Ye shall be holy.
(S. H. Kellogg, D. D.)
S. S. Chronicle.One summer day, a few years ago, strolling for rest and pleasure near the mouth of the Columbia river, where there is a large rise and fall of the tide, I came, at low tide, upon a splendid spring of pure, fresh water, clear as crystal, gushing up from between the rocks that two hours before had formed a part of the river's bed. Twice a day the soiled tide rises above that beautiful fountain and covers it over; but there it is, down deep under the salt tide, and when the tide has spent its force and gone back again to the ocean's depths, it sends out its pure waters fresh and clear as before. So if the human heart be really a fountain of love to Christ it will send out its streams of fresh, sweet waters, even into the midst of the salt tides of politics or business. And the man who carries such a fountain into the day's worry and struggle will come again at night, when the world's tide has spent its force, with clean hands, sweet spirit, and conscience void of offence toward God and man.
(S. S. Chronicle.)
( W. Gurnall..)
Ye shall fear... mother... father.Proverbs 30:17).
Scientific Illustrations.The birds can teach ungrateful children their duty towards aged parents. It is an old tradition with regard to storks, says Mr. Morris in his "British Birds," that they take care of and nourish their parents when they are too old to take care of themselves, from whence the Greek word "pelargicos," signifying the duty of children to take care of their parents; and "pelargicoi nomoi," signifying the laws relating to that duty, both derived from the Greek word for a stork; "Pelargos," from pelas, black; and "argos," white, alluding to the prevailing colours of the stork.
(J. G. Cunningham.)
(New Orleans Democrat.)
(J. Parker, D. D.)
And keep My Sabbaths.
Turn ye not unto idols.— A Chinese wife was one day seen by a missionary to enter a temple. In her hands were some humble offerings, such as a twig, or rice, for propitiating the poor, blind deity. There he stood, some forty feet high, blackened and begrimed with the smoke of incense for hundreds of years. She presented her petition; she called upon the idol to protect and return in safety her husband, then on the sea in a storm. A few weeks after the missionary was there, and saw the same female enter the temple in a rage. She stood before the grim idol and cursed it for being so blind, so deaf, so helpless, as to let her husband perish! Yes, the wailing widow of heathen life only echoed the sad complaints of millions in Christian lands. They found their hopes and build their plans on just such baseless, blind, deaf gods as this humble dweller in darkness. The worldling ever prays to a god that is deaf and blind I
(VanDoren, D. D.)
Thou shalt not wholly reap the corners of thy fieldDeuteronomy 24. God sanctioned the practice, and commanded that some grain and olives and grapes should be left to be gleaned by the poor, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, and thus He required the Jews to pay to those who are more immediately depending for support on His bounty, a sort of tribute in acknowledgment of the tenure under which they held their land. The Jews paid no rent, because God Himself was the owner, having given it to them without price or reward; and when He commanded them to leave something for the poor gleaners in harvest, He did so that He might be able to bless His people in all the work of their hands. The reason why the Almighty sanctioned the practice of gleaning is very similar to this notion. He commanded His people to allow their fields to be gleaned, that they might always be kept in remembrance that they had been bondmen in Egypt. The recollection of this slavery was also preserved among them by the Sabbath, and by the command to do strict justice between man and man, as if the Almighty intended that the people, after they had attained to national power and prosperity, should be continually reminded of "the rock from whence they were hewn, and of the hole of the pit from whence they were digged." The sight of poor persons gleaning in the fields always reminded the Jews that they had been in slavery in Egypt, and that like them they had been depending upon others for a hard and uncertain living. In' fact, both the gleaners and the owners of the fields had been bondmen, and both were alike the receivers of God's bounty, although in different ways and in different degrees. More than three thousand years have rolled past since this law was enacted, but the principle which it contains is just as applicable to gleaners now as it was then. The poor Jew, gleaning in the fields of his rich brethren, had been a slave, but after he got into the Promised Land he became free; and exactly so, every gleaner who now searches in the fields of the farmers for heads of grain is free. I mean to tell you that you are politically free, and that you do not owe obedience to any master, except you bind yourselves to serve him for some payment. You were never slaves, as the Jews had been in Egypt, when they were forced to serve in a cruel bondage. But, let me ask you, are you really free? When you were gleaning in the fields this harvest, could you say with truth that you had once been slaves, but that you were now free? A person gleaning in the fields in harvest may be free, but she is a slave, bound hand and foot, if sin have the dominion over her. A woman gathering heads of grain in the fields may be free, but she is a slave if she spend her hard-won earnings in the public-house, drinking out of the cup which cheers, but swallowing along with the drink liquid fire and death. That gleaner is free who goes out and comes in without any to forbid, but she is a slave to the custom of gleaning, which is otherwise lawful, if, for the sake of the trifle which she may obtain in this way, she neglects her children, her husband, and her home. Every gleaner is as free as the air of heaven, but they are all slaves to their own passions if they are unable to agree together in the same field, and begin to use abusive language, to quarrel about rights which have no existence, except in the goodwill of the farmer, exhibiting scenes which could only find a parallel in the fields of the degraded Canaanites before they were driven out by the Jews. There is not a gleaner in the land who is not absolutely free, but every one of them is bound in fetters far stronger than fetters of iron or of brass, if, with this privilege of gleaning in another man's fields at their command, they have thankless hearts, and entertain no gratitude to God for His mercy, nor to the farmers for their benevolence. This brings me in natural consequence to speak about the persons on whose behalf God made the law about gleaning. They are the poor, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow. I do not know whether those who go out to glean in the fields in these days could be arranged into these four classes; but they at least furnish a guide as to the persons to whom the Almighty especially extends His care. He told His people that the poor should never cease out of the land, therefore He commanded them, saying, "Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor and to thy needy in thy land." The poor are the objects of God's special protection, as long as they lead lives of holiness and humility, contented with their lot, and confident in the mercy of Heaven. If they are profligate and ungodly, dishonest and discontented, idle and careless, not one of the promises in Scripture will apply to them any more than they do to any of God's open and avowed enemies.
2. The next class of persons who were permitted to glean in the fields were strangers, from whatever country they might have come, as was Ruth, who was a daughter of Moab. God also made provision for them, knowing how unhappy is the lot of that man who is an exile from his native land. He commanded His people not on any account to do them an injury: "Thou shalt neither vex a stranger nor oppress him, for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt." God by His providence watches over strangers, and never fails to reward those who help them, whether by allowing them to glean in the fields in harvest-time, or in any other manner.
3. The next class who were allowed to glean were the fatherless, whose parent was dead. If the Jew drove off from his fields in harvest a poor fatherless child, who wanted to glean some heads of corn, I have no doubt that he was guilty of a sin and a crime. There is no obligation upon any Christian man to allow such a one to search over his fields at this season of the year, but when he does permit the fatherless to glean up what the reapers have left behind, I make no doubt that he does that which is pleasing in the sight of God, and he will be able to understand, from the description of the judgment in the twenty-fifth chapter of St. Matthew, that the reward will far outbalance the kindness.
4. The only other class whom God allowed to be gleaners were widows. Like the poor, the stranger, and the fatherless, God always remembers them. Let them always remember, that, whether they may be in a cornfield among other gleaners, like Ruth in the field of Boaz, or, like the woman of Sidon, alone in a cottage with scarce enough food to eat, or, like the widow of Nain, following in tears an only son to the grave, God watches over them, and commands His angels to give them an invisible but effectual protection. There is little more to be said on this subject of gleaning, beyond one other consideration, which we shall do well to lay seriously to heart. We reflected upon the great harvest of men, which is to be gathered in by the angelic reapers at the end of this dispensation. That will be a harvest after which there will be no gleaning.
(O. B. Courtenay, M. A.)
2. The equalisation of the atonement money for poor and rich, thus establishing the value of the poor as equal to the rich (Exodus 30:12).
3. The same minute directions for the poor man's offerings, showing God's equal interest in his sacrifice (chap. 2. &c.)
4. And here the command that the harvest and vintage gleanings should be left (vers. 9, 10). Notice —
I. THAT THE HUMANE LAWS OF MODERN TIMES, respecting gleaning privileges, are all based upon this Mosaic command. Everywhere there is a popular feeling that the farmer should allow, and was not entitled to prevent the poor from gathering what the reaper left behind. In England the custom of gleaning had very nearly passed into a legal right, for there is an extra judicial dictum of Lord Hall, in which he says that those who enter a field for this purpose are not guilty of trespass; and Blackstone (3:12) seems to adopt his opinion. But that has since been twice tried, and decided in the negative in the Court of Common Pleas; the Court finding it to be a practice incompatible with the exclusive enjoyment of property, and productive of vagrancy and many mischievous consequences. "It is still, however, the custom all over England to allow the poor to glean, at least after the harvest is carried" (Chambers).
II. THAT A BENEVOLENT HELPFULNESS IN RESPECT OF THE POOR IS A SPECIAL OBLIGATION OF THOSE WHO ENJOY PLENTY.
1. With God in thought the rich will spare of their abundance that the poor may be fed. You owe all to Him, especially in harvest; and, therefore, share with the needy His gifts to you.
2. Amid harvest rejoicings, gratitude should incite to generosity. "As ye have received, give!" Seek occasion to gladden others — those in need. God is lavish; let your "hands be open" also (Psalm 145:16).
III. THAT THIS GENEROUS CONSIDERATION FOR THE POOR IS A TOKEN OF GOD'S REGARD FOR THE LOWLY.
1. Their maintenance engaged the Divine attention. For them "the corner" of the field was claimed from the reapers, and to them was assigned the right to clear the ground. It was their part in the national soil, the poor had this heritage in the land. And God enjoins on His Church now to "care for the poor." They are Christ's bequeathment to His disciples. "The poor always ye have with you."
