« ForrigeFortsæt »
arbitration of a judge, who employed others to perform those duties for which they receive remuneration? It was our estimation of their principles, talents, and integrity, that led us to select them; and it is only on the understanding that they give us the advantage of these endowments in their personal services, that we solicit the discharge of their respective offices, and pay them their reward. Should they in this respect fail in answering our expectations, they are chargeable with a breach of contract not less than if the stipulation had been previously committed to writing, and are guilty of the fraud of receiving payment for services which they have not rendered.
It is no answer to this to say, that if the services are really rendered, though it should be by deputy, no injury is done. Their employers gave them no discretionary power. They were engaged in consideration of their character-on the understanding that they would perform the duty intrusted to them personally, and to the best of their ability and judgment,--and they are, therefore, not at liberty to discharge it in
way. I am aware that a different doctrine is held in England, practically at least, regarding ministers of the gospel. Non-residence is there allowed them, and in certain cases sanctioned by law. The argument by which it is attempted to defend this practice is, that the officiating curate discharges every duty which his principal, were he present, would be bound to discharge, and in a manner equally beneficial to the parish. But this argument, even though it were valid to the extent alleged, could only be urged when
the principal is absent from ill health, or when rendering extraordinary service to the cause of religion ; in all other cases it is palpably untenable.
I shall answer it in the words of Paley: “When a man draws upon this fund (the revenues of the church) whose studies and employments bear no relation to the object of it, and who is no further a minister of the christian religion than as a cockade makes a soldier, it seems a misapplication little better than a robbery. And to those who have the management of such matters I submit this question, whether the impoverishment of the fund, by converting the best share of it into annuities for the gay and illiterate youth of great families, threatens not to starve and stifle the little clerical merit that is left among us?”
But though in our church * non-residence is not permitted, may it not be feared that there are ministers within its pale who receive remuneration for services which are carelessly and stintedly performed ? Even on the principles of justice, by which they are bound to render the stipulated equivalent for what they receive, are they found guilty. May the number who are influenced to a zealous discharge of the arduous duties of their holy vocation by purer and higher motives than worldly considerations, be greatly increased! May we all act more in the spirit of the exhortation; “ Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock,
• The Church of Scotland,
And when the chief shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away*.”
IV. Another species of fraud is the contracting of debts without perceiving any means of paying them, The christian rule of duty on this head is, “ Owe no man any thing.” But multitudes, in neglect or in violation of this rule, involve themselves in debts, without duly considering whether they shall possess at any future period the means of discharging them; and thus take from others that property for which they may never have it in their power to render an equivalent. It is no sufficient answer to this, that from the nature of the commercial speculations in which many are engaged, it is impossible for them to be fully acquainted with their own circumstances. For that man is evidently chargeable with dishonesty who buys from another, and becomes his debtor, without such grounds as would satisfy any upright and reasonable person, that he has the means and the prospect of being able to pay. Without such a conviction founded upon good grounds, to contract debts is nothing less than to defraud. That the case supposed admits of various degrees of aggravation is conceded; but in
; all its varieties it is directly opposed to integrity and justice.
I shall say nothing here of the crime of withholding a part of our property from our creditors, and of attempting to discharge our debts with a sum far less than their value ; because such conduct is palpably and grossly iniquitous and unjust.
I shall merely add, that if we consult the quiet
* i Peter ch. v. 2-4.
of our own minds, the credit of the christian profession, our interest and usefulness in the world, we shall study to owe no man any thing.
GAMBLING is the other direct method by which we injure the property of others. This cherishes, and calls into exercise, the desire to acquire what others possess, and thus leads to the violation of the law of God. There are but two possible methods, as it has been remarked, by which we can acquire property from others honestly ;-either by free gift; or by rendering an equivalent for what we receive. In gambling it is obtained in neither of these ways. The gambler may lay his account with losing a certain sum, but not with freely giving it away; and the only equivalent which he obtains is the chance, as it is called, of depriving another, contrary to his intention, of a part of his property
There is sometimes an attempt made to defend this practice on the score of amusement. It is besides, alleged, that every man's property is his own, and that if he chooses to gratify himself, by hazarding it in whole or in part, he has a right to do so. The thief, the swindler, the robber take the money of others without their consent; whereas, the gambler wins it with the consent of the owner.
To this it may be replied, that no amusement is
lawful which is immoral in its nature and tendency. Every man doubtless has an exclusive right to the use of his property; but
every man also is a steward, and is accountable to the Lord and Proprietor of all for the way in which he employs it. As it is manifestly the design of God that the gifts which he bestows should be expended in useful and beneficent purposes,—in diffusing happiness,-and in accomplishing the greatest good of which, from the means we possess, we are capable ;-we are not at liberty to appropriate them to
ther ends, or foolishly to waste them. Good men may sometimes be mistaken, and lose property in the pursuit of ends which they deem useful or beneficent, but which afterwards appear to have occasioned an idle and profitless waste ;-but they cannot deliberately dispose of it for unworthy purposes, and far less for encouraging vice. It is, indeed, charity in many cases to give alms to the guilty,—to those who have reduced themselves to wretchedness by their crimes ;-but who would ever lay his account with losing his money, from the desire that the professed gambler might obtain it as charity? The professed gambler is a man who associates with the avowed enemies of religion, -who harbours in his bosom the very basest passions of human nature, and is generally, if not always, a gross and continued sensualist. Who that has any just sense of the account he must render of the use of all that providence intrusts to his charge, would willingly place any part of his property at the disposal of such a character as this?
Besides, it is not true, as is alleged, that the gam