It would be well if, instead of preaching continually about the doctrine of faith and good works, our clergymen would simply explain to their people a little what good works mean. There is not a chapter in all the Book we profess to believe, more specially and directly written for England, than the second of Habakkuk, and I never in all my life heard one of its practical texts preached from. I suppose the clergymen are all afraid, and know that their flocks, while they will sit quite politely to hear syllogisms out of the epistle to the Romans, would get restive directly if they ever pressed a practical text home to them. But we should have no mercantile catastrophes, and no distressful pauperism, if we only read often, and took to heart, those plain words: —
"Yea, also, because he is a proud man, neither keepeth at home, who enlargeth his desire as hell, and cannot be satisfied, —Shall not all these take up a parable against him, and a taunting proverb against him, and say, `Woe to him that increaseth that which is not his: and to him that ladeth himself with thick clay.'" (What a glorious history, in one metaphor, of the life of a man greedy of fortune.) "Woe to him that coveteth an evil covetousness that he may set his nest on high. Woe to him that buildeth a town with blood, and establisheth a city by iniquity. Behold, is it not of the Lord of Hosts that the people shall labour in the very fire, and the people shall weary themselves for very vanity."
The Americans, who have been sending out ships with sham boltheads on their timbers, and only half their bolts, may meditate on that "buildeth a town with blood."