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“ Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his man servant, nor his maid servant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's."
What is meant by coveting that which is our neighbour's ?
According to the intention of the Law, to covet our neighbour's property, is to set our minds upon it, so as to endeavour, even by fraudulent means, to draw it to ourselves, and thus, as far as may be in our power, to deprive our neighbour of it. Wherefore the commandment is thus expressed in Mark x. 19, “ Defraud not," or deprive not," another of his property;" and that, because it is said immediately before, “ Do not steal.” And this very thing is demanded by the spirit of the Law of Moses, for as much as the Decalogue forbids, no taking away
of another's property besides that which is done by theft : but it can on no account be thought that this is not prohibited in the Decalogue, since such a prohibition is in the highest degree necessary to the security of civil society, and to the exercise of that charity towards our neighbour which the Law requires. Hence Paul also shows that, because charity doethno evil to our neighbour, all the commandments of the second table are comprised in love towards our neighbour ; intimating that the tenth commandment, no less than the others, prohibits this alone, that no one do his neighbour an injury. The word covet is in other places also wont to be employed in a sense which includes its external effect. Exod. xxxiv. 24;
Deut. vii. 25; Prov. i. 10; Isaiah i. 29; and elæwhere.
In what way may our neighbour be deprived of his property? By force, or by fraud. In what manner he
be deprived of it by force is obvious to every one :-but there are many kinds of fraudulent artifices: for it is easy to discover them in buying, selling, or exchanging, in hiring or letting, in borrowing or lending, and in other transactions. Respecting selling, we have an old divine prohibition, Levit. xix. 35, and Deut. xxv. 14, 15 : “ Thou shalt not have in thine house divers measures, a great and a small; but thou shalt have a perfect and just weight, a perfect and a just measure shalt thou have.”
May not usury be referred to this commandment?
The usury of which I here speak, that is unlawful usury, is the extortion of interest on money loans, to the oppression or injury of another. Such is properly the import of the Hebrew term rendered usury in several places in the Old Testament, which signifies BITING. But reason itself teaches, that to receive interest for money lent, without biting or injuring another, indeed, even with advantage to him, is neither a sin, nor unlawful usury ;-especially if the lender himself stand in need of the profit of such money, and do not extort it from the poor, from whom the Mosaic Law expressly forbade the receiving of usury. Whence it happens that the Law
openly openly permits the receiving of usury from strangers. It is apparent, therefore, that to receive interest for money lent, is not absolutely and in its own nature unjust : on which account it is that usury is never expressly forbidden in the Gospel, notwithstanding those things which are repugnant to the spirit and doctrine of Christ are in the sacred Scriptures minutely described, and in some way or other enumerated. But unlawful usury is to be considered as forbidden among other things, when injustice is prohibited: for charity and beneficence are required of us; and we are commanded to do to others, what we would wish them to do to us.
What is added to this commandment in the New Covenant ?
If you look not to the words but to the intention of the commandment, this is added to it; that we are not only not to endeavour to obtain, by unjust means, the property of our neighbour, but also not even to wish, or to purpose in our thoughts, to do this. For that which it is not lawful for a Christian to do, it is not permitted him to wish or design.
But is not the prohibition not to covet our neighbour's wife added to the seventh commandment?
It certainly is, but in another sense. For here it is only forbidden us to desire another inan's wife that she may be our own, as is evident from the other things which are in this place joined with WIFE. But in the other case it is prohibited to us to desire to enjoy her while she remains the wife of another.
OF THE PRECEPTS OF CHRIST, DELIVERED BY HIM
SEPARATELY. You have stated the precepts of Christ contained in the laws of God delivered by Moses, and those which he added to the Mosaic commandments ;-it remains that you explain to me those also which Christ has delivered separately?
These are of two kinds ;—for some relate to morals, and some to external religious acts, commonly denominated ceremonies.
What are those which relate to morals?'
These are of three kinds ; some relate to the religion and devotion of the mind; some to contempt of the world; and some to fortitude aud patience.
What are the precepts of the first kind ?
These three, which Paul comprises in the following passage to the Thessalonians (1 Epist: v. 16, 17, 18), “ Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing (and at all times also) give thanks : for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus respecting you.
What is prescribed in the first of these?
That we constantly delight ourselves in the hope of immortal life which we derive from the religion of Jesus Christ, and in the enjoyment of it deem ourselves truly happy. Hence the same apostle commands elsewhere (Rom. xii. 12) to “rejoice in hope,” or Philipp. iv. 4, and I Tim. i. 1, "to rejoice in the
Lord up our
Lord alway,” as in him “ who is our hope;" that is, the author and cause of our hope. To this rejoicing is opposed that solicitude which is wont to be excited in the mind either by the fear of impending evils, or by the feeling of those which are present ; against which the apostle exhorts in the cited passage of the epistle to the Philippians (chap. iv. 6).
What are the precepts of the second kind?
That we cease not to pray to God at any proper season ; but that, as far as we can, we offer prayers constantly and assiduously; and watch with them. He is assiduous in prayer, who prays as frequently as possible, intermingles deep sighs with the actions of life, interrupts his proceedings to create opportunities for devotional exercises, and on account of them takes away something from his sleep. This precept is repeated in several passages of the Holy Scriptures, and principally in those places where the writers speak of avoiding the evils of the last judgement, and other impending dangers. Luke xviii. 1, &c.; Rom. xii. 12; Ephes. vi. 18; Philipp. iv. 6; Coloss. iv. 2.
What qualifications ought those who pray to possess?
First, That they confide in God; nor doubt that he is able to give what they ask, and also willing to confer it, if they possess, besides, the other qualifications which I shall presently mention. Secondly, That they pray in conformity with the will of God; that is, ask for those things which are not at all repugnant to the divine will as declared in the doctrine