« PreviousContinue »
thing is to be got: this is as if cumber, not retirement, and gain, not content, were the duty and comfort of a Christian. O that this thing was better considered ! for by not being so observable nor obnoxious to the law as other vices are, there is more danger, for want of that check. It is plain that most people strive not for substance, but wealth. Some there be that love it strongly, and spend it liberally, when they have got it. Though this be sinful, yet more commendable than to love money for money's fake. That is one of the basest passions the mind of man can be captivated with: a perfect lust; and a greater, and more soul-defiling one there is not in the whole catalogue of concupiscence. Which considered, should quicken people into a serious examination, how far this temptation of love of money hath entered them; and the rather, because the steps it maketh into the mind are almost insensible, which renders the danger greater. Thousands think themselves unconcerned in the caution, that yet are perfectly guilty of the evil. How can it be otherwise, when those that have, from a low condition, acquired thousands, labour yet to advance, yea, double and treble those thousands; and that with the same care and contrivance by which they got them. Is this to live comfortably, or to be rich? Do we not see how early they rise; how late they go to bed ? how full of the change, the shop, the warehouse, the custom-house; of bills, bonds, charter-parties, &c. they are ? running up and down as if it were to save the life of a condemned innocent. An insatiable luft, and therein ungrateful to God, as well as hurtful to inen ; who giveth it to them to use, and not to love: that is the abuse. And if this care, contrivance, and industry, and that continually, be not from the love of money, in those that have ten times more than they began with, and much more than they spend or need, I know not what testimony man can give of his love to any thing.
§. VIII. To conclude, It is an enemy to government in magistrates; for it tends to corruption. Wherefore those that God ordained, were such as feared him, and
hated covetousness. Next, it hurts society; for old traders keep the young ones poor: and the great reason why some have too little, and so are forced to drudge like Naves to feed their families, and keep their chin above water, is, because the rich hold fast, and press to be richer, and covet more, which dries up the little streams of profit from smaller folks. There should be a standard, both as to the value and time of traffick; and then the trade of the mafter to be shared among his fervants that deserve it. This were both to help the young to get their liveļihood, and to give the old time to think of leaving this world well, in which they have been so busy, that they might obtain a share in the other, of which they have been so careless.
§. IX. There is yet another mischief to government; for covetousness leads men to abuse and defraud it, by concealing or falsifying the goods they deal in: as bringing in forbidden goods by stealth, or lawful goods so as to avoid the payment of dues, or owning the goods of enemies for gain; or that they are not well made, or full measure; with abundance of that sort of deceit.
6. X. But covetousness has caused destructive feuds in families; for estates falling into the hands of those, whose avarice has put them upon drawing greater profit to themselves than was consistent with justice, has given birth to much trouble, and caused great oppresfion. It too often falling out, that such executors have kept the right owners out of pofteson with the money they should pay them,
§. XI. But this is not all; for cavetousness betrays friendship: a bribe cannot be better placed to do an ill thing, or undo a man, Nay, it is a murderer too often þoth of soul and body; of the soul, because it kills that life it should have in God: where money masters the mind, it extinguishes all love to better things: of the body, for it will kill for money, by assassinations, poisons, false witness, &c. I shall end this head of covetqusness, with the fin and doom of two covetous men, Judas and Şimon Magus,
Judas's religion fell in thorny ground: love of money choked him. Pride and anger in the Jews endeavoured to murder Christ; but till covetousness set her hand to effect it, they were all at a loss. They found Judas had the bag, and probably loved money; they would try him, and did. The price was set, and Judas betrays his Master, his Lord (that never did him wrong) into the hands of his most cruel adversaries. But to do him right, he returned the money, and to be revenged on himself, was his own hanginan. A wicked act, a wicked end. Come on, you covetous ! What say ye now to brother Judas ? Was he not an ill man ? Did he not very wickedly? Yes, yes. Would you have done so ? No, .no, by no means. Very well; but so said those evil Jews of stoning the prophets, and that yet crucified the beloved Son of God; he that came to save them, and would have done it, if they had received him, and not rejected the day of their visitation. Rub your eyes well, for the dust is got into them; and carefully read in your own consciences, and see, if, out of love to money, you have not betrayed the just One in yourselves, and so are brethren with Judas in iniquity. I speak for God against an idol ; bear with me: have you not resisted, yea, quenched the good spirit of Christ, in your pursuit after your beloved wealth?.
