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vetousness. For these Words, be content with Things present, do not only condemn all Injustice, all violent, unconscionable and fraudulent Dealing, in acquiring to ourselves that which is another Man's; but also all inordinate Desire either of his House, or his Farm, or his Bargain, or his Office, or his Honour, or any such like thing which is in his Possession. We need not caft such a greedy Eye upon that which is our Neighbour's, if he would but study and embrace the Religion of Jesus Christ. We may rest satisfied, I have proved, with what we have, nay, rejoice in it, without such an hungry Appetite after which is none of ours. But
you will say, What Desires and Designs are inordinate? When do we stretch them so far, as to make them inconsistent with Contentinent? All Desires are not unlawful; we may wish to have more, for else how should we feek for more, which Religion doth not forbid? Let us understand therefore what is irregular and undue.
To this I shall give some Satisfaction, it being too much out of the Way to infist long upon it. And first I suppose,
1. It will be granted by all, that when a Man sets his Heart upon getting of Riches, and charges himself with that Care inore than with being eternally happy, he is gone beyond all reasonable Bounds. This is so dangerous an Evil, that it is the Love of the World which, St. James faith, is inconsistent with the Love and Friendship of God. IV.4. This is properly that Hardness of
Heart spoken of in Scripture, which will let a Man have no Sense or Feeling of any thing, tho' never so excellent, but what makes for his worldly Interest. And it was the Mother of that vile Hypocrisy which reigned in the Pharisees, who had no regard to that part of Religion, which consisted in doing Good to others, as they desired God should do to them.
2. I suppose it will be as readily granted, that it is an inordinate Desire which makes a Man restless and inpatient for its Accomplishment, even to the Disturbance of his Neighbour : If one have no Mind, for Instance, to part with that which we long for (his Land, suppose, or House, or any thing else, which he loves and prizes as much as we can do) it is an irregular Appetite not to be quiet without it; tho' we be willing to give him the true Value for it. To have a Defire of it, is no Fault, if the Owner be willing to part with it; but when we know he is not willing, still to continue the vehement Desire, is blameable and dangerous, for it tends to that which is most mischievous : Such was the Defire of Abab, the Picture of filthy Covetousness, who still gaped after Naboth's Vineyard ; when one would think, he had stopt his Mouth by telling him, it was the Inheritance of his father, which he had a Resolution to keep, as long as he could, in his Family. 3. And is not that, think
an inordinate Defire, which breaks a Man's own Peace, and puts his Spirit out of Order, and disturbs his Duty? When a Man's thoughts are so set upon what he would have, that he cannot pray, nor hear the Word of God, 'nor read a good Book, but still this comes into his Mind, and calls him away from his better Business, he cannot be excused from the Guilt of Covetousness. For this was Abab’s Case alfo, who could not eat, nor sleep, for longing after Naboth's Vineyard.
4. When a Man fo defires alfo another Man's Goods, that he conceives a Displeasure against the Perfon who will not satisfy his Desire, we know not how to quit him from Blame : It is su sensible an Irregularity, that we cannot but condemn the Displeafure he hath within himself, at his own Condition, because it is not so good as that of other Mens.
5. And fill it is a' more palpable Degree of Bafeness, when a young Man's Desires are so eager, that they make him not care what Courses
he takes to satisfy thein: As Ahab you know most l'unworthily confented to his Wife Jezabel to ac
cufe Naboth unjustly, that he might get his Vineyard. And tho’a Man do not actually proceed to do bad things that he
effect his Defires, if it be in his Heart and Purpose, were it not for the Shaine of the World, and for fear of losing his Credit, or some such Consideration, which hinders him, he is expresly guilty of the Breach of that Command, Thou shalt not covet : Which intends to prohibit all evil Designs, and close Projets of Mischief, tho they never be put in Execution. This was Ahab's Condition, who did not practise any thing against his Innocent Neighbour at the first, but had it in his Heart,
it should seem by what followed, to dispossess him by irregular Courses, rather than go without that Garden which lay lo convenient for him. Then it was that his foul Inclinations discovered themselves, when Injustice might be done by another, and he not seen in it, and his wife had contrived a handsome Way to bring about his End, without a barefac'd Violence.
6. But the very worst Degree of all is, when Men will make Religion and sacred things stoop to their worldly Delires, becoming fa&tious rather than be poor, and submitting themselves to irreligious Flatteries rather than beUnderlings, and not in Favour with the People. This Covetousness is called by St. Peter, in Simon Magus's Case, who coveted for base Ends to be like the Apostles, the Gall of Bitterness, and the Bond of Iniquity ;
or a Complication of Wickedness ; great many Criines involved one in another, out of which it was hard for him to extricate himself.
Axts 8. 23.
Let us put a stop therefore to greedy Desires, for we know not whether they may proceed: If we find our selves inclined to this Distemper, les us look after a Cure presently; for it is the Root of all Evil, where Covetousness is, there is neque amor, neque fides, neque misericordia, as a great Philopher speaks, neither Love, nor Faith, nor Pity; it being the worst natur'd Vice in the World. And it is of the more dangerous Dispofition, because it is one of those Passions (Ambie tion is another of them) that are purely in the Mind, and for that Cause, is an Appetite not ca
pable of Satiety, as Passions partly bodily are, buc it is rather sharpned by enjoying, and increafed by Possession.
And the fad Effects of it are almost incredible, had we not the Authority of the facred Story, to vouch the Truth of those woful Examples which it hath left to Posterity.
There is none, I think, more amazing and dreadful than that of Judas, whose Covetoufness first made him a Thief, nay, so shameless a Thief, that he was inclined thereby to rob the very poor. John 12. 6.
And secondly it disposed him to be a vile Hypocrite, and to pretend Care for the Poor, when he had none at all in his Heart, as you read there.
ver. 5. And thirdly, It made him a Traytor, nay, tempted hiin to betray the best Master in the World, who had also particulary intrusted him with his Purse.
And fourthly, Being thus lewdly disposed, it betrayed him to the Devil, who had Power and License given him to promote these base Inclinations in his Heart. John 18. 2.
For it seems he was incensed at our Saviour for Speaking against Covetousness ; (the hatching of this Treason of his, being immediately recorded after our Saviour's coininending the Act of the Woman, in spending that Oyntment on his Body, «which Judas would have converted into Money) -which the Devil perceiving, he egg’d, his Indig. nation and covetous Angerco proceed further, and -conceiveapIntent of betraying hims when he could