asking, "When will the New Moon be over that we may sell grain? When will the Sabbath end, that we may market wheat? Let us reduce the ephah and increase the shekel; let us cheat with dishonest scales.
I. THE MORAL DISEASE OF COVETOUSNESS. The symptoms may differ in different states of society; and there are details in the text which apply rather to the state of society in Samaria of old than to the England of today. But the malady is the same, deep-rooted in the moral constitution of sinful men. This sin is:
1. Injurious to the person who commits it. He who sets his affection upon this world's good, who carries his selfishness so far as to deprive, or even to wish to deprive, his neighbour of what is his - far more he who uses fraud or violence to gratify this desire - is working his own ruin. He is subverting the standard of value, by setting the material above the spiritual. He is dragging his aspirations down from the stars above his head to the dust beneath his feet.
2. Mischievous to society. If all men follow the example of the covetous, and long for the possessions of others, then human society becomes a den of wild beasts bent upon devouring one another, and earth becomes a very hell. Instead of being members one of another, in the case supposed, every man sees an enemy in his neighbour, and seeks his harm. The bonds of society are strained, are even broken.
3. Displeasing to God. In the ten commandments a place was found for the prohibition of this spiritual offence: "Thou shalt not covet." This fact is sufficient to show how hateful is this sin in the eyes of the great Lord and Ruler of all.
II. THE DIVINE REMEDY FOR COVETOUSNESS.
1. The recognition of the benevolence and bounty of God. From him cometh down "every good gift and every perfect boon." He is the Giver of all, who openeth his hands, and supplieth the need of every living thing. He who would share the Divine nature must cherish an ungrudging and liberal spirit.
2. The remembrance of the "unspeakable Gift," and of the incomparable sacrifice of the Redeemer. Our Saviour's whole aim was to impart to men the highest blessings, and in the quest of this aim he gave his life for us. His constraining love alone is able to extirpate that selfishness which in human nature is the very root of covetousness.
3. The adoption of the counsels and the submission to the spirit of Christ. It was his saying, "It is more blessed to give than to receive." - T.
When will the new moon be gone, that we may sell corn? and the Sabbath, that we may set forth wheat.
(John N. Norton.)
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