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isters of the gospel when they take large farms and engage with keenness in the pursuits of agriculture, and when they embark in extensive mercantile concerns and speculations, for the purpose of increasing their fortunes, and enabling them to live in splendour and affluence. It is not long since a dissenting minister was advertised in the newspapers, among the list of bankrupts, as "the Rev. Mr. H- Banker and Builder.” And, even a Doctor of Divinity, who enjoyed a handsome stipend, and was distinguished as a popular preacher, has been known to have embarked with eagerness in mercantile speculations, connected with shipping affairs, spinning mills, banking, building, and other departments, for the purpose of gratifying a worldly disposition, and enabling him to leave at his death, several thousands of pounds to each member of his family. Another of the same description has been known to engage in extensive agricultural operations, in surveying and superintending roads and acting as factor for neighbouring Squires, in order to hoard up worldly treasures, although his stipend was one of the largest in the country around. Indeed, instances of this description are so far from being uncommon, that they are scarcely considered as inconsistent with the sacred office; and a man, under the influence of such principles, will pass through life with a certain degree of respect from the church and the world, as if he had acted in no way inconsistent with the character of a Christian. In the case of such, the duties of their office generally form only a subordinate object of attention. Another way in which covetousness sometimes manifests itself, especially in the case of dissenting ministers, is— their concealing certain important truths in their public ministrations, and neglecting to apply the principles and precepts of Christianity to the particular cases of every class of gospel-hearers without respect of persons, for fear of offending certain leading individuals of the church, and risking the loss of a portion of emolument. It is likewise manifested in winking at the delinquencies of men of wealth and influence, in cringing to such characters, and attempting to screen them from censure, when
their conduct demands it. In all such cases as those to which I allude, the conduct of a Christian pastor requires to be guided by wisdom and prudence. But when he clearly perceives the path of truth and duty, he ought at once, without fear of consequences, to act on the principle “ Fiat Justitia ruat cælum." Let what is accordant with eternal truth and righteousness be performed, although the mighty should rage, the heavens fall, and the elements rush into confusion.
But, in general, it will be found, that he who prudently discharges his duty, trusting for support in the Providence of God, will seldom be left to sink under his difficulties, or to want the means of comfortable support. The conduct of the apostles, in such cases, should be imitated by every Christian minister. When Peter was brought before the Jewish rulers to account for his conduct in healing the impotent man, and preaching the resurrection of Jesus, he boldly declared, "Be it known to ye all, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom
ye cified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand before you whole. This is the stone that was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner.” And when he was commanded to teach no more in the name of Jesus, he replied, with the same fearlessness of consequences ; " Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For I cannot speak the things which ] have seen and heard.” And Paul, when he was about to leave the church of Ephesus, could declare, * I have kept back nothing that was profitable unto you; I have not shunned to declare to you all the council of God: I have coveted no man's gold, nor silver, nor apparel, for these hands have ministered to my necessities. I have showed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive." Were all Christian ministers animated by the spirit which actuated these holy apostles, we should seldom find pastors shrinking from their duty, from the fear of man, or from worldly motives, “shunning to declare the whole counsel of God." Much less should we ever behold men more careful to fleece their flocks than to feed them with knowledge-and who have the effrontery to receive many hundreds, and even thousands of pounds a year, as Christian ministers appointed to the charge of souls, while yet they spend their incomes in fashionable dissipation in foreign lands, regardless of the spiritual interests of those precious souls which were committed to their care. It is by such conduct in the clerical order, that religion and its ordinances are despised and treated with contempt, more than by all the efforts of avowed and unblushing infidelity; and it becomes all such seriously to consider how far they are responsible for the demoralization of society, the prevalence of irreligion, and the ruin of immortal souls; and what account they will one day be called to give of the manner in which they discharged the important office committed to their trust.
I shall now adduce a few miscellaneous examples, illustrative of the ascendency of the covetous principle in those who made, or who still make a flaming profession of religion.
