Timothy Shay Arthur, 1856
"For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs!" 1 Timothy 6:7-10
The error of life into which men most readily fall — is the pursuit of wealth as the highest good of existence. While riches command respect, win position, and secure comfort — it is expected that they will be regarded by all classes with a strong desire. But the undue reverence which is everywhere manifested for wealth — the prestige which is conceded to it, the homage which is paid to it, the perpetual worship which is offered to it — all tend to magnify its desirableness, and awaken longings for its possession in the minds of those born without wealth.
In society, as at present observed, the acquisition of money would seem to be the height of human aim — the great object of living, to which all other purposes are made subordinate!
Money, which exalts the lowly — and sheds honor upon the exalted;
money, which makes sin appear goodness — and gives to viciousness the show of chastity;
money, which silences evil report — and opens wide the mouth of praise;
money, which constitutes its possessor an oracle — to whom men listen with deference;
money, which makes deformity beautiful — and sanctifies crime;
money, which lets the guilty go unpunished — and wins forgiveness for wrong;
money, which makes manhood and old age respectable — and is commendation, surety, and good name for the young —
How shall it be gained? by what schemes shall it gathered in? by what sacrifice shall it secured?
These are the questions which absorb the mind — the practical answerings of which engross the life of men. The schemes are too often those of fraud, and outrage upon the sacred obligations of being; the sacrifice, loss of the highest moral sense, the destruction of the purest susceptibilities of nature, the neglect of internal life and development, the utter and sad perversion of the true purposes of existence.
Money is valued beyond its worth — it has gained a power vastly above its deserving. Wealth . . .
is courted so slavishly,
is flattered so servilely,
is so influential in molding opinions and judgment,
has such a weight in the estimation of character —
that men regard its acquisition as the most prudent aim of their endeavors, and its possession as absolute enjoyment and honor, rather than the means of honorable, useful, and happy life.
While riches are thus over-estimated, and hold such power in the community, that men will . . .
sacrifice social pleasures,
and abandon principle —
for the speedy acquirement of property!
Money is not regarded as the means of living — but as the object of life. All nobler ends will be neglected, in the eager haste to be rich. No higher pursuit will be recognized, than the pursuit of gold — no attainment deemed so desirable, as the attainment of wealth. While the great man of every circle is the rich man — in the common mind, wealth becomes the synonym of greatness. No condition is discernable superior, to that which money confers. No loftier idea of manhood is entertained, than that which embraces the extent of one's possessions.
There is a wealth of heart — better than gold. There is an interior adornment — fairer than outward ornament. There is a splendor in upright life — beside which gems are lustreless. There is a fineness of character — whose beauty outvies the glitter of diamonds. Man's true riches are hidden in his virtues, and in their development and increase — he will find his surest happiness!
"Do not wear yourself out to get rich; have the wisdom to show restraint. Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle!" Proverbs 23:4-5