תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

convinced, from many experiments, I could not study, to any degree of perfection, either mathematics, aritbmetic, or algebra, without being a Deist, if not an Atheist : and yet others may study them all their lives, without sustaining any inconvenience. None, therefore, can here determine for another; but every man must judge for himself, and abstain from what. ever he, in particular, finds to be hurtful to his soul.

3. We are, thirdly, to gain all we can, without hurting our Neighbour. But this we may not, cannot do, if we love our neighbour as ourselves. We cannot, if we love every one as ourselves, hurt any one in his substance. We cannot devour the increase of his lands, and perhaps the lands and houses themselves, by gaming, by over-grown bills, (whether on account of physic, of law, or any thing else,) or by requiring or taking such interest, as even the laws of our country forbid. Hereby all pawnbroking is excluded : seeing whatever good we might do thereby, all unprejudiced men sec with grief to be abundantly over-balanced by the evil. And if it were otherwise, yet we are not allowed to “ do evil that good may come.” We cannot, consistent with brotherly love, sell our goods below the market-price; we cannot study to ruin our neighbour's trade, in order to advance our own; much less can we entice away, or receive, any of his servants or workmen whom he has need of. None can gain by swallowing up his neighbour's substance, without gaining the damnatioti of hell!

4. Neither may we gain by hurting our neighbour in his body. Therefore we may not sell any thing which tends to impair health. Such is, eminently, all that liquid fire, commonly called drams, or spirituous liquors. It is true, these may have a place in medicine; they may be of use in some bodily disorders ; although there would rarely be occasio:) for them, were it not for the unskilfulness of the practitioner. Therefore such as prepare and sell them only for this end, may keep their conscience clear. But who are they? Who prepare them only for this end ? Do you know ten such distillers in England ? Then excuse these. But all who sell them iu the common way, to any that will buy, are poisoners-general. They murder his Majesty's subjects by wholesale, neither does their eye pity or spare. Threy drive them to hell, like sheep: and what is their gain ? Is it not the blood of these men ? Who then would envy their large estates and sumptuous palaces ? A curse is in the midst of them : the curse of God cleaves to the stones, the timber, the furniture of them! The curse of God is in their gardens, their walks, their groves ; a fire that burns to the netherniost hell! Blood, blood is there: the foundation, the floor, the walls, the roof, are stained with blood ! And canst thou hope, O thou man of blood, though thoy art “clothed in scarlet and fine linen, and farest sumptuously every day;" canst thou hope to deliver down thy fields of blood to the third generation ? Not 60; for there is a God in heaven; therefore, thy name shall soon be rooted out. Like as those whom thou hast destroyed, body and soul, “thy memorial shall perish with thee!”

5. And are not they partakers of the same guilt, though in a lower degree, whether surgeons, apothecaries, or physicians, who play with the lives or health of men, to enlarge their own gain? Who purposely lengthen the pain or disease, which they are able to remove speedily? Who protract the cure of their patient's body, in order to plunder his substance ? Can any man be clear before God, who does not shorten every disorder, “ as much as he can,” and remove all sickness and pain, “as soon as he can ?” He cannot: for nothing can be niore clear, than that he does not “do unto others, as he would they should do unto himself.”

6. This is dear-bought gain. And so is whatever is procured by hurting our neighbour in his soul ; by ministering, suppose, either directly or indirectly, to his unchastity, or intemperance; which certainly none can do, who has any fear of God, or any real desire of pleasing him. It pearly concerns all those to consider this, who have any thing to do with taverns, victualling-houses, opera-houses, play-houses, or any other places of public, fashionable diversion. If these profit the souls of men, you are clear ; your employment is good, and your gain innocent : but if they are either sinful in themselves, or natural inlets to sin of various kinds, then, it is to be feared, you have a sad account to make. O bewarė, lest God say in that day, “ These have perished in their iniquity, but their blood do I require at thy bands !”!

7. These cautions and restrictions being observed, it is the bounden duty of all, who are engaged in worldly business, to observe that first and great rule of Christian wisdom, with respect to money, “Gain all you can. Gain all you can by honest industry. Use all possible diligence in your calling. Lose no time. If you understand yourself, and your relation to God and man, you know you have none to spare. If you understand your particular calling, as you ought, you will have no time that hangs upon your hands. Every business will afford some employment sufficient for every day and every hour. That wherein you are placed, if you follow it in earnest, will leave you no leisure for silly, unprofitable diversions. You have always something better to do, something that will profit you, more or less. And “wbatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might.” Do it as soon as possible : No delay! No putting off from day to day, or from hour to hour! Nerer leave any thing till tomorrow, which you can do to day. And do it as 'vell as possible. Do not sleep or yawn over it : Put your whole strength to the work. Spare no pains. Let nothing be done by halves, or in a slight and careless manner. Let nothing in your business be left undonc, if it can be done by labour or patience.

8. Gain all you can, by common sense, by using in your business all the understanding which God has given you. It is amazing to observe, how few do this ; how men run on in the same dull track with their forefathers. But whatever they do, who know not God, this is no rule for you. It is a shame for a Christian not to improve upon them, in whaterer he takes in hand. You should be continually learning, from the experience of others, or from your own experience, reading, and reflection, to do every thing you have to do better to day, than you did yesterday. And see that you practise whatever you learn, that you may make the best of all that is in your hands.

