Page images

cheats and deceivers; storms will blow in spite of him, and sink his ships in the mighty waters; floods and inundations will sweep away the produce of his fields ; his crops will fail; his catile die; his debtors abscond or become bankrupts, and the devouring flames will seize upon his houses and barns, or his shops and warehouses, and consume them to ashes. In all such cases, where a contented mind will endeavor to submit with calmness to the allotments of Providence, the mind of the covetous impugns the rectitude of the Divine dispensation, and heaves with unutterable throes of agony, and despair. In the language of inspiration “he is pierced through," or, compassed on every side " with many sorrows," and the inward language of his heart is—and it is awfully appropriate, “Ye have taken away my gods; and what have I more?" Amidst such misfortunes and mental pangs, he is frequently left without friends, without pity, or sympathy, or commiseration -pointed at with the finger of scorn, stung by the keen sarcasms of his neighbors, and considered as a fit mark, for the shafts of contempt and derision, while the lashes of his own conscience add a keenness to his anguish. It is almost needless to add, that he derives no enjoyment from the exercise of kindness and benignity, from the pursuits of knowledge, the contemplation of nature, the affectionate, association of his fellow men, or the satisfaction which arises from deeds of beneficence, for his degrading pursuits leave him neither leisure nor relish for such refined gratifications. Who, then, that has any regard to rational enjoyment, would desire the state of mind, and the condition of such a wretched mortal, even although his bags were full of gold, and his barns filled with plenty.

Nor are the enjoyments much superior, of the man who' covets riches merely for the purpose of living in splendor and fashionable dissipation. To a rational mind conscious of its dignity, and of the noble powers with which it is furnished, how poor a gratification would it receive from all the pleasures and gewgaws. that fascinate the worldly minded and the gay? Are the pleasures derived from rich viands, delicious wines,

costly apparel, stately mansions, splendid equipages, fashionable parties and diversions, an enjoyment adequate to the sublime faculties, and the boundless desires of an immortal mind? How many of those who make such pleasures the grand object of their pursuit, are found the slaves of the most abject passions with hearts overflowing with pride, rankling with envy, fired with resentment at every trivial affront, revengeful of injuries, and hurried along, by the lust of ambition, into every folly and extravagance? Where such passions are continually operating, along with all their kindred emotions, and where benevolence is seldom exercised, it is impossible that true happiness can ever be enjoyed. And hence, we find, among persons of this description, more instances of suicide, and more numerous examples of family feuds, contentions, and separations, than among any other class of general society. So that there is no reason to desire the enjoyments of covetousness in whatever channel it may run, or whatever shape it may assume.


4. The folly and irrationality of covetousness appears, when we consider the immortal destination of man.

There are thousands of misers and other worldlings who are governed by the lust of ambition and covetousness, who admit the doctrine of a future state of punishments and rewards. Independently of those arguments which


be drawn from the nature of the human soul, its desires of knowledge and capacious intellectual powers, the unlimited range of view which is opened to these faculties, throughout the immensity of space and duration, the moral attributes of God, the ùnèqual distribution of rewards and punishments in the present state, and other considerations, there is a premonition and a powerful impression in almost every human mind, that the range of its existence is not confined to the present life, but that a world of bliss or woe awaits it beyond the grave. And, as vast multitudes of worldly and avaricious characters are to be found


connected with the visible church, or frequenting its services; by this very circumstance, they formally admit, that there is another scene of existence into which they enter at the hour of dissolution.

Now, how irrational and inconsistent is it for a man to admit, that there is a world beyond the present which is to be the scene of his everlasting abode, and yet continue to have his whole thoughts and affections absorbed in pursuing the riches and transitory gratifications of the present life, without casting a serious glance on the realities of the invisible state, or preparing to meet them? If we had just views of all the momentous realities, and the scenes of glory, and of terror, connected with the idea of an eternal world, and could contrast them with the vain and fleeting enjoyments of this mortal scene, we should perceive a folly and even a species of madness in such conduct, more astonishing than what is seen in any

