Page images

not decently excuse themselves creature while yet alive, and leave from attending the funeral. But if him to the horrible agonies of wak. it should be deferred till Monday, ing up a few hours after in his it might interfere with their secular coffin. business. And so the Sabbath be- 5. It is not very uncommon, pering a leisure day with all, the ma- haps, for bereaved friends to go injority are in favour of proceeding to the opposite extreme, and put off with the obsequies at once, and the the burial, till the busy attendants preparations are hastened accord- of death have carried the work of ingly. The man is in his grave, be

dissolution so far as seriously to anfore the fever of which he died has noy, and in some cases endanger, time to cool, and it is thought a for- all who attend the funeral. Pestitunate circumstance, that he made lential and suspicious diseases seem his exit just in time to be put out always to forbid unnecessary delay of the way, when nothing else could in the interment of their victims, be done. Now is this right? Or and never can there be any good is it robbing God under the garb of reason for long keeping back a sympathy and piety in performing mouldering form, however much it the rites of sepulture.

may have been loved, from the dust 3. Is it right, I would ask, even

to which the decree of God has conwhen the nature of the disease, or signed it. extreme heat of the season, renders 6. The custom which prevails to it necessary to hasten the burial- some extent, of handing round spiris it right to spend the Sabbath, or ituous liquors among the carriers any part of it, in making up mourn- at funerals, has long struck me as ing? Might not the relatives in al- extremely reprehensible. I am not most every case obtain the loan of ignorant of the common excuses for apparel suitable for the occasion, this practice-that it is a needful or in failure of this, would they not precaution against contagion—that better secure those divine consola. the weather is warm, and the

corpse tions which they then especially heavy, and the carriers few-or need, by appearing without some of that the weather is cold and it is a the customary badyes of mourning duty to guard against unnecessary than by causing them to be prepar- exposure. But how futile are all ed on the Lord's day ?

such excuses! It will not be

ques4. The tyranny of custom in tioned I presume, by any competent some places, or I know not what judge in the case, that there are strange anxiety to have the dead other and better defences against safely lodged in their narrow house, infection than ardent spirits. A sometimes hastens them to it, I will vial of chlorine, for example, apnot merely say before they are cold, plied to the corpse when there is but perhaps ere the soul has actu- real danger, is worth more than ally left the body. This unnatural any quantity of rum or brandy which precipitancy, carries the appear- can be swallowed by the whole proance at least, of wishing to have cession. And as to the rest, has the deceased laid away out of sight it come to this, that the sons of the as soon as practicable. But ought pilgrims cannot endure a little heat not surviving friends to consider or cold, or fatigue, in carrying a well what is due to propriety, in neighbour to his long home, withtaking their final leave of the dust out the stimulus of brandy ? Let which was once so dear? And it not be told anywhere among the above all is it not their solemn duty graves of our sturdy and abstemious to guard against that haste of inter- ancestors, that when it is cold, we ment, which might bury a fellow. must have spirits to warm us, and when it is hot we must have spirits and that many have laid the founto cool us; and to guard against be- dation of consumptions and other ing over-heated, must lay in a gen- fatal diseases, by this kind of exerous quantity of liquid fire from the posure. It cannot be right thus to the distillery

trifle with health and life itself, in 7. It seems to me highly im- obedience to a custom which is in. proper for the pall-bearers to re- capable of being defended by a sinturn, as they not unfrequently do gle intimnation of scripture, or by to the house of mourning, there to any consideration of respect, ei. take their wine, or brandy and wa- ther for the living, or the dead. ter, and in this way to reciprocate 9. The tyranny of custom, does, the ill-timed civilities of an afflict- to a great extent, in all parts of ed family. Is it time to bring out our country, impose funeral exdecanters and fill the sparkling penses upon the bereaved, which glass, when the head and prop of they are often unable to bear. a family has just been buried, and Thus a poor widow, who has seen the widow's heart is breaking with better days, would hardly obtain anguish? Surely none of the or- credit for a decent regard to the dinary accompaniments of festivity memory of her husband, if she did are in keeping with tears and sobs, not expend the one half he has left for and badges of such recent bereave- the support of herself and children, ment. Besides, it is a bad and in buying mourning and providing a mischievous example. If the more mahogany coffin. How preposterwealthy bring out their Madeira ous, how sinful this species of prodand Cogniac for the refreshment of igality is, needs no showing. But the pall-bearers, the lower class such improvidence it must be adwill either feel themselves obliged mitted, is not always chargeable to go to the same expense, or to

upon custom.

