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3. It dishonours and debases the body, 1 Cor. vi. 18. Our bodies are the members of Christ or should be; but how are they debased, being made members of a harlot? And how low and contemptible a thing is such a wretched creature, even in the eyes of those that join with them?
(4.) It leaves an indelible stain upon their reputation; their honour is sunk, and there is no recovering of it, Prov. vi. 33. Though the sin may be pardoned before God, yet the blot lies on their name, while they have a name on the earth. Yea, and when they are dead and gone, their bastard posterity still lie under the stain, whereof they could be no
(5.) Poverty and want oft-times follow it. It natively tends to poverty, Prov. v. 10. and there is a secret curse of that nature that often accompanies it, Prov. vi. 26. 'By means of a whorish woman a man is brought to a piece of bread.' How many have been made miserable by it, who have had occasion as long as they lived to remember they had ruined themselves?
(6.) Lastly, It is ruining to the soul, Prov. vi. 32. • He that doth it,' commit adultery with a woman, destroyeth his own soul.' It ruins it here, in so far as it defiles the conscience, fetters the affections, blinds the mind, utterly unfits for communion with God, till the guilt be washed off by the application of Christ's blood, after a frightful awakening of the conscience. And if they do not repent of this sin, it will destroy the soul for ever. Let these scriptures imprint a horror of it in the minds of all, Heb. xiii. 4. 1 Cor. vi. 9. Gal. v. 19, 21. Rey. xxi. 8.
I close with a few directions, in so many words.
1. Give yourselves away soul and body to Jesus Christ, and learn to live by faith, sensible of your own weaknes, and relying on his promised strength; for without him ye can resist no sin, nor temptation to sin.
2. Beware of a carnal frame of sloth and laziness. Labour to be spiritual and heavenly in the frame of your heart, Gal. v. 16. Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.'
• Make a cove
3. Watch over your heart and senses. nant with your eyes, as Job did, that ye may avoid uniawful looks; and never venture on the devil's ground, otherwise ye will fall into the snare.
4. Study mortification of all your unruly lusts and passions, and beware of all occasions and incentives to this wicked
5. Keep at a distance from immodest company, and be not too frolicsome and foolish, light and airy in your discourse. 6. Lastly, Pray fervently and importunately, that the Lord may save you from this foul sin, and all temptations to it; saying with David, Psal. cxix. 37. Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity.'
OF THE EIGHTH COMMANDMENT.
EXOD. XX. 15.-Thou shalt not steal.
THIS command respects men's goods and outward estate in the world; and the scope of it is to procure and further the same by all good means. And the law of God respecting this plainly says, that religion is highly concerned in our civil actions, working, buying, and selling, and all the ways of advancing of the outward estate. In these we are hedged about by this command, as well as in natural things by the sixth and seventh. God's law follows us wherever we go, to the house or field, bed or board, church or market. This command also plainly establishes distinct properties, and that there is no universal community of goods, but every one has his own portion.
This being a command of the second table, it respects ourselves as well as our neighbour. And so the meaning is, Thou shalt not steal from thyself nor any other; thou shalt not wrong thyself nor others. And as in every negative is implied an affirmative, so while stealth or theft is here for bidden, the contrary is required, namely, the procuring and furthering of our own and others welfare in these things, but by means only that are lawful.
In discoursing further from this subject, I shall shew 1 What is required in this command, viz. the lawful VOL. III.
procuring and furthering the wealth and outward estate of ourselves and others.'
II. What is forbidden, viz. • Whatsoever doth or may unjustly hinder our own or our neighbour's wealth or out. ward estate.'
III. Make application.
I. I am to shew what is required in this command. And, FIRST, God requires us in this command, by lawful means, to procure and further our own wealth and outward estate. We may take up this in these seven things.
1. We should look unto God for things necessary and convenient for us. Here we should begin our care about temporal things; for he it is that giveth thee power to get wealth,' Deut. viii. 18. and without his appointment our endeavours will not succeed, Psal. cxxvii. All the creatures depend on God's provision, as caged birds on those to whose care they are committed, Prov. xxx. 8. And so our Lord teaches us to pray every day, Give us this day our daily bread,' Matth. vi. 11. seeing God has comprehended this in the promise.
2. A provident care and study to get things necessary and suitable to our condition, 1 Tim. v. 8. To pray, and cast off means, is presumption; to use means, but neglect praying, and looking to the Lord, is atheism. We should keep the middle way betwixt carelessness and anxiety, and hold in the way of moderate care in these things; for we are not to expect to be like the lilies that toil not, neither spin, and yet are clothed.
