You shall not defraud your neighbor, neither rob him…
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.
Parallel VersesKJV: Thou shalt not defraud thy neighbour, neither rob him: the wages of him that is hired shall not abide with thee all night until the morning.