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Matt. v. 21.
4. It is likewise a main offence against the public; not only by unlawful bereaving it of a member and subject, but to its prejudice and dishonour (yea, so far as lies in us to its subversion and dissolution) assuming to ourselves, pulling away from it, its rights and prerogatives of judgment.
Such, briefly, is the direct intent and importance of this law but our Saviour in his comment hereon hath explained and extended it further, so as to interdict all that anywise approaches in nature, or in effect tends unto this heinous evil: he means to obstruct all the springs, and extirpate all the roots thereof; such as are rash, causeless, outrageous, inveterate anger, contumelious and despiteful language, reserving grudges or spite in our heart, not endeavouring speedily to reconcile ourselves to them who have done us injury or displeasure; for these things, as they commonly do produce the act of murder, so they argue inclinations thereto, (which, if fear and self-respect did not restrain, would produce it,) and consequently in moral account, which regardeth not so much the act as the will, are of the same quality therewith; however they arise from the same bitter root of great uncharitableness; upon which 1 John iii. score St. John telleth us, that he that hateth his brother is a murderer; and consequently in effect all malice and spite, envy, hatred, malignity, rancour, immoderate and pertinacious anger and animosity are here prohibited.
Thou shalt not commit Adultery.
AFTER life, (if after that, for this command in the Greek translation of Exodus, (though not in Deuteronomy,) in some places of the New Testa
ment, and in sundry ancient writers, is placed before that against murder,) nothing commonly is more dear to men, than the comforts of their conjugal estate; the enjoyment of that special affection and friendship, together with those instances of benevo→ lence, which by divine institution and mutual contract, ratified by most sacred and solemn promises of fidelity, are reserved peculiar to that state: which enclosures therefore of his neighbour whoever shall invade or trespass upon, who shall anywise loose or slacken those holy bands, who shall attempt the af fection or chastity of his neighbour's wife, doth most grievously offend God, and committeth (as Joseph, when he was tempted thereto, did call it) a great evil against God, against his neighbour, against himself, against the common society of men. He violateth an institution, to which God hath affixed especial marks of respect and sanctity; he wounds his neighbour's honour and interest in the most tender part, wherein the content of his mind and comfort of his life are most deeply concerned. He as much (or rather more) dishonoureth and abuseth himself, not only by committing a fact of so high injustice, but by making himself accessory to the basest perfidiousness that can be. [Whoso committeth adultery lacketh Prov.vi. 32, understanding: he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul. A wound and dishonour shall he get; and his reproach shall not be wiped away. For jealousy is the rage of a man: therefore he will not spare in the day of vengeance. He will not regard any ransom; neither will he rest content, though thou givest many gifts.] He also offendeth against the public quiet and welfare, breeding inextricable confusions and implacable dissensions in families; so
that hardly from any other cause such tragical events have issued as from this: in fine, this crime is, as Philo calls it, στυγητὸν, καὶ θεομίσητον ἀδίκημα, α loathsome unrighteousness, most odious to God; and a Job xxxi. fire, as Job representeth it, that consumeth to destruction.
But we must further also consider, that acts of this kind contain also in them another evil; that persons committing them do not only so highly wrong their neighbour, but defile themselves also by the foulest turpitude; in which respect the prohibition of all unlawful and irregular satisfactions to lustful appetite; all compliance with that great enemy of our souls, the flesh; all kinds of impurity and lasciviousMatt. v. 14. ness, not in act only, but in thought, in speech, in gesture, may be reduced to this law: our Lord himself doth so interpret it, as to make it include a forbidding of all unchaste desires; and Christianity doth in a most strict and special manner oblige us to all kinds of sobriety and modesty, of chastity and
Col. iii. 5.
1 Pet.ii. 11. purity in body and spirit; enjoining us to abstain 1 Thess. iv from all fleshly lusts, as enemies to our souls; to mortify our fleshly members; to possess our vessels Eph. iv. 29. (or bodies) in sanctity and honour; not to have any 17. vi. 18, impurity, or filthiness, so much as named among
Eph. v. 3.