Some are extremeprovide something cheaper, and ly lavish of the little which will reequally cheering for the occasion. main when debts are paid, as if And who does not know, that some they either wished to excite par. in every place will drink to excess, ticular attention, or thought themeven at a funeral, if they can ob- selves in duty bound to expend libtain the means of intoxication ? erally for the dead, though they

8. The custom which extensive. should have nothing left for the ly prevails, of standing by the side living. And it is well if they do of the grave in damp and cold not contract debts which they have weather, till it is entirely filled up, no prospect of being able to pay, by and even turfed over by the sexton, purchasing expensive mourning. cannot, I think, be justified, on any Many a merchant could turn to principle of reason, or religion. such charges, which were made, Why should the living, many of when refusing to give credit would whom are in feeble health, stand have been counted almost inhuman, shivering and expose themselves but which even then it was little to almost certain injury, when by expected would ever be cancelled, retiring as soon as the coffin is low. Verily, it is no time to be dishonered into its final resting place, est, when death is in the house, they might avoid the danger ? For and the sexton is gone to the gravemy part, I believe that thousands yard.

A. have caught very distressing colds,








necessary to wander far in search

of moral distinctions; nor need we (Continued from page 79.)

reason very deeply concerning the

nature of good and evil: I call Thus, by the simplest principles those practices immoral which of of mind, and maxims of political necessity violate acknowledged obreasoning, have I examined the ligations. And as to lotteries, the effect of lottery-institutions upon immorality will have been set forth individual character and national with all distinctness, when it shall prosperity; and found them, in the be made to appear, that the spirit one case, dangerous, and in the which indulges in this kind of adother, not to be endured. I have venture is forbidden by the laws considered man in his only proper of God. course of enterprise ; and have It matters not whether the law shown that these divert him from it. of God be gathered from his word, I have looked at human society as a or inward monitions of the moral. bond for mutual benefit, creating sense ;--every man who has arriand diffusing advantage by its oper- ved at the belief in a Divinity can ations of industry and benevolence; tell, that he has not given thought and shown that these hang as a and money to be wasted. And dead weight upon both. My objec- if not wasted, then certainly not to tions have been founded on the re- be laid out in efforts which shall sults of experience, abroad and at form a bar to the equal benefit of home; and my dissuasives drawn others. The duties of men in refrom evils which a common obser- spect to each other's interests are vation will detect ; objections and written on the circumstances in evils that would seem sufficient to which they stand related ; and endiscredit the system in the view of forced by their common powers of every man who understands the conferring benefit or harm." It value of public virtue, or loves the stands to reason, in the eye of all welfare of his fellow-beings. There sobriety, that, in the midst of that remains a subject of inquiry, not vast apparatus set up throughout less important than the others ;- the known universe as the means the consistency of lottery-adven- of beneficence to sensitive beings, tures with the duties of men relative man--endowed with the noblest to each other and their Maker : means of all, rational faculties and through which we may perhaps a heart to feel-is not to rest inaccome to the root and spring of ma- tive, and less, to stop the springs of ny of those unhappy influences that happiness within the circle of his have already been argued from. power. Surely the mind whose It will seem a very sufficient account region of active enjoyment exceeds of the ruinous effects of lotteries, the limits of its view, is not to spend if it be found, that, in addition to its being on itself, in the indulgence encroaching upon public good, in of solitary gratifications, like the this direction, and deranging human lamb in yonder field, who crops the society in that, they contravene grass, or takes repose at pleasure. those principles of moral action on These obligations, which reason which the public good rests, and can conjecture, the law of God enwhich had their existence before forces in more definite forms. society was formed.

There, all morality, that respects For this purpose it will not be the mutual transactions of men, is

[blocks in formation]

made to rest upon an equal regard has not called me to, he may not for ourselves and others, which have armed me against. Besides, would unite the action of individ. I am not the only man whose hapuals in a system of general advan- piness is of consequence, and, in tage. There it is made plain, that case I am to enjoy my fortune, I from the disregard of that principle. am bound to inquire what I render spring all the wrongs which are in to my fellow-men for the sums the community-all theft, all fraud, which I take from them.” all violence. From that law, there- “But my friend,” his tempter fore, may we gather infallible might say, you have certainly formeans for judging of the morality of gotten one part of the system. Your any system which proposes the ad- neighbours will have the same opvantage of one man or class of men, portunity with yourself, for the at the expense of all others. premium. Some, among you all,

Now let a person whose moral will gain advantage ; and certainfeelings are regulated by the rules ly it is worth the while to pay a of right, become acquainted, for trifle for the chance of enlarging the first time, with a lottery-scheme; your estate, by only taking from and, having never reflected upon its the multitude a sum which, divided public effects, let it be proposed to among all, will never be felt.” him to engage as an adventurer ;- "Nay then, I do not see but it what may we suppose to be his is the many who must suffer loss course of thought while looking at for the one ;-who might, with as its lawfulness for himself, as an in- good reason, sụffer loss for them. dividual. As he would not wish to And why should my neighbor wish engage in an enterprise so evident- to gain a trifle from me? If he ly novel, without reflecting first ought to have it, I can give it with upon its proper character, he would a better grace than so.

