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verted, seduced, or alienated from the supreme admiration, service, and love of God.
The moral of this memorable temptation, in part, at least, is,Satan comes when we are weakest, and always assails us in the weakest point. He is to be conquered by one sword, and by one only. On the broad shield of faith we may quench his fiery darts; but when we attack him we must use the Jerusalem blade; for, like the sword that beheaded Goliah, there is none like it. "It is WRITTEN" constitutes the omnipotent argument,the sharpest arrow in the Chris. tian's quiver; and by the dexterous use of this cherubic sword, we need not fear the world, the flesh, and Satan, that triumvirate of ruin which has tyrannized over mankind times and ways without number, converted Eden into a wilderness, earth into a Golgotha, and superinduced on our race the untold curses of indignant Heaven here, with the dread and dismal forebodings of a misery to come, enduring as the days of eternity.
SERMON ON DEBT. Had the following luminous and edifying discourse been success. fully preached some ten years ago in all the breadth and length of this land of bold adventure and reckless speculation, the everlasting text of HARD TIMES and the lugubrious sermon of bankrupt myriads, whose peroration is the innumerable groanings of houseless, homeless pilgrims, with shattered constitutions, palsied energies, wounded con. sciences, ruined characters, and broken hearts, would not have filled our ears and our mouths with the lamentable details of every day's report of affliction and distress with which the country is filled. Still the preacher has not, in my opinion, exactly used his text as Paul intended. I have, indeed, often heard it quoted and applied as he does. Mr. Finney, for example, of the Oberlin school, so contern. plates it, and has accordingly printed and published a sermon upon it. Paul spake of paying debts, while these good friends are thinking and writing of contracting debts. To imagine that the Lord should positively prohibit the contracting of debts, and yet command Christians to lend, is a singular oversight. Would the Lord make it a sin to borrow, and a virtue to lend! Is there not a precept which says, bHim that would borrow of thee turn not away”?!—The case is so evident that I will not enlarge upon it. But what does Paul say? The context will explain. "Render to all their dues," or •Pay off all your debts'_iOwe no man any thing"-Pay the last farthing to every human being'—Feel no obligation to any man but that of good will.' Most certainly this is Paul's own contextual interpretation of the precept.
The payment of debts is, with every Christian, a point of the highest honor, as well as of eternal obligation. All the statutes, laws, and ordinances of all human tribunals under heaven, never can free a Christian man from any debt whatever which he owes to God or man. The obligation of a cup of cold water, even given, will be felt to all eternity;—much more any contracted indebtedness. Time nor distance, good fortune nor bad fortune, poverty nor distress, never can discharge the conscience nor remove the obligation to pay; and those who die in debt on earth will feel the obligation to all eternity. This is of the very essence of every homan obligation. On this principle hang all the rewards and punishments of the final and eternal judgment. This explains the sensitiveness of Paul and all that class of spirits so hap. pily alluded to in this sermon. While our Lord wrought no miracle to feed or clothe himself, he commanded a fish to search the deep dark sea of Galilee for a stater to pay a demand against himself and Peter; and yet it was not morally, if indeed it was even legally, due.
The subject of debts and obligations amongst Christians seems to be very imperfectly understood. One thing is, alas! too plain—ihat many of the Christian profession are not more cautious in contracting, nor more exemplary in discharging their debts, than other persons.But I will not any longer detain the reader from the perusal of a discourse, which, notwithstanding the exception taken at the application of the text, is full of good sense, wholesome doctrine, and worthy not only of a mere sentimental approval; but of a cordial adoption as a rule of life in that department of duty and privilege on which the writer speaks with so much evidence and authority.
SERMON ON DEBT.
Rom xiji. 8.-"Owe no man any thing but love to one another." Dear brother Campbell,
Allow me, through the medium of the Harbinger, to make a few remarks suggested by the extracts from a sermon on the above text, which appeared in the number for last month. I have been led to look. on the passage as containing an absolute prohibition, with one exception. And as this exception comes appended to the law, we are to understand that the latter embraces every thing not included in the former. We are thus left at no loss to understand this part of duty; for the rule is definite. The words and construction of the precept are plain and simple, and no criticism is necessary to the right under. standing thereof. The word used here is that in Math. vi. 12., ale though in the form of a substantive, and there translated debis or debtors, and in Romans iv. 4.-not reckoned of grace, but of debt, and
properly so translated. "Owe no man any thing but to love one another;" or the phrase may be varied as literally thus, "Be not in debt to any one, for any thing but mutual love;" or, “Avoid all other obligations except that of love."
