I. THE EAGER PURSUIT OF THE WORLD IS TO BE SHUNNED. "But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare."
1. The apostle does not condemn the possession of riches, which have, in reality, no moral character; for they are only evil where they are badly used. Neither does he speak of rich men; for he would not condemn such men as Abraham, Joseph of Arimathsea, Gains, and others; nor such rich men as use their wealth righteously as good stewards of God.
2. He condemns the haste to be rich, not only because wealth is not necessary for a life of godly contentment, but because of its scrim and moral risks.
II. THE DANCERS OF THIS EAGER PURSUIT OF WEALTH. They "fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition."
1. There is a temptation to unjust gain which leads men into the snare of the devil. There is a sacrifice of principle, the abandonment of conscientious scruples, in the hurry to accumulate wealth.
2. The temptation in its turn makes way for many lusts which are "foolish," because they are unreasonable, and exercised upon things that are quite undesirable; and which are "hurtful," because they injure both body and soul, and all a man's best interests.
3. These lusts in turn carry their own retribution. They "drown men in destruction and perdition."
(1) This is more than moral degradation.
(2) It is a wreck of the body accompanied by the ruin of the immortal soul - T.C.
But they that will be rich. I.
THE DANGERS OF THIS TEMPER OF MIND ARE OBVIOUS.
1. It leads many to deception and dishonesty.
2. To get advantage to oneself is a false aim for any Christian life. If you know how insidious these and other perils are, you may well pray: "Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil."
II. DEFENCES AGAINST SUCH EVILS are within our knowledge, and many are finding moral security through using them.
1. Watch against the tendency to extravagant living. The absence of simplicity in some households leads to more evils than you think. Be brave enough to be simple in your habits. Seek to live without ostentation.
2. On the other hand, see to it that you do not bow down to worship the golden calf. No idolatry is more prevalent than this.
3. Cultivate love for higher things than the world offers. Good will conquer evil by its own inherent force.
4. Pray for the spirit of heroism in common life.
A careful examination of our text will show that it is in no sense exclusive. Those addressed in it are not such as have riches, but such as want riches, and are determined, whether or no, to obtain them. By further consideration of the chapter you will see that the reference to such as would be rich in our text, is only made as an illustration of the great truth for which the apostle is endeavouring to find impressive utterance. He selected the simplest and commonest illustration. He might with equal truth have said: They that will be wise; they that will succeed; they that will get pleasure. I want to bring out into the light the general truth he illustrates, which appears to be this: There are certain kinds of character which are singularly exposed to the influence of temptation, and certain conditions of body and mind which seem to lay us open to the power of temptation. What Paul seems to say in our text, put into other words, is this: "Those with this moral disposition, the wish to be rich, are, in consequence of that disposition, exposed to the force of peculiar temptations"; and so he leaves us to infer that what is true of that particular state will apply to many other similar conditions. The laws which regulate our mental and spiritual natures can often be understood by the help of analogous laws which we observe to rule our bodily frames.
I. THERE ARE CERTAIN CLASSES OF CHARACTER SINGULARLY EXPOSED TO TEMPTATION.
1. Strong-willed and ambitious men. "These fall into temptation and a snare." From some points of view these strong-willed men may be regarded as the noble men of earth. They have a purpose in life, which holds in and guides, as with bit and bridle, all the forces of their being. They are the great men in our mills and warehouses; the foremost as statesmen, and in carrying out great social and national enterprises. Yet this disposition lays men open to peculiar dangers. It comes too often to be opposed to that spirit of contentment which the apostle here intimates is peculiarly suitable to "godliness," and which is the result of a daily thaukful dependence on that living God, who giveth us all things richly to enjoy. Especially do we find that this strong-will is liable to become self-will. And if you observe these strong-willed men carefully, you will find they are sadly often falling into sin in relation to their dependents and servants; becoming imperious in their manners, forgetting the ordinary charities of social intercourse, and treating those who serve them as though they were an inferior kind of creature; which is, in the sight of the one God who made us all, a sad and mournful sin against the common brotherhood. They that will be anything fall thereby "into temptation and a snare." If such is your disposition, remember, that is the side of your nature on which you are peculiarly exposed to danger. Do you then ask, May a Christian man be ambitious? May he say, I will — I will be rich; I will be great; I will be successful? — I reply, "Yes, he may; but only when he can add, 'If God sees best.'" He may be ambitious if he can keep leaning on God all the while he pursues his ambitions.
2. Now, let us consider together two opposite classes of character — intense impulsive men, and inactive, sluggish men. These also "fall into temptation and a snare." They are very liable to sins of commission. So feebly swayed by prudential considerations, they often do things which they live very greatly to regret. In connection with Christian life and work, they are exposed to the sins of discouragement and failing perseverance. They, too, often live a butterfly life, emptying the nectar from no flower on which they settle, but flying hither and thither from flower to flower, and gathering no stores of honey. They are like those streams which are only fed by mountain rains, or melting snows; they sometimes flow along in a very passion of excitement, but only for awhile; they soon subside; for weeks there is but a trick ling rill, and often the stones lie bleaching in the sun for months together. There are few things which do more injury to a Church than the ebb and flow of its hopes and efforts through the influence of its impulsive members. There are many of the opposite disposition. It is exceedingly difficult to arouse them at all. They seem to have no personal wills. They are always requiring to be urged and pressed. Such persons have their peculiar liabilities to temptation; mostly to sins of omission, the sins which come in connection with procrastination; sins arising from neglect of duty.
