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and there cannot be a greater libel on Christianity and on Christian churches, than that such characters should assume the Christian profession, and have their names enrolled among the society of the faithful.
2. The folly of covetousness appears in the absolute wANT of UTILITY which characterizes the conduct of the avaricious man. * - - -
True wisdom consists in proportionating means to ends, and in proposing a good and worthy end as the object of our pursuit. He would be accounted a fool, who should attempt to build a ship of war on one of the highest peaks of the Alps or the Andes, or who should spend a large fortune in constructing a huge machine which was of no use to mankind, but merely that they might look at the motion of its wheels and pinions; or who should attempt to pile up a mountain of sand within the limits of the sea, which the foaming billows, at every returning tide, would sweep away into the bosom of the deep. But the man “who lays up treasures for himself and is not rich towards God,” acts with no less unreasonableness and folly. He hoards riches which he never intends to use; he vexes and torments himself in acquiring them; he stints himself of even lawful sensitive comforts; and his sole enjoyment seems to be that of brooding over in his mind an arithmetical idea connected with hundreds or thousands of circular pieces of gold, or square slips of paper. The poor are never to be warmed, or fed, or clothed, the oppressed relieved, the widow's heart made to leap for joy, the ignorant instructed, the ordinances of religion supported, or the gospel promoted in heathen lands, by means of any of the treasures which he accumulates. . He “spends his money for that which is not bread, and his labor for that which satisfieth not;” and neither himself, his family, his friends, his country, or the world is benefitted by his wealth. I have read of a Reverend Mr. Hagamore of Catshoge, Leicestershire, on whose death, in January, 1776, it was found, that he had accumulated thirty #. and cassocks, one hundred pair of breeches, one hundred pair of boots, four hundred pair of shoes, eighty wigs, yet always wore his own hair, fifty eight dogs, eighty waggons and carts, eighty ploughs, and used mone, fifty saddles, and furniture for the menage, thirty wheel-barrows, sixty horses and mares, seventy four ladders, two hundred pick axes, two hundred spades and shovels, two hundred and forty nine razors, and so many walking sticks, that a toysman in Leicesterfields, offered eight pounds sterling to procure them.* Every one will at once perceive, that this man, although he had the title of “Reverend” affixed to his name, must have been nothing else but a Reverend fool, or something approaching to a maniac; for, to accumulate such a number of useful articles, merely for the purpose of looking at them, or brooding over the idea that they were in one's possession, without any higher object in view, is surely the characteristic of folly and irrationality, if any thing ought to designate a person a fool or a madman. Y Now, let us suppose for a moment, instead of money, a man were to hoard in a garret or a warehouse appropriated for the purpose-10,000 pots or cauldrons that were never to be used in cooking victuals, or for any other process, 15,000 tea-kettles, 20,000 coffeepots, 25,000 pair of boots, 30,000 knee-buckles, 32,000 great coats, and 40,000 pair of trowsers—suppose that none of these articles were intended to be sold or appropriated to such uses as they are generally intended to serve, but merely to be gazed at from day to day, or contemplated in the ideas of them that float before the imagination—what should we think of the man who spent his whole life, and concentrated all the energies of his soul in such romantic pursuits and acquisitions? We should at once decide, that he was unqualified for associating with rational beings, and fit only for a place within the precincts of bedlam. But what is the great difference between accumulating twenty thousand cork-screws, or thirty thousand shoe-brushes, and hoarding as many thousands of shillings, dollars or pieces of paper called bank notes, which are never intended to be brought forth for the benefit of mankind? The cases are almost exactly, parallel; and he who is considered as a fool or maniac, in the one case, deserves to be branded with the same epithets, in the other. Were a man to employ the greater part of his life in laying up millions of cherry-stones, or pin heads, and find his chief delight in contemplating his heaps, and continually adding to their number, he would be considered as below the scale of a rational being, and unfit for general society. But there is no essential difference between such a fool, and the man whose great and ultimate aim is to accumulate thousands of dollars or of guineas. Both classes of persons are in reality maniacs—with this difference, that the first class would be considered as laboring under a serious mental derangement, and therefore objects of sympathy and pity; while the other are considered as in the full exercise of their intellectual powers, although they are prostrating them in the pursuit of objects as degrading and irrational, as those which engross the imagination of the inmates of bedlam. - But, suppose that riches are