Irving is talking satirizing people who show insincere piety and in reality are greedy or covetous. In the story, Tom Walker makes a pact with the devil for wealth. The devil comes through on his end of the bargain by making Walker wealthy. Walker is a money lender who lends money at an extremely high rate of interest. When Walker is accused of usury by one of his clients, he shouts, "May the devil take me if I have made a farthing!" Of course, he has made much more than a farthing and the devil does indeed take him. Earlier in the story, before the pact is made with the devil, Walker rests in the woods where he meets the devil. On the trees are the names of many people Walker knows from the area who are rich, some of them people who are outwardly pious. All of these people, the devil tells Tom Walker, are people with whom he's made contracts.