English Minister and Author
English Minister and Author
Covetousness being a heinous sin, and exceedingly disgraceful to the profession of the true faith, we ought to be very tender about laying it to the charge of professors. It cannot be denied but that many professors are too guilty thereof: yet withal it cannot be denied but that many others are too rash in censuring professors. It may be that to lay covetousness to one's charge will not bear an action in our courts of justice, but in God's court of justice it may prove a matter of condemnation.
Desire of riches is not simply covetousness, for a man may lawfully pray for them. So much is intended in the fourth petition. Now what a man may pray for, he may desire, with the same limitations as he may pray for it. Therefore it is an immoderate desire: that is, when a man is not content with that portion which God by his providence in a lawful and warrantable course doth afford unto him, but (according to the apostle's phrase) he will be rich; he will have more than God alloweth him in a fair way; and if he cannot otherwise get more, he will be discontent.
Contentedness is a satisfaction of the mind concerning the sufficiency and fitness of one's present condition. This general matter of contentedness, a satisfaction of mind, doth not only put a distinguishing difference betwixt contentedness and covetousness, but also sheweth that they are diametrically contrary one to another: for a covetous mind is never satisfied with any estate: and a contented mind is never unsatisfied with any.
Extremes on either side are dangerous and pernicious to parent and child. For remissness will make children careless of all duty to God and parent; rigor will make them desperate. But virtue and safety consists in the balance between both.
A true fear of God makes us respect more what God requires and commands than what our corrupt heart desires and suggests. It subdues or unruly passions, and brings them within the compass of duty. It makes us deny ourselves and our own desires, and, though through the corruption of our nature and inborn pride we are loath to submit, yet God's fear will bring down that proud mind and make us humble and gentle. It will keep those who are in authority from tyranny, cruelty, and too much severity, and it will keep those who are under subjection from giving half-truths, deceit, and conspiracies.
Contentedness is a satisfaction of the mind concerning the sufficiency and fitness of one's present condition. This general matter of contentedness, a satisfaction of mind, doth not only put a distinguishing difference betwixt contentedness and covetousness, but also sheweth that they are diametrically contrary one to another: for a covetous mind is never satisfied with any estate: and a contented mind is never unsatisfied with any. This satisfaction useth to accompany such things as God bestoweth on such as he taketh an especial care of. Such persons having long life are satisfied therewith. God with the blessing giveth satisfaction. 'The meek shall eat and be satisfied,' Ps. xxii. 26. God 'will satisfy the poor with bread' . When God promiseth to send corn, wine, and oil as a blessing, it is added, 'ye shall be satisfied therewith.' This satisfaction is said to be of the mind, to shew that it extends itself as far as covetousness doth; which is an inward inordinate desire of the mind. A contented person doth not only forbear outward indirect courses of getting more and more; but doth also restrain the motions of his mind or soul, from desiring more than God is willing to allot unto him. The sufficiency mentioned in the description, hath not reference to any set quantity or measure which the contented person propounds to himself; but only to the wise providence of God, who doth give to every one of his what is sufficient for him: answerably a contented person so accounts his own estate, and is satisfied. She that made this answer, to him that would have spoken to the captain of the host for some reward to her, 'I dwell among mine own people,' was such a contented one.
Corporations have neither bodies to be kicked, nor souls to be damned.
Covetousness is an immoderate desire of riches. The apostle implieth as much, under this phrase, boulomenoi ploutein they that will be rich, under that word, will, a desire, and that unsatiable desire, is comprised. The notation of both the words before mentioned, namely, love of silver and desire of having more, do demonstrate that covetousness consisteth in a desire. Desire of riches is not simply covetousness, for a man may lawfully pray for them. So much is intended in the fourth petition. Now what a man may pray for, he may desire, with the same limitations as he may pray for it. Therefore it is an immoderate desire: that is, when a man is not content with that portion which God by his providence in a lawful and warrantable course doth afford unto him, but (according to the apostle's phrase) he will be rich; he will have more than God alloweth him in a fair way; and if he cannot otherwise get more, he will be discontent. The general object of covetousness is riches. Under this word all the commodities of this world are comprised, and withal abundance of them, yea, more than is necessary. Things necessary may be desired, but not superfluity.
Remember, we do not mount the pulpit to say fine things, or eloquent things, we have there to proclaim the good tidings of salvation to fallen men; to point out the way of eternal life; to exhort, to cheer and support the suffering sinner; these are the glorious topics upon which we have to enlarge -- and will these permit the tricks of oratory, or the studied beauties of eloquence? Shall truths and counsels like these be couched in terms which the poor and ignorant cannot comprehend? Let all eloquent preachers beware lest they fill any man's ear with sounding words, when they should be feeding his soul with the bread of everlasting life! -- Let them fear lest instead of honouring God, they honour themselves! If any man ascend the pulpit with the intention of uttering A Fine Thing, he is committing a deadly sin.
Reprehension is a kind of middle thing betwixt admonition and correction: it is sharpe admonition, but a milde correction. It is rather to be used because it may be a meanes to prevent strokes and blowes, especially in ingenuous and good natured children. [Blows are] the last remedy which a parent can use: a remedy which may doe good when nothing else can.
The fault is in the system. Give the management of it to the wisest and best men in the country, and still it will produce evil.
The Fountaine of parents duties is Love... Great reason there is why this affection should be fast fixed towards their children. F or great is that paine, cost, and care, which parents must undergoe for their children. But if love be in them, no paine, paines, cost or care will seeme too much.
The other reference is to the time to come; wherein though he have never so great hope of bettering himself, yet for the present he remaineth content with his present condition.
The present condition wherewith a contented mind is limited in this text, admits a double reference. One to the time past; wherein though his condition hath been better, yet he repineth not at the alteration thereof.
They who on meare curiositie (where no urgent necessitie requireth) try whether their children may not as birds be nourished without sucking, offend contrary to this dutie of breast feeding and reflect that meanes which God hath ordained as best; and so oppose their shallow wits to his unsearchable wisdom.
This sin is especially in the heart. One may have little, and yet be covetous; and one may be rich, and yet free from covetousness.
This word fitness is added, to shew that contentedness extends itself not only to the things which are needful for man's livelihood, as food and rainment, 1 Tim. vi. 8, but also to the several estates s hereunto man is subject: as of peace and trouble, ease and pain, honour and dishonour, prosperity and adversity. Contentedness makes a man account that estate, be it joyous or grievous, whereunto God brings him, to be the fittest and seasonablest for him.