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and confining them for so many long hours, that their health is injured, and their intellectual and religious improvement prevented. I have known apprentices not above thirteen years of age, confined in shops from seven in the morning till twelve at midnight, and sometimes to an early hour in the morning, and having scarcely two hours out of the twenty-four allotted them for meals; and that, too, by merchants who made a splendid profession of piety, and were considered as pillars of Dissenting churches. By such conduct, young persons are not only deprived of that recreation which is necessary to the vigour of their animal system, but prevented from attending the means of moral and religious instruction, and from storing their minds with that knowledge which they ought to possess as rational and immortal beings. If, in the present state of things, merchants and others require so long continued drudgery from their servants, other arrangements ought to be made, and additional servants or apprentices procured, so that a moderate and reasonable service only should be required from them. But such arrangements would run counter to the principle of avarice. Similar practices have long been complained of in regard to many of our spinning-mills, and other public manufactories, and yet they have been defended by Christian men, as if the labouring classes were to be considered in no other light than as mere animal machines, or as beasts of burden. Covetousness likewise displays itself in keeping open shops to late hours, and thus preventing families, servants, shopmen, and apprentices from domestic enjoyment, and from the means of rational improvement; and, when measures have been concerted to put a stop to this evil
, I have known two or three professed Christians, by their obstinacy and avaricious disposition, disconcert every plan which had been formed' for this purpose.
5. The covetous principle, conjoined with glaring acts of inhumanity and injustice, is frequently displayed in cases of BANKRUPTCY.
How frequently do we find persons establishing an ex.
tensive business on credit when they have no funds of their own; using wind-bills and sometimes forgeries ; furnishing elegant houses with money which is not their own; living in luxury and splendour; dashing along in gigs and 'landaus; entertaining friends with sumptuous dinners, and indulging in all the fashionable follies of life, till, in the course of two or three years, they are run aground and declared to be Bankrupts, who can scarcely pay a dividend of three shillings a pound. Previous to such bankruptcies, many cases of fraud and injustice very frequently occur. Í have known office-bearers in Christian churches, distinguished for their high pretensions to religion and piety, who, only a few days previous to their failure in business, have borrowed pretty large sums of money, and that, too, even from an industrious mechanic, who was induced, by deceitful words, to lend the whole of what he had accumulated by industry and economy, during a course of many years,—scarcely a fraction of which was ever recovered.
In such cases, we not unfrequently behold selfishness assuming a vast variety of forms; practising low cunning and dishonesty, resorting to all possible shifts of duplicity, to prolong the credit of a tottering establishment; concealing property which belonged to others, or secretly disposing of it at half its value ; dealing in contraband articles, defrauding government of its revenues, deceiving the unwary, weaving a web of entanglement throughout every department of the mercantile concern, gathering up payments of money and merchandise against the crisis which is approaching, and implicating friends and acquaintances, and even the poor industrious labourer in their concerns, and involving them in the impending ruin. If such were the practices merely of professed worldly men, we might cease to wonder. But, alas! such wiles and shufflings and dishonesties, are too frequently displayed by those who profess to be seeking after an incorruptible inheritance.
But the exhibition of covetousness and dishonesty does not end at the period of bankruptcy. After a legal settlement has been obtained, and business resumed, similar exhibitions are repeated. I have known many individuals, belonging both to the established church and to dissenters, men whose professions of religion were ostentatious and glaring; who, after having become bankrupts, lived as luxuriously, dressed as gaily, gave their children as fashionable an education, and set them up in as lucrative professions, as if no such event had taken place. I have known others who, after having paid six or seven shillings on the pound, and been permitted to resume trade, have, in the course of a few years, purchased heritable property to a considerable amount, without ever thinking of restoring to their creditors a single shilling of what they had lost by their bankruptcy. Because they obtained a settlement from their creditors, and therefore are not legally bound to refund their loss, therefore, they imagine that they are under no moral obligation to perform such an act of natural justice. The cases of this kind which daily occur, are so numerous and striking, that it would be needless to condescend to particular instances. It is little short of a libel on the moral perceptions of general society, and particularly on the Christian world, that a man voluntarily coming forward and settling with his creditors, when he is not legally bound to do so, should be considered as a kind of phenomenon in the commercial world, and worthy of being published in every newspaper, when it is nothing more than what a sense of natural justice would, in all cases, obviously dictate. It is true, indeed, that the men of the world seldom consider such cases as I have alluded to, as of a criminal nature; but it is amazing that Christian churches should almost entirely overlook such displays of covetousness and injustice, and inflict no censure on the offenders, notwithstanding the malignant and anti-christian dispositions and practices with which they are associated.
