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19) answers exactly to it: So are the ways of every one that is greedy of gain, which taketh away the life of the owners thereof.
Again, another ill effect of this inordinate lust, is the misery it brings upon those who are most successful in the gratification of it; for the increase of ill-gotten riches, and the selfish love of wealth, naturally betray men into many grievous sins, and, of course, expose them to various degrees of suffering ; for, their hearts being where their treasure is, every trifling decrease of it, or accidental hazard, fills them with cares and fears, and embitters all happiness; within they are miserable, from the reflection that every thing diminishes their stock, though it is employed for their own use, by which they lose all the innocent and reasonable enjoyment of life; and their avaricious industry to add to their hoards, renders them a prey to others, to the worst of characters, extortioners, flatterers, and thieves. Behold how the law and the Gospel agree in this description of the covetous: (Deut. xvi. 19), A gift (saith Moses) doth blind the eyes of the wise, and pervert the words of the righteous. There is one alone, and there is not a second (saith the preacher, Eccles. iv. 8), yea he hath neither child nor brother, yet is there no end of all his labour ; neither is his eye satisfied with riches ; neither saith he, For whom do I Labour, and bereave my soul of good? This is
also vanity, yea, it is a sore travail. And can it be more strongly exemplified than in the odious character of the arch traitor himself, who covenanted to betray the innocent blood, even the immaculate Jesus, his Master, his God, for the consideration of a paltry bribe, for only thirty pieces of silver ? So truly doth the Apostle assert (1 Tim. vi, 10), that the love of money is the root of all evil, which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
Having treated fully upon most of the principal circumstances to be attended to in the consideration of the tenth commandment, respecting what it forbids, I will now close the suhject with a short intimation of what duties it expressly requires.
1. It enjoins contentment with our estate and circumstances, whatever they be, so as neither to murmur against God, nor to envy our neighbour on account of any thing he possesses : and those meant here by our neighbour, are the same that Christ describes in the parable, even all mankind, who are objects of our concern in this respect. To secure us from the contagion of this disease, qur blessed Lord (Matt. vi. 25) exhorts us not to be anxious about the things of this life, not to let even the necessary provisions of it engross our thoughts, and wean us from þetter pursuits, for this most important reason, that life is more than meat, and the body than raiment: which precept must be wholly taken in a spiritual sense; that is, we are not to hazard eternal life, by yielding to luxurious living, nor our bodies to be cast into hell, through the indulgence of vanity: but godliness with contentment is great gain (saith the Apostle); that is, to be satisfied with what the providence of God has allotted us, in holy submission to his appointment, or, in the words of St. Paul, to learn, in whatever state we are, therewith to be content, This exhortation is suitable to all ranks, rich as well as poor ; but what he delivers in 1 Thess. iv. 11, 12, is still more applicable to those who may be supposed to have more apparent reason to complain. Study (says he) to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with
your own hunds (as we commanded you), that ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing. Now here you perceive, that honest industry is positively recommended as a remedy against covetousness and discontent; for it is morally impossible but that he who is not satisfied with what himself enjoys, will be apt, on every occasion, to covet what belongs io another.—To avoid the guilt and condemnation against which this commandment is so expressly pointed, I know of no advice so salutary and applicable for the conclusion of the whole matter, as that of the Apostle,
in Ileb. xiii. 5 : Let your conversation be without covetousness, and be content with such things as ye have; trusting wholly in the goodness of God over all who depend upon him, and who hath said, I will never leave thee nor forsake thee. May our constant and humble application to the throne of grace, and a saving sense of the needful intercession of the Lamb, who hath suffered for our redemption, prevail with our long-suffering and merciful God, so to inspire us with the influence of his Holy Spirit, that we may crucify this hateful sin of evil concupiscence, and every other inordinate lust and passion that is unworthy Christ's faithful servants! and may the contrary heavenly virtues henceforward flourish in our hearts, to the glory of God who sanctifieth, and to the fitting our souls for the inheritance of the saints in light! Grant this to all present, О heavenly Father, for the sake and merits of thy dear Son, Jesus Christ our Lord; to whom, with thee and the Holy Spirit, three Persons and one God, be ascribed all might, majesty, and praise, now and for ever. Amen.