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our Saviour in the same chapter, ver. 26. Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feedeth them; and ver. 28. Why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin. In which words our Saviour seems to intimate, that we ought to depend upon the providence of God for food and raiment, and to use no more industry for the obtaining of them, than the fowls of the air do, or the lilies of the field: And the fame may seem to be collected out of this chapter of St. Luke: for after our Saviour had, in my text, cautioned them against covetousness, and spoken to them a parable to that purpose, of a rich man who enlarged his barns, and laid up goods for many years, he infers from thence, ver. 22. that men should take no thought for the things of this life, nor use any industry about them; and he said unto his disciples, therefore I fay unto you, take no thought for your life, what ye (hall tat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on.
Now, to avoid all inconvenience from our Saviour's words, I think that it is commonly said by interpreters, that he does here only condemn a distrustful and anxious care about the things of this life, and an over-solicitous industry and diligence for the obtaining of them; but that he allows a prudent care, and regular industry about these things : And this were very well said, if it would agree with the scope and design of our Saviour's discourse; but the instances which he gives of the fowls of the air, and the lilies of the field, which are sufficiently provided for without any care and industry of theirs, and which he seems to set before us for a pattern, behold (fays he) the fowls of the air: I fay, these instances which he gives, seem to exclude even all regular and ordinary care and diligence about these things.
What shall we fay then, that our Saviour intended by his religion to take men off from all labour, and industry in their callings \ This seems to be unreasonable; and indeed so it certainly were, if our Saviour had given this for a standing and ordinary rule to all Christians; and not only so, but contrary to the Apostles doctrine, who constantly charged Christians to labour with great diligence in their callings, that they might be able to provide for themselves, and their families.
But this discourse of our Saviour's was not intended for a general and standing rule to all Christians; but only designed for his disciples, to take them off from all care about the things of this life, that they might attend upon his person, and wholly give up themselves to that work to which lie had called them. And therefore St. Luke takes notice, that after he had cautioned his hearers in general against covetousness, he applies himself particularly to his disciples, and tells them, that he would have them so far from this vice of covetousness, that they should not so much as use that ordinary care and industry about the things of this life, which is not only lawful, but necessary for men in all ordinary cases, ver. iz. And he said unto his disciples, therefore 1 fay unto you, take no thought for your life, what you shall eat. And this agrees very well with the direction which our Saviour gave to his disciples, when he first sent them forth: to preach, Matth. x. 9. Provide neither gold nor silver, nor brass In your purses, neither coat nor scrip; which no man ever understood as a general law to all Christians, but as a particular precept to the Apostles at that time.
And if this be our Saviour's meaning, there is then no reason to think, that this caution against covetousness does forbid men to use a provident care and regular industry about the things of this life.
3. Nor is every degree of love and affection to the things of this world condemned in scripture, as any branch, or part of this vice of covetousness; but such a love of the things df this world as is truly consistent with the love of God, and a due and a serious care of our souls, is allowed both by scripture and reason. St. John indeed seems to condemn all love of the world, and of the things of it, as utterly inconsistent with the love of God, 1 John ii. 15. Love not tht world, neither the things that are in the world; if arny man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him: But this is, according to the Hebrew phrase and manner of speaking, to forbid things absolutely, which are to be understood only comparatively. So Matth. vi. 19. Lay not uf for yourselves treasures up~ <m earth; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven; i. e. be not so solicitous for the good things of this world, as for the glory and happiness of the next. And Luke xii. 4. Be not afraid of them that kill the body; that is, fear them not so much as him that can destroy both body and foul in hell: And Luke xiv. 26. If any man come unto me, and hate not his father and mother, and all that he hath ; that is, if he do not love me more than all these things, he cannot be my disciple: And 'John vi. 27. Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that which endureth t» everlasting life; that is, labour not so much for the one as for the other, be not so solicitous about the things of this life, as about the great concernments of eternity- do likewise Colos. iii. 2. Set your assefi'tons on things above, not on things on the earth; i. e. set them more on things above,than on earthly' things. So here, Love not the world, neither the things of the world; that is, do not over-value them, do not love them so much as not to be able to part with them for Christ; for if any man thus love the world, he does not love God as he ought. So that when the scripture commands us not to love the world, this is to be understood comparatively, that we should not love these things in comparison of God, and the great concernments of another world: But it does not forbid us to love these things in a due degree, and with a due subordination to those things which are more excellent, and of infinitely greater concernment to us. For nothing can be more inconsistent than to recommend to men diligence in their worldly callings and employments (as the scripture frequently' does) and that in order to the attaining of the good things of this life; and yet to forbid us to love these things at all. For if men have no degree of love to them, the best argument to diligence for the obtaining of them would be taken away. Besides, that we
are are commanded in scripture to be thankful to God for bestowing on us the blessings of this life, and we are to love him upon this account. Now can any man love the giver, for bestowing such gifts upon him, which, if he do as he ought, he must not love J
You fee then what those things are, which the scripture does not condemn as any branch or degree of this vice of covetousness; a provident care, and a regular industry, and such a degree of love to the things of this world, as is consistent with the love of God, and the care of our fouls.
