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ON THE OBSERVANCE OF THE TENTH
both as parent and nurse, and may be likened to the manure which prepares the
soil for the rapid growth of the plant, so BY JOHN PHILIP WILSON.
soon as the seeds are scattered, and then (Fourth Essay.)
assists to foster it. True, we may not be
sensible of our own imperfection or defi“Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor
ciency in any particular point, whether it his servant, nor his maid, nor his ox, nor his be of property or personal qualification, ass, nor any thing that is his.”
until we perceive a marked superiority in
some other person over ourselves; in which Before proceeding to an analysis of the case envy is first aroused. Still, I consider present commandment, I shall, in the first the pre-existence of discontent as the more place, touch upon the consequences of its general principle. infringement, and the nature, causes, and With regard, however, to the immediate effects, of the feeling it forbids; to remove exciting causes of envy—they depend those sceptical objections which have been much upon the character of the man in raised, as to the uselessness of forbidding whose bosom the feeling exists, and upon an involuntary feeling, which, if confined the station in society which he holds. within our own bosoms, and not allowed An ambitious man, from the natural bias to influence our actions, cannot cause harm of his disposition, inclines towards power to a living creature. This I boldly deny, and dignity, and from the wrong channel for whether covetousness be suffered to into which he allows it to flow, and the display itself, or be pent up in our thoughts, means of attaining the objects being denied, it must be productive of bitter results. his desires resolve into envy against those
The consequence of covetousness is envy, who are in possession of them, and, further, and that one fact would supply the place into personal enmity against them, should of an entire commentary upon the tenth chance bring the parties into collision. commandment, for there is no feeling more Of this, a good illustration is afforded in completely subversive of the sympathies of the virulence and uncompromising hostility the soul, nor, in the extensive range of which so often characterize parliamentary human passions, is there one more calcu- debates. lated to canker the heart, and awaken in it An avaricious man, on the other hand, the direst emotions of enmity and hatred bounds his wishes by the attainment of towards our fellow-men than the one men- wealth ; but so insatiable is this lust, that it tioned. It is the parent of malice, it steels is doubtful what measure of gold he would the soul against the finer and nobler attri. consider as wealth, or whether the possesbutes of her nature, and admits only those sion of all the treasures of the East would bitter feelings which engender the worst of satisfy it. Few things assist more in the crimes. Envy is, moreover, a mean and production of envy than avarice, and few grovelling passion, nurtured only by the things generate an animosity more deadly base and narrow-minded, and expecto- or more enduring than that passion when rating its foul venom on all who become thwarted or disappointed. The character obnoxious to its spleen.
of the miser, gloating with sordid and Envy can be the prompter of no noble unsocial joy over his treasured heaps of or daring deeds, as its action is not fierce useless gold, and striving with ceaseless and sudden, but slow, malignant, and exertion to accumulate yet more, has been poisonous. Envy inspires not that gene- so often and so fully expatiated upon, and rous enmity which prompts us to meet our so frequently held up to the scorri and antagonist boldly, face to face, but rather hatred of his fellow-men, that it becomes incites the cowardly idea of revenging a needless to dwell largely upon the subject fancied grievance by secret murder. Petty here. Suffice it, therefore, to observe, that in its nature, and conscious of its vile de- avarice begets covetousness,-covetousness formity, it borrows the mantle of deceit, hardness of heart, oppression, and dishoand, wearing the mask of amity, will ap- nesty. The man who regards riches for proach its unconscious victim, extending their own valueless sake one, and not one hand as the pledge of friendship, whilst with reference to the effects they are the other clutches firmly the hilt of the capable of producing, cannot indulge his assassin's knife.
ruling passion without imbibing the desire The absolute causes of envy are many, of adding the property of others to swell but the feeling to which it generally owes the contents of his own coffers, and thus its origin is discontent—a feeling which arise covetousness and envy, with their conafter being wedded to covetousness, acts secutive train of crimes and evils. 2D. SERIES, No. 19.-VOL. II.
