Page images

natural and spiritual concupiscence. For there is a threefold concupiscence: Natural; which comprehends the desiring power planted in the mind by God himself, and governing the ordinary motion of the same : vicious or carnal; which denotes the inordinateness and rebellious motion of this power: spiritual; which denotes a new and holy inclination of a reformed mind, of which concupiscence the Apostle speaks, Gal. v. 17, The Spirit lusteth or desireth against the flesh. Natural concupiscence, when it is carried to its due object and in a due manner, is to be gratified : spiritual, which tends to heavenly things, is to be nourished and cherished: carnal, which is likewise called evil, because it thirsts inordinately and after inordinate things, is to be mortified. Hence we may derive two lessons ;

1. A Christian man ought to aim even at that perfection which he understands he cannot attain in this life. For no sinner hath ever been able to mortify and restrain all the first motions of inordinate concupiscence; yet all are bound to attempt it: for that Divine mandate stands immoveable, Thou shalt not covet. Concerning which, Augustine, * Epist. 200, ad Asellicum, truly said, The law, in declaring thou shalt not covet, has laid down not the power which we have in this particular, but the object at which we should advance progressively.

2. Those first motions of inordinate desires are sins, though the mind does not assent to them. Bellarmin, therefore, is wrong, who concludes, in De stat. pecc. 5. 7, that that rebellious motion of concupiscence has the nature, not of guilt, but of punishment. Why does the Aposlle call it evil? Why does he say it is to be mortified? He is not wont to speak thus about punishments; which he teaches us are to be borne patiently, not to be mortified or resisted. Let the Jesuit hear Paul, who in Rom. vii. not once, but often, terms inordinate concupiscence sin, even in the regenerate who consent to the law, and oppose these motions. Let him also hear Augustine, lib. 5, contra Julian, cap. 3, 'The lust of the flesh, against which the good Spirit lusteth, is sin, because we yield obedience contrary to the sway of reason. Lastly, let him hear his own Schoolmen : Parisiensis says, We ought to follow with the sword the petly thieves of first, second, and third motions, that is, the thoughts, desires, and delights which are beyond the control of reason, De sacram. pænit. cap. 15. The whole host of the flesh which wurs against the Spirit is sinful: therefore also all the battallions of that army : wherefore both the first battallion, which is that of the first motions; and the second, which is the delights beyond the control of reason, are sinful. De sacram. matr. cap. 7. We have also Aquinas in concurrence with us, who is compelled to confess that the first motions in unbelievers are sins : whence it is manifest that they have the nature of sin, even in the faithful, although they have not the guilt, forasmuch as it is remitted in baptism. Lastly, we have Gerson also, Part. 2. in Reg. Moral. 6, All the first motions which are suited to follow reason, and to be regulated by it, if they precede it may be called sins ; because they deviate from the order of nature as it was first constituted. Now let us proceed to those points which remain."

* After he became a Christian ; see p. 45, Note.

And covetousness which is idolatry.] Let us inquire, 1. What the Apostle would understand under the name covelousness or adeovežias. 2. Why it is coupled with these carnal vices. 3. In what sense it is termed idolatry. .

l. It is the insatiable appetite of the mind seeking riches, and confiding in them as in its chief good. That this insatiable thirst is the property of covetousness is shewn in Eccles. v. 10, He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver ; nor he that lovelh abundance with increase. Now that the rich are wont to confide in their riches, and to rest in them as their chief good, we see in the parable of the rich man, which is contained in Luke xii. 19, I will say unto my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years, eat, drink, and be merry. The vice of covelousness

Apoveělas is not the simple desire or seeking for temporal goods; but the doing it with an insatiable desire, by unlawful modes, and with a heart acquiescing and confiding in them. For temporal goods may be coveted in three

methods; for the necessity of life; for discharging the duties of benevolence; for enjoyment, or making them the end. This last is that vice of Apovežias, to be avoided and mortified.

2. It may be enquired, Why he annexes covetousness to these carnal vices; for it seems rather to be reckoned among those that are spiritual. But the Apostle wisely inserts covetousness among them; and that on these accounts:

1. . Because it is of a middle kind, between carnal and spiritual sins. Those vices are properly designated carnal, which have a sensible delight in a sensible object; as we see in the sins of gluttony and luxury : Those are as properly designated spiritual, which seek spiritual delight amid spiritual objects; as pride about personal excellence. Now covetousness occupies a middle place : it is carnal in respect of the object, because it seeks delight in external and corporeal things; it is spiritual in respect of the delight itself; because a covetous man hath delight only in this, that he possesses riches.

