Having gained all you can, by honest wisdom and unwearied diligence, the second rule of
Christian prudence is, "Save all you can." Do not throw the precious talent into the sea:
Leave that folly to heathen philosophers. Do not throw it away in idle expenses, which is
just the same as throwing it into the sea. Expend no part of it merely to gratify the desire of
the flesh, the desire of the eye, or the pride of life.
Do not waste any part of so precious a talent merely in gratifying the desires of the flesh; in
procuring the pleasures of sense of whatever kind; particularly, in enlarging the pleasure of
tasting. I do not mean, avoid gluttony and drunkenness only: An honest heathen would
condemn these. But there is a regular, reputable kind of sensuality, an elegant epicurism,
which does not immediately disorder the stomach, nor (sensibly, at least) impair the
understanding. And yet (to mention no other effects of it now) it cannot be maintained
without considerable expense. Cut off all this expense! Despise delicacy and variety, and be
content with what plain nature requires.
Do not waste any part of so precious a talent merely in gratifying the desire of the eye by
superfluous or expensive apparel, or by needless ornaments. Waste no part of it in curiously
adorning your houses; in superfluous or expensive furniture; in costly pictures, painting,
gilding, books; in elegant rather than useful gardens. Let your neighbours, who know
nothing better, do this: "Let the dead bury their dead." But "what is that to thee?" says our
Lord: "Follow thou me." Are you willing? Then you are able so to do.
Lay out nothing to gratify the pride of life, to gain the admiration or praise of men. This
motive of expense is frequently interwoven with one or both of the former. Men are
expensive in diet, or apparel, or furniture, not barely to please their appetite, or to gratify
their eye, their imagination, but their vanity too. "So long as thou dost well unto thyself,
men will speak good of thee." So long as thou art "clothed in purple and fine linen, and
farest sumptuously every day," no doubt many will applaud thy elegance of taste, thy
generosity and hospitality. But do not buy their applause so dear. Rather be content with the
honour that cometh from God.
Who would expend anything in gratifying these desires if he considered that to gratify them
is to increase them? Nothing can be more certain than this: Daily experience shows, the
more they are indulged, they increase the more. Whenever, therefore, you expend anything
to please your taste or other senses, you pay so much for sensuality. When you lay out
money to please your eye, you give so much for an increase of curiosity,-- for a stronger
attachment to these pleasures which perish in the using. While you are purchasing anything
which men use to applaud, you are purchasing more vanity. Had you not then enough of
vanity, sensuality, curiosity before? Was there need of any addition? And would you pay for
it, too? What manner of wisdom is this? Would not the literally throwing your money into
the sea be a less mischievous folly?
And why should you throw away money upon your children, any more than upon yourself,
in delicate food, in gay or costly apparel, in superfluities of any kind? Why should you
purchase for them more pride or lust, more vanity, or foolish and hurtful desires? They do
not want any more; they have enough already; nature has made ample provision for them:
Why should you be at farther expense to increase their temptations and snares, and to pierce
them through with more sorrows?
Do not leave it to them to throw away. If you have good reason to believe that they would
waste what is now in your possession in gratifying and thereby increasing the desire of the
flesh, the desire of the eye, or the pride of life at the peril of theirs and your own soul, do
not set these traps in their way. Do not offer your sons or your daughters unto Belial, any
more than unto Moloch. Have pity upon them, and remove out of their way what you may
easily foresee would increase their sins, and consequently plunge them deeper into
How amazing then is the infatuation of those parents who think they
can never leave their children enough! What! cannot you leave them enough of arrows,
firebrands, and death? Not enough of foolish and hurtful desires? Not enough of pride, lust,
ambition vanity? not enough of everlasting burnings? Poor wretch! thou fearest where no
fear is. Surely both thou and they, when ye are lifting up your eyes in hell, will have enough
both of the "worm that never dieth," and of "the fire that never shall be quenched!"
"What then would you do, if you was in my case? If you had a considerable fortune to
leave?" Whether I would do it or no, I know what I ought to do: This will admit of no
reasonable question. If I had one child, elder or younger, who knew the value of money; one
who I believed, would put it to the true use, I should think it my absolute, indispensable
duty to leave that child the bulk of my fortune; and to the rest just so much as would enable
them to live in the manner they had been accustomed to do. "But what, if all your children
were equally ignorant of the true use of money?" I ought then (hard saying! who can hear
it?) to give each what would keep him above want, and to bestow all the rest in such a
manner as I judged would be most for the glory of God.