« PreviousContinue »
THE USE OF MONEY.
“I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations." Luke xvi. 9.
1. OUR Lord, having finished the beautiful parable of the Prodigal Son, which he had particularly addressed to those who murmured at his receiving publicans and sinners, adds another relation of a different kind, addressed rather to the children of God. "He said unto his disciples," not so much to the Scribes and Pharisees, to whom he had been speaking before,-"There was a certain rich man, who had a steward, and he was accused to him of wasting his goods. And calling him, he said, Give an account of thy stewardship, for thou canst be no longer steward." (Ver. 1, 2.) After reciting the method which the bad steward used, to provide against the day of necessity, our Saviour adds, "His Lord commended the unjust steward;" namely, in this respect, that he used timely precaution; and subjoins this weighty reflection, "The children of this world are wiser in their generation, than the children of light:" (ver. 8:) Those who seek no other portion than this world, "are wiser" (not absolutely; for they are, one and all, the veriest fools, the most egregious madmen under heaven; but, "in their generation," in their own way; they are more consistent with themselves; they are truer to their acknowledged principles; they more steadily pursue their end) than the children of light;"-than they who see "the light of the glory of God, in the face of Jesus Christ." Then follow the words above aceited: "And I,"-the only-begotten Son of God, the treator, Lord, and Possessor, of heaven and earth and all that is therein; the Judge of all, to whom ye are to “give an account of your Stewardship," when ye" can
be no longer stewards;" "I say unto you,"-learn in this respect, even of the unjust steward,-" make yourselves friends," by wise, timely precaution, "of the mammon of unrighteousness." "Mammon" means riches, or money. It is termed "the mammon of unrighteousness," because of the unrighteous manner wherein it is frequently procured, and wherein even that which was honestly procured is generally employed. "Make yourselves friends" of this, by doing all possible good, particularly to the children of God; "that when ye fail," when ye return to dust, when ye have no more place under the sun,-those of them who are gone before, 66 may receive you," may welcome you, into "everlasting habitations."
2. An excellent branch of Christian wisdom is here inculcated by our Lord on all his followers, namely, The right use of Money ;-a subject largely spoken of, after their manner, by men of the world; but not sufficiently considered by those whom God hath chosen out of the world. These, generally, do not consider, as the importance of the subject requires, the use of this excellent talent. Neither do they understand how to employ it to the greatest advantage; the introduction of which into the world, is one admirable instance of the wise and gracious Providence of God. It has, indeed, been the manner of Poets, Orators, and Philosophers, in almost all ages and nations, to rail at this, as the grand corrupter of the world, the bane of virtue, the pest of human society. Hence, nothing so commonly heard, as
Ferrum, ferroque nocentius aurum :
And gold, more mischievous than keenest steel.
Hence the lamentable complaint,
Effodiuntur opes, irritamenta malorum.
Wealth is dug up, incentive to all ill.
Nay, one celebrated writer gravely exhorts his countrymen, in order to banish all vice at once, to "throw all their money into the sea:
In mare proximum,
Summi materiem mali!
But is not all this mere empty rant? Is there any solid reason therein? By no means. For, let the world be as corrupt as it will, is gold or silver to blame? "The love of money," we know, "is the root of all evil;" but not the thing itself. The fault does not lie in the money, but in them that use it. VOL. I. No. 14.
It may be used ill: and what may not? But it may likewise be used well: it is full as applicable to the best, as to the worst uses. It is of unspeakable service to all civilized nations, in all the common affairs of life: It is a most compendious instrument of transacting all manner of business, and (if we use it according to Christian wisdom) of doing all manner of good. It is true, were man in a state of innocence, or were all men "filled with the Holy Ghost," so that, like the infant church at Jerusalem, "no man counted any thing he had his own," but "distribution was made to every one as he had need," the use of it would be superseded; as we cannot conceive there is any thing of the kind among the inhabitants of heaven. But, in the present state of mankind, it is an excellent gift of God, answering the noblest ends. In the hands of his children, it is food for the hungry, drink for the thirsty, raiment for the naked: It gives to the traveller and the stranger where to lay his head. By it we may supply the place of an husband to the widow, and of a father to the fatherless. We may be a defence for the oppressed, a means of health to the sick, of case to them that are in pain; it may be as eyes to the blind, as feet to the lame; yea, a lifter up from the gates of death!
3. It is, therefore, of the highest concern, that all who fear God, know how to employ this valuable talent; that they be instructed how it may answer these glorious ends, and in the highest degree. And, perhaps, all the instructions which are necessary for this, may be reduced to three plain rules, by the exact observance whereof we may approve ourselves faithful stewards of " the mammon of unrighteousness."
