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CHAPTER XIV.
THE SECOND CLASS OF SPECIAL DUTIES TOWARDS OUR NEIGHBOUR CONTINUED.

THE virtues by which we promote the worldly interests of our neighbour, are integrity and beneficence.

Integrity consists in refraining from the property of others, which is also called abstinence; and in honesty and uprightness as regards our dealings with our neighbour, which is called commutative justice. Psal. xv. 2. "he that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness."

Abstinence is exemplified in Moses, Num. xvi. 15. "I have not taken one ass from them, neither have I hurt one of them;" and in Samuel, 1 Sam. xii. 3. "whose ox have I taken?" On this subject laws are given, Deut. xxiii. 24, 25. "when thou comest into thy neighbour's vineyard," &c.

The opposites to this are, first, theft. Exod. xx. 15. "thou shalt not steal." See also Lev. xix. 11. Prov. xxix. 24. "whoso is partner with a thief hateth his own soul." xxii. 28. "remove not the ancient land-mark." See also xxiii. 10. "This was the crime of Judas Iscariot," John. xii. 6. Eph. iv. 28. "let him <417> that stole steal no more, but rather let him labour. Laws against theft are given Exod. xxii. Prov. vi. 30. "men do not despise a thief, if he steal to satisfy his soul when he is hungry." xxviii. 24. "Whoso robbeth his father or mother," &c. Zech. v. 3. "everyone that stealeth shall be cut off —."

Secondly, fraud. Lev. xix. 11. "ye shall not deal falsely one to another." Under the law, fraud could not be expiated unless restitution were previously made. Lev. vi. 5, &c. "he shall even restore it in the principal... and he shall bring his trespass offering unto Jehovah." Prov. xxi. 6. "the getting of treasures by a lying tongue is a vanity —."1 Thess. iv. 6. "that no man go beyond or defraud his brother in any matter."

Thirdly, oppression and robbery. Job v. 15. "he saveth the poor from the hand of the mighty." xx. 18, 19. "because he hath oppressed and hath forsaken the poor —." Prov. xiv. 31 . "he that oppresseth the poor reproacheth his neighbour." xxii. 22, 23. "rob not the poor," &c. xxx. 14. "there is a generation whose teeth are as swords." Eccles. v. 8. "if thou seest the oppression of the poor," &c. vii. 7. "surely oppression maketh a wise man mad." Isai. iii. 14. "the spoil of the poor is in your houses." v. 7, 8. "woe unto them that join house to house," &c. Jer. ii. 34. "in thy skirts is found the blood of the souls of the poor innocents." xxii. 13, &c. "woe unto him that buildeth his house by unrighteousness —." Neh. v. 8. "we after our ability have redeemed our brethren." Amos. iv. 1. "hear this word, ye kin of Bashan, which oppress the poor —." v. 11. "for as much therefore as your treading is upon the poor —." <418> viii. 4, 5, &c. "hear this, O ye that swallow up the needy, even to make the poor of the land to fail —." Mic. ii. 1, 2. "they covet fields, and take them by violence." iii. 2, 3. "who pluck the skin off from them —."

Fourthly, injury. Exod. xxi, 33. "if an ox or an ass fall therein —." v. 35, 36. "if one man's ox hurt another's... or if it be known that the ox hath used to push in times past," &c. xxii. 5, 6. "if a man shall cause a field or vineyard to be eaten," &c.

Fifthly, man-stealing. Exod. xxi. 16. "he that stealeth a man, or selleth him, or if he be found in his hand, he shall surely be put to death." Deut. xxiv. 7. "if a man be found stealing any of his brethren," &c. 1 Tim. i. 10. "men-stealers."

Under commutative justice are included all transactions of purchase and sale, of letting and hire, of lending and borrowing, of keeping and restoring deposits.

Transactions of sale and purchase. Lev. xix. 36. "just balances, just weights —." xxv. 14. "if thou sell ought unto thy neighbour, or buyest ought of thy neighbour's hand, ye shall not oppress one another." Prov. xvi. 11. "a just weight and balance are Jehovah s; all the weights of the bag are his work."

