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that the world was made for the Messias. circumstances of things shall stamp his liberAnd we Christians hold, that it was made by ality with the name of charity and religion. him too. For he was (as the prophet Isaiah For indeed he only is in a true sense chari. styles him) the "mighty God," and conse table, who can sacrifice that to duty, which quently the creator of all that was not God. otherwise he knows well enough both how to The son of Abraham by one nature, and prize and make use of himself; and he alone eternally before Abraham by another. And can be said to love his friend really, who can yet this wonderful almighty person, whom make his own couvenience bow to his friend's the whole world could not circumscribe, by necessity, and thereby shews that he values reason of the divinity and immensity of his his friendship more than any thing that his being, had not so mach in the same world as friend can receive from him. But he who “where to lay his head,” by reason of the i with a promiscuous undistinguishing profusemeanness of his condition. From all which ness does not so much dispense, as throw away it follows, that since the quality of the person what he has, proclaims himself a fool to all the persuading makes be great part or in edient intelligent world about him; and is utterly in the persuasion, nothing could come more ignorant, both of what he has and what he invincibly, by way of argument, against does ; till at length, having emptied himself covetousness, than a discourse against it from of all, he comes to have his purse and his head the mouth of him who created, governed, and both alike. had a rightful title to all things, and yet We never find the Scripture commending possessed nothing. And thus much for the any prodigal but one, and him too only for first thing to be oonsidered in the dehorta his ceasing to be so.
Whose courses if we tion; namely, the person dehorting, who was reflect upon, we shall see his prodigality Christ himself. Pass we now to the
bringing him from his revelling companions Second thing to be considered in it, to wit, and his riotous meats, to the swine and to the thing we are dehorted from, which is the trough ; and from imitating their sencovetousness. And here, one would think, it suality, by a natural consequence, to take up might well be supposed, that there needed no with their diet too. Prodigality is the devil's great pains to explain what this is, if we may steward and purse-bearer, ministering to all rationally conclude, that men know the things sorts of vice ; and it is hard, if not impossible, they practise, or (in other words) understand for a prodigal person to be guilty of no other what they do; yet since the very nearness of vice but prodigality. For men generally are the object sometimes hinders the sight of it, prodigal, because they are first intemperate, and nothing is more usual than for inen to be luxurious, or anıbitious. And these, we know, most of all strangers at home, and to overlook are vices too brave and costly to be kept and the darling sin lying in their own bosoms, maintained at an easy rate; they must have where they think they can never sufficiently large pensions, and be fed with both hands, hide it, (especially from themselves,) I shall though the man that feeds them starves for endeavour to give some account of the nature his pains. From whence it is evident, that of this vice. And that,
that which only retrenches, and cuts off the 1. Negatively, by shewing what it is not supplies of these gaping, boundless appetites, And
is so far from deserving the ugly name of 2. Positively, by declaring what it is, and avarice, that it is a noble instrument of virtue, wherein it does consist ; for there is often a a step to grace, and a great preparation of fallacy on both sides. And
vature for religion. In a word, so far as 1. For the negative. Covetousness is not parsimony is a part of prudence, it can be no that prudent forecast, parsimony, and exact part of covetousness. ness, by which men bound their expenses And thus having shewn negatively what according to the proportion of their fortunes. the covetousness here condemned by our When the river is shallow, surely it is con Saviour is not, let us now shew positively cerned to keep within its own banks. No what it is and wherein it does consist. And man is bound to make himself a beggar, that we shall find that it consists in these follow. fools or flatterers may account him generous; | ing things. nor to spend his estate, to gratify the humour 1. An anxious, carking care about the of such as are like to be the first who shall things of this world : such a care as is exdespise and slight him, when it is spent. If pressed (Matt. vi. 28,) by “taking thought;" God bestows upon us a blessing, we may be the Greek word is τι μεριμνάτε, and in the confident that he looks upon it as worth our 31st verse, as feed our nepikerhonte. A word keeping. And he only values the good provi- importing such a thoughtfulness as distracts, dence of God for giving liim an estate, who and, as it were, divides the mind, and after it uses some providence himself in the manage has divided it, unconscionably takes both parts ment of it; and by so doing, puts it into his to itself. In short, such a care is here meant, power to relieve the poverty of the distressed, as lies like a kind of wolf in a man's breast, and to recover a sinking friend, when the perpetually gnawing and corroding it, and is
elsewhere expressed by Saint Luke, xii. 29, by disposing power po less marking out tho “ being of doubtful mind." As when a man, exact bounds and measures of our estates, after all his labours in the sober, rational, and than determining the just stature of our bodies; industrious pursuit of his lawful calling, yet and so fixing the bulk and breadth of one, as distrusts the issues of God's providence for a well as the height of the other. We vainly competent support therein, and dares not think we have these things at the disposal of cast himself upon that goodness of God which our own wills; but God will have us know, spreads its fatherly bounty over all, even the that they are solely the result of his. But, least, the lowest, and most contemptible parts 2. Covetousness implies in it also a rapacity of the creation. Such an one is a direct re in getting. When men, as it were, with open proach to his great Lord and Maker, while he mouth fly upon the prey, and catch with that can find in his heart to think him so careful eagerness, as if they could never open their of the very meanest rank of beings, as in the hands wide enough, nor reach them out far mean time to overlook the wants of his poblest enough to compass the objects of their boundcreatures, whom he made to lord it over all less desires. So that, had they (as the fable the rest, and, as a farther honour, designed goes of Briareus) each of them an hundred themselves for his own peculiar service : but hands, they would all of them be employed in yet so, that he never intended that they grasping and gathering, and hardly, one of should serve even him, the Lord of all, for them in giving or laying out; but all in renothing. No, the methods of Providence are ceiving, and none in restoring; a thing in far from being so preposterous, as, while it itself so monstrous, that nothing in nature “ adorns the lilies, and clothes the very grass besides is like it, except it be death and the of the field,” to leave him naked, who was grave, the only things I know which are alordered by God and nature to set his feet upon ways robbing and carrying off the spoils of the both, and while it“ feeds the fowls of the air," world, and never making restitution. For and the “ beasts of the land," to suffer him otherwise, all the parts of the universe, as they to starve, for w ose food both of them were borrow of one another, so they still pay what made. Besides, that man has a claim also to they borrow, and that by so just and wella promise for his support and sustenance, balanced an equality, that their payments alwhich none ever inissed of, who came up to ways keep pace with their receipts. But, on the conditions of it. And now, can God re the contrary, so great and so voracious a proquire an easier and more reasonable homage digy is covetousness, that it will not allow a from the sons of men, than that they should man to set bounds to his appetites, though he trust him, who neither will nor can fail thein ? feels himself stinted in his capacitites; but Aud withal rest satisfied, quiet, and com impetuously pushes him on to get more, while posed in their thoughts while they do so ? For he is at a loss for room to bestow, and an heart surely the infinite power and goodness of to enjoy what he has already. This ravenous, God may much more rationally be depended vulture-like disposition the wise man expresses upon, than a man's own pitiful projects and by “making haste to be rich," Prov. xxviii. endtavours, so much subject to chance and 20, adding withal, that he who does so “shall disappointment, be the man himself never so not be innocent." The words are a meiosis, skilful, never so laborious. See with what and import much more than they express, as strength of reason our Saviour argues down there is great reason they should; for so much this solicitous, restless temper of mind, in the of violence is there in the course or practice forementioned 6th of Saint Matthew, from here declared against, that neither reason nor this one unanswerable consideration, that if religion, duty nor danger, shall be able to stop God so carefully and tenderly provides for such an one in his career, but that he will mankind in their greatest concernments, leap over all mounds and fences, break through surely he will not relinquish them in those, right and wrong, and even venture his neck where the difficulty of a supply is less, and yet in pursuit of the design his head and his heart their inability to supply themselves altogether are so set upon. And this, I confess, is haste as great. “ Ís not the life,” says our Saviour, with a witness, but not one degree more than
more than meat, and the body than rai what is implied in “ making haste to be rich.” ment ?" And shall we commit the former For from hence it is, that we see some estates, to the common mercies of Providence, but like mushrooms, spring up in a night, and wholly distrust it for the latter? And instead some who were begging or borrowing at the thereof, fly for succour to our own short, fal beginning of the year, ready to be purchasers lible contrivances? When it is certain, that before it comes about. But this is by no ineans our thinking can no more of itself work an the course or method of nature; the advances alteration in our civil, than it can in our of which are still gradual, and scarce discerninatural estate ; nor can a man, independently ble in their motions ; but only visible in their upon the overruling influence of God's bless issue. For nobody perceives the grass grow, ing, care and cark himself one penny richer, or the shadow move upon the dial, till after any more than one cubit taller : the same all some time and leisure we reflect upou their
progress. In like manner, usually and natu but short in the continuance. They rose, as I rally, riches, if lawful, rise by degrees, and shew, like land-floods, and like them they fell. rather come dropping by small proportions 3. Covetousness implies in it all sinister and into the honest man's coffers, than pouring in illegal ways of getting. And if we dwell fully like a torrent or land-flood, which never brings upon this, we shall find, that it is not for so much plenty where at length it settles, but nothing that covetousness is called by the it does as much mischief all along where it apostle, (1 Tim. vi. 10,“the root of all passes.
