« AnteriorContinuar »
any impurity or filthiness so much as named among us," nor to suffer "a foul word to proceed out of our
a mouth," not to “defile our bodies," consecrated unto God, and made “temples of the Holy Spirit,” excluding persons guilty of such things from any title or capacity of entering into God's kingdom ; in fine, representing all such practices as most dishonourable to us, most displeasing to God, most grievous to God's Holy Spirit, the fountain of all virtue and goodness, most contrary to the nature and design of our religion, and most destructive of our souls.
THOU SHALT NOT STEAL.
That every man should quietly enjoy those supports and those conveniences of life, which in any honest manner he hath acquired the possession of or right unto, as all reason and equity do require, so it must be acknowledged absolutely necessary for the preservation of common peace and the maintenance of civil society among men.
To secure which purposes, and to encourage honest industry, this law prohibiteth all invasion, or usurpation by any means whatever, either by open violence and extortion, or by clandestine fraud and surreption, of our neighbour's proper goods and rights.
'1 Cor. iii. 17;. vi. 18, 19 ; Ephes. iv. 29; v. 3; Colos. iii. 5; 1 Thess, iv. 4 ; 1 Pet. ii. 11.
Ephes. v. 4, etc.
He that in any way, against his neighbour's knowledge or will, getteth into his power, or detaineth therein, what doth in equity belong to his neighbour, and which he can restore to him, doth transgress against the intent of this law, as we see it interpreted in Leviticus, where it is thus expressed'; “Thou shalt not defraud thy neighbour, nor rob him:”defrauding by cunning practice is no less forbidden than robbing by violent force. Anywise to deprive our neighbour of his due, to purloin, to exact, or extort anything more than one's due, 3 “ to go beyond,” or overreach our neighbour in dealing, to delude and cozen him by false speeches or fallacious pretences, are acts in St Paul's expression, to be referred hither, as so many special acts of theft.
I cannot stand to reckon up all the sorts of unrighteousness included here, or reducible to this matter, such as, beside downright rapine and cheating, are, foul dealing in bargains and contracts, using false weights and measures, withholding the pledge, detaining the labourer's wages from him, the exercising vexatious, biting, and devouring usuries, removing bounds of possession, oppressing by undue or rigorous exaction, corrupting justice for reward or favour, raising gain by unlawful and shameful arts or practices, consenting or sharing with, advising or instigating to these and the like acts; these I shall not particularly insist upon, but shall only say, that God expresseth great indignation against, and
3 Tit. ii. 10.
I Lev. xix. 13.
2 Cor. vi. 8.
• 1 Thess. iv. 6.
threateneth most severely to punish all acts of this kind :1 “For all,” saith he, “ that do such things, and all that do unrighteousness, are an abomination unto the Lord thy God.” “God,” saith St Paul, speaking against the circumventing and defrauding our neighbour, “is an avenger for all these kinds of things :"3 nor indeed is the gospel more severe in denunciation of punishment against any crime than this: “Know ye not, that unjust persons,” saith St Paul, “shall not inherit the kingdom of God ?"4 Thieves, exactors, or cheaters, and rapacious persons make a good party in the catalogue of those who shall be excluded from eternal bliss.
I must add the positive duties, here to be understood and referred to this matter, the which are commended to us in Scripture. Such are, diligence and industry in our calling, whereby with God's blessing we may support ourselves, preventing the need, and escaping the temptation of encroachment upon our neighbour's property, whereby we may, as St Paul speaketh, "have need of nothing,” may “eat our own bread," may even have wherewith to impart to the needs of others; contentment in that estate wherein God hath placed us, how mean soever, trusting in God and relying upon his providence, casting our burthen and care upon him, who hath promised to sustain us, who hath said,
I Levit. xix. 13 ;
Deut. xxiv. 14 ; xxv. 13; Psal. xv. 4; Prov. xxii. 8 ; Isa. i. 23; Ezek. xxii. 12 ; xviii. 7, 16; Hos. v. 10; Amos viii. 8; James v. 4. 2 Deut. xxv. 16.
1 Thess. iv, 6.
"Cor, vi. 9.
that he will never leave or forsake us ;l lastly, charitable relief of our neighbour in his need, for in such a case our neighbour hath a title to the goods we possess, derived from the appointment and donation of God, who is the absolute proprietor of all we have, we being only his stewards, and dispensers thereof according to the rules he hath declared, so that if we do not, according to his order, supply our poor neighbour, we are in just estimation, and shall in God's judgment appear to be, thieves, both in respect to God himself and to our neighbour, for that we, thereby, detain from God what by original right is his, and bereave our neighbour of what God hath bestowed on him.
THOU SHALT NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS AGAINST
It is in the Hebrew, “Thou shalt not answer against thy neighbour as a false witness," so that primarily, it seems, bearing false testimony against our neighbour is prohibited. Yet that not only this great crime, but that all injurious, even extra-judicial, prejudicing our neighbour's reputation, and consequently his safety or his welfare in any sort, is forbidden, we may collect from that explication of this law, or that parallel law, which we have in Leviticus: “Thou shalt not,” 'tis there
' Psallv. 23 ; Prov. xxx. 8 ; Ephes. iv. 28 ; Phil. iv. 11; 1 Thess. iv. 12; 2 Thess. iii. 12; 1 Tim. vi. 8; Heb. xiii. 5; 1 Pet. v. .
said, “ go up and down as a tale-bearer among thy people, neither shalt thou stand against the blood of thy. neighbour;”1 as a tale-bearer, that is, defaming him, or detracting from him, or breeding in the minds of men an ill opinion of him, which vile and mischievous practice is elsewhere under several names condemned and reproved; such are "muttering :” “The words of a mutterer,” saith the wise man, “are as wounds going into the
, innermost parts of the belly ;”? “supplanting,” so in the good man's description, Psal. xv., it is said," he supplants not with his tongue;" the word signifies detraction or backbiting, which is so often in the apostolical writings forbidden and reprehended, slander, or calumny, and sycophancy,* that is, oppressing, abusing, or any way harming men by false tales, suggestions, or pretences; which sort of practices how base they are in themselves, how contrary they are to justice, how opposite they are to charity, which obligeth us to think the best of our neighbour, and to endeavour that others also may do so, to conceal his real faults and blemishes, of how mischievous consequence also they are, breeding ill-will, and sowing strife in all societies both public and private, common sense and experience do show. They consequently must be very odious in the sight of God, who
Levit. xix. 16. 2 Prov. xviii. 8, in margin of A. V.“ whisperer ;” so in the original Hebrew.
* Levit. xix. 11; Psal. lxxii. 4; cxix. 134. Luke iii. 14; xix. 8; Rom. i. 30; 2 Cor. xii. 20; James iv. 11; 1 Pet. ii. 1.
5 Prov. x. 12; 1 Cor. xiii. 5, 7.
8 Psal. xv. 3•