6. There is too frequently a striking display of covetousness in the case of many of the ministers of religion.
Not to mention the buying and selling of benefices and other Simoniacal practices, which have long abounded, and which have tended to throw disgrace on the sacred office; there are many other ways in which worldlymindedness is manifested by not a few in this class of Christian society. Although I wish to speak with the greatest respect of the ministers of the church, on account of the sanctity and importance of the sacred office, for which no one entertains a higher veneration; yet I cannot shut my eyes to the many examples around me, which prove, that not a few Christian ministers are too much actuated and directed in their movements, by a worldly-minded and avaricious disposition. This propensity is displayed in aspirings, with the utmost keenness, after ecclesiastical dignities and preferments-not for the sake of the duties connected with such situations, nor with a view of occupying a field of more extensive usefulness; but for increasing their revenues, and living in opulence and splendour. The general conduct of many to whom I allude, their neglect of the flock over which they have been made overseers, and their indulgence in the fashionable pursuits and amusements of the world, too plainly evince the ruling disposition of their hearts. Would to God that such persons would consider what views they will have of such things, when stretched upon that bed from which they are to rise no more, and about to enter the confines of the eternal world! The pious Mr. Hervey, about four days before his death, when Dr. Stonehouse paid him a visit, and was discoursing on the emptiness of worldly honours to an immortal, and on the unprofitableness of riches to the irreligious, replied, “ true, Doctor, true, the only valuable riches are in heaven. What would it avail me now, to be the Archbishop of Canterbury? Disease would show no respect to my mitre. That prelate is not only very great, but I am told, he has religion really at heart. Yet it is godliness, and not grandeur, that will avail him hereafter. The gospel is offered to me, a poor country parson, the same as to his Grace. Oh! why then do ministers thus neglect the charge of so kind a Saviour, fawn upon the great, and hunt after worldly preferments with so much eagerness, to the disgrace of our order? These are the things which render the clergy so justly contemptible to the
worldlings. No wonder the service of our church has become such a formal, lifeless thing, since it is, alas! too generally executed by persons dead to godliness in all their conversation; whose indifference to religion, and wordly-minded behaviour, proclaim the little regard they pay to the doctrines of the Lord, who bought them.”
The same covetous propensity is indicated, when à minister leaves an affectionate people, among whom he has a competent support, for a larger and more opulent congregation, where his income will be considerably increased. I have seldom known an instance in which a minister voluntarily left his charge, unless when he had the prospect of a larger stipend. There are doubtless, valid reasons why a minister of the gospel may, with propriety, leave his charge; but if he has previously been in moderately comfortable circumstances, and if the increase of income be the chief or only motive for the change, there is too much reason to suspect, that a covetous disposition has lurked in the breast, and has influenced his decision. Not long ago, a dissenting pastor received a call from a congregation in a large town where he was offered a larger stipend than he had previously received. He was generally beloved by his people, he had received from them handsome presents, as testimonials of their gratitude and affection; he received from them an income adequate to his station, and to the supply of every reasonable want; they pressed him to remain, and promised to do every thing that might promote his comfort. But, for no other reason, apparently, than the prospect of about £50 more being added to his income, he parted with them almost abruptly, and left them to draw the inference, (which they did not hesitate to do, that he had more regard to his worldly interests than to superintend the spiritual interests of an affectionate people. I am much mistaken if even the temporal happiness of such a person shall be augmented by such conduct; and if God, in the course of his Providence, does not try him with unexpected difficulties, and make him behold his sin in his punishment.
This covetous disposition is likewise displayed by min