3. Only one other phase of character I will mention. Men who must have company. These also "fall into temptation and a snare." God has set the solitary in families. "It is not good that man should be alone." But you must have observed that this spirit possesses some men very much more than others. There are some who feel as if they could not live without company. They feel restless in their very homes if no one beside their family is found there. I do not say that, on the very face of it, this is wrong; but need I point out to you how perilous such a disposition becomes? Need I remind you how many have, through it, been led astray into drinking habits, and so ruined in heart and in home, in body and in soul?
II. THERE ARE CERTAIN TIMES IN A MAN'S LIFE WHEN TEMPTATION HAS PECULIAR FORCE. One of the wonderful discoveries of this scientific age is that of the successive changes through which our bodies pass in the course of our lives. Now, these bodily changes are very remarkably associated with our moral conditions; especially are they connected with the varying force of bodily passions. In some conditions of our frame, no temptation to the indulgence of any bodily lust would exert an effective power on us. In other conditions of our frame, the least exposure seems to involve our fall, we feel to be actually "overtaken," "overwhelmed." There are three periods of life in which, for the most part, men fall under the power of evil. Most men that fall, fall either into young men's peril, full-grown men's sins, or old men's sins. The devil never appears so much like an angel of light as when tie clothes himself to meet the rising passions of early manhood. A mourn ful proportion of our youth "fall into temptation and a snare," and are "drowned in destruction and perdition." Many a man has conquered the sins of youth, and then fallen before the sins of manhood. Sensual passion seems to acquire a new force then. The lust of gold. The thirst for position and fame urges men then. Men begin, for the most part, to be misers, or drunkards, or sensualists about this age. "A hoary head is a crown of glory if it be found in the way of righteousness." Yet old age has its special evils. Temptations to those sins which the Bible gathers up in the word "uncleanness." Often uncleanness of word and conversation; often, alas! of life and conduct also. It would appear that bodily lust and passion gathers itself in old age for one last struggle to gain the mastery.
You will notice, in the first place, the emphasis which is to be put upon the opening of this passage. "They" — not they that will be rich; because riches are ordained of God, and, rightly held and rightly used, are an instrument of most beneficent power, salutary to the possessor as well as the recipient of bounty — "They that will be rich" whether or not "fall into temptation," etc. They are willing to give the whole force and power of their being; for they will have it. They are men who, because they will be rich, cannot be conscientious; and who learn soon to say that most beggarly of all things, "A man cannot be a Christian and be in my business." How came you in it then? Yea, they have not time to cultivate refinement; they have not time for the amenities of life; they have not time for their household; they have not time for friendship; they have not time for love. And so, because they will be rich, they give up their heart also. And having given all these up, God blesses and blasts them: blesses, for they are rich, and that is what they call blessing; blasts, because it is not in the nature of God Himself, without an absolute change of the laws by which He works, to make a man happy who has, for the sake of gaining wealth, divested himself of those elements in which happiness consists. For what if the harp, in order to make itself blessed, should sell, first, its lowest base string, and then its next one, and then its next string, and then its next, and its next, until finally every string of the harp is sold? Then, when all the heaps of music are piled up before it, and it wants to play, it is mute. It has sold the very things out of which music must needs come. And men that will be rich give up sensibility, affection, faith, manhood, coining them all, emptying themselves: and when they get possession of their wealth, what is there left for them to enjoy it with? Their marrow is gone. There is no string in the harp on which joy can play. Not only will they who will be rich sacrifice everything, but they will not hesitate to do everything that is required — only, as men that will be rich require impunity, it must be safe. And so comes the long, detestable roe of mining, subterranean conduct, the secrecy of wickedness, collusions, plotting, unwhispered things, or things only whispered; that long train of webbing conduct which makes man insincere, pretentious hypocrites, whited sepulchres that are fair without, but that are inwardly full of death and dead men's bones. Men begin at first to make a little; they find how easy it is; they enlarge their ambition, and the conception dawns upon them, "Why am not I one of those who are appointed to be millionaires." In the beginning of life, a few thousands would have satisfied their ambition. Now, hundreds of thousands seem to them but a morsel. They grow more and more intense. Temptations begin to fall upon them. You can no more make money suddenly and largely, and be unharmed by it, than a man could suddenly grow from a child's stature to a man's stature without harm. There is not a gardener who does not know that a plant may grow faster than it can make wood; that the cellular tissue may grow faster than the ligneous consolidation; and that then it cannot hold itself up. And many men grow faster in riches than they can consolidate. Men who are tempted to make money suddenly, are almost invariably obliged to traverse the canons of morality. Avarice in its earliest stages is not hideous, though at the bottom it is the same serpent thing that it is at last. In the beginning it is an artist, and the man begins to think, "I will redeem my parents. Oh! I will repurchase the old homestead. Ah I will I not make my village to bud and blossom as a rose?" How many things do men paint in the sky which clouds cover and winds blow away, and which fade out with the morning that painted them. But where do you find a man who begins to make money fast, that does not begin to have narrower, baser, and avaricious feelings? Such men begin to be tempted to believe that success atones for faults. Men are tempted as soon as they get into this terrific fire of avarice, to regard morality as of little avail compared with money-making. They are dazzled. You will recollect our Saviour's words, "The deceitfulness of riches." Men are snared when they are given up to fiery avarice. They are snared because the very things by which they propose to gain success become in the long run the means of their own destruction. Cheating is another snare. No man cheats once without cheating twice. Like a gun that fires at the muzzle and kicks over at the breach, the cheat hurts the cheater as much as the man cheated. Cheating is a snare, and will always be a snare. The cheater falls into it. Conceit is another snare. Men lose wisdom just in proportion as they are conceited. It is astonishing to see how conceited men are in power. I have