coveted, not for the purpose of being hoarded, but for the purpose of being expended in selfish gratifications, there is almost as much folly and irrationality in the latter case as in the former. Suppose a man to have an income of £3000 a year, and that £800 are sufficient to procure him all the sensitive enjoyments suitable to his station—is it rational, is it useful, either to himself or others, that he should waste £2200 in vain or profligate pursuits, in balls, masquerades, gambling, hounding, horse racing, expensive attire, and splendid equipages—when there are so many poor to be relieved, so many ignorant to be instructed, so many improvements requisite for the comfort of general society, so many sciences to cultivate, so many arts to patronize, and so many arduous exertions required for promoting the general renovation of the world—and scarcely a single guinea devoted to either of these objects Such conduct is no less irrational and degrading, in a moral and accountable agent, than that of the grovelling wretch who hoards his money in a bag which is never opened but with jealous care when he has a few more guineas or dollars to put into it. In both cases, wealth is turned aside from its legitimate channel, and perverted to purposes directly opposite to the will of the Creator, and the true happiness of
* This singular clergyman, when he died, was worth £700 per annum, and £1000 in money, which fell to a ticket porter in London. He kept one servant of each sex, whom he locked up every night. His last employment on an evening, was to go round his premises, let loose his dogs, and fire his gun. H. lost his fire as follows: going one morning to let out his servants, the dogs fawned upon him suddenly, and threw him into a pond, where he was found dead. His servants heard his calls for assistance, but, being locked up they could not lend him any help. -
3. The folly of Avarice will appear, if we consider it in relation to rational enjoyment.
The rational enjoyment of life consists, among other things, in the moderate use of the bounties of Providence which God has provided for all his creatures— in the exercise of our physical and mental powers on those objects which are calculated to afford satisfaction and delight—in the emotions of contentment and gratitude towards our Creator—in the sweets of an approving conscience—in the acquisition of knowledge —in the flow of the benevolent affections, in affectionate social intercourse with our fellow men, in the exercise of tenderness, sympathy, and good will towards others, and in that calmness or equanimity which remains unruffled amidst the changes of fortune, and the untoward incidents of human life. Now, in none of these respects can the covetous man experience the sweets of true enjoyment. He has it in his power to enjoy all the sensitive pleasures in which a rational being ought to indulge, yet he stints himself even of necessary comforts, and lives upon husks when he might feast himself on the choicest dainties, because it might prevent him from adding new stores to his secret treasures. He will shiver amidst the colds of winter, under a tattered coat, or a thread-bare covering, and sit benumbed in his apartment without a fire to cheer him, because the purchase of requisite comforts would diminish the number of his pounds, shillings, and pence. He will lie on a bed of straw, during the dark evenings of winter, like a mere animal existence, rather than furnish oil for a lamp, and will wallow like a sow amidst mire and filth, rather than give the smallest trifle to a person to clean his apartment. Of mental pleasures he can scarcely be said to enjoy the smallest share, except in so far as the ideas of accumulated old and silver are concerned. He is necessarily oppressed with restless anciety. The objects of his covetousness are, in most instances, necessarily uncertain. He strives to obtain them, but is doubtful of success; his mind hangs between hope and fear; his desires are, however, continually exerted; he is on the rack as it were, till he sees the issue of his adventure, and in numerous cases, his hopes are blasted, and his schemes disconcerted; and when the plans of gain he had laid are frustrated, or a portion of his wealth destroyed by an unexpected accident, he feels all the pains and agonies of a man verging towards poverty and ruin. While a contented man may become rich, to every desirable degree, amid the full possession of serenity of mind, and self-approbation, the anxiety of the covetous is necessarily great and distressing ; and that is one part of the punishment he inevitably suffers under the righteous government of God, on account of his infringement of the natural and moral laws of the universe. To the misery of perpetual anxiety are added incessant labor, and an endless and wearisome train of exertion to augment his gains and secure himself from losses. Like a slave or a mill-horse, he drudges on in a state of travail, and in an unceasing whirl of toil and effort, which leave no intervals for rational reflection and enjoyment; and, after all, his desires are still cra* and still unsatisfied. . . . . In the midst of such labor and mental efforts and pero: he meets with frequent disappointments. is deeds or obligations are found to be defective ; his bills are refused to be discounted; his agents prove