Wealth and Children, Comments on a Sermon – Bill Arp, 1884

Wealth and Children, Comments on a Sermon – Bill Arp, 1884

Dr. Haygood preached a sermon at our town not long ago, and with solemn earnestness declared
that it was a perilous thing for a father to lay up money for his children. “For twiny long years,” said
he, “I have been an educator of the boys of this land. I have loved them and watched them, and tried
to guide them by precept and example, and I say now with solemn conviction, that there is no danger,
no peril, no temptation so fatal to youth as riches. Many boys come to college as beneficiaries; many come
whose parents are toiling and struggling to give them an education, and many come whaose parents
are rich, anti their children never know a want. It is this last class only that have ever given us trouble
or anxiety. From this class all the expulsions come, and not long ago we had to expel one of them who
was only 16 years old for being a habitual drunkard. I keep a roll of our graduates and watch them from
year to year after they leave us, and it is only this class who come to grief and make up a record either
of indolence or of shame. Of ciourse there are many noble exceptions, and I only allude to the contrast
in general.” This was the substance of the doctor’s declaration, and I wish every parent in the land could
have heard it, and realized the solemn emphasis with which he said it, for Dr. Haygood knows. He has
opportunity to know. Poor boys make the best citizens. They obey the law, and they work and toil for an
honest living. Riches are beset with many perils. A man can pile up and keep on piling he wants to, but
let him look out for breakers. Not Long ago I passed by a princely mansion in a large city, and I asked
my friend what had become of that man’s children and he said well he didn’t know but two. The son is
a genteel vagabond who loafs around town and the daughter married a gambler who neglects her, and
that is what killed the old man. So, after all, there is some good in poverty; some comfort; some security
for our children.

Not long ago I asked a wealthy old gentleman about his children, where they were and what they were
doing, and he answered with pride about his oldest boys and said they were sober and steady and at
work-and then he added, “but them boys were born when I was poor, very poor, and had to work hard
for a living and as they grew up they had to work too and acquired habits of industry and economy, but
our two youngest came to us after I had got well off and they never worked any, and they give me a great
deal of trouble and anxiety. I am sorry I ever got rich.” That is the way of it exactly. The perils of riches. But
still a fortune gained honestly in the pursuit of an honest calling is a good thing, and many men manage it
aright and manage their children too, and I am like everybody else; I think I would be willing to risk it and
take the chances. It is no sin to have it, but every man who is hunting for it ought to be forewarned and
forearmed and bring up his children on proper principles. “Get acquainted with them” I heard a rich man
at Anniston say, “I am tired of work and I must quit. I have got money enough, but looks like I can’t stop.
I want to stop and get acquainted with my children.” Well that is right. A man ought to know his children
and they ought to know him. He ought to take time to talk to them and tell them stories about what he
did when he was a little boy. and be ought to frolic with them and all have a good family time together.
That beats money all to pieces and even if he has got a big pile for them, they won’t be waiting
for the old man to die.

Last Updated on January 13, 2021 by Bill Arp

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