noticed how soon those that will be rich at any hazard, fall into drinking habits. They have come into a sphere in which they begin to fall not simply into "temptation and a snare," but into divers "lusts." Now comes extravagance. With extravagance come many more mischievous lusts. And when you see a man given to licentious indulgence, you may be sure that he will come to want a crust. Mark that man. Poverty is on his track; and he shall be surely overcome and destroyed by it. We are not to understand that money is the root of all evil; but the love of it — bestowing that which we have a right to bestow only on undying and immortal qualities upon God, and angels, and men — bestowing love, idolatrously, upon material gain. It is not said that all evil springs from this cause; but at one time and another this may become the cause of all evil. It has corrupted in its time every faculty and every relation in which a man stands connected with his fellows. It has divided families, it has parted friendships, it has corrupted purity. The love of money, often, is stronger than the love of kindred. I observe that as men come into this, one of two things takes place; they forsake the house of God, they forsake religious society, because either they have no taste for it, or because it irritates them, or annoys them, and they will not bear the restraint or else, on the other hand, they betake themselves to religion because under certain circumstances, religion is an atonement for misconduct. It is a policy of life-insurance to men that are in iniquity. It is not, "What is true?" but, "What will make me feel good while I am a wicked man?" That they seek. They err from the faith. But now comes the solemn sentence, "They pierce themselves through with many sorrows." I wish you could see what I have seen. A sword is merciful compared with "the sorrows that pierce men with pain through life. You do not dare to adopt economic courses, because men would rush in on you, and take possession of you. And so men go under false appearances. How they suffer! Ah! if a man is going to be ruined, and has the testimony of his conscience that he has been an honest man, there is some alleviation to his suffering; but frequently it is a ruin carrying with it blight. Is it not a terrible thing to see a man, in the middle of life, count death better than life? Thank God, a man does not need to be very rich to be very happy, only so that he has a treasure in himself. A loving heart; a genuine sympathy; a pure unadulterated taste; a life that is not scorched by dissipation or wasted by untimely hours; a good sound body, and a clear conscience — these things ought to make a man happy. A man may be useful and not be rich. A man may be powerful and not be rich; for ideas are more powerful than even dollars. If God calls you to a way of making wealth, make it; but remember do not love money. If God calls you to make wealth, do not make haste to be rich; be willing to wait. If God calls you into the way of wealth, do not undertake to make yourself rich by gambling.
The passion exists under various modifications. In some few of its subjects, it appears to be pure, unmixed, exclusive; terminates and is concentrated upon just the money itself — (that is, the property) the delight of being the owner of so much. "It is mine! so much I" But, in much the greater number of instances, the passion involves a regard to some relative objects. In some it is combined with vanity; a stimulating desire of the reputation of being rich; to be talked of, admired, envied. In some it has very much a reference to that authority, weight, prevailing influence, in society, which property confers; here it is ambition rather than avarice. In some the passion has its incitement in an exorbitant calculation for competence. So much, and so much, they shall want; so much more they may want, for themselves or their descendants. So much more they should like to secure as a provision against contingencies. Some are avaricious from a direct dread of poverty. Amidst their thousands, they are haunted by the idea of coming to want. And this idea of danger, from being undefined, can always hover about a man, and force its way into his thoughts. So described, this spirit, possessing and actuating such a number of our fellow mortals, bears an ill and a very foolish aspect. Let us now specify a few of its evil effects, with a note of admonition on each of them. One obvious effect is — that it tends to arrogate, and narrow, and impel the whole action and passion of the soul toward one exclusive object, and that an ignoble one. Almost every thought that starts is to go that way. Silver and gold have a magnetic power over his whole being. The natural magnet selects its subject of attraction, and will draw only that; but this magnetism draws all that is in the little world of the man's being. Or it is an effect like that of a strong, steady wind; every thing that is stirred and moveable, that rolls on the ground, or floats on water or air, is driven in that one direction. If it were a noble principle — if it Were religion, that exerted over him this monopolizing and all-impelling power, what a glorious condition! The brief admonition upon this is, that if a man feel this to be mainly the state of his mind, it is a proof and warning to him that he is wrong. Observe, again, that this passion, when thus predominant, throws a mean character into the estimate of all things, as they are all estimated according to the standard of money-value, and in reference to gain. Thus another value which they may have, and, perhaps, the chief one, is overlooked, unseen, and lost. Again, this passion places a man in a very selfish relation to other men around him. He looks at them very much with the eyes of a slave-merchant. He cannot sell them, but the constant question is, "What, and how, can I gain by them? When this principle has the full ascendency, it creates a settled hardness of character. The man lives, as to the kinder affections, in the region of perpetual ice. He is little accessible to the touches and emotions of sympathy; cannot give himself out in any generous expansion of the affections. And here observe, again, that the disposition in question operates, with a slow but continual effect, to pervert the judgment and conscience. It is constantly pressing the line that divides right from wrong; it removes it, bends it away, by slight degrees. The distinction becomes less positive to the judgment. Self-interested casuistry is put in operation. But it comes nearer to the object of Christian admonition to observe the operation of this evil principle in ways not incompatible with what may be called integrity. It withholds from all the generous and beneficent exertions and co-operations, in which pecuniary liberality is indispensable; and excites against them a spirit of criticism, exception, cavil, and detraction. "They are sanguine, extravagant." "This is not the time." "They are unnecessary, impracticable." "There are many evil consequences." It causes to forego opportunities for gaining a beneficial influence over men's minds. It puts an equivocal and inconsistent character on Providence. "As to my own interests, Providence is not at all to be trusted — I must take the whole care on myself." We only add, it fatally counteracts and blasts internal piety, in all its vital sentiments.