2. Their salvation is prominently sought in the gospel. "To the poor the gospel is preached." And "God hath chosen the poor rich in faith." He who showed concern for their physical supply and maintenance, as emphatically manifests His desire that they be "blessed with all spiritual blessings" in Christ. Therefore —(1) The poor should cherish a grateful and trustful hope in their God.(2) They should value the high mercies of redemption in Christ beyond all the kindnesses of His providence. For the favours of providence only affect them temporally, but "the riches of His grace" are of eternal consequence.(3) Let none, because of lowliness or poverty, despond of God's favour. All His regulations prove that "He careth for you." Look unto Him with assurance.
(W. H. Jellie.)
(J. Cumming, D. D.)
Ye shall not steal.tabula rasa on which you write your words and thoughts in the deeds that are yet to come.
Neither lie one to another.
— A lie always needs a truth for a handle to it, else the hand would cut itself which sought to drive it home upon another. The worst lies, therefore, are those whose blade is false, but whose handle is true.
(H. W. Beecher.)
Ye shall not swear by My name falsely.
I. WHAT SWEARING BY GOD'S NAME ENTAILS.
1. Acknowledgment of His Omniscience. It calls Him to witness, and imprecates Him as the avenger of falsehood.
2. Acknowledgment of His righteousness. He is to be the umpire and arbitrator. We call in as a witness to our fidelity only such a one as is himself faithful and true, and will act a right part. Such is God. Man's use of His name is an appeal to the certainty that He will judge aright.
II. WHAT PERJURY IN GOD'S NAME ENTAILS.
1. An insolent affront upon God's character. It is infamy, daring insolence, the degradation of His most holy name for unholy ends. It invokes Him to act as a witness that a lie is true. Yet He loathes falsity. It is defiant trifling, an affront to the God of truth. It "profanes His name."
2. A certain visitation of judgment. He "will not hold him guiltless that taketh His name in vain" (Exodus 20:7). Certainly, therefore, He will punish lying and profanity. Having been called in as a witness to a lie, He will prove that He witnessed it. Thus to insult His love of truth and defy His power to vindicate it, and trail the purity of His character in the mire — before whom the very angels veil their faces as they adore Him — will ensure a just requital (Hebrews 10:30). And "there shall in no wise enter the heavenly city any who loveth and maketh a lie" (Revelation 21:27).
(W. H. Jellie.)
I. WHAT PERJURY IS, AND HOW MANY WAYS IT IS COMMITTED.
1. Perjury is a swearing by God's name falsely, a calling God to witness for the confirmation of a lie.
2. It is committed several ways.(1) When men do assert and testify upon oath a thing to be true which they know to be false.(2) When men do assert and testify upon oath a thing to be true of the truth of which they are not fully assured.(3) They that promise upon oath, what they intended not to perform, or are unresolved and indifferent whether they shall perform it or not. These are, ipso facto, guilty of perjury, because they swear by God's name falsely; they call God to witness and to vouch for the truth and sincerity of their promise, when the intention of their minds does not concur with the wools of their mouths.(4) They also are guilty of perjury that having promised upon oath sincerely and with an honest intention do yet afterwards fall off and renounce the obligation, do not faithfully and resolvedly endeavour and take care to fulfil their word, do act contrary to their oath when a just occasion requires and calls for the performance of their promise or sworn duty.(5) They are involved in the guilt of perjury who against, or without the consent of the Supreme Power, do frame and impose upon others, or take themselves new oaths contrary to, and destructive of, their former obligations.(6) They are guilty of perjury who make use of tricks and cheats and subtle artifices to evade and elude the obligation of their oaths, who will not understand the words of an oath in their assertions or promises, according to the plain and common acceptation of them, but by fastening a secret sense of their own upon some ambiguous terms, or by some reserves, or exceptions, or additions within their minds, do not quite alter the meaning of the words, and thereby intend neither to be obliged to speak truth nor perform their promises.
II. THE HEINOUSNESS OF THIS SIN OF PERJURY.
1. It is an affront to God, and to all those glorious attributes that shine forth and display themselves in the government of the world.
2. It is also most injurious and mischievous to man.(1) In his private capacity. Life, liberty, reputation, estate are all at the mercy of the perjurer.(2) To conversation and commerce. All our dealings, and trades, and contracts, and friendships are grounded upon and managed by the faith and assurance that we give and take of the sincerity of our minds and purposes, expressed by our words, and in great concerns confirmed by our oaths.(3) As to government and the consequents of it — peace and order, and just liberty — there is nothing but perjury can destroy it and deprive us of them. Nothing but perjury can carry on faction and begin a rebellion. Nothing but the highest profanation of God's name can ruin the monarchy.(4) Perjury is injurious to public justice.
III. THE OCCASIONS OF, OR TEMPTATIONS TO THIS SIN.
1. Atheism. A denying of God and Providence. This indeed were a rational account of, and excuse for, perjury, if atheism itself were rational. An atheist. should he swear falsely every hour, upon every occasion, would do like an atheist, and act consistently to his principles. For what should hinder him from complying with our forms and customs of calling of God to witness when it is for his advantage? He knows of no God to come at his call to look on and be a witness of his words, and the searcher of his heart. He believes no judgment to come, no future state.
2. Lying, and treachery, and customary swearing. These things do qualify and dispose a man to forswear himself upon any convenience or temptation. Because hereby men throw off that reverence and respect to religion, that fear of God's power and justice, which would restrain them.
3. To these I might add the usual occasions and common temptations to this sin. Such are poverty and necessity; covetousness, and hope of reward; also fear, whether of shame or of punishment, or of both. In some, ambition and popularity, a desire and thirst after honour and greatness. In others, or perhaps in the same, revenge and malice; or else favour, affection and partiality. Or, lastly, faction, sedition, and designs against the government. As to all of which it may be enough to remark, that when these furious passions and violent desires are able to overmaster and run down the fear of God, and the reverence of an oath in the hearts of men, then is perjury the most easy and compendious, the most secure, the most proper way to relieve their wants, or satisfy their covetous desires, or to rid them of their fears, or to gratify their ambition, or to pleasure their friends, or despatch their enemies, or to compass and complete their seditious designs.
IV. THE PUNISHMENTS OF PERJURY, and these are severe and dreadful in proportion to the guilt of this great sin. It is a good rule. Men ought to weigh well the damages and mischievous consequences of their false-witnessing and perfidiousness, not to others only, but to themselves; that if conscience and the sense of their duty cannot prevail with them, they may be restrained by the fear of suffering.
(John Allen, M. A.)
1. An oath is a constant and serious asseveration of the truth of a thing, whereunto the Divine Majesty is called to witness.
2. The use of an oath is common to God, who sweareth by Himself, having not a greater to swear by, to angels and to men.
3. Things affirmed by oath are either uncertain in themselves — as to swear touching things to come; or are certain, but seem uncertain to us, and therefore an oath is required; or they are not only certain but necessary, as are all God's promises, which depend upon His immutable word, yet in regard of our weakness are confirmed by the Lord's oath.
4. As God is the author and institutor of an oath, so His name only is to be used therein, because He alone knows the heart, is everywhere present to hear, and of omnipotent power, able to take revenge both of soul and body.
5. Three things are to be considered in a lawful oath — the necessity, the truth, and the manner.
(A Willet, . D. D.)
I. There are two lights in which an oath principally regards God, THAT OF AN OMNISCIENT WITNESS, AND THAT OF A RIGHTEOUS JUDGE. So help me God, is one of the ordinary expressions in it. So protect me from evil, or abandon me to misery, as I now use Thy name to support truth or to cover falsehood. So help in the hour of solemn devotion, when Thou hearest the prayer of the upright man, and rejectest him who has sworn deceitfully. So help me amidst the dangers and evils of life, through which I have to pass, and from which no man can deliver me. So help me in the awful hour of dissolution, when I must walk through the valley of the shadow of death, when all human help is vain, and our only hope is in God. To swear falsely is to renounce that hope, and to forfeit all title to the Divine protection.
II. Such is the nature of an oath; and from this account it will be easy to ascertain THE GUILT OF FALSE SWEARING, which was the second thing we proposed to consider. In whatever light you view perjury, whether in respect of God or man, you will find it to be a sin of the most enormous nature. Consider the impiety of it towards God, and it will appear to be the grossest indignity which man can offer to his Maker.
1. It is not a sin of ignorance or infirmity, into which he may fall through the weakness of human nature. It is a presumptuous transgression against God. The guilt of perjury is deliberate, which is one of the greatest aggravations of sin. Other sins generally proceed from a forgetfulness of God, a want of due sense of His presence; but to swear falsely by the name of God is at once to remember God and to disobey Him. Other sins are nothing more than acts of disobedience to God; but perjury is much more than disobedience, it is a direct insult offered to the Supreme Being. To call solemnly on God to witness a falsehood, in order to cover our own guilt, and to impose on the ignorance of mankind — what does it imply? It is to invoke the Supreme Being to be present at an unrighteous action; it is to summon in the Almighty to be a spectator of wickedness. Awful as this is, it is not the worst. To call on God to countenance falsehood, and to sanction a lie by His sacred name, contains a still grosser impiety, which I shudder to mention. It is an attempt to draw God Himself into sin, to make the great Creator a party in vice, to make the Holy One and the Just an accomplice in villainy.
2. The guilt of perjury farther appears from its effect on society-. It is not only an act of the grossest indignity to God, but of the greatest injury to mankind. There are some individuals who suffer by every act of false swearing. Consider what loss of property, what hurt of character, or what vexation and distress of mind it frequently brings on an innocent man. Ask the person who has suffered by perjury, and he will describe, from his feelings, what a heinous crime it is. Put yourself in his place, enter into his feelings, listen to the language of your own heart, and you will see clearly the guilt of false swearing. But the mischievous effects of perjury are not confined to the persons who more immediately suffer by it. It is of much more extensive influence; it militates against mankind in general; it is an act of treason against human society. It is an attempt to subvert the foundation of public order, and of private security. It is an attempt to defeat the last method which the wisdom of man has devised in order to maintain the peace and order of society, and to decide doubtful matters. The man who can be guilty of this sin, must be void of all reverence for his Sinker, and of all regard for the interests of his fellow creatures. He is not only a reprobate in the sight of God, but also a traitor against mankind.
