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Exod. xx. 17. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's.

Q. 113. What doth the tenth commandment require of us?

A. That even the smallest inclination or thought contrary to any of God's commands, never rise in our hearts; but that at all times we hate all sin with our whole hearts, and delight in all right


Q. 114. But can those who are converted to God, perfectly keep these commands?

A. No; but even the holiest men, while in this life, have only small beginnings of this obedience, yet so, that with a sincere resolution, they begin to live, not only according to some, but all the commands of God.

Q. 115. Why will God then have all the commands so strictly freached, since no man in this life can keep them ?

A. First, that all our lifetime, we may learn more and more to know our sinful nature, and thus become more earnest in seeking the remission of sin, and righteousness in Christ; likewise, that we constantly endeavour and pray to God for the grace of the Holy Spirit, that we may become more and more conformable to the image of God, till we arrive at the perfection proposed to us in a life to come.

"I have seen an end of all perfection: but thy commandment is

exceeding broad," saith David, Psalm cxix. 96. No visible things are so perfect, that they are eternal and incorruptible; " for the things which are seen are temporal," 2 Cor. iv. 18, nor are they so perfect that they have not their limits; they could otherwise afford human beings a perfect satisfaction, and would not be accompanied with any sorrow. Every man can see that they have their limits, and might be more perfect. Although a man should be ever so much enamoured of his prosperity, he will nevertheless experience at times an interruption of his pleasure. God alone is infinitely perfect, and since his law is an expression of his perfection, therefore his commandment is also exceedingly broad. He who meditates in it day and night will find continually more and more that there are unfathomable depths in it, his delight in it will not cease, nor be interrupted, but continually renewed. The sweet Psalmist hath shown this in the hundred and nineteenth psalm, his heart scarcely indites a single verse, but in order to express his pleasure in the commands of the Lord: for the law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul, making wise the simple, and rejoicing the heart ;" thus he speaks, Psalm xix. 7, 8. A man may find all that he must either believe or do in the law; it forbids all that is sinful; yea, like the whole word, Heb. iv. 12, the commandment is "a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart," "The law is spiritual," saith Paul, Rom. vii. 14. It extendeth to the inmost desires of a man's spirit, when it saith, "Thou shalt not covet," &c.

If the Lawgiver had forbidden only murder, aduitery, stealing, and bearing false witness, the sinner, who knows neither the corruption of his heart, nor the perfect holiness of God, would imagine that the outward observation of these commands would be sufficient : but the Lord prevents this, when he forbids in this commandment also the unholiness and sinful desires of his spirit.

The instructor proposes here two particulars for our consideration:

I. The nature of the tenth commandment, Question 113.
II. The end of the giving of the law, Question 114, 115.

1. The Lawgiver forbids "coveting our neighbour's house, wife, manservant, maidservant, ox, ass, and aught that is our neighbour's," or, belongs to him. A certain proof, that this commandment relates to loving our neighbour, and so belongs to the second table. Yet we need not scruple to refer it also to the first table, with the catechism, which saith, in order to explain this commandment, "that even the smallest inclination or thought contrary to any of God's commandments should never arise in our hearts," &c. Paul saith, Rom. xiii. 10, "Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law." Consequently the commands of the second table respect also the commands of the first, which belong also to the law, and are fulfilled by keeping the second table.

The Lawgiver saith twice, "Thou shalt not covet," once with respect to our neighbour's house, and again with respect to his wife. Surely not in order to give us here two distinct commands, as the Papists assert, which we refuted, when we divided the law into two tables, in treating on the 93d question: but the Lord repeats the word covet, in order to teach us, that it ought to be repeated before every object, which is exhibited here, and to manifest his earnestness in forbidding covetousness, that the person who is in covenant with him may beware of it the more. "Coveting." (or desiring) we know is that active power of the soul, which goeth forth with delight and inclination to that, which is represented by the understanding as good, whether it be a real, or an apparent good; for we cannot covet aught that is represented to us as evil, but we have an aversion from it. When now the Lawgiver saith," thou shalt not covet," he speaks not then of a natural desire to necessary things; for he himself hath implanted such a desire in man for his wellbeing; much less doth he forbid a good desire of his favour and fellowship, since he commands this, Psalm 1xxxi. 10, and will ful fil it, Isaiah lv. 1, but he forbids a sinful desire.

This sinful desire (or coveting) is "the smallest inclination or thought, which ariseth in our hearts, contrary to any of God's com mandments," according to the explanation of the instructor, and it is thus the beginning of every sin, which is forbidden in the othe commandments. Paul also teaches us this, when he saith, that "he was convinced by this tenth commandment of all his sins, "Rom. vii 7, 8. Thus also the Saviour teacheth, that "looking on a woman to lust after her, is committing adultery with her in our heart," M. v. 28. Achan was enticed by his lust to steal of that which

had been devoted, Joshua vii. 21. And so this commandment serves to explain the foregoing commandments, by teaching us, that God forbids not only the outward sinful actions, but even the desires of the soul to those sins.

