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evils, than he, who has none. If he is to go through life with a fortune; he is to be taught to earn, and to preserve, property. Without this instruction, he will, probably, ere long be beggared, tempted without any defence to multiplied sins, and become a liar, a cheat, a drunkard, and perhaps a suicide. What parent would not tremble at the thought, that his own negligence would entail these evils upon his offspring?
2. Young persons, whatever may have been their education, are, here, forcibly taught to pursue an industrious and economical life.
The children of wealthy parents are generally prone to believe, that they are destined, not to usefulness, but to enjoyment; and that they may be idle, therefore, without a crime. No opinion is more groundless; and very few are more fatal. God made all mankind to be useful. This character he requires of them without conditions. He, who does not assume it, will be found inexcusable at the final day. Every human ear ought to tingle, and every heart to shudder, at the doom of the unprofitable servant in the Gospel.
Still more prone are youths to believe, that profusion is honourable; and to shrink from the imputation of niggardly conduct. There is no more absolute absurdity, than the supposition, that prodigality and generosity are the same thing. They are not even allied. Generosity consists in giving freely, when a valuable purpose demands it; and with a disposition, benevolently inclined to promote that purpose. Prodigality is the squandering of property, not for valuable, but base and contemptible purposes; for the mere gratification of voluptuousness, vanity, and pride. All these gratifications are mean, selfish, and despicable. The generous man feels the value of property. The prodigal has no sense of this value. The generous man gives, because what he gives will do real good to the recipient: the prodigal, because he cares nothing about property, except as it enables him to acquire reputation, to gratify his pride, to make an ostentatious display of wealth, or to outstrip and mortify a rival. In all this there is not an approach towards generosity. On the contrary, the motives are grovelling and contemptible; and the manner, in which they are exhibited to the eye, is disingenuous and hypocritical; a gaudy dress upon a loathsome skeleton. But the prodigal fails of the very reward, which he proposes as the chief object of his expense. In spite of all his wishes, and efforts, even weak men perceive, that he is totally destitute of generosity; and those who most flatter, are the first to forsake, him: while, to shelter their own meanness and treachery, they proclaim, more loudly than any others, his weakness, faults, and miseries, to mankind.
Let every youth, then, fasten his eye on this wretched character, this pernicious conduct, and this deplorable end. His own exposure let him strongly feel. Let him realize with solemn emotions of mind; that Idleness and Profusion are broad and beaten
roads to ruin, both in this world and that which is to come. With these views, let him devote all his time to some useful and upright employment; and thus make every day yield its blessings. What he acquires by commendable industry, let him faithfully preserve by prudent, watchful care. In this manner he will become nonourable in the sight of wise and good men, a blessing to himself, to his family, and to mankind: while he will, at the same time, fulfil one important end of his being.
EXODUS XX. 15.-Thou shalt not steal.
HAVING considered the Frauds, which men practise upon Themselves, and their Families, I shall now proceed to examine the
II. Head of discourse, proposed at that time: viz. The Frauds which we practise upon others.
Of these, the
1. Class, which I shall mention, is those which respect Borrowing the property of others.
Frauds of this kind are so numerous, that it is impossible here to mention them all; and so common, that most persons practise them without even suspecting themselves to be criminal. Still they are frauds; and crimes, which admit of no excuse.
Of this transgression persons are guilty, whenever they suffer that, which has been loaned to them, to be injured through their own Negligence. This evil is extremely common; and by a great part of mankind is scarcely regarded, unless when the injury is considerable, as being censurable at all. Still it is obviously a violation of confidence; a falsification of the terms, upon which the loan was given, and received. No man ever lent any thing, of any value, with an agreement on his part, that it should be injured, unnecessarily, by the borrower. No man ever received a loan, with a profession on his part, that he expected to injure the thing lent, unless in cases, where the nature of the transaction obviously involved the injury, and a consequent compensation. This, it will be observed, is a case, properly arranged under the head of bargains, and not of loans. Persons are guilty of this kind of Fraud, also, when they return, instead of a consumable, or perishable, article, which they have borrowed, what is of inferior value. We often borrow those things, which perish in the use. In this case, not a small number of individuals satisfy their consciences, if they return the same thing in kind, and quantity, although plainly inferior in its value. A scrupulous spirit of integrity would induce us rather to return somewhat more, in value, than we have received; that we may make due satisfaction for the property loaned, and for the particular convenience which it has furnished.
Another Fraud of the same nature is practised, henever we unreasonably detain in our possession "hatever has beer, loaned to us.