III. Need I now proceed to the last head of discourse, to point out THE DANGER OF FALSE SWEARING? A vice of so uncommon a magnitude, every man's conscience must tell him, deserves to be punished both by God and man. Among all nations with which we are acquainted, false swearing has been punished as a triune which strikes at the root of society; and in many places of the world the perjurer, as well as the murderer, has been thought worthy of death. But though the perjurer should escape the scourge of the law, there is another punishment from men which generally awaits him. He forfeits his character, the most precious thing in the world, and is consigned to infamy. But what are all the punishments from men in comparison of the judgments of God, which await the perjurer? This is a degree of guilt which God will certainly punish with more than ordinary vengeance. I will come near to you in judgment, says God Himself by the prophet., and be a swift witness against the swearer. The curse, says another inspired writer, goeth over the face of the whole earth; and God shall bring it forth, and it shall enter into the house of him that sweareth falsely by the name of God, and shall remain in the midst of his house, and shall consume it with the timber thereof and. the stones thereof. It shall remain in the midst of his house, and shall consume it. But the external judgments of God are not the only punishment to which the perjurer becomes liable. He destroys the foundation of the peace of his own mind, and exposes himself to the greatest of all terrors, to the dread of the great Creator. But what are all the sufferings of this life in comparison to that of everlasting misery which awaits the false swearer in the life to come? With what tremblings of heart, with what confusion of face, will he appear before the Judge of all the earth, whose authority he contain, el, and whose name he prostituted? The whole scene of his iniquity will then be disclosed, in the presence of an assembled world, in the presence of Christ and the holy angels. He must then lie down in shame and everlasting contempt.
Neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God.I. THE SIGNIFICATION OF THE TERMS.
II. THE NATURE OF THE SEVERAL VICES INCLUDED IN THIS PROHIBITION.
1. The highest and most presumptuous degree is perjury; when a man solemnly calls God to witness to the truth of that which he either knows to be false or does not know to be true.
2. The next degree is that indecent, as well as wicked, custom of rash swearing in common conversation.(1) Of which sin the first aggravation is, that they who are guilty of it are in perpetual danger of the crime of perjury. For he who uses himself to swear habitually will never attend carefully that what he swears to be true.(2) But if the danger of perjury could certainly be avoided (as it never can be by habitual swearers), yet to call upon God perpetually as a witness to trivial matters, is manifest want of reverence and want of a just sense of God and religion. And this fault is the more inexcusable because there cannot here be pretended, as in most other vices, any natural temptation.
3. Scoffing, blaspheming, or speaking reproachfully of religion. This is what the Psalmist reckons in the highest degree of sins, where he distinguishes offenders into three several ranks (Psalm 1:1).
4. Careless and inconsiderate vows. When the matter of them is unjust, as in the case of the Corban among the Jews, who hypocritically dedicated that to the service of God and for the use of the Temple, which they ought to have employed in relieving the necessities of their destitute parents (Mark 7:2). Or when the matter of a vow is impossible or unreasonable, or the thing vowed be unprofitable and of no tendency to promote true religion, or the manner of making the vow be rash and irreligious.
5. Too frequent familiar and irreverent mention of God in ordinary conversation, without an habitual sense and just awe of Him upon our minds; men are very apt to run into some degree of the fault forbidden here.
III. THE ARGUMENT BROUGHT TO ENFORCE THE PROHIBITION. "I am the Lord." The Lord, that is, he whose sovereignty and supreme dominion or authority over us gives Him a right to demand, and whose continual mercy and goodness towards us gives Him reason to expect that we should, in an equal sense both of duty and gratitude, pay all possible obedience to Him. The Lord, who made and governs all things, whose power is irresistible, and His kingdom infinite and eternal, who will not be mocked, nor hold them guiltless that take His name in vain. Will not hold them guiltless; that is, will certainly and severely punish them.
(S. Clarke, D. D.)
I. AN OATH IS AN APPEAL TO THE SUPREME BEING, as Judge of the truth of what we assert, whose omniscience knows the secrets of our hearts, knows whether what we declare be correspondent or not to the conviction of our minds, and whose justice will accordingly either favour or be avenged of us; it is the submitting to God, the invisible Judge, and imploring His protection, or imprecating His vengeance, according to the truth or falsehood of what we affirm.
II. Let us next observe WHAT IT IS TO PROFANE THE NAME OF GOD.
1. This is done when we use it without due consideration and reverence, or when we use it in an unlawful action. We are directed to sanctify the Lord our God, i.e., to form such holy conceptions of His great and adorable nature as may lead us to a suitable return of reverential homage. And yet how common is it, on the most slight and unimportant occasions, to hear men utter inconsiderately the name of God when neither the subject of their thoughts is so weighty, nor the temper of their minds so serious, as to justify the use of it.
2. But further, the name of God is in a peculiar manner profaned when we invoke His presence to an unlawful action, and summon Him, as it were, to be a spectator of our guilt. This is a sin of more than common magnitude; it is an open defiance to the power and justice of the Almighty, and an insult on almost all the perfections of the Divine nature.
III. I PROCEED TO OFFER SOME CONSIDERATIONS ON THE GUILT OF HABITUALLY PROFANING THE NAME OF GOD IN CONVERSATION. No one instructed in the first rudiments of religion can be ignorant .of the flagitious nature of this sin (Exodus 20:7). In the New Testament our Saviour says, "Swear not at all." And by the vehemence expressed by St. James we may reasonably judge that he considered this sin of habitually profaning the name of God as a sin of no small weight. "Above all things, my brethren," says he, "swear not." But why "above all things," if not because it is a sin in a peculiar manner hateful and offensive in the sight of God? The passionate man may plead the fire of a warm disposition; the gloomy sullenness of the morose may urge the power of an unhappy complexion; but the profaner of the name of God has no such plea. Common reason teaches us to reverence the majesty of the Supreme Being; and no corruption of our nature tempts us to profane that name which we all know it is our duty to adore. But further, besides the guilt of this practice in itself, it unhappily leads to a sin of a still more enormous magnitude — to that of perjury. This should incline all to contribute their endeavours by advice, by example, by reproof, or any other method, to suppress the common practice of profaning the name of God; since the pernicious sin of perjury, by which the character, property, or life of any person whatever may be endangered — a sin which has a tendency to destroy all mutual confidence, and to subvert all civil society — is in a great degree owing to it. I shall conclude with some short admonitions, in order to prevent the growth or continuance of this sin.
1. He who would avoid the habit or custom must beware of the first step or tendency to it. It is a maxim in spiritual as well as bodily disorders, to check the first appearance of a disease, lest it should grow inveterate, and at length incurable. And, therefore, we should do well to avoid all vehemence of assertion, all violence of passion, as dangerous approaches to this sin.
2. We may observe the danger of yielding to the first impulses of passion, since even an apostle, in a short space of time, was led on from a bare denial to bitter and violent imprecations. When the mind is hurried on by the impetuosity of violent passion, oaths are often found the readiest way to discharge the heat of resentment; and the mind, not under the conduct of reason, vents a sinful passion by a more sinful execration.
3. Let us possess our minds with the most respectful and awful sentiments of the greatness and goodness and majesty of the Supreme Being. This is the most rational and effectual means to prevent us from prostituting and profaning His sacred name. Let us ever preserve an awful and reverential regard for the majesty of Heaven; let us not speak or think of God but with veneration; let the words of our mouth, as well as the meditations of our heart, be ever acceptable in His sight; let us ever consult His honour, and "Hallowed be His name."
(G. Carr, B. A.)
New Handbook of Illustration.Profanity is the tribute which the devil's servants pay to their master as token of allegiance.
(New Handbook of Illustration.)
Thou shalt not defraud thy neighbour.I. The purchaser is guilty of fraud when he makes use of falsehood or low cunning to diminish the value of any commodity in the estimation of its proprietor. He likewise defrauds his neighbour when he takes advantage of his ignorance to obtain anything for less than its real value; when he receives any part of his property and applies it to his own use, without being careful to make him the equitable return, at the time when he may reasonably expect it; and lastly, when he makes that wise and merciful institution of the legislature, which was only intended for the security of those whom misfortune hath rendered incapable of answering the demands of equity, a protection for extravagance and knavery.
2. The seller defrauds his neighbour when he takes advantage of the ignorance or mistakes of the purchaser, or makes use of arts to impose upon his judgment.
3. The master, or he who employs labourers under him for hire, acts a dishonest part when he lays upon them burdens too heavy to be borne; when he requires harder or longer labour from them than was at first agreed upon, without making them a proportionable acknowledgment; or when he deprives them of their wages, or withholds them beyond a reasonable time.
4. The labourer, or servant, acts contrary to the rules of equity, and defrauds his neighbour when, without good reason, he quits the business he hath undertaken and leaves his master in difficulty; when he performs his engagements in a negligent and defective manner; or when he takes advantage of the confidence which his master hath placed in him, to embezzle or injure his property. I proceed to lay before you the principal argument, to guard you against all the low arts of fraud and deceit, and to enforce the observance of the strictest honour and most perfect equity in your dealings.
I. And, in the first place, let it be considered that the observance of the injunction of the text is OF THE HIGHEST IMPORTANCE TO THE WELFARE OF SOCIETY. What would be the consequence if injustice and knavery were daily to gain ground in the world, and at last to become universally prevalent? surely nothing less than universal confusion and wretchedness. On the contrary, were all unrighteousness and deceit banished from the earth, what a long train of evils would take their flight with them I what uninterrupted peace and harmony, what perfect satisfaction and happiness would ensue!
