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than it exacts celibacy or an ascetic seclusion from social intercourse. Ananias, whom the love of wealth betrayed into dissimulation and blasphemy, was expressly told, that the price of the land was, even after it was sold, in his own power, and that his parting with the proceeds of the sale was optional. We must maintain that wealth, instead of being fled from or declined by the Christian, is to be desired and pursued; and that, in the desire and pursuit of this, as of all other worldly objects, the Morality of the Gospel is secured by the motives and energies which it supposes to be in operation, and which are entirely adequate to bear the Christian harmless through the temptations that to others must prove fatal.
But then we are met with the observation,-we admit its justice, that no sin is so prevalent among the professors of religion as the love of money; and that this sin, as Andrew Fuller has remarked, will in all probability prove the eternal overthrow of 'more characters among professing people, than any other sin, 'because it is almost the only crime which can be indulged, and a profession of religion at the same time supported.'
How many,' remarks Mr. Harris, who had apparently deserted the service of the world, and enrolled themselves among the servants of God, does covetousness again reclaim, and swear them to allegiance afresh. 66 They did run well," but the fable of Atalanta became their history-a golden bait was cast in their path; they stopped to take it, and lost the race. In how touching a manner does the Apostle refer to the fatal declension of some-probably living characters, known both to himself and Timothy-and impute their apostacy entirely to their avarice. "Money," . . . . saith he, " which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows." And how likely is it that Bunyan drew from personal observation, when, in his inimitable allegory, he describes the professed pilgrims, Hold-the-world, Money-love, Save-all, and By-ends— names which still stand for living realities—as leaving the road, at the solicitation of Demas, to look at a silver mine "in a little hill called Lucre." "Now," he adds, "whether they fell into the pit by looking over the brink thereof, or whether they went down to dig, or whether they were smothered in the bottom by the damps that commonly arise, of these things I am not certain; but this I observed, that they never were seen again in the way.". pp. 157, 158.
In every heart, there is a struggle which shall be the ascendant, the governing principle. "As many as are led by the Spirit of God, are the sons of God." As many as are led by the spirit of the world, are "none of His." Most perilous and critical is the condition of each individual professor,' till this point has been decided. In the state of indecision and vacillation which follows imperfect conversion, while as yet the individual is only "almost persuaded to be a Christian," and "not far from the
kingdom of God,"-inquiring what good thing he may do to inherit eternal life, and yet not prepared to comply with the terms of Christ's service,-in this hopeful yet fearful predicament, in which the heart stands parleying with Heaven, but is not sincere enough to be decided, being held in a state of fluctuation and instability, which St. James represents as closing the ear of God against our prayers, a state much more nearly allied to hypocrisy than the subject of it is apt to imagine *,-just in this state, the love of the world, or of gain, proves that easy-besetting and plausible sin which, by becoming the ruling principle, determines the character-fatally. But let not these melancholy soulwrecks, numerous as they are, be adduced as instances of Christians overthrown by the world, or of the triumph of evil principle over the power of religion. The seat of power in the heart, if we may so speak, was empty, and religion had not been deposed from it, but was waiting to have her claim allowed. Where she is not permitted to reign, she soon retires; and the mind not preoccupied by her ascendant influence, becomes an easy conquest.
For the want of liberality on the part of professed Christians, many causes may be assigned, besides the prevalence of covetousness, or avarice, or what, if we may coin the word, we should call cosmolatry. That these causes are for the most part evil and sinful, far be it from us to deny. To many of them Mr. Harris has adverted with searching fidelity and impressive eloquence; but he seems to us to have been hampered by the wish to bring them all under the general head of the love of money. A want of due economy may be criminal, but it is not covetousness. The scale of expenditure may be too large in proportion to the income of the individual, and yet this may not be the result of ambition or of voluptuousness. To arbitrate correctly 'between the claims of self, and the cause of mercy,' Mr. Harris remarks, is the great problem of Christian benevolence.' But the Christian has to arbitrate, not simply between the claims of self, and those of the objects of benevolence, but between the claims of justice and those of charity. This our Author has not failed to point out in a subsequent part of the Essay.
It must be quite unnecessary to remind the Christian, that a principle of justice to man must be laid as the basis of all our calculations on this subject. "For I, the Lord, love judgment; I hate robbery for burnt offering." To present him with that which his own laws of justice would assign to another, is to overlook the claims of even ordinary honesty, and to make him the patron of unrighteousness. But while the worldling looks on justice as the only claimant on his property,
* Such is the character implied by the Apostle's description of the ἀνὴρ δίψυχος, ὁ διακρινόμενος, Jam. i. 68.
and concludes that when that is satisfied, he may warrantably sacrifice the whole remainder to himself, the Christian views it as only a preparation for sacrificing to God.' pp. 246, 7.
This is admirably put; and Mr. Harris proceeds to remark, that, in determining what proportion of our income ought to be devoted to God, no general rule can be laid down. For some, 'one half would be too little; while, for others, a twentieth, or even a fiftieth, would require the nicest frugality and care.' Familiarity with large sums of money may lead a person to 'make benefactions as munificent as the heart of charity could 6 ' wish. Animal generosity may act the donor, with all the promptitude and easy grace of Charity herself." On the other hand, systematic liberality has sometimes been the product of Christian principle, where the temper has been the reverse of generous; and the sense of duty has triumphed over constitutional coldness and penuriousness. In such cases, "God seeth not as man seeth:" the virtue may exist where the grace, or rather the gracefulness of charity is wanting. May we not say, without denying the difference in natural disposition among men, that true liberality is, in every instance, a supernatural grace? "We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren."