The breast of a literary man, of on artist, discontent, and a mind ill at ease in the of a practitioner in any of the learned pro- midst of all his riches; and in the next mofessions, may be rankled by the success of ment the cheek of envy grows yet paler, some more fortunate contemporary, whose and the black venom boils up in the heart superior talent and fame he internally con- with a more fearful swell, on hearing the fesses.-Let me not here be mistaken, to joyous whistle of some poor ploughman cast aspersions upon whole bodies gene- who crosses her path, expressive of that rally : I allude individually to the envious content and lightness of heart, from the members of them, who find a just punish- enjoyment of which her own nature has for ment in their own self-created feelings, for ever debarred her. no envy is perhaps more keenly felt than The immorality of envy, and that it is that engendered by the consciousness of antithetical to the character of a true Chrisinferior intellect, to some one we wish to tian and a good citizen, is amply proved rival or outshine ; and, at the same time, by the intrinsic quality of the feeling itself, no one more industriously and solicitously and the effects which it produces upon the conceals itself under an affected indiffer- mind. ence, or an apparently fair and ready, but It cannot exist without engendering a disin reality hard-wrung acknowledgment of like or antipathy, and (according to the cirwhat we would fain deny, with truth and cumstances and the individual) a hate as deadpublic opinion as our guarantee.
ly, or perhaps more so than any other feeling Digressing a moment from individu- whatever. Whether it be excited by the par. alities, I will observe, that envy, incon. ticular possessions or qualifications of any siderable and contemptible as it appears, one person, or whether, engendered by may be, has been, and will be, the general discontent, it be directed against prompter of more general crime and many, from various causes, the effect upon bloodshed than might be imagined, and the human heart remains nearly the same. the cause of widely-spread and national In the former case, our envy concentrates calamity :-for example; if one country itself into a firm and determined hatred levies war upon another, may it not be against an individual, and, by gradual with the unjustifiable motive, of gaining workings, may eventually be productive of possession of some port or province held that frenzy of the mind which leads us to by the latter, the locality of which is fa- pursue, even to destruction, the object of vourable to certain views of the former; or our envy and abhorrence. In the latter, with the still more reprehensible object of envy chills and diminishes the warm symreducing the whole nation to a viceroyalty, pathies of the heart, and resolves itself into or tributary state ? History tells us this å kind of sullen hatred towards our kind, has often been done, and what is the act and, seeking darkness and solitude, we but forcible robbery incited by envy of batten upon the morose and deadly feeling, power, and acquisition of territory or reve- as a vulture
carrion. nue? These political crimes are cloaked All this arises from trenching upon the under the pretext of advantages to accrue lightest commandment in appearance, and to the people at large, although the real thus we find that to indulge in envy is cause of them may oftener be traced to the to destroy the best part of our nature, by furtherance of the views of a party : but divesting it of charity and brotherly love. even allowing the former reason; as those The envious man cannot bear to look upon advantages were theretofore in the rightful the man he envies as being possessed of possession of another country, the act of the object he covets, and he hesitates not wresting them from their owners by supe- employing any means, however flagitious, rior force, becomes a palpable robbery, for the attainment of that object; and and the motive of the act no better and no should that prove impossible, this passion, nobler than covetousness. The principle, petty, crawling, and viper-like as it is, is I imagine to be reconcileable with no sys- so strong and influential as to induce him tem of ethics, and certainly not with that to go any lengths to ruin the creature he conveyed by the present commandment. envies, from the splenetic hatred arising
In a mind so constituted as to be favour- out of disappointed villany. able to its encouragement, envy is to be That envy is as foolish as it is petty and aroused on the slightest causes, and on malignant, is certain to become apparent grounds, too, the most inconsistent and when we reflect, that there is no worldly opposite in character.
