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new nature which is the image of God repaired, with a per fection of parts, to be crowned in heaven with a perfection of degrees.
And it is worthy of our observation, that Jesus Christ being to fulfil all righteousness, was born holy, and so fulfilled, this command for us. In him the law has its due, he being a man, who from his birth had a holy pure nature, a holy frame of spirit, without the least irregularity or disorder.
To conclude, ye may see the command is pure, just, and holy, however impure we be; and requires of us the utmost purity of heart, life and nature.
I now proceed to consider the sins forbidden.
Quest. What is forbidden in the tenth comandment?" Ans. The tenth commandment forbiddeth all discontentment with our own estate, envying or grieving at the good of our neighbour, and all inordinate motions and affections to any thing that is his.'
This command is a curb and bridle to the distempered heart of man, which of all parts of the man is the hardest to be commanded and kept within bounds. Men may be of a courteous obliging behaviour, keep in their hands from killing, or what tendeth thereunto, their bodies from uncleanness, their hands from stealing, and their tongues from lying; while, in the mean time, the heart in all these respects may be going within the breast like a troubled sea, unto which this command by divine authority saith, Peace, and be still.
The heart distempered by original sins runs out in the irascible faculty in tormenting passions, bearing an aversion of the heart to what the Lord in his wisdom lays before men, This great stream of the corruption of our nature divides itself into two branches; one running against our own condition, namely, a torrent of discontent; the other against our neighbour, namely, envying and grudging at his good. In the concupiscible faculty, in lusting affections and inordinate motions towards something which God has put out of our way, at least with-held from our closest embraces. This also divides itself into two branches; one running towards what is our own, namely, a sinful eagerness, lust, or inordinate motion of the heart to what we possess; the other runaing towards what is our neighbour's, an inordinate affection to what is his. Thus the corrupt heart runs in a direct op
position to the will of God, refusing what he would have us to accept, and embracing closely what he would have us to stand at a distance from. The corrupt fountain with its several streams is all here forbidden. We shall speak to them all as laid before us, tracing the streams to the fountainhead.
FIRST, the streams in which the distemper of the heart runs are here forbidden expressly, because these are most exposed to our view. Let us view,
FIRST, The tormenting passions, in which the corruption of nature vents itself; for sin is in its own nature misery. We need but go in the paths of sin to make us miserable, and in the high road of duty to make us happy. We shall consider the tormenting passion,
First, Of discontent with our own estate or condition. This is plainly here forbidden; for discontentment is presupposed to coveting; and there could be no coveting of what we want without discontentment with what we have. The lusting gapings of the heart say, there is an uneasiness within. It is only the plague of discontentment that makes the heart cry, Give, give.
I. I will shew the evil of discontentment, and paint out this sin in its black colours. It is the hue of hell all over.
1. Discontent is, in the nature of it, a compound of the blackest ingredients, the scum of the corrupt heart boiling up, and mixed to make up this hellish composition.
1st, Unsubjection to and rebellion against the will of God, Hos. iv. 16. Israel slideth back as a backsliding heifer;' backsliding or refractory, that will not admit the yoke farther than it is forced on. The discontented heart cannot submit, but sets its foot aspar against the divine dispensation. Though God guides and governs the world, they are the malcontents, that are not pleased with the government, but mutiny against it. What pleases God, pleases not them; what is right in God's eyes, is evil in theirs. And nothing will please them, but to have the reins of government out of God's hands into their own; though, if their passion did not blind their judgment, they might see how they would quickly fire the little world of their own and others condition, if they had the reins in their own hand.
2dly, Sorrow of heart under the divine dispensation towards them. It is not according to their mind, and so their
heart sinks in sorrow, 1 Kings xxi. 4; God crosses their will, and they pierce their own hearts with many sorrows; as if a man, because he cannot stop the course of the sun in the firmament, would wrap up himself in darkness.
And this is a killing sorrow, a sword thrust into a man's heart by his own hands, 2 Cor. vii. 10; It melts a man's heart within him; like a vulture, preys upon his natural spirits, tending to shorten his days. It makes him dumpish and heavy like Ahab, and is a heavy load above the burden of affliction. That is the black smoke of discontentment, which yet often breaks out into a fiery flame, as in the same case of Ahab, where Naboth fell a sacrifice to it.
3dly, Anger and wrath against their lot, Jude 16; Complainers. The word signifies such as are angry at their lot, and in the distributions Providence makes of the world, still complain that the least or worst part of it falls to their share. Thus the discontented do in their hearts bark at the mountains of brass, Zech. vi. 1; as dogs do at the moon, and with the same success. They are angry with God's dispensation, and their hearts rise against it, and snarl at it.
And this is a fretting anger, whereby men disquiet and vex themselves in vain, like men dashing their heads against the wall; the wall stands unmoved, but their heads are wounded. Like a wild bull in a net, the more he stirs, the faster is he held; so that still they return with the loss. Thus discontent is in the heart like a serpent gnawing the bowels, and makes a man as a moth to himself, consuming him, or a lion tearing himself, Job xviii. 4.
Lastly, There is a spice of heart-blasphemy in it; for it strikes very directly against God the Governor of the world, and accuses his administration; and for an evidence of this, it sometimes breaks out in words, Mal. iii. 13, 14, 15; Your words have been stout against me, saith the Lord: yet ye say, What have we spoken so much against thee? Ye have said, It is vain to serve God: and what profit is it, that we have kept his ordinance, and that we have walked mournfully before the Lord of hosts? And now we call the proud happy: yea, they that work wickedness are set up; yea, they that tempt God are even delivered.' Discontent accuses him,
(1.) Of folly, as if he were not wise enough to govern the world. The peevish discontented person, in his false light,
sees many flaws in the conduct of Providence, and pretends to tell God how he may correct his work, and how it would be better. If the work of Providence be wisely done, why are we discontent with it? or would we be discontent with it, if we did not think we saw how it should be otherwise, and how it might be mended?
(2.) Of injustice, as if he did us wrong. The Judge of all the earth cannot but do right. He cannot be bribed nor biassed; yet the discontented heart rises against him, and blasphemes him as an acceptor of persons. It looks on his distributive justice (if we may so call it, for indeed all is his own, not ours) with an evil eye, and accuses him of partiality in not giving them as good as others, complaining of their share. On his corrective justice, as if they did not deserve what he lays on them. For if we do deserve the evil in our lot, there is no wrong done us; and why do we then complain? And to fill up the measure, it accuseth him,
(3.) Of cruelty. Job, in a fit of discontent, speaks it out, chap. xxx. 21; Thou art become cruel to me. Thus goodness itself is blasphemed by the discontented, who behave as if they were under the hands of a merciless tyrant, who would sport himself with one's misery. Discontent fills the heart with black and hard thoughts of God, and represents him as a rigid master and cruel lord; otherwise people would lay their hand on their mouth, and be content.
Some will say, that their discontent is with themselves, not with God, having brought their cross on with their own hands. Ans. If it be the effect of your sin, ye may mourn for your sin, but ye should the rather be content with your lot. And as for mismanagements, there is a providence that reaches them, and so God is our party still: but nothing is more ordinary than that, Prov. xix. 3; The foolishness of man perverteth his way; and his heart fretteth against the Lord.'
Others say, that it is with the instruments of their trouble they are discontented. Ans. But consider that they are but instruments in God's hand, in the hand of his providence, and therefore ye should not be discontent. Say as David did to the sons of Zeruiah, What have I to do with you? so let him curse because the Lord hath said unto him, Curse David. Who shall then say, Wherefore hast thou done so ?" 2 Sam. xvi. 10; No creature can be more to us than God
makes it to be: if then God shall squeeze any creature dry of comfort to us, and we thereupon prove discontented, whatever we pretend, our hearts fret against the Lord, Exod. xvi. 2; compare ver. 7.
Thus ye see the picture of discontentment; and does it not look very black? There are ounces and pounds of rebelhon against the will of God, killing sorrow and fretting anger, and hideous heart-blasphemy in it, while there is not one grain of religion or reason that goes into this hellish com position. If one should take it for a description of hell, he would not be far out; for the truth is, discontent is a hell in the bosom, and a lively emblem of the pit of darkness.
2. If ye view discontentment in the rise of it, ye will see further into the evil of it. It takes its rise from,
1st, A blinded judgment which puts darkness for light, and light for darkness, and cannot see into the wisdom of the conduct of Providence, that does all things well. When our blind minds begin to refine on the management of holy Providence, they are apt to produce discontent, which in respect of Providence is always unreasonable. See how good Jacob bewrays his folly and ignorance of the methods of pro vidence, Gen. xlii. 36; Me have ye bereaved of my chil dren: Joseph is not, and Simeon is not, and ye will take Benjamin away: all these things are against me. Compare with this the promise, Rom. viii. 28; All things shall work together for good to them that love the Lord, to those who are the called according to his purpose; and also compare the event; and ye will see that all these things were for the benefit of the good Patriarch, and that of his numerous family.
Yea, oft-times so readily does it rise out of darkness, that it springs up from mere suspicion, misapprehension, and mistake, so that a little cloud of that nature over the mind will in the end cover the mind with the blackness of discontent; as in the case of Ahab, 1 Kings xxi. 4; compare ver. 6; And indeed there is never a ground of discontent, but the blind mind does magnify it, and lays to it such heaps of rubbish, as the heart is not able to stand under it, as in the case of Rachael, Gen. xxx. 1; When Rachael saw that she bare Jacob no children, Rachael envied her sister; and said unto Jacob, Give me children, or else I die." Thus are our own dark minds the anvil on which our miseries are beat out into