Imágenes de páginas
[ocr errors]

to know, that they stand as much in need of the care and protection of heaven, as the poorest wretch that wanders houseless and forlorn. They have food and drink of every quality, and in abundance. But can food ward off calamities or death? A tile falling from a house, the oversetting of a chariot, or a flash of lightning from the clouds, will kill a rich man as well as a poor. They have changes of costly raiment, while the poor are covered with rags. But will the gout, the palsy, the stone, or the burning fever, pay any respect to costly attire 7 or will the patient feel less agony under them, because he is covered with purple and scarlet? Besides, an earthquake, an inundation, a tempest, a conflagration, a shipwreck, the perfidy of friends, the midnight robber, or the convulsion of nations; all which events are under the direction of God—may, in a few days, sweep from them all their earthly possessions, reduce them to a state of indigence, and lay all their earthly glory in the dust. Hence the propriety of attending to the admonition of the Psalmist: “Trust not in oppression, become not vain in robbery; if riches increase, set not your heart upon them. Trust in Jehovah at all times, ye people, pour out your heart before him, God is a refuge for us.” , 8. Covetousness has produced all the public evils, wars, and devastations which have happened in every age of the world.

- o,

The records of history, as I have had occasion to notice, contain little else than disgusting details of the mischiefs and the miseries inflicted on the world, by the ambition and rapaciousness of mankind. The earth, which might long ago, have been transformed into a scene of fertility and beauty, by the benevolent agency of human beings, has, in most of its regions, been turned into a scene of desolation, by destroying armies prowling over every country in quest of plunder. Such is the insatiable appetite of avarice, that, not contented with “devouring widow's houses,” spoiling the weak and defenceless in her native land, she has aimed at

enriching herself with the plunder of Empires. Like hell and the grave, “she has enlarged her desire, and opened her mouth without measure, and the glory, the multitude and the pomp" of temples, cities, states, kingdoms and continents, have become a prey to her evercraving appetite, and been swallowed up and devoured. Yet after all, she is neversatisfied, and the whole earth becomes too narrow a theatre for her rapacity and ambition. Alexander, in the mad career of his conquests, subdued and plundered the greater part of the known world, and had the riches and splendor of its most magnificent cities at his command ; yet when he had finished his course, he sat down and wept like a crocodile, because he had access to no other world, that might serve as a theatre for warfare and plunder. Thus it is that avarice would never curb her boundless desires, till she had glutted herself not only with the spoils of this terrestrial region, but with the treasures of the universe; yet, like hell and destruction, she would never be satisfied. Nor would ambition—her kinsfellow, and companion—ever cease its career, till it had subdued every order of intellectual existence, ascended the throne of the Most High, and seized the reins of universal government. It would be needless to bring forward illustrations of this topic, or to attempt to show that the covetous and ambitious principle, has been the main cause of the wholesale destruction of mankind, and the wide spread of human misery, for almost the whole of the records of history contain little else than a continued series of illustrations on this point; and I have already, under thé first head, selected a few examples, which might be multiplied a thousand fold. - • . But, I cannot help pausing a little, to reflect on the numerous evils, and the incalculable misery which this unholy affection has produced in the world. Could we take only a bird's eye view of its operations and effects, beginning at the first apostacy of man, and tracing them down the stream of time to the present day —and could we, at the same time, stretch our eyes over the globe, from north to south, and from east to west, and contemplate the miseries which have followed in its train in every land—what an awful and revolting picture would be presented to the view But there is no eye, save that of Omniscience, which could take in the thousandth part of the widely-extended miseries and desolations which it has in every age produced. During the period which intervened from the fall of man to the deluge, this principle appears to have operated on an extensive scale, for we are told, that “the wickedness of man was great,” and that “the earth was filled with violence,”—evidently implying that the strong and powerful were continually engaged in seizing on the wealth and possessions of the weak and defenceless, oppressing the poor, the widow, and the fatherless, plundering cities, desolating fields, and carrying bloodshed and ruin through every land—till the state of society rose to such a pitch of depravity, as rendered it expedient that they should be swept at once, with an overflowing flood, from the face of creation. o - . . . . After the deluge, it was not long before the last of ambition began again to display itself, by an inordinate desire after wealth and aggrandizement; and hence, wars were re-commenced among almost every tribe, which have continued, in constant succession, throughout every generation, to the present day. Wherever we turn our eyes over the regions of the globe, whether to the civilized nations of Europe, the empires of Southern Asia, the frozen regions of Siberia, the sultry climes of Africa, the forests and wilds of America, or even to the most diminutive islands, which are spread over the Pacific Ocean, we behold CovetousNEss, like an insatiable monster, devouring human happiness, and, feasting on the sorrows and sufferings of mankind. But who can calculate the amount of misery which has thus been accumulated? It is more than probable, that the eighth part of the human race has been slaughtered by the wars and commotions which ambition has created; and, consequently, more than twenty thousand millions of mankind have become its victims; that is, twenty five times the number of human beings which compose the present population of the globe. Along with the destruction of such a number of rational beings, we have to take into account, the millions of mangled wretches whose remaining existence was rendered miserable, the numberless widows and orphans who were left to mourn the loss of every thing dear to them, the thousands of infants that have been murdered, and of females that have been violated, the famine and pestilence, and the frightful desolations, which destroying armies have always left behind them. Many spots of the earth, which were beautiful as Eden, have been turned into a hideous wilderness. The most splendid and magnificent cities have been set on flames or razed to their foundations, and “their memorials have perished with them.” Even the lower animals have i. dragged into battles, and have become suf. ferers amidst the fury of combatants and the wreck of nations. Such are some of the hideous desolations, and the vast amount of human misery which covetousness has created; for to avarice, leagued with ambition, is to be attributed all the wars, commotions, and devastations, which have ever visited the world.