For instance; felicity without a mixture of alloy, and we covet the vast wealth of some indivi. none more so than those very objects we dual, though we see his brow overcast, and are most apt to desire-wealth, power, and observe his temper sowered by anxiety, fame: consequently, whilst we covet that
which we fondly imagine to be the means excite hatred in us against the individual, of procuring happiness, we forget that it is on account of his possession of those very accompanied by a train of evils and disad- qualifications we would strive to gain. vantages inseparable from its nature. Ere There is one kind of emulation which it then, we allow envy to corrode the kindlier behoves every one to nourish and encoufeelings of our nature-ere we torment rage--the emulation of great and virtuous ourselves with ambitious views, as vain as actions. But before we engage in this they are useless, let us remember, that laudable rivalry, we should examine carethose placed on the brightest and highest fully our hearts, and weed it of the dark pinnacle of human greatness, with riches excrescences of vice which it may nourish, and power at their command, on whose else their baleful influence will poison a beck fortune seems to wait, or around well-intended action, and cause us to stop whom fame has thrown a halo of glory short in the pursuit of virtue, until, becomdazzling to look upon, have more real ing impressed with an idea of being cause, from the cares and anxieties attend- incompetent to the task, we abandon it ing upon their exalted condition, to covet altogether, and rush headlong into an the humble lot of a contented man, whom opposite pursuit; or else suffering our fortune has placed at the basement, than awakened emulation to degenerate into the latter can possibly have to envy their envy, we deny the existence of what we superior station.
• Take heed and beware cannot reach, thus endeavouring to detract of covetousness, for a man's life consisteth from those, whom praiseworthy perseve. not in the abundance of the things which rance and better conduct have rendered he possesseth,” Luke xii. 15.
more fortunate. As all worldly happiness is of necessity, Having thus shortly set forth to the best and in its own nature, imperfect, so, strictly of my ability the nature, causes, and effects speaking, there is no condition of man, be of envy, it now becomes my duty to point it what it may, but has fancied reason to be out the intention of the commandment, and envious of some other, every state being at the manner of its observance. tended with some peculiar concomitant dis- The first is evident, to prevent those evils advantages, from which another is free. As a which the wisdom of God foresaw would balancing power, however, to the imper- be, and which events have proved to be, fection of sublunary felicity, we have the the consequences of desiring that to which consolation of reflecting, that misery also we have no claim, or longing after that is incomplete, man, in his mortal state, not which God has not thought fit to grant; being capable of experiencing the acmé for, if we regard the present commandment of either : for their absolute perfection and in a broad and comprehensive view, our completeness, therefore, we must look inference must naturally be, that the proalone into eternity, and find them in the hibition contained in it extends not merely deserts which await us hereafter.
against coveting the actual worldly wealth Let not envy be confounded with, or or possessions of our fellow-creatures, but mistaken for emulation, for they are so dis- to envy in general, be the object of what tinct in nature as to be almost antithetical : nature soever it may : the correctness of indeed, in their attributes they are positively this conclusion being sufficiently established so; those of the latter being nobility and by the simple words which finish the degrandeur of soul-accompanied with a ge- cree—“ or any thing that is his.” Corro. generous acknowledgment of superiority borative of this, moreover, we shall find where due, a disdain of rivalry in trifling that as envy naturally excites in our bosoms matters, and an admiration of excellence; feelings of malignity completely at variance and of the former, narrowness of mind, with the brotherly love and universal chameanness, petty competition, and detrac- rity inculcated by the Great Founder of tion from worth.
the Christian Church, and so repeatedly We may admire the profound learning enforced by His apostles and followers, it of some person, and the instructive writ- cannot in its own nature be good, or proings which emanate from his pen, as the ductive of good effect. fruits of that learning, and emulation The tenth precept of the decalogue is, whispers the wish of obtaining equally therefore, the protector of the others--the deserved celebrity ; but should our natural guard, as it were, stationed by the Lord, talents prove inadequate to the task we to receive and repel the first advances of have imposed upon them, emulation still sin. It is a kindly and an easy mandate, allows us to venerate, laud, and appreciate by obeying which, we do much towards that which we are not blessed with the preventing the further commission of wickpower of reaching ; whereas, envy would edness. It is a gracious and merciful persúasion, nay, a kind remonstrance, from menting to the possessor; by its constant the Almighty, mildly cautioning us to turn gnawing action it rots the heart, and renback ere yet it be too late. It contains no ders it morbid and misanthropic, even menace, but gently points out the course should it be attended with no more fatal of probity, and by so doing dissuades us results. from pursuing the road of vice. But if It is needless to expatiate upon the wiswe wilfully disregard the protecting com- dom of Providence in forbidding, not an mand of the Lord, and, instead of pursu- act, but a feeling, and commanding us to ing our road heavenward, turn aside and repress a passion which, if allowed to gain pass it, we enter the territories of Satan an ascendancy, may be the cause of innuand penetrate at once to the innermost merable crimes, according to the circumrecesses of iniquity, where the total defeat stances and the individual. The present of virtue follows as almost a matter of precept is one amongst the innumerable course.