Secondly, I come now to shew what is condemn, ed in scripture under the name of covetousness; and by this we shall best understand wherein the nature of tlys sin doth consist. How covetousness is a word of a large signification, and comprehends in it most of the irregularities of mens minds, either in desiring, or getting, or in possessing, and using an estate. I shall speak to each of these severally.
L Covetousness in the desire of riches, consists in an eager and unsatiable desire after the things of this World. This the scripture condemns, though it be free from injustice, as it seldom happens to be. This insatiable desire of wealth, God plainly condemns by his Prophet, Isa. v. 8. Wo unto them that join house to house, and lay field to field, till there be no place, that they may be placed alone in the midst os the earth. And this is that which our Saviour here in the text seems to have a more particular respect to, when he cautions men against the sin of covetousness, as appears both from the reason which he gives of this caution, and from the parable whereby he illustrates it. From the reason which he gives of this caution. Take heed and beware of covetousness; for the life of man doth not consist in the abundance of the things which he pojfejfeth. As if he had said, take great care to set some bounds to your desires after the things of this world. For whatever men may imagines it is certain in experience, that it is not the abundance ojt Outward things which makes the life of man happy. Wealth and content do not always dwell together; nay so far from that, that perhaps they Yery seldom meet.
And the parable likewise which follows upon thrs caution, doth sufficiently shew this to be our Saviour's meaning; for he illustrates what he was speaking of, by a rich man whose desire of wealth was never satisfied, but he was continually increasing his estate, and enlarging his barns, to make more room still for' his fruits, that he might lay up goods in store for many years. The parable does not so much as intimate any indirect or unjust ways of gain, which this man vised to increase his estate; but condemns his insatiable desire and thirst aster more; so that even this alone is covetousness, and a great fault, though it were attended with no other; Decause it is unreasonable, and without end.
II. There is covetousness likewise in getting an estate; and the vice or evil of this kind of covetousness consists chiefly in these three things.
1. In the use of unlawful and unjust ways to get or increase an estate. He is a covetous man, who by the greediness of gain, is tempted to do any unjust action, whether it be in the way of fraud and deceit, or of violence and oppression. And this perhaps is that which is most frequently in scripture called covetousness. And this I take to be the meaning of the tenth commandment, Thou foalt not covet; wherein is forbidden all unjust desire of that which is another man's, and all unjust endeavours and attempts to deprive him of it. For so our Saviour renders it, Mark x. 19. where he fays to the young man that came to be directed by him, what gcod thing ht -should do, that he might Inherit eternal life; thou knowest the commandments, do not commit adultery, do not kill, do not steal, do not bear false witness; and then instead of the tenth commandment, thou stialt not covet, or rather by way of explication of it, he adds fiii <L-ri>Ti(m«-, defraud not; as if he had said in a word, be not injurious to thy neighbour in any kind, irt desiring or endeavouring to deprive him of any tiling that is his. As the Romans in their laws were .WO»t to comprehend those crimes which had no proper