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our descanting upon it, or otherwise circumstantiating of it, we do not give occasion to any to mistake us.. b* To be charitable both in what we hear and say of other men. €* To vindicate their reputation as far as fairly we can; and to * hold our tongues, d'at least' not to * aggravate their faults where we cannot.
PROOFS SUBJOINED.—Psalm xv. 1, 2. Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill? He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth from his heart. Eph. iv. 25. Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour. 1 Pet. iii. 10. For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile. Matt. vii. 1, 2. Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. 1 Cor. xiii. 5, 7. Charity doth not behave itself' unseemly : seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil. Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
Luke, xxij. 41. And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. "Acts, xxv. 7. And when he was come, the Jews, which came down from Jerusalem stood round about, and laid many and grievous complaints against Paul, which they could not prove.
Of the Sin of coveting what is our Neighbour's. 1. Q. What is the last commandment !
A. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house; thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife ; nor his servant, nor his maid, nor his or, nor his ass, nor any thing that is his.
2. Q. What is the sin forbidden in this command. ment?
A. The unlawful desire of what is another man's. 3. Q. When is such a desire unlawful?
A. When it puts men upon any deliberate thoughts and contrivances to obtain that which our neighbour cannot part with to us, as his wife; or to get any thing which is another's (though he might part with it) without the consent and allowance of him to whom it belongs.
4. Q. What if a man's desire be so bounded as not to put him upon any undue means to obtain what is another man's.
A. If it be so bounded within the use of lawful means, that he is determined not to make use of any other, though he should never obtain it, it is not sinful.
As if Ahab had only desired Naboth's vineyard for the convenience of it, and as soon as he saw Naboth would not part with it, had rested in the refusal, and gone no farther, he would have done nothing amiss. But if a inan's desire be violent and unreasonable, if it makes bim resolve to compass what he covets by any means; if fair means will not do, to have it by foul ones; such a desire as this is sinful. And, therefore, when Ahab grew discontented at Naboth’s refusal; and after that the malice and cunning of Jezebel had destroyed him, went down and took possession of his vineyard, the event shewed his coveting to have been criminal; and that his desire was as inordinate as the effect of it was tragical.
Proofs SUBJOINED.—1 Kings, xxi. passim, 5, 6, 7. But Jezebel his wife came to him, and said unto him, Why is thy spirit so' sad, that thou eatest no bread? And he said unto her, because I spake unto Naboth the Jezreelite, and said unto him, Give me thy vineyard for money; or else, if it please thee, I will give thee another vineyard for it: and he answered, I will not give thee my vineyard. And Jezebel his wife said unto him, Dost thou now govern the kingdom of Israel ? Arise and eat bread, and let thine heart be merry: I will give thee the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite. Verse 16. And it came to pass, when Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, that Ahab rose up to go down to the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.
5. Q. What think you of such a desire, as though it be violent and immoderate, yet is presently suppressed, and does not proceed to any wicked resolutions, endeavours, or actions, in order to the accomplishing of what it covets?
A. St. James seems to warrant us to think favourably of it;'James, i. 12, 14, 15. Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. Every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.
Yet it cannot be doubted but that all such desires proceed from an eril principle within us; and we ought to watch all we can, even against the first motions of them, and suppress them. Matt. v. 28, 29, 30. But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her, hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out and cast it from thee; for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.
6. Q. What is the duty required in this commandment?
A. Contentment with our estate whatsoever it be, so as neither to murmur against God, nor to envy our neighbour upon the account of any thing which he possesses. There being nothing more certain than that he who is not satisfied with what he himself enjoys, will be apt, upon every occasion, criminally to covet what is another man's.
PROOFS SUBJOINED.-Matt. vi. 25, &c. Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what
shall put on? Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? 1 Cor. xiii. 4. Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not. Phil. iv. 11. Not that I speak in respect of want; for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. i Thess. iv. 11, 12. And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business; and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you; that ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing. Tim. vi. 6. But godliness, with contentment, is great gain. Heb. xiii. 5. Let your conversation be without covetousness: and be content with such things as ye have.