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man fay right. He calls them uncertain, to thew their folly and danger, that set their hearts upon them. Covetoufness is hateful to God: he hath denounced great judgments upon those that are guilty of it. God charged it on Ifrael of old, as one of the reasons of his judgments; For the iniquity of his covetoufnefs, faith God, was I wroth and fmote him." In another place, Every one is given to covetoufness, and from the prophet to the priest, every one dealeth falfly; therefore will I give their wives unto others, and their fields to them that fhall inherit them.* In another place God complained thus: But thine eyes and thine heart are not but for thy covetouf nefs. By Ezekiel, God renews and repeats his complaint against their covetousness: And they come to thee as the people cometh, and fit before thee as my people: they hear thy words, but will not do them; with their mouths they fhew much love, but their heart goeth after their covetoufnefs." Therefore God, in the choice of magistrates, made it part of their qualification, to hate covetoufnels; ; foreseeing the mischief that would follow to that fociety or government where covetous men were in power; that felf would bias them, and they would feek their own ends at the coft of the public. David defired, that his heart might not incline to covetousness, but to the testimonies of his God." And the wife man exprefsly tells us, that he that hateth covetouf
◆ Ifai. lvii. 1. 7. Jer. vi. 13. -Ezek. xxxiii 31.
Jer. viii. 10.
Chap. xxii. 17.
nefs, fhall prolong his days making a curfe to follow it. And it is by Luke charged upon the Pharifees as a mark of their wickedness: and Christ, in that evangelist, bids his followers, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: and he giveth a reason for it, that carrieth a most excellent instruction in it; for, faith he, a man's life confifteth not in the abundance of the things which he poffeffeth: but he goeth further; he joins covetoufnefs with adultery, murder, and blafphemy. No wonder then if the apostle Paul is fo liberal in his cenfure of this evil: he placeth it with all unrighteoufnefs, to the Romans; to the Ephefians he writeth the like; and addeth, Let not covetousness be fo much as named among you:' and bids the Coloffians mortify their members;' and names feveral fins, as fornication, uncleannefs, and fuch like, but ends with covetoufnefs: with this at the tail of it, which, faith he, is idolatry. And we know there is not a greater offence against God: nay, this very apostle calls the love of money the root of all evil; which, faith he, whilft fome have coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themfelves through with many forrows. For they that will be rich, fall into temptation, and a fnare, and many foolish and hurtful lufts. O man of God, faith he to his beloved friend Timothy, flee these things, and follow after righteousness, faith, love, patience, and meeknefs.
• Prov. xxviii. 16.
Luke xii. 15.
• Col. iii. 5.
Mark vii. 21, 22.
1 Tim. vi, 9, 10, 18.
S. VI. Peter was of the fame mind; for he maketh covetoufnèfs to be one of the great marks of the falfe prophets and teachers, that fhould arife among the Chriftians; and by that they might know them; who, faith he, through covetoufnefs fhall, with feigned words, make merchandize of you." To conclude therefore, the author to the Hebrews, at the end of his epistle, leaves this, with other things, not without great zeal and weight upon them: Let, faith he, your converfation be without covetoufnefs; he refts not in this generality, but goes on, and be content with fuch things as ye have; for God hath faid, I will never leave thee, nor forfake thee. What then? Muft we conclude that those who are not content, but feek to be rich, have forfaken God? The conclufion feems hard; but yet it is natural: for fuch, it is plain, are not content with what they have; they would have more; they covet to be rich, if they may; they live not with those dependencies and regards to Providence, to which they are exhorted: nor is godlinefs, with content, great gain to them.
§. VII. And truly it is a reproach to a man, especially the religious man, that he knows not when he hath enough: when to leave off; when to be fatisfied: that notwithstanding God fends him one plentiful feafon of grain after another, he is fo far from making that the caufe of withdrawing from the traffic of the world, that he makes it a reason of launching further into it; as if the more he hath, the 2 Pet. ii. 3. * Heb. xiii. 5,
more he may. He therefore reneweth his appetite, bestirs himself more than ever, that he may have a fhare in the scramble, while any thing is to be got: this is as if cumber, not retirement; and gain, not content; were the duty and comfort of a Chriftian. O that this thing was better confidered! for by not being fo obfervable nor obnoxious to the law, as other vices are, there is more danger for want of that check. It is plain that most people ftrive not for fubftance, but wealth. Some there be that love it ftrongly, and spend it liberally when they have got it. Though this be finful, yet more commendable, than to love money for money's fake; that is one of the bafeft paffions the mind of man can be captivated with; a perfect luft; and a greater, and more foul-defiling one there is not in the whole catalogue of concupifcence. Which confidered, fhould quicken people into a serious examination, how far this temptation of love of money hath entered them; and the rather, because the steps it maketh into the mind, are almost infenfible, which renders the danger greater. Thousands think themfelves unconcerned in the caution, that yet are perfectly guilty of the evil. How can it be otherwise, when thofe that have, from a low condition, acquired thousands, labour yet to advance, yea, double and treble thofe thousands; and that with the fame care and contrivance by which they got them? Is this to live comfortably, or to be rich? Do we not fee how early they rife; how late they go to bed? How fu
of the change, the shop, the ware-house, the cuftom-house; of bills, bonds, charter-parties, &c. they are? Running up and down, as if it were to fave the life of a condemned innocent. An infatiable luft, and therein ungrateful to God, as well as hurtful to men, who giveth it to them to ufe, and not to love: that is the abuse. And if this care, contrivance, and induftry, and that continually, be not from the love of money, in thofe that have ten times mere than they began with, and much more than they fpend or need, I know not what tef timony man can give of his love to any thing.
. VIII. To conclude: It is an enemy to government in magiftrates; for it tends to corruption. Wherefore thofe that God ordained, were fuch as feared him, and hated covetoufnefs. Next, it hurts fociety: for old traders keep the young ones poor and the great reason why fome have too little, and fo are forced to drudge like flaves to feed their families, and keep their chin above water, is, because the rich hold fast and press to be richer, and covet more, which dries up the little ftreams of profit from fmaller folks. There fhould be a standard, both as to the value and time of traffic; and then the trade of the mafter to be fhared among his fervants that deferve it. This were both to help the young to get their livelihood, and to give the old time to think of leaving this world well, in which they have been fo bufy, that they might obtain a fhare in the other, of which they have been fo careless.