Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me:
That virtue and happiness are generally found between opposite extremes will be universally acknowledged. If we review the economy and course of nature we shall find that extremes are unknown in its constitution, and that every temporary excess is counterpoised by another till the proper balance be restored. Extremes are the result solely of human folly and corruption. The golden rule of mediocrity is peculiarly applicable in estimating the different conditions of human life.
I. THE DANGERS, TEMPTATIONS, AND GENERAL INCONVENIENCES OF A WEALTHY AND EXALTED STATION. Many shapes of vice and misery stand behind the blaze of opulence.
1. Pride. Which deprives men of all true knowledge of themselves, and exposes them to the ill-will and enmity of others. Opulence and splendour tend to enfeeble, if not to eradicate a just notion of mutual dependence and obligation, and to introduce in its stead the absurd opinion of inherent and immutable independence and superiority.
2. Want of feeling for distress. Riches tend to shut the breast against emotions of compassion.
3. Effeminacy, indolence, and incapacity of exertion are natural attendants on riches and splendid station. But no real enjoyment can be obtained by man without some exertion. Exertion sweetens the enjoyment itself, and qualifies for increasing and multiplying it. The eye dazzled with the lustre of riches loses its aptitude for the research of truth. The rich are not often the learned.
4. Ambition. This passion agitates and engrosses the mind more than any other, to the dominion of which man is subject. Prosperous and exalted circumstances have a powerful tendency to excite and foster this outrageous passion.
5. Irreligion and profaneness. The most powerful incitements to religious affections are often perverted into causes of impiety.
II. THE TEMPTATIONS AND DANGERS OF POVERTY. Evil.
1. Either an entire want of the necessaries of life, or the purchase of them by unremitting toil and fatigue.
2. The want of a proper education.
3. Contempt. The poor are sometimes regarded as beings of another species — as beasts of burden to those who are more favoured by fortune. Consequently the indigent are frequently tempted to repine and murmur at the dispensations of Providence.
4. Temptations to dishonesty, fraud, and theft.
III. THE ADVANTAGES OF A MIDDLE STATION IN LIFE. This is the soil best adapted to the culture and perfection of every quality, intellectual or moral. The natural affections are not suppressed in the middle sphere, or diverted from their proper course, and operate their salutary effects on domestic and more general intercourse. Accordingly, the greatest portion of the knowledge, ability, and virtue which exist in the world will be found in this station of life Everything said above strongly inculcates contentment and gratitude if it has pleased God to bestow on us that worldly portion which is most subservient to our happiness. Take care to judge, with candour and gentleness, of the conduct of persons placed in the higher stations of society. Take care to show great indulgence and compassion towards the poor.
(W. L. Brown, D.D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: