Sunday, January 31, 2016



"A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love on another; even as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are My disciples, if ye have love one to another."—John 13:34, 35.


In considering the Ten Commandments it has been seen how the ethic of Jesus magnified the law as given by Moses. Nothing therein minimized the value, or lowered the standard, of the Decalogue. He distinctly declared this to be the case when. He said, "Think not that I came to destroy the law or the prophets: I came not to, destroy, but to fulfill." (Matt. 5:17) Both in His life and teaching, He fulfilled the law; that is, He filled it to the full, passing in deed and word, beyond the mere letter, into the region of spiritual intention. Those who had known Him as Teacher could never charge Him with having substituted the traditions of men for the com­mandment of God, or say that. He had so explained the commandments as to make them simple and easy. His kingly words had searched the realm of motive, and had spoken in authority as to the vital importance of character.
He uttered this new commandment when He was about to leave His disciples. "Knowing that His hour was come, that He should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them unto the end" (John 13:1) These words declare the principle underlying His life. It was that of love. In the impulse of that love He girded Himself and washed the feet of the disciples; thus giving expression to the utmost truth He had come to teach men, that where love is the motive of life, service is its expression. (Rom. 12:1-2)
He then commenced His final teaching, and in this connection enunciated the new commandment which revealed the purpose of the whole economy of grace. In Him grace had its epiphany, and in him grace finally accomplished its greatest work, not for the setting aside of law, but in order that all the requirements of law may be met in activities of life which spring from the impulse of love, perfection the result.
There is a sense in which the commandment is not new. "Beloved, no new commandments write I unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning: the old commandment is the word which ye heard. Again, new commandments write I unto you which thing is true in Him and in you: because the darkness is passing away, and the true light already shines" (1 John 2:7-8). The commandment was old. Christ had already summarized the law by declar­ing it to be love. "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second like unto it is this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hangs the whole law, and the prophets." Moreover, this summary of the law was embodied in the Mosaic economy from which Christ quoted (Deut. 6:5 with Lev. 19:18).
What, then, is new in this repetition of the old com­mandment? The answer is given by John in the pas­sage already quoted. That which is new is the light shed upon the commandment by the life and teach­ing of Christ; which by the time John wrote, was also shining through the lives of His disciples, so that He was able to say, "A new commandment . . . which is true in Him and in you." (1 John 2:8)
Let consideration be given to this old commandment in its new light. Notice, first, this new command­ment as including the old; secondly, the new command­ment as revealed in Christianity. 

