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seldom questioned even by the majority of professing Christians; which the morality of the world allows, and even commends; which may live unrebuked, through a whole life, under the decent garb of frugality and honest industry; and which thus silently works the destruction of multitudes without alarming them.’
This view of the subject very nearly accords with the Scriptural notion of cupidity to which the examination of the terms has conducted us. But we must distinguish between the evil principle or tendency, and the actual vice as realized in the character. Many evil principles may be at work in the heart of a real Christian: he may be the subject of unbelief, and yet be no infidel;-may be guilty of insincerity or simulation, and yet not be characteristically a hypocrite ;-may love this world too well, and yet be no worldling, no sensualist. As frugality and honest industry are duties, and duties to which temporal blessings are annexed, the moralist ought not to content himself with shewing that they may be the decent garb of an insidious vice: he is called upon to shew how the counterfeit may be detected, and the evil principle secerned. The worldliness' described in the above passage does not, confessedly, assume the positive character of a vice. It is not the palpable cupidity of the apostolic dehortations. It may issue fatally, but this will be from the negation of vital religion, rather than, in such a case, from the destructive force of the natural, and, in itself, innocent principle which leads a man to seek the reward of frugality and honest industry. A love of ease, of rest, of reputation, of security, of liberty, of success, is necessary to the mind; it is a modification of the instinct of self-love which gives motion to society; and this love of the materials of earthly comfort becomes sinful, only when, instead of being subordinate, it becomes dominant, and enslaves the soul. To be governed by instincts, is the virtue of a brute, the degradation of a man. To be governed by natural principles, and to "walk as men", is the top of worldly morality, but the shame and destruction of the new-born.
To this worldliness, this specious and milder form of covetousness, it is evident that the opposite is not liberality, nor benevolence, but spiritual-mindedness. 'A man', our Author remarks, 6 may not merit to be denominated avaricious', and may yet be parsimonious.'* And again, a person may be free from the charge of parsimony, and yet open to the accusation of world'liness.' 6 In the eyes of the world, a man may acquire, and through a long life maintain, a character for liberality and 'spirit, while his heart all the time goeth after his covetousness.' All this is quite true; but it follows, that the pleonexia, the
* And a man may be of a parsimonious temper or habit, and yet generous or beneficent from religious motives.
world-worship, which is so ensnaring to the spirit, is not avarice, not parsimony, not the reverse of liberality. A man may give, give largely, to the cause of benevolence and of Christ, and yet be wanting in the one thing which Christ requires. He may be munificent from motives of display; he may be of a generous and humane temper, and find gratification in beneficence; he may be liberal from false principle, under the Pharisaic notion of making the Almighty his debtor; he may "bestow all his goods to feed the poor", and yet "not have charity"; and so, he may be a benefactor to the Church, and yet a votary of the world, his heart being set upon earthly things. On the other hand, there are such cases as that of a Christian man by no means chargeable with covetousness, mortified in a great degree to the world, not by any means destitute of spirituality, yet, very lamentably de- ficient in generosity and active liberality. The slothful servant who laid by the talent with which he ought to have traded, does not represent the covetous or the avaricious man: the parable points to a different character. Selfishness, by leading us to live to ourselves, worldliness, by destroying the main-spring of Christian obedience, imprudent prodigality, by cutting off the means of liberality, and avarice, by its hardening influence as a vice,— may all have much the same effect in drying up the resources of the Church: still, as regards the individual, they are not the same, either in their nature or in their operation. “All unrighteousness is sin"; yet, "there is a sin not unto death." But "to be carnally-minded is death." Such is the fatal character of that cupidity which is idolatry. The love of money may lead to this, may issue in it, but it is not the vice itself. The desire of gain or wealth, which, under the control of higher principles, is a spur to industry, may be an element in the character of a truly religious man; and with this he will have to combat, as with other natural and sensual propensities. It is not, however, till it obtains the mastery, that it settles down into avarice; and that the sin, which is the daughter of desire, having reached maturity, becomes the parent of death *.
Now the cardinal fault of the present Essay-and it is a fault not altogether chargeable on the Author, but may be traced to the original Advertisement,-consists in this ;-that it makes no proper distinction between the parent (epithymia) and the daughter (hamartia),—between the desire of gain and wealth, which may lead to sin, and the sin and crime itself of the love of money, or avarice. Not only so, but (in the Advertisement) the accumulating of property' is represented as 'a sin associated? in Scripture with the vilest of crimes'; an assertion which we cannot but deem most unwarrantable. If this be in itself a sin,
* Jam. i. 15.
it must be a sin under all circumstances, and for which no plea can be admitted. Now, is the much respected and benevolent Donor of the prize, or the Author of the successful Essay, prepared to maintain, that the principles of Christianity, or the laws of Christ, peremptorily forbid the accumulation of property? Is no Christian at liberty to increase his wealth by this means? If so, some of the greatest modern benefactors to the cause of missions and other religious objects, must rank with detestable criminals. We could name men who, without avaricious hoard'ing', grew immensely rich, and yet, distributed freely of their abundance,-whether with a proper measure of liberality, God knoweth ; but at all events, their expenditure did not absorb their means of largely benefiting the Church of Christ. We should be hard to be convinced that to such men as we allude to belong the character and the doom of the covetous.
