Moral Law of Accumulation; the Substance of Two Discoures, Delivered in the First Baptist Meeting House, Providence, May 14, 1837.


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"WAYLAND, FRANCIS. The Moral Law of Accumulation; the Substance of Two Discourses, Delivered in the First Baptist Meeting House, Providence, May 14, 1837. By Francis Wayland. Providence: Published by John E. Brown, 1837. Octavo. $85.00 Disbound pamphlet side-stitched with new linen thread, light foxing--a bit heavier on title and next few pages, brown stain (tea? coffee?) on top marginal corner of last half of pages. Collation: 1-44, 52. Pagination: (1) title, (1) copyright & printer, (1) notices, (1) blank, [5]-35. (1) blank. Amer. Imprints 37-48937, the first of 3 printings in 1837. Francis Wayland (1796-1865) Baptist clergyman, educator, fourth president of Brown University. ""He graduated from Union College in 1813; studied medicine for three years; uniting with the Baptist church, he studied at Andover Theol. Sem. 1816-1817; was tutor in Union College, 1817-21; pastor First Baptist Church in Boston, 1821-26; professor in Union College in 1826; president of Brown University 1827-55; pastor of the First Baptist Church in Providence, 1855-57... In the reorganization brought about by him of the courses of study in Brown University in 1850, he did much to reform the general system of college education... Eminent as an educator, Wayland stands hardly less distinguished as a preacher.""--New Schaff-Herzog Ency. Religious Knowledge, XII:279-80. In these two discourses Wayland discusses the currency/financial crisis of 1837: ""We are already in the midst of memorable commercial catastrophe. Exchanges throughout every part of our country are almost at an absolute stand. The salesman sits, the livelong day, with folded hands in the warehouse which so lately was thronged with eager purchasers. The busy mart is deserted.""-p.6. ""He who, but yesterday, reckoned up his wealth by millions, would now gladly surrender all, if thereby he might save his credit unimpaired, and amid the general ruin find himself solvent.""-p.7. ""Suffer me then to say, at once,, that I apprehend we have greviously erred, both in the principles upon which we have accumulated our wealth, and in the principles upon which we have used it. I think it will be acknowledged by all that this whole community has for some time past, been pervaded by an excessive avidity for the rapid accumulation of property.""-p.9. Wayland continues that while the Bible allows accumulation, it does not follow that it allows accumulation by any means. There is a limit established by the Creator to the gratification of this desire. And the limit is: ""God intends that man should grow rich by adding something to the means of human happiness; and, just in proportion to the amount which we ourselves have thus added, is the amount of our lawful gain.""-p.10. The person who restricts his desire within the limit which these laws prescribe will be free of unnecessary anxiety. The problem is men become dissatisfied with the rate of accumulation based upon normal means of production and begins to try to anticipate his neighbor's gains. When I purchase & hold cotton, corn or wheat, not to increase its value by my own labor ""but merely that I may secure to myself, instead of allowing to him, the benefit of the change.""--p.11. If this practice becomes universal & the currency is plentiful enough to support it, ""there must ensue an extraordinary rise of prices, not proceeding from any diminuation of products or any increase of consumers, or the discovery of any new value in the products themselves, but solely from the passionate anticipations of men concerning the future, and their intense desire to over-reach each other. This rise of prices will, of course, yeild enormous profits. Enormous profits lead to enormous expenditure. The demand for every object, either of luxury or convenience, is immense. All kinds of business are prosperous beyond any former example. It seems as though men had found out some new mode of accumulation, and God had never said to the swelling waves of human desire, thus far shalt thou go and no farther.""--pp.11-12. This mode of accumulation is deceptive-it is no real addition to the riches of the community-there is still only 1 bushel of wheat, whether it sells for one piece of paper or two pieces of paper. Hence no one can really become richer in this manner, without making somebody else poorer. ""Under the influence of such a temper as I have described, the whole intellectual power of the mercantile community is employed in a labor which adds nothing whatever to wealth... Suppose that the whole labor and talent, which have for the last two years been employed in speculation, had been employed in production, would we not all have been richer...? It is evident than that this whole labor has been completely thrown away.""-pp12-13. ""I have shown that, by all this labor, the actual capital, the real wealth, the productions of the country have not been at all increased. But the price of productions has been greatly augmented, and, in many cases, doubled. Now, this change could have been produced only by an enormous extension of paper currency. You could not pay two dollars for every thing that formerly cost one, unless there were twice as many dollars in the community. But it must be remembered that, for every paper dollar that is issued, a promissory note is given; and thus the indebtedness of the community is increased just as much as the issues have increased. But to meet this increased indebtedness, there is no additional product whatever. The money thus obtained has been invested in products at double their value. When the price of these products falls, as fall it must, what is there then to meet these engagements? The debt must be paid, but what is there to pay it with? The property has shrunk in value, but the bond remains unchanged... In all cases, there must be grievous loss, since nothing but loss can result from borrowing money to purchase property for more than it is worth. And suppose the very best of the case, suppose payment to be delayed, and what was due this year be paid in two or three years to come, then all the earmings of these two or three years must be consumed in paying for the transactions of one year. So far as accumulation is concerned, the labor of these two or three years is lost.... On the most favorable supposition, therefore, we cannot accumulate as rapidly by speculation as by the gains of regular industry; while, in by far the greater number of instances, the result must be a fast inevitable loss.""-pp13-14. Wayland continues with moral aspects of the problem, pointing out that while speculation is not dishonest, it often does violate the tenth commandment, ""thou shalt not covet,"" and that in turn ""violation of this commandment leads... to the violation of many others. The acquisition of wealth in this manner depends for its success upon sagacity in foreseeing results. But, inasmuch as results may not only be foreseen, but in many cases by our own act produced, the temptation is very great to produce them ourselves. Here the confines of justice and oppression are separated by a very shadowy limit. He who buys breadstuffs, or provisions, or cotton, in the hope that they will rise, will be very likely to buy them and to withhold them, in order that they may rise. Instead of using his capital for a blessing, he is using it for a curse to his neighbor. He who invests his property in a given commodity, for the purpose of supplying the demand of the community around him, has a right to a fair remuneration for the use and risk of that capital, and for his skill in managing it; and, in the case of a natural rise of price, he is entitled to the additional gain, as in the case of a fall of price, he must suffer the correspondent loss. But this is the extreme limit. He has no right to use his capital as an instrument for grinding the faces of the poor, and by means of it to derive a double and treble profit from the necessities of starving multitudes, necessities which, be it remembered, he himself created. `He that withholdeth corn, the people shall curse him.'""-p.15. (17208) "

Title: Moral Law of Accumulation; the Substance of Two Discoures, Delivered in the First Baptist Meeting House, Providence, May 14, 1837.


Categories: 19th Century Books, American Church History, Americana, Baptists, Theology,,

Publisher: Providence,, 1837 1837

Type: Book

Size: 19th Century Books,|American Church History,|Amer

Item Number: 17208

Keywords: 19th Century Books, American Church History, Americana, Baptists, Theology,