evil ;” a root as odious for its branches, as the Upon the whole matter, the greedy getter branches for their fruit ; a root fed with dirt is like the greedy eater ; it is possible that by and dunghills, and so no wonder if of as much taking in too fast he may choke or surfeit, but foulness as fertility; there being no kind of he will hardly nourish and strengthen himself, vice whatsoever, but covetousness is ready to or serve any of the noble purposes of nature, adopt and make use of it, so far as it finds it which rather intends the security of his health, instrumental to its designs; and such is the than the gratification of his appetite.
cognation between all vices, that there is And in this respect covetousness, a thing of hardly any, but what very often happens to itself bad enough, is heightened by the con be instrumental and conducing to others bejunction of another every whit as bad, which sides itself. It is covetousness which comis impatience ; a quality sudden, eager, and mands in chief in most of the insurrections insatiable, which grasps at all, and admits of and murders which have infested the world ; no delay, scorning to wait God's leisure, and and most of the perjuries and pious frauds attend humbly and dutifully upon the issues which have shamed down religion, and even of his wise and just providence. Such persons dissolved society, have been resolved into the would have riches « make themselves wings commanding dictates of this vice. So that, to fly to them,” though one, much wiser than whatsoever has been pretended, gain has still they, has assured us, Prov. xxiii. 5, that when been the thing aimed at, both in the grosser they “ make themselves wings,” they intend outrages of an open violence, and the sanctito fly away.”
fied rogueries of a more refined dissimulation. But certainly, in this business of growing None ever acted the traitor and the Judas exrich, poor men (though never so poor) should pertly and to the purpose, but still there was slack their pace, (how open soever they found à quid dabitis behind the curtain. Covetousthe way before them,) and (as we may so ness has been all along, even in the most vilexpress it) join something of the cripple to lainous contrivances, the principal, though the beggar, and not think to fly, or run forth- hidden spring of motion ; and lying, cheating, with to a total and immediate change of their hypocritical prayers and fastings, the sure condition, but to consider, that both nature wheels by which the great work' (as they and religion love to proceed leisurely and called it) has still gone forward. Nay, so gradually, and still to place a middle state mighty á sway does this pecuniary interest between two extremes. And therefore, when bear even in matters of religion, that toleraGod calls needy, hungry persons to places and tion itself, (as sovereign a virtue as it is said opportunities of raising their fortunes, (a thing to be of, for preserving order and discipline in which of late has happened very often,) it the church,) yet without contribution, would concerns them to think seriously of the great- hardly be able to support the separate meetness of the temptation which is before them, ings of the dissenting brotherhood ; but that, and to consider the danger of a full table to a if the people should once grow sullen, and person ready to starve. But generally such shut up their purses, it is shrewdly to be as in this manner step immediately out of feared, that the preachers themselves would poverty into power know no bounds, but are shut up their conventicles too : at present, it is infinite and intolerable in their exactions. confessed, the trade is quick and gainful, but So that, in Prov. xxviii. 3, Solomon most still, like other trades, not to be carried on elegantly compares “a poor man oppressing without money. Gold is the best cordial to the poor, to a sweeping rain, which leaves no keep the good old cause in heart; and there food;" a rain which drives and carries off all is little danger of its fainting, and much less clean before it ; the least finger of a poor op of starving, with so much of that in its pressor being heavier than the loins of a rich pocket. one; for while one is contented to fleece the The truth is, covetousness is a vice of such skin, the other strips the very bones : and all a general influence and superintendency over this to redeem the time of his former poverty, all other vices, that it will serve its turn even and at one leap, as it were, to pass from a low by those which, at first view, seem most conand indigent into a full and magnificent con trary to it. So that it will command votaries dition. Though, for the most part, the righte- to itself even out of the tribe of Epicurus, ous judgment of God overtakes such persons and make uncleanness, drunkenvess, and inin the issue, and commonly appoints this for temperance itself minister to its designs ; for their lot, that estates sudden in the getting are let à man be but rich and great, and there
