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that there are certain physical and moral laws which he can never violate without feeling a corresponding punishment. But, if a parent act on a different principle; if he indulge his covetous disposition for the purpose of enriching his children, and give them reason to expect that they shall inherit wealth and independency, when he shall have left the world, the worst consequences may ensue, both to himself and to his offspring. When children begin to discover that the penurious disposition of their parents is a mean cringing vice, they will be led to conclude that extravagance is a virtue, and thus a broad path will be opened for licentious conduct in the future part of their lives. They are trained up in the idea, that their parents are accumulating a mass of wealth, which they are destined one day to spend, and they live under restraints and privations, which they hope the death of their parents will soon remove. The children of very covetous parents are frequently found in this situation. The old men die, and we immediately behold the children entering on the career of gaiety and licentiousness, and running headlong to pov: erty and destruction; and, instead of feeling grateful to their parent for the riches he accumulated, can scarcely conceal their joy, that they are removed from under his restraints. The moment of his death, is the signal for the plunder of his penurious savings. “I never knew the son of a miser,” says a certain writer, “either feeling or expressing the least gratitude for the means which his father had employed to amass his fortune. The heir of this kind of wealth receives it as a debt which has been long due, and which has been recovered by a vexatious law-plea. He may dispute the sum, but he will not esteem the person who has prevented him from enjoying it.” Many examples, were it expedient, might be produced to illustrate the fact, that the riches of the covetous man, after his death, “make themselves wings and fly away,” and that those to whom they were left, too frequently “fall into snares and drown themselves in destruction and perdition.” . It is truly astonishing, that so many individuals are
to be found, whose faculties are unimpaired, who appear in other respects, men of sense, and profess a decent respect for the ordinances of religion; and yet allow the love of money, and the absurd desire of heaping up useless wealth, to triumph over every rational and religious principle. When we speak to them on the subject, they attempt to silence every argument by expatiating on the necessity of providing for their children; as if they wished to prove, that money is a better provision than training them in intelligence, and in moral and religious habits, and in rendering them meet to be heirs of a blessed immortality. Now, even in a temporal point of view, nothing can be more injurious to a young man, than to leave him such a portion of wealth as will render him, in the language of the world, independent, especially if he have little relish for rational and religious pursuits. He has no stimulus for cultivating his intellectual and moral powers; his time frequently lies heavy on his hands; to promote the physical or moral comfort of others, forms no part of his plan; his faculties become benumbed; he becomes a prey to the crafty and licentious; he wanders about from one place to another, and from one pleasure to another, without any defined object in view, but the o of his humors; he feels, on the whole, but ittle enjoyment; for this is only to be found in mental and bodily activity; he gives up himself at length to licentious habits and sensual jo his resources begin to be diminished, he feels pecuniary embarrassments; his pleasures are interrupted, and his miseries increase; and thus he passes through life in a fretful humor, without rational enjoyment, and without contributing to the good of others. Such is too frequently the case with the children of those who have worn themselves out in avaricious activity, and deprived themselves of almost every comfort, in order to lay up an inheritance for their offspring. . Every young man, even the son of anobleman, should be taught that he is placed in a scene of action, as well as of .. that, to contribute to the good of society, ought to be one main object of his life; and, that
although he may not need to earn his subsistence by the labor either of his hands or of his mind—he ought to engage in some honorable pursuit, which may tend to promote his own happiness, the improvement of society, and the glory of his Maker. Even the sons of the most opulent, ought not to consider it as a degradation to learn a mechanical employment, and to apply their corporeal powers, occasionally, to useful industry. Among many other advantages, it might tend to strengthen their animal system, to invigorate their minds, and to enable them to form a judicious estimate of the value of mechanical inventions, and of the employments and, intercourses of general society. And their earnings might become a source of wealth for carrying forward improvements, and adding spirit and vigor to every philanthropic movement. With regard to the female members of a family; if a parent have any wealth or inheritance to leave, the greater part should be bestowed, on them; as they are neither so well adapted by Nature for active labor, nor have the same opportunities as the male branches, for engaging in business and increasing their store. Yet, even the female-sex, in the higher ranks, ought not to consider themselves as exempted from any labors to which they are competent, and in which they may promote the best interests of mankind. In short, it may be laid down as a kind of maxim; that a great fortune bestowed upon a young man is one of the greatest evils that can befal him, unless he make it one of his great objects to devote a considerable portion of it to the good of society; and, that labor, both of body and mind, is essential to the true happiness of man.
