Of the Practice of Covetousness in Getting Wealth

Being Gouge’s own summaries of his sermons on Covetousness from his Commentary on Hebrews, Courtesy of Puritan Sermons – Fire & Ice
Written by, William Gough, Puritan, 1575-1653


Covetousness is practiced three ways:

1. In getting.
2. In keeping.
3. In spending what a man hath.

When wealth is gotten unconscionably or immoderately, it is a sign of a covetous heart. That is said to be unconscionably gotten which is gotten against any duty whereunto conscience is bound, as:

1. Against any particular precept. Therein Achan covetously transgressed, Josh. 7:21. “when I saw among the spoil a beautiful mantle from Shinar and two hundred shekels of silver and a bar of gold fifty shekels in weight, then I coveted them and took them; and behold, they are concealed in the earth inside my tent with the silver underneath it.”

2. Against piety; as they which buy and sell against God’s commands and against our faith for gain, Neh. 13:16.  “Also men of Tyre were living there who imported fish and all kinds of merchandise, and sold them to the sons of Judah on the Sabbath, even in Jerusalem.”

3. Against justice; as Ahab, who by Naboth’s unjust death got his vineyard, 1 Kings 21:19. “You shall speak to him, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord, “Have you murdered and also taken possession?”’ And you shall speak to him, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord, “In the place where the dogs licked up the blood of Naboth the dogs will lick up your blood, even yours.”’”

4. Against charity; as the rich man that took the poor man’s sheep to entertain his friend, 2 Sam. 12:6. “He must make restitution for the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing and had no compassion.”

5. Against equity; as Gehazi, who got that which his master refused, 2 Kings 5:20. “But Gehazi, the servant of Elisha the man of God, [a]thought, “Behold, my master has spared this Naaman the Aramean, by not receiving from his hands what he brought. As the Lord lives, I will run after him and take something from him.”

6. Against truth; as Ananias and Sapphira with a lie kept back part of that which was devoted to the church, Acts 5:2. “and kept back some of the price for himself, with his wife’s full knowledge, and bringing a portion of it, he laid it at the apostles’ feet.”

7. Against all these; which was Judas his sin in betraying his Master for thirty pieces of silver, Matt 26:15. and said, “What are you willing to give me to betray Him to you?” And they weighed out thirty pieces of silver to him.

Whatsoever is by force or fraud, by stealing, lying, or any other indirect course gotten, is an effect of covetousness.

It argues an over-greedy desire. If it were not so, no means would be used but that which is lawful; and in the use of them men would depend on God, and be content with that portion which he by his providence affords them.

An immoderate getting is when men spend their wit, pains, and time in getting the goods of this world, and rather than fail, lose their meal’s meat, and sleep, and other refreshments, yea, and neglect the means of getting heavenly treasure: they are only and wholly for the things of this world.

Covetousness: If spiritual and temporal blessings cannot stand together, temporal blessings shall be preferred and spiritual neglected…

…as the Gadarenes, for fear of losing more swine, prayed Christ to depart from their coast, Mark 5:17; and they who, for their farm and oxen’s sake, refused to come to the Lord’s supper, Luke 14:18, etc.


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