II. But it may be observed, farther, that THE VIRTUE OF HONESTY IS OF ESSENTIAL IMPORTANCE TO THE HAPPINESS OF INDIVIDUALS. The honest man is most secure from disappointment in business, and has the fairest prospect of success in his undertakings. It often happens that the artful and designing knave is discovered, and his schemes of iniquity are blasted, before he hath accomplished his purpose. After much care and labour, and many fears and anxieties, he may very possibly betray himself and frustrate his own designs. But the honest man pursues the plain and beaten path of diligence, prudence and integrity, till he gradually obtains a competence which he can behold with satisfaction and enjoy with pleasure. Honesty is likewise the best guard of our reputation. Let two men be in every other respect equal; if the one have the character of an upright and good man, and the other be deemed treacherous and fraudulent, it will be no difficult thing to determine which will be generally espoused, employed and assisted, and which will be treated with neglect and contempt. The honest man likewise enjoys the continual happiness of being satisfied from himself. If he enjoys an abundance of the good things of life, he hath the happiness to reflect that it is the fruit of his honest industry and the blessing of heaven. Or if he meets with disappointment and trouble, he hath this for his consolation, that "they have not befallen him for any iniquity in his hands"; and can triumph, if not in the success of his undertakings, in the innocence of his life. Let it be remembered, in the last place, that all injustice and fraud are highly displeasing to the Almighty, and that uprightness and honour will always be acceptable in His sight.
(H. A. Page.)
— A wealthy banker, who is noted for his large subscriptions to charities, and for his kindly habits of private benevolence, was called on by his pastor, one evening, and asked to go with him to the help of a man who had attempted suicide. They found the man in a wretched house, in an alley not far from the banker's dwelling. The front room was a cobbler's shop; behind it, on a miserable bed, in the kitchen, lay the poor shoemaker, with a gaping gash in his throat, while his wife and children were gathered about him. "We have been without food for days," said the woman, when he returned. "It is not my husband's fault. He is a hard-working, sober man. But he could neither get work, nor pay for that which he had done. To-day he went for the last time to collect a debt due to him by a rich family, but the gentleman was not at home. My husband was weak from fasting, and seeing us starving drove him mad. So it ended that way," turning to the fainting, motionless figure on the bed. The banker, having fed and warmed the family, hurried home, opened his desk and took out a file of little bills. All his large debts were promptly met, but he was apt to be careless about the accounts of milk, bread, &c., because they were so petty. He found there a bill of Michael Goodlow's for repairing children's shoes, £2. Michael Goodlow was the suicide. It was the banker's unpaid debt which had brought these people to the verge of the grave, and driven this man to desperation, while, at the very time, the banker had given away hundreds in charity. The cobbler recovered, and will never want a friend while the banker lives, nor will a small unpaid bill ever again be found on the banker's table. No man has a right to be generous until his debts are paid; and the most efficient use of money is not alone in almsgiving, but to pay liberally and promptly the people whom we employ.
The wages of him that is hired.I. WORK IS A JUST BASIS FOR AN EQUITABLE CLAIM. Therefore it should be paid for, not patronisingly, nor grudgingly, but as a due. The labourer has given you his time, strength, ability, and ingenuity; he has a right to an equivalent from you, and should not be treated ignominiously, but respectfully, in asking a just return.
II. WAGES CANNOT RIGHTEOUSLY RE DEFERRED AFTER WORK IS DONE. During a day of toil the labourer has put his capital into your service, spent his life for that period for your advantage and gain. You are to that extent his debtor; to detain his wages is to make yourself more his debtor, and delay in payment should be compensated with increment. "Short reckonings make long friends."
III. MASTERS SHOULD STUDY THE POSITION AND COMFORT OF THOSE THEY EMPLOY. A poor man has no capital, wants prompt settlement; he lives day by day upon his hard earnings. His strength — expended by the day's toil — must be replenished for the morrow's work. To hold back the means for his nourishment is to rob him of the morrow's capital, his replenished energy. And he may have dependants in his lowly home waiting to share in the earnings of the day. Hold not back his dues "all night until the morning," lest your inconsiderateness inflict privation and embitter poverty (Deuteronomy 24:14, 15; Jeremiah 32:13; Malachi 3:5; James 5:4).
(W. H. Jellie.)
(C. H. Mackintosh.)
James 5:4, this is spoken of as a sin of the last days.
(A. A. Bonar).
Thou shalt not curse the deaf.I. THE MEANNESS OF THE CONDUCT HERE REBUKED. Dishonourable dealing, commercial sharp-practice, trading upon the defects of others, issuing delusive prospectuses to entrap the unwary, traducing our fellows behind their backs so that they cannot learn and answer the charges brought against them — all such action deserves our reprobation and avoidance. The natural ills of humanity call for commiseration and help, rather than for ridicule and maltreatment. Where weakness has been self-incurred, where ignorance is wilful, there is less need of sympathy. Let our young people be early imbued with the feeling that it is wrong to trample upon the defenceless.
II. THE WAY TO GUARD AGAINST INVASION OF THE RIGHTS OF OTHERS. "But shalt fear thy God."
1. Reverence for Jehovah is the best security against violation of His statutes. Remember, that to transgress is to grieve our heavenly Father, to show ourselves unmindful of His claims.
2. The omniscience of Jehovah should restrain from the commission of unfair deeds. He hears every word and sees every act, though the deaf and the blind cannot. Let not mean, cowardly performances expect to pass unnoticed, unpunished.
III. THE COMFORT THE WEAK MAY DERIVE FROM THE KNOWLEDGE THAT THEY ARE UNDER THE PROTECTION OF GOD. He is seen to cherish them, to make provision for their need; He puts His strong right arm around them, shelters them under His wing. We cannot believe that His fostering care is denied to any class of the infirm, in body, mind, or spirit.
(S. R. Aldridge, B. A.)
(M. M. Kalisch, Ph. D.)
(J. Jortin, D. D.)
In righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbour.
(S. Smith, M. A.)
(A. A. Bonar.)
Univ. Hist.The power of the court of Areopagus at Athens was very great; and it is said to have been the first court that ever determined upon questions of life and death. It was customary to bold its sittings in the night only, and without light. The reason of this singular practice is said to have been, that the members might not be prejudiced for or against any accused person, by seeing his gestures and looks. Truth only was regarded, and no attempt to warp the opinion of the judges was permitted.
Psalm 122:5), which was placed in the gate of the city toward the sun rising; in the gate, to signify that all which came in and out by the gate of the city might indifferently be heard, the poor as well as the rich, and might have free access and regress to and from the judgment-seat; and toward the rising of the sun, in token that their judgment should be as clear from corruption as the sun is clear in his chiefest brightness.
Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer.I. CHARACTER IS IN THE KEEPING, and therefore at the mercy of acquaintances.
1. Therefore supremely value each other's good name.
2. Jealously defend a worthy reputation.
3. Scornfully silence the unproved rumours of evils.
II. CHARACTER MAY BE RUTHLESSLY SHATTERED by sinister whisperings.
1. For listeners are ready to entertain and repeat slander. "Man's inhumanity to man!"
2. Aspersions feed on the inventiveness of malice.
3. Reputation is easily damaged. That which only a lifetime can build an hour may defame.
III. CHARACTER IS SO PRECIOUS that its traducers should be loathed.
1. Dread a talebearer as a destroying pestilence.
2. He who wrongs another's reputation may next wrong yours. By heeding his slanders you" encourage his vile trade, and slander must find new victims!
3. Put to shame all talebearers with ruthless severity.Note —
1. There is enough of woe abroad without increasing it.
2. As we need our many evils to be pitied by man and pardoned by God, let us with "charity hide sins," not expose them.
3. There is grace in Christ, and energy in the Holy Spirit, by which to perfect a good life and win a good name, which even enemies of religion shall be unable to defame or destroy.
4. The light of the final judgment will refute all slander, and bring every secret thing to the open gaze of the world.
(W. H. Jellie.)
Great Thoughts.The following is related of the late J. J. Gurney, by one who, as a child, was often of his family circle: — One night — I remember it well — I received a severe lesson on the sin of evil speaking. Severe I thought it then, and my heart rose in childish anger against him who gave it; but I had not lived long enough in this world to know how much mischief a child's thoughtless talk may do, and how often it happens that great talkers run off from the straight line of truth. I was talking very fast about some female relative, who did not stand very high in my esteem, and was about to speak further of her failings of temper. In a few moments my eyes caught a look of such calm and steady displeasure, that I stopped short. There was no mistaking the meaning of that dark, speaking eye; it brought the colour to my face, and confusion and shame to my heart. I was silent for a few moments, when Joseph John Gurney asked, very gravely, "Dost thou not know any good thing to tell us of her?" I did not answer. The question was more seriously asked, "Think; is there nothing good thou canst tell us of her?" "Oh yes, I know some good things, certainly, but —" "Would it not have been better, then, to relate these good things than to have told us that which must lower her in our esteem? Since there is good to relate, would it not be kinder to be silent on the evil? Charity rejoiceth not in iniquity, thou knowest."
Thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy brother.? —
I. THE ILL-CONDUCT OF A NEIGHBOUR DEMANDS A PERSONAL REBUKE.
1. This injunction supposes cognisance of another's actions. Man was made for society, and its value consists greatly in taking an affectionate interest in those about us.
2. It is often easier for a bystander to detect a fault than for the one actively concerned in the deed. Our friend may be in ignorance of his guilt, and a word of reproof may open his eyes. What we imagined way done with intent may prove to have been thoughtlessly wrought.
3. The text inculcates what is acknowledged to be a hard duty, one which most are willing to relegate to others. We may fear some cutting retort, "Who made thee a judge over us?" We know that our neighbour's vanity may be wounded, and he may inflict some blow in return. Perhaps the duty is most difficult when the wrong has been perpetrated upon ourselves. Pride urges us to keep silence, and we nourish a sentiment of undeserved injury which rather flatters our conception of ourselves. Yet Jesus Christ re-enforced the law.