shall be enough to humour him in his lusts, ther for him, and not he for the world, to take that they may go sharers with him in his in every thing, and to part with nothing. wealth : enough to drink, and sot, and ca Charity is accounted no grace with him, nor rouse with him, if, by drinking with him, gratitude any virtue. The cries of the poor they may come also to eat, and drink, and never enter into his ears ; or if they do, he live upon him, and, by creeping into his has always one ear readier to let them out, bosom, to get into his pocket too ; so that we than the other to take them in. In a word, need not go to the cozening, lying, perjured by his rapines and extortions, he is always for shopkeeper, who will curse himself into hell making as many poor as he can, but for reforty times over, to gain twopence or three lieving none whom he either finds or makes pence in the pound extraordinary, and sits so; so that it is a question, whether his heart retailing away heaven and salvation for pence be harder, or his fist closer. In a word, he is and halfpence, and seldom vends any commo a pest and a monster ; greedier than the sea, dity, but he sells his soul with it, like brown and barrener than the shore; a scandal to paper, into the bargain. I say, we need not religion, and an exception from common go to these forlorn wretches, to find where humanity: and upon 110 other account fit to the covetous man dwells; for sometimes we live in this world, but to be made an example may find him also in a clean contrary disguise, of God's justice in the next. perhaps gallanting it with his ladies, or Creditor and debtor divide the world ; and drinking and roaring, and shaking his elbow he who is not one, is certainly the other. But in a tavern with some rich young cully by his the covetous wretch does not only shut his side, who, from his dull, rustic converse, (as hand to the poor in point of relief, but to some will have it,) is newly come to town to others also in point of debt. Upon which acsee fasliions and know men, forsooth: and count the apostle James upbraids the rich having newly buried his father in the country, men, (James, v. 4.) Behold,” says he, to give his estate a more honourable burial in “ the hire of the labourers who have reaped the city.
down your fields, which is of you kept back, In short, the covetons person puts on all crieth.” These, it seems, being the men who forms and shapes, runs through all trades and allow neither servants nor workmen any professions, haunts all places, and makes him other wages than, as the saying is, their labour self expert in the mystery of all vices, that he for their pains. Men geverally, as the world may the better pay his devotions to his god goes, are too powerful to be just, and too rich Mammon. And so, in a quite different way to pay their debts. For whatsoever they can from that of the blessed apostle, he“ becomes borrow, they look upon as lawful prize, and all things to all men,” that he may by any extremely despise and laugh at the folly of means gain something; for he cares not much restitution. But well it is for the poor orphan for gaining persons, where he can gain nothing and the oppressed, that there is a court above, else,
where the cause of both will be infallibly re4thly and lastly, Covetousness implies in it cognized, and such devourers be forced to disa tenaciousness in keeping. Hitherto we have gorge the widows' houses they had swallowed, seen it filling its bags, and in this property we and the most righteous Judge be sure to pay find it sealing them up. In the former, we those their due, who would never pay any else have seen how eagerly it can catch ; and in theirs. this latter, it shews us how fast it can gripe. The truth is, the covetous person is so bad And we need no other proof of the peculiar a pay-master, that he lives and dies as much baseness of this vice, than this. For as the a debtor to himself as to any one else; bis own prime and more essential property of goodness back and belly having an action of debt against is to communicate and diffuse itself; so, in him ; while he pines, and pinches, and denies the same degree that any thing encloses and himself
, not only in the accommodations, but shuts up its plenty within itself, in the same also in the very necessities of nature ; with it recedes and falls off from the nature of good. the greatest nonsense imaginable, living a If we cast our eyes over the whole creation, beggar, that he may die rich, and leave behind we shall find every part of the universe contri him a mass of money, valuable upon no other buting something or other, either to the help account in the world, but as it is an instruor ornament of the whole. The great business ment to command and procure to a man those of Providence is to be continually issuing out conveniences of life, which such an one volunfresh supplies of the divine bounty to the tarily and by full choice deprives himself of. creature, which lives and subsists like a lamp Nor does this vice stop here ; but, as I verily fed by continual infusions from the same hand believe, one great reason which keeps some which first lights and sets it up. So that persons from the blessed sacrament, may be covetousness is nothing so much as a grand resolved into their covetousness. For God, in contradiction to Providence, while it termi that duty, certainly calls for a remembranco nates wholly within itself. The covetous of the poor ; and therefore there must be person lives as if the world were made altoge- something offered, as well as received, by the
worthy communicant. But this the covetous | lawful or indifferent, rendering it culpable and wretch likes not, who perhaps could brook the unlawful. Covetousness is confessedly a vice, duty well enough, were it an ordinance only could we but know where to find it. But for receiving and taking in ; but since it re when it is confronted with prodigality, it is quires also something to be parted with, he so apt to take shelter under the name and flies from the altar, as if he were to be sacri shew of good husbandry, that it is hard to ficed upon it; and so, turning his back upon discern the reality from the pretence, and to his Saviour, chooses rather to forget all the represent nature in its true shape. Parsimony benefits of his precious death and passion, than and saving, determined by due circumstances, to cast in his portion into the poor's treasury ; are, questionless, the dictates of right reason, a strange piece of good husbandry certainly, and so far not allowable only, but commendfor a man thus to lose his soul, only to save able also. For surely there can be no immohis pelf.
