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may be committed from inattention; but in the great majority of cases it is done from design. Than this there is no sin more characteristic of a heart utterly hardened, as it so materially affects the comforts of those who have little more than the necessaries of life, and from whose little pittance it is the extreme of cruelty and inhumanity to abstract.
There is a fraud often practised in this country, immoral in its nature, tendency, and consequences, which many do not reprobate with the severity which it merits : I allude to smuggling. The delusion which lulls asleep the moral feelings of multitudes in regard to this evil is, that they consider it, in the particular instances which fall under their observation, a deduction from the national revenue too minute to claim attention; not recollecting, that were the practice to become general, it would prove the destruction of one entire branch of public revenue ; a proportionable increase of the burden upon other branches; and the ruin of all fair and open trade in the article smuggled. But this reasoning, conclusive as it is, and shewing it to be the imperious duty and interest of every honest man and good subject to suppress every species of illicit traffic, is not necessary to those who obey the authority of revelation.
“ For this cause pay ye tribute also ; for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render, therefore, to all their dues : tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom ; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour* III. The receiving payment for services contracted
Rom. ch. xiii. 7-9.
for, but which in reality are not rendered, is another species of fraud. The cases which come under this head are numerous,-extending to every breach of contract, whether implied or expressly made When a person receives a commission from another, he in fact engages to bestow the same care, attention, and diligence on it, as if it were his own ;-aware that it was on this condition he was intrusted with it. This bolds true of the domestic servant who is made acquainted with the nature of the service expected from him, and which he, by undertaking it, promises to render. Should he intentionally fail, he receives wages which he has not earned, and is guilty of deliberate fraud.
The same remark is applicable to agents of every description,--to all who are in situations of trust, to the advocate who engages to plead the cause of his client,—to the medical man who promises to give the full advantage of his skill to his patient, -to the teacher who undertakes to make his pupils acquainted with certain branches of knowledge,-and above all to the christian preacher and pastor, who is expected to be under the influence of the most elevated motives, and who binds himself by ties the most sacred to discharge faithfully the duties of his high vocation. These, and several other offices, cannot, from their very nature, and from the confidence which is reposed in the character and conduct of individual persons, be performed, in ordinary circumstances, by deputy. Who would intrust his business to an agent or an advocate, or his health to a physician, or his children to a teacher, or his property or reputation to the
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.
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
I 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
* 1 Peter ch. y. 2-4.