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by it here, your Portion, unless you repent very deeply, and amend very thoroughly, will be with the Father of Lies hereafter. For into the heavenly ferusalem shall in no wise enter whosoever worketh Abomination, or maketh a Lies. Lying Lips are Abomination to the Lord: but they, that deal truly, are his Delighth.
There is yet another Sort of Falsehood, often full as bad as affirming what we do not think : I mean, promiting what we do not intend; or what we neglect afterwards to perform, so soon, or so fully, as we ought. Whoever hath promised, hath made himself a Debtor : and, unless he be punctual in his Payment, commits an Injustice; which in many Cases may be of very pernicious Consequence.
Now in order to secure this great Point of speaking Truth : befides considering carefully and frequently the before-mentioned Evils of departing from it, we should be attentive also to moderate the Quantity of our Difcourse, lest we fall into Falsehood unawares. For in the Multitude of Words there wonteth not Sin: but he that refraineth his Lips, is wifei Persons, who suffer themselves to run on heedleisly in Talk, just as their present Humour disposes them, or the present Company will be best pleased; or who will say almost any Thing, rather than fay Nothing; must be perpetually transgrefsing some of the Duties comprehended under this Commandment; which yet it is of the utmost Importance not to transgress. For, with Respect to the Concerns of this World, He that loveth Life, and would see good Days, let him refrain bis Tongue from Evil; and his Lips, that they speak no Guilek And, as to our eternal State in the next, If any Man seem to be religious, and bridleth not his Tongue, that Man's Religion is vain'.
8 Rev. xxi. 27 k, Psal. xxxiv. 12, 13
i Prov, X. 196
h Prov. xii. 22
Jam. i. 26.
The Tenth Commandment,
E are now come to the Tenth and last Com.
mandment; which is by the Church of Rome absurdly divided into 'two, to keep up the Number, after joining the first and Second into one, contrary to ancient Authority, Jewish and Chriftian. How the Mistake was originally made, is hard to say: but undoubtedly they retain and defend it the more earnestly, in order to pass over the Second Commandment, as only Part of the First, without any distinct Meaning of its own.
And accordingly many of their devotional Books omit it entirely. But that these two ought not to be thus joined and confounded, I have shewn you already. And that this, now before us, ought not to be divided, is extremely evident: for it is one single Prohibition of all unjust Defires. And if reckoning up the several prohibited Objects of Desire makes it more than one Commandment; for the fame Reafon it will be more than two. For there are fix Things forbidden in it particularly, besides all the rest, that are forbidden in general. And moreover, if this be two Command ments, which is the first of them? For in Exodus it bea gins, Thou shalt not covet thy Neighbour's House: but in Deuteronomy, Thou shalt net covet thy Neighbour's Wife. And accordingly some of their Books of Devotion make the former, some the latter of these, the Ninth “. Surely the Order of the Words would never have been
a Their Manual of Prayers in English, 1725, puts. Thou shall not covet Chy Neighbour's Wife, for the Ninth. But in the Office of the Virgin, both. Latin and English, called the Primer, 1717, Thou fhalt not covet oby Neighbaur's House, is the Ninth.
changed thus in Scripture, had there been two Commandments in them o: but being one, it is no Way material, which Part is named first. I say no more therefore on so clear a Point: but proceed to explain this Precept, of not coveting what is our Neighbour's.
The good Things of this Life being the Gifts of God, for which all are to be thankful to him; desiring, with due Moderation and Submission, a comfortable Share of them, is very natural and right. Wishing, that our Share were better, is, in the Case of many Persons, so far from a Sin, that endeavouring diligently to make it better is part of their Duty. Wishing it were equal to that of such another, is not wishing ill to bim, but only well to ourselves. And seeking to obtain what belongs to another may, in proper Circumstances, be perfectly innocent. We may really have Occasion for it; he may be well able to bestow it; or he may have Occasion for something of ours in Return. And on these mutual Wants of Men all Commerce and Trade is founded : which God, without Question, designed Thould be carried on; because he hath made all Countries abound in some Things, and left them deficient in others.
