Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

and taught; and woe be unto you, if you do not think yourselves happy

II. Charge them, but Whom? THE RICH. Man, that came naked out of the womb of the earth, was even then so rich, that all things were his. Heaven was his roof or canopy earth, his floor; the sea, his pond; the sun and moon, his torches; all creatures, his vassals: and, if he lost the fulness of this Lordship, by being slave to sin, yet we have still Dominium gratificum, as Gerson ternus it.

Every son of Abraham is heir of the world; Rom. iv. 13: but to make up the true reputation of wealth, for thus we may be as having all things and possessing nothing, another right is required besides spiritual, which is a civil and human right; wherein I doubt not but our learned Wickliff, and the famous Archbishop of Armagh, and the more famous Chancellor * of Paris (three renowned Divines of England, France, and Ireland) have had much wrong; while they are accused to teach, that men, in these earthly things, have no tenure but grace, no title but charity: which, questionless, they intended in foro interiori, in the Consistory of God, not in the Common-Pleas of men; in the Courts, not of Law, but of Conscience, in which only it may fall out, that the civil owner may be a spiritual usurper, and the spiritual owner may be a civil beggar. God frames his language to ours; and, speaking according to that Jus Gentium, whereon the divisions of these earthly possessions are grounded, he calls some rich, others poor.

Those heretics, which called themselves Apostolic, as somebody doth now at Rome, before the time of Epiphanius and Augustin, which taught the unlawfulness of all earthly properties, seconded in Austin's time by our countryman Pelagius, and in our times by some of the illuminate Elders of Munster, are not worth confutation; or, if they were, our Apostle hath done it to our hands, in this one word, Rich: for there can be neither rich nor poor in a Community. Neither doth he say, Charge men that they be not rich, but, Charge the rich that they be not high-minded.

With these let us couple our ignorant votaries, that place holiness in want; with whom, their very Crosses cannot deliver their coin from sin; which, to make good the rule, that it is better to give than to receive, give all they have away at once, fur but a licence to beg for ever. Did these men ever hear that the blessing of God maketh rich? that the wings of riches carry them up to heaven? that the crown of the wise is their wealih? Do they not know, that, if Lazarus were poor, yet Abraham was rich, and pium pauperem suscepit sinus divitis: it was the happiness of poor Lazarus, that he was lodged in the bosom of rich Abraham.

I am no whit afraid, O ye Rich Citizens, lest this paradox of our holy mendicants shall make you out of love with your wealth: I fear, some of you would be rich, though ye might not. Now we tell you from him, whose title is rich in Alercy, that ye may be at once rich and holy: In divitiis cupiditatem reprehendit, non facultatem, saith Austin. It is a true word of the son of Sirach, which I would have you carry home with you, and write it as a fit motto, in your counting-house; Bona est substantia, si non sit peccatum in conscientiá : Substance doth well in the hand, if there be no evil in the heart; Eccles. xiii. 25.

* Titulum Charitaus Dom, à Soto de Justiijä et jurc,

Charge the Rich. Who are they? There is nothing, wherein is greater misprision. One man, in Laodicean conceitedness, thinks himself rich, when he hath nothing: another, in a covetous humour, thinks he hath nothing, when he is rich: and how easy is it for another man to mistake us, if we may thus easily mistake ourselves? I fear, some of you are like the pageants of your great solemnities, wherein there is rise shew of a solid body, whether of a lion, or ele. phant, or unicorn; but if they be curiously looked into, there is nothing but cloth, and sticks, and air. Others of you, contrarily, are like a dissembling Convent, that professes poverty, and purchases lordships. The very same did Solomon observe in his time, in the great burgomasters of Jerusalem; Prov. xiii, 7.

For the avoiding of both extremes, let us enquire, who is Rich. And, though greatness and riches be in rank of those things which are held to have no absolute determination, but consist rather in respect and comparison : (for a rich farmer is yet poor to a rich merchant, and a rich merchant is but poor to a prince, and he to some great emperor: that great Mammonist would say, he is rich, that can maintain an army: a poor man would say, according to that Italian inscription, “ He is rich that wants not bread;'') yet, certainly, there are certain general stakes and bounds, which divide betwixt poverty and competency, betwixt competency and wealth: as there were variety of shekels among the Jews, yet there was one shekel of the Sanctuary that varied not.

Who then is Rich? 'I must give you a double answer: one will not serve: the one, according to true morality; the other, according to vulgar use.