other course of action sued by human beings. If a man have an estate in a distant country, on the proceeds of which a considerable port.on of his income depends, he will not forget that he has an interest in that country'; he will correspond with it, and will be anxious to learn intelligence respecting its affairs from periodical journals and other sources of information. If a person, on the expiry of ten years, has the prospect of entering on the possession of a rich inheritance, he will look forward to it, with longing expectations, and will employ his thoughts in making arrangements for enjoying it, though perhaps he may not live to take possession. Nay, we shall find many individuals spending weeks and months in melancholy and chagrin for the loss of a few guineas or dollars, and, at other times, deriving their chief pleasure from the prospect of a paltry gain. Yet strange' to tell, many such persons remain altogether insensible to the joys and sorrows of a future world, and never make the least arrangement in reference to that state; although there is an absolute certainty that it awaits them, and that it is possible they may be ushered into it before to-morrow's dawn. Can any species of folly with which men are chargeable, be compared with such ap

athy and indifference about everlasting things, when such things are admitted to have a real existence ?

It is a dictate of wisdom, and even of common sense, that when a person has a prospect of occupying any office or condition in life, he ought to engage in that course of preparation which will qualify him for performing its duties and enjoying its comforts. But what preparation does the covetous man make for enabling him to relish the enjoyments, and to engage in the exercises of the eternal world ?'' Will heaping up silver as the dust, and filling his bags' with sovereigns and dollars, and concentrating his thoughts and affections on such objects, prepare him for the sublime contemplations of the spirits of just men made perfect, and the hallelujahs of the heavenly host ? Will his hard griping disposition which never permitted him to drop the tear of sympathy, or to relieve the widow and the orphan, render him meet for associating with the inhabitants of that world, where love and the purest affections, in all their varied ramifications, forever prevail? Will his anxious desires and his incessant toils from morning to night, to add to the number of his guineas, and the extent of his property, qualify him for surveying the wonderful works of God, and contemplating the glory of Him “who was slain and hath redeemed us to God by his blood ?" Can any man, who has the least spark of rationality within him, imagine that such conduct and such dispositions, are at all compatible with preparation for the felicities.of the heavenly state ? Or, does the poor degraded miser really believe that heaven is filled with bags of gold and silver, and that there is no employment there but “ buying and selling, and getting gain ?" If the mansions of heaven, and the exercises of its inhabitants, be such as the Scriptures delineate, then, there is an utter incompatibility between the employments of the celestial state, and the train of action, and the temper of mind, of the covetous man, which renders him altogether unqualified for its enjoyments. And, if he be unprepared for the joys and the services of the heavenly state, he cannot, in consistency with the constitution of the moral world, be

admitted into its mansions, but must necessarily sink into "the blackness of darkness forever."

Nor are the pursuits of the worldling, who spends his wealth in vanity and luxury, more compatible with the joys of the celestial world. This will appear, if we consider some of the ingredients which enter into the essence of heavenly felicity. From the representations of this state given in the Scriptures, we learn, that it is a state of perfect purity and holiness; that the minds of its inhabitants are irradiated with divine knowledge, and adorned with every divine virtue; that love pervades and unites the hearts of the whole of that vast assembly; that humility is one of their distinguishing characteristics; that they are forever engaged in beneficent services; that the contemplation of the works and ways of God forms a part of their employment; and that they are unceasingly engaged in sublime adorations of the Creator of the universe, in contemplating the glory and celebrating the praises of Him "who hath loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood." But what resemblance is there between such a state and such employments, and the pursuits of the gay worldling whose heart is set upon his riches as the chief object of his affections? Would the man who spends his wealth in hounding, horse-racing, cock-fighting and gambling, find any similar entertainments for his amusement in the upper world? Would the proud and ambitious, who look down on the vulgar throng as if they were the worms of the dust, and who value themselves on account of their stately mansions and glittering equipage, find any enjoyment in a world where humility is the distinguishing disposition of all its inhabitants? Would the warrior, who delights in carnage and devastation, expect to have cities to storm, towns to pillage, or armies to manœuvre, or would he think of rehearsing in “ the assembly of the just," the deeds of violence and slaughter which he perpetrated upon earth ? Would the fine lady who struts in all the gaiety and splendor of dress, who spends half her time at her toilette, and in fashionable visits, whose chief delight consists in rattling dice and shuffling cards,

« PreviousContinue »