Most persons, probably, are in a greater or less degree chargeable with this fault. A want of punctuality in this respect is a serious evil; extending very far; and often intruding, not a little, upon the peace and comfort of good neighbourhood. But there are persons, who go through life, borrowing without thinking of returning that which they borrow; and who thus doubly tax the good nature of those around them. This conduct is totally contrary to good faith, and to plain justice. Every borrower, in his application for every loan, is understood, and knows that he is understood, by the lender to engage, not only to return that which he borrows, but to return it within a reasonable time. It is unjust, and unkind, to retain the property of the lender beyond his consent; to use it beyond his permission; and thus to reward his kindness with injury.
Of a similar Fraud are we guilty, when we employ that, which is lent, for purposes, and in modes, not contemplated by the lender. Multitudes of mankind are guilty of this crime; and in ways almost innumerable. All our right to the use of the loan, not only as to the fact, but also as to the manner, and the degree, is derived solely from the consent of the owner. To that, which he has not given, we have not, and cannot have, any right. We are bound, therefore, scrupulously to use what we borrow, within the limits of his permission. When we transgress these limits, we obviously violate the plain dictates of common justice; and are, therefore, inexcusable.
There is, perhaps, no fraud, of which youths, sent abroad for their education, are so frequently guilty, or to which they are so strongly solicited by temptation, as one strongly resembling this, which I have described. They are, of course, entrusted by their parents with property, necessary, or supposed to be necessary, to defray the expenses of their education. Every parent has his own views concerning the manner in which this property is to be expended. This manner the Parent usually prescribes to his child and has an absolute right to prescribe it. The property is his own: the child is his own. Both the manner, therefore, and the expense, of the child's education he has an absolute right to control. The parent's prescription, then, the child cannot escape without fraud; nor can he violate it without filial impiety.
When such a Youth expends the property, entrusted to him by his Parents, in any manner, or to any degree, beyond his parent's choice; so far as that choice is made known to him; he is guilty of fraud; and violates the Command, which I am discussing. Nay, if he is reasonably satisfied concerning what his parent's choice would be, although it has not been explicitly declared, he is bound scrupulously to regard it in all his conduct; and to expend no more, and for no other purposes, than those, which are involved in his parent's pleasure. Nor can he, consistently with his plain
duty, pursue different objects, and conduct himself in a different manner, from what his parent has prescribed, without being guilty of similar fraud.
The parent may not indeed, and probably will not often, punish his child for these transgressions. Often he may quietly acquiesce in the wrong. Still the conduct is not the less sinful; nor the child the less guilty. Human tribunals fail of punishing many crimes; but they do not, for this reason, cease to be crimes. If a child would avoid sin; if he would, in this respect, be blameless in the sight of God, he must direct all his expenses, and regulate all his conduct, conscientiously, according to the will and prescription of his parents. To this end, he must limit his wants to the allowed measure of his expenses; and act, scrupulously, as he would act, if his parents were continually present.
2. Another species of Frauds is practised in what is called Trespassing on the property of others.
Frauds of this nature are very numerous, and greatly diversified. Many persons, without being sensible of doing any injustice, walk through the inclosures of others, and tread down their grass, grain, and other valuable productions of their labour. Others leave open the entrances to their inclosures; and thus expose the fruits of the earth to damage, and often to destruction. Others still, plunder their gardens, orchards, and fields, of such fruits, particu larly, as are delicious. Others plunder their forests of wood, both for their own consumption, and for the market. Both these acts are, however, falsely called Trespasses. No actions of man are more obviously thefts, in the full sense. Accordingly, they are spoken of in the language of common sense, and common custom, only under the name of Stealing. Others suffer their cattle, accustomed to break through inclosures, to go at large in their own fields; and thus, in reality, turn them into the fields of their neighbours. To dwell no longer on this part of the subject, multitudes habitually neglect to repair their own walls, and fences; and in this manner leave a continual passage for their cattle into the fields of their neighbours.
A very different set of Trespasses, (I do not mean in the legal sense; for I know not what name Law would give them) and undertaken with very different views, is found in the operations of that spirit of vulgar mischief, which through envy, or some other base passion, cherishes a contemptible hostility against the improvement, and beauty, of building, fencing, and planting, formed by its prosperous neighbours. This spirit prompts the unworthy minds, in which it dwells, to mar and deface handsome buildings and fences; to root up, or cut down trees and shrubs, planted for shade, and for ornament. This spirit is no other, than that of the dog in the manger. It will neither enjoy the good itself; nor suffer any others to enjoy it. One would think, that, in the view of such minds, beauty and elegance were public nuisances; and that to have con