Exodus 20:15


Guards the sanctity of property. Consider: -

I. PROPERTY AND THE RIGHTS OF PROPERTY. Property is that which gives expression to individual and family life. In some sort it is an extension of the bodily organism, an added possibility of self-revelation in the sphere of sense. Social usage allows a man's right, or the right of a corporation, to absolute possession of certain things. Primarily, probably, such right is founded on the right of the labourer to the product of his labour; a man's own is what he has made his own. Such limit, however, has come to be enlarged on grounds of general utility; we may say generally that a man's property is that which social usage allows him to consider such.

II. OFFENCES AGAINST PROPERTY.

1. Stealing. Appropriating a man's property against the will of the owner. All condemn the thief, he is condemned even by his own conscience; however much he may steal from others he can never think it right for them to steal from him! There are, however, various kinds of diluted theft which are equally offences against the eighth commandment, though not so strongly stigmatised by society.

2. Cognate offences. Property in the old times consisted mainly of land, crops, and cattle. The principle involved in the eighth commandment illustrated, as applied to them, by a number of cases in Exodus 21., 22., all such acts as result in loss to one's neighbours, provided that loss was not inevitable, are condemned by it. Circumstances, nowadays, are somewhat different, but the principle of honesty still applies. Take a few instances: -

(1) Acts of petty dishonesty.

(a) When in a bargain one party takes advantage of the ignorance of the other; e.g., a collector finds some rarity in the possession of a man who does not know its value, and secures it far below its proper price.

(b) Borrowing without definite intention to return; e.g., books, money, or other property.

(c) Leaving bills unpaid for a needlessly long time. In such case, even though paid eventually, the creditor is defrauded of the profit which he might have made by the use of his money.

(2) Mischievous actions; e.g., marking books or scribbling in them. Cutting initials in trees and buildings. No man has any right to depreciate by his actions the value of another man's property.

(3) Culpable negligence. Must be as careful with the property of others as with our own property. A pure accident is not a pure accident if it would not have happened had the property been our own.

III. COMPENSATION FOR OFFENCES AGAINST PROPERTY. Cf. Exodus 22:9. Not enough to make good the original value, the law of restitution requires double and, in some cases, fivefold or fourfold. Such a law: -

1. Emphasises the importance of strict honesty. In view of it possible offenders will be more cautious as to how they offend. Should it be enforced now-a-days; how many struggling tradesmen and mechanics might find themselves rescued from the verge of bankruptcy! How might charity in a thousand places spring up to banish and destroy suspicion!

2. Secures something like adequate atonement. Defraud a man of anything, and you defraud him of more than the value of that thing. His loss occasions further loss; loss of time, loss of temper, anxiety, inconvenience, for all which the sufferer is entitled to a recompense. Fourfold restitution may sound generous, yet even that may be less than just. Conclusion. - Honesty is by no means such a common virtue as some suppose. It behoves us to examine ourselves as to how far our conduct may bear strict scrutiny. Are there none to whom we should make restitution? If so, let us be thankful if we can make it. There are losses which we occasion others, dues which we owe to God and man, yet which now, it may be, we can never make good - no remedy now exists for the lasting evil they have occasioned. There are debts we can still pay, there are others which we can never pay; who has not need to join in the petition in the Lord's Prayer, "Forgive us our debts"? - G.







Thou shalt not steal.
I. In this Commandment THE INSTITUTION OF PROPERTY IS RECOGNIZED AND SANCTIONED BY THE AUTHORITY OF GOD. The institution of property is necessary —

1. For increasing the produce of the earth;

2. For preserving the produce of the earth to maturity;

3. For the cultivation and development of the nature of man;

4. For the intellectual development of man.

II. The institution of property IMPOSES UPON ALL MEN THE DUTY OF INDUSTRY IN THEIR CALLINGS; the duty of maintaining independence; the duty of avoiding any, even the least, invasion of the rights of others; the duty of self-restraint in expenditure, as well as of honesty in acquisition.

III. If property is a Divine institution, founded on a Divine idea, protected by Divine sanction, then IN THE USE OF IT GOD SHOULD BE REMEMBERED, and those whom God has entrusted to our pity and our care.

(R. W. Dale, D. D.)

To steal, I am sorry to say, is a universal temptation, common to all sorts of people. It often springs from the sense of necessity: this it is which, as you remember, gives such tragic power to Victor Hugo's "Les Miserables," whose hero, Jean Valjean, stole a loaf of bread. Again the temptation to steal springs from indolence, or, to use a good, or rather bad, old French-Latin word, laziness; for there are not a few persons who, instead of getting an honest living by working, prefer to get it by what they call their wits, resorting to all sorts of shifts and tricks, which are really stealings. Again, the temptation to steal springs from dissolute or what is called fast living; how many of the embezzlements which so often startle the community spring from the fact that the embezzlers had entered on careers of personal debauchery! Again, the temptation to steal springs from the love of display; how many of the defalcations which land our citizens in prison or in Canada are owing to their passion for equipage, for furniture, for jewelry, for fashion! Again, and chiefly, the temptation to steal springs from the haste to become rich; how true it is that the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil! Let us first glance at the case of private stealings. For example: there is the taking advantage of the ignorant in a bargain. Again, there is the taking advantage of the necessitous, when they lie prostrate and helpless, demanding from them, for instance, extortionate interest for the use of money, exorbitant rent for premises or tools, or extravagant prices for commodities. Again, there is the refusing, I will not say lawful wages, but I do say fair wages — that is, just compensation to servants, whether in the family, the farm, the factory, the store, or the bank; for every man born into this world is entitled, by the very fact of his existence upon this footstool of God, to a living. Again, there is the delay in the payment of debts when due. Again, there is the contracting of debts beyond any reasonable possibility of paying them, the indulgence in venturesome speculations, the living beyond income — these, and such as these, morally surveyed, are stealings. Again, there is the practice of endorsing, or going security. It is right for you to help your friend when he is in trouble; but it is not right for you to help him, however much in trouble, if your endorsement of his note is going to cost some other friend of yours his comfortable home. To aid one man by endorsing him may result in stealing from many men. Again, there is the habit of begging for endorsements; for example: tempting one to misrepresent, on the one hand, the amount of assets, and, on the other hand, the amount of liabilities; contracting liabilities without the knowledge of the endorser; keeping up appearances when insolvent; in brief, offering a premium for the use of your name. Again, there is the evading of government taxes and custom-house duties by making defective or ambiguous returns — a mode of stealing which, I regret to say, is not altogether unfashionable among people of position. Once more, there is the lazy subsistence or dependence on charity (and there is a great deal more of this than we at first recognize); the dependence on friends to eke us out, when, if we had been a little less slothful in diligence as well as a little more fervent in spirit, we might not have needed their aid; the sluggard, I take it, is quite a prince among thieves. Let me now speak of the case of official stealings, no matter what the office is, whether public or private, whether in a bank, or in a store, or in an institution, or under the government. Office is in its very nature a trust; and as such it is a sacred thing. And to betray a trust is the worst, because the meanest, kind of stealing. And now let me pass from official stealings to what I may call associated or corporate stealings. There is something in the very nature of the organization of a company which somehow tends to the extinction of personal responsibility. It is well understood that many a man will, as a member of a corporation — no matter what kind, whether a trust company, like a bank or a charitable institution, or an executive company, like a railroad or a telegraph organization — do things as a manager of that company which he would scorn himself for doing as a private individual on his own personal responsibility. In fact, it has become an aphorism that corporations have no souls. And monopolies, or corporations granted the exclusive privilege of manufacturing or selling certain articles of commerce: — what are they but oftentimes organized robberies of society, thefts of your purse and my purse? But there are other kinds of property besides those which we call real and personal, which may also be stolen. For example: There is the stealing of time; and time, you know, or will know, is money. When a man comes and takes up twice the time that is necessary in arranging with me for his own advantage, or even the advantage of a good institution, he steals my time, and in stealing my time, he steals my patience as well as my money. Again, there is the petty larceny of writing a letter of inquiry for your own advantage, and omitting to enclose a postage stamp; for he that is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and he that is unrighteous in a very little is unrighteous also in much. Again, there is the stealing of another's time and opportunity and serenity when you keep him waiting and fuming through your own failure to keep your engagement with him punctually. Again, there is the theft of plagiarism, the stealing of ideas, the withholding of credit or praise when credit or praise is due. Again, there is the stealing of reputation or character. Lastly, irreligion is the typical specimen of perfect theft. For while man in relation to his fellow-man has right to own property on his own account, yet man in his relation to his God is but a trustee. Steal not, then, O friend, from a greater than thy neighbour, even thy Divine Master! Language fails you when you undertake to denounce a defaulter against man. But where is your language when you think of a defaulter against Almighty God?