But this commandment doubtless forbids also that which is not so particularly intended in the other commands, and that is "discontentment," whereby a person craves besides what he hath himself, and with which he ought to be contented, alse the property of another, although not by unrighteous methods, and when he cannot obtain it so, is not satisfied; as Ahab coveted the vineyard of Naboth, and was willing to give him a better for it, or the value of it in money; but upon being refused, was displeased, 1 Kings xxi. 1-6.

But let us view this covetousness, which hath brought depravity into the world, near at hand, 1, with respect to its root, 2, with respect to its branches and fruits, and 3, with respect to the degrees of its growth.

The rootsin of covetousness is, (a) that the sinner lacks the allsufficient God, who alone can fill and satisfy the heart fully: "He comes short of the glory of God by sin," Rom. iii. 23, and "is alienated from the life of God." Eph. iv. 18, whereby his soul, being like an empty vessel, seeks to be filled, and pants insatiably after all that appears to him honourable, pleasant and profitable, and so the sinner is like "a greedy dog, and he can never have enough," as the Lord speaks of the watchmen of his people, Isaiah Ivi 11, 12. (b) Covetousness proceeds also from an irregular selflove, by which a person makes himself the only object of whatsoever he doth, and therefore endeavours to heap up for himself whatsoever appears to him desirable. The apostle teacheth that those, who are "lovers of themselves, are lovers of pleasures more than of God," 2 Tim. iii. 2, 4. (c) This root comprehends also pride, from which ariseth an imagination, that we deserve more than we have, yea, what our neighbour hath. It was this pride, which induced Absalom to covet his father's kingdom, 2 Sam. xv. 1, 6. (d) Earthlymindedness excites also to sinful covetousness; for this renders a person so sottishly addicted to "the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, that he es eems his belly his God, places his glory in his shame, and minds only earthly things." See 1 John ii. 16, and Philip. iii. 19. It cannot be otherwise, but that these roots must bear many branches of gall and wormwood. For they excite the desires (a) to forbidden things, as Eve desired the fruit of the forbidden tree, Gen. iii. 6. (b) To indifferent and lawVOL. II.

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ful things, but too immoderately and insatiably; men will have for instance too great a desire to eating and drinking, like "the riotous eaters of flesh, and the wine-bibbers," of whom Solomon speaks, Prov. xxiii. 20; too immoderate a desire to marry, like Shechem, the son of Hamor, Gen. xxxv. 3—19; an impatient desire for children, like Rachel, Gen. xxx. 1; and an insatiable love of money, a desire to be rich, 1 Tim. vi. 9, 10. (c) From these evil roots proceeds also a desire to good and divine things with an evil end, that we may obtain a name, and get gain by them, as Simon the sor cerer desired the gifts of the Spirit, Acts viii. 18, 19. See also James iv. 13.

These evil branches bring forth also many evil fruits. They are the causes of all other sins: "Every man," saith James, "is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin," James i. 14, 15. I will mention a few of these bitter fruits, as (a) sinful thoughts, which muse too long or unseasonably upon visible things; to which also belongs forming chimerical schemes or plans; for instance, the fool thinks through his covetousness, If I were but so wise, or so rich, or had such an office, then I would do this or that. Or a per on muses upon sinful and abominable things, sometimes waking and sometimes also sleeping, suffering "vain thoughts to lodge within him." as the prophet complains, Jer. iv. 14. (b) Opposing, suppressing, and stifling the good motions, which the Holy spirit excites in the conscience, that the sinner may oppose his covetousness, but he "quenches the Spirit," contrary to the admonition of Paul, 1 Thess. v. 19, and "his flesh lusteth against the Spirit," as the same apostle speaks, Gal. v. 17. And because he cannot satisfy his lust, by obeying the Lord, therefore he resists the Lord; for "the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be," according to Rom. viii. 7. (c) Unthankfulness; doth God bestow good things upon him, he is not thankful, because he dotes upon the good things of others; he murmurs and frets against the Lord, because he may not have that which belongeth to his neighbour : "These," saith Jude in his epistle, vs. 16, "are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts." (d) It is also an evil fruit of covetousness, that men are urged by it to grudging and to other sordid vices, because they may not have what another hath; for "the works of the flesh are" not only lasciviousness and idolatry," but also "witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulation, wrath, strife, sedi tions, envyings, murders," as the apostle speaks, Gal. v. 19-21.

But this covetousness doth not arrive to its full height and strength at once, but grows gradually.

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