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splendour among the fashionables of the land. What, then, is the cause ? No doubt all is traceable to human depravity. No explanation is satisfactory which does not take this into account. But why does depravity assume the particular aspect which it presents—that of worldly show, “ the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life"? There are other ways in which depravity might have shown itself. I apprehend the true reason is to be found in the false standard of respectability and importance which has been got up in society, and which rules society.
Men are led from childhood to look upon wealth, and the worldly show and greatness which it purchases, as the chief object of life, as the grand end of man ; they daily see men judged of in society, raised or lowered, not so much by talent and acquirement, character and usefulness, as by the accident of possessing or not possessing wealth. They see men flattered and caressed simply because they have money; and others, again, though far superior, disparaged and despised, merely because they are poor. With the exception of comparatively a few persons of strong religious principle, or native manliness and vigorous moral sentiment, the public is wont to apply the standard of wealth as the test of respectability.
The poor are to blame for the false judgment as well as the rich. They defer to, and admire, and covet, and worship mere money, though they may sometimes speak against the folly. They ape the wealthy in their dress, and spirit, and tone, and envy them. The result of this course is, they confirm the false rule, and help to mislead the opulent. The poor contribute to give them a higher sense of their importance than they would otherwise have had. The consequence is, that men, seeing the main passport to public consideration to consist in money, and moreover that this is the easiest passport, demanding no mental toil or self-denial, they yield to temptation, and violate the laws of morality, that they may reach the much-coveted and worshipped wealth, with all its accompaniments. Hence bank robbery after bank robbery, and railway robbery after railway robbery, and many other frauds, even by officials sworn to fidelity. Hence the ready contracting of debts without any reasonable prospect of being able to pay them, and the reckless risking of the property of others at the prompting of personal aggrandizement.
Though men be naturally ungodly—and one may be sure that sin will ever and anon manifest itself—yet, had it not been for the false social standard of the
there is no reason to believe it would have shown itself in this very obnoxious and disgraceful form. Our forefathers, though not better in the sight of God than their posterity, did not offend in this way, at least not to the same extent. They had false standards, but these were more allied to the generous than is the modern worship of money. Men took more moderate views of gain, and did not encourage, in young and old, such a race for riches.
Society having set up the standard of gold above all other standards has met with the retribution which, under a righteous moral government, might have been expected. Indeed, the retribution reminds us of the sin.
Nothing has created more surprise in connection with recent frauds and robberies than that the perpetrators should have gone on so long undetected, and that there should have been so much facility, such easy trusting, such want of discernment on the part of those who should have been watchful. I do not know whether the non-detection is to be ascribed to the magnitude and rapidity of the style in which business is conducted in modern times, or whether it is traceable to men being so intent on the prosecution of their own gain, that they have no time to watch over the interests of others, though paid for doing so. If these things prove causes of overreaching, they furnish illustrations of retribution; they exemplify the love of gain defeating itself. If society generally have directly or indirectly contributed to the setting up of a false standard of social belief and practice in regard to money, it is really but righteous that all should suffer in consequence. In point of fact, all the members of society do suffer. Some may be greater sufferers than others; those immediately plundered than the simple on-lookers; but all suffer--the poor in being dispised because they are poor, and other classes in other ways. They suffer in their moral sensibilities through the painful exhibition of an unprecedented succession of mercantile iniquities. They suffer through the shaking of public confidence in the investment of money; the very innocent, too, are suspected in all departments of business; and all share in the stain of national character, and the taunt and reproach of envious foreigners. Moreover, who shall say that the moral Governor of the nations does not give up the worshippers of wealth to judicial blindness, so that they are robbed by confiding in those who are unworthy of their confidence ?
Realizing the views suggested, should not all be warned against social dishonesty ? Professed Christians need such warning as well as others. Though true Christians will not be wilfully nor perseveringly dishonest, yet they may be tempted by this sin as well as by others, and all the more if false views of the importance of inoney penetrate from the world into the church. From the partiality shown to the gold-ringed man as against the poor man, it would seem that erroneous views to some extent prevailed even under the eyes of the apostles, and they are not likely to be lighter now that society professes the christian name, and is at the same time an idolizer of wealth.
Let all, and especially the young beginning business, be on their guard against the .vain excuses of dishonesty in the remotest degree.
Is it said, “The money abstracted is only a temporary accommodation. It will be replaced before it is needed or can be asked for” ? But, young man ! it is not yours to take away for a moment. It is a breach of trust to do so. Unforeseen circumstances may arise, and you will be unable to return it in time. Multitudes have been caught in this snare. The God of righteousness may even work against you to expose your dishonesty. The circumstance of your not having money of your own at command for the object contemplated should be a sufficient intimation of what is the will of Providence in the matter. The effort to meet emergencies by temporary accommodation has led to the most atrocious crimesto murder and suicide. Do others say,
“ It is only the money of rich men, of banks, and railways, and large trading establishments, and the government, which is appropriated, and that to a small extent; the sum is nothing to them, and it is much to us”? That
be true, but it is no apology for theft. The highway robber could use the same plea, and has often done so. The property of the wealthy is as sacred as the property of the poor. The command of the decalogue is not simply “Thou shalt not steal the property of the rich,” but “Thou shalt not covet his riches.”
