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God allays the sweetness of wealth with bitterness; and does not permit the mind of his servant to be too much enchanted with it. And whenever a fallacious estimate of riches impels us to desire them inordinately, because we do not perceive the great disadvantages which they bring along with them; let the recollection of this history avail to restrain such immoderate attachment to them. Further, as often as the rich find any trouble arising from their wealth; let them learn to purify their minds by this medicine, that they may not become excessively addicted to the good things of the present life. And truly, unless the Lord were occasionally to put the bridle on men, to what depths would they not fall, when they overflow with prosperity? On the other hand, if we are straitened with poverty, let us know, that, by this method also, God corrects the hidden evils of our flesh. Finally, let those who abound remember, that they are surrounded with thorns and must take care lest they be pricked; and let those whose affairs are contracted and embarrassed know, that God is caring for them, in order that they may not be involved in evil and noxious snares.
–John Calvin, Commentaries on Genesis, ch. 13, sec. 5 (1554)
More from Scott Horton:
Six Questions — October 18, 2014, 8:00 pm
Nathaniel Raymond on CIA interrogation techniques.
Mark Denbeaux on the NCIS cover-up of three “suicides” at Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp
From the June 2014 issue
Acres of hemp grown by “patriotic‚” U.S. farmers in 1942 at the behest of the U.S. government:
A study suggested that the health effects of exposure to nuclear radiation at Chernobyl were no worse than ill health resulting from smoking and normal urban air pollution.
Greenpeace apologized after activists accidentally defaced the site of Peru’s 2,000-year-old Nazca Lines when they unfurled cloth letters reading “time for change” near the ancient sand drawings. “We fully understand,” the group wrote in a statement, “that this looks bad.”
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“I hope that after reading the following pages the leaders of the Y. M. C. A. will start a campaign to induce good young men to do nothing. If so, I shall not have lived in vain.”