3. For this cause every body must have a lawful calling and employment, and duly use it, that so he may be useful to himself, and worth his room in the world, and not like mice. and rats, good for nothing but to devour what others labour for. Adam in innocence had a calling, that of dressing and keeping the garden of Eden, Gen. ii. 15. and so had his sons afterwards, though born to greater estate than any now can pretend to, the one being a keeper of sheep, and the other a tiller of the ground, Gen. iv. 2. But we must be sure it be a lawful calling, Eph. iv. 28. But what avails it if it be not duly used? Therefore God requires of men that they labour to be skilful in it, and not bunglers at what they take in hand, Prov. xiv. 8. and he allows men to look to himself for that end, Isa. xxviii. 26. and likewise that they
be diligent and industrious in it, and not loiterers, Prov. x. 4. for laziness will make a thief, either directly or indirectly. And this is quite opposite to God's appointment, Gen. iii. 19.
4. We are to take the moderate comfortable use of the product of our diligence, using and disposing of it for our necessity and conveniency, according to our condition in the world, Eccl. x. 12, 13. For to what end do men get wealth, if they have no power comfortably to use it? As good want it, as not to have the necessary and convenient use of it. Such steal and rob (in the sense of this command) from their nearest neighbour, that is, themselves.
5. Withal God requires men here to be frugal and honestly sparing, i. e. to keep a due medium betwixt lavishness and niggard pinching, Prov. xxi. 20. This frugality directs to the right managing of what God has given, so as, (1.) People do not cast out their substance on trifles that are for no good purpose, but on such things as there is some solid use of, Isa. lv. 2. and amongst these are to be reckoned extravagant furniture for back and belly, in which people cannot satisfyingly to conscience answer the question, What needs all this waste? (2.) That of those things which may be useful, there be nothing lost. When Christ had provided bread enough, he gives particular orders to gather up the fragments, John vi, 12. (3.) That this care proceed not from carnal affection to the world, but from conscience towards God, that we abuse not his benefits, and take care to do good by what is spared to ourselves or to others, though it were even to beasts. Lastly, True frugality will be effectual to make us ready to lay out for God on pious uses, to the poor and otherwise, as the best way to save, Prov. xi. 24. 6. Careful avoiding of whatsoever may embarrass our affairs, and wrong our own wealth and outward estate. Thus God requires men to take heed that they do not inveigle themselves in unnecessary pleas and law-suits, 1 Cor. vi. 1,—8. rash cautionry, Prov. xi. 5. whereby sometimes men ruin themselves and families, and so sin against God, themselves, and their house. Of this sort may be reckoned people's rash and foolish engaging in things that they are in no probable case rightly to manage, stretching farther than they can well be supposed able to reach.
7. Lastly, Moderation of heart with respect to worldly goods, Phil. iv. 5. (1.) We must moderate our judgment
about them, that we put not too high a value and esteem on them, 1 Tim. vi. 17. (2.) We must moderate our wills about them, that we be not among those that will be rich; for that will carry us over this hedge, ver. 9. (3.) We must moderate our affections to them. We must beware of love to them, ver. 10; for the covetous heart will not stick at undue means. We must moderate our care about them, resting in God's promise, and depending on his providence, Matth. vi. 25, 26. and be content with our lot, Heb. xiii. 5, For they that are not content, have what they will, are always poor; and their eye will be evil towards others also.
SECONDLY, God requires in this command, that we, by lawful means, procure and further the wealth and outward estate of others. We are not born for ourselves, nor must we live for ourselves. We are members one of another as men, and much more as Christians; and selfishness is offensive to God, and destructive to society. We may reduce this to two general rules of practice, founded on the light of nature, and confirmed by the word.
First, Give every one their due. The natural conscience dictates this, however little it is regarded; and God's word confirms it, Rom. xiii. 7. If ye do it not, ye rob them, or steal from them. So God will reckon, and so will men's consciences reckon at last. In whatever relation ye stand to them as masters, servants, neighbours, or under any parti cular bargain with them, or obligation to them, give them what is due to them.
Secondly, Do as ye would be done to. This also a natural conscience dictates, and the word confirms, Mat. vii. 12. If we must love our neighbour as ourselves, we must not do to him what we would have no body do to us. If ye do otherwise ye steal from them, ye wrong them, your own consciences being judges. For if they would do so to you, ye declare they are unjust to you; so if ye do so to them, ye must either find out a law for them, which ye are not under, or else your own consciences will condemn you as breakers of the law of God, which is common to both. To move you to walk by these rules, consider,
1. In vain will ye pretend to Christianity without it.— This is natural religion, which revelation came not to de stroy, but to confirm, Tit. ii. 12. And the Heathens, who in their Pagan darkness saw these rules of righteousness, and