II. 1. Having gained all you can, by honest wisdom, and un wearied diligence, the Second rule of Christian prudence is, • Save all you can.' Do not throw the precious talent into the sca: leave that folly to heathen philosophers. Do not throw it away in idle expenses, which is just the same as throwing it into the sea. Expend no part of it merely to gratify the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eye, or the pride of life.

2. Do not waste any part of so precious a talent, merely in gratifying the desires of the flesh; in procuring the pleasures of sense of whatever kind; particularly, in enlarging the pleasure of tasting. I do not mean, avoid gluttony and drunkenness only: an honest heathen would condemn these. But there is a regular, reputable kind of sensuality, an elegant epicurism, which does not immediately disorder the stomach, nor (sensibly at least) impair the understanding; and yet (to mention no other effects of it now) it cannot be maintained without considerable expense. Cut off all this expense! Despise delicacy and variety, and be content with what plain nature requires.

3. Do not waste aus It of so precious a talent, merely ili

gratifying the desire of the eye, by superfluous or expensive apparel, or by needless ornaments. Waste no part of it in curiously adorning your houses; in superfluous or expensive furniture; in costly pictures, painting, gilding, books; in elegant rather than useful gardens. Let your neighbours, who know nothing better, do this : “ Let the dead bury their dead.” But “ what is that to thée ? ” says our Lord: “ Follow thou me.” Are you willing? Then you are able so to do!

4. Lay out nothing to gratify the pride of life, to gain the admiration or praise of inen. This motive of expense is frequently interwoven with one or both of the former. Men are expensive in diet, or apparel, or furniture, not barely to please tbeir appetite, or to gratify their eye, or their imagination, but their vanity too. “ So long as thou doest well unto thyself, men will speak good of thee." So long as thou art “ clothed in purple and fine linen, and farest sumptuously every day,” no doubt many will applaud thy elegance of taste, thy generosity and hospitality. But do not buy their applause so dear. Rather be content with the honour that cometh from God.

5. Who would expend any thing in gratifying these desires, if he considered, that to gratify them is to increase them. Nothing can be more certain than this : daily experience shows, the more they are indulged, they increase the more. Whenever, therefore, you expend any thing to please your taste or other senses, you pay so much for sensuality. When you lay out money to please your eye, 'you give so much for an increase of curiosity,- for a stronger attachment to these pleasures which perish in the using. While you are purchasing any thing which men use to applaud, you are purchasing more vanity. Had you not then enough of vanity, sensuality, curiosity, before ? Was there need of any addition? And would you pay for it too? What manner of wisdom is this? Would not the literally throwing your money into the sea be a less mischievous folly ?

6. And why should you throw away money upon your children, any more than upon yourself, in delicate food, in gay or costly apparel, in superfluities of any kind ? Why should you purchase for them more pride or lust, more vanity, or foolish and hurtful desires ? They do not want any more; they have enough already; nature has made ample provision for them ; why should you be at farther expense to increase their temptations and snares, and to pierce them through with many sorrows ?

7. Do not leave it to them to throw away. If you have good reason to believe they would waste what is now in your possession, in gratifying, and thereby increasing, the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eye, or the pride of life; at the peril of theirs and your own soul, do not set these traps in their way. Do not offer your sons or your daughters unto Belial, any more than unto Moloch. Have pity upon them, and remove out of their way what you may casily foresee would increase their sins, and consequently plunge them deeper into everlasting perdition! How amazing then is the infatuation of those parents, who think they can never leave their children enough! What! cannot you leave them enough of arrows, firebrands, and death ? Not enough of foolish and hurtful desires ? Not enough of pride, lust, ambition, vanity ? Not enough of everlasting burnings ? Poor wretch! Thou fearest where no fear is. Surely both thou and they, when ye are lifting up your eyes in hell, will have enough both of “ the worm that never dicth,” and of “ the fire that never shall be quenched !”

8. · What then would you do, if you was in my case? 10 you had a considerable fortune to leave?' Whether I would do it or no, I know what I ought to do: This will admit of no reasonable question. If I had one child, elder or younger, who know the value of money, one who, I believed, would put it to the true use, I should think it my absolute, indispensable duty, to leave that child the bulk of my fortune; and to the rest just so much as would enable them to live in the manner they had been accustomed to do. ' But what if all your children were equally ignorant of the true use of money ?' 1 ought then, (hard saying! who can hear it ?) to give each what would keep him above want; and to bestow all the rest in such a manner as I judged would be most for the glory of God.

III. 1. But let mot any man imagine that he has done any thing, barely by going thus far, by “ gaining and saving all be can,” if he were to stop here. All this is nothing, if a man go not forward, if he does not point all this at a farther end. Nor, indeed, can a man properly be said to save any thing, if he only lays it up. You may as well throw your money into the sea, as bury it in the earth. And you may as well bury it in the earth, as in your chest, or in the Bank of England. Not to use, is effectually to throw it away. If, therefore, you would indeed “ make yourselves friends of the mammon of unright

« הקודםהמשך »