1. 1. The First of these is, (he that heareth, let him understand!) Gain all you can.' Here we may speak like the children of the world: we meet them on their own ground. And it is our bounden duty to do this: we ought to gain all we can gain, without buying gold too dear, without paying more for it than it is worth. But this it is certain we ought not to do; we ought not to gain money at the expense of Life, nor (which is in effect the same thing) at the expense of our Health. Therefore, no gain whatsoever should induce us to enter into, or to continue in, any employ, which is of such a kind, or is attended with so hard or so long labour as to impair our constitution. Neither should we begin or continue in any business, which necessarily deprives us of proper seasons for food and sleep, in such a proportion as our nature requires.
Indeed there is a great difference here. Some employments are absolutely and totally unhealthy; as those which imply the dealing much with arsenic, or other equally hurtful minerals, or the breathing an air tainted with steams of melting lead, which must at length destroy the firmest constitution. Others may not be absolutely unhealthy, but only to persons of a weak constitution. Such are those which require many hours to be spent in writing; especially if a person write sitting, and lean upon his stomach, or remain long in an uneasy posture. But whatever it is which reason or experience shows to be destructive of health or strength, that we may not submit to; seeing "the life is more [valuable] than meat, and the body than raiment :" and, if we are already engaged in such an employ, we should exchange it, as soon as possible, for some, which, if it lessen our gain, will, however, not lessen our health.
2. We are, secondly, to gain all we can without hurting our Mind, any more than our body. For neither may we hurt this we must preserve, at all events, the spirit of an healthful mind. Therefore, we may not engage or continue in any sinful trade; any that is contrary to the law of God, or of our country. Such are all that necessarily imply our robbing or defrauding the King of his lawful customs. For it is, at least, as sinful to defraud the King of his right, as to rob our fellow-subjects: and the King has full as much right to his customs, as we have to our houses and apparel. Other businesses there are, which, however innocent in themselves, cannot be followed with innocence now; at least, not in England; such, for instance, as will not afford a competent maintenance, without cheating or lying, or conformity to some custom which is not consistent with a good conscience: these, likewise, are sacredly to be avoided, whatever gain they may be attended with provided we follow the custom of the trade; for, to gain money, we must not lose our souls. There are yet others which many pursue with perfect innocence, without hurting either their body or mind; and yet, perhaps, you cannot: either they may entangle you in that company, which would destroy your soul; and by repeated experiments it may appear, that you cannot separate the one from the other; or there may be an idiosyncrasy,—a peculiarity in your constitution of soul, (as there is in the bodily constitution of many,) by reason whereof that employment is deadly to you, which another may safely follow. So I am
convinced, from many experiments, I could not study, to any degree of perfection, either mathematics, arithmetic, or algebra, without being a Deist, if not an Atheist and yet others may study them all their lives, without sustaining any inconvenience. None, therefore, can here determine for another; but every man must judge for himself, and abstain from whatever he, in particular, finds to be hurtful to his soul.
3. We are, thirdly, to gain all we can, without hurting our Neighbour. But this we may not, cannot do, if we love our neighbour as ourselves. We cannot, if we love every one as ourselves, hurt any one in his substance. We cannot devour the increase of his lands, and perhaps the lands and houses themselves, by gaming, by over-grown bills, (whether on account of physic, of law, or any thing else,) or by requiring or taking such interest, as even the laws of our country forbid. Hereby all pawnbroking is excluded: seeing whatever good we might do thereby, all unprejudiced men see with grief to be abundantly over-balanced by the evil. And if it were otherwise, yet we are not allowed to "do evil that good may come." We cannot, consistent with brotherly love, sell our goods below the market-price; we cannot study to ruin our neighbour's trade, in order to advance our own; much less can we entice away, or receive, any of his servants or workmen whom he has need of. None can gain by swallowing up his neighbour's substance, without gaining the damnation of hell!
4. Neither may we gain by hurting our neighbour in his body. Therefore we may not sell any thing which tends to impair health. Such is, eminently, all that liquid fire, commonly called drams, or spirituous liquors. It is true, these may have a place in medicine; they may be of use in some bodily disorders; although there would rarely be occasion for them, were it not for the unskilfulness of the practitioner. Therefore such as prepare and sell them only for this end, may keep their conscience clear. But who are they? Who prepare them only for this end? Do you know ten such distillers in England? Then excuse these. But all who sell them in the common way, to any that will buy, are poisoners-general. They murder his Majesty's subjects by wholesale, neither does their eye pity or spare. They drive them to hell, like sheep and what is their gain? : Is it not the blood of these men ? Who then would envy their large estates and sumpA curse is in the midst of them: the curse