The New Commandment as including the Old
Every breach of the Decalogue is a violation of love. It follows, therefore, if love suggest, control, direct the life, there can be no such breach. With regard to man's relation to man, this is distinctly taught by the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Romans. "Owe no man anything, save to love one another: For he that loves his neighbor hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not covet, and if there be any other commandment, it is summed up in this word, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thy­self. Love works no ill to its neighbor: love there­fore is the fulfillment of the law" (Rom. 13:8-10). It is equally true of man's relation to God. Of such importance is the understanding of this simple and awe-inspiring principle, that it may be best to recall the whole of the ten words, noticing how love fulfils them.
If man love God in all the breadth and beauty sug­gested by the words "with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind," (Matt. 22:37) he cannot possibly find room for another God, and so the first word is kept. If man love God completely, he will not suffer anything to stand between him and God, thus the graven image is broken to pieces, and swept away by the force of a stronger affection. Out of love will spring that respecting of the name of God which will dry the springs of blasphemy, and make the double dealing of the hypocrite impossibility. The Sab­bath will be eagerly welcomed, and all its privileges earnestly and gladly appropriated when it is a season in which love may find its way into the attitude of wor­ship, and the acts of service flowing therefrom.
Passing to the second table, and looking now at love in its working towards others, it will at once be seen that the only sufficient power for obedience and honor rendered to parents is that of love. There will be no thought of murder until the awful moment has arrived in which the flame of love has died out upon the altar. Unchastity of every description is love's sure destruction, growing gross upon the very death of that which it so vilely personates. All theft is rendered impossible by true love for one's neighbor. Love sits as a sentinel at the portal of the lips, and arrests the faintest whisper of false witness against a neighbor; but, rather dwells within the heart, and slays the thought that might have inspired the whisper. It is love and love alone that, finding satisfaction in God, satisfies the heart's hunger, and prevents all coveting.
The new commandment, therefore, which is an ex­pression of the intention of the old, perfectly states the one law that includes the many. If man may but learn to love, he may walk erect in the light of Sinai, "with­out spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing." (Eph. 5:27)
Yet this is but imperfectly to state the fullness of the new law. To love is to have a righteousness that exceeds the righteousness of the Scribes and Phari­sees. (Matt. 5:20) It is to do more than can be expressed in the letter. Love is the fruitful tree whose branches run over the wall. Love is the impulse which carries deed far beyond duty. Love is lavish, prodigal, and impulsive often, to the calculating correctness of the mere literal­ist. Love will take its precious ointment and pour it without thought of cost as an expression of itself.
To know the value of love as the force which fulfils law, it has, to be contrasted with other impulses. Duty will become mechanical, exact, and regular. Love will take the second mile, and give the cloak also, the second always including the first, the cloak forever follows the coat. Thus, while duty may keep the letter, love will enfold it in an atmosphere that glorifies it. Thus it is that "scarcely for a righteous man will one die: per­adventure for a good man some would even dare to die." (Rom. 5:7) The difference between righteousness and good­ness here is that between duty and love.
For the sake of appearances how much will man do? With what regularity all the details of conduct that are watched by the eyes of men will be attended to, lest by accident the observer should adversely criticize. Love cares little for appearance, will often startle the mere casual observer by its utter disregard of what the criti­cal may think, if it may but serve the need of some lonely soul, or carry a message of hope into some dark dungeon of despair.
Self-esteem is also a remarkably stern sentinel of words and deeds. To maintain his reputation man will often suffer much, and yet how often, sadly will he break the law of God under this very impulse. Love has forgotten self, and therefore has no time to waste in maintaining reputation or ministering to personal satisfaction. It thinks of others, serves others, and so fulfils the whole law. 