In the first, he is rich, that hath enough; whether the world think so or not. Even Esau, though he were poor in grace, yet in estate he was rich: I have enough my brother. And he, that said Soul, thou hast goods enow for many years, was almost so: it was not his fault, that he thought he had enough; but that he meant to lie down and wallow in it. A man's wealth or poverty is most-what in himself. And, though nature have professed to read unto heathen men this lesson of wise moderation, yet it hath been seldom seen, that any thing but true piety hath taught them to take it out; Godliness is great gain with contentment. Victus et vestitus divitia Christianorum, saith Jerome: “ Food and raiment are the Christian's wealth.” Those men therefore, which are still in the horse-leech's note, sucking and craving; which, like Pharaoh's lean kine, are ever feeding, and never the fatter; are as far from true wealth, as they would be from poverty; and further I am sure they cannot be, and not further from wealth than godiiness. Having, is the measure of outward

wealth: but it is Thinking, that must measure the inward thoughts, I say of contentment, cheerfuhess, and thankfulness; which it ye want, it is not either or both the Indies that can make you rich.

In the latter, he is rich, that hath more than enough; whether he think so or no: he, that hath the possession, whether civil or natural, of more than necessary. Now if necessary and superfluous seem as hard to define as rich; know, there are just limits for both these. Superfluous is defined by necessary; for what is above necessary is superfluous. There is then a double necessary: one, of nature; the other, of estate. That is necessary to nature, without which we cannot live; that, to estate, without which we cannot live well: that is necessary to estate, which were superfluous to nature; and that, which were superfluous to nature, is not so much as necessary to estate. Nature goes single, and bears little breadth: estate goes ever with a train. The necessity of nature admits little difference, especially for quantities: the necessity of estate requires as many diversities, as there are several degrees of human conditions, and several circumstances in those degrees. Justly therefore do the Schoolmen and Casuists teach, that this necessary to the decency of estate doth not consist in puncto individuo, but hath much latitude: that is niecessary to scarlet, which to russet were superfluous: that is but necessary to a nobleman, which to an esquire were superfluous: that were superfluous to a peer, which to a prince is but necessary: that is necessary to the father of a family, which to a single man were superfluous. Neither doth this necessity look only to the present; but to the future: not to what may be, which were an endless prospect; but to what must be; the marriage of a daughter, the education of a son, the honest provision for posterity. He, that in just estimate, can go beyond the bounds of this necessary, enters into the superfluous estate, and may well pass with the world for rích.

Such an one is rich: let him look how he became so. That God, which can allow you to be rich, will not allow you all ways to your wealth. He hath set up a golden goal, to which he allows you all to run; but ye must keep the beaten road of honesty, justice, charity, and truth: if ye will leave this path, and will be crossing over a shorter cut through bye-ways of your own, ye may be rich with a vengeance. The heathen poet, Menander, (one of them whom St. Paul cited) could observe des éthéTYCE TAXEwg dínur uv, which Solomon translates to us, He, that makes haste to be rich, shall not be innocent; Prov. xxviii. 20. If ye have filled your bags with fraud, usury, extortion; this gain may be honey in your mouth, but it will be gravel in your throat, and poison in your soul.

There are some means of wealth in an ill-name; as those two trusty servants of Mammon, Use and Brokage. There are others as bad as they, little said to. Since I speak to citizens, let me be bold to say, There is not so arrant usury in letting of money, as in sale of wares. This oppression is both more, and more universal.

There are two maxims that do usually mislead men of traffic, all the world over: the one is, Res valet quanti vendi potest, “ A thing is worth what it may be sold for;" the other Careat emptor, At the

buyer's peril:" the one is in regard of the price; the other, in regard of the quality of the vares.

In the first, whereas our casuists have set three prices, low, mean, rigorous; they super-add a fourth, excessive; and think they may lawfully get what they can: where they shall once find, that, as the rigorous price is a strain of charity, so the excessive is a violation of justice; ieither doth this gain differ ought from theft, but that it is honested by a fair cozenage.

In the second; it matters not how defective the measure be, how vicious the substance, how false the kind: let this be the buyer's care: no man is bound to buy; no man can do wrong to himself: such wares must be put off, (perhaps not to customers,) with concealment of faults, if not with protestations of faultlessness. In Solomon's time, It is naught, it is naught, said the buyer; and when he was gone apart, he boasted: but now, “It is good, it is good, saith the seller; and when the buyer is gone, he boasteth of his der ceit.

