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fering world—philanthropy would distribute its thousand blessings among all ranks; universal education would be established in every land; Zion would be built up even in troublous times; “God would appear in his glory” to men; the benighted heathen would, ere long, be enlightened with the “day spring from on high,” and the way prepared for the ushering in of that glorious period when “the knowledge of Jehovah shall cover the earth, and the kingdoms of this world become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Messiah.”
In the illustration of this subject the following plan may be adopted. * . . I. I shall describe the disposition or propensity designated by “Covetousness,” as it has operated, and still operates in Christian, and civil society. II. Demonstrate its absurdity and irrationality. III. Show its inconsistency with Christian principle, and the general tenor of the Word of God. IV. Illustrate some of the Evils which flow from the indulgence of Covetousness. V., Investigate the Principles by which Christians should be directed in the application of their wealth. VI. Illustrate some of the Benefits which would result to Christians and general society, were Covetousness undermined, and an opposite principle universally cultivated. - f VII. State some of the means to be used, in order to counteract the influence of Covetousness, and to promote a spirit of Scriptural liberality among Christians. VIII. Offer a few solemn considerations to different classes of individuals in relation to this subject.
ON THE Disposition, or PRoPENSITY, DEsign ATED BY CoveTOUSNESS, AND THE VARIOUS MODES IN WHICH IT HAs operaTED IN THE world, AND IN CHRISTIAN SOCIETY.
CoveTousNEss consists in an inordinate desire of any worldly enjoyment, particularly riches, for the purpose of gratifying ambition, avarice, or sensual desires. It is the opposite of generosity, or that liberality and contentment which the word of God inculcates.
The Creator has furnished the material world with an immense variety of objects, and has endowed us with sensitive organs, through the medium of which these objects may be perceived and enjoyed. He has also implanted in us desires and affections which, in subordination to higher aims, were intended to be directed to the objects of the visible world, and the enjoyment of the good things of this life. We may lawfully desire water to quench our thirst, food to nourish our bodies, clothes to, cover us, and comfortable shelter and accommodation—if such desires be regulated by scripture and reason, and confined within their proper bounds. We may even desire the possessions of others when they are willing to relinquish them, and when we are able and willing to offer them a fair and equitable compensation. We may lawfully labor by the exertion either of our bodily or mental powers, to acquire a more comfortable house or garden than what we now possess, and to enjoy a little more of the external bounties of Providence, when proper motives regulate our exertions and our aims. For, the Creator has exhibited, in his creation around us, an immense variety of beauties and sublimities, to gratify the eye and the imagination, and has furnished the world in which we live with a multiplicity of delicious fruits, flowers, herbs and roots, to gratify every taste, as well as to afford nourishment to our animal system. It is, therefore, evident that he intends his creatures should participate the sweets of sensitive enjoyment. “For every creation of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving.” “I know,” says Solomon, “that it is good for a man to rejoice and to do good in his life, and also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labor, for it is the gift of God.” Every thing in the system of nature is so arranged as to produce pleasure and sensitive enjoyment, when used with moderation, and according to the design intended by the Creator. To condemn the moderate use of sensitive enjoyments, or to inculcate the austerities of an ascetic life is, therefore, repugnant to the dictates both of reason and revelation, and tends to frustrate the beneficent designs of Him whose goodness and “tender mercies are over all his works.” . . . . . . It is not, therefore, in the simple desire of worldly good that covetousness consists, but in an inordinate desire of sensitive objects and enjoyments—a desire which is inconsistent with the rational nature of man, and with our duty to our Creator and our fellowmen, Covetousness assumes a variety of forms, and manifests itself in many different modes. 1. It appears in its most degrading form in hoarding money, and acquiring houses and lands, for the mere purpose of accumulation, when there is no intention of enjoying such wealth, or bringing it forth for the good of society. This is the characteristic of the man who is denominated a miser—a word which originally signifies wretched, or miserable, as all such persons necessarily are. 2. It appears under the pretence of making provision for children—a pretence which is generally nothing more than a cloak to cover the principle of avarice which is fixed in the mind. 3. It operates most frequently for the purpose of gratifying sensual propensities—displaying elegance in dress and furniture, and giving scope to a spirit of pride and ambition. In these, and many other ways, this vile affection manifests itself, robbing man of the true glory of his nature, degrading him in some respects below the level of the brutes, undermining every principle of religion, counteracting human happiness, preventing the renovation of the world, and reducing the soul to the level of a grovelling idolator who “worships and serves the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed forever.” - * This inordinate desire of wealth has been productive of more mischief and misery in the world than almost any other unhallowed affection of the human heart. It has been the malignant source of almost all the evils which have been introduced into the social state, and of all the sorrows and sufferings to which the inhabitants of the earth in every age have been subjected. In order that we may clearly perceive the malignity of this affection, it may not be improper to take a cursory view of the effects it has produced, and of the manner in which it has operated, both in the world at large and in Christian society. , a
On the operations and effects of Covetousness as displayed in the world at large. This vile affection may be considered as the first display which was made in our world of sin or rebellion against God. Our first parents commenced their apostacy from their maker by coveting the fruit of “the tree of knowledge” which he had expressly interdicted under the highest penalty. Though they were surrounded by the munificence of the deity, though they were permitted to eat of every other tree in the garden of Eden, and possessed every thing that was pleasant to the eye and delicious to the taste—yet they dared to put forth their hands to the forbidden fruit, from the covetous propensity of .# what was not their own, and the ambitious desire of being “like the god's and knowing good and evil.” This covetous and ambitious act “brought death into the world and all our woe,” and was the prelude and forerunner of all those devastations and miseries which avarice and ambition have entailed on the inhabitants of the world. We have reason to believe, that this woful propensity in conjunction with ambition with which it is inseparably connected, in one shape or another, was the principal cause of the wickedness which abounded in the world before the flood, and of the overwhelming deluge which swept away its inhabitants. For we are told, that “the earth was filled with violence”—plainly intimating, that wars and devastations were every where carried on—that a system of rapine and plunder universally prevailed—that the strong and powerful, forcibly seized the possessions of the weak—that the poor and needy were robbed and oppressed—that cities were demolished, fields and vineyards laid waste, and the ploughshare of destruction droven through every land. . . . * ,” The whole history of the world, since that period, may be considered as little else than a revolting detail of the operations of covetousness and ambition, and of the direful effects they have produced on the destinies of mankind. The oppressions which Babylon and Assyria exercised over the Jews and neighboring nations, ... the plundering of the sacred vessels which belonged to the temple of Jehovah; the mad expedition of Xerxes against the Grecians, with his numerous fleets and armies, and the slaughters and devastations they produced ; the boundless ambition of Alexander, his cruelties and injustice, his burning of cities, plundering of palaces and temples, and the destruction of thousands and millions by his conquering armies, while engaged in the mad pursuit of universal empire; the atrocities and murders committed by his successors, and the commotions and revolutions which followed in their train; the plunder, butchery, and devastation of the Roman legions, and the terror they inspired throughout surrounding nations; the dreadful contests between Rome and Carthage, known by the name of the Punic