(G. D. Boardman.)

I. PROPERTY AS A SACRED RIGHT. A man's right in justly-acquired property is a reflection of God's rights in all His works. All property is the outgrowth of life, the results in houses, harvests, machinery, manufactures, commerce, and art of creative power. But that creative power is the gift of God, and therefore both its rights and responsibilities have their foundation and standard in God Himself. The property belongs to the man, but the man belongs to God. Thus the honest gains of toil, skill, judgment, self-denial, and good fortune are a man's own by a Divine right of which the civil right is the echo.

II. PROPERTY AS A SACRED TRUST. The same fact which makes property sacred gives birth to sacred responsibilities. As in old feudal days lands were given by the king on certain conditions of service, so now God's gifts have always duties attached to them. Sacredly given, they are to be sacredly used.APPLICATION: —

1. As to our use of our money. Is it not significant that God claimed tithes? Not to pay a tenth of His income into the temple treasury God considered a sacrilege in a Jew. Do we give a tenth to God?

2. Our use of ourselves. Wealth is more than money. It comprises all that God gives us, our talents, our influence, our whole self. He who might do good, who might heal and comfort and bless if he would, and yet does not, is guilty of unfaithfulness.

(W. Senior, B. A.)

I. WE MAY CAUSE INJURY TO OTHERS THROUGH LENDING AND BORROWING.

II. WE SHALL DO WRONG TO OUR FELLOW-MEN BY INFLICTING INJURY ON PROPERTY THAT IS OPEN, THROUGH KINDNESS OF THE OWNERS, TO THE PUBLIC, as gardens, private picture-galleries, etc. It is mean, dishonourable, to do hurt to such property.

III. THROUGH INCURRING OF DEBTS OR OBLIGATION TO OUR FELLOW-MEN.

IV. THE WRONGS DONE IN MERCANTILE PURSUITS. This is done —

1. By selling to customers goods of inferior value.

2. By inferior weights.

3. By the adulteration of merchandise.

4. By false pretences. The placing the best strawberries or apples on top of the measure, etc.

V. BREACHES OF TRUST.

VI. GAMBLING. Property is a trust. You have no right to squander your own, or to lead another to squander what he has in trust.

(W. Ormiston, D. D.)

I. Consider, first, what it means — THE RIGHTS OF PROPERTY.

1. In a country like this, long occupied and thickly peopled, almost everything belongs to somebody; and most of us possess a few things that we call our own, either earned or inherited, or otherwise received. In a new country the first-comers enter upon unoccupied ground, and each, while making his own claim, recognizes the claims of others. The relations of property are expressed by the possessive pronouns, and it is remarked that these are found in all languages. On what, then, is this right of property grounded? Not on social compact, not on the law of the land, not on the principle of utility, but on the will of God revealed in the constitution of our nature, and in the teaching of His Word. All acquired property is the product of labour, or the fruits of labour; and why do men labour? Is it not for the means of living? If, then, the constitution of our nature is such that we must labour for the means of living, it must be the will of Him who made us that we should receive and possess the fruits of our labour (see Proverbs 16:26; Ephesians 4:28; 2 Thessalonians 3:10).

2. The principle of possession excludes the principle of communism. If the fruit of my labour is mine, the fruit of another man's labour is his to do as he will with it. Communism has always ended in disaster; and always must. It is a tissue of mistakes. It is wrong in its original inference that the principle of property is the cause of destitution, whereas the real cause is selfishness and sin; it is wrong in its ruling idea that all should share and share alike, a notion which would tax industrious people for the benefit of idlers, and rob the skilful for the advantage of the incompetent; it is wrong in its proposed method, for force is no remedy, and the circumstances of men can only be mended by mending the men themselves; and it is wrong in its cherished hopes, for if by some fatal success the communists should break down the present social system and suppress private wealth, the result would be to take all heart of enterprise out of the world's workers, to dry up the waters of progress at their source, and to crush the human race under a final incubus of intolerable woe. Not in the suppression of property, but in a wise understanding of its uses, and in a right direction of its powers, lies the redress of human wrongs, with the hope of a good time coming.

II. What it ensures — THE USE OF PROPERTY.

1. Property has economical uses. It increases, protects, and stores, the produce of the earth.

2. Property has also its moral uses.(1) Its steady stimulation of labour is alone a mighty helper of our manhood. It is where men have to work that they acquire robustness of frame, alertness of mind, and firmness of moral fibre.(2) The way in which a man acquires property, and the way in which he uses it — resisting temptation to get it unlawfully, and making it a field for exercise of all the virtues; or dealing oppositely, so as to win it by fraud, and use it for vice — these things make all the difference between a hero and a scoundrel, between a son of God and a child of the devil.