4. Covetousness displays itself on an extensive scale, and in an innumerable variety of modes —in the various mercantile transactions of mankind.
It would be impossible to describe all the variety of manoeuvres by which covetousness is, in this way, displayed, even by multitudes who consider themselves as followers of Christ; and, therefore, I shall only glance
at some of the nefarious means which are frequently employed. Among other well-known, practices, are the following; varnishing over deteriorated articles with a fair outside, in order to deceive the purchaser, and to prevent the real state of the commodity from being perceived. Hence, a pound of butter has frequently been found with a quantity of Scotch porridge in its interior; milk mixed with chalk and water; sugar mixed with white sand; the under part of a chest of tea of an inferior quality to that of the top; and many such frauds and deceptions, best. known to the nefarious trader. Other practices are, taking advantage of ignorance to pass off an unsaleable, commodity, and asking more than the just value of whatever is offered for sale; in a merchant denying the goods which he has in his possession, when there is the prospect of an advancing price; in his overcharging for the articles of which he is disposing, and undervaluing those he intends to purchase; in using light weights and deficient measures, when there is little prospect of their being detected; in the jealousies, slanders, and evil surmisings which one trader harbors, and endeavors slily to throw out against another; in their attempts to extol their own articles beyond their just value, and to depreciate the characters and the commodities of their neighbors; in their engaging in smuggling and other unchristian modes of traffick; in taking advantage of the necessities of the poor and unfortunate, in order to procure their goods at half their value; in selling spiritous liquors to the worthless and dissipated, whether men, women or children, to swell the list of “transgressors among men,” merely for the sake of the paltry profit of such a traffick; in trafficking in wind-bills, bribing the officers of justice for the liberty of continui a nefarious trade, and in a thousand other modes whic the fraudulent dealer alone is best qualified to describe. In all such transactions, not only is covetousness dislayed, but a principle of falsehood runs through all #. mercantile negotiations, so that every fraudulent trader is of necessity a systematic liar. I have known high-flying professors of religion, guilty of most of the frauds to which I now allude: , I have known a merchant, an office-bearer in a Christian church, who, by a dextrous mode of measuring his cloth, kept off nearly an inch from every yard, and who charged a higher price for his commodities than any of his neighbors; another of the same pretensions, who seemed to consider himself as holier than others, who possessed a considerable quantity of wealth along with a good business, and who could, notwithstanding, dee himself and gratify his avarice, by selling drams and gills of whisky and gin over his counter, to dissipated women, and all others who chose to be his customers. I have seen such practices in the shop even of the mayor of a large town, who was also a distinguished member of the church. I have known others of similar religious pretensions, who have engaged in smuggling spiritous liquors, paper, teas, and other commodities, who have even forged excise stamps, and who seemed to consider such practices as nowise inconsistent with the principles of Christianity. I have known such whose weights and measures were deficient, whose quartern loaves were from five to ten ounces below the just standard, and whose butter, when exposed to sale in the public market, has been frequently seized by police officers, on account of its deficiency in weight. I have seen the confidence of their brethren in this way grossly abused by their assumed character of piety and rectitude, and have been sometimes tempted to suspect the honor and honesty of every one who made high pretensions to sanctity and evangelical religion. Yet many such nefarious practices are overlooked in Christian churches, as scarcely worthy of censure, especially, if the guilty in- . dividuals have a large share of wealth, and regularly attend the public ordinances of religion. Were it expedient in the present case, numerous examples of the above description might be brought forward. . Another way in which merchants display their covetous disposition is, by toiling their apprentices and servants, and confining them for so many long hours, that their health is injured, and their intellectual and