Not every Sort of Desires therefore, but unfit and immoderate Desires only, are forbidden by the Words, Thou malt not covet. And these are such as follow. First, If our Neighbour cannot lawfully part with his Property, nor we lawfully receive it; and yet we want to have it.
b Indeed the Vatican Copy of the Septuagint in Exodus places, Tbox phalt not commit Adultery, before Tbou salt do no Murder. And so do Mark x. 19. Luke xviii. 20. Rom. xiii. 9. and Philo, and Part of the Fathers. But the Hebrew and Samaritan, and all Translations excepting the Septuagint, and even That in Deuteronomy, and I believe most Copies of it in Exodus, and Matth. xix. 18. and Josephus, and another Part of the Fathers, keep the now common Order. And the Evangelists did not intend to observe the original Order : for they put, Honour thy Father, &e, last. And St. Paul doth not say, that he intended to observe it. This therefore is act a parallel Cafe to that of the Tenth Commandment.
One Instance of this Kind is expressed, Thou Malt not covet thy Neighbour's Wife. Another is, if we want a Person who poffeffes any Thing in Trust, or under certain Limitations, to give or sell it in Breach of that Trust or those Limitacions. Or if he can part with it, but is not willing; and we entertain Thoughts of acquiring it by Force or Fraud, or of being revenged on him for his Refusal; this also is highly blameable : for why should not he be left quietly free Master of his own? Indeed barely pressing and importuning Persons, contrary to their
Interest, or even their Inclinations only, is in some Degree wrong: for it is one Way of extorting Things from them ; or however, of giving them Trouble, where we have no Right to give it.
But though we keep our Desires ever so much to ourfelves, they may notwithstanding be very finful. And such they are particularly, if they induce us to envy others: that is, to be uneasy at their imagined superior Happinefs, to with them ill, or take Pleasure in any Harm which beralls them. For this. Turn of Mind will prompt us to do them ill, if we can: as indeed a great Part of the Mischief that is done in the World, and some of the worst of it, arises from hence. Wrath is cruel, and Anger is outrageous : but who is able to fand again/t Envyo? Accordingly we find it joined in the New Testament with Strife, Railing, Variance, Sedition, Murder, Confusion, and every evil Workd. But were it to produce no Mischief to our Neighbour, yet it is the directly opposite Disposition to that Love of him, which is the second great Precept of Christ's Religion.' Nay indeed it deserves, in some Respects, to be reckoned the worst of ill-natured Sins. The revengeful Man pleads for himself some Injury attempted against him: but the envious Person bears unprovoked Malice to those, who have done him neither Wrong nor Harm, solely because he fancies them to be, in this or that Instance, very
c Prov. xxvii. 4. 2 Cor. xii. 20. Gal. v, 20, 21.
d Rom. i. 29. xiii. 13. 1 Cor. iii.
3. 1 Tim. vi. 4. Jam. iii. 14, 16.
happy. And why should they not, if they can; as he certainly would, if he could ? For the Prosperity of bad People, it muft be confeffed, we have Reason to be fo far sorry, as they are likely to do Hurt by it. But to desire their Fall, rather than their Amendment; to defire what may be grievous to any persons, not from good Will to Mankind, but from ill Will to them; to wish any Misfortune even to our Competitors and-Rivals, merely because they are such ; or because they have succeeded, and enjoy what we aimed at; is extremely uncharitable and inhuman. It is a Temper that will give us perpetual Disquiet in this World, (for there will always be somebody to envy) and bring a heavy Sentence upon us in the next, unless' we repent of it, and subdue it first.
But though our selfish Desires were to raise in us no Malignity against our Fellow-Creatures; yet if they tempt us to murmur against our Creator; and either to speak or think ill of that Distribution of Things, which his Providence hath made; this is great Impiety, and Rebellion of the Heart against God: who hath an absolute Right to dispose of the Works of his Hands as He pleases; and uses it always both with Justice and with Goodness to us. Were we innocent, we could none of us demand more Advantages of any Sort, than He thought fit to give us : but as we are guilty Wretches; far from having a Claim to this or that Degree of Happiness, we are every one liable to severe Punishment. And therefore, with the many Comforts and Bleffings which we have now, and the eternal Felicity which, through the Mercy of our heavenly Father, the Merits of our blessed Redeemer, and the Grace of the Holy Spirit, we may, if we will, have hereafter, surely we have no Ground to complain of our Condition. For what if Things be' unequally divided here? we may be certain the Disposer of them hath wife Reasons for it, whether we can see them or not: and we may be as certain, that, unless it be our own Fault, we shall bę .no Losers by it: for all Things work together for Good to