1 Cor. iii.
us; nor to suffer a foul word to proceed out of our mouth; not to defile our bodies, consecrated unto God, and made temples of the Holy Spirit; excluding persons guilty of such things from any Eph. v. 4, title or capacity of entering into God's kingdom: in fine, representing all such practices as most dishonourable to us, most displeasing to God, most grievous to God's holy Spirit, (the fountain of all virtue and goodness,) most contrary to the nature
and design of our religion, and most destructive of our souls.
Thou shalt not steal.
THAT every man should quietly enjoy those supports and those conveniences of life, which in any honest manner (by God's bounty immediately dispensing it, or by God's blessing upon his industry) he hath acquired the possession of, or right unto, as all reason and equity do require, so it must be acknowledged absolutely necessary for the preservation of common peace, and the maintenance of civil society among men: to secure which purposes, and to encourage honest industry, this law prohibiteth all invasion or usurpation by any means whatever (either by open violence and-extortion, or by clandestine fraud and surreption) of our neighbour's proper goods and rights he that in any way, against his neighbour's knowledge or will, getteth into his power, or detaineth therein, what doth in equity belong to his neighbour, and which he can restore to him, doth transgress against the intent of this law; as we see it interpreted in Leviticus, where it is thus expressed; Thou shalt not defraud thy neighbour, Lev.xix.13. nor rob him: defrauding by cunning practice is no less forbidden, than robbing by violent force. Anywise anoσтeρev, (that is, to deprive our neighbour of 1 Cor. vi. 8. his due ;) voσpíšεw, to purloin, or (by subtle and sly Tit. ii. 10. conveyance) to separate any part of our neighbour's substance from him; λOVEKTEN, to exact, or extort Thess. iv. any thing more than one's due; ὑπερβαίνειν ἐν τῷ рáуμаτi, to go beyond, or overreach our neighbour in dealing, to delude and cozen him by false speeches or fallacious pretences, are acts, in St. Paul's expres
18. xx. 14.
ix. 24. Ezek. xxii.
Hos. v. 10.
Isa. i. 23.
sion, to be referred hither, as so many special acts of theft. I cannot stand to reckon up all the sorts of unrighteousness included here, or reducible to this matter, (such as, beside downright rapine and cheatProv. xxii. ing, are, foul dealing in bargains and contracts; using false weights and measures; withholding the pledge; 12. xviii. 7, detaining the labourer's wages from him; the exercising vexatious, biting, and devouring usuries; reAmos viii. moving bounds of possession; oppressing by undue Deut. xxv. or rigorous exaction; corrupting justice for reward Lev.xix.13. or favour; raising gain by unlawful and shameful arts or practices; consenting or sharing with, advising Psal. xv. 4. or instigating to these, and the like acts; these I Jam. v. 4. shall not particularly insist upon,) but shall only say, that God expresseth great indignation against, and threateneth most severely to punish, all acts of this Deut. xv. kind; For all, saith he, that do such things, (such as use deceitful measures in trade,) and all that do unrighteousness, are an abomination unto the Lord Thess. iv. thy God: Kdikos ó Oeds Tеρì пáνтwν тOÚтшν, God (saith St. Paul, speaking against the circumventing and defrauding our neighbour) is an avenger for all these kinds of things: nor indeed is the gospel more severe in denunciation of punishment against any crime 1 Cor. vi. 9. than this; Know ye not, that unjust persons (saith St. Paul, meaning this sort of unjust persons, so most properly and strictly called) shall not inherit the kingdom of God ; and κλέπται, πλεονέκται, ἅρπαγες, thieves, exactors, (or cheaters,) and rapacious persons, make a good party in the catalogue of those who shall be excluded from eternal bliss.
I should add the positive duties here to be understood, and referred to this matter, the which are commended to us in scripture: such are, diligence