The New Commandment as Revealed in Christianity
From this bare statement of the case there will be no dissent. To perfectly love is to perfectly fulfil the law which was uttered in love. It is at this point that man becomes conscious of his own impotence. Who can love with absolute disinterestedness? It is at this point also that Christianity asserts itself by revealing the love-life in a Person, and communicating that life as a dynamic of love to others.
Jesus of Nazareth was Love Incarnate. His whole existence was the most perfect expression of love that the world has ever had. It was therefore the fulfilling of the law, so that the testimony of God, man, and devils declares His perfection. Three times the Divine voice broke the usual silence of the heavens, in announcement of the satisfaction of God in the life of Jesus; the Roman Procurator uttered the true sentence, after all evidence had been given, when he said: "I find no fault in Him"; (John 18:38; 19:4, 6) and although He needs no tribute from the under-world of darkness, it is a significant and sug­gestive fact that a demon said to Him, "I know Thee Who Thou art, the Holy One of God." (Mark 1:24; Luke 4:34) This thrice-attested perfection was the result of His perfect love. He loved God, and proved it by His own uncompromising loyalty to His will.
*His love to man was mani­fest in His attitude toward friends and foes, in the severity of the anger that occasionally flashed forth against tyrants and oppressors; and in the unceasing tenderness of His action toward the oppressed.
What­ever question is asked about Christ, the answer is somehow conditioned in love. Ask concerning His character, and answer by describing the characteristics which in their sum total made that character, and every one of them springs from, and the whole of them result in, love. Question what was the reason of all He did, or said, and again it will be found that He acted and spoke in the impulse of love. Examine the direction in which His life proceeded, from boyhood to manhood, from the secrecy of the home at Naza­reth to the public ways of the Teacher, and ever on to the Cross, and His pathway is the pathway of love. Mark the activity of His life, and never in the records can a deed be discovered except such as are deeds of love. Observe the time of His coming or going, His delays and His rushing’s, His retirements and returns to the ways of men. His whole life was a radiant revelation of love itself, and love as the fulfillment of law.
The issue of this life was at once a mystery and revelation of love, crowning all that had gone before. In His death love made atonement for the sin of the loveless. The difference between self-sacrificing love, and self-seeking lust, creates the necessity for atonement in a double sense. "Sin is the transgression of the law," (1 John 3:4) and demands atonement. "Love is the fulfil­ment of the law," (Rom. 13:10) and provides atonement. *One of the first evidences of the principle of sin in the life of man was his selfish attempt to place the blame of wrong upon another. *The utmost evidence of the life of love lies in the fact that love takes the blame attached to others. The Cross was the necessary outcome of the perfect love of God as revealed in Christ. "He that knew no sin was made sin." (2 Cor. 5:21) Love, having ful­filled the law, was faultless, but took to itself the fault and guilt of all who through lack of love had broken law. This is the highest mystery of atonement, not here explained but declared.
Through the mystery of this death, love became dynamic. Herein lays the lonely splendor of Chris­tianity. It was love that was able to say, "I lay down My life, and if I lay it down, I will take it again." (John 10:17) Taking it again in the power of resurrection, He henceforth has communicated it to all repentant and believing souls, so that to such it may be said in the words of the apostle, "Christ in you the hope of glory." (Col. 1:27)
Thus, love at the center has definite relation to the whole circumference of conduct. Love as the impulse of life produces the activities of love. Love being the highest reason, all the deductions is also of love. Who shall write anything to describe the love-life after the poem of love from the pen of Paul. "Love suffers long, and is kind; love envies not; love vaunts not itself, is not puffed up, Both not behave itself unseemly, seeks not its own, is not provoked, taketh not account of evil, rejoices not in unrighteousness, but rejoices in the truth, bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails." (1 Cor. 13:4-8) Within the compass of that marvelous description, lies the most perfect unfolding of the ful­filment of law by love.
Herein, then, lies the severest test of all profession that it is possible to discover: "He that says he is, in the light, and hates his brother, is in the darkness even until now." (1 John 2:9) Every breach of law is due to lack of love, and all hatred in the heart is due either to the absence of the Christ within, or to willful disobedience to His impulses of love.
It is only at Calvary that man can do without Sinai; for it is only there that all the purposes suggested in the code of the mountain of fire can come within the range of possibility. It is only when His love indwells the spirit, and constrains the heart, that law is fulfilled. Let but Christ reign in the life of man, and thoughts will be born, words will be spoken, and deeds will be done in love. Then in thought and word and deed law will be fulfilled.
It will be profitable to search and try the heart by the new commandment rather than by the old. Let all the deeds of the days be tracked to motive, and every word traced to inspiration, and every thought probed to conception; and if the result of the process be that love is discovered, men may rest content both as to deeds and words and thoughts.
Such searching must result in deep humiliation, but it should also drive the humbled soul into the new life of dependence upon Him Who was, and is, the Eternal Love.
Those that love Him keep His commandments (John 14:15). Perfection accomplished and the Father says to His Son, "Go get your Bride." (Matt. 24:36)
America is in a fallen state while attempting to elect a President to take over after being decimated and CHANGED by its last one. America has allowed voices over the last years to speak false wounding words that were disallowed in her past history. Education has been changed to the point where these false views spoken have been accepted as truth while truth itself (Bible) has been removed from the scholastic system. And then conversation with Truth Himself in Person (Jesus Christ) has been banned (prayer). And the instigator and impetus of this purchase of falsehood (the devil) is not even recognized as a creature of God; thereby the perfect storm. So now it seems their next choice on the one side is one of the most lawless characters to ever set foot on this earth (Hillary) or on the other a man who is one of the wealthiest who has no trouble with multiple marriages (3) and gay marriage, abortion (although he flips on his beliefs as time evolves -  TRUMP). Christ never wavered once on these concoctions of man. Its all about themselves and is what Christ will come back to His earth and judge. Men in the church are identifying themselves by the very vote they made in the last 2 elections and now will further clarify their religious stance on love in the next.

Saturday, January 30, 2016



"Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is thy neighbor's."-Exodus 20:17.