What is the principle involved in such a plea but the principle of venial and mortal sin ?-a principle entirely at variance with the word of God, which represents all sin as mortal, as deserving death—a principle which saps the foundations of social morals. Besides, though companies be large, their proprietors are generally many; and though the loss be small to some, it is serious to others. It must fall somewhere.
Let all be strictly honest in their dealings, even in the least matters. Let it be remembered that justice between man and man is a first duty; that it lies at the foundation of the social edifice; that it is essential to abiding prosperity, personal and public; that even intelligent heathen have seen and acknowledged its claims; that the religion of the Gentile is eminently
a religion of rectitude, as the atonement of the Son of God impressively testifies ; that the divine displeasure burns against everything which savours of dishonesty; that it is fatal to christian character and profession; while fidelity in the least thing from right motives is honouring to the gospel, and shall not
go without an appropriate reward.
In order to strict and universal honesty, let all be on their guard against the undue, the unscriptural love of the world. It is this love which is a powerful perverter from honesty. If it had not been for its snares, very different would have been the character, the condition, the prospects of many at this hour. Let all, and particularly the young entering on the business of life, take moderate views of the world, and not be afraid of its taunts, or attracted by its gains and pleasures. Let them begin moderately and without show, taking great care to keep their expenditure always well within their means. Let them beware of exaggerated expectations from the world. Let them consider it is not the chief end of man, but a very subordinate one; that it is evanescent at the longest; that it is only “ the man who doeth the will of God who abideth for ever;" that it is not only short lived, but, put out of its proper place, is eminently dangerous; that its friendship is enmity with God, and that, where most successful, it only more securely arms the soul against the message of salvation and its means.
The true remedy for the undue love of the world is to have bright and assured hopes of the world to come. Men may profess Christianity, and still be under the dominion of the world, and practise dishonesty to obtain its gains. But theirs is not a true scriptural Christianity, realizing the glory which is destined to be revealed. Such a Christianity would take the glory out of this world, and reduce it to its humble dimensions. Let it be the concern of all to share more and more in this Christianity—to have an assured hold by faith of the Son of God, the Lord of glory. Let them, amid the temptations of the world and their own conscious weakness, lean on the Spirit of strength. Then shall be able to see all other things in their proper place and importance; and from whatever point of view they start, whether of business, or science, or art, they shall be brought back to the gospel of Christ, and be shut up to its faith, and happiness, and hopes, as suprenie. J. G. L.
J. F. SHAW, BOOKSELLER, SOUTHAMPTON ROW, W. C., AND
PATERNOSTER ROW, E.C., LONDON.
WILLIAM GORDON, M D., F.L.S., was born on the 2nd of August, 1801, in the large ancient mansion of Fountains' Hall, near Ripon. He was educated at the grammar school of that city, where he made great proficiency in his classical studies, and where the amiability of his disposition, combined with his extraordinary mental endowments and his unwearied diligence, commanded the love and respect of his schoolfellows. He was articled, on leaving school, to a general practitioner in Otley, where his blameless conduct and his kind interest in the sorrows of those with whom his professional engagements brought him into contact, won for him universal esteem.
After studying in London, he went to Edinburgh, where he continued three years. At the close of that time, bappening to be on a visit to Hull, a medical friend strongly advised him to delay taking his degree, and to engage for a few years as a general practitioner. Acting on this suggestion, he took up his abode at Welton, nine miles from Hull, where he soon secured for himself a large circle of friends and a lucrative practice. In addition to the duties of his profession, he prosrcuted a course of varied and systematic study; and besides publishing two works, one on the Practice of Surgery, and another on the Eye, he contributed to some of the principal medical journals of the day.
In 1841, he took his degree of M.D. with great honour, and settled as a physician in Hull. He devoted himself with much ardour to the duties of his profession, but at the same time continued his medical and general studies with unabated zeal. He soon became known as a public man; was elected town-councillor for the borough; and throw himself most energetically into those movements which especially contemplated the elevation of the working classes. During successive years he delivered courses of lectures, in which he laboured most assiduously to impart to them valuable scientific and general knowledge. “He was, in a word, the poor man's friend.' Many hours were devoted every day to prescribing gratuitously for crowds of the indigent who frequented his house, all receiving from him the most kind and patient attention. Numerous were the cases in which he not only gave medical advice, but relieved the pecuniary wants of his poor patients; and meals were constantly provided in his kitchen to be sent to the abodes of want and disease. To how great a degree he gained the affection of the poor was evident by the universal anxiety