Lectures to Young Men on
Various Important Subjects
Henry Ward Beecher, 1849
"The generation of the upright will be blessed. Wealth and riches are in his house, and his righteousness endures forever." Psalm 112:2-3
"He who gets riches, by unjust means, shall leave them in the midst of his days, and at the end shall be a fool." Jeremiah 17:11
When justly obtained, and rationally used riches are called a gift of God, an evidence of his favor, and a great reward. When gathered unjustly, and corruptly used wealth is pronounced a canker, a rust, a fire, a curse. There is no contradiction, then, when the Bible persuades to industry, and integrity, by a promise of riches; and then dissuades from wealth, as a terrible thing, destroying soul and body. Blessings are vindictive to abusers, and kind to rightful users; they serve us or rule us. Fire warms our dwelling or consumes it. Steam serves man and also destroys him. Iron, in the plough, the sickle, the house, the ship, is indispensable. The assassin's knife, the cruel sword and the spear, are iron also.
The constitution of man, and of society, alike evinces the design of God. Both are made to be happier by the possession of riches their full development and perfection are dependent, to a large extent, upon wealth. Without it, there can be neither books nor implements; neither commerce nor arts, neither towns nor cities. It is a folly to denounce that, a love of which God has placed in man by a constitutional faculty; that, with which he has associated high grades of happiness; that, which has motives touching every faculty of the mind.
Wealth is an Artist by its patronage men are encouraged to paint, to carve, to design, to build and adorn. Wealth is a master-mechanic and inspires man to invent, to discover, to apply, to forge, and to fashion. Wealth is a Gardener and under its influence men rear the flock, till the earth, plant the vineyard, the field, the orchard, and the garden. Wealth is a manufacturer and teaches men to card, to spin, to weave, to color and dress all useful fabrics. Wealth is a Merchant and sends forth ships, and fills ware-houses with their returning cargoes gathered from every zone. Wealth is the scholar's patron it sustains his leisure, rewards his labor, builds the college, and gathers the library.
Is a man weak? he can buy the strong. Is he ignorant? the learned will serve his wealth. Is he crude of speech? he may procure the advocacy of the eloquent. The rich cannot buy honor but honorable places, they can; they cannot purchase nobility but they may its titles. Money cannot buy freshness of heart but it can every luxury which tempts to enjoyment. Laws are its body-guard, and no earthly power may safely defy it; either while running in the swift channels of commerce, or reposing in the reservoirs of ancient families.
Here is an astonishing thing that gold, an inert metal, which neither thinks, nor feels, nor stirs can set the whole world to thinking, planning, running, digging, fashioning, and drives on the sweaty mass with never-ending labors!
Avarice seeks gold, not to build or buy therewith; not to clothe or feed itself; not to make it an instrument of wisdom, of skill, of friendship, or religion. Avarice seeks it to heap it up; to walk around the pile, and gloat upon it; to fondle, and court, to kiss and hug the darling stuff to the end of life, with the homage of idolatry.
Pride seeks it for it gives power, and place, and titles, and exalts its possessor above his fellows. To be a thread in the fabric of life, just like any other thread, hoisted up and down by the treddle, played across by the shuttle, and woven tightly into the piece, this may suit humility but not pride.
Vanity seeks it what else can give it costly clothing, and rare ornaments, and stately dwellings, and showy equipage, and attract admiring eyes to its gaudy colors and costly jewels?
Taste seeks it because by it, may be had whatever is beautiful, or refining, or instructive. What leisure has poverty for study, and how can it collect books, manuscripts, pictures, statues, coins, or curiosities?
Love seeks it to build a home full of delights for father, wife or child; and, wisest of all,
Religion seeks it to make it the messenger and servant of benevolence, to need, to suffering, and to ignorance.
What a sight does the busy world present, as of a great workshop, where hope and fear, love and pride, and lust, and pleasure, and avarice, separate or in partnership drive on the universal race for wealth! Delving in the mine, digging in the earth, sweltering at the forge, plying the shuttle, ploughing the waters; in houses, in shops, in stores, on the mountain-side, or in the valley; by skill, by labor, by thought, by craft, by force, by traffic; all men, in all places, by all labors, fair and unfair, the world around, busy, busy; ever searching for wealth that wealth may supply their pleasures.
As every taste and inclination may receive its gratification through riches, the universal and often fierce pursuit of it arises, not from the single impulse of avarice but from the impulse of the whole mind; and on this very account, its pursuits should be more exactly regulated.
