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pleaseth a proud man's mind, when you seem to be convin- . ced by him, and to change your mind upon his arguments, or to be much informed and edified by him : but when you deny this honour to his understanding, and contradict him, and stiffly maintain your opinion against him, you displease and lose him; and indeed a wise man should gladly learn of any that can teach him more; and should most easily of any man let go an error, and be most thankful to any that will increase his knowledge: and not only in errors to change our minds, but in small and indifferent things to submit by silence, beseemeth a modest, peaceable man. Direct. xvi. ‘Yet build not peace on the foundation of impiety, injustice, cruelty or faction; for that will prove but the way to destroy it in the end.’ Traitors, and rebels, and tyrants, and persecutors, and ambitious, covetous clergymen, do all pretend peace for their iniquity: but what peace with Jezebel's whoredoms' Satan's kingdom is supported by a peace in sin; which Christ came to break that he might destroy it: while this strong man armed keepeth his house, his goods are in peace, till a stronger doth bind him, overcome him and cast him out. Deceitful, sinful means of peace, have been the grand engine of satan and the Papal clergy, by which they have banished and kept out peace so many ages from most of the Christian world. ‘Impiis mediis ecclesiae paci consulere,' was one of the three means which Luther foretold would cast out the Gospel. Where. perjury, or false doctrine, or any sin, or any unjust, or inconsistent terms, are made the condition of peace, men build upon stubble and briars, which God will set fire to, and soon consume, and all that peace will come to nought. Directions for church-peace I have laid down before ; to which I must refer you.
Directions against all Theft and Fraud, or injurious getting and keeping that which is another's, or desiring it.
He that would know what theft is, must know what propriety is ; and it is that plenary title to a thing, by which it WOL. W. I. T
is called our own; it is that right to any thing as mine, by which I may justly have it, possess it, use it, and dispose of it. This dominion or propriety is either absolute, (and that belongeth to none but God) or subordinate, respective and limited (which is the only propriety that any creature can have). Which is such a right which will hold good against the claim of any fellow-creature, though not against God's. And among men there are proprietors or owners which are principal, and some who are but dependant, subordinate and limited. The simple propriety may remain in a landlord or father, who may convey to his tenant or his child, a limited, dependant propriety under him. Injuriously to deprive a man of this propriety, or of the thing in which he hath propriety, is the sin which I speak of in this chapter; which hath no one name, and therefore I express it here by many. Whether it be theft, robbery, cozenage, extortion, or any other way of depriving another injuriously of his own. These general Directions are needful to avoid it.
Direct. 1. ‘‘‘Love not the world, nor the things that are in the world".” Cure covetousness, and you will kill the root of fraud and theft.” As a drunkard would easily be cured of his drunkenness, if you could cure him of his thirst and love to drink; so an extortioner, thief or deceiver would easily be cured of their outward sin, if their hearts were eured of the disease of worldliness. The love of money is the root of all this evil. Value these things no more than they deserve.
Direct. 11. ‘To this end, acquaint your hearts with the greater riches of the life to come;’ And then you will meet with true satisfaction. The true hopes of heaven will cure your greedy desires of earth. You durst not then forfeit your part in that perpetual blessedness, for the temporal supply of some bodily want: you durst not with Adam part with Paradise for a forbidden bit; nor as Esau profanely sell your birthright for a morsel. It is the unbelief and contempt of heaven, which maketh men venture it for the poor commodities of this world.
Direct. 111. ‘Be contented to stand to God's disposal; and suffer not any carking, discontented thoughts to feed upon your hearts.” When you suffer your minds to run all day long upon your necessities and straits, the devil next tempteth you to think of unlawful courses to supply them. He will shew you your neighbour's money, or goods, or estates, and tell you how well it would be with you if this were yours : he shewed Achan the golden wedge: he told . Gehazi how unreasonable it was that Naaman's money and raiment should be refused : he told Balaam of the hopes of preferment which he might have with Balak; he told Judas how to get his thirty pieces: he persuaded Ananias and Sapphira, that it was but reasonable to retain part of that which was their own. Nay, commonly it is discontents and cares which prepare poor wretches for those appearances of the devil, which draweth them to witchcraft for the supplying of their wants. If you took God for your God, you would take him for the sufficient disposer of the world, and one that is fitter to measure out your part of earthly things than you yourselves; and then you would rest in his wisdom, will and fatherly providence; and not shift for yourselves by sinful means. Discontentedness of mind, and distrust of God, are the cause of all such frauds and injuries. Trust God, and you will have no need of these. Direct. Iv. “Remember what promises God hath made for the competent supply of all your wants.' Godliness hath the promise of this life and of that to come: all other things shall be added to you, if you seek first God's kingdom and the righteousness thereof". They that fear the Lord shall want nothing that is good". “All things shall work together for good to them that love God".” “Let your conversation be without covetousness, and be content with such things as ye have; for he hath said, I will never leave thee nor forsake thee".” Live by faith on these sufficient promises, and you need not steal. Direct. v. “Overvalue not the accommodation and pleasure of the flesh, and live not in the sins of gluttony, drunkenness, pride, gaming or riotous courses, which may bring you into want, and so to seek unlawful maintenance.’ He that is a serwant to his flesh cannot endure to displease it, nor can bear the want of any thing which it needeth. But he that hath
* 1 John ii. 15.
