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EXODUS XX. 17. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt
covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his man-fervant, nor his maid servant, nor his ox, nor his
, ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's, THE scope of this command is to strike at the
root and first risings of fin in the heart, in the desires going out of their right line of purity and equity. It is a strict boundary set to the un. bounded desires of the heart,
In it there are, 1. The act. 2. The object. The act, Thou shalt not covet, or lust, as the apostle terms it, Rom, vii. 7. which implies an inordinateness of degre, a feverith motion of the soul towards the creature, irregular and disorderly; and fo a diffa. tisfaction with one's present condition, as appears from Heb. xiii. 5. Let your conversation be without covetoufness, and be content with such things as ye have.
The object is held forth particularly for example's cause, thy neighbour's house, thy neighbour's wife, his servants, and goods. Thou shalt not only not take away thy neighbour's house from him by oppression, nor entice away his servants, nor steal his goods, nor entertain a fixed and deliberate desire to do him that injury, as is forbidden in the eighth command; but the inordinate desire of having them shall not rise in, nor go through thy heart, however lightly, if it were like a flying arrow, saying, 0, that his house, his servant, his ox and ass were mine! Thou shalt not only not defile his wife, nor deliberately desire to do it, as is forbidden in the seventh commandment; but thou shalt not say in thine heart, O that she were mine! though thou haft no inind, right or wrong, to make her so,
This ohject is held forth universally, nor any
diers did at Christ in his sufferings, Matth. xxvii: 28. 29. The natural imperfections of others are c: their sport, though reproaching the poor they de spile his Maker; yea and their sinful imperfections. too, for fools make a mock at fin.
UE Some have a mighty fondness for gibing and taunting; their whole converse runs that way, to make others uneasy and themselves merry with their taunts. Let them not value themselves on their ta: lent; if any spark of tenderness be left in them, I doubt they dare look to it as a good gift given them from above, but as an abuse of the good gift of God. It was Ishmael's way, for which he was cast out of the farnily of the faithful, Gal. iv. 29.
(13.) Reviling and railing, giving others reproachful and opprobrious names, piercing them with bitter words, and murdering them with their tongues, Matth. v. 22. 1 Cor. vi. 10. Revilers are among those excluded out of heaven.
These are some of the ways how the wicked tongue gives home thrusts to others, and pierces like the piercing of the sword, following the example of him who was a liar and a murderer from the beginning. But would ye see them all gathered together in one, ye have them in,
(13.) Lasily, Scolding and rating, an abominable disorder which we are so much disturbed with. There their wicked hearts, stirred up with pasiion and revenge, vomit out all at once this filthy stuff. For there their ncighbour's faults are unnecessarily discovered, aggravated, c. as if hell's forces were rendezvouling betwixt them. Wonder not at the expreffiou. See Jude 9. No, the angei durft not engage Stan with these weapons whereof he was the proper master, and at which none can outdo him. If ye take not better heed to your tongues, they will ruin you, Pfal. lii. 2-5;
There are some other evils of the tongue here forbidden, the hurt whereof does not fo plainly appear.
1. Talkativeness, or much speaking. Some are 20 ever talking, and are never in their element but
when prattling; and when once they loose, it is as hard to stop them as to stop a flood, and turn it another way. Of it I say,
(1.) It is a sign of a loose and frothy heart, where the fear of God has little place, Eccl. v, 2. For that would make our words few, true, weighty, and useful
. When God has given us two ears, and but one tongue, that we may be swift to hear and flow to speak; it is a pregnant evidence of a naughty beart, to be swift to speak and lļow to hear.
