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were created by him, and are subject to his sovereign disposal. Every beast in the forest is his, the fowls of the mountains, and the cattle on a thousand hills; for the world," saith Jehovah," is mine, and the fulness thereof." But, he has given the world we inhabit, as a gift to the children of men, with this reservation, that, while one portion of its treasures is exclusively allotted for the enjoyment of man himself, and another for the inferior animals, a third portion is to be applied for the maintenance of the ordinances of religion, for diffusing divine knowledge throughout the world, and for the purposes of universal benevolence. And this reservation, so far from being a burden, or an oppressive tax, is, in reality, one of the mediums through which happiness is communicated and enjoyed. When man complies with such a requisition, and acts uniformly according to its spirit, he secures to himself the highest honour and happiness of which his nature is susceptible. It assimilates him, in a certain degree, to angels and the higher orders of pure intelligences, who are continually employed in acts of voluntary beneficence. It assimilates him to the Divine Saviour, " who went about doing good," and hath left on record a Divine maxim, which deserves to be emblazoned in letters of gold, and engraven on the hearts of all the inhabitants of the universe- - IT IS MORE BLESSED TO GIVE THAN TO RECEIVE.' This is a maxim which is seldom recognized, even by Christians, in all its practical bearings. But were it universally acted upon, it would completely change the character of this world, and transform it from a scene of sin and suffering, into a moral paradise. In heaven, where this noble principle expands and governs the hearts of all its inhabitants, it is one of the chief sources of that “fulness of joy," and those“ pleasures which are at God's right hand for evermore.'
The covetous, therefore, in refusing to recognize, and to act on this divine principle, both violate the commands of God, rob him of the tithes and offerings he demands, and prevent themselves from enjoying the felicity of superior natures. The miser robs God, when he either contributes nothing to his service, or such a pitiful sum as amounts to little short of an insult offered to the cause of religion. The rich worldling who lives in splendour, robs God of his due when he expends fifty guineas on a splendid but useless piece of furniture, a hundred guineas on some trifling amusement, or a thousand pounds to gratify a vain desire after worldly honour or distinction; while he either gives nothing at all, or contents himself with contributing two, five, or ten guineas for the propagation of knowledge and Christianity through the world. When a man who lives in luxury and elegance, who does not hesitate to subscribe hundreds or thousands of pounds to Conservative clubs or Orange societies, or who wastes similar sums in gratifying his pride or his appetites, contributes only such paltry portions of his wealth to the most noble object that can engage the attention of the human mind, he virtually pours contempt on such an object, by placing it in the very lowest ranks, and thus robs his Maker, from whom he derived his wealth, of the tribute which is due for the promotion of His glory.
Every professing Christian, likewise, in whatever station he is placed, when he regards the interests of religion as merely a secondary object, and refuses to come cheerfully forward with a fair proportion of his substance, according as God has prospered him, for promoting the advancement of the Redeemer's kingdom, must be considered as a sacrilegious robber, depriving the Most High of the tithes and offerings he demands, and consequently subjects himself to the infliction of a curse, similar to that which was denounced upon the covetous Jews in the days of Malachi. In the next place, the covetous man robs the
the distressed, the widow and the fatherless. He robs them of their enjoyments, by withholding that assistance which is requisite for enabling them to procure the comforts and necessaries of life. The Creator has displayed his boundless liberality in the abundant treasures of the earth and seas, in the ample space afforded for the habitations of man, and for the production of food and the materials for clothing, and in giving rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, that the hearts of men may be filled with fooa * Allowing only one fourth of the area of the globe to be capable of cultivation, and that twelve acres of land are sufficient for the maintenance of a family, it is easily proved by calculation, that the earth would support sixteen thousand millions of inhabitants, which is about twenty times the number of its present population.