mastered and mortified his flesh, can endure its labour and hunger, yea, and death too if God will have it so. Large revenues will be too little for a fleshlyminded person; but a little will serve him that hath brought it under the power of reason. ‘Magna pars libertatis est bene moratus venter,’ saith Seneca : ‘a well-nurtured, fair-conditioned belly is a great part of a man's liberty,’ because an ill-taught and ill-conditioned belly is one of the basest slaveries in the world. As a philosopher said to Diogenes, “If thou couldst flatter Dionysius, thou needst not eat herbs; ” but saith Diogenes, “If thou couldst eat herbs, thou needst not flatter Dionysius:” he took this for the harder task: so the thief and deceiver will say to the poor, “If you could do as we do, you need not fare so hardly :” but a contented poor man may better answer him and say, “If you could fare hardly as I do, you need not deceive or steal as you do.’ A proud person, that cannot endure to dwell in a cottage, or to be seen in poor or patched apparel, will be easily tempted to any unlawful way of getting, to keep him from disgrace, and serve his pride. A glutton whose heaven is in his throat, must needs fare well, however he come by it: a tippler must needs have provision for his guggle, by right or by wrong. But a humble man, and a temperate man can spare all this, and when he looketh on all the proud man's furniture, he can bless himself as Socrates did in a fair, with, ‘Quam multa sunt quibus ipse non egeo?” “How many things be there which I have no need of?' And he can pity the sensual desires which others must needs fulfil ; even as a sound man pitieth another that hath the itch, or the thirst of a sick man in a fever, that crieth out for drink. As Seneca saith, “It is vice and not mature which needeth much: ” nature, and necessity, and duty are contented with a little. But he that must have the pleasure of his sin, must have provision to maintain that pleasure. Quench the fire of pride, sensuality and lust, and you may spare the cost of fuel f. Direct. vi. “Live not in idleness or sloth; but be laborious in your callings, that you may escape that need or poverty which is the temptation to this sin of theft.” Idleness is a crime which is not to be tolerated in Christian soRom. xiii. 13, 14. viii. 13.
cieties. “Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us: for ye know how ye ought to follow us; for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you, neither did we eat any man's bread for nought; but worked with labour and travail night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any of you; not because we have not power, but to make ourselves an ensample to you to follow us; for when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat: for we hear that there are some among you that walk disorderly, working not at all, but are busy-bodies; now them that are such, we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work and eat their own bread".” “Let him that stole, steal no more, but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing that is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth".” He that stealeth to maintain his idleness, sinneth that he may sin; and by one sin getteth provision for another: you see here that you are bound not only to work to maintain yourselves, but to have to give to others in their need. Direct. v11. ‘Keep a tender conscience, which will do its office, and not suffer you to sin without remorse.’ A seared, senseless conscience will permit you to lie, and steal, and deceive, and will make no great matter of it, till God awaken it by his grace or vengeance. Hence it is that servants can deceive their masters, or take that which is not allowed them, and buyers and sellers overreach one another, because they have not tender consciences to reprove them. Direct. vi.11. “Remember always that God is present, and none of your secrets can be hid from him.” What the better are you to deceive your neighbour or your master, and to hide it from their knowledge, as long as your Maker and Judge seeth all ? When it is he that you must wrong, and with him that you have most to do, and he that will be the most terrible avenger | What blinded atheists are you, who dare do that in the presence of the most righteous God, which you durst not do if men beheld you! Direct. 1x. “Forget not how dear all that must cost you, & 2 Thess ii. 6.8. 10. 12. * Eph. iv. 28.