Let me set up a warning over against the special dangers which lie along the Road To RICHES.
I. I warn you against thinking that riches necessarily confer happiness; and that poverty always brings unhappiness.Do not begin life supposing that you shall be heart-rich, when you are purse-rich. A man's happiness depends primarily upon his disposition; if that is good riches will bring pleasure; but only vexation if his disposition is evil.
To lavish money upon shining trifles,
to make an idol of one's self for fools to gaze at,
to rear mansions beyond our needs,
to garnish them for display and not for use,
to chatter through the heartless rounds of pleasure,
to lounge, to gape, to simper and giggle
can wealth make Vanity happy by such folly?
If wealth descends upon AVARICE does it confer happiness? It blights the heart, as autumnal fires ravage the prairies! The eye glows with greedy cunning, conscience shrivels, the light of love goes out, and the wretch moves amidst his coin no better, no happier than a loathsome reptile in a mine of gold. A dreary fire of self-love burns in the bosom of the avaricious rich, as a hermit's flame in a ruined temple of the desert. The fire is kindled for no deity, and is odorous with no incense but only warms the shivering hermit.
Wealth will do little for LUST but to hasten its corruption. There is no more happiness in a foul heart than there is health in a pestilent morass. Satisfaction is not made out of such stuff as fighting carousals, obscene revelry, and midnight orgies. An alligator, gorging or swollen with surfeit and basking in the sun has the same happiness which riches bring to the man who eats to gluttony, drinks to drunkenness, and sleeps to stupidity.
But riches indeed bless that heart whose almoner is Benevolence. If the taste is refined, if the affections are pure, if conscience is honest, if charity listens to the needy, and generosity relieves them; if the public-spirited hand fosters all that embellishes and all that ennobles society then is the rich man happy.
On the other hand, do not suppose that all poverty is a waste and howling wilderness. There is a poverty of vice base, loathsome, covered with all the sores of depravity. There is a poverty of indolence where virtues sleep, and passions fret and bicker. There is a poverty which despondency makes a deep dungeon, in which the victim wears hopeless chains. May God save you from that! There is a spiteful and venomous poverty in which base and cankered hearts, repairing none of their own losses, spit at others' prosperity, and curse the rich themselves doubly cursed by their own hearts.
But there is a contented poverty in which industry and peace rule; and a joyful hope, which looks out into another world where riches shall neither fly nor fade. This poverty may possess an independent mind, a heart ambitious of usefulness, a hand quick to sow the seed of other men's happiness, and find its own joy in their enjoyment. If a serene age finds you in such poverty, it is such a wilderness, if it be a wilderness, as that in which God led his chosen people, and on which he rained every day a heavenly manna.
If God opens to your feet the way to wealth, enter it cheerfully; but remember that riches will either bless or curse you as your own heart determines. But if circumscribed by necessity, you are still indigent, after all your industry, do not scorn poverty. There is often in the hut, more dignity than in the palace. There is often more satisfaction in the poor man's scanty fare than in the rich man's satiety.
II. Men are warned in the Bible against making haste to be rich."He who hastens to be rich has an evil eye, and considers not that poverty shall come upon him!" This is spoken, not of the alacrity of enterprise but of the precipitancy of avarice. That is an evil eye which leads a man into trouble by incorrect vision. When a man seeks to prosper by crafty tricks instead of careful industry; when a man's inordinate covetousness pushes him across all lines of honesty that he may sooner clutch the prize; when gambling speculation would reap where it had not strewn; when men gain riches by crimes there is an Evil Eye, which guides them through a specious prosperity, to inevitable ruin!
So dependent is success upon patient industry, that he who seeks it otherwise, tempts his own ruin. A young lawyer, unwilling to wait for that practice which rewards a good reputation, or unwilling to earn that reputation by severe application, rushes through all the dirty paths of chicanery to a hasty prosperity; and he rushes out of it, by the dirtier paths of discovered villainy. A young politician, scarcely waiting until the law allows him, sturdily begs for that popularity which he should have patiently earned. In the ferocious conflicts of political life, cunning, intrigue, falsehood, slander, vituperative violence, at first sustain his pretensions and at last demolish them. It is thus in all the ways of traffic, in all the arts, and trades. That prosperity which grows like the mushroom is as poisonous as the mushroom! Few men are destroyed but many destroy themselves.
