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if it be not a just character of them. The drinkings, dancings, excesses, and quarrelings that accompany them, are they suitable to the rules of Christianity? They are generally reckoned oppression, and a gentle way of begging; but I fear God will reckon them stealing, as a way of base gain. But we have such fresh experience of your respect to warnings from the Lord's word, that I need not doubt but if ye had occasion, we should have a penny-wedding next Tuesday, Hos. iv. 4.
(5.) It is base gain that is made by playing at cards and dice, or any such game of hazard. For the lot being an appeal to God, it is dangerous to make a play of it. They occasion much sin of blaspheming God's providence, under the name of ill luck when people lose, commending their good luck when they win, mispending of time through a bewitching in the matter, whereby they cannot give over, the winners hoping to win more, and the losers hoping for better. Surely it is no working of that which is good, Eph. iv. 28. A Popish doctor, in a treasise of his on plays, tells us, that all games of hazard are condemned by Pagans, the fathers, the most able Popish and Protestant doctors, and that even Jesuit casuists find a mortal sin in playing at cards.
(6.) It is base gain when people stand at nothing, whether credit or conscience, if they can but reach it. Thus many reckon gainsweet, whatever way they can get it. They will debase themselves to the meanest things to win a little thing, without any necessity. They will toil themselves excessively for what is very inconsiderable; and if charity and gifts be going, they will without necessity put in for their share, to the great prejudice of those that are truly needy, and cannot help themselves. These and all other ways of base gain are forbidden here as stealing.
3dly, This command is broken by family-frauds and robbery. For in this case one's enemies may be those of their own house. These family-frauds are committed.
(1.) By the husbands spending and wasting their money or goods, to the detriment of their wives and children. It is abominable robbery for men to ware that on their lusts, which should serve the necessities and conveniences of their families, as it falls out in the case of drunkards, adulterers, and mismanagers. But worst of all, while they themselves
are kept full, and their poor families sadly pinched, 1 Tim.
(2.) By wives embezzling and putting away their husband's goods to his loss, by which means a man may soon be stolen off his feet, as we term it. It is quite contrary to the character of a virtuous woman, Prov. xxxi. 12. She will do him (her husband) good, and not evil, all the days of her life.'
(3.) By children embezzling and taking away their pa rents money or goods without their consent. There is no doubt a child may steal from his parents, seeing he is not proprietor of their goods, Prov. xxviii. 24. Though they think they may take at their own hand, God's word says the contrary.
(4.) By servants wronging their masters in their substance that is among their hands. By their employment and trust, they have occasion to steal from their masters, if conscience engage them not to honesty. And so they may be guilty by taking of their master's goods, either for themselves, or to give away to others, Tit. ii. 9, 10.
(5.) Lastly, I will add by all such as tempt or encourage either husbands, wives, children, or servants, to wrong their relatives. These are deeply guilty; for, as we say, there would not be a thief if there was not a resetter, Psal. 1. 18. Thus hostlers and others that entertain men to the prejudice of their families, steal from these families. Thus covetous neighbours, who have their intrigues with other people's servants and fawning flatterers that draw about people's houses, to make a prey, whether of simple wives, children, or servants, engaging them to rob their husbands, parents, or masters, to give them, are thieves in the sight of God, to be avoided as plagues and pests to a house, Prov. xxix. 24.
4thly, This command is broken by injustice and cheatery in bargains and commerce, 1 Thess. iv. 6. What is got in that way is stolen in God's account, Lev. xxv. 14. Thus men are guilty,
(1.) When they take advantage of their neighbour's necessity, either in buying or selling; as when a person is necessitated to sell a thing, the buyer takes the advantage to gain it much below the worth; or when the seller knows the buyer must needs have it, then to rack it above the worth to him, Lev. xxv. 14. Indeed, if the seller would not other.
wise part with the thing, but to answer that necessity, or the buyer would not otherwise take it, the case alters; for then parting with his money or goods in that case requires a rational compensation.
(2.) When the seller commendeth, and the buyer dispraiseth the wares, contrary to their own conscience and knowledge, that so they may over-reach one another, Prov. xx. So no doubt the way of prigging so long before people come to the due worth, is an insnaring way of dealing.
(3.) When men take advantage of their neighbour's ignorance in buying or selling. This sometimes falls out in buying, when the seller knows not the value of the thing, but the buyer does, and so gets it from him far below the worth. Oft-times in selling, when the seller imposes on the buyer's ignorance, either by express lying, saying the thing is what he really knows it is not, or concealing fraudently the fault of it, as if, in selling a beast or any other thing, a man should conceal a known fault of the commodity, which he knows if the buyer knew, he would either not have it at all, or not at the price. In this case, men think it enough that the neighbour's eye is his merchant. But will ye apply this practice to the golden rule, 'Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them, Matth. vii. 12; and let conscience say if it be fair dealing or not, Lev. xix. 11. “Ye shall neither do falsely, nor lie one to another."
