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be said; Such a woman is a virtuous lady, but an “ infamous prostitute.” For the lat. i ter is not more contrary to sound sense, than the former is to the positive declarations of God, recorded in scripture.-When we hear people in common, talk about covetousness, we are tempted to look upon it, as a merely trifling fault : But, when we turn over the volume of heaven, we find it pronounced idolatry, and deemed a capital crime ; while Jehovah denounces damnation against the wretch that is guilty of it. *
“ In what, then, does this aggravated sin consist? I answer, Covetousness, in the language of inspiration, is the desire of haring more'; the desire of obtaining, or increasing in wealth. Whoever, therefore, is habitually desirous of riches, is, in the estimation of heaven, a covetous man; whateyer his station in life, or profession of religion may be. The language of the covetous heart is that of the horse leech's daughters, Give, give. The covetous man is always desirous of more, whether he has little or much : and if a professor, he will always find some pretext, to hide the iniquity of his idolatrous heart. But, however such a professor may cover his crime under
* 1 Cor. 6–1–10. Eph. 5--5. Col. 3–5. Psal. 10.-3.
plausible prétences of any kind ; or however safe he may iniagine himself, as being a member of a visible church, and free from censure; the time is coming when the mask shall be stripped off, and then it shall be fully known where his affections have been, and what God he has served. Then it shall plainly appear, whether JEHOVAH, or Mammon, swayed his affections and ruled in his heart.--Perhaps, there are few sins for the practice of which, so many excuses are made and plausible pretences urged, as that of covetousness, or a love of the world : consequently, there are few sins against which professors have greater occasion to watch. It was not, therefore, without the greatest reason, that our Lord gave that solemn caution to all his followers ; Take heed, and beware of covetousness. . “ It is remarkable, (says Mr. Venn) that the covetousness against which we are so earnestly warned in God's word, is not of the scandalous kind; but such as may govern the heart of a man, who is esteemed very virtuous and excellent by the world. In the tenth Psalm the covetous, whom the Lord is there said to abhor, are the very persons of whom the wicked speak well : which would never be the case, did their love of money, make them either villainous in their practices, or miserably penurious in thcir tempers; for men of this stamp none commend. The same thing is observable in that solemn caution given by our Redeemer; Take heed and beware of covetousness. By which it is evident he meant no more than a rooted persuasion, that the comfort of life consists in abundance, and desiring from such a persuasion, to be rich; this was the covetousnesss our Lord condemns. And, that his admonition might sink the deeper, he represents the working of that avarice which he condemns, in a case which passes every day before our eyes. It is this: A man grows rich in business, not through fraud or extortion, but by the blessing of God upon his labour and skill. As is usual, he is highly delighted with his success, he exults in the prospect of being master, in a few years, of an independent fortune! In the mean time he is determined to be frugal and diligent, till he takes his final leave of business, to enjoy all the sweets of ease and
splendor, Luke xii. 19.-Now where are the - people, governed by the common maxims and principles of human nature, who see any thing the least to blame in this man's sentiment or conduct? Who do not applaud and imitate it themselves? Yet this very man our Lord sets before our eyes, as the pieture of one, engrossed by a covetous desire of the things of this world. This very
man be represents as summoned in the midst of all his golden hopes, to appear a most guilty criminal at the bar of his despised Maker. Lo! this is the man whom our Lord exposes, as a miserable wretch; for all others to take warning by, and resist covetonsness.
« Paul, in perfect harmony with his Lord, forbids the desire of wealth, as a criminal effect of avarice. Let your conversation be without covetousness, and be content with such things as ye have ; for he hath said, I will never leave thee nior forsake thee, Heb. xiji. 5. And where, instead of this self denied temper, a desire of increasing in wealth, is cherished, there snares, defile. ment and ruin are declared to be the cer. tain consequences. For they that will (the original signifies the simple desire) be rich, full into temptation and u 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 have coveted after they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows, 1st Tim. vi. 9 and 10.
“Let none suppose, from what has been said, that I mean to encourage idleness or extravagance. No; far be it! such, who, through indolence, pride, or prodigality, waste their substance, and fail in the world, can hardly be too severely censured. They not only impoverish themselves, but injure their neighbours; and are no other than the pests of society, and public robbers. It is the desire of riches, the scriptures so much condemns, and if while a man's whole heart is given up to God, he is pleased to prosper what he takes in hand, and give him an abundant increase, his wealth is evidently as much the gift of God, as if it came to him by legacy or inheritance, and he stands accountable to God, for the use he makes of it, and if he hoards it up, and refuses to assist his fellow creatures in their necessity, how awful will be the account he must give."
CONCLUSION.. We are assured in Scripture, that Satan is transformed into an angel of light, thereby to deceive the children of men; and that it is no marvel that his ministers should be transformed as the ministers of righteousness. We are not to look upon all that goes under the name of religion, as the religion of Jesus Christ ; nor all that prophesy in his name as his ministers. Satan has both his religion and his ministers in the world. Those who view every thing as