That a man may sin in accumulating property to the disregard of the claims of religion and benevolence,-nay, that it is hard not to sin in this matter, will readily be admitted. It is our deep conviction, that a tremendous danger is connected with the transforming influence of wealth upon its possessor, and still more, upon its accumulator. But what is dangerous, is not necessarily unlawful; and what may and does too often prove an evil, is not necessarily a crime. The capitalist and the land-holder are not, as such, excluded from the kingdom of heaven; although it may be hard for the rich man to enter in. Now, in an Essay on Covetousness, we should have liked to see the ensnaring and deteriorating operation of wealth distinctly explained, so that the first symptoms of the disease might more readily be detected, and the danger more fully estimated. Mr. Harris admits, that it is hard to fix the point at which Covetousness begins. He 'who can decide with equal facility and precision the exact point at which cupidity begins in another, no sooner finds the same test about to be applied to himself, than he discovers a number ' of exceptions, which render the standard totally inapplicable." But, the more insidious and seductive the forms of Covetousness, 'the more necessary,' he remarks, does it become to study the 'disease in its symptoms.' And he has supplied an instructive and searching section on the Tests of Covetousness.' These tests, however, serve only to determine who is to be regarded, or when we may regard ourselves, as covetous. What is wanted is, to shew how the disease begins, and how it may be obviated in its first principles. It is too late, when Covetousness has got hold of a man, to warn him against the sin. St. Paul could but weep over those victims of earthly-mindedness whom he speaks of as enemies to the Cross of Christ, doomed to destruction. (Phil. iii. 18.) All men will own covetousness to be a sin, but it is a sin to which no one pleads guilty; because it is the very
nature of this insidious distemper, to distort the perceptions, and to pervert the moral estimates. It is only when the mind is perfectly sane, that it can judge of the difference between health and incipient disease, or apply the nice tests of the moralist to its own condition. We know no practical subject that demands a nicer analysis or a more cautious discrimination. Forcibly and eloquently does the Essayist dilate upon the criminality and fatal issue of Covetousness; and the volume will be, we trust, extensively useful, by holding up the evil, in glowing colours, to the more distinct consideration of the Christian world;-by wakening the conscience, alarming the fears, or exciting the jealousy and vigilance of those more immediately in danger of falling under the power of the sordid passion. But we are compelled to say, that the difficulties of the subject are not grappled with, are rather evaded in the Essay before us.
The Christian, we assume, is not restricted from pursuing any branch of honourable industry or enterprise. He is then at liberty, nay, is required, to trade and make gain. Gain is, of necessity, his object as a tradesman or merchant: it is identified with success; and not to desire success would be irrational and impossible. If he would content himself with a certain measure of success, and limit his exertions accordingly, it is not always, or perhaps not often, in his power to act so. To do a certain quantity of business, neither more nor less, and to do it profitably, is, we apprehend, very rarely within a man's choice; and, in the present times, intense exertion and anxiety are often required, not merely to secure wealth, but to guard against absolute failure and loss. Now let us take the case of a young man starting in life, and depending upon his own exertions to realize the means of settling and maintaining a family: how shall we address him, so as to warn him, on the one hand, against the love of money, and on the other hand, so as not to discourage his diligence and damp his expectations? We put the Bible into his hands, of which he has been taught, that "all Scripture is given by Inspiration of God;" and he there reads: "The blessing of the Lord, it maketh rich"-" the hand of the diligent maketh rich " "both riches and honour come of Thee "- "wealth and riches shall be in his (the good man's) house"-" in her (Wisdom's) left hand (are) riches and honour." He finds that, in the promises of God, prosperity is recognised as a blessing, and wealth as a good, which are the ordinary reward of obedience, diligence, and virtue. It is true, that he finds scattered throughout the Scriptures, emphatic warnings against the too eager and unscrupulous pursuit of these or any worldly objects, and intimations of the unsatisfactory character of all earthly enjoyments, and the dangers of prosperity and success. But these must be viewed as intended to regulate, not to extinguish the natural de
sire to obtain the fruits of diligent exertion, and the means of honourable advancement. The character of the miser, of the sordid and avaricious man, or of the venal mercenary, he views with abhorrence; and that he should ever become such a character, he perhaps deems impossible. Exhortations against covetousness, therefore, he cannot feel to be applicable. He does not love money, and is not in immediate danger of loving it. And yet, it is while pursuing the career of diligent exertion, of honourable industry, while moving onward in the path of duty,-while enjoying the promised blessing of God upon his labour, and frugality, and prudence, that he is in danger of contracting that moral contagion which shall induce the feverish lust of gold, and change the very substance of his affections, as by a moral ossification of all that was once tender, impressible, and allied to the spiritual nature. But to say that riches must necessarily have this effect, would be to impeach at once the efficacy of Christianity, and the wisdom of Divine Providence. Upon the man of the world, indeed, we are disposed to think that the result is next to inevitable; that the influence of wealth is irresistible by any merely natural principle. The constitution of the mind necessitates that metamorphosis which an object steadily pursued exerts upon the faculties; and we see every day, how not merely in accumulating wealth, but in collecting trifles, what was once an amusement, grows with success into a passion, and at length becomes infatuation. In the case of the selfish rich man, the infatuation may be considered as partaking of a judicial character. He loses all command over his useless wealth, which he can neither part with nor enjoy. Avarice has no will: the voluntary principle is under paralysis. It is still emphatically true," How hardly shall they that trust in riches enter into the kingdom of God!"
But the inquiry which we are now suggesting, is not, How shall the rich man become a Christian, or the covetous become liberal, but, How shall the Christian, in acquiring riches, in accumulating property, or in possessing and using wealth, secure himself against what, in the absence of the principles of the Gospel, appears to be an irresistible influence leading to an inevitable consequence? When Mr. Harris denounces Covetousness as the Sin of the Church, he almost seems to concede that the Gospel provides no preventive or remedy; and that wealth is to be conquered in no other way than heathen wisdom taught; by despising it, and embracing a not less proud and sordid poverty. Thus did the ancient anchorets and celibates seek or affect to overcome the world by fleeing from society. This is not the victory over the world and worldly principles, that faith achieves. Poverty is not better than wealth. Christianity does not require the surrender or renunciation of wealth, any more