Page images
PDF
EPUB

turn our glory into shame, and pervert the ends of speech? How juft were it that we were struck dumb ?

2. It is a murdering instrument. I observed to you before, that an ill tongue is a parcel of murdering weapons, a bow and sharp arrows to pierce, a sword to stab, and a fire to devour others. Yea, Solomon observes, that death and life are in the power of the tongue. It is a fire that kindles strife and contention in all societies, and turns them into confusion; and oft-times returns heavily on the head of those who carry it. The tongues from heaven were cloven, to be the more diffusive of good; but those fired from hell are forked, to be the more impressive of mischief.

3. Consider the wickedness of it. It is a world of iniquity Jam. iii. 6.' They have much ado that have an ill tongue to guide, a world of iniquity to guide. It is a broad stream from the fountain of the wickedness of the heart.

4. An unbridled tongue cuts off all pretences to true religion, Jam. i. 26. For where the fear or love of God and our neighbour is in the heart, it will be a bond on the tongue to keep it within the bounds of Christian charity.

5. We must give an account of our words at the day of judgment, Matth. xii. 36, 37.

Lastly, An ill tongue will ruin the soul. Bridle your tongues; however unruly they be, they shall be filent in the grave. And, if repentance prevent it not, the day will come that they will be tormented in hell-flames, Luke xvi.

I shall conclude with an advice or two.

1. Begin at the heart, if ye would order your tongues aright. Labour to get them cleansed by the fanctifying Spirit of Christ. Study love to God and your neighbour, which are the fulfilling of the law. Labour for meekness, and patience, and humility, which will be the best directors of the tongue.

2. Set yourselves, in the faith of promised assistance, to watch over your hearts and tongues. Unwatchfulness is dangerous in the case of such an unruly member as the tongue is. God has guarded it naturally. Do ye also watch it.

OF THE TENTH COMMANDMENT.

Exod. xx. 17.-- Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou

fhalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his man servant, nor his maid-fervant, nor his ox, nor his afs, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's.

THE
THE scope of this command is to strike at the root and

first risings of fin in the heart, in the desires going out of their right line of purity and equity. It is a strid boun. dary set to the unbounded desires of the heart.

In it, there are, 1. The act. 2. The object. The act, Thou shalt not covet, or luft, as the apostle terms it, Rom. vii. 7.; which implies an inordinateness of desire, a feverish motion of the soul towards the creature, irregular and disorderly; and fo a diffatisfaction with one's present condition, as appears froin Heb. xiii. 5. “ Let your conversation be without covetousness, and be content with such things as ye have.”

The object is held forth particularly for example’s cause, thy neighbour's house, thy neighbour's wife, his servants, and goods. Thou shalt not only not take away thy neighbour's house from him by oppression, nor entice away his servants, nor steal his goods, nor entertain a fixed and deliberate desire to do him that injury, as is forbidden in the eighth command ; but the inordinate desire of having them shall not rise in, nor go through thy heart, however lightly, if it were like a flying arrow, saying, O, that his house, his servant, his ox and ass were mine! Thou shalt not only not defile his wife, nor deliberately desire to do it, as is forbidden in the seventh commandment; but thou shalt not say in thine heart, O that she were mine! though thou haft no mind, right or wrong, to make her fo.

This object is held forth univerfally, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's : whereby it appears, that this command looks through all the other commandments of the second table, and so condemns all inordinate desire of any object whatso

And therefore the Papists dividing this command into two is absurd, and but a trick invented to atone for their

ever.

confounding the first and second. While this command says, nor any thing, it says, Thou shalt not only not dishonour thy neighbour by infolent and contemptuous behaviour, but there shall not be a desire in thy heart, saying, O that his place and post were mine, as in the fifth command ; nor, O that I had his health and strength, as in the sixth ; nor his reputation and esteem, as in the ninth; though you have no deliberate design or desire to wrong him in these.

I do not wonder, if some are surprised at this, and say, Are these fins ? for indeed this command goes deeper than the rest; and if it did not so, it would be fuperfluous; for you see it aims not at any new object, but holds by the objects of the former commands; therefore it must look to fome more inward and less noticed motions of the heart, than the rest do. And therefore Paul, though he learned the law at the school of divinity under Gamaliel, a professor of it, yet, till he learned it over again at the school of the Spirit, holding it out in its fpirituality and extent, he did not know these things to be fin, Rom. vii. 7. It was this command. brought home to his conscience, that let him fee that lust to be fin which he saw not before.

