Images de page

manity;-too great carefulness for the future, with respect to temporal provision, which betrays a want of reliance on the power and goodness of a superintending Providence; and on the other side, inatten. tion to our own concerns, and the neglecting to cultivate the talents committed to our trust, among which our temporal possessions, whether many or few, are assuredly to be ranked ;-idleness, in the pursuit of a lawful calling, or the engaging in one which is unlawful, both of which are intrinsically immediate infringements of the law, and lead through many channels to the most heinous crimes.

§ 4. The good qualities of mind and heart, and the salutary habits which second the virtues, and neutralise the vices, mentioned in the foregoing sections, are-Moderation in our desires, and Contentedness with our condition,-moderation, arising from a true estimate of worldly riches, a firm and practical conviction that they are comparatively unworthy of a Christian's anxiety or love, uncertain as to their durability, vain as to their acquirement of solid happiness, and liable to excite an idolatrous attachment to the world, which is incompatible with the service of God, the source of many evils, and the cause of many temptations; contentment, springing from the reflection, that whatever is our actual lot, it may be made, ́ by proper use, conducive to our eternal salvation, and that it is disposed by Him who knows and wills what is best for us-that all eminence is comparative -and that great riches rather increase than satisfy our wants; and above all, that we are ignorant and short-sighted with respect to what is really beneficial for us;-prayer to God, in the name of Jesus Christ,

that he will give us each day our daily bread,-that he will provide what is fit for us, blessing our own endeavours to procure it, and sanctifying the means to such an end, as that we may not be led into any temptation to defraud our neighbour, but may be delivered from all the evils attendant on the breach of this Commandment.

§ 5. The evil dispositions and pernicious customs which give occasion to stealing, and the several degrees of fraud, are-Ambition-a restless desire to attain eminence and honours at any rate, even with the sacrifice of uprightness and truth; with this are usually united pride, arrogance, and envy, which are therefore included in the prohibition ;-covetousness ➡inordinate love of riches, and inclination to amass them for the gratification of a sordid passion, which gradually absorbing all generous and honest principle, leads almost irresistibly, if not to rapine, at least to such frauds as are not likely to be detected by human vigilance ;-attachment to the pleasures, vanities, and emulations, of the higher classes of society, or to the sensual indulgences and improvident habits of the lower; by which propensities and wants are generated beyond the means and station, and expensive and ruinous necessities are created, which are only to be supplied by dishonest practices ;gambling, in all its steps and modifications,-staking money or other property upon any uncertain issue, upon horse-racing, prize-fighting, dice, cards, or games of any description;-immoderate indulgence, and loss of time, the most valuable of all posses sions,-in any of those amusements which are innocent in themselves, and do not involve inhumanity or

[ocr errors]

or other objection, even without the present hazard of money:-these are vices than which none tend more directly to the breach of the Eighth Commandment, in the worst and most aggravated manner, at the same time, that in the least criminal degree they can hardly fail to wrong some one by diminishing property, bestowed for far different uses, and by occupying the thoughts and time which might be profitably employed.

§ 6. The divine sanctions under which obedience to the Precept "Thou shalt not steal," is rigidly enforced, are of a different nature from the penalties attached by human laws to the violation of it. The latter can reach only to the outward deed by which theft or fraud is committed, and then only when the act is detected, and the offender secured-but the former extend to every concealed injustice, every secret robbery, every fraudulent design. The laws of man must necessarily be more than ever defective in preventing and punishing the crimes of artifice ; but from the omniscient eye of God no secrets are hidden, from his omnipresence no man can escape, nor can any one elude the punishments denounced by his impartial justice against the impenitent despisers of his Law,-punishments to be inflicted not only in time, but in eternity!

From Scripture.


Eccles. ii. 24. There is nothing better for a man, than that he should eat and drink, and that he should make his soul enjoy good, in his labour. This also I saw, that it was from the hand of God. Eccles. iii. 12. I know that there is no good in them, but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life. Luke xvi. 9-11. And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations. He that is faithful in that which is least, is faithful also in much and he that is unjust in the least, is unjust also in much. If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches. Prov. xxx. 7—9. Two things have I required of thee; deny me them not before I die; remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the Lord? or lest I be poor and steal, and take the name of my God in vain. (Exod. xx. 15.) shalt thou steal. Matt. xix. 18. Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness. Rom. xiii. 7-9. Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom: fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour. Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this,

Deut. v. 19. Neither
He saith unto him,

Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 1 Cor. vi. 10. Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. 1 Tim. vi. 6—10. 17—19. But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich, fall into temptation and a snare, and into-many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil; which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not high minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us all things richly to enjoy ; that they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life. Matt. xxv. 14, 15. 19. For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. And unto one he gave five talents, and to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey. After a long time the Lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them. 1 John iv. 21. And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God, love his brother also. Gen. xviii. 19. For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment; that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.

« PrécédentContinuer »