A certain member of a dissenting church, who had long been a zealous supporter of its peculiar modes and tenets, had, in the course of his business as a carpenter, and by penurious habits, amassed a considerable portion of property, but was remarked to be of a hard and griping disposition, and could seldom be induced to contribute to any religious object. He had a brother, a man of good character, and a member of the same church, who, by family and personal distress, had been reduced to extreme poverty. Some of his Christian brethren represented to him the case of this distressed brother, and urged him to afford the family a little pecuniary relief. He replied, “ My brother little knows how difficult it is for me to get money ; I have nothing that I can spare. Does he know that I have lately bought a house, and have the price of it to pay in a few days ?”—and he peremptorily refused to bestow a single shilling upon his distressed relative. Yet no public notice was taken of such
conduct by the religious society with which he was connected, for, unfortunately, such cases are not generally considered as scandals, or tests of the want of Christian principle. His wife who survived him, and who was of a similar disposition, while lying on her death-bed, kept the keys of her trunks and drawers constantly in her hands, and would, on no account, part with them to any individual, unless when she was in a position to perceive exactly every thing that was transacted while the keys were used, and appeared to be restless and uneasy till they were returned. The idea of losing a single sixpence, or the least article, seemed to go like a dagger to her heart. After she had breathed her last, a bag, containing bank-notes, bills, and other documents, was found in her hand, which she had carefully concealed from her attendants, as if she had expected to carry it along with her to the world of spirits. Such are the degrading and awful effects of covetousness, when suffered to gain the ascendency over the heart. Can such a spirit' be supposed to be prepared for the mansions of the just, and for entering into that inheritance which is incorruptible, and that fadeth not away?
The following is another example, relating to a lady in comfortable circumstances, who died three or four years ago. This lady was married to a gentleman who was generally respected as a worthy man and a zealous Chris. tian. His habits were somewhat penurious; and from a low situation, he rose by various means, some of which were scarcely honourable, to a state of wealth and independence, so that, about 12 years before his death, he was enabled to retire from the duties of his office, to live in a state of respectability. His wife was likewise a professed religious character; she had no children, and her great anxiety was to preserve, if possible, any portion of her husband's property from passing into the hands of his relations. When any of her husband's relatives happened to live with them for the sake of sociality or for affording them assistance in their old age, she denied them almost every comfort, and grumbled at the least article they received, as if it had been a portion of flesh torn from
her body-till, one by one, all such relatives forsook her. After her husband's death, the same penurious habits remained, and, as is usually the case, grew stronger and more inveterate. After her death, a purse was found concealed under her pillow, containing above £300 in cash and bank-notes, to which, it appears, her heart had been more firmly wedded than to “ the treasure in the heavens that faileth not,” and “the glory which fadeth not away." Yet this sordid mortal passed among Christian society as a follower of Jesus. Another old woman died lately, who was a professed zealot for the truth, for "a covenanted work of reformation," and for testifying against abounding errors and immoralities in the church. She was noted among her neighbours for telling fibs, and giving false representations of her own circumstances and those of others. She represented herself as destitute of money, and almost of daily bread — that she could scarcely attain the enjoyment of the coarsest morsel and, of course, she was favoured with a small aliment from a charitable fund. She was also distinguished as a busy-body and tale-bearer, and was frequently caught secretly listening to the conversation of her immediate neighbours, and had burrowed a hole below the partition which separated her apartment from that of another family, in order that she might indulge in this mean and unchristian practice. In a short time after she had represented herself as a destitute pauper, she died, and, after her death, when her store was inspected, it was found to contain a considerable quantity of confectionaries of different kinds, spirits, wines, and not a small portion of money and other articles, some of which had been accumulating for years. Yet no one was more zealous than Margaret for the truth, and for testifying against the “ defections” of the established church, and the sins and immoralities of the age. Such examples as those now stated, are to be found throughout almost every portion of the visible church, and might be multiplied to an indefinite extent.
There is not a inore common case of covetousness thai occurs in Christian society, than that of taking ad