"The love of money," says the apostle, "is the root of all evil"; not that all evils have, but that all may have, their root therein. Take a rapid glance of a fewer these, to which it certainly gives birth. And first, what root it is "of idolatry"; or rather it is not so much a root of this, as itself this idolatry — "Covetousness, which is idolatry (Colossians 3:5
). This sounds a hard saying, but it is one which can justify itself. For what is the essence of idolatry? Is it not a serving and loving of the creature more than the Creator; a giving to the lower what was due only to the higher, what was due only to Him who is the highest of all? And as this love of money disturbs the relations of men to God, drawing off to some meaner object affections due to Him, so it mingles continually an element of strife and division in the relations of men with one another. Again, what a root of unrighteousness, of untruthful dealing between man and man, of unfair advantage taken of the simple and the ignorant, of falsehood, fraud, and chicane, does the love of money continually show itself to be! And then — for time would fail me if I dwelt at large on all the mischiefs that spring from this, which even the heathen poet could style "the accursed hunger of gold" — what treading on the poor; what thrusting of them on unwholesome and dangerous occupations, with no due precautions taken for their health and safety; what shutting up of the bowels of compassion from the Lazarus lying at the gate; what wicked thoughts finding room in men's hearts, secret wishes for the death of those who stand between them and some coveted possession, have all their origin here. Consider, then, first, how powerless riches are against some of the worst calamities of our present life; how many of the sorrows which search men out the closest, which most drink up the spirit, these are utterly impotent to avert or to cure. Ask a man in a fit of the stone, or a victim of cancer, what his riches are worth to him; why, if he had the wealth of the Indies ten times told, he would exchange it all for ease of body, and a little remission of anguish. But why speak of bodily anguish? There is an anguish yet harder to bear, the anguish of the man whom the arrows of the Almighty, for they are His arrows, have pierced; who has learned what sin is, but has stopped short with the experience of the Psalmist, "Day and night Thy hand is heavy upon me; my moisture is like the drought in summer" (Psalm 32:4
), and never learned that there is also an atonement. What profits it such a one that all the world is for him, so long as he feels and knows that God is against him? Then, too, how often we see a man comparatively desolate in the midst of the largest worldly abundance. These considerations may do something; but take now another and a more effectual remedy against this sin. Let a greater love expel a less, a nobler affection supersede a meaner. Consider often the great things for which you were made, the unsearchable riches of which you have been made partakers in Christ; for coveteousness, the desire of having, and of having ever more and more, sin as it is, is yet the degeneration of something which is not a sin. Man was made for the infinite; with infinite longings, infinite cravings and desires. But finally, the habit of largely and liberally setting apart from our income to the service of God and the necessities of our poorer brethren is a great remedy against covetousness.
: — The love of money is a root of every evil, and oppression is one of its many bitter fruits. The subject of this discourse is the multiform oppression of the poor, that results from a too eager pursuit of wealth. In ruder times, the rich often oppressed the poor in a very direct manner. When might took the place of right, they who had the power did not always take the trouble of covering their rapacity under legal forms. They kept back the labourer's hire, or seized his patrimonial field, or enslaved his person, according to the measure of impunity which their circumstances permitted them to enjoy. In this country, and in the present day, such vulgar robbery cannot be perpetrated. Love of money, a spring in the heart, when one channel of issue is blocked up, will force its way by another. Accordingly, this passion as certainly, and perhaps we should say as extensively, oppresses the poor now, as in ruder nations at earlier times. The same native evil is compelled to adopt more refined modes of action: but the oppression may be as galling to the poor and as displeasing to God although it keep strictly within the letter of human law. I have no doubt the law of Christ is violated amongst us — thoughtlessly, in ignorance, and in company with a multitude, it may be — but still sinfully violated, to a most alarming extent, in connection with the money-making efforts of this mercantile community. You have seen a street thronged from side to side with human beings, men, women, and children, all moving in one direction. The mass moves like a river. If every one keep his own place and glide along with the current, the motion will be gentle and harmless. But two or three strong men in the midst of that crowd conceive a desire to proceed at a much quicker rate than their neighbours. Yielding to that impulse, they bound forward with might and main. Observe the effect of their effort. They press on the persons that are next them. If these be strong men too, the only effect will be to push them faster forward, and the greater pressure may be only a pleasant excitement. But the pressure extends on either side, and is felt even to the outer edge of the crowd. Wherever there is a woman, a child, or a cripple, the feeble goes to the wall. The person originating the pressure may not be in contact with that sickly passenger — there may be many persons between them; but the pressure goes through all the intermediate links, not hurting any till it come to one who is unable to bear it, and hurting the helpless. In such a crowd you may sometimes see the selfishness of human nature in all is undisguised odiousness. The man seeks his own advantage, heedless of the injury that his effort may inflict on others. He is not guilty of a direct deed of injustice. He would not lift his hand to strike the feeble; he would not illegally wrest away his property. He endeavours to act justly: nay, he sometimes opens his hand in charity to the distressed. But really, though indirectly, he is an oppressor. He wriggles forward, although his movements necessarily hurt the poor. He looks to his own things; and disregards the things of others. He breaks the law of Christ. The oppressions which abound in our day, as the fruits of covetousness, are chiefly of this nature. They are by no means so gross as the tyranny which the feudal lords of the Middle Ages exercised on their serfs; but they spring from the same source, and are essentially of the same character in the estimation of the Judge. I shall now enumerate and briefly illustrate some of the forms which oppression assumes in modern society.