To justice in matters of sale and purchase, are opposed various frauds. Prov. xi. 26. "he that with-holdeth corn, the people shall curse him." Ezek. xxviii. 16. "by the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence —." So also when counterfeit or adulterated goods are sold for genuine. Amos. viii. 6. "that we may sell the refuse of the wheat." Or when false weights and measures are employed. Lev. xix. 35. "ye shall do <419> no unrighteousness in judgment, in meteyard, in weight, or in measure." Deut. xxv. 13-15. "thou shalt not have in thy bag divers weights, a great and a small —." Prov. xi. 1. "a false balance is abomination to Jehovah." xx. 10. "divers weights and divers measures, both of them are alike abomination to Jehovah." See also v. 23. Hos. xii. 7. "he is a merchant, the balances of deceit are in his hand." Amos. viii. 5. "making the ephah small." Mic. vi. 11. "shall I count them pure with the wicked balances?" Or when the buyer, on his part, uses dishonest artifices in the conclusion of a bargain. Prov. xx. 14. "it is naught, it is naught, saith the buyer."

Transactions of letting or hire. Lev. xix. 13. "the wages of him that is hired shall not abide with thee all night until the morning." Exod. xxii. 15. "if it be an hired thing it came for his hire." Deut. xxiv. 14. 15. "thou shalt not oppress an hired servant that is poor and needy, whether he be of thy brethren, or of thy strangers that are in the land within thy gates." Mal. lii. 5. "against those that oppress the hireling in his wages." James. v. 4. "behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth."

Lending and borrowing. Deut. xv. 7, &c. "if there be among you a poor man of one of thy brethren... thou shalt surely lend him sufficient for his need in that which he wanteth." Psal. xxxvii. 26. "he is ever merciful, and lendeth." cxii. 5. "a good man showeth favour, and lendeth." Matt. v. 42. "from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away." Luke. vi. 35. "lend, hoping for nothing again." Prov. xix. 17. "he that hath pity upon the poor, <420> lendeth to Jehovah." The case of loans to such as are not poor is different. Exod. xxii. 14. "if a man borrow aught of his neighbour, and it be hurt, or die," &c. Psal. xxxvii. 21. "the wicked borroweth and payeth not again."

In loans, justice is violated by the exaction of immoderate interest; under which denomination all interest is included, which is taken from the poor. Exod. xxii. 25. "if thou lend money to any of my people that is poor by thee, thou shalt not be to him as an usurer." Lev. xxv. 35, 36. "if thy brother be waxen poor, and fallen in decay with thee, then thou shalt relieve him; yea, though he be a stranger or a sojourner, that he may live with thee: take thou no usury of him, or increase; but fear thy God, that thy brother may live with thee." This is the meaning of the command in Deut. xxiii. 19. "thou shalt not lend upon usury to thy brother, usury of money, usury of victuals, usury of any thing that is lent upon usury."

As however much difference of opinion exists with regard to usury, and as the discussion belongs properly to this place, we will consider briefly what is to be determined on the subject. It is the opinion of most, that usury is not in all cases unlawful, but that its legality or illegality is determined by the purpose for which it is exacted, the rate of interest, and the party by whom it is to be paid; that with regard to the party, it may be lawfully received from any one possessed of sufficient property for payment; that the rate of interest should be such as is consistent with equity at least, if not with charity; and that in exacting it we should have a view not to our own interests exclusively, but also to those of our neighbour. Where these con <421> ditions are observed, they maintain that usury is perfectly allowable; nor is it without reason that these limitations are added, since without these there is scarcely any species of compact or commercial intercourse which can be considered as lawful. That usury is in itself equally justifiable with any other kind of civil contract, is evident from the following considerations;[1] first, that if it were in itself reprehensible, God would not have permitted the Israelites to lend upon usury to strangers, Deut. xxiii. 20. especially as he elsewhere commands them to do no hurt to the stranger, but on the contrary to assist him with every kind of good office, especially in case of poverty. Secondly, if it be lawful to receive profit for the use of cattle, lands, houses, and the like, why not of money also? which, when borrowed, as it often is, not from necessity, but for purposes of gain, is apt to be more profitable to the borrower than to the lender. It is true that God prohibited the Israelites from lending upon usury on the produce of their land; but this was for a reason purely ceremonial, in like manner as he forbad them to sell their land in perpetuity, Lev. xxv. 23. Under the gospel, therefore, that usury only is to be condemned which is taken from the poor, or of which the sole object is gain, and which is exacted without a regard to charity and justice; even as any other species of lucrative commerce carried on in the same spirit would be equally reprehensible, and equally entitled to the Hebrew name <422> כשך, signifying a bite. This therefore is the usury prohibited Exod. xxii. 25. "if thou lend money to any of my people that is poor by thee, thou shalt not be to him as an usurer." Lev. xxv. 35-37. as above. These are the earliest passages in which the subject occurs; they ought therefore to be considered as illustrating by anticipation those which come after, and the exception contained in them as applying equally to all other occasions on which usury is mentioned: Deut. xxiii. 19. as above. Psal. xv. 5. "he that putteth not out his money to usury... shall never be moved." Prov. xxviii. 8. "he that by usury and unjust gain increaseth his substance, he shall gather it for him that will pity the poor." Ezek. xviii. 8. "e that hath not given forth upon usury, neither hath taken any increase, that hath withdrawn his hand from iniquity —."

