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prohibits, was thereby condemned, and thus he His law requires perfect and unchanging love as knew himself to be a sinner. The law against the spring of every action-love that knows no ́covetousness, then, is a law especially directed forgetfulness-that has the constant and entire against the sins of the heart. Every desire and affection of the soul which lusts after things forbidden, is by this commandment condemned. Here we have set before us the entire spirituality of the law. In this one sentence, Thou shalt not covet,' we are forbidden to entertain sin even in our thoughts. It is most important that we should thus regard the law of God-that we should have a right knowledge of its extent and spirituality.
ascendancy in the soul—that occupies the whole heart, and subordinates all things to itself. What is it though we do not formally worship another God, if other lords besides him have really the dominion over our affections? What though we do not make an image, and bow down before it, so long as the chambers of our imagination are occupied with visible and earthly things? What though we be not guilty of open profanity, if we take the name of God in vain, by rendering to The personal experience of the apostle is just him the heartless service of the lips? What the experience of every sinful man. He testifies though we refrain from our worldly employments that he was alive without the law once; but when on the sabbath, when there is not a scene of busier the commandment came, sin revived, and he died; occupation in the world than would be presented that is, he thought himself a righteous and just were all our memories and hopes, our calculations man, until God, in his grace, gave him to see that for the future, and our reflections for the past, his commandments reached every thought and laid bare, and discovered to be of the earth? desire of the heart, and then he knew himself to We rest our bodies, and they are refreshed, but be a vile and condemned sinner-that sentence of our minds obtain no rest from worldly cares, and death had been already pronounced upon him, are not refreshed with the dews of the heavenly and then he was led to the cross of Christ. He spirit. And so of all the commandments of God, was first of all brought to cry: O, wretched did God but unveil to us our own hearts, and man that I am, who shall deliver me from the show us the entire breadth and extent of his law; it body of this death?' before he was led to thank might be demonstrated to our own conviction that God through Jesus Christ our Lord. And so it so far from doing any thing which came up to the is in regard to every man. Faith in Christ pre- full measure of obedience, our very righteousnesses supposes a faith in our own utter hopelessness are as filthy rags. The law as a schoolmaster without him. Christ came not to call the right- would bring us to Christ. We would cry out, eous but sinners to repentance. His invitation is What shall we do to be saved?' Nothing but to them that labour and are heavy laden, and it Christ would satisfy us. O that God would give is certain that only the convinced sinner will come us more of this divine knowledge! that we might to Christ, for he only feels his need of such a see more of our own vileness! that we might see Saviour. But it is by the law we acquire the we had no life in ourselves! We would then cast knowledge of sin. Without an adequate sense of aside the filthy rags whereby we seek to cover its depth and spirituality, as condemning every our nakedness, and he would clothe us with that nnholy desire, we either know not that we are robe which is the righteousness of the saints. ! sinners at all, or we have no proper sense of the Covetousness would then die, when we ourselves utter hopelessness of our condition. And thus became dead, and were unable to say with the the Pharisaical imagination is fostered, that if in apostle: I am crucified with Christ, nevertheany tolerable manner we discharge the duties we less I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me; owe to our neighbour, and observe the religious and the life which I now lead in the flesh is a life rites which have been imposed upon us, we are of faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave not in a very bad state. We may possibly need himself for me.' a little mercy extended to us, and this we will look for from a God who has been revealed as very merciful. He will not condemn us for the few sins of which we have been guilty, and so far as we cannot justify ourselves, we will have our transgressions covered by the merits of Christ. His merits will atone for the little that is defective or wrong in our conduct. If we reason thus, we have not yet learned God's law, nor found the real meaning of the words, "Thou shalt not covet.'
