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to the different gradations of society, which rem ; ligion recognises, is permitted to live in a mann í ner suitable to his situation, rank, and fortune..
The rich, indeed, are more especially required not only to relieve the wants of the poor, “ shew hospitality” to others; and in them any
: 1 thing like avaricious meanness, or selfish parsi. mony, is odious and degrading.
lo But let us remember, that in almost every i thing relating to the conduct of life, the perfection of wisdom lies in that happy medium, , which is equally remote from opposite extremes.) Excess, even of virtue, we may be assured, will degenerate into vice or folly; and, therefore, to pass the boundaries of propriety, is always to enter the wilderness of error.
That divine authority, which bids us “ use | the things of this world as not abusing them," and which directs us in our daily prayers to offer to “our Father which is in heaven” the earnest petition, “ that he would give us day by day our daily bread,” cannot but be outraged and offended at Waste, wherever it may o be found, of the necessaries of life ; and that for many reasons, which a slight consideration of the subject will suggest.
First, it is surely the most shameful ingratie 10
tude to the bounty of our heavenly Father, to cast away what we make the distinct object of our daily prayer, and to be habitually guilty of a sin, (for Waste is seldom a casual, incidental evil) which can procure gratification to no one ; but is attended with loss and injury to all. Let the rich man, who takes no heed how his wealth is distributed, consider, that whatever is taken unnecessarily from the general stock, which is to furnish food for all, if wasted, is destroyed. He not only omits the opportunity, and in some measure foses the ability, of performing works of love; but he does effectual evil. By the most preposterous folly, and shameful perversion of means, he produces scarcity out of abundance.-He contributes, in some measure, to put many of the comforts of life beyond the poor man's reach ; and, in the expressive language of Scripture, he may be said to “ take the children's bread and cast it to the dogs.”
We should reflect, also, that every shilling, which is needlessly squandered, or lost, in Waste, is a diminution of our power to do good; and there is no reason to believe that the wasteful and extravagant are, exclusively, devoid of charity, or brotherly kindness.
The only rational way of estimating the value of money appears to be, that of calculating the power, and opportunity, which it affords of Christian beneficence ;-of indulging the virtuous propensities of a generous and feeling heart ;of contributing to make others comfortable and happy ;-of rendering virtue something more than a luxury of the imagination, and of actually doing what others, (perhaps without sincerity) only wish, or gratuitously profess to do.
Viewed in this light, riches are truly worthy of a wise man's attainment; and, subservient to such purposes, they may well be made the object of a Christian's pursuit. But how lamentable it is to see that which was intended, in this world of ignorance and error, of suffering and want, to be the most powerful instrument of good, not only lost, or neglected, but often so perverted, as to be made the means of evil to ourselves and others. Waste and profusion have often swallowed up the fruits of a whole life, that was devoted, perhaps, to honest industry,and led the improvident possessor of them to misery and ruin. Patrimonies, also, that were transmitted from one generation to another, and that afforded the means of dispensing blessings to thousands, in passing through the hands of the frugal and the virtuous, have been dissipated by the same means, and proved the ruin, or disgrace of those descendants, whom they should have dignified and adorned.
But, as discoursing on subjects in general terms affords, for the most part, only a sort of vague instruction, which may be applied, or not, according as self-love prevails; and as the present may require some definition to guard against misapprehensions of duty, let us consider in what the sin of Wastefulness consists. And we may observe, that it is not confined merely to the destruction, or the throwing away of the necessaries of life: but may be fairly extended to every abuse, by which they may be needlessly, and unprofitably consumed. Profusion, therefore, or the practice of exhibiting superfluous plenty will always be productive of Waste.
Serious as the evils often are, which arise from such a practice, they are frequently submitted to from no other motives than a foolish vanity,-a ridiculous observance of fashion,-a childish ostentation of grandeur, or the silly ambition of vying with others. However, if unnecessary expenses must occasionally be incurred, and if those who profess the benevolence and humility of Christians can find no better way of disposing of their riches, let them,
at least, confine their superfluities chiefly to such articles, as may not enhance the value of the poor man's meal; and “ when they are filled,” let them remember the words of their blessed Lord and Redeemer to his disciples-“Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.”
We may observe, also, that whoever lives from day to day intemperately, is guilty of the most shameful and pernicious waste. To a man of right feeling and reflection, it would be one of the most powerful dissuasives from excess, to consider, that what he is consuming in mere wantonness, to the injury of his health, and the loss of his reputation, thousands of hungry and needy wretches are longing for in vain; to whom a part of the same meat and drink would be the most welcome cordial, reviving their drooping spirits, gladdening their aching hearts, and restoring the wearied powers of nature.
Let the drunkard, and the epicure, only consider how many ordinary, but substantial blessings the price of their excesses would, from time to time, have furnished for the poor, the hungry, and the naked,-excesses which have procured them only disease of body and of mind,-and if