Deuteronomy 25
Biblical Illustrator
Thou shalt have a perfect and just weight, measure.

1. The most rigid adherence to the principles of moral integrity. Truth. Honesty.

2. The exercise of love and kindness.

3. That a man should preserve his soul in peace and patience.

4. That commerce be consecrated and elevated by the spirit of holiness.

II. Having described what a Christian should be in commerce BRIEFLY SHOW WHY HE SHOULD BE IT. All considerations by which religion and morality are commended and enforced are applicable here. The course pointed out is right in itself, what we owe to God and connected with eternal destiny. It is necessary to inherit the kingdom of heaven. It is presented to us in the example of Christ, whom all disciples should imitate. In one word, Christianity requires it; all its precepts, principles, blessings, and prospects require it.

(A. J. Morris.)

Trade is a fluctuating thing; it passed from Tyre to Alexandria, from Alexandria to Venice, from Venice to Antwerp, from Antwerp to Amsterdam and London — the English rivalling the Dutch; the French are now rivalling both. All nations, almost, are wisely applying themselves to trade, and it behoves those who are in possession of it to take the greatest care that they do not lose it. It is a plant of tender growth; it requires sun and soil and fine seasons to make it thrive and flourish. It will not grow like the palm tree, which, with the more weight and pressure, rises the more. Liberty is a friend to that, as that is a friend to liberty. But the greatest enemy to both in licentiousness, which tramples upon all law and lawful authority, encourages riots and tumults, sticks at nothing to support its extravagance, practises every art of illicit gain, ruins credit and trade, and will ruin liberty itself. Neither kingdoms, commonwealths, public companies, nor private persons, can long carry on a beneficial and flourishing trade without virtue and what virtue teaches — sobriety, industry, frugality, modesty, honesty, punctuality, humanity, charity, the love of our country, and the fear of our God.

(Bp. Newton.)

From these specific instances of justice let us extend our views to justice in general; let us consider its true nature and importance to human society; the obligations we are under to adhere to it inviolably; and the fatal consequences of every deviation. Justice is that virtue which teaches us to respect the rights of others, and to refrain from all injurious acts or purposes.

1. Some rights men are born to — such as the use of their own limbs, the free and uncontrolled exercise of their faculties of body and mind — these faculties, derived from the Author of life, sufficiently speak the intention of the Giver — that they should be freely, but at the same time innocently used — this is the equal birthright of every man.

2. Again, if every human being that God has made has a right to live, to breathe, to move, to think — he must also have a just claim to the product of his labour and his thought.

3. Another source of right springs from mutual, voluntary engagements — expressed, or implied — which ought all to be candidly interpreted, and conscientiously fulfilled.

4. Of all obligations the most binding and indispensable is to do no wrong to any; to hold the rightful claims of our fellow creatures sacred. First, all restraint upon personal liberty exercised by one man upon another — uncompelled by previous aggression — tends wantonly to defeat man's whole destination; and is therefore a daring outrage against the Author of his being. Equally, or rather more unjust and more criminal is it, to forge chains for the mind — to prohibit the use of reason — to compel men to violate their conscience. Next to the undisturbed use of our bodily and mental faculties, the fruits of their exertion, justice maintains inviolable — and consequently enjoins — the exact observance of those civil laws by which the disposal of property is regulated, "not merely for wrath, but for conscience sake." Moreover, independently of government and laws, that those contracts which are entered into for mutual aid and benefit, and without which mankind could not act collectively and in concert, are to be formed on fair and upright principles, and fulfilled with punctuality — is as evident as that man was created to be a social being, and that no one should undermine that mutual confidence and that willingness to combine and to cooperate together, on which the common good so manifestly depends. Nor do commercial or pecuniary concerns form the only province of justice. She is equally solicitous to render unto all their dues of every kind. She abstains as carefully from violating another's reputation as his property; of which, indeed, it often constitutes the most valuable part; and as scrupulously shuns taking any unfair advantage in the most secret transaction, as in the sight of all the world. Who is not sensible of the discordant and tumultuous state into which mankind would fall were justice to take her flight? Selfishness and rapine on all sides prevailing in a short time little would remain for the one to covet or the other to prey upon and monopolise. Justice is essential not only to the comfort, but to the subsistence of the species. But where neither the eye of man can penetrate, nor the hand of man can reach — there the claims of justice are felt by the truly upright; the reasonable expectations of their fellow creatures weighed in an impartial scale, and answered with the same conscientious care and unswerving rectitude, as if they were defined by the strictest statutes, and enforced by the severest penalties. Far beyond all formal compacts, all legal obligations, is the demand of reason and conscience on the just man. In comparing his own rights with those of others, his justice stretches into the domain of generosity; in comparing the claims of others between themselves his generosity never deviates from impartial justice. So imperceptible are the shades of difference that separate justice from generosity — whether we consider their motives, obligations, or effects — that, amongst the ancient philosophers justice was the common name assigned to both; and denoted the general principle of all the social virtues — and our Saviour comprehends all that is equitable and all that is kind and disinterested in one and the same precept — "Do unto others, as ye would that they should do unto you." I shall only add, that as justice is that virtue which is most essential to every social state, and that state which is reserved for the spirits of the just will be preeminently social; so the habits of justice, which have in this world been interwoven with all their sentiments and actions, must there attain their highest perfection and produce the happiest issue.

(P. Houghton.).

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