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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
phet concerning them, They come unto thee, as the People cometh, and they fit before thee as my People, and they hear thy Words, but they will not do them : for their Heart goeth after their Covetousness. That is, altho' they profess Love, and Obedience to God, and attend the solemn Assemblies to hear the Words of the Lord delivered by his Prophet, yet they will not do them; their strongest, and prevailing Affections, being after Riches and other worldly Things, the Objects of their Covetousness.
Their Riches, and other earthly Things, are the Idols of their Hearts: therefore, Covetousness is declared to be Idolatry in Col. iii. 5. where Christians are commanded to mortify - inordinate Affections, evil Concupisence, and Covetouseness, which is Idolatry.
In Ephef. v. 5. it is declared, That no Whore. monger, nor unclcan Perfon, nor covetous Man, who is an Idolater, bath any Inheritance in the Kingdom of Christ, and of God.
It appears from this Declaration, that it is decreed by the righteous Governour of the World, that covetous Persons shall not be admitted to partake of the Joys, and Happiness of the Kingdom of Christ, and of God: And this implies that they will be sent into endless Miseries in the next Word, and that they are liable to destroying Judgments in this, when God proceeds in visiting a Nation for Sin.
The Covetous, instead of looking to, and relying on the Lord, place a Confidence in their Wealth. The rich Man's Wealth, is bis strong City, and as an bigb Wall in his own Conceit; as it is said in Prov. xviii. 11. But let such know, and consider those Declarations recorded in Prov. xi. 4. viz. Riches profit not in the Day of Wrath; and Verse 28. He that trufteth in Riches Mall fall.
Thus faith the LORD — Let not the rich Man glory in his Ricbes, Jer. ix. 23.
In Jer. xv. 13. God says to the Wicked among his People, Thy Substance, and thy Treasures will I give to the Spoil without Price, and that for all thy Sins, even in all thy Borders, Jer. xv, 13. See also Jer. xvii. 3.
These Declarations plainly shew that the Covetous, and they who will go on in disobeying the Commandments of the Lord, have Reason to be afraid, when he is risen out of his place to punish wicked Nations.
I have now considered the principal Sorts of Persons, Transgressors of one or other of the ten Commandments, against whom the holy God has denounced his awful Threatnings.
A righteous Nation, a holy City, whose Inhabitants know, and love, and serve the Lord, and make it their Practice to obey all his Precepts, have no Cause to be afraid, but abundant Ground for Comfort, and Joy on the Account of the manifold Promises of Blessings in this World, and of everlasting Felicity in the next, which are made to the Righteous.
But if the Inhabitants of a City, or Country, have revolted from God, if the Generality of them have cast off the Fear of the Almighty, and have long been regardless of his Authority, and Laws, and have gone on stubbornly in wicked Ways, and remain incorrigible, notwithstanding the Obligations of multiplied Blesings, notwithstanding the Patience, and long Forbearance of God, notwithstanding the divers Threatnings, and the Feeling of lesser Judgments, they have then the strongest Reasons to expect that the righteous God will proceed in visiting them for Sin, and pour out the Vials of his Wrath
I shall now conclude these Papers with an Address to the Inhabitants of London, Westminster, and all the other parts of Great-Britain. F 2
I need not tell you that Infidelity, and Profaneness, that a Contempt, and Derision of the divine Providence, and the holy Scriptures, are crying Sins among us; nor that keeping holy the SabbathDay, and a due Attendance
the publick Worship of God are generally neglected ; nor that our Cities and Country have long been polluted with all Sorts of Immoralities; neither need I say to you that the holy God has shewn himself angry with us, by a Series of awful Judgments, tho' some of them thro' his abundant Mercy have been taken away.
And surely I need not say to you that Iniquities still abound among us, that Provocations of almighty Wrath are still committed, and that there appears very little of Reformation ; neither need I add that the Tokens of God's Anger do still subfift.
The great God has given us Warning after Warning, and Stroke after Stroke, and then ceased awhile, and waited to see whether we will consider our evil Ways, and repent of our Sins, and return unto him ; he has waited, and still waits that he may be gracious to us; that he may, consistent with the Honour of his Government, with the Glory of his Name, forgive our Sins, and be reconciled unto us, and blefs us. But the Reconciliation is not yet brought about ; No, for we stubbornly perfift in our Rebellion against him: And it is too evident to be denied that his Hand is still stretched out against us.
Was it not that holy God who is of purer Eyes' than to behold Iniquity without Abhorrence, and without being incensed against the wilful Transgresfors of his Laws ? Was it not he who permitted our Enemies to draw the Sword, and from a Number, small, at first, to increase into a Multitude, and to march thro' the Heart of our Country, and to ap