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because the case may be so circumstanced, that consent may be well presumed on. And the reason why consent might well be presumed on in the case of eating grapes, of which we are now speaking, is, that there could be no sensible injury, nor any danger of any ill consequences, by which a man would sensibly suffer in tbe benefit of his vineyard. Hence it is the more easy to determine, what would and what would not be justified by this text, among us. Suppose a particular person among us had á vineyard of the same kind with those which the children of Israel had, it would not justify others in using the same liberty when occasionally passing through it; because it would be a rare thing, and the rarity and scarcity of the fruit would render it of much greater value. Besides, if one man were distinguished by such a possession, to allow of such a liberty would have a much greater tendency to ill consequences, than if they were common, as they were in the land of Canaan. There would be danger of many persons falsely pretending and making occasions, to pass through the vineyard, for the sake of such
Nor would it be a parallel case, if men in general among us had each of them a few vines. That would be a very different thing from persons in general baving large vineyards. Nor would this text, in such a case, warrant men's eating their fill of grapes when occasionally passing by.--And though all in general had vineyards, as they had in the land of Canaan, this text would not justify men in going into their neighbbour's vineyard on purpose to eat the fruit. No such liberty is given in the text. If there had been such liberty, it might have been of ill consequence. For the sake of saying their own grapes, men might make a practice of going and sending their children into their neighbour's vineyards, to eat their fill from time to time.
But the liberty given in this text to the children of Israel, seems to be very parallel with the liberty taken among us, to take up an apple or two and eat, as we are occasionally passing through a neighbour's orclard; which, as our circumstances are, we may do, and justly presume that we have the owner's consent. This is a liberty that we take, and find no ill consequences. It was very much so with vineyards in the land of Canaan, as it is with orchards among us. Apples in some countries are a rare fruit; and there it would by no means be warrantable for persons to take the same liberty, when occasionally passing by their neighbour's apple-tree, which we warrantably take here, when going through a neighbour's orchard.
The consideration of these things will easily shew the great abuse that is made of this text, when it is brought to
justify such a resorting of children and others to their neighbour's fruit-trees, as is sometimes, on purpose to take and eat the fruit. Indeed this practice is not only not justified by the law of Moses, but it is in itself unreasonable, and contrary to the law of nature. The consequences of it are pernicious, so that a man can have no dependence on enjoying the fruit of his labour, or the benefit of his property in those things, which possibly he may very much value. He can have no assurance but that he shall be mainly deprived of what he has, and that others will not have the principal benefit of it; and so that his end in planting and cultivating that from which he expected those fruits of the earth, which God hath given for the use, comfort, and delight of mankind, will not be in the main frustrated.
An Exhortation to Honesty. Under this use, I sball confine myself to two particulars, many other things having been already spoken to.
1. I shall bence take occasio: to exhort parents to restrain their children from stealing, and particularly from being guilty of theft in stealing the fruits of their neighbour's tries or fields. Christian parents are obliged to bring up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. But how much otherwise do they act, who bring them up in theft! And those parents are guilty of this, who-though they do not directly teach them to steal, by example and setting them about it, yet-tolerate them in it.
Parents should take effectual care, not only to instruct their children better, and to warn them against any such thievish practices, but also thoroughly to restrain them. Children who practise stealing, make themselves vile. Stealing, by the common consent of mankind is a very vile practice; therefore those parents that will not take thorough care to restrain their children from such a practice, will be guilty of the same sin which God so higbly resented, and awfully punished in Eli, of which we read, 1 Sam. iii. 13. “ For I have told him, that I will judge his house for ever, for the iniquity which he knoweth; because his sons made themselves vile, and be restrained them not.
2. I exhort those who are conscious in themselves that they have heretofore wronged their neighbour, to make restitution. This is a duly, the obligation to which is exceedingly plain. If a person was wronged in taking away any thing that was his, certainly he is wronged also in detaining it; and all the wbile that a person, who has been guilty of wronging
his neighbour, neglects to make restitution, he lives in that wrong. He not only lives impenitent as to that first wrong of which he was guilty, but he continually wrongs his neighbour. A man who hath gotten any thing from another wrongfully, goes on to wrong him every day that be neglects to restore it, when he bas opportunity to do it. The person injured did not only suffer wrong from the other when his goods were first taken from him, but he suffers new injustice from him all the while they are unjustly kept from him.
