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and to-morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?” Or if the contrary of all this be their lot; if riches increase, then they set their hearts upon them, and forget the Author of all their enjoyments. They say to their houses and lands, their money, their children, and all those things which occupy their hearts, “ Ye are our gods.” They depend more upon them, and expect more from them, and consequently think more of them, than the Creator who is blessed for ever. “ Lo! this is the man that made not God his strength, but trusted in the abundance of his riches, and strengthened himself in his wickedness.”
Involving ourselves too much in the world is an. other cause of covetousness. This has been a great snare to many, who were not at first aware of their danger. They overload themselves with business; and they attend to such a multiplicity of engagements, that they have not a moment's leisure for meditating upon their spiritual concerns. Every thing must be minded, but that which only is worthy of their regard : and this is either forgotten in the hurry, or not thought to be of importance enough to induce them to neglect any thing for the sake of giving it attention. In this case covetous thoughts must swarm; and, indeed, there is hardly room for any other.
Covetousness may be also ascribed to the neglect of looking at things unseen and eternal. If the concerns of the present life occupy the whole of our hearts, it is because we know not, or are but little impressed with, things of superior value and importance. If we were more accustomed to look within
the vail to the glories which are prepared for the servants and children of God, earthly objects would be deprived of their lustre, and we should lose our ardour in pursuing them. We should not then be only and continually contriving how to keep earthly treasure. We should have other and nobler things to employ our thoughts, and feel so much attention to the groveling concerns of this world mortifying and painful.
II. I proceed to mention some of the bad effects and consequences of covetousness.
of covetousness. Bad surely they must be, or the divine displeasure would never have been so strongly denounced against it, as it is in the following expressions of scripture : “ The wicked boasteth of his heart's desire, and blesseth the covetous, whom the Lord abhorreth. Woe to him that coveteth an evil covetousness to his house; that he may set his nest on high, that he may be delivered from the power of evil." But among a multitude of ill effects, I will only mention the following:
First, it tempts men to unlawful ways of getting riches.
Scarcely any sin exposes to more snares than covetousness. “They who will be rich, fall into tenptation and a snare; and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. 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.". Solomon assures us, that “hie who maketh haste to be rich, shall not be innocent." And in confirmation of the truth of these words, how often do we see, that covetouş men will hesitate at nothing for the sake of accomplishing their purpose! Hence we frequently hear of such an one's being detected in using false weights and measures ; or of such a person's being guilty of actual thievery, or fraudulent and deceitful practices. They are impatient to be rich, and therefore cannot be content with ordinary and legal ways of getting, but they will go into the bye-paths of fraud, injustice, and oppression; though, by their eagerness, they generally defeat their own purposes, and die poorer than those who are content with honest profit.
Secondly, it also tempts men to base and sinful ways to keep what they have thus gotten. It sometimes makes a person criminally sparing towards himself, so that in “ the fulness of his sufficiency, he is in straits.” But his penuriousness more frequently appears in his conduct towards others. If the necessities of the poor, or the cause of Christ, call for his contributions, pride only hinders him from refusing to attend to the application. But hegives as little as he possibly can; and of whatever advantage it may be to the receiver, he loses all the benefit of it himself, by his reluctance, or the improper motives by which he is influenced. We are cautioned against this conduct in the following words : “ Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it. Say not unto thy neighbour, Go, and come again, and to-morrow I will give, when thou hast it by thee.”
Thirdly. Covetousness sometimes fills the soul with disquietude and distraction. “ The sleep of a labouring man is sweet, whether he eat little or much; but the abundance of the rich will not suffer him to sleep." Either he is so delighted with his riches, thinking that he has so much in this place, and so much in that; and that he shall soon have more, if such or such a thing answers his expectation; that the joy of it keeps him wakeful: or, more probably, fear prevents him from sleeping.
" What, thinks he, “ if a fire should break out at dead of night, and consume my goods, my house, my writings, before I have time to secure thein? What if thieves should break in and rob me of all that I have been so long collecting ?” So he thinks himself into anxiety, and deprives himself of present enjoyment, by an imaginary apprehension that some accident may strip him of his beloved possessions. This the wise man calls '“ Vexation of heart;" and, indeed, the misery of such is sometimes so visible, that all the world take notice of it, and, with a mixture of contempt and pity, look down upon the wealthy wretch, who is too rich to be happy. Fourthly. Covetousness prevents all good, and is
: an inlet and encouragement to evil. Nothing so soon, and so effectually, stops the ear, and shuts the heart, against religious impressions. Thus, when Christ began to come closely to the conscience of the young man in the gospel, and exhorted him to sell all that he had, and give to the poor, it is said,
" He went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.” So, we are informed, that the Pharisees, who were covetous, heard Christ, and derided him." In like manner, it is said, that “ he that received seed among the thorns, is he that heareth the word; and the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.” It exposes a man to the danger of making shipwreck of faith and a good conscience; like Demas, who forsook Christ, having loved this present world. It tends to nourish other sins. Sometimes a man is covetous from pride; he gets all he can in order to maintain his state, and to gratify the love of finery and parade. Sometimes covetousness is a servant to the lusts of the desh, which makes many greedy, even to over-reaching in their dealings, and close even to penuriousness in their families; that they may have the more to squander in rioting and drunkenness, chambering and wantonness.
But I wish you particularly to remember, that the covetous will be excluded from the kingdom of God. You know who once said, that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of
of a needle, than for a rich man, or for one, as he afterwards explains it, who trusts in his riches, to enter into the kingdom of God. He cannot enter; for such a worldly soul is not fit for its spiritual entertainments. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him: and can that man be fit for heaven that has no love to God? No; the covetous shall never inherit the kingdom of God. I wish that you would think of this, who palliate your sin, and call it by the softer names of parsimony, thrift, prudence, economy or industry. But call it what you will, covetousness is a crime, for which every one that is found guilty of it, will lose his own soul, and be punished with an everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, as certainly as for whoredoin, drunkenness, murder or any of