(2.) It is the fool's badge, Eccl. v. 3. Talkative persons, for want of acquaintance with themselves, thinking to shew themielves wise, ordinarily prefent a fool to the company. They will have a flood of words, who have hardly a drop of good sense or judgement; fo that they are juit a voice, and no more
. They that are given to much speaking, can hardly speak either true or well; which made an orator aik a double fee of a talkative scholar, one to learn him to speak well, another to learn him to hold his peace. It is the character of a virtuous woman, that the openeth her mouth with wisdom, Prov, xxxi. 26. Her mouth is not always open, but duly but and discreetly opened. 2. Idle speaking, Matth. xii. 36. The tongue was given to man to be for the honour of God, and the good of himself and his neighbour. Though our Words then be not cvil in themselves, they are evil because they are idle; that is, words spoken to no) good purpose, ţending neither to the honour of God, nor the good of ourselves or others, neither to his moral good to make him more holy, nor to bis civil good, as not being upon the neceffary concerns of human life, nor his natural good, to maintain the moderate chearfulness of fociety: It may be comprehended under foolish talking, rash, raving,
and impertinent discourse, doing no good to the hearers, but bewraying the folly of the speaker.
3. A trade of jesting, Eph. v. 4. It is not finful to pass an innocent jelt for begetting of moderate chearfulness. The wife man tells us, There is a time to weep, and a time to laugh, Eccl. iii. 4. It may in fome cases be as necessary to chear the spirits, as a cordial is to restore them, or a pleasant gale of wind to purify the air. It was not unbecoming the gra. vity of the prophet to mock Baal's priests, and to say, Cry aloud ; for he is a god; either he is talking, or be is pursuing, or he is on a journey ; or peradventure he seepeth, and must be awakened, 1 Kings xviii. 27. But finful are,
(1.) Offensive jefts, which tend to the shewing a despiling of our neighbour, to the irritating and provoking of him. And indeed it is often seen, that those who are much given that way, their conver. sation is most offensive, sparing neither friend nor foe, and will rather lose their friend than their jeft.
(2.) Profane jests, either making a mock of fin, or of that which is holy, particularly wresting and abusing of scripture, to express the conceits of their light and wanton wits. It is a dangerous thing to jest in such matters,
(3.) People's being immoderate in jesting. To make every word a jelt, is liker the stage than Christian gravity. This is as absurd as to present a man a dish of salt to feed on; a little of it is good for seasoning, but to give it for the whole entertainment is abfurd.
4. Lastly, Flattery, Psal. xii. 3. This is a most dangerous Itroke, and the more deadly that the wound it gives does not smart, but by it a man is hugged to ruin, The words of a flatterer are smoother than oil, yet are they in effect as drawn fwords. It is a compound of lying, abjectness of spirit, and treachery. The flatterer gives the praise that is not due, professes the kindness that is not real, and screws up
all to a pitch far above truth; and so he is a liar. He debases himself to please others, turning himself into every shape to humour the party he is to flatter; and betrays him into self-conceit and unacquaintedness with himself.
I shall shut all with a twofold dehortation.
First, Speak truth, and beware of lying. Lying is a very common sin; repent of that guilt, and beware of it for the future. For notives, consider,
Mot. 1. That God is the God of truth, the author and lover of truth, so that he cannot lie. And therefore lying is most contrary to the nature and mind of God; it is therefore singularly abominable and hateful to him, Pfal. x. 6. Prov. vi. 16. 17. We find that God suffered Adam's fons to marry their own fifters, and the Israelites to spoil the Egyptians of what they had borrowed of them ; but never did the God of truth at any time difpenfe with mens speaking lies. Hate that abominable thing then, which God so hates.
2. All lies are from the devil in a special manner, Jobn viii. 44. It was he that first broached lies in the world, and ruined mankind with them; and having sped so well with that engine of hell at first, no wonder he fets himself to keep up the trade. He is the father of lies, that begets them on the false heart, and they are brought forth by the lying tongue. Whom do liars resemble then, the God of truth or the father of lies ?
3. Lying is a part of the old man of fin, which must be put off, if we would not be put out of God's presence, Eph. iv. 24. 25;
It is the way to which our corrupt natures do kindly and quickly incline, Pfal. lviii. 3. The wicked go astray, as soon as they be born, Speaking lies. Hence children are not to learn this, they have the art of it from their first father Adam. But as soon as grace enters the heart, it rectifies it in that point. Hence the Lord's people are called children that will not lie, Il. lxiii. 8. Vol. Ill.