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his affluence, such as it was, to the blessing of God, and acknowledging with gratitude that all his possessions were but the gift of the divine bounty, he thought of attributing the merit of the first cause of all, as well as of appropriating the enjoyment of all, only to himself. In this frame of mind he speaks of the fruits of his grounds, as “my fruits ;” and not in the natural language of a thankful piety, as the fruits which God had given him. In the same strain, he calls them, “ his own productions, his
own good things”-and apostrophizes his soul with the terms of encouragement, “ take rest, eat, drink,
enjoy thyself;" as if the pains and labour of the acquisition having been exclusively his, he was entitled to the fruits of the labour, and to the wages or reward of the pains, in the exclusive pleasure of the enjoyment likewise. It appears, then, that however richly the providence of God had supplied this one man with such good things of the present life as constituted abundance; he was capable of the first step necessary to the abuse of its gifts—a deliberate forgetfulness of the giver, and a previous unwillingness to allow him that share of the merit of the causation, and to pay his will that regard in the nature of the use and application, which the possessor of a gift is bound in justice and gratitude to ascribe and to render to its author, both as to the acquisition of it on the one hand, and as to the appropriation of it on the other.
In the prospect of an abundant harvest from his estates, the rich man is supposed to be debating within himself beforehand, in what way he should dispose of it; that is, what he should do to secure and lay up in store the additions to his wealth, which he hoped shortly to possess. But the purpose of his
deliberation does not stop with this consideration : for had it done so, it must be allowed there would have been nothing blamable in his conduct. A prudent solicitude to preserve and make the most of the blessings of God, however bestowed, so far from being wrong in any, is rather incumbent upon all, to whose lot they fall. Both a grateful sense of the bountifulness of the Giver, and a right estimation of the value of his gifts, require that they should be received with thankfulness, and husbanded with carefulness; and neither be rejected in the first instance, as not worth acceptance, nor be allowed to go to waste afterwards, for want of due thrift in their management; nor fail of their effect, and be perverted to wrong or inadequate uses, for want of prudence and judgment in applying them to better.
It appears, however, that the reason of the rich man's anxiety to provide betimes for the bestowal of the expected addition to his wealth, was not that he might take the necessary care of it, in order to turn it to the best account, but that he might longest and most effectually enjoy it to himself.
For he proposes to take down his present storehouses, as too small to accommodate more than they already contained; and to replace them by larger, which should be competent to hold both what he before possessed, and what he expected to possess by and by, in addition to it a. And when all this had been
a Mr. Harmer indeed shews, from the report of modern travellers (vol. ii. 452—455. ch. x. Obs. xxx.) that one way of securing grain and other fruits of the earth, among the people of the east, at present, is by burying them in pits and caverns. This
may well be the case among them now; and under certain circumstances, where concealment was an object, it was so anciently. But it would be absurd to suppose that the Jews neve
done, he intended to say to his soul, “ Soul, thou “ hast many good things lying in store for many “ years (to come :) take rest, eat, drink, enjoy thy“ self :" that is, he proposed to enjoy all as long as it should last, and to enjoy it exclusively as so much provision laid up for his private use, and therefore to be appropriated to himself. It appears, too, that the specific enjoyment on which his mind was fixed, was not only such as made it exclusive, and therefore liable to the charge of selfishness; but voluptuous and sensual—the indulgence of the carnal appetites in eating, drinking, and making merry : which is a selfishness of the worst description. In this scheme, then, of the proposed application of his future good things, it is superfluous to observe, there was nothing generous or liberal; much less pious or charitable. The whole scheme originated in the love of self, and found its effect in the gratification of the mere animal passions. Nor is it surprising, after all, that there should be no mention of communication to any, much less of division with the poor and needy, with the priest, the temple, or with God—in the plans of one, whose first consideration was his personal ease and enjoyment—the moving spring of whose desires and impulses, was the indulgence of the appetites of sense.
And though he is supposed to be deliberating with respect to a future emergency ; viz. the use to which he should apply the addition to his wealth, and the increase of his means of enjoyment, which he shortly expected; yet the readiness with which he used barns, built above ground. Those in the parable at least were certainly such ; the terms kadeô and oikodounow can be understood of nothing else.
comes to his final resolution, and the manner in which he purposes to appropriate his future abundance, are proofs of the habit and disposition of the man, and in what way he had been accustomed to spend his wealth heretofore. If he was rich beforetime, and was not merely beginning to be so now, he must have turned his riches to some use or other beforetime; and if he proposed to make such and such an application of them for the time to come, it is a presumptive argument that he knew of no better mode of using them, and had not been accustomed to make any better use of them, in time past. If he values the addition which he expected to be made to his `possessions, chiefly because it would afford him larger and more permanent means of ministering to his own enjoyment; the principal excellence of riches, in his estimation, must always have been the facilities which they afforded for such an enjoyment. To deliberate, therefore, upon the mode of applying an increase of wealth, and with it the possession of greater means of indulgence --with this particular view of rendering it most subservient to his personal gratification; and to come to the resolution beforehand, of spending all in the carnal delights of eating, drinking, and making merry: were the acts of a man accustomed to such enjoyments, and prepared to esteem the possession of abundance, chiefly as the means of supplying the necessary gratification of desires, exclusively fixed upon the pleasures of sense, the delights of mere animal existence. It is no uncharitable conclusion, therefore, to infer from the conduct of the rich man, even in this isolated instance, that he is to be regarded as one whose habits and principles generally, predisposed him to be guilty of the abuse of wealth to its worst and most degrading purposes, in riotous living-in gluttony, intemperance, and sensual excess: who, in his regular mode of life had heretofore been guilty of such an abuse, and if he continued to live on, with the same means of abuse in his power, would continue to be guilty of it still.
Now, the particular kind of abundance possessed by this rich man, being in an especial manner, the blessing of God; he could not be guilty of a wilful abuse of his wealth, without being guilty of a wilful perversion of one of the most undoubted among the gifts of God. The fact of an intended abuse seems to be presumptively established against him; and in that case, it follows from the nature of the proposed abuse, that it would involve the perversion of another and a still greater gift of God, the gift of life; being in fact the intended prostitution of existence to the most ignoble purposes the least worthy of the dignity of a rational nature—the pleasures of mere animal or brutish enjoyment. But that the perversion of any of his gifts, contrary to its proper end and design in being given by himself, has a tendency to provoke God to withdraw it, we have already observed; and that the gift of wealth may be withdrawn, without recalling the gift of life—but not the gift of life, without revoking the gift of wealththat consequently, the former may possibly be done, if the object or effect proposed by the act is chastisement or correction, but the latter alone can take place, where the object is punishment and retribution —that the former, therefore, is to be expected only when some further trial is intended, and some future amendment is possible--but the latter, when the term