2. Make this sin as black and ugly as thou canst possibly to thy thought, that when it is presented to thee, thou mayest abhor it the more. Indeed there needs no more than its own face—wouldst thou look wisely on it—to make thee out of love with it. For,
(1.) This envying of others’ gifts casts great contempt upon God, and that more ways than one.
(a) When thou enviest the gifts of thy brethren, thou takest upon thee, to teach God what he shall give and to whom; as if the great God should take counsel, or ask leave of thee, before he dispenseth his gifts. And darest thou stand to thy own envious thoughts with this interpretation? such a one thou findest Christ himself give, ‘Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own?’ Matt. 20:15, as if Christ had said, What hath any to do with cavil, at my disposure of what is not theirs, but mine, to give?
(b) Thou malignest the goodness of God. It troubles thee, it seems, that God hath a heart to do good to any besides thyself; thine eye is evil, because he is good. Wouldst not thou have God be good? you might as well say, you would not have him God. He can as soon cease to be God as to be good.
(c) Thou art an enemy to the glory of God, as thou defacest that which should set it forth. Every gift is a ray of divine excellency; and as all the beams declare the glory of the sun, so all the gifts of God imparts declare the glory of God. Now envy labours to deface and sully the representations of God; it hath ever something to disparage the excellency of another withal. God showed Miriam her sin by her punishment. She went to bespatter Moses that shone so eminently with the gifts and graces of God, and God spits in her face, Num. 12, yea, fills her all over with a noisome scab. Dost thou cordially wish well to the honour of God? why then hangest thou thy head, and dost not rather rejoice to see him glorified by the gifts of others? Could a heathen take it so well, when himself was passed by, and others chosen to places of honour and government, that he said he was glad his city could find so many more worthy than himself; and shall a Christian repine that any are found fit to honour God besides himself?
(2.) By this envying of others’ gifts, thou wrongest thy brother, as thou sinnest against the law of love, which obligeth thee to rejoice in his good as thy own, yea, to prefer him in honour before thyself. Thou canst not love and envy the same person. Envy is as contrary to love, as the hectical feverish fire in the body is to the kindly heat of nature. ‘Charity envieth not,’ I Cor. 13:4. How can it, when it lives where it loves? And when thou ceasest to love thy brother, thou beginnest to beginnest to hate and kill him; and dost not thou tremble to be found a murderer at last?
(3.) By this envying of others’ gifts, thou consultest worst of all for thyself. God is out of thy reach. What thou spittest against heaven, thou art sure to have fall on thy own face at last; and thy brother whom thou enviest, God stands bound to defend against thy envy, because he is maligned for what he hath of God in him. Thus did God plead Joseph’s cause against his envious brethren, and David’s against wicked Saul. Thyself only hast real hurt.
(a) Thou deprivest thyself of what thou mightst reap from the gifts of others. That old saying is true, ‘What thou hast is mine, and what I have thine, when envy is gone.’ Whereas now, like the leech—which they say draws out the worst blood—thou suckest nothing but what swells thy mind with discontent, and is after vomited out in strife and contention. O what a sad thing it is, that one should go from a precious sermon, a sweet prayer, and bring nothing away but a grudge against the instrument God used; as we see in the Pharisees and others at Christ preaching!
(b) Thou robbest thyself of the joy of thy life. “He that is cruel troubleth his own flesh,’ Prov. 11:17. The envious man doth it to purpose; he sticks the honour and esteem of others as thorns in his own heart; he cannot think of them without pain and anguish, and he must needs pine that is ever in pain.
(c) Thou throwest thyself into the mouth of temptation, thou needest give the devil no greater advantage; it is a stalk any sin almost will grow upon. What will not the patriarchs do to rid their hands of Joseph whom they envied? That very pride which made them disdain the thought of bowing to his sheaf, made them stoop far lower, even to debase themselves as low as hell, and be the devil’s instruments to sell their dear brother into slavery, which might have been worse for him—if God had not provided otherwise—than if they had slain him on the place. What an impotent mind, and cruel, did Saul show against David, when once envy had envenomed his heart! From that day [on] which he heard David preferred in the women’s songs above himself, he could never get that sound out of his head, but did ever after devote this innocent man to death in his thoughts, who had done him no other wrong, but in being an instrument to keep the crown on his head, by the hazard of his own life with Goliath. O it is a bloody sin! It is the womb wherein a whole litter of other sins are formed, Rom. 1:29, full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity, &c.; and therefore, except you be resolved to bid the devil welcome and his whole train, resist him in this, that comes before to take up quarters for the rest.