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bound with instances which show the diabolical nature of envy, and the dreadful mischiefs to which it leads. It has led to slander and detraction. It has blasted the fair reputation of the innocent. It has led to take satisfaction in the downfall and misery of others. It has led to desire the death of others, and to rejoice in it. Yea, it has led to the most infernal plots, to take away the life of its object, and has often issued in murder. And in addition to all this, it will finally issue in the everlasting destruction of those who cherish it, unless repented of and forsaken. This dreadful consequence of envy is evident from the word of God. In that catalogue of sins, which the apostle Paul Rom. chap. i. charged upon the gentile world and for which God had giv en them over to a reprobate mind he included " envy." Again in that catalogue of sins, Gal. chap. v. concerning which he told the Galatians, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God, he included "envyings. To the Corinthians he wrote," whereas there is among you envying, are ye not carnal ?" 1 Cor. iii. 3. And in the same epistle, describing that charity, without which we are nothing, he said it "envieth not;" 1 Cor. xiii. 4. And James hath told us, " If ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion, and every evil work ;" Jam. iii. 14, &c.
From what has been said, we must be convinced of the odiousness, wickedness, and danger of the sin of envy.Let us be cautioned to guard against it; and if we now feel an envious spirit towards any, let us repent of, and forsake this great sin.
3. The last class of sins forbidden by the tenth commandment is all inordinate motions or affections to any thing that belongs to our neighbour. This class of sins, may be denominated covetousness, which is an insatiable desire to have what belongs to our neighbour accompanied with dissatisfaction and discontentment, that we have it not This coveting of what belongs to our neighbour, though it should continue concealed in our own breasts, and never be acted out in endeavours to procure its object, is in direct violation of the very letter of the tenth commandment: But it often breaks out into action. We have
a striking instance of this sin in king Ahab, when he desired the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite. He set his heart upon it, and he was willing to give the owner its full value. But Naboth refused to part with it. Ahab ought then to have rested satisfied; but he did not, he was discontented and must have his neighbour's property at all events; therefore he wrested it from him by force, and murdered the owner. To such lengths does this covetous temper sometimes lead. We may lawfully desire to have our neighbour's property at a fair price, if he is willing to dispose of it. In this there is nothing improper. But if he is not willing to dispose of it, we ought to give it up and cease to desire it. Coveting what belongs to another is repeatedly forbidden in other passages of Scripture besides the tenth commandment. The Psalmist said, "The covetous, whom the Lord abhorreth;" Ps. x. 3. The prophet Micah pronounced a woe against those, who "covet fields, and take them away by violence, and houses, and take them away;" Mic. ii. 2. The prophet Habakkuk also cried "Woe to him that coveteth an evil covetousness to his house;" Hab. ii. 9. Our Saviour warned his disciples, "Take heed and beware of covetousness;" Luk xii. 15. And the apostle Paul declared, "This ye know, that no covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God;" Eph. v. 5. And he exhorted," Let your conversation be without covetousness;" Heb. xiii. 5.
Thus I have endeavoured to illustrate the duties required, and the sins forbidden in the tenth command
From what has been said, let us learn, in whatsoever state we are therewith to be content; and while we are, in a lawful way, endeavouring to better our condition, still, if Providence sees fit not to crown our labours with success, let us be content with his allotments and resigned to his will. Let us learn to exercise a charitable frame of spirit towards our neighbour, and to desire and seek his good, rejoice in his welfare, and sympathize in his afflictions. Let us guard against all discontentment and fretfulness, and impatience, and murmuring, and repining. And if any of us are now under the influence of such a temper, let us cease from indulging it. And let us lay aside and guard against all envy, and all coveting of any thing which belongs to our neighbour.