This 10th and last word of the Decalogue is in some sense radically different from those that have preceded it. It is the last requirement of the second table, and most distinctly refers primarily to man's relation to man. All the former commandments have forbidden overt acts. To disobey any of these is sooner or later to be detected by one's fellow men. This final word utters its solemn warning against sin in the inner and hidden life. This commandment may be broken without the knowledge of any human being. Sooner or later this also will reveal itself in some overt act, and therein lies at once the importance of the commandment, and the consequent solemn responsibility resting upon those who are thus finally warned of danger in its distant places. In American as well as English law the overt act of treason is distinguished from design not carried into effect. Yet were there no design there would be no treasonable act. The peculiar nature of this command, therefore, is that it passes below the externals of conduct to the hidden activities of the mind and heart and will, setting up the kingship of God, in all that strange and mystic region of human life. Thus, while the 10th commandment distinctly deals with human inter-relation, it sets such inter-relation in its right relation to Divine supremacy. This truth will be more evident as the command is considered-first, in itself; second, in the light of New Testament teaching; and third, in its application to the conditions of today.

The Command
In examining the commandment itself it is best to notice carefully the word which is made use of to mark the sin. The actual word "covet," in its original meaning, implies delight in some object, and because delight in anything necessarily means a sense of desire to possess, the word was used to mark that desire to possess, more than the delight which prompted the desire. In the repetition of the commandment as chronicled in the Book of Deut. 5:21 two words are used. The first word translated "covet" in the Revised is the same as that already referred to in Exodus. The second word translated "desire" in the Revised is a word meaning simply to wish for. The Apostle Paul in quoting the commandment uses a Greek word, which in its different forms in the New Testament is most frequently translated "lust." It is often rendered "desire," and sometimes "covet," and occasionally "concupiscence." These translations will help to throw light upon the word. Its essential meaning is "to set the heart on," very literally, "to pant after."
The sin, therefore, suggested by the word is very evidently that of desire to possess something which belongs to another. Notice the sequence suggested by the very word itself. The eyes rest upon some object which commands the admiration of the beholder; something which is to that person delightful and to be desired. To desire to possess that object is to covet. There is, of course, an unnamed quantity in the circumstances addressed, something which is not wrong, but out of which the wrong may spring. That unnamed quantity is comparative poverty, inability to obtain a like object to the one admired by lawful means. That condition may give rise to a desire to possess the object when not lawfully obtainable. That desire is the sin of coveting. By way of illustration, a person may see a picture upon the walls of his friend's house, admire it, desire it and then purchase one like it. The desire in that case is not the sin of coveting, for it may be satisfied legitimately. Where the object admired is for any reason out of the reach of the one admiring, admiration merging into desire to possess breaks the commandment. Herein lies the searching and revealing power of this last word of the Decalogue. This desire for that which cannot lawfully be possessed is distinctly forbidden, and so this 10th word passes much deeper in its moral requirement than any that has preceded it. It sets up God's right over the realm of desire.
The whole force of the commandment lies in these words taken out of the commandment. "Thy neighbor's . . . thy neighbor’s . . . his . . . his . . . his . . . his . . . thy neighbor's." This is a sevenfold guarding of the interests of another. It is not wrong to desire a wife, nor a man servant, nor a maid servant, nor an ox, nor an ass, nor anything that in itself is right. It is wrong to desire any of these when through any circumstances they are out of the reach of the one desiring.
This examination of the commandment in itself is enough to arrest the conscience and to bring man to say it is impossible to prevent desire following upon admiration; and this is indeed true, but this truth is the revelation of the fallen condition of humanity, and this is what the apostle meant when, in his great argument on the relation of the law to sin, he said, "I had not known sin except through the law; for I had not known coveting, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet; but sin, finding occasion, wrought in me through the commandment all manner of coveting, for apart from the law sin is dead." (Rom. 7:7-8) That sin is present in every life is evidenced by this very desire to possess unreachable things. This sin is only discovered in the light of this commandment. Well will it be, if this searchlight of Divine requirement shall so astonish men as to drive them to Him Who alone is able to deal with the unexplored reaches of the nature, and then will they also be able to say, "The law hath been our tutor unto Christ." (Gal. 3:24)
The value and importance of the commandment will be gathered from a consideration of its far-reaching application. First, it conditions individual life. Covetousness disturbs all the highest possibilities of life, and finally makes them impossible. These highest possibilities are indicated in the apostle's arrangement of the fruit of the Spirit: "Love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, self-control." (Gal. 5:22) Covetousness will destroy the bloom and mar the beauty of the entire fair cluster. Instead of love, there will be suspicion and hatred; instead of joy, sorrow, heart-ache; instead of peace, feverish unrest; instead of long-suffering, impatience; instead of kindness, cruelty; instead of goodness, miserliness; instead of faithfulness, infidelity; instead of meekness, arrogance; instead of self-control, self-assurance. The apostle's phrase, "The goodness and severity of God," (Rom. 11:22) was no accidental combination of apparent opposites. The severity of the 10th word of the Decalogue is based upon His goodness. Though it search like fire, it is in order that beyond the fire cleansing of the soil, there may come the verdure and fruitage of Paradise, in order that "instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree." (Isa. 55:13)
Second, it includes in its scope all social life. Out of disobedience to this command will spring sins that break every law written upon the second Table of the Law. It is the sin of covetousness that makes it possible for a man to say, "It is Corban," (Mark 7:11) of possessions he should use in honoring his father and his mother. Criminal records will prove that in a great majority of cases, unholy desire was the inspiration of murder. No word need be written to demonstrate the fact that the look of lust ever precedes the act of adultery. Theft of every description is the offspring of desire to possess that which is unreachable by lawful means. The evil spirit that makes false witness possible is motived far more often than perhaps appears by covetous aspiration. Thus the whole realm of human inter-relation is disorganized and broken up by the dishonoring of the 10th commandment.
And yet again, it is a command that conditions thy Divine relationship. The sin of greed proves that the soul is out of harmony with God, and dissatisfied with Him. This sin issues, therefore, in the breaking of the four commandments of the first Table of the Decalogue. It is for the accommodation of distorted human life that man has created other gods, themselves covetous and selfish. Unsatisfied desire, moreover, issues in the attempt to make some representation of God, for the easing of conscience which perpetually cries out for the authority of Deity. Profanity and blasphemy of all kinds result from the pain of a hunger that finds no satisfaction in the false gods thus set up. All profanity is the wail of lust. The desecration of the day of rest is due to the restlessness born of unholy desire. It will thus be seen how far-reaching and searching this closing word of the Divine enunciation of morality is. The first commandment and the last are closely linked, and all that lie between are conditioned within them. If a man has no God but Jehovah Elohim, then will he covet nothing, except what his God supplies. If a man covet anything that he may not lawfully obtain, it is because of hunger deeper than that born in the coveting, his hunger, namely, for the one true God.

