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About The commoner. (Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-1923 | View Entire Issue (April 12, 1901)
The Bible on Riches.
The Young Men's Christian Association of
Cleveland Ohio is discussing the subject of
riches and attempting to apply the Bible to
present day conditions. As the question is of
more or less interest to all, the following reply
to an inquiry is given:
Dear Sir I am in receipt of your favor ask
ing for an opinion as to the present application of
the first six verses of the fifth chapter of James,
and saying that a similar request had been sent
to a number of other persons. The passage re
ferred to reads:
"Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for
your miseries that shall come upon you.
2. Your riches are corrupted, and your gar
ments are moth-eaten.
3. Your gold and silver is cankered; and the
rust of them shall be a witness against you, and
shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have
heaped treasure together for the last days.
4. Behold, the hire of the laborers who have
reaped down your fields, which is of you kept
back by fraud, crieth; and the cries of them which
have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord
5. Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and
been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts, as
in a day of slaughter.
6. Ye have condemned and killed the just;
and he doth not resist you."
James, in the language quoted, condemned the
practices indulged in by the rich to whom he was
addressing his rebuke, and, since moral truths do
not change, the same rebuke would under the same
circumstances and. conditions be administered to-
In considering a man's riches we must in
quire, first, how they were acquired; second, how
they are employed, and, third, what effect the pos
session of them has wrought upon his character.
The verses quoted furnish an answer to all
three questions so far as they apply to the persons
whom James was addressing. Verses four and
six charge them with dishonesty, fraud and mur
dei in acquiring their money; verse five warrants
the -conclusion that they were spending their
money in the purchase of pleasure; and from the
entire pasage it is evident that the possession of
riches had dwaned their natures and deformed
In applying the text to the present day three
propositions should be borne in mind:
First No money is, in a moral sense, earned
unless the person who receives the money makes
to society an adequate return for the same. This
does not exclude an inheritance. A person can in
herit from an ancestor physical strength or mental
vigor as well as money, just as he may Involun
tarily acquire high ideals and virtuous inclinations
from the environment Of youth, but all these gifts
impose upon him a responsibility for their proper
use. If one inherits money which was originally
acquired by unlawful means, and accepts it with
knowledge of the fact, he is in the position -of one
who receives stolen goods.
Second Morally speaking, only that use of
money can be defended which sustains, developes
and strengthens the user and qualifies him for
greater usefulness. In this connection he is to
consider not only himself, but those also with
whose care and welfare he is charged.
Third Ine possession of wealth, if rightfully
acquired and properly used, need not necessarily
injure its possessor or exert a baleful influence
up'on his character: But that it may, and often
dees, contract his sympathies and separate him
from his fellow men, is too evident to admit of
refutation. No limit can be fixed with mathemat
ical accuracy but wealth becomes a misfortune
whenever it disqualifies his possessor for the dis
charge of the duties-whioh he owes to society.
It is not money itself, but the love of it and the
struggle for it, to the neglect of more important
things, that operate injuriously.
Paul in his first epistle to Timothy, chapter
"But they that will be rich fall Into temptation
and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful
lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdi
tion. For the love of money is tho root of all evil;
which while some coveted after they have erred
from the faith, and pierced themselves through
with many sorrows."
And, to cite the highest authority, Christ, in
explaining the parable of the sower, Matt, chapter
"He also that receiveth seed among the thorns
is he that heareth the word; and the care of this
world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the
word, and he becometh unfruitful."
Agur, speaking seven hundred .years before
the Christian era, expressed a wish for himself,
(Proverbs, 30. 8.) that contains so much philos
ophy as well as morality that it cannot be im
proved upon even today:
"Give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me
with food convenient for me: Lest I'be full and
deny thee and say Who is tne Lord? or lest I
be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God
In applying scriptural truths to every day life
it is difficult for one person to pass judgment upon
the conduct of another, for no one is in possession
of all the facts which affect the decision of his
neighbor. The most that can be said is that each
should subject his own conduct to frequent scru
tiny to the end that he may always be able to
defend it on moral as well as legal grounds.
W. J. BRYAN.
Destroying the Civil Service.
