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gifts must have as natural a tendency to provoke the giver to withdraw it from the possessor, as that of another. But though the gift of wealth in itself is distinct from that of life, the abuse of the former gift cannot be distinguished from the abuse of the latter. The abuse of wealth necessarily implies one sort at least of the abuse of life; viz. that which perverts a gift, designed for so much more noble and generous purposes, to self-indulgence, luxury, riot, and interperance. In the deliberate abuse of the gift of wealth, then, there is actually an abuse of another and a nobler gift; that is, a double abuse of two of the gifts of God is committed at the same time; both of an aggravated kind—and both consequently entitled to resentment; and either of them liable to be resented in kind, by taking away the gift which is the subject of the abuse.

Now to take away the gift of life, as a consequence of such an abuse, would necessarily involve the taking away the gift of wealth; as in fact of every other good, the enjoyment of which presupposes the continued possession of life : but to take away the gift of wealth would not necessarily entail the resumption of the gift of life. There are two modes then, of resenting the abuse of wealth, and the abuse of life which is involved therein; either by taking away the gift of wealth, but prolonging the gift of life, or by taking away the gift of life, and so resuming that of wealth. These two methods may be proper for different emergencies; but they cannot both suit to the same case. It is not the rule of the divine equity towards even the criminal part of its creatures, not to treat them with every forbearance and lenity for a time, which the nature of the case will admit; nor to visit at once, with the utmost degree of severity, as if irreclaimable and not to be amended, an offender against the divine laws, whom a less degree of chastisement, like medicine, however unpalatable, administered in due proportions, might possibly have brought to repentance and reformed.

To take away the gift of wealth, then, sparing the possession of life, is the method which divine Providence adopts for the purpose of correction, and with a view to a further term of probation; when God who made rich, makes also poor, with the benevolent intention therein, that he who has made a bad use of riches, may make a better of poverty; and may regain by his behaviour in want, that place in the estimation of his Maker, which he had forfeited by his misconduct in plenty. To take away the gift of life, on the other hand, and with it every other before possessed and enjoyed in life, is a mode of resenting the abuse of its gifts, which the divine Providence can adopt only in the way of judgment—for the sake of penal retribution ; when all hope of correction by chastisement, or reformation by forbearance, is vanished, and the criminal is too far gone in impunity, to deserve any further trial, and too hardened in guilt, to be amended by any further indulgence.

Now this is that ultimate danger to be apprehended from the abuse of wealth, which the nature of our Saviour's argument against the spirit of undue desire, supposes him to have had in view ; viz. the possibility that such an abuse may provoke the Author both of that gift and of the gift of life, to resent it in the way of the extreme penalty ; recalling the gift of life, which necessarily resumes the

gift of wealth, and not merely reduces to poverty, most justly so called, but renders the recovery of the offender impossible; bars all hope of his future restoration to favour, all prospect of change and amelioration in his circumstances to come. And, I think, it is further implied, that the worse the abuse of the gift of wealth-that is, the more abundant those means are, which the possessor nevertheless appropriates to no worthier or better an use, than the indulgence of his appetites in the pleasures of sense, or in any other of those enjoyments, carried to a voluptuous and riotous excess, which wealth has the power of commanding-it is such an abuse, as not only miay justly provoke the Author of the gift to resume his own again, and to punish the abuse of it by recalling even the gift of life itself, but very probably will do so.

The various truths, that we have thus attempted to develope from the analysis of our Saviour's argument, are confirmed by the testimony of the parable; which we find immediately subjoined both to the admonition in general, against the spirit of undue desire, and to the reason in particular, by which the necessity of that caution against it was enforced. It is reasonable to conclude that the object of a parable, that is, of an example, so introduced, must have been to explain and corroborate the previous reasoning on the subject in question, by a case in point. If then, there is any correctness in the view which we have taken of the general drift of the caution against cupidity, and any truth in our statement of the particular grounds of the argument by which it is supported; we may expect the several conclusions, deduced from the examina

VOL. III.

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tion of the argument, to be exemplified and illustrated in the facts and circumstances of the parable. After recapitulating, therefore, these conclusions in brief, I shall proceed to shew in what way they are implicitly recognised to be true, and are illustrated in detail by the representations of the narrative annexed.

First, then, the principle of undue desire was supposed to be such, as would lead of necessity to the abuse of wealth, when obtained; and to that kind of abuse which consists in the indulgence of self, or the gratification of the appetites of sense. The natural tendency of such a principle, if further enforced by a case in point, could be illustrated, therefore, only by some such an instance of its mode of operation : that is, an history applicable to the doctrine in question, and illustrating the practical effects of the principle by a matter of fact, must proceed on the supposition, and must supply the evidence, of an actual or an intended abuse of wealth, like this.

The possession of wealth being supposed the possession of a gift of God, it was to be expected that in an history applicable to this view of the possession, it would be represented or implied to be such; whence it would follow that the abuse of wealth in the instance given, would be an abuse of one of the gifts of God. The same things will hold good of the possession of life, as another of the gifts of God; which no just account of its origin and tenure could fail to suppose and to describe accordingly: nor consequently could represent it as abused in a case in point, without further implying that such an abuse incurred the crime of perverting and misapplying another of the gifts of God.

The abuse of any of his gifts naturally having a tendency to excite the displeasure of God, and to provoke him to punish the offence in kind, by the resumption of the gift abused; we might expect that in a parabolic example adapted to this view of the case, if any thing were supposed to be done by the proper agent, and suffered by the proper patient, in the way of penalty and retribution, it would be implied or described to be done and suffered, as an effect of the resentment of God for the abuse of one of his own gifts.

The specific offence of the abuse of wealth to the indulgence of the sensual appetites, entailing over and above the further crime of the abuse of life to unbecoming and unworthy purposes; the proper guilt contracted by the first of those offences, might be shewn to be resented in a given instance, by the proper punishment due to the latter; provided it were implied in the example adduced of the crime committed and of the punishment awarded to it, that the abuse of the gift of life was resented by a punishment in kind, the withdrawing of life itself—solely in consequence of an actual or a meditated abuse of the gift of wealth, as involving the further abuse of the gift of life.

The crime of the abuse of wealth being the most aggravated, and yet, as the natural consequence of the spirit of undue desire, the most likely to be committed, and to involve in its own guilt the further one of a flagrant abuse of the more precious gift of life-when the means of enjoyment were most plentiful, when the temptation was greatest, and the party actuated, or liable to be actuated by the spirit in question, was beforehand effectually gratified to

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