instances of the care and regard of God AlWith regard to the manner of obedience mighty, for us so unworthy of His benefits. to the divine edict, I shall only observe, It inculcates the deepest respect for the that true contentment, together with resig- rights of property, by prohibiting, not only nation to, and confidence in, the dispen- the purloining, but the wish to obtain that sations of Providence, are infallible anti- which does not belong to us, and no slight dotes to the effects of poisonous envy. analogy may be discovered between this Whilst we remain cheerfully satisfied with commandment and another part of the our allotment in life, careful to perform its Holy Scriptures, “ Cursed is he that duties, and unambitious and unenvious of removeth his neighbour's landmark.”. It more than it pleases the Almighty in His warns us against indulging desires which unerring wisdom to bestow, we shall be must inevitably lead to sin, as it is plainly blessed with that calm and holy content- to be perceived from the tenor of all the ment of spirit, which unfailingly attends commandments, and the general structure upon the conviction of having, to the best of morality, that the end of our wishes, if of the power granted to frail mortality, prompted by envy, must be unjust; and fulfilled the wishes and intentions of our consequently, their gratification cannot be God, and of having in an important purchased, unless at the expense of some instance followed in the footsteps of virtue, one or more, most important portions of all whose “ways are pleasantness," and all the decalogue. Do we covet the posseswhose “paths are peace.” Hence, in sion of any property which cannot be reference to spiritual things, we are di gained but by dishonest means ? What rected to “ covet earnestly the best says the commandment ? “ Thou shalt not gifts;" but this disposition is no longer steal ;” and if we are induced to break laudable than while it is turned to hea. this last mentioned decree, may we not venly objects.
be entangled yet more inextricably in the The placid serenity and peace of mind, meshes of sin, and commit murder in which are the fruits of content, are of them- defence of our robbery, or to prevent deselves sufficient inducements to obey the tection ?-Do we covet the possession of commandment, from the comfort they im. another man's wife? “ Thou shalt not part ; and they are also ample evidences commit adultery.”—Do we
covet any of its divine and intrinsic excellence, both thing which may be obtained at the of motive and purport, for how strong a
expense of a lie?
“ Thou shalt not bear contrast exists between the internal con- false witness against thy neighbour;"— ditions of a contented and of an envious and have we not shewn, that disappointed man! The breast of the latter is lacerated envy, acting upon a gloomy and hardened by splenetic and dreary feelings created by mind, may produce even blasphemy? extravagant and useless desires—he regards Let us then, if we find envy of our himself as the most miserable creature in neighbour's property, of his apparent existence, and imagines every one to have earthly felicity, or of “any thing that is an advantage over him in some point of his,” gaining the dominion over our better view,-his discontent finds vent in murmurs nature-if we feel the insidious serpent against the supposed injustice and unequal distilling corrosive poison in our hearts, distribution of the favours of Providence, and let us lift up our voices to the Lord God, in the bitterness of his heart he curseth his and in the words of the Litany exclaim, God l-another awful but probable result. “From envy, hatred, malice, and all unchaanother commandment broken! A decided ritableness, Good Lord, deliver us.” and generally envious man cannot choose but be unhappy, as no passion is more tor
London, April, 1832.
lestial and terrestrial, in the brightness of its
beams, and disclosing to man a radiance [Second Series.]
unequalled by any, by every object within (Continued.)