The republican platform of 1890 pledged
fidelity to the civil service system. Mr. McKin
lcy, in his letter of acceptance, emphasized that
pledge; and yet, during his first administra
tion, with one stroke of the pen, Mr. McKinlcy
removed several thousand public oflicers from
. the civil service list.
Recently a vacanoy on the Civil Service
. Commission was to be filled. Mr. McKinlcy
appointed for that place former Congressman
Rodenberg of Illinois.
The New. York Times has discovered that
on February 17, 1900, while Mr. Rodenberg
was a member of Congress, Congressman Mudd,
a republican from Maryland, moved to strike
from an appropriation bill the amount provided
for the payment of the expenses of the Civil
Service Commission for the fiscal year. Con
gressman Rodenberg voted in favor of Con
gressman Mudd's motion, thus placing himself
on record as being antagonistic to the" civil
The Philadelphia Times, commenting upon
this strange appointment, says:
"Many members of Congress have been, like
the Maine statesman with regard to prohibition,"
in favor of civil service reform but 'agin'
its enforcement. Mr. Rodenberg, of Il
linois, however, is one of those who have been
'agin' it all the time, in theory as well as in prac
tice, and ho is on record in the late Congress as
acting to cut off the appropriation for the Civil
"This ia the person selected by President Mc
Kinley to be a member of the very body which he
wished to abolish. Mr. Rodenberg has been ap
pointed to succeed the late Mr. Brewer on the
Civil Service Commission. It was not a very en
thusiastic group of civil service reformers before,
but this appointment makes its attitude rather
"Mr. McKinley himself is more devoted to civil
service reform in theory than in practice, but even
he would hardly have made an appointment so as-
tonishingly unfit by deliberate choice. The fact
was that Rodenborg had been left at home by his
constituents and had to bo cared for. Tho hon
orary comml8sionorship and other sinecures had
all been taken up by ex-Sonators, and there was
nothing 'equally as good' left for Rodenborg until
this vacancy happily occurred and he claimed it.
"There is not much left of the Civil Service
Commission that in times past did so much to pro
mote tho efficiency of tho service and protect It
from political blackmail, and there will be still
less .when Rodenberg gets through with it. But
ho will suit the administration and please the
spoilsmen, and he has at least the merit of making
no false pretenses." '
The Value of a Life.
It is impossible to compulo tho value of a
human life and all attempts at it result in fix
ing a figure that is purely arbitrary, but Con
gressman Meyer of Louisiana makes a pertinent
suggestion when he compares the compensation
demanded of China with the compensation
awarded against railroad companies in the
United States. He says:
"It will hardly do for a nation that expended
three or four hundred millions of dollars for the
sake of humanity in the war with Spain to crowd
China to the wall with heavy damages for al
leged Injuries. If the matter has to be ratified
by Congress, I am sure that the sentiment will be
in favor of only rncelving tho. most moderate com
pensation. In this country for instance, tho
courts allow only $5,000 for the death of a man
in a railroad accident, and we ought not to de
mand from China five, ten, or fifteen times that
amount for the death of a missionary. We are
entitled to some damages, but I sincerely hope we
will not name an exorbitant figure simply because
foreign nations do so in the hope of wrecking
China and dividing the empire among themselves."
O, Captain! My Captainl
;By Walt .Whitman.
(The Commoner of February 13th contained
Lincoln's favorite poem, entitled, "O, why
Should tho Spirit of Mortal be Proud?" Soon
afterwards letters were received from several
readers calling attention to Walt Whitman's
tribute to the martyred president, written im
mediately after his death. As the assassina
tion of Lincoln occurred on the 14th of April,
it is fitting that this number should contain the
O, Captain! My Captain! pur fearful trip is done;
The ship has weathered every rack, the prize we
sought is won;
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim
But, O, heart! heart! heart!
O, the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.
O, Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear to
Rise up! for you the flag is flung for you the
For you bouquets and ribboned wreaths for you
the shore's a-crowding,
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager
Here, Captain! dear father!
This arm beneath your head!
It Is some dream that on the deck
You've fallen cold and dead.
My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse
The ship is anchored safe and sound, its voyage
closed and done,
From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with
Exult O shores, and ring, O, bells!
But I with mournful tread,"
Walk the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.
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