« AnteriorContinuar »
In discoursing of the second of these, viz.. the matter of the caution, I proposed,
1. To consider wherein the nature of this vice of covetousness does consist.
2. To shew the evil and unreasonableness of ft. The first of these I have dispatched, and now go
on to the second, vix,. To shew the great evil, anJ unreasonableness of the vice of covetousness.
Now covetousness will appear to be very evil, and unreasonable, upon these following accounts:
I. Because it takes men off from religion, and the care of their fouls.
II. Because it tempts men to do many things which are inconsistent with religion, and directly contrary to it.
III. Because it is an endless and insatiable desire.
IV. Because the happiness of human life doth not consist In riches.
V. Because riches do very often contribute very pui.ch to the misery and infelicity of men.
I First, Covetousness takes men off from religion-, and the care of their fouls. The covetous man is wholly intent upon this world; and his inordinate desire aster these things, makes him to neglect God, and the eternal concernments of bis foul. He employs all his time, and care, and thoughts about these temporal things, and his vehement love and e.ige* pursuit os these things steals away his heart from God» robs him of his time, and of all opportunities for his foul, and diverts him from all serious thoughts of another world, and the life to come. And the reason of this is that which our Saviour gives, Matth. vi. 14. No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God end mammon. No man can serve two masters <b different as God and the world are; because they will give cross commands, and enjoin contrary things. God calls upon us to mind the duties'of his worship and service, to have a serious regard to religion, and a diligent care of our fouls: But the cares of the Y/orjd., and the importunity of business, and an eager
appetite) appetite of being rich, call us off from these divine and spiritual employments, or disturb us in them. God calls upon us to be charitable to those that are in want, to be willing to distribute, and ready to communicate to the necessities of our brethren; but our covetousness pulls us back, and hales us another way, and checks all merciful and charitable inclinations in us. God calls us to self-denial, and suffering for the sake of him, and his truth, and commands us to prefer the keeping of faith and a good conscience, to all worldly considerations whatsoever: But the world inspires us with other thoughts, and whispers to us to save ourselves, not to be righteous ever much, and rather to trust God with our fouls, than men with our bodies and estates.
If we set our hearts and affections strongly upon any thing, they will partake of the object wnichtney are conversant about ; for where our treasure is, (as our Lord hath told us) there will our hearts be also*. If a great estate be our chief end and design, if riches be our treasure, and our happiness, our hearts will be found among the stuff. We cannot bestow our affections freely upon two objects. We cannot intensely love God, and the world ; for no man can have two ultimate ends, two principal designs. Our riches may increase, but if we fit our hearts upon them, and give them the chief place in our affections, we make them our Lord and Master. Whatever we make our ultimate end, we give it a sovereignty and empire over us i we put ourselves under its dominion, and make ourselves subject to all its commands. So thac if it bid us go we must go; come, we must come; do this, we must do it ; because we are under authority: The world is our master, and we are its slaves. Now he that is under the rule and dominion of this master, must withdraw his obedience from God, and in many cases decline obedience to his laws.
