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Of the Eighth Commandment.


The Eighth Commandment regards the earthly property which it has pleased a wise and benevolent Providence to bestow, in greater or less proportion, on the several classes of mankind,—which he has enabled each individual to acquire by the mental or corporeal faculties assigned him, and which is intended not only to add to his means of comfort and usefulness, but to be a subject of trial and selfgovernment, according to the measure allotted to each in his probationary course. This property, be it great or small, be it abundant wealth, or comparative poverty, God is willing that man should freely enjoy in peace and security, without loss or deprivation, under the safeguards of mutual honesty and justice.

The prohibition, "Thou shalt not steal," is immediately designed to prevent every invasion of the possessions of another-every kind of acquisition by illegal means of that which belongs to our neighbour -and every sort of occupying or detaining what is not our own, without the consent and knowledge of the rightful owner:-but the force of the injunction

is no less directed against all the evil dispositions which lead to its infringement, than against the special acts by which theft, or stealing, in a variety of modes, is attempted and perpetrated.

It implies, also, the obligation of exercising all the virtues of which honesty is the principle and groundwork; and of performing all those acts of brotherly kindness and beneficence, which are necessary to the promotion of the interests, and to the preservation of the property of others, as well as to the advantageous use and due improvement of our own. By thus endeavouring to augment the prosperity of our brethren, and to employ, according to the will of God, the goods which he has placed at our disposal, we glorify the liberal Donor, from whose bounty we receive all that can conduce to the support and ease of life: and then is the welfare of society best consulted, when each one regards his own allotment as a talent, for the improvement of which he is responsible, and his neighbours' portion, as the gift of heaven, sacred and inviolable ;-when justice to man is founded on gratitude to God.

§ 2. The particular virtues and duties to which the spirit of this Precept is obviously applicable, are -Honesty-to be true and just in all our dealings, candid and faithful in bargaining and contracting, actuated by simplicity and integrity in buying and selling, on both sides-on the one, as respects the purchasing only of what can lawfully be sold, according to its proper value, and with strictly legal and stipulated payment-on the other, as regards the offering for sale what is rightly possessed, and may be rightly alienated, what is really, in quality and quan

tity, such as it is represented, and at a price which is not above the worth ;-to render to every man his due, whether under the constraint of law, or obliged only in equity and conscience, whether the debt be demanded, or the creditor be unwilling or unable to sue for it, or even unconscious of its existence, whether the obligation be acknowledged, or there be a plausible excuse for evading its repayment-in short, to do to every one, in all matters of traffic, and in all circumstances of debtor and creditor, as we, if simi larly situated, would wish to be treated ;-to make restoration of any thing which may have been ill-gotten, or may belong in the smallest degree to some one else, and amends for injury to the fullest possible extent ;fidelity in the execution of public or private trusts; -liberality and charity in dispensing the benefits which our riches or means, whatever they may be, enable us to confer ;-contribution, according to our ability, to the relief of public and private exigencies, -to support the Establishment in Church and State, -to assist and comfort all who need it, as far as our power suffices; to clothe the naked, feed the hungry, shelter the houseless, instruct the ignorant, and communicate whatever benefit we can to all around us; -industry in obtaining, by all equitable means, and in pursuit of a lawful calling, such provision for ourselves and families, and such increase of wealth and worldly possessions, as it shall seem expedient to God to bestow upon us-trusting to him to reward. our diligence and labour according to his good pleasure, and remembering that the work of our hands, unblessed by him, is vain and fruitless ;-frugality and prudence in the employment of our property, for the sake both of ourselves, and of those who are de

pendant on us;-application of our means only to wise and beneficial purposes, and to objects consistent with our station;-care of our neighbour's property and interest, as of our own.

§ 3. The sins which chiefly offend against this Commandment, are-Stealing-robbery or theft, either with or without violence-the taking from anotherfrom his person, house, or other property-that which belongs to him, against his consent, or without his knowledge; whether it be effected by open force or secret machination, by land or sea, by day or night; the forcible or treacherous abduction of human beings, either for the purpose of making them slaves, or for any other purpose through which they incur the loss of personal liberty-the inestimable birthright of all reasonable creatures;—the receiving of stolen goods, knowing them to be so ;-the aiding or being in any way accessary to theft, or the conniving at it;-Sacrilege-the violation of things and places consecrated to God, or set apart as the possession of the Church, by which not only is robbery committed, but the majesty of the Lord profaned; -Simony-the transfer or sale of ecclesiastical property, or of sacred offices, in a manner forbid. den by divine and human laws;-forgery-the imitation of any written or printed instrument, by which money or advantage is to be fraudently obtained ;-extortion of money under false pretensions ;-oppression, under cover of legitimate authority, or by usurped authority of the rich over the poor;-all kinds of fraud, cheating, or deception→→ in matters of commerce, in the use of false weights and measures, in delusive representations of the

kind, quality, or quantity of that which is to be bought or sold, in the deterioration or mixture of an article supposed to be pure, and free from adulteration, in the adoption of any dishonest method to depreciate the property of another, or enhance our own ;-the removing of landmarks, or any fraudulent and unauthorized encroachment on public or private grounds-bad faith in making and keeping contracts and promises ;-attempts to defraud the revenue of the country by making a false or defective return of things liable to taxation, by procuring, circulating, or using contraband goods; -monopoly, or the amassing and withholding from public consumption of the necessaries of life for the purpose of creating an artificial scarcity, and of thus obtaining an excessive profit ;-usury-the taking of an unlawful interest for money;-dishonest application of things committed to our care, and unfaithful discharge of any sort of trust, as executors, guardians, and trustees, by serving their own interest at the expense of that which is confided to them ;-retaining any thing that belongs to another, even if it be accidentally found, unless the right owner, on due enquiry, cannot be discovered;-going to law on frivolous or unjust pretences ;-every kind of injury, or hindrance, to the prosperity of our neighbour in word or deed;-prodigality on the one hand, and parsimony on the other-the waste of property on improper objects, and the needlessly profuse expenditure on goods of that which ought to be husbanded in order that the greatest benefit may be produced; and the opposite fault of niggardly withholding what ought to be dispensed, thus becoming guilty of omission with regard to the duties of charity and hu

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