When God sends wealth to bless men he sends it gradually like a gentle rain. When God sends riches to punish men they come tumultuously, like a roaring torrent, tearing up landmarks and sweeping all before them in promiscuous ruin. Almost every evil which environs the path to wealth, springs from that criminal haste which substitutes adroitness for industry, and trick for toil.
III. Let me warn you against Covetousness."You shall not covet," is the law by which God sought to bless a favorite people. Covetousness is greediness of money. The Bible meets it with significant woes, by God's hatred, by solemn warnings, by denunciations, by exclusion from Heaven! This financial gluttony comes upon the competitors for wealth insidiously. At first, business is only a means of paying for our pleasures. Vanity soon whets the appetite for money, to sustain her parade and competition, to gratify her jealousies. Pride throws in fuel for a brighter flame. Vindictive hatreds often augment the passion, until the whole soul glows as a fervent furnace, and the body is driven as a boat whose ponderous engine trembles with the utmost energy of steam.
Covetousness is unprofitable. It defeats its own purposes. It breeds restless daring, where it is dangerous to venture. It works the mind to fever, so that its judgments are not cool, nor its calculations calm. Greed of money is like fire; the more fuel it has the hotter it burns. Everything conspires to intensify the heat. Loss excites by desperation, and gain by exhilaration. When there is fever in the blood, there is fire on the brain; and courage turns to rashness, and rashness runs to ruin.
Covetousness breeds misery. The sight of houses better than our own, of dress beyond our means, of jewels costlier than we may wear, of stately equipage, and rare curiosities beyond our reach these hatch the viper brood of covetous thoughts; vexing the poor who would be rich; tormenting the rich who would be richer. The covetous man pines to see pleasure; is sad in the presence of cheerfulness; and the joy of the world is his sorrow because all the happiness of others is not his. I do not wonder that God abhors him! He inspects his heart, as he would a cave full of foul birds, or a nest of rattling reptiles, and loathes the sight of its crawling tenants! To the covetous man, life is a nightmare, and God lets him wrestle with it as best he may. Mammon might build its palace on such a heart, and Pleasure bring all its revelry there, and Honor all its garlands it would be like pleasures in a sepulcher, and garlands on a tomb.
The creed of the greedy man is brief and consistent; and unlike other creeds, is both subscribed and believed. The chief end of man is to glorify Gold and enjoy him forever.
Life is a time afforded man to grow rich in;
death, the winding up of speculations;
Heaven, a mart with golden streets;
Hell, a place where shiftless men are punished with everlasting poverty.
God searched among the beasts for a fit emblem of contempt, to describe the end of a covetous prince: He shall be buried with the burial of an Donkey, drawn and cast forth beyond the gates of Jerusalem. He whose heart is turned to greediness, who sweats through life under the load of labor only to heap up money, and dies without private usefulness, or a record of public service is no better, in God's estimation, than a pack-horse a mule an donkey; a creature for burdens, to be beaten, and worked and killed, and dragged off by another like him, abandoned to the birds and forgotten.
He is buried with the burial of an donkey! This is the Miser's Epitaph and yours, Young Man! if you earn it by covetousness!
IV. I warn you against Selfishness.Of riches it is written: "There is no good in them, but for a man to rejoice and to do good in his life." If men selfishly absorb their property, it parches the heart so that it will not give forth blossoms and fruits but only thorns and thistles. If men radiate and reflect upon others some rays of the prosperity which shines upon themselves then wealth is not only harmless but full of advantage.
The thoroughfares of wealth are crowded by a throng who jostle, and thrust, and conflict like men in the tumult of a battle. The rules which crafty old men breathe into the ears of the young, are full of selfish wisdom teaching them that the chief end of man is to harvest and to hoard. Their life is made obedient to a scale of preferences graded from a sordid experience; a scale which has poverty for one extreme, and stinginess for the other; and the virtues are ranked between them as they are relatively fruitful in physical thrift. Every crevice of the heart is caulked with stingy maxims so that no precious drop of wealth may leak out through inadvertent generosities. Indeed, generosity and all its company, are thought to be little better than pilfering pick-locks, against whose wiles the heart is prepared, like a coin-vault, with iron-clenched walls of stone, and impenetrable doors. Mercy, pity, and sympathy are vagrant fowls; and that they may not scale the fence between a man and his neighbors, their wings are clipped by the miser's master-maxim Charity Begins At Home. It certainly stays there.