'And covetousness, which is idolatry,' Col. iii. 5. THE identity between covetousness and idolatry consists in this, that the covetous man places that love and confidence in riches which are due to God alone. Riches become to him a god. His
supreme affections are placed upon them, and it is | us the utter folly of it, as it is shown with such in them he confides. He does not in his heart convincing power in the parable: "The ground of depend upon God; he has no confidence in his a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: and wisdom and goodness. It is not because he looks he thought within himself, saying, What shall I to God, who openeth his hand and satisfieth the do, because I have no room where to bestow my desires of every living thing, that he says to his fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull soul, 'take thine ease,' but because he has much down my barns, and build greater; and there goods in store for many years. There is an ob- will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And vious and deep malignity in this sin, which must I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods make it very hateful to God. It strikes at the laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, root of all religion, and undermines its founda- drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, tions. It is a deliberate sin, not perpetrated Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required under the influence of some sudden gust of passion, of thee: then whose shall those things be which but a habitual state of the soul. All the acts to thou hast provided?' It is this certainty of a which it leads are acts of contrivance and fore- speedy death which marks the utter folly of thought. It is a sin of love and choice, the set- covetousness. We cannot keep what we may ting up a false end, and steadfastly prosecuting it, have spent a life time to acquire. We cannot not an error in the means of attaining a good end. make a covenant with death that it shall not call It is a sin which deposes God from the throne of away the soul, and what happiness can we have our hearts, and sets up his creatures as objects of in that from which we may so soon be called our highest affection. It delights in the creature away? We add to the bitterness of death. He and not in God, and seeks riches as the highest hap- to whom the last enemy comes in the midst of piness, and therefore the apostle testifies, if any poverty, in desolation and distress, can leave the man loveth the world, the love of the Father is world without a pang. But what bitterness not in him,'-the friendship of the world is enmity must it be, just when we have finished our careagainst God. It is a contempt and disbelief of ful preparations for years of easy indulgence, to all God's promises, for he who really believes all be laid hold on by death! But the folly of covethat God has said of the happiness of heaven, tousness is not only to be seen in this. It may could not prefer the world to it. It brings man fail of its object from other causes than want of nearly to a level with the beasts that perish, for time. We have received this admonition, Lay their object and end, like that of the covetous man, not up for yourselves treasures on earth, where is a mere temporal provision. It is therefore a moth and rust do corrupt, and where thieves perverting of the very end of existence. Man was break through to steal.' We may by many accimade to glorify God; the covetous man gives all dents be deprived of all that we have amassed in the glory to the creature, and he does this as a a single hour. Riches take to themselves wings habit. His covetousness is not an occasional act, but a habitual state of mind, indicated by a habitual course of life. It involves the highest contempt of God-the most hardened unbelief-the vilest ingratitude. It perverts God's creatures to an end the reverse of that for which they were bestowed. It is using the gifts of God to cast dishonour upon him, and converting the mercies bestowed for our use and benefit into instruments of perdition.
and flee away. The thief may rob us-fire may consume our stores-the storms of heaven may destroy the increase of our fields-those to whom money is lent on usury may become bankrupt. We have in truth no security for the continuance or the increase of worldly possessions but in the goodness of God, and we do our utmost to destroy that security by employing his mercies to dishonour and contemn him. But even suppose we were permitted to get and to retain all that coveSuch is the character of this sin, so heinous is tousness lusteth after, it would still be stamped it in its nature. It is the basis of all other offences, with folly. The world could not satisfy us—we for it is thus written, the love of money is the would have no lasting enjoyment from it. To root of all evil.' As the love of God is the source use the words of an old English Divine, ‘Acof all good, the fountain of all virtue, that which cording to continual experience it is the nature of destroys this love must be the greatest of all all things pleasant only to sense or fancy, presins, because containing the germ of every other. sently to satiate: no beauty can long please the When its proper character is considered, it is eye, no melody the ear, no delicacy the palate, wonderful that men should be subject to it. no curiosity the fancy; a little time doth waste There cannot be a stronger proof of their blind-away, a small use doth wear out the pleasure ness and infatuation. Reason herself might teach which at first they afford; novelty commendeth
'Let your conversation be without coretousness;
and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee, Heb. xiii. 5.
