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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature


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(Lat. unhappy), a term formerly used in reference to a person in wretchedness or calamity; but it now denotes a parsimonious person, or one who is covetous to extremity; who denies himself even the comforts of life to accumulate wealth. "Avarice," says Saurin, "may be considered in two different points of light. It may be considered in those men, or rather those public bloodsuckers, or, as the officers of the Roman emperor Vespasian were called, those sponges of society, who, infatuated with this passion, seek after riches as the supreme good, determine to acquire it by any methods, and consider the ways that lead to wealth, legal or illegal, as the only road for them to travel. Avarice, however, must be considered in a second point of light. It not only consists in committing bold crimes, but in entertaining mean ideas and practicing low methods, incompatible .with such magnanimity as our condition ought to inspire. It consists not only in omitting to serve God, but in trying to associate the service of God with that of mammon. How many forms doth avarice take to disguise itself from the man who is guilty of it, and who will be drenched in the guilt of it till the day he dies! Sometimes it is prudence, which requires him to provide not only for his present wants, but for such as he may have in future. Sometimes it is charity, which requires him not to give society examples of prodigality and parade. Sometimes it is parental love, obliging him to save something for his children. Sometimes it is circumspection, which requires him not to supply people who make ill use of what they get. Sometimes it is necessity, which obliges him to repel artifice by artifice. Sometimes it is conscience, which convinces him, good man, that he hath already exceeded in compassion and alms-giving, and done too much. Sometimes it is equity, for justice requires that every one should enjoy the fruit of his own labors and those of his ancestors. Such, alas! are the awful pretexts and subterfuges of the miser" (Sermuons, volume 5, ser. 12). (See AVARICE); (See COVETOUSNESS).

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Miser'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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