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ling. Professing christians cannot engage in and pursue such callings with the approbation and blessing of God. And if God permit them to acquire property in such business, his curse will rest upon their gains.- Professing christians have no business with such callings.Their souls cannot prosper while engaged in them. The language of such conduct is that they prefer the world to the approbation of God; and they who continue by their conduct to speak such language, can have no evidence that they are the people of God. The language of Christ to his professing people is-“ Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead ;” Mat. viii. 22.
While speaking of industry in some lawful calling as a duty, another question may properly be asked. May not a person who already is in possession of a competent and affluent estate, lawfully live in idleness, and not attend to any business? This question is answered in the negative; and especially if such persons be young or in active life. We sometimes see young men, who possess by inheritance large estates, living upon their income, in indolence and dissipation; and saying with the rich fool in the gospel, * Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years ; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry ;” Luk. xii. 19. Such conduct is altogether wrong. Whatever be our estate, industry in some lawful business is a duty. Industry is favourable to virtue and religion; whereas sloth is an incentive to many hurtful lusts, which render riches a snare and hinderance to spiritual welfare. And besides, we are stewards of God, and property is not given to us, to be expended merely on ourselves. God in his word charges the rich “ that they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate;": i Tim. vi. 18. If God in his providence, gives us more property than others, we are bound to excel others in doing good-relieving the distressed, supporting and extending religion, and promoting objects of public benevolence and utility. If any one should say, my property is already so large, that I can do all this, and yet live in indolence, he is answered ; if some good can be done without care to improve property--by industry, which is suited to the nature of man, and conducive to health and virtue, still more good may be done. And God will certainly account with us, not only for the good we might have
done with the property we possessed; but also for the good we might have been enabled to do, with proper care and industry to improve the property put into our hands.
2. A second duty incumbent upon us in the acquisition of property is frugality. This is the opposite of profuseness. * Frugality is opposed to the lavishing our property on improper objects ; or consuming it to gratify our Iusts; or living in a style which our circumstances will not bear, even if that style in other circumstances were lawful; or if our circumstances will bear it, living in an expensive style through ostentation or sensuality, while the poor are neglected. "If we would do our duty, in acquiring property, it is not enough to be industrious, we ought also to be frugal. Many persons labour very hard, and yet continue poor, for want of frugality in their expenditures. The duty of frugality is taught in the following texts—“ The substance of a diligent man is precious ;" Prov. xii. 27. “ He that is slothful in his work, is brother to him that is a great waster;" Prov. xviii. 9. “ There is treasure to be desired, and oil in the dwelling of the wise ; but a foolish man spendeth it up;" Prov. xxi. 20. One thing for which the prodigal son was condemned was, he“ wasted his substance with riotous living ;" Luk. xv. 13. And our Saviour taught the duty of frugality, in his direction to his disciples after he had fed the five thousand; “ Gather up the fragments that remain that nothing be lost;" John vi. 12.
Ifit be asked here, whether frugality is a duty incumbent on the rich as well as the poor? I answer, yes, to a certain degree. It is lawful to live comfortably, and to enjoy the good things that God may give us ; but a profuseness in dress, equipage, meat, or drink, for the gratification of pride, or the indulgence of sensual appetites, is wicked. It was for these things, that the rich man in the parable was condemned. He “was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day;" Luk. svi. 19. Such sinful conduct is frequent among the rich. Many of them seem to forget, that they are the stewards of God, and accountable to him for the use they make of their property. Almost incalculable good might be done in the world, by what is lavished on costly dress, and equipage, and entertainments, merely for ostentation, or for tre gratification of appetite. Oftentimes the superfluities
at a feast, would render comfortable, many suffering families among the poor. We find many persons in our
world, who can expend hundreds and thousands for ostentation, and the gratification of their sensual appetites, who have little or nothing to give to the poor ; and from whom no arguments or entreaties can draw a little for the promotion of religion, or of objects of public utility. Such persons, in the pride of their hearts may say, I have a right, to do with mine own as I please ; yet they may rest assured that God will reckon with them for such a use of their property. And unless they repent of their conduct and change their course, they will finally receive the portion of the rich man.
3. Another duty to be attended to in the acquisition of property is a prudent management of our temporal affairs. A person may be industrious, and labour hard to acquire property, and he may be frugal, avoiding all profuseness; and yet he may continue poor, through want of prudent management. This every day's observation teach
This prudent management includes a great many particulars more than I can name. It includes doing every thing in its proper season, embracing favourable opportunities to advance our property in a lawful way, redeeming the time, taking care of what we get, looking diligently to the ways of our household, and a great many other things of a like nature, which will naturally suggest themselves to a prudent and reflecting man, in the course of his business.
