circles, formed to be happy, and actually the scenes of the principal happiness, furnished by this world, the miser is a common nuisance. To his family he presents the misera. ble example of covetousness, fraud, oppression, falsehood, and impiety; and the most humiliating and distressing living picture of an abandoned worldling, forgetting his God and forgotten by Him; worshipping gold; ever craving and devouring, but never satisfied; denying himself, and his household, the comforts of life; and imparting to them the necessaries only in crumbs and shreds ; living a life of perpetual meanness and debasement; wasting the day of probation; treasuring up wrath against the day of wrath; advancing onward to his final account without an effort, or a thought, of preparation for this tremendous event:
and, all this while, irresistibly endeared to them by the strong power of natural affection.
On the neighbourhood the miser inflicts the complicated, harassing, and intense, evils of continually repeated fraud and oppression. Wherever such a man plants himself, sufferings spring up all around him. To the young, the ignorant, the thoughtless, and the necessitous, he lends money at exorbitant interest, and with ten-fold security. The payment he discourages, until the amount has become sufficient to enable him, with a suit, to enclose their whole possessions in his net. To the poor and suffering, also, he sells, at unconscionable prices, the necessaries of life. Notes, bonds, and mortgages, given by persons of the same description, he buys at an enormous discount. Of estates, left intestate, he watchfully seeks, and with art and perseverance obtains, the Administration. When others are obliged to buy, he sells : and, when others are obliged to sell, he buys. In this manner his loans are almost instantaneously doubled; and property, mortgaged to him for a tenth part of its value, is swallowed up. The e tates of widows and orphans melt away before his breath, as the snow beneath the April sun. The possessions of all around him move only towards his den. The farm and the house, the garden and the cottage, the herd on the one hand, and the widow's cow and ten sheep on the other, go down together into this open sepulchre. Over the miserable beings, who cannot escape his fangs, he reigns with a despotic and wolfish dominion. All around him tremble at his nod: and, should any one retain sufficient energy to question his pleasure, or dispute his control, he points his eyes to the jail, and hushes every murmur to si. lence, and every thought to despair.
Nor does he less injure Society, although the injury is ordinarily less observed, as being less felt, by corrupting both his family and his neighbourhood. His example emboldens, his skill instructs, and his success allures, those, who are witnesses of his life, to pursue the same course of villainy and oppression. All the sagacious, sharpen their cunning by his practical lessons. The intrepid, become daring by his example. The greedy become ravenous by his success. Thus the spirit of Avarice is caught; its villainies are multiplied; and a poisonous cion en
grafted upon every stock in the neighbourhood. His own sons, if not broken down by his hard-handed parsimony, or induced by their sufferings to detest it, and rush into the opposite extreme of profusion, become proficients in all the mysteries of fraud and oppression : not instructed, and led, only, but drilled into the eager, shrewd, and gainful pursuit of wealth. From him they learn to undervalue all rules of morality, except the law of the land; to violate the dictates of compassion; to burst the bonds of conscience; and to regard with indifference, and contempt, the Will of God. In his house, as in a second Newgate, young men soon become old in villainy; and with a heart prematurely hardened into stone, and hands trained to mischief by transferred experience, are turned loose to prey upon the vitals of Society.
The Public Mischiefs of Avarice are not less numerous; and are of incomprehensible magnitude. It was one of the glorious characteristics of the men, recommended by Jethro to Moses, to fill the stations of Rulers, that they hated coretousness : a characteristic indispensable to him, who would rule justly, and be a mi. nister of God for good to his people. When Avarice ascends the chair of state, mingles with the councils of princes, seats herself on the bench of justice, or takes her place in the chamber of legislation ; nay, when she takes possession of subordinate departments, particularly of those, which are financial, in the administration of government; her views become extended, and her ravages terrible. The man, over whom she has established her dominion, sees, even in the humblest of these stations, prospects of acquiring wealth opening suddenly upon him, of which he before never formed a conception. In the mysterious collection of revenues, the mazy management of taxes, the undefined claims for perquisites, the opportunities of soliciting and receiving customary bribes, and in the boundless gulf of naval and military contracts, he beholds new means, and new motives, for the exercise of all his talents, fraud, and rapacity, and for the speedy acquisition of opulence, crowding upon him at once. The alluring scene he surveys with the same spirit, with which a vulture eyes the field of blood. Every thing, on which he can fasten his talons, here becomes his prey. The public he cheats without compunction:
individuals he oppresses without pity. There is sufficient wealth in the world to supply all its inhabitants with comfort. But, when some become suddenly, and enormously, rich, multitudes must sink into the lowest depths of poverty. To enable
. a single farmer of revenues, or a single contractor, to lodge in a palace, to riot at the table of luxury, and to roll on wheels of splendour, thousands have sweat blood, and wrung their hands in agony. But what is all this to him? He is rich; whoever else
poor. He is fed; whoever else may starve. The frauds and ravages of public agents, which find palliation, countenance, and excuse, from the fact, that they have become customary, constitute no small part of that oppression, which has awakened the groans and cries of the human race, from the days of Nimrod to the present hour.
But Avarice is not confined to subordinate agents. Often it ascends the throne, and grasps the sceptre. The evils, of which it is the parent in this situation, are fully proportioned to ite power; and outrun the most excursive wanderings of imagination. A large part of the miseries, entailed on mankind by oppressive taxes at home, and ruinous wars abroad, are created by the lust for plunder. This fiend hurried the Spaniards 10 Ameriça;
and stung them into the perpetration of all those cruelties, which laid waste the Empires of Mexico and Peru. The same foul spirit steered the slave-ships of America and Europe to the African shores; tore from their friends, children, and parents, ten millions of the unoffending natives ; transported them, in chains, across the Atlantic; and hurried them to the grave by oppressive toil, torture, and death. Every where, and in every age, she has wasted the happiness, wrung the heart, and poured out the blood, of man. Relentless as death, and insatiable as the grave, she has continually opened her mouth without measure; and the glory, the multitude, and the pomp of cities, states, and empires, have descended into the abyss !
ROMANS xii. 16.
Mind not high things.
Pride is the
The subject of the preceding discourse, you may remember, was Avarice. In the present, I shall consider the other great exercise of a covetous spirit, viz. Ambition.
Ambition is an affection of the mind, nearly related to Pride and Vanity. Vanity is the self-complacency, which we feel in the consciousness of being superior to others. same self-complacency, united with a contempt for those, whom we consider as our inferiors. Ambition is the desire of obtaining, or increasing, this superiority. Vanity, usually makes men civil and complaisant. Pride, renders them rude, imperious, and overbearing. Vanity, chiefly subjects men to the imputation of weakness; and excites mingled emotions of pity and contempt. Pride, is often attended with a kind of repulsive dignity; is rather seen to be deserving of contempt, than realized as the object of it; sometimes awakens awe; and always creates hatred and loathing. Vain men are always ambitious; proud men generally; but they sometimes appear satisfied with their