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discretion; in which cases, strictly speaking, it is not the root of other evils,but other evils are the root of it.
This forces me to recall what I have said upon covetousness, as a vice not naturally cruel : it is not apt to represent itself to our imaginations, at first sight, under that idea: we consider it only as a mean, worthless turn of mind, incapable of judging or doing what is right: but as it is a vice which does not always set up for itself,—to know truly what it is in this repect, we must know what masters it serves :--they are many, and of various casts and humours ;-and each one lends it something of its own conplexional tint and character.
This, I suppose, may be the cause that there is a greater and more whimsical mystery in the love of money, than in the darkest and most nonsensical problem that ever was pored on.
Even at the best, and when the passion seems to seek nothing more than its own amusement,—there is little, very little, I fear, to be said for its humanity. It may be a sport to the miser;-but consider,-it must be death and destruction to others. -The moment this sordid humour begins to gove ern-farewell all honest and natural affection ! farewell all he owes to parents, to children, to friends! -how fast the obligations vanish! see,he is now stripped of all feelings whatever :--the shrill cry of justice,—and the low lamentation of humble distress, are notes equally beyond his compass !-Eternal God! see !-he passes by one whom thou hast just bruised, without one pensive reflection !-he enters the cabin of the widow whose husband and child thou hast taken to thyself,-exacts his bond
without a sigh-Heaven ! if I am to be tempted, let it be by glory,-by ambition-by some generous and manly vice :-if I must fall, let it be by some passion which thou hast planted in my nature which shall not harden my heart, but leave me room at last to retreat and come back to thee!
It would be easy here to add the common arguments which reason offers against this vice; but they are so well understood, both in matter and form,-it is needless.
I might cite to you what Seneca says upon it; but the misfortune is, that at the same time he was writing against riches, he was enjoying a great es. tate, and using every means to make that estate still greater!
With infinite pleasure might a preacher enrich his discourse in this place, by weaving into it all the smart things which antient or modern wils have said upon the love of money :-he might inform you,
_That poverty wants something :-that covetousness wanteth all !'
• That a miser can only be said to have riches as 6 a sick man has a fever, which holds and tyrannizes i over the man,not he over it!'
• That covetousness is the shirt of the soul,—the o last vice it parts with!'
" That nature is content with few things;or, " that nature is never satisfied at all,' &c.
The reflection of our Saviour, “ That the life of man consisteth not in the abundance of the things
which he possesseth,”-speaks more to the heart; and the single hint of the camel, and what a very
narrow passage he has to go through has more coercion in it than all the see-saws of philosophy.
I shall endeavour therefore to draw such other reflections from this piece of sacred history as are applicable to human life, and more likely to be of
There is nothing generally in which our happiness and honour are more nearly concerned, than in forming true notions both of men and things; for in proportion as we think rightly of them, we approve ourselves to the world ;-and as we govern ourselves by such judgments, so we secure our peace and well-being in passing through it: the false steps and miscarriages in life, issuing from a defect in this capital point, are so many and fatal, that there can be nothing more instructive than an inquiry into the causes of this perversion, which often appears so very gross in us, that were you to take a view of the world,-see what notions it entertains, and by what considerations it is governed, --you would say of the mistakes of human judg. ment, what the prophet does of the folly of human actions," That we were wise to do evil; but to “ judge rightly, had no understanding."
That in many dark and abstracted questions of mere speculation, we should err, is not strange: we live among mysteries and riddles; and almost every thing which comes in our way, in one light or other, may be said to baffle our understandings, --yet seldom so as to mistake in extremities, and take one contrary for another.-'Tis very rare, for instance, that we take the virtue of a plant to be hot, when it is extremely cold ;-or, that we try the experiment of opium to keep us waking :-yet this
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we are continually attempting in the conduct of life, as well as in the great ends and measures of it. That such wrong determinations in us do arise from any defect of judgment inevitably misleading us, would reflect dishonour upon God; as if he had made and sent men into the world on purpose to play the fool. His all-bountiful hand made his judgment, like his heart, upright; and the instances of his sagacity, in other things, abundantly confirm it: we are led therefore in course to a supposition, that in all inconsistent instances there is a secret bias, somehow or other, hung upon the mind, which turns it aside from reason and truth.
What this is, if we do not care to search for it in ourselves, we shall find it registered in this transaction of Felix: and we may depend, that in all wrong judgments whatever in such plain cases as this, that the same explanation must be given of it which is given in the text_namely, that it is some selfish consideration-some secret dirty engagement with some little appetite, which does us so much dishon
The judgments of the more disinterested and impartial of us, receive no small tincture from our affections: we generally consult them in all doubtful points; and it happens well if the matter in question is not almost settled before the arbitrator is called into the debate. But in the more flagrant instances, where the passions govern the whole man, 'tis melancholy to see the office to which reason, the great prerogative of his nature, is reduced; serying the lower appetites in the dishonest drudgery of finding out arguments to justify the present pursuit.
To judge rightly of our own worth, we should retire a little from the world, to see all its pleasures, and pains too, in their proper size and di. mensions. This, no doubt, was the reason St. Paul, when he intended to convert Felix, began his dis.. course upon the day of judgment, on purpose to take the heart off from this world and its pleasures, which dishonour the understanding so, as to turn the wisest of men into fools and children.
If you enlarge your obseryations upon this plan, you will find where the evil lies which has supported those desperate opinions which have so long di-. vided the christian world, and are likely to divide it forcver,
Consider popery well; you will be convinced, that the truest definition which can be given of it is,That it is a pecuniary system, well contrived to operate upon men's passions and weakness, whilst their pockets are o’picking! Run through all the points of difference between us ;-and when you see that, in every one of them, they serve the same end which Felix had in view, either of money or power, there is little room left to doubt whence the cloud arises which is spread over the understanding.
If this reasoning is conclusive with regard to those who merely differ from us in religion,-let us try if it will not hold good with regard to those who have none at all ;-or rather, who affect to treat all persuasions of it with ridicule alike. Thanks to good sense, good manners, and a more enlarged knowledge, this humour is going down, and seems to be settling at present, chiefly amongst the inferior classes of people,—where it is likely to rest. As for the lowest ranks, though they are apt enough