The habit of regarding men as dishonest rivals, dries up, also, the kindlier feelings. A shrewd trafficker must watch his fellows, be suspicious of their offers, vigilant of their movements, and jealous of their pledges. The world's way is a very crooked way, and a very deceitful one. Its travelers creep by stealth, or walk craftily, or glide, in concealments, or appear in specious guises. He who stands watching among men, to pluck his advantage from their hands, or to lose it by their wiles comes at length to regard all men as either enemies or instruments. Of course he thinks it fair to strip an enemy; and just as fair to use an instrument. Men are no more to him than bales, boxes, or goods mere matters of business. If he ever relaxes his commercial rigidity to indulge in the fictions of poetry, it is when, perhaps on Sundays or at a funeral, he talks quite prettily about friendship, and generosity, and philanthropy. The tightest ship may leak in a storm, and an unbartered penny may escape from this man, when the surprise of the solicitation gives no time for thought.
The heart cannot wholly petrify without some honest revulsions. Opiates are administered to it. This business-man tells his heart that it is beset by unscrupulous enemies; that beneficent virtues are doors to let them in; that liberality is bread given to one's foes; and selfishness only self-defense. At the same time, he enriches the future with generous promises. While he is getting rich, he cannot afford to be liberal; but when once he is rich, ah! how liberal he means to be! As though habits could be unbuckled like a belt, and were not rather steel-bands riveted, defying the edge of any man's resolution, and clasping the heart with invincible servitude!
Thorough selfishness destroys or paralyzes enjoyment. A heart made selfish by the contest for wealth, is like a citadel stormed in war. The banner of victory waves over dilapidated walls, desolate chambers, and magazines riddled with artillery. Men, covered with sweat, and begrimed with toil expect to find joy in a heart reduced by selfishness to a smouldering heap of ruins.
I warn every aspirant for wealth, against the infernal canker of selfishness. It will eat out of the heart with the fire of Hell, or bake it harder than a stone! The heart of avaricious old age stands like a bare rock in a bleak wilderness, and there is no rod of authority, nor incantation of pleasure, which can draw from it one crystal drop to quench the raging thirst for satisfaction. But listen not to my words alone; hear the solemn voice of God, pronouncing doom upon the selfish: "Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire!"
5. I warn you against seeking wealth by Covert Dishonesty.The everlasting plea of petty fraud or open dishonesty, is, its necessity or profitableness.
But it is neither necessary nor profitable. The hope is a deception, and the excuse a lie. The severity of competition affords no reason for dishonesty in word or deed. Competition is fair but not all methods of competition. A mechanic may compete with a mechanic, by rising earlier, by greater industry, by greater skill, more punctuality, greater thoroughness, by employing better materials; by a more scrupulous fidelity to promises, and by facility in accommodation. A merchant may study to excel competitors, by a better selection of goods, by more obliging manners, by more rigid honesty, by a better knowledge of the market, by better taste in the arrangement of his goods. Industry, honesty, kindness, taste, genius and skill are the only materials of all rightful competition!
But whenever you have exerted all your knowledge, all your skill, all your industry, with long continued patience and without success, then, it is clear, not that you may proceed to employ trick and cunning but that you must stop. God has put before you a bound which no man may overleap. There may be the appearance of gain on the knavish side of the wall of honor. Traps are always baited with food sweet to the taste of the intended victim; and Satan is too crafty a trapper not to scatter the pitfall of dishonesty with some shining particles of gold.
But what if fraud were necessary to permanent success? Will you take success upon such terms? I perceive, too often, that young men regard the argument as ended, when they prove to themselves that they cannot be rich without deceit. Very well then be poor! But if you prefer money to honor you may well swear fidelity to the villain's law! If it is not base and detestable to gain by equivocation then neither is it by lying; and if not by lying then neither is it by stealing; and if not by stealing then neither by robbery or murder. Will you tolerate the loss of honor and honesty, for the sake of profit?
For exactly this, Judas betrayed Christ, and Benedict
Arnold his country. Because deceit is the only way to gain some pleasure
then . . .
may a wife yield her honor?
may a politician sell himself?
may a statesman barter his counsel?
may a judge take bribes?
may a juryman forswear himself?
or a witness commit perjury?
Then virtues are marketable commodities, and may be hung up, like meat in the shambles, or sold at auction to the highest bidder.
