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The Intention of a Brive is to prevail with the Receiver of it, to do something in itself sinful, as for a Judge to pass an unrighteous Judgment on a Cause, or else to do something, which the Receiver apprehended to be sinful, and therefore was unlawful for him to do.
In both these Cases the Giver endeavours to corrupt the Receiver, and engage him to sin against the holy God, to wound his own Soul, and expose himself to eternal Damnation ; a dreadful Crime ! vile in its Nature, and destructive in its Consequences, both to him that gives, and him that takes the Bribe. A sad Matter to be considered by the Guilty; beside the Injury which may be brought on others by Means of a prevailing Bribe.
The Action of the Giver signifies that he is a Man of corrupt Principles, that he fears not God, has no Regard to his Glory, and the Pleasing him, nor to the Welfare and Salvation of the Soul of the Person whom he bribes; it signifies that he joins his Endeavours with the Devil's to ruin for ever the Person whom he has corrupted.
And the Action of the Receiver signifies, that he is destitute of a right, and good Principle, that he has yielded to, and been overcome by the Temptation, and that he has sold the Favour of God, and his Soul, and Salvation for the Price of the Bribe he has received.
Thefe Remarks have a like Foundation when a Bribe is given to prevail with any one not to do a Thing which the Law of God has made his Duty, or which he apprehends that God requires of him.
Both the Givers, and Receivers of Bribes, are Men of very corrupt Minds; and without sincere Repentance, and a thorough Reformation, they will never escape the Damnation of Hell, though they Thould be suffered to escape Punishment in this
These Things deserve the serious Confideration both of those, who at Elections of Members to serve in Parliament, give Bribes to engage Votes, and of those who receive them.
XIV. Persons who bear false Witness against others are another Sort of Sinners who have just Reason to fear Punishment when God visits a Nation for Sin.
These are Transgressors of the ninth Commandment, which says, Thou shalt not bear false Witness against tby Neighbour, Exod. xx. 16.
The Prohibition is not limited to the bearing false Witness against others on Trials in Courts of Judicature, altho' that is a most aggravated Kind of false Witness-Bearing, because of the Oath taken by Witnesses, wherein they appeal to God for the Truth of what they say falsely. But a Man's Reputation, and Livelihood may be ruin’d by false Witnesses that are never called before Magistrates.
A Man bears false Witness against his Neighbour, when he speaks that of another, which he knows to be false ; whether it be in a Way of Affirmation, or Negation ; whether he affirins of another that he spoke such Words, or did such Things, which he knows he did not; or denies his having spoken Words, which himself heard, or his doing Things which to his Knowledge the other really did.
All false Witnesses are Liars, and all Liars Mall have their part in tbe Lake which burnetb with Fire and Brimstone, as it is said in Rev. xxi. 8.
Wherefore (faith St. Paul) putting away Lying, Speck every Man Truth with his Neighbour : For we are Members one of another, Ephef. iv. 25,
A faithful Witness will not lie.: But a false Witness will utter Lies, it is said Prov. xiv. 5. and Verse 25. a true Witness delivere:h Souls, but a deceitful Witness Speaket b Lies.
In Prov. xix, 15. it is declared, He that justifieth the Wicked, and be that condemneth the Jujt, even they both are Abomination to the LORD.
The supreme Lawgiver says, Thou shalt not raise a false Report : Put not thine Hand with the Wicked to be an unrighteous Witness, Exod. xxiii. 1.
And in Prov, xix. 5. it is declared that, A false Witness fall not be unpunished, and be that speaketh Lies shall not escape. This Declaration shews, that thefe Sinners have Reason to expect Punishment in the Day of the Lord's Visitation for Sin.
The speaking falsely of others is a pernicious Practice; and the doing so as Witnesses in Courts of Judicature has brought innocent Persons to suffer Death for Crimes they never committed, and others to loose their Eftates, which were their juft Property, or to loose their good Reputation, a Blefling more valuable than Life.
