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6 Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife, nor his man servant, nor his maid, servant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbor's,"
Most of the other Commandments speak of the outward action, and forbid some fin in the life, but this last lays the axe, as it were, to the very root, for it forbids even those covetous desires which are seated in the heart. It is said, “ Thou shalt not covet any thing which is thy neighbor's.” What is it then that we most like? The taste of people differs. One is in danger of coveting his neighbor's money, another, his neighbor's consequence and power; a third, of coveting the praise and honor which he fees given to another. How apt, especially are many of the poor, to covet all the comforts and supposed enjoyments of the rich! They have peculiar cause to beware of breaking this Commandment. Both rich and poor, however, are apt to covet the possession of any thing for which they happen to have a taste. They no looner behold it, than they are ready to cry out, " I wish it was mine."
It is melancholy to think how few there are in the world, who are thoroughly contented with their lot. The young and the old, the rich and the poor, the married and the unmarried, the prosperous and the afflicted, are all of them apt
to have some unsatisfied desire. There is alway some one thing at least, which is possessed b our neighbor, and which providence has de nied to us, and we are disposed to fix our whol attention on that single point. If we are unde no temptation to covet our neighbor's house nor his wife, nor his man servant, nor his maio servant, yet we covet perhaps some ox of his or some ass, some inferior thing or other in which we happen to take delight"; and we may possibly be as wretched at the thought of no posselling it, as if we had coveted his whole fortune and estate. Thus Ahab, although he was king of all Samaria, being unable to get the little vineyard of Naboth, which would have made him a convenient cabbage garden, 6 laid him down on his bed and refused to eat." Ahab was as unhappy as any poor man in Samaria, who might be at that time envying the king, and coveting the possession of his whole kingdom.
Now all this complaining and dissatisfied spirit is forbidden in the tenth Commandment; and the things required by it are, thankfulness and contentedness of heart, patience under trials, resignation under afflictions, a mind free from envy and repining, and a spirit of submission to the whole will of God. How eminently did St. Paul possess the temper which I have been describing. 6 I have learned,” said he, " in whatsoever ftate I am, therewith to be content for I know both how to be abased, and I know
every man maintain tions, pe
ace of or
how to abound: every where, and in all things I am instructed, both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.”. ! This commandment, as was observed before,
is extremely strict, because it applies imme, diately to the heart. It will effeétually convict every man of being a finner, who will pay attention to it. We can regulate our actions, perhaps, tolerably well; we can maintain our cha, racter; we can do every thing with such an ap, pearance of propriety and exactness, that our fellow-creatures can hardly discern a flaw in us." But which of us duly regulates his heart? To call away our thoughts from every forbidding thing, to govern well our various affections and desires, and to fix them always in their due degrees on their lawful and proper objects; to fuppress even the wish for what God sees not fit to give; to wait his time, to leave all to his Providence, and to consider all his appointments as ever wise and good; to purify, in short, the secret springs of action, and “ to bring," as the Scriptures express it, 6 every imagination into subjection to the obedience of Chrift," this is the great point." • To the heart then, to the heart, and not merely to the actions of the life, let our attention be directed. Thousands, it is to be feared, have been finners all their days, and have never. theless been quite unsuspicious of their sinful state, because they have looked no further than to their outward actions, and have never exam.
ined duly into the motives of their conduet, no watched the secret motions of their hearts. Through this cause they have continued ignorant of God, ignorant of themselves, and ignorant of that falvation which has been provided by the gospel.
Thus have we endeavored to explain these laws of God. And here let me ask, whether any one can deny the perfect excellency of them. Are they not such as it is fit for God to give, and for man to obey? We have shewn that love to God and love to man form the foundation of them all. And yet who can deny that he has. disobeyed them every day ? Now it is one great object of these laws of God to convince men of their guilt, and thus to prepare them for the grace and mercy of the gospel. 66 Cursed,” says the scripture, 66 is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.” But 6 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us." 66 The law therefore is our school ley master to bring us to Christ, that we may be cap justified by faith.” 6 By the deeds of the law en shall no flesh be justified in the fight of God, cul for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” Buty: we are “ justified freely by his grace, through the the redemption that is in Tesus," and thus “ we con obtain peace with God through our Lord Jesus, Christ." .
Man, then, is to be considered as a criminal c: under sentence of condemnation, God's righ- :|
teous law has already condemned him. God, nevertheless, hath “ so loved the world as to send his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him, might not perish, but have everlasting life.”
But this faith in Christ is so far from leading men to neglect that holy law which we have been explaining, that it becomes a new motive to obedience; for the Christian now receives, as it were, again from the hand of Christ, those fame Commandments which were first given to man through the hand of Moses.. He receives them from that Saviour who died for bim. “ If ye love me,” said this merciful Redeemer to
his Disciples, 6 keep my Commandments.” It -hould here indeed be observed, and it is a point which has been partly proved already, that the precepts which are given by Christ and his aposles in the New Teitament as the rule
of life for every Christian are, for the most i part, the very same in substance, and are some.
times expressed in the same words as the law of the ten Commandments, for it is the object equally of the Old Testment and of the New, to bring back the corrupted heart of man to the love of God and of his neighbor. The Christian, therefore, is one who studies diligently, and observes carefully, all the Commandments of God and of his Saviour: day by day he exercises himself in examining his life by them: he brings all his actions, great and small, and his very thoughts and desires, to this