4. Regard for God demands the observance of the text. Every transgression is sin against Him.
5. The welfare of our neighbour requires it.
II. To REBUKE A NEIGHBOUR IS THE SUREST METHOD TO PREVENT OUR HATING HIM FOR HIS EVIL ACTION.
1. Hatred proceeds from the perception of something repugnant to our feelings, and, in the case supposed, of something that is distasteful to our moral sentiments. An outrage upon good taste is committed — a deed that is offensive to our judgment of what is congruous to the relationship and circumstances under consideration. This just resentment will be soothed by the recantation and improvement of the transgressor consequent on the reproof administered. We learn to distinguish between the sinner and the sin.
2. Our perception of wrong is clearer and more intense when the injury is done to ourselves, and the hatred threatens to become stronger. The picture is directed towards ourselves, and we get a good front view of it. It is the more necessary, therefore, to take steps to abate ensuing enmity. We shall relieve our burdened breasts by expressing our sense of the unrighteousness of our neighbour's behaviour, the utterance of resentment being a sentence of condemnation that satisfies to a certain extent our love of justice. Holy indignation will have been vented, and to that degree appeased.
3. On the other hand, the repression of reproof aggravates hatred. The concealment of our knowledge genders a sore that spreads till our every sight and thought of the man is one of utter dislike. By the sin of a brother we ourselves are thus betrayed into dire sin against the very purport of the Decalogue. We do not love, but hate our neighbour, and "he that hateth his brother is a murderer." Whereas "if he hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother." Thy reproof may be "an excellent oil, which shall not break his head."
III. THE REPROOF WILL DISCHARGE US FROM ALL GUILT OF TACIT PARTICIPATION IN OUR NEIGHBOUR'S SIN. The marginal rendering is preferable, "that thou bear not sin for him" or "on his account." To witness a crime and not make an endeavour to stop it is to be an abettor of it.
(S. R. Aldridge, B. A.)
I. THE CHRISTIAN DUTY OF REPROVING SIN IN OTHERS.
1. Duty to God.
(1) (2) (3) 2. Duty to neighbour. Love him as self. No outward act of what is called "good fellowship," no degree of goodwill or social intercourse can possibly make up for neglect of the soul. Now the exhortation in the text comes enforced by our duty to our neighbour. For what is it which is most injurious to our brother? It is sin. And shall I suffer sin on him? I should grieve, if I were to see him on the brink of a precipice or surrounded with devouring flames; if I saw that in his bosom was concealed a venomous serpent, or that he was about to lift a cup of deadly poison to his lips! And how, then, shall I suffer sin upon my brother? II. THE DIFFICULTIES IN THE WAY OF DISCHARGING THIS DUTY. 1. There are a number of circumstantial difficulties, but these I shall not dwell upon here. 2. The chief difficulties are in the heart of the Christian himself.(1) The first which I shall mention, and that which will strike all, is the fear of man. This arises from — (a) (b) (R. W. Sibthorp, B. D.)
(2) (3) 2. Duty to neighbour. Love him as self. No outward act of what is called "good fellowship," no degree of goodwill or social intercourse can possibly make up for neglect of the soul. Now the exhortation in the text comes enforced by our duty to our neighbour. For what is it which is most injurious to our brother? It is sin. And shall I suffer sin on him? I should grieve, if I were to see him on the brink of a precipice or surrounded with devouring flames; if I saw that in his bosom was concealed a venomous serpent, or that he was about to lift a cup of deadly poison to his lips! And how, then, shall I suffer sin upon my brother? II. THE DIFFICULTIES IN THE WAY OF DISCHARGING THIS DUTY. 1. There are a number of circumstantial difficulties, but these I shall not dwell upon here. 2. The chief difficulties are in the heart of the Christian himself.(1) The first which I shall mention, and that which will strike all, is the fear of man. This arises from — (a) (b) (R. W. Sibthorp, B. D.)
(3) 2. Duty to neighbour. Love him as self. No outward act of what is called "good fellowship," no degree of goodwill or social intercourse can possibly make up for neglect of the soul. Now the exhortation in the text comes enforced by our duty to our neighbour. For what is it which is most injurious to our brother? It is sin. And shall I suffer sin on him? I should grieve, if I were to see him on the brink of a precipice or surrounded with devouring flames; if I saw that in his bosom was concealed a venomous serpent, or that he was about to lift a cup of deadly poison to his lips! And how, then, shall I suffer sin upon my brother? II. THE DIFFICULTIES IN THE WAY OF DISCHARGING THIS DUTY. 1. There are a number of circumstantial difficulties, but these I shall not dwell upon here. 2. The chief difficulties are in the heart of the Christian himself.(1) The first which I shall mention, and that which will strike all, is the fear of man. This arises from — (a) (b) (R. W. Sibthorp, B. D.)
II. THE DIFFICULTIES IN THE WAY OF DISCHARGING THIS DUTY.
1. There are a number of circumstantial difficulties, but these I shall not dwell upon here.
(R. W. Sibthorp, B. D.)
(R. W. Sibthorp, B. D.)
I. WHAT BROTHERLY REPROOF OR CORRECTION IS. It is an act of love and charity, whereby we endeavour to reduce our offending brother to repentance and reformation.
1. By words. Remonstrating to them the greatness of their sin; the scandal which they give to others, either by encouraging or saddening them; the reproach which they bring upon religion; and the danger which they bring upon their own souls.
2. Where words have proved ineffectual, we may try how deeds can prevail — prevail, I say, either to deliver them, or, at least, to deliver thine own soul from death.(1) If they be our inferiors, over whom we have authority, either as magistrates, or parents, or the like, we ought, when admonition is fruitless, to reprove them by correction and punishment. If they will not hear they must feel rebuke. This discipline, if it be seasonably and prudently used, is so far from being any act of cruelty that it is an act of the greatest charity that can be, both to them and to others.(2) If they be our equals, over whom we have no jurisdiction nor coercive power, we are then to rebuke them, if they continue obstinate after Christian admonition, by withdrawing ourselves from all necessary converse with them — not so as to deny them the offices of courtesy and our charitable assistance to promote their temporal good, but to break off all intimacy with them, not to make such dissolute persons our chosen companions (2 Thessalonians 3:6).And to these two things are necessarily previous and antecedent —
1. Instruction and conviction. Could we but skilfully convince our brother by representing the odiousness of such and such sins, to which we know he is addicted, possibly we might spare ourselves in that which is the most ungrateful part of this work — I mean personal reflection, and leave it to his own conscience to reprove himself, and to apply it home with "Thou art the man." And —
2. It is necessary that we watch over our brother, not so as to be insidious spies upon him, officiously to pry into his actions, and busily to concern ourselves in all he doth.(1) We ought so to watch over our brother as to give him timely caution if we see him in any danger through temptation or passion, and to admonish him to stand upon his guard, to recollect himself and beware he be not surprised or injured by such an approaching sin.(2) If we have observed any miscarriages in him, we are to watch the best seasons and all the fittest circumstances in which to remind him of it, that so our reproof may be well accepted and become effectual.
II. But indeed, which is the second thing, it is not so hard a matter to know what it is as it is DIFFICULT conscientiously and faithfully to practise it
1. Many are afraid to reprove sin, lest they should incur displeasure, weaken their secular interest, ruin their dependencies, and bring some mischief upon themselves by exasperating the offenders against them. But these are poor, low, carnal considerations. Where matter of duty is in question, it is very necessary for every Christian to be of an undaunted courage and resolution.
2. Others, again, are ashamed to reprove sin. And whereas many profligate wretches glory in their shame, these, on the contrary, are ashamed of that which would be their glory. Either they doubt they shall be thought but troublesome and hypocritical inter-meddlers, or else, possibly, being conscious to themselves of many miscarriages, they suspect their reproofs will be upbraidingly retorted upon themselves; and so, by reproving the faults of others, they shall but give an occasion to have their own ripped up and exposed, and so they think it the safer way to say nothing.
III. It is a most NECESSARY duty. The greatest good you can do in the world is to pluck up these briars and thorns with which it is overgrown.
IV. I shall give you some brief RULES and DIRECTIONS when you ought to reprove, and how you ought to manage your reproofs, so as they may be most beneficial to your brother. And some of them shall be negatives, and others shall be positives.
1. For the negative rules take these that follow.(1) I ought not to reprove my brother if I have no certain knowledge of his offence.(2) It is not necessary to reprove where I have reason to conclude that others, of more prudence and interest in the party, either have already or will more effectually perform it.(3) We ought not to give sharp reproofs for small offences.(4) We are not to reprove those whom we have reason to believe are such desperate wretches that our reproofs would but exasperate them to sin the more for a reproof.
2. Let us now proceed to lay down some positive rules and directions for the right managing of our reproofs. And here —(1) If thou wouldst reprove with success, observe right circumstances of time and place. And let the one be as opportune, and the other as private, as thou canst. Now, usually, it is no fit season for reproof —(a) Presently, as soon as the sin is committed; for then the heat is not over, nor the uproar of the passions and affections appeased. In all likelihood a reproof as yet would but irritate. Nor yet —(b) Is a time of mirth and joy fit for reproof; for that will look like a piece of envy, as if we were malicious at their prosperity, and therefore studied to cast in somewhat that might disturb them, and so they will be apt to interpret it. Nor —(c) Is a time of exceeding great sadness and sorrow a proper season for reproof; for this will look like hostility and hatred, as if we designed utterly to overwhelm and dispatch them. But the fittest opportunity for this duty is when they are most calm, their passions hushed, and their reason (with which you are to deal) again reseated upon its throne.(2) If thou wouldst have thy reproofs successful, reprove with all gentleness and meekness, without giving any railing or reviling terms.(3) Though our reproofs must be meek and gentle, yet must they be quick and vivacious also; for as charity requires the one, so doth zeal the other, and the best and most equal temper is rightly to mix these two, that at once we may show meekness to his person ("For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God," James 1:20) and sharpness against his sin (for a remiss reprover will make but a slow penitent).(4) Let all thy reproofs be given as secretly and privately as possibly thou canst, otherwise thou wilt seem not so much to aim at thy brother's reformation as at his shame and. confusion.(5) Reprove not one who is greatly thy superior, unless it be at a respectful distance. Towards such we must not use downright and blunt rebukes, but rather insinuate things into them with address and artifice.(6) If thou wouldst hard thy reproofs effectual, especially beware that thou thyself art not guilty of those sins which thou reprovest in another.