Justice as regards the safe custody of property, is concerned in the demand or restitution of pledges, and of deposits in trust; on which subject see Exod. xxii. 7. "if a man shall deliver unto his neighbour money or stuff to keep, &c. See also v. 10, 11. Ezek. xviii. 7. "hath not oppressed any, but hath restored to the debtor his pledge." Under what limitations a pledge may be received from a poor man, is seen Exod. xxii. 26. "if thou at all take thy neighbour's raiment to pledge," &c. Deut. xxiv. 6. "no man shall take the upper or nether millstone to pledge." The same chapter enjoins a regard to humanity in the taking of pledges, v. 10. "thou shalt not go into his house to fetch his pledge."

Thus far of commutative justice. Under the same head may be classed moderation, which consists in <423> voluntarily conceding some portion of an acknowledged right, or in abandoning it altogether. Gen. xiii. 9. "if thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if thou depart to the right hand, then I will go to the left."

Beneficence consists in rendering willing assistance to our neighbour out of our own abundance; particularly to the poor within our reach. Levit. xix. 9. "when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not wholly reap the corners of thy field, neither shalt thou gather the gleanings of thy harvest." xxv. 35. "if thy brother be waxen poor, and fallen in decay with thee, then thou shalt relieve him; yea, though he be a stranger or a sojourner; that he may live with thee." Prov. iii. 27, 28. "withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it; say not unto thy neighbour, Go, and come again, and to-morrow I will give, when thou hast it by thee." Luke. vi, 30. "give to every one that asketh of thee." v. 38. "give, and it shall be given unto you." Gal. vi. 10. "as we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them that are of the household of faith." 1 Thess. v. 15. "ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves and to all men." Heb. xiii. 16. "to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased." Concerning the proper mode of receiving benefits, see above on Magnanimity.

Beneficence, as shown in public distributions of any kind, is called liberality. Psal. cxii. 5. "a good man sheweth favour, and lendeth" (gratiose largitur, Tremell.) Prov. xi. 24, 25. "there is that scattereth, and yet increaseth —." xxi. 26. "the righteous giveth <424> and spareth not." Eccles. xi. 1. "cast thy bread on the waters."

Opposed to liberality are, first, niggardliness, which gives nothing, or sparingly, or with a grudging mind. Prov. xxiii. 6-8. "eat thou not the bread of him that hath an evil eye, neither desire thou his dainty meats." Secondly, prodigality. Prov. xxi. 20. "there is treasure to be desired, and oil in the dwelling of the wise, but a foolish man spendeth it up."

Beneficence, whether private or public, when exercised on an extraordinary scale, is called magnificence. This is exemplified in David, 1 Chron. xxix. 2. "I have prepared with all my might for the house of my God, the gold for things to be made of gold... moreover, because I have set my affection to the house of my God, I have of mine own proper good," &c. and in the Jews who returned from captivity, Ezra. ii. 68, 69. "some offered freely for the house of God to set it up in its place; they gave after their ability unto the treasure of the work."

Corresponding with beneficence is gratitude, which is shown in the requital, or, where this is impossible, in the thankful sense of a kindness. 2 Sam. ix. 1. "David said, Is there yet any that is left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan's sake?" xix. 34, &c. "the king said unto Barzillai, Come thou over with me, and I will feed thee with me —." 1 Kings. ii. 7. "show kindness unto the sons of Barzillai the Gileadite.

Opposed to this is ingratitude. Prov. xvii. 13. "whoso rewardeth evil for good, evil shall not depart from his house." Eccles. ix. 15. "he by his wisdom delivered the city, yet no man remembered that same poor man."

[1]

'Usury, so much as is permitted by the magistrate, and demanded with common equity, is neither against the word of God, nor the rule or charity; as hath been often discussed by men of eminent learning and judgement.' Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce, Prose Works, II. 24.

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