Therefore I counsel you who are conscious that you have heretofore wronged your neighbour, either by fraud, or oppression, or unfaithfulness, or stealing, whether lately or formerly, though it may have been a great while ago, speedily to go and make restitution for all the wrong your neighbour has suffered at your hands. That it was done long ago, doth not quit you from obligation to restore. This is a duty with which you must comply; you cannot be acquitted without it. As long as you neglect it, it will be unreasonable in you to expect any forgiveness of God. For what ground can you have to ihink that God will pardon you, as long as you wilfully continue in the same wrong, and wrong the same man still every day, by detaining from him that wbich is his ? You in your prayers ask of God, that he would forgive all your sins; but your very prayers are mockery, if you still wilfully continue in those sins.- Indeed, if you go and confess your faults to your neighbour, and he will freely acquit you from making restitution, you will be acquitted from the obligation; for in so doing, your neighbour gives you what before was his. But otherwise you cannot be acquitted.
I would leave this advice with all, for direction in their behaviour on their death-beds. Indeed you should not by any means put it off till you come to die; and you will run the most fearful risk in so doing. But if you will not do it now, wbile you are in health, I will leave it with you to remember, when you shall come to lie on your death-beds. Doubtless, then if you have the use of your reason, you will be concerned for the salvation of your poor souls. And let this be one thing then remembered, as absolutely necessary in order to your salvation, that before you die, you must make restitution for whatever wrong you shall have done any of your neighbours; or at least leave orders that such restitution be made; otherwise you will, as it were, go out of the world, and go before your Great Judge, with stolen goods in your hands. And certainly it will not be very comfortable or safe, to bring them into his infinitely holy and dreadful presence, when he sits on his throne of judgment, with his eyes as a flame of fire, being more pure than to look on ini. quity ;, when he is about to sentence you to your everlasting unalterable state,
TEMPTATION AND DELIVERANCE;
JOSEPH's GREAT TEMPTATION AND GRACIOUS DELIVERANCE.
Genesis xxxix. 12.
And he left his garment in her hand, and fled, and got:
We have here, and in the context, an account of that remarkable behaviour of Joseph in the house of Potiphar, which was the occasion both of his great affliction, and also of bis high advancement and prosperity in the land of Egypt.
We read, in the beginning of the chapter, how Joseph, after he had been so cruelly treated by his brethren, and sold into Egypt for a slave, was advanced in the house of Potiphar, who had bought him. Joseph was one that feared God, and therefore God was with him; and so influenced the heart of Potiphar his master, that instead of keeping him as a mere slave, to which purpose he was sold, he made him his steward and overseer over his house, and all that he had was put into his hands; in so much, that we are told, ver. 6, that he left all that he had in his hand; and he knew not ought that he had, save the bread which he did eat.-While Joseph was in these prosperous circumstances, he met with a great temptation in his master's house. We are told that, he being a goodly person and well favoured, his mistress cast her
eyes upon and lusted after him, and used all her art to tempt him to commit uncleanness with her.
Concerning this temptation, and his behaviour under it, many things are worthy to be noted. Particularly,
We may observe, how great the temptation was, that he was under. It is to be considered, that Joseph was now in his youth; a season of life, when persons are most liable to be overcome by temptations of this nature. And he was in a statc of unexpected prosperity in Potiphar's house; which bas a tendency to lift persons up, especially young oges, whereby commonly they more easily fall before temptations.
And then, the superiority of the person that laid the temptation before him, rendered it much the greater. She was his mistress, and he a servant under her. And the manner of her tempting him. She did not only carry herself so towards Joseph, as to give him cause to suspect that he might be admitted to such criminal converse with ber; but she directly proposed it to him; plainly manifesting her disposition to it. So that here was no such thing as a suspicion of her unwillingness to deter him, but a manifestation of her desire to entice him to it. Yea, she appeared greatly engaged in the matter. And there was not only her desire manifested to entice him, but her authority over him to enforce the temptation. She was his mistress, and he might well imagine, that if he utterly refused a compliance, he should incur her displeasure; and she, being his master's wife, had power to do much to his disadvantage, and to render his circumstances more uncomfortable in the family.
And the temptation was the greater, in that she did not only tempt him once, but frequently, day by day, ver. 10. And at last became more violent with him. She caught him by his garment, saying, Lie with me.
His behaviour was very remarkable under these temptations. He absolutely refused any compliance with them: be made no reply that manifested as though the temptation had gained at all upon him: so much as to hesitate about it, or at all deliberate upon it. He complied in no degree, either to the gross act she proposed, or any thing tending towards it, or that should at all be gratifying to her wicked inclination. And he persisted resolute and unshaken under her continual solicitations, ver. 10. And it came to pass, as she spake to Joseph day by day, that he hearkened not unto her, to he by her, or to be with her. He, to his utmost, avoided so much as being wbere she was. And the motives and principles, from which he acted, manifested by his reply to her solicitations, are remarkable.--He first sets before her, how injuriously he should act against his master, if he should comply with her proposal: Behold my master-hath committed all that he hath to my hand; there is none greater in this house