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much for their flattery and fawning, still continue to practise deceit. There are various other ways of dishonesty, which, though not mentioned here, yet may easily be understood from the examples now given.
Here it is necessary to be known, that the sin of theft is not pardoned till such time as the article stolen be restored to its owner; or if this is impossible, till an equivalent is given for the loss sustained. And if there are such, as, out of poverty and want, are unable to return either the article stolen, or an equivalent, then, if such a person manifests a sincere desire to return what he took away, his sincere desire may be accepted, with an honest confession of the sin, and manifestation of sorrow on account of it. Otherwise, this sin is not forgiven, because, in such a man, real repentance does not exist.
Antidotes against Theft.
In order to keep clear of that mean and most injurious sin of theft, antidotes are necessary to
to receive the acts of reverence which the people show them, Such feigned supernatural appearances were frequent before the time of Peter the Great; but this wise Emperor, in a great measure, put a stop to this method of propagating idolatry and superstition, and to the numerous deceitful practices of the priests to gain money by imposing on the credulity of the ignorant.
preserve us from the sources in which it originates. These sources are avarice, or an insatiable desire to gather riches, and laziness or idleness. The avaricious can be satisfied with nothing, and he accounts every means lawful if he can only increase his gains; the idle and the lazy willingly reduce themselves to poverty, and then they are obliged to steal for support. Therefore, every one ought to remain diligent in his calling, and derive his support from honest labour. It is better to have little and be an honest man, than to possess much, with the shameful name of a thief and a dishonourable person. We should also trust in the providence of God, who, we are assured in the gospel, careth for the smallest of birds, and sustains and clothes the quick-withering flower; how much more will he not forsake us, if we, trusting in his bounty, do not faint, and keep in remembrance, that the poverty of conscious fidelity shall be adorned and rewarded with the riches of heaven!
The ninth commandment requireth, that we should never lie in any thing, and should not injure our neighbour with our tongue.
According to the reasoning of St James, the tongue of man is capable of being the cause
of great evil, if not properly bridled and governed by reason. Hence, the same apostle says: "If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body;" iii. 2.
A lying tongue can hurt its neighbour in various ways; namely,
1. By bearing false witness against him in judgment, or falsely accusing him before others, and thus bringing him into great distress, bebecause thereby his character is broken, and his property and health both suffer. Such false witnesses and accusers are children of the wicked one, for the name devil signifies the accuser, and he, according to the words of Christ, is "a liar, and the father of lies." John viii. 45.
2. When a judge pronounces an unjust sentence against any one, from prejudice, or from not having properly examined the merits of the case before him, and thereby ruins and murders his neighbour, and thus offends God, whom, as a judge, he represents.
3. This commandment also condemns every sort of provoking and insulting language; when, for example, any one insults another to his face, or laughs at any defect which he may chance to have either of body or mind, or uses provoking and contemptuous jests, or represents ano
ther's words and actions in a wrong light, and draws from them bad consequences, or accuses his neighbour of sins, but not with the good intention of reforming him. He too is guilty in this point, who writes defaming and insulting letters to others, or who, in short, utters any thing with an intention to hurt his neighbour's character.
But there are also cunning and indirect ways of defamation; thus, for example, when any one, under the semblance of praising another, mixes his praise with a degree of mysterious, but pointed censure, leaving the person to whom he speaks, in doubts, and subject to much misunderstanding, and thereby gives him occasion to make many dangerous reflections on the character of the individual spoken of; while, perhaps, to these reflections he makes no reply, but at the mention of his name, draws a sigh, or shakes his head, or coolly replies to all that has been inferred by a murdering sort of tacit acquiescence. Thus, it is possible to condemn a man even by silence; and this condemnation is the more iniquitous, on account of its proceeding out of a subtle and wicked heart.
Antidotes against lying.
In order to avoid the above mentioned vices,
we ought constantly to preserve in remembrance this truth, "do not that unto another which thou wishest not to be done to thyself;" and to rest assured, that the person who is accustomed, by his wicked tongue, to injure the character of his neighbour, or to mingle his words with falsehoods, will, in justice, inevitably experience the same treatment himself; for he cannot avoid being considered as a dishonourable, inconstant, and foolish man. Hence, every one ought to desire, with Sirach, that their mouth may be in their heart, and not the heart in their mouth; 'and to pray with David, "Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips."
But we may, and we ought to open the door. of our lips, to glorify God, and sing praises to his name; boldly to confess the truth; to defend another's name and honour against calumny and false accusations; to praise the meritorious, and thereby render due respect to virtue; as also to reprove the vices of others with an affectionate and sincere desire of their reformation.
The tenth commandment. is a full explanation of the foregoing commandments; and it requires, that we should not only refrain from doing evil, but also not desire it in our hearts.