III. What it forbids — THE VIOLATION OF PROPERTY.

1. There are robberies over and above those which policemen investigate. Private gambling. Betting. Extravagance and petty theft on the part of domestic servants.

2. Fraud, or the withholding of a man's due. "Trade practices."

IV. What it involves — THE RESPONSIBILITIES OF PROPERTY. We are God's stewards.

(W. J. Woods, B. A.)

I. WHAT IT FORBIDS.

II. WHAT IT REQUIRES.

1. It requires restitution of whatever we have, at any time, unjustly taken or detained. For, that being in right not our own, but another's; keeping it is continuing and carrying on the injustice.

2. This Commandment also requires industry; without which, the generality of persons cannot maintain themselves honestly.

3. To observe it well, frugality must be joined with industry, else it will be all labour in vain.

4. This Commandment requires in the last place, that we neither deny ourselves, or those who belong to us, what is fit for our and their station, which is one kind of robbery; nor omit to relieve the poor according to our ability, which is another kind. For whatever we enjoy of worldly plenty is given us in trust, that we should take our own share with moderation, and distribute out the remainder with liberality.

(Abp. Secker.)

I. WHENCE DOTH THEFT ARISE?

1. The internal causes are:(1) Unbelief. A man hath an high distrust of God's providence: "can God furnish a table in the wilderness?" So saith the unbeliever, "can God spread a table for me? no, He cannot." Therefore he is resolved he will spread a table for himself, but it shall be at other men's cost, and both first and second course shall be served in with stolen goods.(2) Covetousness. The Greek word for covetousness signifies "an immoderate desire of getting"; this is the root of theft. A man covets more than his own, and this itch of covetousness makes him scratch what he can from another.

2. The external cause of theft is, Satan's solicitation: Judas was a thief; how came he to be a thief? "Satan entered into him." The devil is the great master-thief, he robbed us of our coat of innocency, and he persuades men to take up his trade; he tells men how bravely they shall live by thieving, and how they may catch an estate.

II. HOW MANY SORTS OF THEFTS ARE THERE?

1. There is stealing from God; and so they are thieves, who rob any part of God's day from Him.

2. There is a stealing from others.(1) A stealing away their souls; and so heretics are thieves, by robbing men of the truth, they rob them of their souls.(2) A stealing away their money and goods from them; and under this head of stealing away other's money, there may be several arraigned for thieves. The highway thief who takes a purse contrary to the letter of this Commandment. The house-thief, who purloins and filches out of his master's cash, or steals his wares and drugs. The house-thief is a hypocrite, as well as a thief; he hath demure looks, and pretends he is helping his master, when he only helps to rob him. The thief that shrouds himself under law, as the unjust attorney or lawgiver, who prevaricates and deals falsely with his client. This is to steal from the client. The church-thief or pluralist, who holds several benefices, but seldom or never preacheth to the people; he gets the golden fleece, but lets his flock starve. The shop-thief; he steals in selling, who useth false weights and measures, and so steals from others what is their due. The usurer who takes of others even to extortion; he seems to help another by letting him have money in his necessity, but gets him into bonds, and sucks out his very blood and marrow. The feoffe in trust, who hath the orphan's estate committed to him; he is deputed to be his guardian, and manage his estate for him, and he curtails the estate, and gets a fleece out of it for himself, and wrongs the orphan. This is a thief; this is worse than taking a purse, because he betrays his trust, which is the highest piece of treachery and injustice. The borrower, who borrows money from others, with an intention never to pay them again. The receiver of stolen goods. The root would die if it were not watered, and thievery would cease if it were not encouraged by the receiver.

III. WHAT ARE THE AGGRAVATIONS OF THIS SIN OF STEALING?

1. To steal when one has no need. To be a rich thief.

2. To steal sacrilegiously. To devour things set apart to holy uses.

3. To commit the sin of theft against checks of conscience, and examples of God's justice: this is like the dye to the wool, it doth dye the sin of a crimson colour.

4. To rob the widow and orphan; "ye shall not afflict any widow or fatherless child"; it is a crying sin; "if they cry unto Me, I will surely hear them."

5. To rob the poor.

( T. Watson.)