(4.) By adulterating of wares, mixing them with worse, to the prejudice, and without the knowledge of the buyer; the commodity perhaps good and sightly, where it appears to the buyer's eye, but full of refuse that is good for little or nothing, but to make weight, or fill up the measure, which he finds not till he is to make use of it. Amos viii. 6.
(5.) By using false weights and measures, Micah vi. 10, 11; or any deceit whatsoever about weights or measures, whether in buying or selling; as in the case where the party is absent, and therefore it is made scanty, or when men have one to buy with, and another to sell with, or whatever way men take to falsify the balances by deceit,' Amos viii. 5.
(6.) When that which is bought is not precisely delivered, but is vitiated; as by taking away a part of what is good in it, and making it up with what is worse; so that though they have the same weight or measure which they bought, yet it is not of the same goodness. This is direct stealth: for what
is once sold is no more ours; and with the same justice ye might take a shilling out of your neighbour's pocket, putting in a sixpence for it.
(7.) Unfaithfulness in not performing condition, Psal. xv. 4; when people make no conscience of keeping their word. This is not to be rigidly interpreted to involve men in guilt, when they use all moral diligence to perform their condition, but Providence puts a stop in their way; for in all promises of that nature, such an exception is to be understood; but when people have a sinful hand in not performing exactly according to promise.
(8.) Lastly, When payment is made with uncurrent money, consisting with the knowledge of the payer, Gen. xxiii. 16; or like Ananias and Sapphira, Acts v. keeping back part of the price; a base and unjust custom with some, who still eat up a part of what they are obliged to pay, Prov. iii. 27, 28.
5thly, This command is broken in fellowship, when people trade together, or have a common interest in one room together, and in the management thereof defraud and go beyond one another; which is the rise and spring of many brawls and grudges that neighbours have against one another, Lev. vi. 2; So in over-stenting of ground beyond what falls to their share, shifting to bear proportionable burdens to their profit, breaking over any of the conditions of their fellowship, and raising their own gain out of their neighbour's loss, and many such things which men do to others that they would not have done to themselves; and therefore are pieces of injustice, and sorts of theft, here condemned.
6thly, It is broken in the matter of neighbourhood, as by removing marches or land-marks, Prov. xxii. 28; carelessness to keep our neighbours from skaith by us, whereas justice requires we should be as loath to do wrong to our neighbours, as to receive it from them. Far more when it is done designedly, as for people to stand and feed their beasts on their neighbour's grass, at times when they know they cannot be catched in the thievish act. And of this sort is the turning out of beasts in the night-time, when there is no probability but they will be in their neighbour's skaith, though they resolve to rise early, and set them right ere they can be noticed.
7thy, It is broken in matters of trust. Treachery under trust is amongst the worst pieces of injustice. Thus men
are guilty when they give hurtful counsel to those that trust to them, and so betray them; when partners in trading are unfaithful one to another; when men have other people's business among their hands, their substance or their work, and prove unfaithful, because it is in the power of their hand. But the worst of all this sort is unfaithfulness to poor orphans left to men's care and tutory, whom many hard hearts can treat most unjustly, to their loss or ruin, and to the bringing of a curse on themselves, God being the Judge of the fatherless in a special manner.
8thly, It is broken in the case of hiring many ways. As, (1.) When men wilfully or carelessly abuse a thing which they have hired, it is a piece of injustice. So men may be guilty in abusing the house they dwell in, or the horse they ride on, or the land they possess. (2.) When hirelings make no conscience of working honestly for their wages, as when they take wages for work, they have not skill to manage to the advantage of those that employ them; or when they spend time carelessly, and are not diligent for the advantage of those that employ them; and much more when they designedly work slightly for their own greater gain. (3.) When the hireling is defrauded in the matter of his wages, either by keeping it from him altogether, or not giving it him in due time, when it is in the power of our hand, or paying him with any insufficient thing, Jam. v. 4:
9thly, This command is broken in retaining instead of restoring what is not ours, but our neighbour's. Thus men are guilty in concealing of things found, and with-holding them from the right owners when they are known, whom, according to the weight of the matter, they should be at pains to know; much more when, being found, it is dispatched so as our neighbour can never have it again, Deut. xxii. 1, 2; So in all cases where restitution is neceesary, the retaining is a continued theft; for what we have taken away from others, we should be ready to restore. Indeed the party's giving of it takes away the necessity of restitution, and that though it be but rationally presumable that they do not desire such restitution.
10thly, It is broken in the matter of borrowing and paying again. As, (1.) When people make no conscience of restoring what they have borrowed for their use, or preserv ing it entire, that it be not notably the worse of them.