and gladness. The earth, if properly cultivated, and its productions impartially distributed, would be more than sufficient to supply every sensitive comfort to twenty times the present number of the population of our globe.* Even as matters now stand, there is far more produced from the rivers, the ocean, and the dry land, than is sufficient for the abundant sustenance of man, and every species of animated existence, were it distributed by the hand of equity and beneficence. But covetousness interposes between the Creator and his creatures, and attempts to intercept the streams of Divine Goodness, and prevent them from flowing to every order of his sensitive and intelligent offspring. It either hoards up the treasures of Nature that few may enjoy them, or wastes them in vanity and extravagance, regardless of the privations and sufferings of countless multitudes who are pining in affliction and indigence. Instead of acting as the Almoners of the Creator, in distributing the bounties he has put into their hands, the covetous do every thing in their power to counteract the incessant operations of Divine Beneficence --and thus rob the poor, the distressed and the helpless, of those comforts which his care and providence had provided. They likewise rob them by an unceasing course of injustice and oppression, defrauding them of their rights, and, in the language of Scripture, “ grinding the faces of the poor, beating them to pieces, and taking the spoils of the indigent into their houses.”+
Again, the avaricious man robs his oun family. He frequently denies them the comforts of life, and even its necessaries. Though his coffers are overflowing with wealth, and the means of every sensitive and rational enjoyment are within his power, yet his wife and children are virtually sunk into the depths of poverty. Their food
t Isaiah iii. 14, 15.
is mean, and measured out with a sparing hand. Their clothes are of the coarsest stuff, and wear the appearance of the garb of poverty; their education is stinted or altogether neglected, because it would prevent him from adding a few more shillings to replenish his bags and coffers. In short, all their
comforts, instead of Howing in copious streams proportionate to his treasures, are measured out to them in the smallest quantities, like the small drops of medicine from an apothecary's phial.
He likewise robs general society of those improvements and comforts which he is the means of preventing.
Were it not for avarice, we should have our towns and cities divested of every nuisance, our streets broad and spacious, the light of heaven and the refreshing breeze visiting every dwelling, our narrow lanes demolished, our highways clean and smooth, and adorned with refreshing bowers, asylums for the industrious poor, seminaries for the instruction of all ranks and ages in useful knowledge, and innumerable other improvements for promoting the happiness of the social state. But covetousness interposes and raises an almost insurmountable barrier to the accomplishment of such designs; and, when they are partially effected, in particular cases, it steps in and says, “hitherto shalt thou come, but no farther, and here shall all improvements be stayed."
In short, he robs every philanthropic society of its treasures, by withholding those gifts which God has put in his power to bestow; and he robs himself, by depriving himself of contentment and serenity of mind, and of those external comforts which God has liberally provided for all his creatures. “Although he wanteth nothing for his soul of all that he desireth, yet he deprives himself of the power to eat thereof." Such are the robberies commited by every one in whose heart covetousness sits enthroned.
If this species of robbery were viewed, by Christian and civil society, in its proper light, as delineated in the word of God, the covetous extortioner, and the gay worldling would be as much shunned and hissed from society, as the sharper, the thief, or the midnight depredator.
2. Covetousness uniformly leads to falsehood and injustice.
The heart being set upon the acquisition of wealth as its highest object, the worldling seizes upon every mean by which it may be acquired. Among these means, falsehood and misrepresentation are particularly conspicuous. When he is buying an article, he endeavours to depreciate its properties and its value; and when he is to dispose of a similar commodity, he overrates its qualities, and attempts to procure a price for it far beyond its worth. If there is a prospect of the price of any commodity rising, he denies that it is in his possession, and if he has a deteriorated article which he wishes to dispose of, he will varnish it over with a fair outside to deceive the unwary. If he is tying up a bundle of quills, he will place four or five in the centre, not half the value of the rest, and thus, he sends forth hundreds of liars with a fair outside, to proclaim as many falsehoods to the world. If he have money in the stocks, he will sometimes endeavour to propagate false intelligence to produce their rise or fall, according as he finds it his interest to sell out or to purchase. He misrepresents the state of the markets, and the commodities of his neighbours, in order to enhance his own.
When he covets his neighbour's property, he takes the advantage of either poverty or ignorance, and resorts to falsehood and every deceitful mean, in order to obtain it at half its value; and when it comes into his possession, its defects are immediately transformed into valuable properties, and it is rated at a price far superior to its intrinsic worth. In this way, his whole life becomes a course of systematic falsehood; and, if he can accomplish his designs by such means without direct. ly violating the civil laws of his country, he regards himself as a man of uprightness and honesty — although the principle of truth, which is the basis of the moral universe, is violated in almost every transaction. And, as he is a liar and deceiver, so he is, almost as a matter of