V. Some MOTIVES which may quicken you to the conscientious discharge of this duty. And here, next to the express command of Almighty God, whose authority alone ought to prevail against all the difficulties which we either find or fancy in the way of obedience thereunto, consider the great benefit which may redound both to the reprover and reproved.
1. To the reprover.(1) Thou shalt hereby provide thyself a friend who may take the same liberty to reprove thee when it shall be needful and for thy great good.(2) Thou wilt hereby entitle thyself to that great and precious promise (Daniel 12:3).(3) Thou shalt increase thy own graces and comforts more than possibly thou couldst do by separating thyself from them. Thy graces will be more confirmed, because reproving of others will engage thee to a greater watchfulness over thyself. Thy comforts also will be increased, because a conscientious discharge of this duty will be to thee a great evidence of the integrity and sincerity of thy heart.
2. The practice of this duty will be greatly profitable unto him that is reproved. How knowest thou but it may be a means to turn him from his iniquity? and so thou shalt prevent a multitude of sins and save a soul from death (James 5:20).
(Bp. E. Hopkins.)
I. EXPLAIN THE DUTY. "We are members one of another." Then I may not act with a view to myself alone. If there be thus an obligation on me, from the very fact of my creation, to have reference in all which I do to the benefit of my brethren, how am I to shift off from myself the duty of brotherly admonition or reproof? If I see that a brother or neighbour is pursuing a course which is likely to provoke God's wrath, and must issue in ruin, then it can be no matter of option with me; I must be altogether and grievously at fault if I "suffer sin upon him," and do not strive to bring him to repentance and amendment. It is bound on us that we do this by word, seeking to set faithfully before the offender the bitter consequences of his offence-invoking him by his hopes and his fears that he turn away from evil. The righteous have not protested against wickedness by boldly separating themselves from it. They have denounced heresy and impiety, but they have not been sufficiently diligent in digging the gulf or throwing up the rampart between themselves and those whom they profess to rebuke.
II. STATE RULES AND MOTIVES.
1. There must be a diligent and prayerful observation of both the relative and the absolute circumstances of the offending party, so that we may decide whether the interference is likely to be spurned as an unwarrantable intrusion or provoke to additional sin.
2. Supposing that neither of these results be likely to follow, and supposing the offending party is one who, if I reproach, he may probably be advantaged by reproof, then we give, as a second rule, that an exact proportion should be preserved between the offence committed and the rebuke which it receives. It is very easy, but, at the same time, infinitely removed from all that is Christian, to upbraid the shiner in place of rebuking the sin. Whereas, if we would act up to the spirit of our text, the rebuke should never part from our lips which has not the double object of love for the offender and hatred of the offence. The brotherly correction, which alone can be expected to work its way to the heart, must bear upon itself the evident marks of having been dictated by genuine affection.
3. The reproof should be given privately rather than publicly.
4. If you hope that your admonition may carry any weight, take heed that you be not yourself chargeable with the fault that you reprove in another. The force of example is vastly greater than that of words, and the reproof which rebounds on itself leaves no permanent impression on the rock against which it was thrown.
5. These are simple rules, which you may all understand and apply. Their motives are so involved in them that it is unnecessary to multiply reasons urging to the duty under review. Enough for us to know that he who neglects the duty suffers sin on his brother; enough for us to be assured that "they who turn many to righteousness shall shine as stars for ever and ever." And equipped with the fear of partaking in the guilt which we do not rebuke, and with the hope of securing the glories of those who turn souls to the Lord, we have all which can brace us up to the vigorous effort of checking the rule and progress of impiety.
(H. Melvill, B. D.)
I. WHAT DUTY IS ENJOINED, AND WHAT SHOULD BE REBUKED.
1. TO tell any one of his fault, "Thou shalt not suffer sin upon him." Sin, therefore, is the thing we are called to reprove, or rather him that commits sin. Do all we can to convince him of his fault, and lead him in the right way.
2. Love requires that we should also warn him of error, which would naturally lead to sin.
3. Avoid reproving for anything that is disputable.
II. WHO THEY ARE WE ARE CALLED TO REPROVE.
1. There are some sinners we are forbidden to rebuke. "Cast not your pearls before swine."
2. Our "neighbour" is every child of man, all that have souls to be saved.
3. The reproving is not to be done in the same degree to every one. First, it is particularly done to our parents, if needing it; then to brothers and sisters; then to relatives; then to our servants; to our fellow-citizens; members of the same religious society; watch over each other that we may not suffer sin upon our brother. To neglect this is to "hate our brother in our heart"; and "he that hateth his brother is a murderer." It imperils our own salvation to neglect this duty.
III. WHAT SPIRIT AND MANNER SHOULD MARK OUR PERFORMANCE OF THIS DUTY.
1. There is considerable difficulty in doing it aright. Although some are specially qualified to do it by grace, and skilful by practice. But, though difficult, we must do it; and God will aid us.
2. How most effectual? When done in "the spirit of love," of tender goodwill fur our neighbour, as for one who is the son of our common Father, as for one for whom Christ died, that he might be a partaker of salvation.
3. Yet speak in the spirit of humility. "Not think of yourself more highly than you ought to think." Not feeling or showing the least contempt of those whom you reprove; disclaiming all self-superiority; owning the good there is in him.
4. In the spirit of meekness. "For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God." Anger begets anger, not holiness.
5. Put no trust in yourself; in your wisdom or abilities; speak in the spirit of prayer.
6. And as for the outward manner, as well as the spirit, in which it should be done; let there be a frank outspokenness, a plain and artless declaration of disinterested love. It will pierce like lightning.
7. With great seriousness, showing that you are really in earnest. A ludicrous reproof makes little impression, or is taken ill.
8. Yet there are exceptions when a little well-placed raillery will pierce deeper than solid argument. "Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes."
9. Adapt the manner to the occasion. By few or many words as the situation determines; or by no words at all, but a look, a gesture, a sigh. Such silent reproof may be attended by the power of God.
10. Watch for a fair occasion. "A word spoken in season, how good it is." Catch the time when his mind is soft and mild.
11. But should a man be left alone when intoxicated? I dare not say so; for instances are forthcoming of a reproof then having had good effects. Despise not the poor drunkard. Many of them are self-condemned, but they despair. He that tells a man there is no help for him is a liar from the beginning. "Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world."
12. You that are diligent in this labour of love be not discouraged. You have need of patience.
(John Wesley, M. A.)
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
( C. H. Spurgeon.) -
( St. Augustine.) -
— A person who objects to tell a friend of his faults because he has faults of his own acts as a surgeon would who should refuse to dress another person's wounds because he had a dangerous one himself.
Thou shalt not avenge
Scientific lllustrations.Small birds have an intense natural antipathy of nocturnal birds of prey. If one of these birds happens to be seen out of its lurking-place during the day they assail it vigorously, resent its intrusion, and avenge the oppression exercised over them during the night by combined attacks. This antipathy has been taken advantage of for the purpose of catching birds ever since the days of Aristotle. The catcher imitates, for instance, the voice of an owl about an hour before sunset, when the birds will flock together and perch on the trees or bushes in the suspected neighbourhood. The twigs, &c., having been previously covered with bird-lime, the birds pay their liberty and perhaps life as the penalty of their desire to avenge themselves on the owl.
A garment mingled of linen and. woollen.
(S. H. Kellogg, D. D.)
vice versa. One of the reasons which the ancient canonists assign for this prohibition is that "wool and linen were appointed for the priests alone." This law is observed by the orthodox Jews to this day.
(C. D. Ginsburg, LL. D.)
A bondmaid betrothed.Matthew 19:8), in that which He said concerning the analogous case of the law of Moses touching divorce; which law, He tells us, although not according to the perfect ideal of right, was yet given "because of the hardness of men's hearts." That is, although it was not the best law ideally, it was the best practically, in view of the low moral tone of the people to whom it was given. Precisely so it was in this case. Abstractly, one might say that the case was in nothing different from the case of a free woman, mentioned Deuteronomy 22:23, 24, for which death was the appointed punishment; bat practically, in a community where slavery and concubinage were long-settled institutions, and the moral standard was still low, the cases were not parallel. A law which would carry with it the moral support of the people in the one case, and which it would thus be possible to carry into effect, would not be in like manner supported and carried into effect in the other; so that the result of greater strictness in theory would, in actual practice, be the removal thereby of all restriction on license. On the other hand, by thus appointing herein a penalty for both the guilty parties such as the public conscience would approve, God taught the Hebrews the fundamental lesson that a slave-girl is not regarded by God as a mere chattel; and that if, because of the hardness of their hearts, concubinage was tolerated for a time, still the slave-girl must not be treated as a thing, but as a person, and indiscriminate license could not be permitted. And thus, it is of greatest moment to observe, a principle was introduced into the legislation, which in its ultimate logical application would require and effect — as in due time it has — the total abolition of slavery wherever the authority of the living God is truly recognised. The principle of the Divine government which is here illustrated is one of exceeding practical importance as a model for us. We live in an age when, everywhere in Christendom, the cry is "Reform"; and there are many who think that if once it be proved that a thing is wrong, it follows by necessary consequence that the immediate and unqualified legal prohibition of that wrong, under such penalty as the wrong may deserve, is the only thing that any Christian man has a right to think of. And yet, according to the principle illustrated in this legislation, this conclusion in such cases can by no means be taken for granted. That is not always the best law practically which is the best law abstractly. That law is the best which shall be most effective in diminishing a given evil, under the existing moral condition of the community; and it is often a matter of such exceeding difficulty to determine what legislation against admitted sins and evils may be the most productive of good in a community whose moral sense is dull concerning them, that it is not strange that the best men are often found to differ. Remembering this, we may well commend the duty of a more charitable judgment, in such cases, than one often hears from such radical reformers, who seem to imagine that in order to remove an evil all that is necessary is to pass a law at once and for ever prohibiting it; and who, therefore, hold up to obloquy all who doubt as to the wisdom and duty of so doing, as the enemies of truth and of righteousness.