2. Because it affords incentives, causes, and occasions to both, namely, to carnal and spiritual vices. Hence spring the greatest incentives and excitements to luxury, to pride, to anger, and envy. Take away covetousness, and you will eradicate the greatest part of vices; for it is the root of all evil, 1 Tim. vi. 10.

3. Now, in the last place, we must see in what way it is called idolatry. Let Aquinas answer, Not in kind; because a covetous man does not intend in regard to his money to account it as a God; but in similitude; because he pays to it supreme obedience. So Ales; A covetous man is called an idolater, because as an idolaler behaves to an idol, so in a similar manner does a covetous man to his money. Chrysostom, in Hom. 65, in xi. Joan, expatiates thus on this comparison, As an idolater luoks to, and regards with veneration, his idol : so a covetous man the riches he has heaped together : nor dares to touch them. As the one heaps together his idols in a certain corner, and shuts them up in c'osets and with bolts ; so the other does to his money. In short, the former worships the.

VOL. 11.

idol; the latter, the gold ; this immolates oxen and sheep to his idols ; that gives up his mind and affections to covetousness. Such and many more like remarks hath Chrysostom. But it may still more perspicuously be said, That a covetous man is an idolater, because he loves his riches above all things; because he trusts in them more than all things; because he serves his riches more than he does God himself.

1. Because he loves them above all things : for as Clemens has rightly observed, Pædag. Q. 12, Heaven is open, and he seeks not God; gold is kidden, and he ransacks the bowels of the earth for it. Whence does this arise, unless because he had rather enjoy riches than God ?• Therefore, he commits spiritual idolatry with the riches of the world, not, as Gregory somewhere observes, by the exhibition of ceremonies, but by the oblation of concupiscence. For to whatever the affections of the heart cling as the chief good, that is taken into the place of God.

2. Because also he places that trust in riches which is due to God alone. For, in, his heart he says to gold (what Job, xxxi. 24, loathes) thou art my hope ; and to the fine gold thou art my confidence. Now that in which we hope, we make our God. Therefore, the voice of all the godly is, In the Lord have I hoped; I have made God my helper. But the covetous man has money alone as the sponsor or surety 'sylumtny of his felicity.

3. Because he altogether neglects the service due to God, and gives his whole service to the scraping together of money. Ye cannot serve God and Mammon, Matt. vi. 24. And, therefore, as the god of the gluttonous is their belly, because their belly is perpetually served ; so the god of avaricious men is money, because they serve money day and night. • Corollaries.

1. Nothing is more miserable or more foolish than a covetous man; because he forsakes God, and confides in clay. But their silver and their gold shall not be able to deliver them in the day of the Lord's wrath, Zeph. i. 18. Therefore we ought to trust, not in uncertain riches, but in the liv

ing God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy, 1 Tim. vi. 17.

2, Nothing also is more base and flagitious than a covetous man; because as much as in him lies, he thrusts God from the throne of his Majesty, and sets up money in his place.

3. This vice is to be avoided before all others : because (to use the language of the Schools) it is most adhesive to the creature, and most aversive from God; but all the disgrace and defilement of sin consists in turning to the creature and departing from God.

4. Scarcely any one is wholly free from this idolatry ; for we all cleave unduly to the creature, and thus incur some stain of idolatry. But we must withdraw the mind from them, and return to the love and service of God.

And thus much concerning the dissuasion itself from the vices above-named. The confirmation thereof follows in the two succeeding verses.

Verses 6, 7. For which things' sake the wrath of God cometh on the chil

dren of disobedience : In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in


The Apostle confirms the afore-mentioned dissuasive by two arguments. The first is drawn from the destructive consequence ; for those sins enumerated provoke the Divine wrath ; ver. 6. The second is derived from the removal of the cause ; for in the regenerate inbred sin formerly lived : now it is dead, ver. 7. In the former argument three things are to be noted: 1. The cause of the event ; For which things' sake. 2. The event itself, viz. the outpouring of the Divine wrath ; the wrath of God cometh. 3. VOL. II.

E 2

sake. 2. Tit. The candomer argur

« PreviousContinue »