rality in sparing, where there is no law whatAnd thus much for the second thing consi soever that obliges a man to spend. It is the derable in the dehortation ; namely, the thing common and received voice of the world, that we are therein dehorted from, which is that nothing can be more laudably got, than that mean, sordid, and degrading vice of covetous which is lawfully saved. Saving, as I hiuted ness; the nature of which I have been endea- before, being nothing else but a due valuation vouring to make out, both negatively, by of the favours of Providence, and a fencing shewing what it is not; and positively, by against one of the greatest of miseries, poverty, shewing what it is, and wherein it consists. which, Solomon tells us, comes like av I proceed now to the
armed man" upon the lavish and the prodigal ; Third and last thing to be considered in the and when it comes, is of itself a curse and a dehortation : which is, the way and means temptation, and too often makes a man as whereby we are taught to avoid the thing we wicked as he is poor. But such is the frailty are thus dehorted from. And that is, by using of human nature, and its great proneness to a constant care and vigilance against it; “ Take vice, that, under the mask of lawful parsiheed, and beware of covetousness.” Concerning mony, that “amor sceleratus habendi,” covetwhich we must observe, that as every thing ousness insensibly steals upon and gets posto be avoided is properly an evil or mischief, session of the soul, and the man is entangled so such an evil as is to be avoided by a singu- and enslaved, and brought under the power of lar and more than ordinary caution, is always an ill habit, before he is so much as alarmed attended with one or both of these two quali- with its first approaches ; and ready to be ficatious :
carried off by the plague, or some mortal dis1. An exceeding aptness to prevail upon us. temper, before he is aware of the infection.
2. An equal difficulty in removing it, when But, it has once prevailed. In both which respects 2dly, Covetousness is apt to insinuate also we are eminently cautioned against covetous- | by the plausibility of its pleas. Amongst
And first, we shall find, that it is a vice which, none more usual and general, than the marvellously apt to prevail upon and insi- necessity of providing for childreu and postenuate into the heart of man; and that upon rity; whom, all will grant, parents should these three accounts,
not be instrumental to bring into the world, 1. The near resemblance which it often only to see them starve when they are liere. bears to virtue.
Nor are just the necessities of a bare subsis2. The plausibility of its pleas and pre tence to be the only measure of their care for tences. And,
them ; but some consideration is to be had 3. The great reputation which riches gene also of the quality and condition to which rally give men in the world, by whatsoever they were born, and conseqnently were ways or means they were gotten. And, brought into, not by choice, but by descent.
1. It insinuates, by the near resemblance it For it seems not * suitable to the common and bears to virtue. Virtue and vice dwell upon most impartial judgment of mankind, that the confines of each other; always most dis one of a noble family and extraction should tant in their natures, though the same too be put to hedging and ditching, and be forced often in appearance, like the borders of two kingdoms or countries, the greatest enemies, • But much different was the advice of a certain lawyer, a and yet the nearest neighbours ; so that it
great confident of the rebels in the time of their reign ; who, must needs require no small accuracy of judg
upon a consult held amongst them, how to dispose of the Duke
of Gloucester, youngest son of King Charles the First, then in ment (and such as few are masters of) to state
their hands, with great gravity (forsooth) declared it for his the just limits of both : and a man must go opinion, that they should bind him out to some good trade, that nearer than the covetous person himself, to so he might eat his bread honestly. These were his words, and hit the dividing point, and to shew exactly
very extraordinary ones they were indeed. Nevertheless, they where the virtue ends and the vice begins ; a
could not hinder him from being made a judge in the reign of
King Charles the Second. A practice not unusual in the courts small accident or circumstance often chang of some princes, to encourage and prefer their mortal enemies ing the whole quality of the action, and of
before their truest friends.