1. The reduction of wages below the point at which a labouring man can support his family, or a woman support herself.
2. The labour of children is another evil more or less remotely an effect of the haste to be rich.
3. Sabbath labour is one of the oppressions that the prevalence of the money-interest inflicts upon mankind. It is an evil that cries loud to the Lord of Hosts.
4. Yet another oppression let me name — the poor are in a great measure cooped up in crowded lanes, and miserable houses. This is one bitter fruit of a general selfishness. Conceive the force operating now within this city in the direction of money-making. If all the energies that are expended in that direction were added, how vast would the sum of them be! I know not a speculation more interesting than this. It would represent a power which, if collected and united, and turned upon the city's filth, and poverty, and ignorance, would sweep them away, as the stream of a mighty river rolling down our streets would carry off the mire that accumulated on their surface.
I. THE PATH BY WHICH COVETOUSNESS LEADS TO DISHONESTY is marked off step by step by the apostle in the text.
1. They "wilt be rich" (ver. 9). A class of persons are here characterized. They are described by the leading aim of their lives. It is not said what their religious profession was. Perhaps their belief was orthodox, and their zeal warm. All that we learn about them is, that in God's sight money was their "chief end." This is not a right — not a safe aim for an immortal being.
2. They "fall into temptation." The word conveys the idea of an unexpected fall — a stumble into a pit which you did not expect to be there. If the real movement of a man's life be toward money, while he diligently keeps his face turned round to maintain the appearance of being a Christian, he will certainly fall into every pit that lies in his way. The motion, too, is uneasy. Those who set out in pursuit of riches, making no other profession, get on more smoothly.
3. They fall into temptation. A man does not all at once go into vicious practices. He glides, before he is aware, into a position where he is exposed to the pressure of a strong temptation. Those who have rightly measured their own strength will avoid persons and places that put it to a severe test. He that trusteth to his own heart is a fool.
4. A snare marks another stage of this downward progress. The man who has thoughtlessly and in foolhardiness placed himself in the way of temptation, is soon surrounded — the meshes of a net compass him about. He got easily in, but he finds it impossible to get out again. He has recourse to a false entry, a forgery, or some other of the thousand tricks that the wit of hard-pressed men has invented, and the complicated forms of business has served to conceal. Behold the desperate, helpless fluttering of the bird in the snare of the fowler — dashing itself on the sides of an iron cage!
5. The next step is into "many foolish and hurtful lusts." These raging lusts are, as it were, watching, ready to fasten on their victim as soon as they see him in the toils of the net. You may have observed that a man whose pecuniary affairs are in a desperate position is peculiarly liable to fall into meaner vices. How frequently do the agonies and embarrassments that precede a shameful disclosure precipitate a man into the abyss of secret drunkenness! These lusts that covetousness leads to are "foolish and hurtful"; they pretend to cure, but they only deepen the wound. They apply a balsam that soothes the sore for a moment, but fixes disease more firmly in the flesh. I shall not trace this progress farther.
II. THE DISHONESTY TO WHICH COVETOUSNESS LEADS. "Flee these things, but follow after righteousness." The vices that the love of money lands in are not named at length. In general, they are said to be foolish and hurtful. But the opposite graces are individually specified. The first on the list is righteousness. Of course, the opposite vice to which covetousness tends, and against which his warning is directed, is injustice. Righteousness is required in all our transactions — righteousness, not according to the conventional rules of society, which shift like the sand, but according to the immutable standard of the Divine law. The righteous Lord loveth righteousness. How many are at this day put to shame for detected dishonesty, who once would have resented the supposition of it as keenly and sincerely as you! I do not know your hearts: and what is more, you do not know them yourselves. One who does know them, however, testifies that they are deceitful above all things. Some forms of dishonesty, such as a false balance, that are prominently condemned in Scripture, we shall pass over without particular notice, because in modern society, though they still exist, they have been comparatively cast into the shade by other inventions. Dishonesty is obliged to hide itself now under more elaborate devices. I mean the adulteration of goods offered for sale by the mixture of other ingredients. A false representation to a customer as to the original cost of your wares, or the rate of your profit, is manifestly dishonest. Above all things, you who have others, especially young persons, employed in selling your goods, charge them to be true and honest. I speak now not for the purchasers, but for the salesmen. Breach of trust is a form of dishonesty alarmingly frequent in our day. Righteousness is one and unchangeable. It compasses about your mighty trafficking, and lays bonds on it, as completely and as easily as the smallest bargainings between a huckster and a peasant at the wayside: even as the same law with equal ease retains a little water in a cup, and the ocean's wave within the ocean's bed.