Besides such wholesale robberies and murders, covetousness is accountable for numerous public frauds and mischiefs committed on a smaller scale by the public agents and others connected with the governments of every country. In the management of taxes, the collection of national revenues, in contracts for the supply of armies and navies, in claims for undefined perquisites, in the bestowment of places and pensions, in soliciting and receiving bribes, in the sale and purchase of government property, in these and numerous other instances, frauds and impositions are so frequently committed, as to have become notorious to a proverb. On such exuberant sources of wealth, multitudes are rapidly enriched; and while nations are ground down under a load of taxation, and the industrious laborer. and mechanic groaning under the pressure of poverty, a comparatively few are rolling in the chariots of splendor, fattening on the sweat and blood of millions, and feasting on the sufferings of mankind.

It is amazing with what ease and apathy, men calling themselves Christians, will talk of the prospect of war, in the view of enriching themselves with such public plunder. Scarcely any thing is more common, and yet nothing is more diabolical. To wish for war, that trade may revive and flourish, is to wish the destruction of ten thousands of our fellow creatures, that we may add a few pounds to our hoarded treasures, or have the prospect of embarking in a profitable speculation. Yet such wishes have been indulged a thousand times, by many who profess to be the followers of Christ.

9. Covetousness prevents the extension of the Christian Church, and the general improvement of Society.

It is by means of the proper application of money, that the gospel is promulgated, sinners converted, the Bible circulated, and the tidings of salvation conveyed to heathen lands. Much still remains to be done in these respects; for more than 600,000,000 of mankind still remain enveloped in pagan darkness. If all the members of the Christian Church, were to contribute according to their ability, this object, (the conversion of the world,) however arduous and extensive, might ere long be accomplished. But avarice interposes, and withholds those resources which are requisite for carrying the plans of Divine Mercy into effect. If wealth were not hoarded by covetous professors of religion, or expended on their lusts, our Missionary and other Philanthropic Societies, would soon have at their disposal, revenues twenty times, at least, their present amount. How many professed Christians are there, who are wallowing in wealth, and yet contributing nothing but the smallest fraction of their substance (and sometimes nothing at all,) to the service of God, and the extension of the Gospel church And how many others are there, who, at their death, leave twenty or thirty thousand pounds to their friends, and even to distant heirs, without bequeathing a single hundred —sometimes not a single guinea, for promoting the

« AnteriorContinuar »