Let me appeal to your bosoms, if these two, Excess of Price, and Deficiency of Worth, have not been the most serviceable fac. tors to bring in some of your wealth. And let me tell you, if these be guilty of your gains, you may mis-name your trades, Mysteries; but sure these tricks are mysteries of iniquity. It were envious and infinite, to arraign the several sciences of their adulteration and fraud: let me rather shut them all up together in that fearful sentence of wise Solomon, The gathering of treasure, by a deceitful tongue, is a vanity tossed to and fro of them that seek death; and, if you please, read on the next verse, The robbery of the wicked shall destroy them; Prov. xxi. 6, 7. Search your chest, search your hearts, O atl ye that hear me this day; and, if any of you find any of this adulterine gold amongst your heaps, away with it; as ye love yourselves, away with it: else know, that, as Chrysostom wittily, ye have locked up a thief in your counting-house, which will carry away all; and, if ye look not to it the sooner, your souls with it.

RICH IN THIS WORLD, not Of it. As St. John distinguisheth of being In the Church, and being Of it, so doth St. Paul of the world. Those are the rich Of the world, which are worldlings in heart, as well as in estate: those are rich in the world, whose estate is below, whose hearts are above. The rich of the world are in it; but the rich in the world are not of it. Marvel not there should be so much difference in little particles. The time was, when this very difference, of èx and , set the world together by the ears, in the controversy of Eutyches and Dioscorus; and here, you see, there is no less distance between them, than betwixt heaven and earth.

If Timothy, or St. Paul either, should have charged the rich Of the world, he had charmed a deaf adder; yea, perhaps even with this charge, like a rusty or ill wrought piece, they had recoiled in his face, with those Atlienians, What will this babbler say? The prophet is a fool, the spiritual man is mad, as they say in the Prophet. There is no good to be done on a world!y heart: it is both hard and cold. Let the smith strike a bar new come out of the fire, though it be iron, it bows: let him strike on his anvil never so long, there is no impression, but rather a rebound of the stroke.

The Naker of all hearts tells us, that the unregenerate man hath cor lapideum, a heart of stone: and to what purpose do we, with our venerable countryman, preach to a heap of stones? Will ye have the reason, why we preach ourselves hoarse and dead, and prevail not? The world is in men's ears; the world is in their hearts: and they are not In the world, but Of it; and there can be nothing in them, that are of the world, but that which is enmity to God, and that which repays with enmity: so as there is no way for thein, but perishing with the world.

It is for those only, whose hearts are not in their bags, to receive the charge from God for their wealth, and to return glory to hin by it. To these, whereof I hope here are many before me, must Timothy's charge, and my speech be directed. Let these hear their Condition first, and then their Duty.

Their Condition, They are rich, but In this world; for distinction, for limitation: one implies the state of their riches; the other, the Time.

Their Estate, as learned Beza; that they are but worldly riches. The very word imports, that there are other riches, not of the world; as Austin distinguishes of pauper in animo, and sacculo poor in mind and in purse;" so may we of the rich. There is a spiritual wealth, as well as a secular; and so true and precious is the spiritual, that the secular wealth is but stark beggary to it. This outward wealth is in acres of earth, in the bowels of the earth, the fruits of the earth, beasts of the earth; and all of it is valued by pieces of earth, and one mouthful of earth makes an end of all. Who knows not that earth is the basest piece of the world; and yet earth is at the end of all these riches, and all of them end in the earth? See what it is, that the world doats and dreams of; for these earthly hopes, as the divine philosopher said, are but dreams of the waking; even Nebuchadnezzar's image, a composition of metals, and the foot of all is clay. Earthly men tread upon their felicity; and yet have not the wit to contemn it, and to seek a better, which is the spiritual wealth; the cabinet whereof is the soul, and the treile sure in it, God himself. O happy resolution of that blessed Father, Austin, Omnis mihi copia, quae Deus meus non est, egestas est : “All wealth, besides my God, is penury.Ambiant terrena, saith another: “Let the Gentiles seek after earthly things,” which have not right to heavenly; let them desire the present, which believe not the future: the Christian's wealth is his Saviour: and how can he complain of measure, that hath the author of all? What should I need to say more of the Christian heart? He is rich in God: and therefore well may he sing that contented ditty of the Psalmist, Funes ceciderunt mihi in præclaris: My lot is fallen in a good ground, and I have a goodly heritage. Oh, that it could be our ambition, that Nazianzen reports of his Philagrius, lutum contemnere, to scorn

« ForrigeFortsæt »