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bosoms, we must in prayer and supplication, and by strong endeavour and with stedfast perseverance, abhor, and put away from us every thought which is contrary to the purity, and detrimental to the hopes of the Gospel. “Every man,” as writes the beloved disciple,
" that hath this hope in him," (the hope of being acknowledged hereafter as of the sons of God,) ' purifieth himself, even as he is pure."3 Let us recollect, my brethren, what our Saviour said, as recorded by St. Matthew, concerning the necessity of “cleansing first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them
be clean also."4 Let us further call to mind, on this point, what, at another time, and in like reproof of the hypocrisy and sinfulness of the Pharisees, our righteous Master declared-even that “out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: these,” as he added, 31 John iii. 3.
4 Matt. xxiii. 26.
“are the things which defile a man.”5 And these are the fearfulthings which, commencing with unchecked “evil thoughts," with unruly desires, and indulged unlawful wishes, shall debase the soul unto hell, and awake “ the worm that dieth not, and the fire that shall not be quenched.”
Many an unfortunate individual, it may be said, had saved himself from the neverdying pangs of an accusing conscience; and the horrible depths of iniquity had not become known unto him; and he had not been so fearfully deprived of the grace of God, had he not allowed himself in the indulgence of unholy thoughts, and thoughts of folly; thus in his heart departing from purity and contentedness, and from those right principles of self-denial and patience, whereby, under the Divine blessing, the evil propensities of our fallen nature
can alone be effectually checked, and ultimately conquered. It is indeed essential, would
3 Matt. xv. 19, 20.
we “keep innocency,” would we order ourselves according to the measure of St. Paul's example and teaching, " and exercise ourselves to have always a conscience void of offence toward God and toward men ;"6—it is, we say, most needful that the precept, “ Thou shalt not covet,” be strictly observed, that it be allowed to have its due weight and influence on our every-day conversation with the world.
This commandment, this prohibition, “ Thou shalt not covet," doth indeed strictly belong, it hath an especial reference, to the preservation of that “ love,” which, saith the apostle, “worketh no ill to his neighbour.”? For the covetous man, the man that is dissatisfied, and envious, and restless, looks with an evil eye, and with wicked hankerings in his heart, at the condition and the possessions of others. He is in sullen jealousy disposed to think himself the unlucky and ill-used man; nay, he will quarrel with Acts xxiv. 16.
* Rom. xiii. 10.
Providence, and will dare to question, and to say within himself—“Why hast thou made me thus?” Such an one, instead of “ making a covenant with his eyes,” instead of 66
denying ungodliness and worldly lusts,” will despise and act in direct opposition to St. Paul's charitable counsel, “Let no man seek his own, but every man another's wealth.' For the man who doth “covet,” the envious man, must needs be uncharitable, in the enlarged and christian meaning of the term; yea, he shall rejoice in iniquity, which charity does not ;9 and as an enemy he will exult, and think to raise himself on the fall of others. And yet, after all, after thus heaping up a heavy account against himself, and becoming abhorred of his God, and an alien from the covenant of grace,-is the envious man, is the covetous wretch in his best estate happy?
Shall he ever 81 Cor.
91 Cor. xiii. 6.
say to his soul, Take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry
?”'i No! “ There is no peace,
saith my God, to the wicked.”. “ It shall be even as when an hungry man dreameth, and behold, he eateth ; but he awaketh, and his soul is empty: or as when a thirsty man dreameth, and behold, he drinketh ; but he awaketh, and behold, he is faint, and his soul hath appetite.”: So shall the gnawings of envy not be appeased, and the cravings of covetousness shall be unceasingly renewed : contentment shall be far away; and even boundless wealth shall not purchase to that man happiness.
In mercy and in wisdom, then, hath it been commanded, “Thou shalt not covet.” And be well persuaded, my brethren, that there is not a greater foe to our happiness, or to our personal enjoyment of the innocent and allowable things of this life, than the baneful spirit of envy, the evil desire
1 Luke xii. 19. 2 Isa. lvii. 21. 3 Ib. xxix. 8.