This apostolic precept, then, stricily prohibits to the followers of the Lord Jesus every kind of indebtedness but to love one another. It is true, as the author of the sermon remarks, that debts of wilful dishonesty, debts of avaricious speculation, debts of vanity, and debts of imprudence, are prohibited by it. But these are prohibited independently of this or any similar text; for dishonesty, avarice, vanity, and imprudence, are trausgressions of other parts of the divine law, and every act which can be so characterized is thus declared sinful, although otherwise in itself lawful. To say that such debts are forbidden by the text, is to say nothing illustrative or confirmatory of it, as they are positively forbidden on account of their character, without any reference to it. For example, it would not illustrate or enforce the precept, “Lie not one to another," to remark that this text forbids lies of wilful dishonesty, lies of avaricious speculation, lies of vanity, and lies of inprudence, when every one knows and admits that these characteristics are all prohibited whether coupled with lying or not. But it would be to the point to say that this passage forbids, clearly and explicitly, falsehood and duplicity of whatever nature and for whatever purpose. Something more must be forbidden by the com. mand “Owe no man any thing," than debts such as these; else it contains nothing of a peculiar nature.
It is hazardous to explain away, or to add exceptions to, any simple precept of the word of God. We should understand the sacred writings as we would any others, in their simple and obvious sense; although, on the other hand, we are to be careful that the conclusions we draw from them do not clash with each other. If they do so, the fault is in us, and not in this rule; and we are by no means to discard it or to refuse to admit the conclusion though that should run counter to our previous opinions or the practices we have been accustomed to. To the prevalent practice of explaining away or mystifyirg the plain precepis, narratives, or doctrines of the Book of God, until they mean every thing or nothing, may be altributed a great portion of the errors or ignorance of the present day in respect to the will of God.
Therefore, according to the plain and obvious meaning of this sim. ple passage, the voluntary contraction of any kind of debi or obligation is sérictly forbidden among the people of God; and if any thing of the kind has been incurred in ignorance. or in any other way, they are enjoined hy it, without delay, to discharge it by every means in their power, and to stand forth as obedient children, not owing to any man any thing but to love one another. This obligation we are to seek, 10 feel, and to act under. This yoke is easy, and this burthen is light.
Understanding this as the clear and unequivocal nieaning of the Spirit of God in this text, instead of making it run counter to any o'her parts of his law, shows it to harmonize completely with its whole spirit and tenor. For,
1. The contraction of debt is virtually forbidden in Heh. xiii. 5.“Be content with such things as ye have.” It is really discontent with present possessions that leads to dett, even when the motive iş least exceptionable. The desire to get more leads us to seek possession of part of our neighbor's property; and to obtain this we come nnder obligation to restore it at a future specified period. The love of ease, a disinclination to submit to patient and persevering industry in order to acquire more of this world's goods, moves us to go into debt in order to get what we desire into our possession. What is thus obtained is not ours-is not the gilt of our heavenly Father-does not come under the description of the things that ye have." Not being contented with what is really our own, we interfere with what is another's; and thus involve ourselves in responsibility and consequent distress and disappointment
2 The same prohibition is also implied in 1 Cor. vi. 23.-—“Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servanis of men." In Prov. xxi.7. the wise man says, “The borrower is servant to the lender.” It is volontarily placing ourselves in a state of servitude which the Apostle forbids. He who was called being a servant was to care not for it; but if he could be free, he was to use it rather. A state of freedom was therefore to be desired; and if acquired lawfully, was to be maintained. The man who voluntarily contracts debt puts himself, ac. cording to the wiseman, in a state of servitude; and all who have had much to do in the way of borrowing, know experimentally the bitter and degrading nature of this species of service. A freeman of the Lord Jesus cannot maintain his right inviolate to that noble appellation after having bowed his neck to this hard and debasing yoke. The believer has to come down from his high standing as a child of God when he is constrained by the necessities of his circumstances to flatter or to bow to the wealthy man of this world for the possession of a little of his property; or, having it already in his possession, to be allowed to keep it for a little longer. Often have right principle and trne piety been humbled and dishonored in the person of the genuine Christian in such circumstances. It is wrong for him voluntarily to run even the smallest risk of such a humiliation.