Who can afford a victory if gained by a defeat of his virtue? What prosperity can compensate the plundering of a man's heart? "A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches" sooner or later every man will find it so.
With what dismay would Esau have sorrowed for a lost birthright, had he lost also the pitiful porridge for which he sold it? With what double despair would Judas have clutched at death, if he had not obtained even the thirty pieces of silver which were to pay his infamy? And with what utter confusion will all dishonest men, who were learning from the Devil to defraud other men, find at length, that he was giving his most finished lesson of deception by cheating them! and making poverty and disgrace the only fruit of the lies and frauds which were framed for profit! Getting treasure by a lying tongue, is a vanity tossed to and fro by those who seek damnation!
Men have only looked upon the beginning of a career, when they pronounce upon the profitableness of dishonesty. Many a ship goes gaily out of harbor which never returns again. That only is a good voyage which brings home the richly-freighted ship. God explicitly declares that an inevitable curse of dishonesty, shall fall upon the criminal himself, or upon his children. He who by usury, and unjust gain, increases his substance he shall gather it for him who will pity the poor. His children are far from safety, and they are crushed in the gate. Neither is there any to deliver them the robber swallows up their substance.
Iniquities, whose end is dark as midnight, are permitted to open bright as the morning; the most poisonous bud unfolds with brilliant colors. So the threshold of perdition is burnished until it glows like the gate of paradise. "There is a way which seems right unto a man but the ends thereof are the ways of death!" This end is dishonesty described to the full. At first you look down upon a smooth and verdant path covered with flowers, perfumed with fragrances, and overhung with fruits and grateful shade. Its long perspective is illusive; for it ends quickly in a precipice, over which you pitch into irretrievable ruin!
For the sources of this inevitable disaster, we need look no further than the effect of dishonesty upon a man's own mind. The difference between cunning and wisdom is the difference between acting by the certain and immutable laws of nature, and acting by the shifts of temporary expedients. An honest man puts his prosperity upon the broad current of those laws which govern the world. A crafty man means to pry between them, to steer across them, to take advantage of them. An honest man steers by God's chart; and a dishonest man by his own. Which is the most liable to perplexities and fatal mistakes of judgment? Wisdom steadily ripens to the end; cunning is worm-bitten, and soon drops from the tree.
I could repeat the names of many men, (every village has such, and they swarm in cities,) who are skillful, indefatigable but audaciously dishonest; and for a time, they seemed going straight forward to the realm of wealth. But I never knew a single one to avoid ultimate ruin. Men who act under dishonest passions are like men riding fierce horses. It is not always with the rider when or where he shall stop. If for his sake, the steed dashes wildly on while the road is smooth; so, turning suddenly into a rough and dangerous way, the rider must go madly forward for the steed's sake now chafed, his mettle up, his eye afire, and beast and burden like a bolt speeding through the air, until some bound or sudden fall tumble both to the ground a crushed and mangled mass!
A man pursuing plain ends by honest means, may be troubled on every side yet not distressed; perplexed but not in despair; persecuted but not forsaken; cast down but not destroyed. But those who pursue their advantage by a round of dishonesties, "when fear comes as a desolation, and destruction as a whirlwind, when distress and anguish come upon them shall eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices; for the turning away of the simple shall slay them; and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them."
6. The Bible overflows with warnings to those who gain wealth by violent extortion, or by any flagrant villainy.Some men stealthily slip the possessions of the poor from under them. Some beguile the simple and heedless, of their inheritance. Some tyrannize over ignorance, and extort from it, its fair domains. Some steal away the senses, and intoxicate the mind the more readily and largely to cheat; some set their traps in all the dark places of men's adversity, and prowl for wrecks all along the shores, on which men's fortunes go to pieces. Men will take advantage of extreme misery, to wring it with more griping tortures, and compel it to the extreme sacrifices; and stop only when no more can be borne by the sufferer, or nothing more extracted by the usurer. The earth is as full of these avaricious monsters as the tropical forests are of beasts of prey. But amid all the lions, and tigers, and hyenas is seen the stately bulk of three huge Behemoths.