Thus I have pointed out and illustrated the duties which the eighth commandment requires, with respect to acquiring a competency of this world's goods. It is our duty to be industrious, frugal, and economical or prudent in the management of our temporal affairs. Such a course of conduct will
generally procure a competency, and not unfrequently affluence. It is true, God, in the course of his providence, may, for wise and holy ends, prevent this effect. In this case, while we still continue to perform our duty it becomes us to acquiesce in the dispensations of providence, and to endeavour to make a wise use and improvement of them. And we ought always to remember that it is the blessing of God that maketh rich; that we are dependent on him in temporal as well as spiritual things; and that without his blessing, should we even have suc
cess in business, and acquire property, our property would be cursed. Let us therefore ever feel our dependence on him for his blessing to give success to our lawful pursuits in business.
be further observed with respect to our own estate, it is our duty, not only to acquire in a lawful way, a competency of this world's goods ; but also to preserve our property when it is acquired. And in order to this, in addition to the duties already pointed out, it is our duty to avoid as much as possible engaging in law-suits and suretiships. Persons of a litigious temper, oftentimes injure their estates by law-suits. It has been made a question whether law-suits are in any case morally lawful? The apostle Paul, on this subject, wrote to the Corinthians; “There is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded ?" i Cor. vi. 7. And in our Saviour's sermon on the Mount we read; “ If any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also ;” Mat. v. 40. These texts appear very strong against law-suits. But that they are not to be understood as forbidding them in all cases and all circumstances, appears from several considerations. To understand these texts in this absolute sense would be opening a door for oppression, and inviting the wicked to oppress the righteous. Besides it is certain that, under the Old Testament, God himself directed the appointment of judges to decide controversies ; And Solomon said, “ Štrive not with a man without cause; Prov. iii. 30. Which implies that there is a lawful striving. The text above quoted must be explained in consistency with other parts of Scripture. In regard to the text quoted from the writings of the apostle Paul on the subject of law-suits ; it appears from the context that he referred to law-suits carried on by christians before Heathen and infidel magistrates, whereby the christian religion was scandalized. And the meaning of the Apostle appears to be, that christians ought rather to make up their differences among themselves; and if their disputes could not otherwise be settled, rather to suffer wrong, than to do any thing to the prejudice of the gospel. But I do not suppose that the Apostle intended to forbid christians, in a christian community, and before christian
magistrates, to defend or recover their own by law, when they cannot otherwise do it. As to what our Saviour said, we may suppose he referred to small matters, in which it was better to lose a little than contend ; and es. pecially at that time, when from the prejudice that exis. ted against his disciples, they could scarcely hope to have justice done them. However, both these texts teach us, as much as possible to avoid contention; and that it is better, especially in small matters ; to suffer wrong than to contend. And indeed experience has proved, that very frequently persons would save property by so doing. And christians certainly ought, as much as possible to avoid law-suits; and if after using every other means to obtain their right, they are compelled to have recourse to the law, they ought to conduct their law-suits with christian meekness and forbearance. To
preserve our property, suretiships are also, as much as possible, to be avoided. Becoming surety for others is very often followed by ruinous consequences. In the Proverbs of Solomon we read, “ My son if thou be surety for thy friend, if thou hast stricken thy hand with a stranger-Thou art snared with the words of thy mouth, thou art taken with the words of thy mouth. Do this now, my son, and deliver thyself, when thou art come into the hand of thy friend ; go, humble thyself and make sure thy friend. Give not sleep to thine eyes nor slumber to thine eyelids. Deliver thyself as a roe from the hand of the hunter, and as a bird from the hand of the fowler;" Prov. ix. 1-5. “ He that is surety for a stranger shall smart for it: and he that hateth suretiship is sure:”Prov. xi. 15. The truth of these texts many have known by sad experience.
Once more, it is our duty to use our estate to render ourselves and families comfortable. For not only does he fall short of his duty and break the eighth commandment, who through his want of industry, frugality, or economy, has not wherewith to render his family comfortable ; but he also, who has of this world's goods, and yet through penuriousness, and a miserly disposition, suffers them to want. There are some such beings in the world, but we hope they are rare.
To conclude--are there any present who provide not for their own households ? Whose families are suffering