and ingratiateth them: distance representeth true that the sinner, who retains his enmity them fair and lovely: the want or absence of against God, cannot possibly derive consolation them rendereth them desirable: but the presence from such a promise; for to him the abiding preof them dulleth their grace, the possession of sence of God would be the very consummation them deadeneth the appetite to them.' A sin so of misery. Yet it may be plain, even to them, heinous so dishonouring to God-so contrary to that when this enmity has been destroyed, and reason—so destructive of the soul, cannot but be the soul has been taught to delight in God, abhorrent to God. He has not only shown this the constant feeling of his presence may cause abhorrence by directing a law against it, he has such a fulness of satisfaction as to leave nothing expressed a special dislike to it. The covetous else to desire. This might be inferred from what are described as those whom the Lord abhorreth. reason and experience tell us of the sources of conIt should be a special object with us then to strive solation and happiness opened up to us in the world. against this sin. Its remedy lies in the love of It is admitted that the highest enjoyments which God, in confiding faith in the wisdom and good- the world furnishes, arise from the relationships ness of his dispensations. Let us therefore ever in which God has placed us. It is not in the pray that the love of God may be shed abroad gratification of the mere sensual appetites that in our heart, and our affections set on the things the most complete satisfaction is found on earth, above. but in the communion of heart with heart. And were we desirous of presenting a picture of earthly comfort, we would be obliged to colour it with the felicities of friendly and affectionate intercourse, to place on the very foreground of the picture representation of that loving intercourse which opens up the heart, and brings into activity the strongest and best sentiments of which it is capable. We would imagine a fellowship constantly maintained springing from deep affection, developing itself in the communion of mind with mind; the interchange of thought and sentiment. And it might be conceived that such a communion as this was maintained throughout a long lifetime, and daily becoming closer and more dear, till there could be no enjoyment felt apart and alone, but the most grateful happiness in union. Still farther we might conceive that there is a wide disparity between the parties who maintain this intercourse; that, on the one hand, it consisted very much in bestowing, and on the other, of receiving, and that such affection being hallowed by the tenderness to which comparative helplessness gives rise on the one side, and by docility and reverence on the other, gave free scope for the exercise of all the tender susceptibilities of the heart. And wherefore should it be regarded as a visionary and delusive thing that the child of God, in a communion with him, which, from His very nature, must give scope for the exercise of the highest and best faculties of the soul which must enkindle and invigorate every fresh and delightful emotion of the heart; should enjoy a happiness inconceivably greater than could elsewhere be tasted, and withal so full and perfect, as to leave no room for covetousness to desire more? In the habitual contemplation of all that is majestic and powerful, of all that is lovely and desirable; of the infinite in every perfection; in the delightful
THE promise contained in the text is one which has often been repeated for the consolation of God's people. It is peculiarly appropriate to a time of adversity and distress, or when God calls ns to engage in any arduous undertaking, in the prosecution of which our flesh and heart faint and fail. But there are no circumstances in which a child of God can be placed in which he may not appropriate the promise, and realize all the blessedness which it is fitted to impart. It is only when we forsake God that he forsakes us. His presence may be realized at all times, and if we but open a door of entrance for him, he will come in and take up his abode with us, and give us to enjoy the blessedness of communion with him. It is because we rather seek our happiness in other things, which is to be found in God alone, that he hides from us his gracious countenance, and leaves us to ourselves. The promise is here given to enforce the injunction contained in the text. We are enjoined to let our conversation be without covetousness, and to be content because God hath said he will never leave nor forsake us. It therefore plainly sets before us this truth, that when God is our portion, we have nothing farther to desire; and truly the Lord is an abundant and satisfying portion, even though we had nothing besides.
This may in part be made apparent, even to those who have never tasted of his grace. It is
consciousness that God is our dwelling-place, our refuge, and that he will order all things for our good; in the exercise within our own souls of all the emotions and faculties to which such a communion and confidence gives rise; in reverence, and wonder, and adoring loving; in gratitude, and faith, and hope, and in all the heaven-born graces there is enough to constitute happiness, and to give it the very impress of perfection. The soul is by this communion raised above the world. Things are seen in their just proportions, and it is felt that the whole world would be nothing without God. Covetousness is therefore destroyed. Its objects are divested of their false tinsel, and they cease to be objects of desire. Thus content ment finds room to grow, and expands into perfect peace. Without God all is dark; in his presence is light and joy; and the glad confidence remains to light up the eye of immortal hope, that whatever be our worldly state and condition, God will not at any time, on any occasion, for any cause, withdraw from us. He will uphold us by the right hand of his righteousness. He will never leave nor forsake us.
THE gain of godliness is of such a kind, so incalculable in its amount, and so precious in its gifts, as pre-eminently to deserve the character here given to it of being great gain. It hath a proImise of the life that now is, as well as of that which is to come. It opens up new fountains of enjoyment, and gives a new relish to every comfort. It raises the soul to the contemplation and enjoyment of divine things, and earthly comforts are by its influence sweetened, received in gratitude, and awakening new love to God who bountifully bestows them. Without godliness the possession and enjoyments of this world's goods contract and harden the heart, and make it less and less susceptible of pleasure. They with draw the soul from its sweetest pleasures, and become snares for its destruction.
Men in general have acted as if they judged differently. They have not only pursued gain to the neglect of godliness, but many have assumed an aspect of godliness that they might add to their gains. They have made religion the pander
to their covetousness-valued it only so far as it promoted their worldly views, and abandoned it so soon as it became unprofitable.
