Page images


with no

SERM. a habit, and end finally in the ruin both of

soul and body.

Let us beware of the most remote advances to it; if we do not, we may, bad intentions and with the utmost detestation of the character, become subject to it before we are aware, and then it will require all our. resolution to extricate ourselves; and so great is the weakness of mind which it brings on, that, if we may judge from the experience of what has been the case with others, there is too much reason to dread that all our resolution will be in vain.





Thou shalt not steal.

HEN the preacher chooses for the sub- SERM. ject of his counsels the prohibition which I XII. have just read to you, the generality of his audience, I believe, feel their consciences perfectly at ease; they, with much selfcomplacency perhaps, congratulate themselves that this is a speculation which cannot at all concern them : whatever are the VOL. I.



SERM. other vices with which they may be'- justly XII. charged, they hope they do not pay them

selves too high a compliment in acquitting themselves of the vice of stealing; they may therefore quietly resign themselves to the contemplation of their worldly cares and pleasures*. But let me beg that you will not withdraw your attention for this reason; this commandment is more extensive, and takes in a greater variety of cases than you imagine, which, when you come to have explained to you, you may find perhaps, however disgusted you may be at the name of stealing, that you are not able wholly to exculpate yourselves from the offence.

The commandments, which were delivered by God to Moses for the use of the children of Israel, contain the great heads of our duty: but as they are only ten in number, and drawn up in such short terins,

[blocks in formation]

it is not the mere letter, but the spirit of SERM. them also to which we are to attend.

XII. I will explain my meaningThe third commandment says-" Thou shalt not take “ the name of the Lord thy God in vain, « for the Lord will not hold him guiltless, « that taketh his name in vain." Do you think that he alone is guilty of a breach of this law, who makes use of the name of God on trifling occasions ? No-surely, it is equally broken by all kinds of swearing and cursing whatever. Swear not at all, neither by heaven, for it is God's throne, nor by earth, for it is his footstool, but content yourselves with a bare affirmation and denial, for whatsoever is beyond these cometh of evil, is vicious in itself, and a violation of the third commandment.

In the seventh we read_-" Thou shalt s not commit adultery.” Some, perhaps, may think that this statute will not reach


N 2

SERM. them, so long as they abstain from a cri-
XII. minal intercourse with the wife of another,

however profligate they may be in other
respects ; but they are much mistaken, it
certainly comprehends all
inerce between the sexes whatever,: every
sort of impurity, both in action and even
in word and thought. In like manners.

law, which we are now considering, is by
no means confined to direct depredations
on the property of another, but comprises
also those which are indirect; not only
forbids openly robbing, or secretly pilfer-
ing, but extends likewise to cheating and
over-reaching in all their various shapes ;
and though I do not say that the cunning,
sly man, who embraces every opportunity
of taking advantage of his honest, unsus-
picious neighbour, is an equally atrocious
character with the highwayman - or the
house-breaker,—I do say that he is equally
guilty of violating the precept we are now

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »