My dear young friend,
Perhaps I misunderstand your meaning, but I gather that the vagaries of the
market place have reduced your fortune somewhat. This seems a bitter thing to
you; perhaps your hope was misplaced. Such things happen often in this world. If
you wish to be truly rich, you must understand true wealth.
Permit me an example. Suppose you set out to purchase a horse. You find a
horse trader. He displays one to you in fine harness, decked with gold and
jewels. He talks on and on about the greatness of this horse. If you are a fool,
you will buy the horse without riding it. What you have really purchased is the
gold in the harness.
The true virtue of the horse is not in the harness. It is in the running. Is
the horse swift? Can it run great distances? If you put it to cart, can it pull
a heavy load? These are the true virtues of the horse. So let us suppose that
your horse has such virtue. Now, further imagine with me that someone comes and
steals the finery from the horse. Are you really any the less in your fortune? I
submit not; you did not buy the horse for a show. You bought it to ride. Your
loss is in the trivial and the gaudy.
But if the horse should turn lame, then your loss is great – even though
the finery be still attached. So then, consider the principle thusly: that which
mars the primary virtue of a thing harms the thing indeed.
So then, if you wish to know that which truly harms a man, you must know the
virtue of man. Is man made for money? Is man made for pleasure? Is man made for
pomp? None of these things! Man is made to serve God and enjoy Him forever. That
which injures his service to God or his enjoyment of God is that which truly
injures a man.
In that light, consider: has not God increased your wealth? By this decline
in your fortune you have begun to question all things. This can but lead you to
the Almighty as the source of all things. He has reduced your purse and
increased your virtue. Only a fool or a scoundrel would have the reverse.
Counting your blessings, I remain,
Isaac the alchemist