We scarcely need be told that there is a liability in all men to such a shameful and wicked prostitution of godliness. The corruption of the heart is ever manifesting itself by a preference of the things of sense to the things of faith. Even in the churches which were planted by the hands of apostles, and so plentifully watered by the outpouring of the divine Spirit, this depraved tendency to some extent prevailed. In the context the apostle points out for reprobation some who were destitute of the truth, supposing that gain was godliness. To reprove such a spirit, and show how irrational their conduct was, he adduces the argument of the text, with a view of showing the propriety of contentment when the barest necessaries of life were furnished. The argument is altogether invincible. We brought nothing into the world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. The gain we make, the wealth we acquire, is not really ours, it is but borrowed for a day, and we must ere long, and however reluctantly, be deprived of it. Nay, it is worse than useless, for it is declared, 'they that will be rich, fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in the bible to make us afraid of being rich, in destruction and perdition.' There is enough rather than to induce us to court wealth, if we shall they that are rich enter into the kingdom would but believe its declarations. How hardly
But if we will not be persuaded by God's word, surely we might listen to the testimony of our own experience. We know that we cannot carry anything out of the world, and therefore it is not worth our while to strive for the attainment of any of its possessions, or be beyond measure distressed by the want of them. Moreover we know that contentment and covetousness cannot dwell together in the same breast. wish to become rich that we may be more happy. No man courts riches for any thing else. At the same time we banish contentment, which is the larger portion of happiness, by the very circumstance that we desire more. Contentment is more valuable than riches. There is not a blessing we can enjoy on earth to be compared with it; none can be truly enjoyed without it. It blesses every condition of life. It is precious alike to all. It cannot be purchased with gold. Poverty cannot wrench it from us. It makes our desires level to our condition, and we are happy when we have no desire ungratified. It is no less
ask any blessing from him, especially those spiritual blessings which are the gifts of his grace, it is on all hands admitted that we must ask in the name of Christ, and in dependence on his merits, otherwise we presume that God's mercies can be exercised towards us at the expense of the other attributes of his character. We deserve nothing from him but wrath, and we can hope for nothing but through Christ. In the same way, when we have become sensible to gratitude, and are constrained to render thanks for blessings already bestowed, our sacrifice must be offered by Christ, otherwise we presume that God's favour has been bestowed upon us at the expense of his holiness and justice. We thus cast dishonour upon his character, and our offering cannot be received. This is true regarding all the mercies of which we are partakers, both temporal and spiritual. For the former, as well as the latter, thanks must be rendered in the name of Christ, for they are all received through him.
blessed in its results than in itself. It prevents upon the justice and holiness of God. When we
THE prayer of the wicked is abomination unto the Lord, and as guilty creatures we have only one way of access to him. Our prayers, perfumed with the much incense of Christ's holy sacrifice, ascend with acceptance before God. Thus the text directs us to offer the sacrifice of praise and thanks continually through Christ. We cannot acceptably offer any sacrifice in any other way, not even the sacrifice of thanksgiving. Nor is it difficult to understand how from the perfect purity of God's character this must be the Even to offer thanks for benefits conferred upon us, except through Christ, is to reflect
In the text we are directed to offer the sacrifice of praise continually. This injunction, in the very terms of it, is fitted to set forth the extent of our obligations to God. We have nothing that we have not received, and for every blessing praise and thanks are due. Every moment we receive favours, and therefore every moment we owe gratitude and thanks. Who shall number God's countless mercies, or set bounds to our obligation of gratitude? To him we are indebted for every good and perfect gifts—from him we receive all good things-whatever is necessary for sustenance convenient for use or pleasant in enjoyment-all that we possess-all that we hope for our very capacities of enjoyment-whatever gratifies the eye with its beauty, or pleases the ear with its melody. To him we owe every delight which the ministry of the senses provides for the mind-every pleasure which the actings of affeetion creates all that joy which is unspeakable and full of glory, resulting from communion with himself, and from the actings of the new heart which he has formed, and endowed with noble and imperishable affection. Surely the contemplations of his unnumbered benefits is enough to awaken perpetual gratitude, which in its fullness shall continually overflow in glad songs of praise and fervent thanksgiving.
But how much more deep will gratitude become, how much more lively in its exercise, how much more fervent in its expression, when we consider our own utter want of desert, nay, our desert of wrath instead of the least mercy! Thus again we find that not only if we desire our