They who are guilty of this cruel Iniquity do not deal towards others, as they would have others to deal with them.
They imitate their Father the Devil, who is the Accufer of the Brethren, see Rev. xii. 9, 10.
And altho' they may for a while escape Punishment, the Day is coming when the righteous God will take Vengeance on them, when they shall neither: be able to escape, nor able to bear his Wrath.
XV. COVETOUS Persons, are another Sort of Sinners marked by divine Threatnings for suffering Punishment in the Day of the Lord's Visitation for Sin.
These are Transgressors of the tenth Commandment, which says, Thou shalt not covet thy Neighbour's House, thou shalt not covet thy Neighbour's Wife, nor his Man-servant, nor his Maid-servant, nor bis Ox, nor bis Ass, nor any Thing that is thy Neigh. bours, Exod. xx. 19.
This Law shews that it is sinful to desire any Thing that is another's Property, and appropriated to his own Use; because the Things of another, which he trades in, and has a Right to fell, and, which we have Occasion for, we may desire, and may purchase ; but appropriated Things we must not desire, or cover.
A strong Desire, or Coveting another Man's House, or Land, has prevailed with some to murder the rightful Poffeffor, as was the Case when Abab coveted Naboth's Vineyard, 1 Kings xxi, or to use other unjust Methods to get the Poffeffion of it.
Thus covering another Man's Wife, has been followed with Adultery, and Murther ; of which David was a fad Instance.
And the covering the Servants of others, has influenced some to use indirect, or dishoneft Means to prevail with them to leave their Masters.
And the coveting of Money has led many to rob, fteal, and commit Murder. So are the Ways of every one that is greedy of Gain : Which taketh away tbe Life of the Owners thereof, Prov. i. 19.
The tenth Commandment must be understood to forbid all inordinate, or too strong Desires after worldly Things, or too much Love to Money: Be. cause such Covering is not only inconsistent with the Love we owe to God, and to our Neighbour, but leads on to many other Sins.
For (as St. Paul says) the Love of Money is the Root of all Evil: Which while some covet after, they have erred from the Faith, and pierced themselves ibrough with many Sorrows, 1 Tim. vi. 10.
Here I would observe that a Man's Desire of Money, or other worldly Things is certainly too ftrong, or is a sinful Covering, when for obtaining them, he will use unlawful Means, or neglect some Duty God requires of him; and likewise, when, for the Sake of increasing his Riches, he will withhold
to himself what God would have him to distribute for the Use and Benefit of others.
Thus, if a Man for Lucre Sake will be guilty of Extortion, he is a covetous Man ; or if instead of performing the religious Duties of the Sabbath, he will buy, or sell on that holy Day, or if on other Days he will be so eager in his Pursuits after earthly Riches, as not to allow Time for the Worship of God in his Family, and Closet, he is a covetous Man: And likewise if he will not expend in the Maintenance of his Family, and Education of his Children, fo much as according to his Rank in the World, and his Riches, ought to be expended, he is a covetous Man; and if he will not distribute in Acts of Charity, according to his Abilities, and the Occasions, which call for his Alistance, he may justly be thought a covetous Man.
And such covetous Persons certainly do love their Money, more than they love their God; for they who do not desire, and endeavour to please God, cannot be truly said to love him ; and of those, who wilfully sin against God in their way of getting, or of keeping Money, it cannot be justly said they desire, and endeavour to please him.
The covetous, the Lord abhorreth, Pfal. x. 3.
In Prov. xxviii. 16. it is said, He that hateth Covetousness fall prolong his Days, which implies that he who loveth Covetousness, is like to shorten his Days.
In Isa. lvii. 17. The Lord said of his' People, For the Iniquity of his Covelousness was I wroth, and fmote kim. Hence it is very evident, that in Ages past, God inflicted destroying Judgments on his People for their Covetousness. And therefore covetous Persons have Reason to be afraid of his Judgments in the Day that he visits a Land for Sin.
It was a sad Complaint which God made of his People in Ezek. xxiii. 31. where he says to the Pro