the scope of his vision. So long as man Having enlarged upon the works of continues to be local--tied down by the Elohim during the three first days of crea- gravity of incarnation to a single sphere, tion, we proceed to the fourth day. “And so long will the sun continue to be to bim
Let there be lights in the firma- all that splendour can be, conveyed through ment of the heaven, to divide the day from fleshly organs to the soul. When this morthe night ; and let them be for signs, and tal has put on immortality, and the disemfor seasons, and for days, and years. And bodied spirit becomes an intelligence of let them be for lights in the firmament of the light, then will suns, and systems, and heaven, to give light upon the earth : and it worlds, and beings, burst upon him; yea, was so. And God made two great lights; and glories emanating from Deity, to sense the greater light to rule the day, and the invisible; and amidst the fields of light, lesser light to rule the night : He made the will he roam at large, enraptured beyond stars also. And God set them in the firma- all conceptions known while incarnate, or ment of the heaven, to give light upon the for man to know and live. Behold, the half earth, and to rule over the day and over the is not yet told unto us; yet we perceive the night, and to divide the light from the dark splendours, and we feel the invigorating ness : and God saw that it was good. And beams of the sun, and praise the Creator. the evening and the morning were the Let us, therefore, turn to the question, fourth day.” Or, as it may be rendered: Whence hath this orb all these ? • Elohim pronounced, Let there be lumi- It does not appear, on the formation of naries in the expanse of heaven, dividing the universe, during the expansion on the between the day and the night; for signs second day of creation, that the central orb let these be, for seasons, for days and for of this system differed materially, except in years : and let them be lights in the expanse magnitude, from all the other orbs therein ; of heaven; diffusing light throughout the but a difference, which distinguishes it from terraqueous ! And it was established. Elo- and raises it to an eminence above all the him formed two magnificent luminaries; rest, is this day delegated to this orb, and it the grander ascendant of day, the inferior becomes a magnificent luminary, the asof night; and the stars also. And Elobim cendant of day; and in answer to the quesestablished them in the expanse of heaven tion above, we say, The proper time being to diffuse light throughout the terraqueous; come, the great Creator, “ covered this the ascendants of day and night ; separat- orb with light, as with a garment,” in a ing between the light and darkness. And manner similar to that in which He covered Elohim surveyed the whole; and, behold, it Himself, speaking after the manner of men, was beautifully perfect. The evening was, during the first days of creation, “with and the morning was, the fourth day!! light, as with a garment,” as appears here
During the first three days of creation, after-attached, yet flowing, covering, yet not Elohim—the Trinity in Unity-was the sun part thereof, nor hiding altogether the orb itof this universe; and performed what the self—a robe ennobling, rich and invigoratsun now performs, by His immediate action ing—a splendid addition, decorating the obupon light—the light which He spake into ject enclosed therein, and shining forth to all existence. This is clearly set forth by the around—a garment of praise throughout the psalmist, “ Then covered He Himself with universe-- the crowning robe of creation, light as with a garment; when He stretched worn in houses of the glorious Head, whose out the heavens like a curtain ; laid the vicegerent it is, and whom it radiates forth beams of His chambers in the waters; throughout the ages of time. made the clouds His chariots; and walked The day, however, will arrive, when this upon the wings of the wind,” Psalm civ. resplendent vicegerent will cease to be: for,
What the Omnipotent performed in per- lo, one older than time, “ the Ancient of son, during the three first days, He now, on days, will sit; whose garment is white as this fourth day, assigns to a delegate, formed snow, and the hair of His head like the for the purpose, viz. the Sun--that magnifi. pure wool; His throne like the fiery flame, cent luminary, the ascendant of day. Fitly and His wheels as burning fire-a fiery does this resplendent vicegerent represent its stream issuing and coming forth from before head : the most conspicuous, the most com- Him; from whose face the earth and the manding, the most splendid, and the most heaven will fly away; and there will be invigorating object in the visible creation ; found no place for them.” Thus, in the it shines from day to day, eclipsing all, ce- beginning and at the end of time, God