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fession of Christianity, or morality ? On the contrary, when a favourable opportunity presents itself, and there appears no risk of detection, how often are deeds of the grossest injustice wilfully and habitually perpetrated ? How often is such injustice committed in the common affairs of life, in buying as well as in selling? Or, when this does not take place in an aggravated measure, how frequently are petty acts of injustice resorted to, not only by those who have a fair reputation in the world, but by those who make a flaming profession in the Church ? In short, how often iş injustice or dishonesty, in almost innumerable ways, carried to such an extent, that, till the perpetrators are detected, they may be said to “ know no shame?”
For example, how often, on the part of the seller, is dishonesty practised, not so much by an exorbitant or excessive charge, or by a false weight or a light balance, as by over-reaching more than by over-rating ; by fraud more than by falseness; by taking advantage of an oversight or a mistake, of ignorance or weakness, of credulity or simplicity; by deception or imposition; by palming off a bad for a good article, or unduly boasting of its excellence; by pretending to sell “at a great sacrifice," and yet exacting the full price; by nefarious compounds,
or what is called “the trickery in trade ?" Again, on the part of the buyer, how often are the things which he wishes, and cannot want, disgracefully depreciated, contrary to his secret conviction, so that he may enjoy the supposed triumph and honour of “getting a bargain!” How often, also, are debts shamefully contracted without the remotest intention of paying them, although “large promises” are made to that effect! While in reference, therefore to the unjust seller, it may be said, in the words of Scripture, a false balance is an abomination to the Lord, but a just balance is his delight," of the unjust buyer it is no less true, that he virtually exclaims, “it is naught, it is naught; but when he is gone his way, then he boasteth ;” and to both the divine admonition may be addressed,
put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes.” What God, also, said of Israel of old, is no less applicable to many still, “thou hast greedily gained of thy neighbour by extortion, and hast forgotten me; behold, therefore, I have smitten mine hands at thy dishonest gain which thou hast made; thy princes in the midst of thee are like wolves ravening the prey to get dishonest gain.” For, not merely on a small but on a large scale, much of the wealth of many who have a nominal place in the Church, as well
as of many who have no such place, is the fruit of ill-gotten gain.
So“ close,” frequently, does “ sin stick between buying and selling." But at such conduct, and particularly on the part of his professing people, how appropriately may God express his astonishment and indignation by “smiting his hands ?" For if an injust man is an abomination to man," how infinitely more so must he be to a God of inflexible justice; and especially, as by the light of revelation, much more fully than by the light of reason, he has “showed us what is good, and what he requires of us, which is to do justly,” as well as
“to love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God?” By way of retribution, also, how properly may God declare, “he that by unjust gain increaseth gain, shall gather it for him that will pity the poor;" and also add, that “the unrighteous," or unjust, “shall not inherit the kingdom of God ?" Not to enlarge upon pious frauds, often practised in connection with the Church and with “ the poor's money,” and which may be characterized as “robbing God,” how opposite is every kind of injustice to the principles of true honour, as well as to the precepts of Christianity ? For if we are "unjust in the least," will we not, when opportunities occur, be “ just in much ?” And, as “he's but naked,
though locked up in steel, whose conscience with injustice is corrupted,” should not all who call themselves Christ's not only “renounce the hidden things of dishonesty” in every sense, but “think upon the things which are just and honest,” and also “do these things,” in the least as well as in the greatest transactions ?
Although injustice and dishonesty, therefore, are ever, more or less, common in the world, to all professing believers it may justly be said, in regard to every thing allied to these sins in the slightest degree, “ be not conformed to this world.” this, as in other respects, should there not be the most decided difference between them and the men of the world; and so much the more, as the morality of the Bible is, from its origin and nature, infinitely purer than all other morality? With you, my dear readers, who profess to be Christ's, is it so in this sense? If not, it is plain that you are not true practical non-conformists to the world, nor true Christians.
ALL true Christians must, also, “not be conformed to this world” in the practice of any thing like purloining, or pilfering. We need scarcely remark, that all overt acts of stealing or theft, like similar acts of injustice or dishonesty, are abstractly reprobated by all in the strongest terms. So, at least, it is with all who have any regard even for “the gloss of respectability," as well as with those who have a religious reputation to maintain. On this account, the brand of a thief, in any sense, is sufficient to exclude from all decent society, as well as from all confidential situations. Still, how often does it happen, as it appears from the newspapers of the day, that through the power of temptation, as well as from the depravity of the human heart, many high in place in the world, and high in standing in the