(S. H. Kellogg, D. D.)
In the fourth year all the fruit thereof shall be holy.i.e., they were to be regarded as in a condition analogous to that of the child who has not yet been consecrated, by the act of circumcision, to the Lord. In the fourth year, however, the trees were regarded as having now so grown as to yield fruit in perfection; hence the principle of the consecration of the firstfruit now applies, and all the fourth year's product is given to the Lord, as an offering of thankful .praise to Him whose power in nature is the secret of all growth, fruitfulness, and increase. The moral teaching of this law is very plain. It teaches, as in all analogous cases, that God is always to be served before ourselves; and that not grudgingly, as if an irksome tax were to be paid to the Majesty of Heaven, but in the spirit of thanksgiving and praise to Him, as the Giver of "every good and perfect gift." It further instructs us, in this particular instance, that the people of God are to recognise this as being true even of all those good things which come to us under the forms of products of nature.
(S. H. Kellogg, D. D.)
1. A merciful providence for posterity; for if a tree be suffered to bear too soon, as the first, second, or third year, it doth not usually endure long, but decayeth sooner than otherwise it would, the fruit draweth away the nourishment which should make the root and tree strong.
2. It restrained covetousness in the Jews, and taught them how God hateth scraping all to man's self for his time, and nothing caring for posterity. Such are they that will take the heart out of the land before their term end, cut down the wood, fruit-trees, hedges, destroy the game, and do all the mischief they can and dare do. The Lord seeth them and thinketh of them, though they little think of themselves and of their malicious actions.
3. It shadowed how little worth the fruits of youth usually are, either to the Church or commonwealth, till years have bred strength of judgment, and made them both see and do what is profitable. Even as uncircumcised fruits, so are the actions of youth, and therefore David prayed for pardon in this case.
Ye shall not round the corners of your heads.
(S. H. Kellogg, D. D.)
(M. M. Kaliseh, Ph. D.)
Ye shall keep My Sabbaths.
(H. S. Carpenter.)
Reverence My sanctuary.
I. How THE SANCTUARY IS TO BE REVERENCED.
1. The sanctuary is reverenced when proper ideas are entertained of its nature and holiness. This appropriate and sacred respect will be shown by not permitting the sanctuary to be dishonoured by any profane use of it, by keeping it in decent repair and cleanliness, and, as far as in us lies, in a state of magnificence worthy of the Great Being to whom it is dedicated; and by those outward tokens of reverence, by which we can express, without an idle superstition, our respect for the Being, the dwelling-places of whose honour are the temples devoted to His service.
2. After having proper ideas of the nature and holiness of the sanctuary, the next step towards reverencing it is to love to be in it, and to join in its services. When a place is consecrated to the worship of God; when He has promised to be there with a blessing; when He has proffered His word to be there as a fountain, set open for sin and uncleanness; and has appointed a priesthood to minister between Him and His people; when the priesthood of Christ is there enjoyed after His ordinance; to be wholly absent, or but partially present, comports little with a reverence for the sanctuary.
3. It is essential to a reverence for the sanctuary that we strive not to bring thither our worldly thoughts and improper affections.
4. In order to discharge the duty enforced in the text, we must be attentive to decorum, when entering the sanctuary, while continuing in it, and when returning from it.
II. THE FOUNDATION AND IMPORTANCE OF THE DUTY ENJOINED. This is briefly and fully assigned in the words, "I am the Lord."
1. If we consider the nature of the Being, to whom the sanctuary belongs, and whom we there meet, this is sufficient to fill us with awe.
2. The authority of the Lord, as our Sovereign, renders an obedience to His law indispensable.
I. WHAT A SANCTUARY OF GOD IS, AND WHEREIN THE HOLINESS OF IT CONSISTS. Places are capable of a relative holiness in two respects.
1. In respect of a peculiar propriety God has in them by their dedication to His immediate worship and service.
2. In respect of His especial presence vouchsafed in them, and the particular communications of His grace in the holy offices there performed.
II. WHAT RESPECT OR REVERENCE IS DUE TO SUCH HOLY PLACES.
1. The building, repairing, adorning, and furnishing such places for the service of God.
2. The keeping them from all profane and common usage, and applying them wholly to the worship of God, and the business of religion.
4. Consider what reverence becomes us when we come into the House of God. Our business there is to exercise ourselves in holy and heavenly matters; and our demeanour in it ought to be such as may testify what awful thoughts we have of that glorious Majesty, before whom, in a particular manner, we present ourselves.
(John Leng, B. D.)
I. IN SOLEMNLY SEPARATING THEM FROM COMMON USE. Churches, when once consecrated, cannot be alienated from God's service without sacrilege, nor applied to any other use without profanation; for, as the Divine Majesty is holy, so it is manifestly a part of that honour we owe to God, that those things wherewith and whereby He is served should not be common and promiscuous, but reserved solely for sacred purposes.
II. IN THE BEAUTIFYING AND ADORNING THEM. Shall the Almighty vouchsafe, in a peculiar manner, to take up His residence among us here on earth, and shall not we endeavour to provide the most honourable reception for Him? The bestowing proper ornaments upon God's house is not only an instance of respect due from us to Him, but is also a useful means of promoting religion; for outward objects will always affect the mind with impressions, according to the nature of them.
III. BY A CONSTANT ATTENDANCE UPON THE SERVICES IN THEM. God, no doubt, is conscious to our most private devotions in our closets, to every ejaculation, to every pious thought that ever rises in our souls; He requires these, and approves of them; but then He expects, and commands also, that we pay Him public homage and external worship, wherein if we are deficient, we discharge but half our duty.
IV. BY A DECENT AND DEVOUT BEHAVIOUR IN THEM. As earthly potentates have many palaces in several parts of their dominions, where at different times they keep their court, one whereof is generally erected in their principal city, superior in magnificence and grandeur to the rest: so the Almighty, the King of kings, has His several mansion-houses throughout the world, though His chief dwelling be in heaven, where He is encircled with beams of light and glory, too strong for mortals to approach. These mansion-houses in these lower realms are those places that are dedicated and consecrated to His service, in which He is ever present, ready to dispense liberally His favours to all that duly ask, surrounded with a guard of angels and archangels, who to us indeed are invisible, but we are not so to them. With what humility, with what reverence and devotion, then, ought we to carry ourselves, in a place so dreadful as is the house of God, and in the presence of such honourable, such awful company!
(S. Grigman, M. A.)
— We shall never see the glory of that light which dwells between the cherubim if our visits to the shrine are brief and interrupted, and the bulk of our time is spent outside the tabernacle amidst the glaring sand and the blazing sunshine. No short swallow-flights of soul will ever carry us to the serene height where God dwells. It is the eagle, with steady, unflagging flaps of his broad pinion, and open-eyed gaze upwards, that rises "close to the sun in lonely lands," and leaves all the race of short.winged and weak-sighted twitterers far below.
(J. Parker, D. D.)
Them that have familiar spirits.1 Samuel 28:7-11, and Isaiah 8:19, the "familiar spirit" is a supposed spirit of a dead man, from whom one professes to be able to give communications to the living. This pretended commerce with the spirits of the dead has been common enough in heathenism always, and it is not strange to find it mentioned here, when Israel was to be in so intimate relations with heathen peoples. But it is truly must extraordinary that in Christian lands, as especially in the United States of America, and that in the full light, religious and intellectual, of the last half of the nineteenth century, such a prohibition should be fully as pertinent as in Israe! For no words could more precisely describe the pretensions of the so-called modern spiritualism, which within the last half century has led away hum]reds of thousands of deluded souls, and those, in many cases, not from the ignorant and degraded, but from circles which boast of more than average culture and intellectual enlightenment. And inasmuch as experience sadly shows that even those who profess to be disciples of Christ are in danger of being led away by our modern wizards and traffickers with familiar spirits, it is by no means unnecessary to observe that there is not the slightest reason to believe that this which was rigidly forbidden by God in the fifteenth century B.C., can now be well-pleasing to Him in the nineteenth century A.D. And those who have most carefully watched the moral developments of this latter-day delusion will most appreciate the added phrase which speaks of this as "defiling" a man.
(S. H. Kellogg, D. D.)
Rise up before the hoary head.1. Because the aged represent mature wisdom.
2. Because the aged record long years spent in our service.
3. Because the aged demonstrate God's providential care.
4. Because the aged are solemn admonitions of life's decay.
5. Because the aged suggest nearness to eternity.
6. Because the aged exhibit the richest fruits of grace.
7. Because the aged mark the line of God's covenant blessings for descendants.
8. Because the aged represent on earth Him who is the "Ancient of Days."
Hosea 14:3), "the orphans relieved, and the widow" (Psalm 146:9), and the "stranger preserved."
(A. A. Bonar.)
(J. N. Norton, D. D.)
(J. Hewlett, B. D.)
S. S. Chronicle.One day (Cicero tells the story in his treatise on "Old Age,") an aged Athenian came into the theatre, but not one of his fellow-citizens in that immense crowd would incommode himself to make room for him. As, however, he approached the ambassadors from Lacedaemon, who had their own special seat, they all rose to receive him into their midst. The whole assembly burst into applause, whereupon somebody said, "The Athenians know what is good, but they will not practise it." Many people know what is right but turn a deaf ear to conscience, and neglect their duty, although it has been made clear to them what that duty is.
(S. S. Chronicle.)
Isaiah 3:5), that the children shall behave themselves proudly against the ancients. A reverent awe before them is not only a point of manners, but a part of a moral and express duty; and therefore it is said of Elihu (Job 32:4), that he waited till Job had spoken because he was elder than he, and in ver. 6 he saith, "I am young and ye are very old: wherefore I was afraid and durst not show you mine opinion."
