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sawest a thief, thou consentedst unto him, and hast been partaker with the adulterers; that is, Inasmuch as you did not prevent it as far as lay in your power--as you did not bring the thief to justice, whereby the honest man might have received his right, and others have been prevented from further wrong-or as, by winking at, or failing to reproach such behaviour in other basely disposed people, as was likely to proceed to the indulgence of lawless and injurious passions, you in some measure forwarded their evil design—so far
you bear part in the guilt of the adulterer and unchaste person, and must expect accordingly God's judgment in this life or the next. Now, the contrary conduct is that whereby we fulfil the positive duties which this commandment comprehends and requires, the chief of which is to keep our bodies in temperance, soberness, and chastity. The same chapter I before quoted from the book of the holy Job, supplies us with this necessary resolution : 1 made a covenant with mine eyes (says he); why, then, should I think upon a maid? The Apostle speaks to the very same effect: I keep under my body (says he): and this is necessary, in order carefully to avoid temptation, and incentives to vicious practices; for the exercising ourselves in bodily abstemiousness, is in no cases more proper than for the suppression of all unchaste desires. The commandment further
enjoins us to be modest in our behaviour, grave, and scrupulously chaste in our conversation ; to regulate as much as possible our very thoughts, and especially our occasional desires, whether they proceed from the suggestions of the tempter, or the will of the flesh. But, above all things, we must take care to have something wherewith to employ ourselves, that may exhaust our animal spirits, and engage our thoughts, since there is nothing more dangerous to the purity of a Christian than IDLENESS ; and therefore they who think it a happy privilege of a great fortune to have nothing to do, should be more careful than any other description of persons : in short, rich and poor cannot be too earnest to cultivate some innocent and honest employment, that will so engage them as to keep them on their guard. All must invariably watch and pray, lest they enter into temptation; as it concerns all equally in this state of trial and imperfection, who may think they are able to stand their ground against these particular vices (to which weak flesh and blood is so likely to be exposed), to take heed lest they fall, as none are so sure to avoid temptation, and escape sin, as those who distrust themselves, and look up constantly for strength and help from above, to carry them through the perilous voyage of life. When weak, then am I strong (says the Apostle): by which confession he points out to
us, whence only we can derive power to defend us against our united enemies, the world, the flesh, and the devil : which happy and salutary counsel, that we may all daily and hourly follow, with humble and earnest supplication for success, God of his infinite mercy grant, for His merits' sake, who set us the example of all purity and holiness in his life on earth, and died to redeem us from the original curse of a degenerated and corrupt nature.—May we all
partake of the value of his all-sufficient atonement and mediation; to whom be ascribed all praise and glory, for ever and ever. Amen.
EXODUS, xx. 15.
PROVERBS, xxx. 7, 8, 9. Two things have I required of thee; deny me
them not before I die : remove far from me vanity and lies ; give me neither poverty nor riches ; feed me with food convenient for me, lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the Lord ? or lest I be poor, and steal, and
take the name of my God in vain. This
his is that law of the second table, which treats particularly of our duty with relation to our neighbour's goods, and forbids theft, robbery, cheating, and every description of dishonest practice. And though, in the examination of its full extent, we shall find it levelled against all injustice and wrong by mankind in general, yet, from the import of Agur's prayer (Prov. xxx. 7, 8, 9, in the text), and in the very
nature of things, it is a commandment that very much concerns the poorer order of the community to attend to, as by their peculiar situation, and from neglect of early care, they are in danger of being strongly tempted to break this law. Their prayers should be constant and earnest to God, who alone can defend us from committing, as well as receiving evil, that they may have grace to be governed by his commandment, lest, being poor, they should be tempted, and steal. And as, from sad experience, we daily see how little regard is paid to the laws of honesty by numbers of all ranks, and especially among the lower classes, it creates an unavoidable wish that they would lose no opportunity of being instructed in the several duties of their humble station, and particularly in an article in which it is to be feared, there are many in this place (as there are indeed every where) who do not pay due attention to what we commonly call mine and thine, and to what strictly belongs of right to their neighbour, by encroaching on which, they are guilty of breaking God's holy law. However, though they obstinately refuse instruction, by keeping away from hearing, it still remains a duty in us to afford them an opportunity of receiving it, as well upon every point of upright practice, as of sound and saving faith: by so doing, we hold out the means of forwarding our neigh