Now, why should "haste" be condemned? for this is the voice of the Old Testament, not once or twice, but many times, either in direct terms or their equivalents. Why should haste to be rich be inveighed against, if riches are a great blessing? In the first place, riches may either be produced or collected. For the most part, the riches that bless men are the riches that are either produced, or are so improved by methods of ingenuity and industry that their service is much greater than it would be in the form of raw material. The foundation of all prosperity is production. The stone is good for nothing until it has been shaped. Now, the man that produces wealth is the foundation man. But that is a slow work. It is impossible to hasten nature very much. A man that could sow his wheat every night, and reap in the morning, would consider himself very fortunate and very happy. A man that, owning an iron mine, could draw metal as he did water from a fountain, and ship it abroad, would consider himself very fortunate. But a man can do neither. Man is the servant of the seasons. He sows in the autumn or spring. With long patience he waits, as James says, like the husbandman for the harvest; and little by little, and year by year, the man attains larger and larger means, greater competency, and, by and by, to riches; and any man that undertakes to run ahead of processes of this kind in producing runs against natural law. Natural, do we say? It is moral law, just as much as any other law. It is the law of the production of wealth, that a man should render an equivalent for every stage of value. Sudden wealth is not hasty wealth, necessarily; I am speaking of the production and development of riches. The production of wealth connects itself with benevolence, with sympathy. A man that manufactures agricultural implements receives a certain reward for that; but he is a benefactor; he abbreviates labour everywhere. What is left at the end of every year, that which was not necessary to maintain the conditions of life, is what we may call the permanent wealth of a man. It is a slow accumulation, taking the world at large. Collectors of wealth that other men have produced may get rich speedily and safely; but producers of wealth, by the very Divine law, must go patiently, and continue through long times. So he that makes haste to get rich is liable to fall into the violation of this fundamental law of equivalents — that is, into fraudulent ways. But every man that is developing or producing riches is, at the same time, educating himself in morals, or should be; for the fundamental conditions of increase lie in the man himself. So, the development of wealth requires time, not only from the nature of production, but also because God designed it to be an education in all the minor moral qualities — as, for example, in moderation, in industry, in temperance, in loyalty, in fidelity, in respect for other's rights that co-operate with men; for in the immense complication of riches men are in partnership with men they never saw. Haste to be rich is also a great danger to men, because it tempts them to employ illegitimate means — sleights, crafts, disingenuous ways, greed, violations of honesty. "Men have been fools to go through such long processes; they have taken these circuitous routes, and have had a superstitious observance of moralities; if they had the courage to go cross-lots they could come to the same results in less than half the time"; and so they jump the boundary line, and run across the great roads that have been unfolded and developed by experience — and come to destruction. They think they are weaving cordage; but they are only running spider's webs up and down their ship; and the first storm will break and destroy the whole of them. A man, therefore, that is making haste to be rich is tempted to ostentation; for riches quickly earned are like new wine, which is strong. But ostentation is expensive, and there is many a man that is tempted to ostentation by the sudden increment of his riches, whether it be in houses, in lands, in equipage, in luxurious furnishings, in a sumptuous table, in yachts, in horses and hounds, in coaches, or what not. Men having sudden wealth are apt to become cruel through indifference to ether men's rights. There is such a thing as a society-robber. Then, too, anxiety, haste, is apt to change into idolatry; and the very ends which men have in life are neglected, and the man's wealth becomes as an idol which he worships.
In Washington, U.S., recently, it was found that some lady clerks engaged in sorting bank bills in the Treasury department found sores breaking out on their face and hands, and were obliged to leave. This led to an inquiry, when it was found that the cause was the arsenic employed in the manufacture of the paper. "I have known," says a journalist, "a half-dozen cases where ladies have been compelled to resign their positions. There are three who were here six years before they were afflicted with sores. About three months ago they were so visited by them that they had to quit work. They have been away ever since, and the physician's certificate in each case says that their blood is poisoned with arsenic." This fact may be regarded as an illustration of the unnoticed peril sometimes lurking in handling wealth.
At Long Branch, some visitors, strolling on the beach, observed a large fish hawk swoop down into the waters of the bay and strike its talons into a huge plaice. The bird rose with its prey, but its weight proved too great and dragged him down. Several times the bird struggled to ascend, but failed, and, exhausted, it finally fell into the water still clinging to its captive. Its talons were so embedded in the fish that it could not release them, and it was drowned. The "fish died of its wounds, and both were washed ashore, where with difficulty they were separated. The death of the hawk in this effort to carry off its prize is typical of a disaster very common in life. Covetousness and avarice only too often prompt men to struggle for a great financial prize, and in the struggle they sacrifice honour, integrity, and sometimes even life, natural and eternal.
TopicsDamaging, Danger, Death, Desire, Desires, Destruction, Determined, Drown, Fall, Falling, Foolish, Harmful, Hurtful, Lusts, Mankind, Minded, Net, Overtaken, Perdition, Pernicious, Plunge, Rich, Ruin, Senseless, Sink, Snare, Temptation, Trap, Unwise, Wealth, Wishing
Outline1. Of the duty of servants.3. Not to have fellowship with newfangled teachers.6. Godliness is great gain;10. and love of money the root of all evil.11. What Timothy is to flee, and what to follow.17. and whereof to admonish the rich.20. To keep the purity of true doctrine, and to avoid godless ideas.