(Bp. E. Hopkins.)
The stranger.., shall be ... as one born among you.I. THE DANGER APPREHENDED. The fear was lest they should grow too inclusive and haughty, and begin to despise and oppress the individual foreigners that should remain in the land or might enter it for a settlement. The invitation to the stranger might be like that of the spider to the fly — a siren's voice luring to destruction. This is the very fate that has befallen the Jews in mediaeval and modern Europe. To prevent such usage the command of the text was issued. There arises a clashing of commercial interests; to see foreigners flourishing in the midst whilst home interests suffer, has often led to riot and persecution.
II. THE PRINCIPLES OH WHICH THE COMMAND OF THE TEXT IS RAISED.
1. There is a recognition of the brotherhood of man. "He shall be unto you as one born among you." This doctrine of the unity of the race was brought eminently to light by Jesus Christ.
2. There is a recognition of the royal law of love, both as to its extent and as an instrument of obedience. For
(1) (2) (3) 3. It is instructive to discern in the law predictions of the gospel. Here are the germs that developed into trees laden with richest fruit. III. THE MEMORIES BY WHICH OBSERVANCE OF THE COMMAND IS ENFORCED. 1. By a remembrance of their own condition in former days. Christians! your time of bondage should make you compassionate to those still in darkness. Will you shun them as evil, or let praying and working on their behalf go hand in band? 2. By a remembrance of their relationship to God. After nearly every precept comes this solemn reminder, "I am the Lord thy God." He was the covenant God to whom the Israelites had dedicated themselves, being sprinkled with sacrificial blood. If they entertained a proper sense of the authority of God, they would attend to this particular statute. Stand on the monument, and it is difficult to tell which is the giant and which the dwarf below in the streets. So before the majesty of God all earthly distinctions of race disappear. Love the stranger! God hath made all of one blood. (S. R. Aldridge, B. A.)
(2) (3) 3. It is instructive to discern in the law predictions of the gospel. Here are the germs that developed into trees laden with richest fruit. III. THE MEMORIES BY WHICH OBSERVANCE OF THE COMMAND IS ENFORCED. 1. By a remembrance of their own condition in former days. Christians! your time of bondage should make you compassionate to those still in darkness. Will you shun them as evil, or let praying and working on their behalf go hand in band? 2. By a remembrance of their relationship to God. After nearly every precept comes this solemn reminder, "I am the Lord thy God." He was the covenant God to whom the Israelites had dedicated themselves, being sprinkled with sacrificial blood. If they entertained a proper sense of the authority of God, they would attend to this particular statute. Stand on the monument, and it is difficult to tell which is the giant and which the dwarf below in the streets. So before the majesty of God all earthly distinctions of race disappear. Love the stranger! God hath made all of one blood. (S. R. Aldridge, B. A.)
(3) 3. It is instructive to discern in the law predictions of the gospel. Here are the germs that developed into trees laden with richest fruit. III. THE MEMORIES BY WHICH OBSERVANCE OF THE COMMAND IS ENFORCED. 1. By a remembrance of their own condition in former days. Christians! your time of bondage should make you compassionate to those still in darkness. Will you shun them as evil, or let praying and working on their behalf go hand in band? 2. By a remembrance of their relationship to God. After nearly every precept comes this solemn reminder, "I am the Lord thy God." He was the covenant God to whom the Israelites had dedicated themselves, being sprinkled with sacrificial blood. If they entertained a proper sense of the authority of God, they would attend to this particular statute. Stand on the monument, and it is difficult to tell which is the giant and which the dwarf below in the streets. So before the majesty of God all earthly distinctions of race disappear. Love the stranger! God hath made all of one blood. (S. R. Aldridge, B. A.)
III. THE MEMORIES BY WHICH OBSERVANCE OF THE COMMAND IS ENFORCED.
(S. R. Aldridge, B. A.)
I. WE OURSELVES ARE STRANGERS ON THE EARTH. "For ye were strangers in the land" (ver. 34).
1. Dependent on other care than our own; human and Divine.
2. Transient, soon to leave, resting but a little while on earth. Observe: it is good to see in the case of others an analogy with our own; it will foster sympathy and helpfulness.
II. COURTESY SHOULD ROOT ITSELF IN GENEROUS LOVE. "Thou shalt love him as thyself."
1. Acting to the stranger as if the service were being rendered to us. This will teach us what to do, and how to show kindness.
2. Recognising that we may perchance be in the stranger's position. As thus needing kindness, let us now exhibit it.
3. Opening our hearts in ungrudging benevolence. "Love" gives lavishly. Courtesy should not be meagre and superficial.
III. GRATITUDE TO HEAVEN PROMPTS US TO GENEROUS KINDNESS. "Ye were strangers in the land of Egypt; I am the Lord your God."
1. Memory of God's rescue should constrain us to care for others.
2. God's relationship to us requires that we illustrate His lovingkindness.
3. His commands to courtesy cannot be evaded with impunity.
(W. H. Jellie.)
, i.e., Ingratus Hospes, The Unthankful Guest. Now, if every unthankful man were thus used, there would be many a blistered forehead amongst us. Oh the unthankfulness that we show unto God, who, when we were strangers to Him, shipwrecked even in an ocean of sin, sent His Son Christ Jesus to deliver us, yet we refuse to receive Him, to relieve Him in His distressed members, and to be obedient to His blessed commands I And then our ingratitude to one another is such that though we come off with smooth fronts here in this world, yet such characters of shame and confusion are engraven on our souls that men and angels shall read them with amazement when the books shall be laid open (Daniel 7:10).
Just balances, Just weights shall ye have.I. SOCIAL LIFE IS BASED UPON COMMERCIAL CONTRACTS. Each bringing to the other some product of skill or toil. We cannot supply a fraction of our own wants, we must buy; and we have also in turn something to sell. Business is the outcome of this reciprocal dependence. Each can, each must help the other, or social and civic life would be impossible.
II. DISHONESTY IS SUBVERSIVE OF THE VERY BASIS OF SOCIAL LIFE. It breaks confidence, alienates intercourse; closes friendly relationships, substitutes roguery for righteousness, and wrecks all goodwill. Pleasant to reflect —
1. How much trade honour there is among men.
2. How surely trickery brings discovery, and therefore penalty, on rogues.
3. How honesty is ever winning respect and reward.
III. JUSTICE SITS OBSERVANT OF ALL DECEITFUL DEEDS. "I am the Lord." He sees all secrecies; weighs all balances; hates all dishonesties; will requite all deceits.
(W. H. Jellie.)
— A young American aspirant for office in the State of Iowa drove up to an hotel, alighted, and engaged a room. He desired his trunk to be taken to his room, and, seeing a man passing whom he supposed to be the porter, he imperiously ordered him to take it up. The porter charged him twenty-five cents, which he paid with a marked quarter worth only twenty cents. He then said, "You know Governor Grimes? Oh, yes, sir." "Well, take my card to him, and tell him I wish an interview at his earliest convenience." "I am Governor Grimes, at your service, sir." "You — I — that is, my dear sir, I beg — a — a thousand pardons!" "None needed at all, sir," replied Governor Grimes. "I was rather favourably impressed with your letter, and had thought you well suited for the office specified; but, sir, any man who would swindle a working man out of a paltry five cents would defraud the public treasury had he an opportunity. Good evening, sir."
S. S. Chronicle.A judge in New Orleans has recently set aside a jury verdict on somewhat unusual but certainly good grounds. A man was on trial for murder. After the case had been given to the jury they retired for consultation for verdict, and spent the hours in drinking whiskey and playing cards. They found the prisoner guilty; but the next day, in setting aside their verdict, Judge Baker said: "Twelve men, supplied with a quart bottle of whiskey and a deck of cards, who played poker from twelve o'clock at night till four in the morning, and holding a man's life in their hands, could not possibly give the prisoner a fair trial. As long as I preside over this court I cannot sanction such a thing, and therefore I grant the prisoner a new trial."
(S. S. Chronicle.)
Independent the reminiscence of an interview with the late A. T. Stewart, the millionaire storekeeper of New York, tells us that on one occasion in reply to his visitor's question, "What is the secret of this enormous business?" Mr. Stewart replied: "The only secret I know is that I started with the idea of becoming professionally and actually a merchant. I saw lawyers and doctors become rich by making themselves precious to those they worked for. Hence certain rules. I had only one price.' Ladies who come in their cushioned carriages don't want to be fevered by the idea of beating down. Again, perfect goods! I bought and sold nothing damaged. And in a third of a century people got to buying of me with the luxury of an easy mind. I allowed no deceit. A youth who would misrepresent anything I would discharge. I forbade ladies to be allowed to deceive each other in talking of my goods, and salesmen were ordered to correct buyers who were standing by the goods, who said they would wash, for example, if they would not. You have no idea what comfort this would give in shopping through a long course of years and the business would grow, under this entire freedom from complaint, in a way that neither the storekeeper nor the buyer at the time might quite remark or understand. This is my secret," said he, "as far as I can conceive. I have demanded full profits, but then I have bought with uniform care, and sold correctly and with absolute truth all my time." "Poor humanity may have only one good side," adds Mr. Miller, "but, certainly, that is worthy of a record."
"Him, only him, the shield of Heaven defends
Whose means are fair and spotless as his ends."
Hom. Review.A popular pastor preached once on the immoralities of trade. At the close of the service two of the prominent members of his church, both successful business men, came to him. Said the first: "Dominie, there is no use in preaching such a sermon. That sort of thing is never practised by honourable houses or by such men as compose this congregation." The other called the preacher aside and said, "Dominie, there is no use in preaching such sermons. The practices you speak of are so universal that they have ceased to merit your characterisation of them. Every business house in this city does just that thing, my own amongst the rest. It is not worth while to preach against it."
(S. H. Kellogg, D. D.)
(M. M. Kalisch, Ph. D.).