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Of Well-Using Abundance
by William Gouge
In case God by his providence give abundance, as he gave to many of the patriarchs-to Job, David, Solomon, and others-great care must be taken about well-using the same. For that end let these rules following be observed. Some of them are negative, and some affirmative.
1. Negative rules are such as these:
(1.) 'Abuse not the world,' 1 Cor. vii. 31. By the world is meant the things of the world-all manner of earthly commodities. These are abused when they are esteemed above that for which they were given-when they are preferred before spiritual and heavenly things.
(2.) 'Set not your heart on riches if they increase, Ps. lxii. 10. Delight not too much in them.
(3.) 'Trust not in uncertain riches,' 1 Tim. vi. 17. Do not so place thy confidence on them, as if happiness were to be found in them.
(4.) 'Let not the rich man glory in his riches,' Jer. ix. 23, nor be puffed up by them. There is nothing in them to make a man proud of them.
(5.) Let not thy wealth move thee to scorn the poor. This is it which an apostle taxeth in rich men; saying, 'Ye have despised the poor,' James ii. 6.
(6.) Let them not occasion thee to oppress others. The foresaid apostle implieth that rich men are prone hereunto, where he saith, 'Do not the rich oppress you?' James ii. 6. The rich man that took his poor neighbour's lamb to entertain a traveller, oppressed him, 2 Sam. xiii. 4.
2. Affirmative rules are such as these:
(1.) 'Honour the Lord with thy substance,' Prov. iii. 9. So order the goods of this world which God giveth thee, as with them thou mayest maintain the service of God, and promote piety
(2.) Be 'rich in good works,' i Tim. vi. 18. According to the abundance which God hath given thee, abound in works of charity. He that had five talents gained thereby five other talents, Mat. xxv. 20.
(3.) 'Make friends of thy riches,' Luke xvi. 9. They are made friends when they are so used as they may be evidences, and thereby give testimony of our piety, charity, justice, and other like graces.
(4.) Seriously and frequently meditate on the account that men are to give of using their wealth. We are not lords of our riches, but stewards; and a steward must give an account of his stewardship, Luke xvi. 2. That which the wise man saith to the young man, may be applied to a rich man, 'For all these things God will bring thee into judgment,' Eccles. xi. 9. (5 ) Be ready to let go whatsoever God shall be pleased to take away. Of this mind was he who, when he had lost all that he had, thus said, 'The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord,' Job i. 21.
(6.) Trust in the Lord. This advice doth the apostle give to rich men, 1 Tim. vi. 17; for this very end, to draw them from trusting in riches. He doth therefore thus infer the one upon the other, 'Trust not in uncertain riches, but in the living Lord.'
Of Examination of a Man's Self About Covetousness
Index to William Gouge on Covetousness
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