In A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, Ebenezer Scrooge has a startling conversation with the ghost of his dead business partner, Jacob Marley. Jacob is damned in death for his misdeeds in life, and he appears to warn Scrooge that he is headed for the same fate. Scrooge resists the suggestion that Jacob’s life was damnable. Scrooge understands that if Jacob’s life is damnable, then so is his own. So this exchange ensues:
“But you were always a good man of business, Jacob,” faltered Scrooge, who now began to apply this to himself.
“Business!” cried the Ghost, wringing his hands again. “Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence were all my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!”
These kinds of treasures are all over Dickens’ works, all of them underwritten by the inheritance given to western civilization by Christianity. Well done, Mr. Dickens. Well done.
Lord, help us to understand what is the comprehensive ocean of our business.
He has told you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justice, to love kindness,
And to walk humbly with your God?