I. Stealing by FORGETFULNESS. People with these bad memories borrow things from their neighbours and friends, and forget to return them. Now, to the persons who lend those things, it is just as bad as if a thief should come into their house and steal them. Umbrellas, and books, and things of that kind are most likely to suffer in this way.

II. CUNNING, is another branch of it. Did you ever see a counterfeit bank-note? It passes for a good note, though it is not worth a straw. And gold and silver coin are counterfeited in the same manner. The people who make them think themselves very cunning. But they are not a bit better than thieves. But a great many other things may be counterfeited as well as money. When God shall come to reckon with them at last, they will find that the real name for what they called smartness was stealing. This is the name by which God calls it.

III. Those who break the Eighth Commandment by DECEIT. For instance, a lady goes into a shop to buy a dress. She finds one of the colour she wants. If she could be sure that the colours would not fade she would take it. She says to the shopkeeper, "Will these colours stand?" "Oh, yes, madam, they are the very best colours to wear. They will stand as long as the dress lasts." The lady buys the dress on this assurance, though all the while the shopkeeper knows the colours will not stand at all. In this way he steals the lady's money.

IV. Those who break the Commandment by EXTORTION.

V. Those who break the Commandment by VIOLENCE and FRAUD. We must resist little temptations. Everything must have a beginning. I remember reading once about a man who was going to be hung for robbery and murder. On the scaffold, he said he began to steal by taking a farthing from his mother's pocket while she was asleep. Many children begin to steal at the sugar-bowl or the cake-basket. To take the smallest thing that does not belong to us, without permission, is stealing. And, then, there is another thing to do: we must pray to God to keep us from temptation.

(R. Newton, D. D.)

There is an anecdote told of a brave general of the American Revolution, that he one day overheard the remark of a grandson, that "he hoped to be middling honest." The old gentleman stopped, turned short upon the speaker, and broke out: "What is that I hear? Middling honest! let me never hear again such a word from your lips. Strictly honest is the only thing you ought ever to think of being."

Some poor families lived near a large wood-wharf. In one of the cabins was a man who, when he was sober, took pretty good care of his family; but the public-house would get his earnings, and then they suffered. In consequence of a drunken frolic he fell sick. The cold crept into his cabin, and but one stick was left in his cellar. One night he called his eldest boy, John, to the bedside, and whispered something in his ear. "Can't do it, father," said John aloud. "Can't — why not?" asked his father, angrily. "Because I learned at Sabbath-school , Thou shalt not steal,'" answered John. "And did you not learn, 'Mind your parents,' too?" "Yes, father," answered the boy. "Well, then, mind and do what I tell you." The boy did not know how to argue with his father, for his father wanted him to go in the night and steal some sticks from the wood-wharf; so John said to his father: "I can pray to-night for some wood; it's better than stealing I know." And when he crept up into the loft where his straw bed was, he did go to God in prayer. He prayed the Lord's Prayer, which his Sabbath-school teacher taught him, only he put something in about the wood, for he knew God could give wood as well as "daily bread." The next noon, when he came home from school, what do you think he caught sight of, the first thing after turning the corner? A load of wood before the door, his door. Yes, there it was. His mother told him the overseers of the poor sent it; but he did not know who they were. He believed it was God; and so it was.

? — Two old men were once arguing upon the question of venial sin. Their faces one could not forget. One said, "Well, after all you have to say, you will not tell me that the theft of a pin and a guinea are the same." The other said, "When you tell me the difference between a pin and a guinea to God, I will give you an answer." It at once settled the point; and there was no more said about venial sin.

