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Church are guilty of heinous and daring acts of theft, and “made to suffer as thieves ?” But not to enlarge upon such glaring acts of immorality, which are at once condemned by the law of man as well as by the law of God, how frequently are acts of petty theft, styled larceny or peculation, purloining or pilfering, perpetrated not only by men of the world, but by members of the Church ? How common is such sinful and shameful conduct in public establishments and work-shops, both large and small, of every description; and how often do puny acts of this kind, progressively lead to sins of the deepest dye ? How common, also, is this crime in private houses not only of the highest, but of the humblest classes of society? For, while there are thousands of the most trustworthy servants in the different spheres of life, are there not many others, both male and female, who grievously betray the trust which is placed in them?
How often, for example, do many, without the knowledge, authority, or consent, tacit or expressed, of their masters or mistresses, make so free with that which is not theirs as to appropriate it to their own benefit, if not to their own use? How often, also, do they act thus freely not merely to the “helping of themselves," but also to the helping of neutral par
ties? And yet, while so free with the property of others, how frugal are they of their own ? What greatly, also, aggravates the guilt of such conduct, how grievous is it to think that in too many cases it is regarded as so trifling as to be unworthy of consideration, and that, when it is looked
upon, in any sense, as a sin, it is attempted to be palliated on the most discreditable grounds -such as, abounding plenty, or a supposed sense of justice for services performed-grounds condemned by the twilight of reason, as well as by the light of revelation. In like manner, how frequently is this system of purloining, or pilfering, carried on by many lodging-house keepers, or by those connected with such houses ? Is not this, in many instances, so notorious that it is a eommon subject of complaint that little or nothing passes through their hands without becoming “small by degrees, and beautifully less ?”
Not to dilate, however, upon the various branches of this subject, which is far from being pleasant, while the command of God, in general terms, is to every one, “thou shalt not steal," any more than break any other precept of the law, in order to teach us that every thing of the nature of peculation must be strictly guarded against, we find Paul in his day calling upon Titus to exhort servants, among their other duties, “not to purloin, but to show all good fidelity.” And as we are all servants in one sense or another,--the servants of Christ Jesus, if not of man- --this exhortation, like others, may justly be regarded as extending to us all; and especially, as we are assured that “thieves shall not inherit the kingdom of God;" thieves of no kind, any more than evil-doers of any other class. For, if “ sin" in this, and in other respects, does not “find out” the sinner here, will it not find him out hereafter; and, if it is not now repented of and pardoned, is it not certain that it will not escape with impunity? But, even for the life that now is, is it not ever true that all such gain is a root of rottenness, as well as bitterness? In a word, should not all who call themselvess by the name of Christ, be “faithful in that which is least," as well
“ faithful in much?” And, is it not, only when this is the case, that we can expect Christ to say to us at the great day of judgment, “well done, good and faithful servant, thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make you
ruler over many things; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord ?”
However prevalent, therefore, the practice of petty thieving may be among those who are “ of the world,” justly may it be said, to all who are “ of God,” in reference to every thing that has
the slightest appearance of such a sin, “ be not conformed to this world.” In this, as in other things, should there not be manifested an unequivocal distinction between them and the men of the world? With you, my dear readers, who profess to be Christ's, is it so in this sense ? If not, it is evident that you are neither true practical non-conformists to the world, nor true Christians.
-NON-CONFORMITY TO THE WORLD
“Go, go, be innocent and live;
The tongués of men may wound thee sore,
AGAIN, all true Christians must “not be conformed to this world” in the practice of any kind of uncleanness. This sin, not to speak of it in its grosser kindred forms, occupies the foremost place in the black catalogue of the works of the flesh.” Yet, it is a sin which is not only talked of lightly in the world, but boasted of as a part of worldly gallantry, and, as a natural consequence, generally characteristic of the men of the world. Of many it may even be declared, in the words of holy writ, that "being past feeling, they have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness." For, although it is not licensed by the laws of the state in our country, as it is in some nations, while it lifts its head with unblushing effrontery in our cities and large towns, it is no less glaringly true