Examine yourselves, try yourselves; know ye not your own selves, that if Christ dwell not (if he rule not, and be not above all beloved) in you, you are reprobates * ;' in an undone condition ?
§. XII. The other covetous man is Simon Magus, a believer too; but his faith could not go deep enough for covetousness. He would have driven a bargain with Peter, so much money for so much Holy Ghost; that he might sell it again, and make a good trade of it; corruptly measuring Peter by himself, as if he had only had a better knack of cozening the people than himself, who had set up in Samaria for the great power of God, before the power of God in Philip and Peter
undeceived the people. But what was Peter's answer and judgment ? Thy money (says he) perish with (thee: thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter:
thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of
iniquity": ' a dismal sentence. Besides, it tends to luxury, and rises often out of it: for from having much they spend much, and so become poor by luxury: such are covetous to get; to spend more, which temperance would prevent. For if men would not, or could not, by good laws well executed, and a better education, be lo lavish in their tables, houses, furniture, apparel, and gaming, there would be no such temptation to covet earnestly after what they could not spend : for there is but here and there a miser that loves
for money's fake :
§. XIII. Which leads to the last and basest part of covetousness, which is yet the most sordid ; to wit, Hoarding up, or keeping money unprofitably, both to others and themselves too. This is Solomon's miser, « that makes himself rich, and hath nothing w;' a great fin in the sight of God. He complained of such, as had stored up the labours of the poor in their houses; he calls it their spoils, and that it is a grinding of the poor, because they see it not again*. But he blesseth those that consider the poor, and commandeth every one, to open freely to his brother that is in need not only he that is fpiritually, but naturally so; and, not to withhold his gift from the poor. The apostle chargeth Timothy in the light of God, and before Jesus Christ, ' that he fail not to charge them that are rich « in this world, that they trust not in their uncertain
riches, but in the living God, who giveth liberally · " and that they do good with them, that they may be « rich in good works?. Riches are apt to corrupt; and that which keeps them sweet and best, is charity : he that uses them not, gets them not for the end for which they are given ; but loves them for themselves,
u AEts viii, 8, 9, to 24• y Psal. xli. 1. Deat. xv. 7,
Prov. xvii. 7. * Isa. iii. 14, 154
* , Tim. vi. 17
and not their service. The avaricious is poor in his wealth: he wants for fear of spending; and increases his fear with his hope, which is his gain; and so tortures himself with his pleasure: the most like to the man that hid his talent in a napkin, of all others; for this man's talents are hid in his bags out of sight, in vaults, under boards, behind wainscots; elle upon bonds and mortgages, growing but as under ground; for it doth good to none.
§. XIV. This covetous man is a monster in nature; for he has no bowels; and is like the poles, always cold. An enemy to the state, for he spirits their money away. A disease to the body politick, for he obstructs the circulation of the blood, and ought to be removed by a purge of the law: for these are vices at heart, that destroy by wholesale. The covetous, he hates all useful arts and sciences, as vain, left they fhould cost him something the learning: wherefore ingenuity has no more place in his mind, than in his pocket. He lets houses fall, and'highways poach, to prevent the charge of repairs : and for his fpare diet, plain cloaths, and mean furniture, he would place them to the account of moderation. O monster of a man! that can take up the cross for covetousness, and not for Christ.
§. XV. But he pretends negatively to some religion too; for he always rails at prodigality, the better to cover his avarice. If you would bestow a box of spikenard on a good man's head, to save money, and to shew righteous, he tells you of the poor: but if they come, he excuses his want of charity with the unworthiness of the object, or the causes of his poverty, or that he can bestow his money upon those that deserve it better ; who rarely opens his purse till quarter-day, for fear of losing it.
§. XVI, But he is more miserable than the poorest; for he enjoys not what he yet fears to lose; they fear not what they do not enjoy. Thus is he poor by overvaluing his wealth; but he is wretched, that hungers with money in a cook's shop: yet having made a god of