Your plan naturally inquire, “ What object do is not a just one. It would make us you propose to me, and from what each willing to deprive the rest of principle among my motives, shall what he can, without returning an I act ?” The answer must be, equal benefit; which none but a plainly, the acquisition of property, covetous man would consent to." and that desire of riches which all Why, at this rate,” the lottery

“Well,” he would say, advocate might perhaps return, “ but the desire of riches may be “ there is hardly any thing that covetous, and can never be inno- would escape your censure; for cent except when indulged with how few are the persons who in moderation and the prospect of be- dealing, act upon such principles ing useful. Your proposal would at all. Look to that merchant, induce me either to gain nothing, across the way, displaying his stock or, possibly, an abundance; and I for the admiration of buyers, his do not see that a system which eye sparkling with the expectation would make us rich without our of profit; do you believe that he labouring for it has any great ac- cares, more than I do, for the equivcordance with those principles on

alent he renders ? Observe in all which God conducts his providence the crowd that move along in this in this world. I should fear to tide of business ; how many can be step aside from the established found who have any thoughts becourse of nature, in search of a yond their own advantage ? To be fortune which there is no evidence consistent, then, carry your objecthat my Maker designs me to have ; tion through, and say, that trade and should dread the danger of and commerce had better be remeeting temptations which, as he duced to inaction."

men have.


To this the inquirer would doubt- define the “love of money-the less make reply: “I own, that feruile source of mischief, but as a many follow an honourable calling kind of abstract aspiring, which with unsuitable desires ; but I dis- has gained an ascendency so great, cern, nevertheless, a wide distinc- that the subject of it will catch at tion between their pursuits and almost every means for promoting yours.

Yonder merchant, what- his object ? Now, although it may ever he be thinking of, does be difficult to describe the blamea. certainly give the value of his bar- ble desire for property in any form gain; and the useful end of his of words which shall define it from actions is one reason for trusting that which is unavoidable and propthe goodness of his intentions, er, still it is known to be a besetwhich on your behalf cannot be ting evil ; and every man may susurged. The distinction is, that, pect it of himself who, with his while other occupations may admit means of comfort tolerably supthe inducements of cupidity, this plied, cannot rest easy

without excludes all others; and that, more. If lottery-adventure does not while those compel pernicious mo- imply this spirit, already existing, tives to a measure of usefulness, it conducts to it. If that be doubtyours would render the purest un- ful, ask yourself ;—why has a man profitable. No man can innocently admitted the design of seeking his join in such a scheme, which acts fortune in the wheel, if he haye not upon unlawful passions, and rests already fixed his eye upon it? And, upon the unmingled desire for rich- if he have embarked only a few

desires, is it not the quality of imAmong these reflections, which, agination to blow them up, till deto a conscientious man, would be sires are kindled into longing ? And apt to present themselves at once, if he have gone only so far as and cloud the scheme with an air to cherish a willing hope of receivof suspicion, almost as soon as de- ing at the hands of chance benefits veloped, there are two that deserve which do not belong to him, and particular notice. One of these which he has not merited by any respects the desire of getting the labour, or industry, or invention, property of other men into posses- has he not transgressed the terms sion, without reciprocal benefit; of that great prohibition which and if this be compared with the stands the barrier, on this subject, tenth commandment, it must ap- between crime and innocence ? pear directly hostile. The other Or, if example should be thought relates to the disposition of gaining more forcible than conclusions from sudden wealth without the trouble general principles, very practical of labour ;-a disposition contain- illustrations of the doctrine are at ing the seeds, if not the elements, hand, from exhibitions which every of discontent and immoderate cra- day among us witnesses. Here is yings.

a man betting on his neighbour's Let the word of God be here, as horse,-here is bis neighbour who every where, our guide. “He takes up the bet:-between them that maketh haste to be rich shall is the spirit of lottery-adventure not be innocent." What temper displayed in all the characters which does this warning set us on our have been mentioned. The exhiguard against, if it be not that of bition of the spirit, in this case, discontent with the common gifts will hardly gain the epithet of morof Providence and a restlessness to al, beyond the circle of the parties better our condition by sudden and and their associates. large accessions ? And how may one This leads me to remark, that on

« PreviousContinue »