Dictionary of Bible Themes1 Timothy 6:9
5414 money, stewardship
8757 folly, effects of
1 Timothy 6:3-10
5871 greed, response to
1 Timothy 6:6-10
4966 present, the
5929 resentment, against people
1 Timothy 6:7-10
1 Timothy 6:8-10
8810 riches, dangers
1 Timothy 6:9-10
6135 coveting, and sin
6250 temptation, sources
6702 peace, destruction
8302 love, abuse of
8780 materialism, and sin
LibraryThe Conduct that Secures the Real Life
'Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.'--1 TIM. vi. 19. In the first flush of the sense of brotherhood, the Church of Jerusalem tried the experiment of having all things in common. It was not a success, it was soon abandoned, it never spread. In the later history of the Church, and especially in these last Pauline letters, we see clearly that distinctions of pecuniary position were very definitely marked amongst the …
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture
One Witness, Many Confessors
'Thou . . . hast professed a good profession before many witnesses. 13. I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession, 14. That thou keep this commandment. . . .'--1 TIM. vi. 12-14. You will observe that 'a good confession,' or rather 'the good confession,' is said here to have been made both by Timothy and by Christ. But you will observe also that whilst the subject-matter is the same, the action …
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture
August the Thirty-First the Real Gains and Losses
"Godliness with contentment is great gain." --1 TIMOTHY vi. 6-16. And so I must go into my heart if I would make a true estimate of my gains and losses. The calculation is not to be made in my bank-books, or as I stride over my broad acres, or inspect my well-filled barns. These are the mere outsides of things, and do not enter into the real balance-sheet of my life. We can no more estimate the success of a life by methods like these than we can adjudge an oil-painting by the sense of smell. What …
John Henry Jowett—My Daily Meditation for the Circling Year
"We brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content."--1 Tim. vi. 7, 8. Every age has its own special sins and temptations. Impatience with their lot, murmuring, grudging, unthankfulness, discontent, are sins common to men at all times, but I suppose one of those sins which belongs to our age more than to another, is desire of a greater portion of worldly goods than God has given us,--ambition and covetousness …
John Henry Newman—Parochial and Plain Sermons, Vol. VII
Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life.' (1 Timothy vi. 12.) My object, in announcing 'Fighting Holiness' as my subject, is to make it quite clear that a Full Salvation does not mean a hot-house emotionalism or glass-case sanctity, but a vigorous, daring, aggressive religion, on the lines of the Saviour's words, 'The Kingdom of Heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force'. If this text, 'Fight the good fight of faith', means anything at all, it means you must …
T. H. Howard—Standards of Life and Service
A Plain Description of the Essence and Attributes of God, Out of the Holy Scripture, So Far as Every Christian must Competently Know, and Necessarily Believe, that Will be Saves.
Although no creature can define what God is, because he is incomprehensible (Psal. cxliii. 3) and dwelling in inaccessible light (1 Tim. vi. 16); yet it has pleased his majesty to reveal himself to us in his word, so far as our weak capacity can best conceive him. Thus: God is that one spiritual and infinitely perfect essence, whose being is of himself eternally (Deut. i. 4; iv. 35; xxxii. 39; vi. 4; Isa. xlv. 5-8; 1 Cor. viii. 4; Eph. iv. 5, 6; 1 Tim. ii. 5; John iv. 24; 2 Cor. iii. 17; 1 Kings …
Lewis Bayly—The Practice of Piety
Final Settlement of the Church by St. John
A.D. 67-100 It seems probable that most of the Apostles had entered into rest before the Destruction of Jerusalem, A.D. 70, and that St. John the Divine was the only one of the Apostolic body who long survived that event. [Sidenote: St. Peter began to found the Church, St. John completed its foundation.] To St. Peter, one of the "pillars" of the Church, it had been given to begin the great work of laying the foundation of the Mystical Temple of God; to St. John, the other of the two, was allotted …
John Henry Blunt—A Key to the Knowledge of Church History
Spoken in Antioch in the Old Church, as it was Called...
Spoken in Antioch in the Old Church, as it was called, while he was a presbyter, on the subject of the calamity that had befallen the city in consequence of the tumult connected with the overthrow of the Statues of the Emperor Theodosius, the Great and Pious. And on the saying of the Apostle, "Charge them that are rich that they be not high-minded," 1 Timothy vi. 17. And against covetousness. 1. What shall I say, or what shall I speak of? The present season is one for tears, and not for words; for …
St. Chrysostom—On the Priesthood
Exposition of St. Paul's Words. --1 Tim. vi. 20.
Exposition of St. Paul's Words.--1 Tim. vi. 20. [51.] Such being the case, when I think over these things, and revolve them in my mind again and again, I cannot sufficiently wonder at the madness of certain men, at the impiety of their blinded understanding, at their lust of error, such that, not content with the rule of faith delivered once for all, and received from the times of old, they are every day seeking one novelty after another, and are constantly longing to add, change, take away, in religion, …
Vincent of Lérins—The COMMONITORY OF Vincent of Lérins
A More Particular Exposition of 1 Tim. ...
A more particular Exposition of 1 Tim. vi. 20. [53.] But it is worth while to expound the whole of that passage of the apostle more fully, "O Timothy, keep the deposit, avoiding profane novelties of words." "O!" The exclamation implies fore-knowledge as well as charity. For he mourned in anticipation over the errors which he foresaw. Who is the Timothy of to-day, but either generally the Universal Church, or in particular, the whole body of The Prelacy, whom it behoves either themselves to possess …
Vincent of Lérins—The COMMONITORY OF Vincent of Lérins
Continuation of the Exposition of 1 Tim. ...
Continuation of the Exposition of 1 Tim. vi. 20. [60.] But let us return to the apostle. "O Timothy," he says, "Guard the deposit, shunning profane novelties of words." "Shun them as you would a viper, as you would a scorpion, as you would a basilisk, lest they smite you not only with their touch, but even with their eyes and breath." What is "to shun"? Not even to eat  with a person of this sort. What is "shun"? "If anyone," says St. John, "come to you and bring not this doctrine. What doctrine? …
Vincent of Lérins—The COMMONITORY OF Vincent of Lérins
The Light of Glory.
Having, in the foregoing chapters, endeavored to form an idea of heaven's happiness, we must now endeavor to understand something of the different degrees in which each one of the blessed enjoys that unspeakable beatitude. It is an article of faith that every one in heaven, except baptized infants, is rewarded according to his own personal merits, acquired in this life by the assistance of God's grace. Baptized children, who die before they reach the age of discretion, are admitted into heaven, in …
F. J. Boudreaux—The Happiness of Heaven
Wherefore Even they which Having Relinquished or Distributed their Former...