3. Indebtedness is inconsistent with the character and spirit of pilgrims and strangers which the followers of Jesus are ever to maintain and manifest. They have given up this world as a portion they are to set their affections on things above-to walk worihy of their heavenly calling, and to rejoice in the high honors and blessings they enjoy as heirs of God and joint heirs with Christma high and exalted relationship; and is it consistent for them, thus distinguished, to entangle and harags themselves with debts and claims arising out of the temporary and unsatisfactory things of this passing world? They are passing through a foreign country in possession of their enemies, and it is not wise on their part to come under such obligations as will hinder them in their progress, or give the enemy any advantage over them.
4. Debt is incompatible with obedience to the command, “Be ye also ready; let your loins be girt about and your lights burning, and ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord." The disciple in debt is unprepared for the immediate coming of his Lord. And should his conscience tell him so, he must acquiesce in the intimation as far ir speaks of his immediate coming. But he tender minded believer, while he does assent to the truth of ihe intimations of the faithful mon. itor, often in thought replies that he will in a little time stand better prepared. Virtually saying that if his Lord would delay for sixty or or ninety days, or perhaps for six or eight months, he then would be ready to welcome him. Will he be so? Let the brethren who have been so situated answer. During the currency of the specified time new obligations are incurred as fast as the old ones run off, and the professed servant of Jesus remains as unprepared as ever.
5. Debt is sinful because it almost infallibly brings with it cares and anxieties which expel from the soul the peace of God” which is provided by him to guard the feelings and affections of his people from the assaults of the enemies with which they are constantly surrounded. “Be anxious for nothing," says our benevolent heavenly Father, “but in every thing by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God; and the peace of God, which passelh all understanding, shall guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."
The conscientious man in debt cannot obey this kind injunction, and he cannot therefore hope to enjoy the fulfilment of the promise connected with it. Corroding care, often sleepless nights are his. He may know such a precept and such a promise are in the Book of God, but he feels that obedience on his part is altogether out of the question. The only salvo is, the command and the blessing might suit well enough that simple and unsophisticated state of society which existed in the days of the Apostles, but are inapplicable now; at least he feels them to be so to his circumstances, and these he knows 10 be similar to those of the most of his brethren around him. He would therefore suffer no loss though this part of the word of God was ex. punged; and when he reads it he reads it as though he read it not. His reasoning is precisely that of the members of corrupt communities in reference to their corrupt practices, and it is thus they vindicate their connexion with them. It is not therefore to be wondered at, when one knows their worldly circumstances, that many of the disciples of Jesus are weak and inactive in the divine life. By putting themselves in a state in which the peace of the gospel cannot be enjoyed, they have deprived themselves of their strong defence, and thus become an easy prey to every enemy. “The joy of the Lord is their strength.” Thie believer struggling with debt knows nothing of it. But he who flees debt is at liberty to rejoice in his Lord, and can lay down his head in peace on his pillow, however humble, and take quiet sleep, having no fears for to-morrow or any day after.
6. Debt is sinful to the servant of the Lord, because he is thereby unable to conform his conduct to that rule of his Master which requires him to give to his poor brethren was the Lord has prospered him.” The man in business who buys on credit must sell on credit. This is a necessary consequence. For he must sell within a specified time, or else he cannot pay on the appointed day. He knows he must then be provided, and never feels himself free to decline the offered customer, although he may have misgivings concerning him. He has put himself in a vortex, and therefore has not the command of his own movements. It is impossible for him to tell on the first day of the week, when the claims of the poor are presented, to what extent, or if at all, the Lord has prospered him during the previous week. He cannot tell at the end of a month, or even at the end of a year, how much the Lord has been pleased to add to his property; for the business man