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8but if we have food and clothing, we will be content with these. 9But those who want to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains.


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8 Having food and raiment When he mentions food and raiment, he excludes luxuries and overflowing abundance; for nature is content with a little 122122     “Man wants but little; nor that little long.” — Young’s Night Thoughts. and all that goes beyond the natural use is superfluous. Not that to use them more largely ought to be condemned on its own account, but lusting after them is always sinful.

9 They who wish to be rich After having exhorted him to be content, and to despise riches, he now explains how dangerous is the desire of having them, and especially in the ministers of the Church, of whom he expressly speaks in this passage. Now the cause of the evils, which the Apostle here enumerates, is not riches, but an eager desire of them, even though the person should be poor. And here Paul shews not only what generally happens, but what must always happen; for every man that has resolved to become rich gives himself up as a captive to the devil. Most true is that saying of the heathen poet, — “He who is desirous of becoming rich is also desirous of acquiring riches soon.” 123123     “Dives fieri qui vult, Et cito vult fieri.” — Juvenal. Hence it follows, that all who are violently desirous of acquiring wealth rush headlong.

Hence also those foolish, or rather, mad desires, which at length plunge them into perdition. This is, indeed, a universal evil; but in the pastors of the Church it is more easily seen; for they are so maddened by avarice, that they stick at nothing, however foolish, whenever the glitter of gold or silver dazzles their eyes.

10 For the root of all evils is avarice 124124     “C’est avarice, ou, convoitise des richesses.” — “Is avarice, or, an eager desire of riches.” There is no necessity for being too scrupulous in comparing other vices with this. It is certain that ambition and pride often produce worse fruits than covetousness does; and yet ambition does not proceed from covetousness. The same thing may be said of the sins forbidden by the seventh commandment. But Paul’s intention was not to include under covetousness every kind of vices that can be named. What then? He simply meant, that innumerable evils arise from it; just as we are in the habit of saying, when we speak of discord, or gluttony, or drunkenness, or any other vice of that kind, that there is no evil which it does not produce. And, indeed, we may most truly affirm, as to the base desire of gain, that there is no kind of evils that is not copiously produced by it every day; such as innumerable frauds, falsehoods, perjury, cheating, robbery, cruelty, corruption in judicature, quarrels, hatred, poisonings, murders; and, in short, almost every sort of crime.

Statements of this nature occur everywhere in heathen writers; and, therefore, it is improper that those persons who would applaud Horace or Ovid, when speaking in that manner, should complain of Paul as having used extravagant language. I wish it were not proved by daily experience, that this is a plain description of facts as they really are. But let us remember that the same crimes which spring from avarice, may also arise, as they undoubtedly do arise, either from ambition, or from envy, or from other sinful dispositions.

Which some eagerly desiring The Greek word ὀρεγόμενοι is overstrained, when the Apostle says that avarice is “eagerly desired;” but it does not obscure the sense. He affirms that the most aggravated of all evils springs from avarice — revolting from the faith; for they who are diseased with this disease are found to degenerate gradually, till they entirely renounce the faith. Hence those sorrows, which he mentions; by which term I understand frightful torments of conscience, which are wont to befall men past all hope; though God has other methods of trying covetous men, by making them their own tormentors.




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