This worldly covetous disposition was that which made those in the parable to make so many excuses, when they were invited to the supper, Luke xiv. One had bought a farm, and he could not come; another had bought so many yoke os oxen, and thert
sort fere be desired to be excused. Riches do so fill the covetous man's heart, and the cares of the world so possess his mind, that he hath.no roomiest in his foul for any other guests : Intus exiftens prohibet alienum, that -which is full already can receive no more. The covetous man's heart is taken up with such things as keep out God, and Christ, and better things. If any man love the world, and the things of it, to this degree, St. John tells us, that the love oj the Father is not in him.: In.the parable of the sower, Matth. iciii. 7. our Saviour represents to us, the cares.of the .world, which choak the word of God, by thorns which sprung up among the seed, and stifled the growth of it. The cares of the world will not suffer the word of God to take deep root in our hearts, and to have any permanent effect upon them : And Ezek. xxxiii. 31. God gives this as a reason why the people of Israel would not hearken to the words of his prophet, because their hearts were upon the world: They come unto thee (lays God there to the prophet) as- the people cometh, and they sit before thee as my people, and they hear thy -words, but they will not do them : for with their mouth- they shew much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness. A heart that is deeply engaged in the world, will.-stand out against all the invitations, and promises, and threatnings of God's word.- When the word of God invites such persons, it is like making.love- to those who have already fixed their hearts and affections elsewhere ; the promises and threatnings of the gospel signify but very little to such men, because their hearts are set upon worldly things, and all their affections are bent that way; all their hopes and desires are worldly ; to be rich and.abound in wealth; and all their fears are of poverty and loss. Now such a man can only be moved with the promises and threatnings of temporal things; for no promises have any effect upon us, but such as are of some good, which we care for and value : Nor are any threatnings apt to move us, but such as are of some. evil which we dread, and are afraid of. And therefore when eternal life, and the happiness oi another world, are offered to a wocldly
miadedi minded man, he does not desire it, he is not at all sensible of the value of it; the man's heart is furl already of other hopes and desires, and the full fold loathetb the honey-comb. Promise to such a man the kingdom of heaven, and the pleasures of God's presence_- and the joys of eternity, this does not signify to such a man any good or happiness that he is sensible of, or knows how to relish. And on the other hand, threaten him with the loss of God, and eternal separation from that fountain of happiness, and with the unspeakable anguish and torments of a long eternity ; these things, though they be terrible, yet they are at a distance, and the covetous man is inured to fense, and is only to be moved with things present and sensible ; he cannot extend his fears so far as another world, so long as he finds himself well and at ease, as to the things of this present life.
If we would affect such a man, we must offer to his consideration something that is fit to work upon him : threaten him with breaking open his house, and rifling his coffers, and carrying away his full bags i with questioning his title to his estate, or starting a precedent mortgage, or something of the like nature: these things indeed are dreadful and terrible to him;; now you speak intelligibly to him, and he understands what you mean. Tell him of a good bargain, or an advantageous purchase, offer him decently a good bribe, or give him notice of a young heir that may be circumvented, and drawn in, then you say something to him that is worthy of his regard and attention ; the man may be tempted by such offers and promises as these : But discourse to "him with the tongue of men and Angels, of the excellency of virtue and goodness, and of the necessity of it, to the obtaining of a glory and happiness that shall neither have bounds nor end ., and lo! thou art unto htm us a very lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice, and can play well upon an instrument ; for he hears thy words, but he will not do them, as the prophet expresseth it, Ezek. xxxiii. 32. Such discourses as these they look upon as fine talk, or a melodious sound, that vanifheth into air, but leaves no impression behind it. Perhaps even these dull and stupid kind of men are affected a little for the present with the^ liveliness of the romance, and the poetical vein of the preacher; but these things pase away like a tale that is told, but have no lasting effect upon them. So effectually doth covetousness, and the love of this present world, obstruct all those passages, through which the consideration of religion ana heavenly things should enter into our minds.
Secondly, As covetousness hinders men from religion, and takes them off from a due care of their fouls ; so it many times tempts and engageth men to do many things contrary to religion, and inconsistent with it: It is the natural source and fountain of a great many evils, and the parent of most of the worst of vices. He that will engage deep in the World, must use much more guard and caution than most men do, to do it without fin. How many temptations is the covetous man exposed to in thegetting, and in the securing, and in the spending and enjoying of a great estate ? It is no easy task to reckon them up, -and much more difficult to escape or resist them, and yet each of these temptations brings him into the danger of a great many fins. For,
>J, In the getting ot an estate, he is exposed to all those vices which may seem to be serviceable to this design. Nothing hath been the cause of more and greater sins in the world than covetousness, and making haste to be rich. It is Solomon's observation, Prov. xxviii. 20. He that maketh haste to be rich, shall not be innocent. He does not fay he cannot. be innocent, but he speaks as if there were all the probability in the world that he will not prove to be so; but being in so much haste, will almost unavoidably fall into a great many oversights and faults. And the heathen Poet makes the fame observation in more words:
Inde sere fcelerum causa: ntc flur a venena