The first Behemoth is that incarnate fiend who navigates the ocean to traffic in human slavery, and freight with the groans and tears of agony. Distant shores are sought with cords and manacles; villages surprised with torch and sword; and the loathsome ship swallows what the sword and the fire have spared. By night and day the voyage speeds, and the storm spares wretches more relentless than itself. The wind wafts and the sun lights the path for a ship whose log is written in blood. Hideous profits, dripping red, even at this hour, lure these infernal miscreants to their remorseless errands. The thirst of gold inspires such courage, skill, and cunning vigilance that the thunders of four allied navies cannot sink the infamous fleet.
What wonder! Just such a Behemoth of rapacity stalks among us, and fattens on the blood of our sons. Men there are, who, without a pang or gleam of remorse, will coolly wait for character to rot, and health to sink, and means to melt that they may suck up the last drop of the victim's blood. Our streets are full of reeling wretches whose bodies and manhood and souls have been crushed and put to the press, that monsters might wring out of them a wine for their infernal thirst. The agony of midnight massacre, the frenzy of the ship's dungeon, the living death of the passage, the wails of separation, and the dismal torpor of hopeless servitude are these found only in the piracy of the slave trade? They all are among us! worse assassinations! worse dragging to a prison-ship! worse groans ringing from the stinking ship! worse separations of families! worse bondage of intemperate men, enslaved by that most inexorable of all taskmasters sexual habit!
The third Behemoth is seen lurking among the Indian savages, and bringing the arts of learning, and the skill of civilization, to aid in plundering the debauched barbarian. The cunning, murdering, scalping Indian is no match for the Christian whiteman. Compared with the midnight knavery of men reared in schools, rocked by religion, tempered and taught by the humane institutions of liberty and civilization all the craft of the savage is as twilight. Vast estates have been accumulated, without having an honest farthing in them. Our Penitentiaries might be sent to school to the Treaty-grounds and Council-grounds. Smugglers and swindlers might humble themselves in the presence of Indian traders. All the crimes against property known to our laws, nourish with unnatural vigor; and some, unknown to civilized villainy!
To swindle ignorance, to overreach simplicity, to lie without scruple to any extent; to tempt the savages to rob each other, and to receive their plunder; to sell goods at incredible prices to the sober Indian, then to intoxicate him, and steal them all back by a sham bargain, to be sold again, and stolen again; to employ falsehood, lust, threats, whisky, and even the knife and the pistol; in short to consume the Indian's substance by every vice and crime possible to an unprincipled heart inflamed with an insatiable rapacity, unwatched by Justice, and unrestrained by Law this it is to be an Indian Trader!
I would rather inherit the center of Vesuvius, or make my bed in Mount Etna, than own those estates which have been scalped off from human beings as the hunter strips a beaver of its fur. Of all these, of all who gain possessions by extortion and robbery never let yourself be envious! "For I envied the proud when I saw them prosper despite their wickedness. They seem to live such painless lives; their bodies are so healthy and strong. They dont have troubles like other people; theyre not plagued with problems like everyone else. They wear pride like a jeweled necklace and clothe themselves with cruelty. When I tried to understand all this, it was oppressive to me until I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny. Surely you place them on slippery ground; you cast them down to ruin. How suddenly are they destroyed, completely swept away by terrors!"
I would not bear their heart, who have so made money were the world a solid globe of gold, and mine! I would not stand for them in the judgment were every star of Heaven a realm of riches, and mine. I would not walk with them to the burning fires of Hell, to bear their torment, and utter their groans for the throne of God itself.
Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter:
Riches got by deceit, cheat no man so much as the getter!
Riches bought with guile God will pay for with vengeance!
Riches got by fraud are dug out of one's own heart, and destroy the mine!
Unjust riches curse the owner in getting, in keeping, in transmitting!
They curse his children in their father's memory, in their own wasteful habits, in drawing around them all bad men to be their companions.
While I do not discourage your search for wealth, I warn you that it is not a cruise upon level seas, and under kind skies. You advance where ten thousand are broken in pieces, before they reach the mart; where those who reach it are worn out by their labors, and past enjoying their riches. You seek a land pleasant to the sight but dangerous to the feet; a land of fragrant winds which lull to security; of golden fruits which are poisonous; of glorious hues which dazzle and mislead.
You may be rich and be pure but it will cost you a great struggle. You may be rich and go to Heaven but ten, doubtless, will sink beneath their riches, where one breaks through them to Heaven. If you have entered this shining way begin to look for snares and traps. Go not careless of your danger, and provoking it. See, on every side of you, how many there are who seal God's word with their blood!
"But people who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows!" 1 Timothy 6:9-10