From this commandment let us learn also that the law of God is spiritual. It is true that all the commandments require a spiritual or heart obedience; but this does not so clearly appear from the letter of the other commandments, as from this. The others in their letter, look at external actions; but this looks directly at the heart,-"Thou shalt not covet;" for this is an exercise of the heart. It was this commandment particularly that fastened conviction of his exceeding sinfulness on the mind of Paul; "For, (said he) I had not known lust, except the law had said, thou shalt not covet." And, "when the commandment, (this same commandment) came, sin revived and I died;" Rom. vii. 7, 9. Brethren let an attention to this same commandment produce a similar effect upon us. The law is spiritual, it reaches the inmost thoughts and desires and it forbids the first motions of the mind towards sinful actions. And must we not on a review of our lives acknowledge that we have in the thoughts, desires, and motions of our minds, broken the law innumerable times? Undoubtedly we must. Consider then again, that it is written, "Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them;" Gal. iii. 10. We have therefore incurred this curse innumerable times; and this curse is eternal death. Let us hence learn our absolute need of a Saviour, and of salvation by him. And let the law to which we have for some time been attending, and the lectures on which, we have now brought to a close, be our schoolmaster, to bring us to Christ that we may be justified by faith. By the law, brethren we are cursed, and condemned to eternal death. Our only hope of salvation is in the Lord Jesus Christ, the great law-fulfiller, who endured the curse of the law by being made a curse for us, and thus opened a way of redemption for us. Let us therefore with the apostle Paul, make it our grand concern to "be found in him, not having our own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith;" Phil. iii. 9. And being delivered from the law as a covenant of life, through union to Christ by faith, let us take it as the rule of our life, and regulate our conduct according to its holy precepts; for "faith without works is dead;" Jam. ii. 26. That faith which unites to Christ, and is connected with
justification, is a living faith, productive of holiness, or obedience to God's holy law. And in vain do any hope for deliverance from the curse of the law on account of what Christ has done, while they are the servants of sin, and are not careful to depart from all iniquity, and to keep God's holy commandments. May the Lord write his laws upon our hearts, and give us grace to keep them. -AMEN.
1 JOHN I. 8.
If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the
truth is not in us."
We have in a series of discourses attended to the moral law, as summarily comprehended in the ten commandments. To this law the great lawgiver requires perfect obedience, and we are in duty bound to render it. But no mere man since the fall has in this life rendered this obedience, or can do it. This is taught in our text. "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us."
In these words the Apostle teaches, that no man, whatever his attainments may be, can with truth say, that he now has no sin; that if any should thus say, they would deceive themselves; and that such an assertion, would be a convincing proof that a person continued a stranger to his own heart, and that the truth was not in him, or that he had never experienced the saving grace of God.
The doctrine of the text is that there is no sinless perfection among mankind in this world.
This doctrine is stated in our catechism in the answer to the 82nd question as follows:
Is any man able perfectly to keep the commandments of God?
No mere man since the fall, is able, in this life, perfectly to keep the commandments of God; but doth daily break them, in thought, word and deed."
The object of the ensuing discourse is to illustrate, prove, and defend this doctrine.
I. Let us attend to an illustration of the doctrine. When it is said that no man is perfect, the expression is intended to apply, not only to the unregenerate, but also to the regenerate; or to the child of God, whose sins are pardoned, as well as to the sinner, who is yet in the gall of bitterness and the bond of iniquity; and not only to the true christian who has lately become such, and who is yet but a babe in Christ, but also to the established believer, who has been long walking in the narrow way, and who has attained to the highest degree of perfection attainable in the present life.
And here I would remark that this imperfection is to be understood of fallen man. "No man since the fall is able." Our first parents before the fall were capable of rendering a perfect obedience; for God made them upright, or perfectly holy, and without any inclination to sin in their nature. And they did perfectly keep the law, until by their fall, they lost the image of God and the moral power of doing good.
Again the universal imperfection of fallen man is to be restricted to the present life. "No man since the fall is able in this life." After this life the saints will be able, through the grace of God, perfectly to keep all his commandments: for saints in heaven are called, "the spirits of just men made perfect;" Heb. xii. 23.
We may remark again, that when it is said, "No man since the fall is able in this life perfectly to keep the commandments of God,"-we must understand Christ to be excepted. Hence it is said, "No mere man." Christ though really and truly a man, was not a mere man, or only man. He was God as well as man. He perfectly kept the commandments. He "did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth;" 1 Pet. ii. 22. He was "holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners;" Heb. vii. 26.
But with the exception of Christ, it is universally true, that no man, whether unregenerate or regenerate, since the fall, hath kept, or is able, either by his own natural powers, or by any grace received, perfectly to keep the