But how many moral ingredients enter into the composition of true liberality! Self-denial, kindness of heart, simplicity of motive, a sense of accountableness to the Great Proprietor, are all requisite to bring it up to the standard of the evangelical virtue. No doubt, one main reason of the low standard of liberality which prevails, and which, while itself the effect, becomes in turn the cause of the actual want of liberality,―is, that the sense of accountableness to God is so weak, and indistinct, and intermittent in the minds of the generality of Christians. The principle, ' that we hold our property as subordinate agents for God, were it only felt, embraced, and allowed to have unobstructed operation in our practice, would of itself,' Mr. Harris remarks, be 'sufficient to break up the present system of selfishness, and to give an entirely new aspect to the cause of benevolence.' But here again, it is not covetousness that is the antagonist of liberality, but the absence in the individual of that practical faith which would induce an habitual reference to the day of account.
The causes of the deficiency of liberality in real Christians are not, it is evident, to be sought for only in the personal defects of individuals. In fact, Mr. Harris has a striking chapter on the present predominance of Covetousness in Britain;' in which he shews that the system of society among us is such as to render the Christian who is, not by his own choice, compelled to engage in the fierce competition and turmoil of business, an object,
́ not of blame, but of pity.' The undue estimate in which wealth is held, which has infected with an all-pervading taint our 'politics, our systems of education, the distribution of honours, 'the popular notions,' and has even penetrated our language," -unconsciously affects even those who are the most solicitous not to be conformed to the world. If to be possessed of property procured respect, and deference, and confidence, only in the sight of worldly men, the Christian might more readily content himself with a small measure of that factitious and extrinsic worth by which their dangerous friendship is secured. But when he finds that the wise, and the good, and the holy are influenced, if not in the same absolute manner, yet to a very great extent, by the same national prejudice-" carried away," like Peter and Barnabas on one occasion, by the example of those around them, into this homage to false distinctions,-when he finds that the social influence and usefulness which are inseparable from high character, are dependent upon the artificial standing which is regulated by wealth,-how little short of impossible is it not to desire-we will not say to covet-this golden passport to society, this pre-requisite to just reputation! Nay, the very liberality of the age, so far as it consists in giving money, tends, by re-action, to increase the estimation in which money is held, and to strengthen the temptation to covetousness. We find some excellent remarks on this head in Mr. Treffry's Essay on Covetous
The love of money is materially increased by a consciousness of the influence which it procures among men in general; and thus is covetousness fostered by ambition. But nothing can so tend, in the minds of wealthy professors of religion, to confirm, and, in a sense, even to sanction the delight in riches, as the fact that the church of Christ is not exempt from the current opinion of their value, and that, even here, they can purchase an eminence which is denied to qualifications really estimable. Nor will this impression be confined to the opulent. The complacency with which they are regarded, and the stations to which, on account of their wealth, they are promoted, will not fail to render the acquisition of riches an object of increased desire among professors generally. Thus may the unmerited elevation of an opulent christian give energy and impulse to the comparatively latent or slumbering covetousness of an entire christian community, and infuse a moral contagion of such strength and virulence as to defy all subsequent sanatory measures.'-Treffry, p. 168.
The evil which we have to combat is, in fact, a complicated evil, and not one that can be made the specific subject of indictment. That avarice is, in the present day, a sin prominently characteristic of the Christian Church, or peculiarly prevalent in it, we can by no means admit; nor can we for a moment subscribe
to the correctness of the representation, that the charge of covetousness must needs lie against the professors of the Gospel generally, since the very fact, that novel and questionable means are sometimes resorted to for the purpose of replenishing the funds of benevolence, imply that ordinary and approved 'methods had failed to answer that end.' Mr. Harris must be fond of a paradox, for he deduces another proof of the covetousness of the Church from the very fact, that its contributions to 'the cause of mercy are annually increasing!' 'Does not,' he asks, 'the increase of every present year cast a reproach back on 'the comparative parsimony of every past year?' This is strange reasoning. May there be no multiplication of givers through the extending influence of Christian principle? Do the circumstances of the country, as prosperous or otherwise, make no difference in the funds of benevolence? Has the blessing of God had no influence in increasing the means of those who devise liberal things? We repeat it; the charge of covetousness, in the sense of avarice, or in the scriptural sense of Mammonworship, which is idolatry, cannot be brought against the Church of Christ, without casting a false reproach upon the cause of religion. It is the charge of the satirist, not the warning of the moralist, and savours of calumny, more than of fidelity. That avarice and covetousness are sins to which the professors of religion are, in the present day, peculiarly exposed, from the undue estimation in which wealth is held,-from the mercantile character of society,-from the struggle of business, and the 'strife of fashion,'-the pressure of the class below upon the class above, and the spirit of rivalry, speculation, and display, which the progress of luxury and the diffusion of wealth have induced,
-as well as from the selfishness which all this tends to foster ;that, owing to these and other circumstances, professed Christians are in imminent danger of contracting a fatal lust of lucre, and still more, of becoming carnally minded through love of the present world; is affectingly true. Against this danger, the works before us will be an impressive warning. Nor was there ever a period in the history of the Church, when our Lord's emphatic admonition did not require to be sounded in the ears of his disciples, "Take heed and beware of covetousness, for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth." But then, as to the defective liberality of the Church, the sin, so far as it exists, of not consecrating a larger proportion of individual income or property to the cause of mercy and the service of Christ,-that is quite another matter. Yet, if this be at once the age of covetousness and the age of benevolence, it is manifest that both principles might co-exist and go on increasing together, with the increase of that which is at once the pabulum of the one, and the supply of the other. Christian libe