33. Wherefore even they which having relinquished or distributed their former, whether ample or in any sort opulent, means, have chosen with pious and wholesome humility to be numbered among the poor of Christ; if they be so strong in body and free from ecclesiastical occupations, (albeit, bringing as they do so great a proof of their purpose, and conferring from their former havings, either very much, or not a little, upon the indigence of the same society, the common fund itself and brotherly charity …
St. Augustine—Of the Work of Monks.
How Servants and Masters are to be Admonished.
(Admonition 6). Differently to be admonished are servants and masters. Servants, to wit, that they ever keep in view the humility of their condition; but masters, that they lose not recollection of their nature, in which they are constituted on an equality with servants. Servants are to be admonished that they despise not their masters, lest they offend God, if by behaving themselves proudly they gainsay His ordinance: masters, too, are to be admonished, that they are proud against God with respect …
Leo the Great—Writings of Leo the Great
How the Poor and the Rich Should be Admonished.
(Admonition 3.) Differently to be admonished are the poor and the rich: for to the former we ought to offer the solace of comfort against tribulation, but in the latter to induce fear as against elation. For to the poor one it is said by the Lord through the prophet, Fear not, for thou shalt not be confounded (Isai. liv. 4). And not long after, soothing her, He says, O thou poor little one, tossed with tempest (Ibid. 11). And again He comforts her, saying, I have chosen thee in the furnace of …
Leo the Great—Writings of Leo the Great
Conflict and Comfort.
"For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh; that their hearts may be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgment of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ."--COL. ii. 1, 2. Although he was in prison the Apostle was constantly at work for his Master, and not least of all at the work of prayer. If ever the words …
W. H. Griffith Thomas—The Prayers of St. Paul
"But Seek Ye First the Kingdom of God," &C.
Matt. vi. 33.--"But seek ye first the kingdom of God," &c. O "seekest thou great things for thyself," says God to Baruch, (Jer. xlv. 5) "seek them not." How then doth he command us in the text to seek a kingdom? Is not this a great thing? Certainly it is greater than those great things he would not have Baruch to seek after, and yet he charges us to seek after it. In every kind of creatures there is some difference, some greater, some lesser, some higher, some lower; so there are some men far above …
Hugh Binning—The Works of the Rev. Hugh Binning
Letter Xlvii to the Brother of William, a Monk of Clairvaux.
To the Brother of William, a Monk of Clairvaux.  Bernard, after having made a striking commendation of religious poverty, reproaches in him an affection too great for worldly things, to the detriment of the poor and of his own soul, so that he preferred to yield them up only to death, rather than for the love of Christ. 1. Although you are unknown to me by face, and although distant from me in body, yet you are my friend, and this friendship between us makes you to be present and familiar to …
Saint Bernard of Clairvaux—Some Letters of Saint Bernard, Abbot of Clairvaux
A Few Sighs from Hell;
or, The Groans of the Damned Soul: or, An Exposition of those Words in the Sixteenth of Luke, Concerning the Rich Man and the Beggar WHEREIN IS DISCOVERED THE LAMENTABLE STATE OF THE DAMNED; THEIR CRIES, THEIR DESIRES IN THEIR DISTRESSES, WITH THE DETERMINATION OF GOD UPON THEM. A GOOD WARNING WORD TO SINNERS, BOTH OLD AND YOUNG, TO TAKE INTO CONSIDERATION BETIMES, AND TO SEEK, BY FAITH IN JESUS CHRIST, TO AVOID, LEST THEY COME INTO THE SAME PLACE OF TORMENT. Also, a Brief Discourse touching the …
John Bunyan—The Works of John Bunyan Volumes 1-3
"For to be Carnally Minded is Death; but to be Spiritually Minded is Life and Peace. "
Rom. viii. 6.--"For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace." It is true, this time is short, and so short that scarce can similitudes or comparisons be had to shadow it out unto us. It is a dream, a moment, a vapour, a flood, a flower, and whatsoever can be more fading or perishing; and therefore it is not in itself very considerable, yet in another respect it is of all things the most precious, and worthy of the deepest attention and most serious consideration; …
Hugh Binning—The Works of the Rev. Hugh Binning
The Age of the Apostles (Ad 33-100)
The beginning of the Christian Church is reckoned from the great day on which the Holy Ghost came down, according as our Lord had promised to His Apostles. At that time, "Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven," were gathered together at Jerusalem, to keep the Feast of Pentecost (or Feast of Weeks), which was one of the three holy seasons at which God required His people to appear before Him in the place which He had chosen (Deuteronomy xvi. 16). Many of these devout men there converted …
J. C. Roberston—Sketches of Church History, from AD 33 to the Reformation
"But we are all as an Unclean Thing, and all Our Righteousnesses are as Filthy Rags,"
Isaiah lxiv 6, 7.--"But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags," &c. This people's condition agreeth well with ours, though the Lord's dealing be very different. The confessory part of this prayer belongeth to us now; and strange it is, that there is such odds of the Lord's dispensations, when there is no difference in our conditions; always we know not how soon the complaint may be ours also. This prayer was prayed long before the judgment and captivity came …
Hugh Binning—The Works of the Rev. Hugh Binning
The Unchangeableness of God
The next attribute is God's unchangeableness. I am Jehovah, I change not.' Mal 3:3. I. God is unchangeable in his nature. II. In his decree. I. Unchangeable in his nature. 1. There is no eclipse of his brightness. 2. No period put to his being.  No eclipse of his brightness. His essence shines with a fixed lustre. With whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.' James 1:17. Thou art the same.' Psa 102:27. All created things are full of vicissitudes. Princes and emperors are subject to …
Thomas Watson—A Body of Divinity
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