It must be acknowledged that the sufferings and crimes which are incident to the institution of property are so grave as sometimes to provoke the inquiry whether, after all, the institution itself can be defended. Selfishness, covetousness, dishonesty, fierce and angry contention, are among the worst vices of which men can be guilty; and it may almost seem as though we might escape from them all by abolishing the rights of property. What are the grounds, then, on which the maintenance of these rights, in some form or another, can be defended? Archdeacon Paley, in one of the chapters of his "Moral Philosophy," has illustrated some of the advantages of the institution of property, with his usual clearness and felicity. He shows that it both increases the produce of the earth, and preserves it to maturity. Houses, ships, furniture, clothes, machinery, pictures, statues, books, require a great amount of labour to produce them; the stimulus to production would be altogether destroyed if after they were produced they belonged to nobody, and if people who had done no work were as free to use them as those by whose self-denial and labour they were produced. No mines would be worked, no fields would be cleared, no waste land would be brought into cultivation, no marshes would be drained, unless the men who did the work had the hope either of owning the property which they created, or of receiving in some other form compensation for their labour. The material wealth of the world would almost disappear, and the poorest and most wretched would have even less than they have now, if the rights of property were abolished. But there are other grounds on which the institution may be defended. The rights of property are essential not only to the creation and preservation of material wealth, but to the cultivation and development of the nature of man. It is only because corn belongs to the farmer, and coal to the mine proprietor, and bread to the baker, and meat to the butcher, it is only because clothes belong to the tailor, and houses to the builder, and because the law protects every one of them in the possession of his property until he is willing to part with it, that men work in order that they may get coal, and corn, and bread, and meat, and clothes, and house room. The Indian would sit idle in his cabin if the game he hunted did not become his own. Excessive physical labour is no doubt a great evil; but the evils of indolence are still greater. There are parts of the world where it is hardly necessary for men to work at all in order to get the bare necessaries of life, and the result is a miserable want of physical vigour and a portentous development of vice. We were made to work. It is by work that muscle is created and the whole body kept free from disease. Work as a rule is good for health, and good for morality and happiness too. Moreover, the institution of property supplies a most powerful motive to intellectual exertion. We want food, clothing, and a thousand other things; but they belong to people who will not part with them, except for the results of our own work. Inventive genius is stimulated to improve the processes of manufacture; administrative skill is exercised in lessening the cost of production; merchants watch the rise and fall of the markets in remote countries, estimate the effect of good and bad seasons and of political events on the probable price of commodities. There is not a counting house however small, there is not a workshop in a back court, where business can be carried on without thought. The institution of property secures an amount and variety of intellectual activity for which, perhaps, we have never given it credit. It has also very important relations to the moral life of man. The whole organization of the world is intended to discipline our moral nature; and the very variety of the sins to which the existence of property gives occasion, illustrates the variety of the virtues which it is intended to exercise.

(R. W. Dale, D. D.)

If a manufacturer charges you twenty pounds for a hundred yards of cloth and sends you only half the quantity, he as really steals ten pounds as though he broke open your cash box and took out a ten pound note. If he engages to send you cloth of a certain quality and charges you for it, and then sends you cloth which is worth in the market only two-thirds the price, he is just as much a thief as though he stood behind you in a crowd and robbed you of your purse. No one disputes this. The same principle holds in every business transaction. To give short weight or short measure, is to steal. To supply an article of inferior quality to that which it is understood that the buyer expects, is to steal. To take a Government contract and send to Weedon or Portsmouth articles which you know will be worthless, or which you know are of a worse kind than it was understood that you would furnish, is to steal. To take advantage of your superior knowledge in order to pass off on any man articles for which he would never give the price that he pays for them but for his confidence in your integrity, is to steal. To start a company and to induce people to take shares in it by false representations of the amount of the subscribed capital and of its probable success, is to steal. If a workman who is paid to work ten hours, takes advantage of the absence of the master or foreman to smoke a pipe and read a newspaper for one hour out of the ten, he steals one-tenth of his day's wages. He does the very thing that a shopkeeper would do who gave him fourteen ounces of butter or sugar instead of a pound, or nine yards of calico when the bill charged ten. An assistant in a shop, who instead of caring for his master's interests as if they were his own, puts no heart into his work, exercises no ingenuity, treats customers carelessly instead of courteously, and so diminishes the chances of their coming again, gets his salary on false pretences, does not give the kind of service which he knows his employer expects, and which he would expect if he were an employer himself.

(R. W. Dale, D. D.)

Speaking of the early American prairie settlements, a modern historian says: "Theft was almost unknown; the pioneers brought with them the same rigid notions of honesty which they had previously maintained. A man in Maucoupin County left his waggon, loaded with corn, stuck in the prairie mud for two weeks near a frequented road. When he returned he found some of his corn gone, but there was money enough tied in the sacks to pay for what was taken.

In Abraham Lincoln's youthful days he was storekeeper's clerk. Once after he had sold a woman a little bill of goods and received the money, he found, on looking over the account again, that she had given him six and a quarter cents too much. The money burned in his hands until he had locked the shop and started on a walk of several miles in the night to make restitution before he slept. On another occasion, after weighing and delivering a pound of tea, he found a small weight on the scales. He immediately weighed out the quantity of tea of which he had innocently defrauded the customer and went in search of her, his sensitive conscience not permitting any delay.

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