And seeing this is a command of the second table, and ourselves are our nearest neighbour, the lust or inordinate desire of those things that are our own must be condemned here, as well as lusting after what is not ours.

So much for the negative part of this command, which in effect is this, Thou shalt not be in the least dissatisfied with thy own present condition in the world, nor have inordinate motion in thy heart to that which is thy own or thy neighbour's.

The positive part is implied; and that is, Thou shalt be fully content with thy own lot, whatever it be, and arrest thy heart within the bounds that God has inclosed it in, bearing a charitable disposition to thy neighbour and what is his. For all covetousness implies a discontent with our own condition.

Quest. What is required in the tenth commandment.' Anf. “ The tenth commandment requireth full contentment with our own condition, with a right and charitable frame of spirit toward our neighbour, and all that is his.”

any

[blocks in formation]

Here I shall consider the duty of this command, as it refpects,

I. Ourselves.
II. Our neighbour.
III The root of fin.

The re

I. I shall consider the duty of this command as it respects ourselves. If we confider, that this command forbidding coveting in the general, says, in effect, these two things, 1. Thou shalt not covet or luft after what thou hast; nor, 2. What thou wantest; the great duty of this command with respect to ourselves will appear to be twofold.

First, A thorough weanedness from and indifferency to all those things that we have, in which our defires may be too eager. There are fome things whereof our desire cannot be too much, as. of God, Chrift, grace, victory over sin; and therefore we read of a holy lusting, Gal. v. 17. newed part not only desires, but eagerly and greedily gapes for perfect holiness and entire victory over fin. This is holy lusting, where there is no fear of excess, although indeed even that may degenerate, when our own ease, that is difturbed by fin, may be more in our view than the finfulness of fin; and in this refpect these lustings are mixed, and therefore sinful and humbling in the best ; and they are fo far contrary to this command, as they are lusting after ease, more than conformity to the holy will and nature of God.

There are other things to which our desires may be carried out too eagerly and inordinately; and the desire of them is lawful, but the coveting or lusting after them, which is the inordinate desire of them, is here forbidden. Thus we may fin, not only in the inordinate desire of sensual things, as meat, drink, &c. but in rational things, as honour, esteem, &c. The desire of these things is not finful; but there is a luft of them which is fo.

Now, in oppofition to this, we must be thoroughly weaned from and holily indifferent to these things, not only when we want them, for that falls in with contentment, but when we have them. So should one be to his own house, wife, servants, and any thing that is his; keeping our love to, desire after, and.joy in them, within due bounds, as the Psalmist did, Psal. cxxxi. 2. “ Surely I have behaved and quieted

[ocr errors]

myself as a child that is weaned of his mother : my soul is even as a weaned child.” We

We may take it up in these four things following

1. The heart's sitting loose to them, so as the heart and they may fall asunder as things closely joined, yet not glued, when God shall be pleased to take them from us. For if they must needs be rent from us, it is an argument that our love to them was indeed a luft towards them. Therefore this disposition is called a hating of them, Luke xiv. 26.; for things that we have, we can part with, without their tearing as it were a piece of our heart away with them. We can say little on this piercing command, but what will be accounted hard sayings, by all that have not a clear view of the transcendent purity of the law, which is carried to the height in this command, because to the root, the corruption of our nature. And that corruption we must still keep in view here, or we will do no good with it.

2. The heart's looking for no more from them than God has put in them. God has made created things as inns in the way to himself, where a person may be refreshed, but not as a resting-place, where the heart is to dwell. For the desire is inordinate when the man seeks his rest and satisfaction in these things instead of God, Psal. iv. 6. The corrupt judgment magnifies earthly things, and looks on sha. dows as substances; and then the corrupt affections grasp them as such, and after a thousand disappointments lust after them still, If. lvii. 10.

3. The soul's standing on other ground, when these things stand entire about the man; drawing its support from God as the fountain, even when created streams are running full, 1 Sam. ii. 1. Pfal. xviii. 46. The world's good things must not be thy good things, Luke xvi. 25. Thou mayst love them as a friend, but not be wedded to them as a husband; use them as a staff, yet not as the staff of thy life, but a staff in thy hand; but by no means as a pillar to build on them the weight of thy comfort and satisfaction.

4. The using of them passingly. We must not dip too far in the use of them. Lawful desire and delight, like Peter, walks softly over these waters, but lust shines in them ; in the one there is a holy carelessness, in the other a greedy gripe. The apostle lively describes this weanedness, 1 Cor. vii. 29, 30, 31, “ It remaineth, that both they that have

« PreviousContinue »