The Teaching of the New Testament
Turning now to the New Testament, nothing can be clearer or more emphatic than its repetition and enforcement of the great principles of this commandment. The words of Jesus Himself admit of no misunderstanding. They were spoken in answer to a man who asked the Master to satisfy his desire by compelling his brother to divide the inheritance with him. "Take heed and keep yourselves from all covetousness, for a man's life consists not in the abundance of the things which he possesses." (Luke 12:15) This statement He enforced by the parable of the rich fool, who, notwithstanding all his getting, found no present rest, and yet with acumen and concentration attempted to feed his soul with "goods," imagining that the spirit-life could be satisfied with eating, drinking, and merriment.
So also Paul ranks "the covetous man" with the "fornicator," the "unclean person," the "idolater," and declares that he has no "inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God." (Eph. 5:4-5)
James, in his satire of the rich, that is, of men who have attempted to satisfy their life by possessing, and whose whole activity has been actuated by desire for gold, shows clearly the heinousness of the sin, and reveals how it issues in the breaking down of the social ideal. (James 5:1-6)
Peter tracks adultery to the same cause in his burning words, "Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin: enticing unsteadfast souls: having the heart exercised in covetousness." (2 Peter 2:14.)
John declares in a comprehensive sentence the perishing nature and cause of sinful life, placing it in immediate antithesis to the permanence and cause of holy life. "The world passes away, and the lust thereof, but he that doeth the will of God abides forever." (1 John 2:17)
The writer of the letter to the Hebrews, in his concluding portion, warns those to whom he writes against the same sin, putting covetousness and content into opposition, and showing how the first is rendered impossible, and the second made simple, to those who rest in the faithfulness and fellowship of God. "Be ye free from the love of money; content with such things as ye have, for Himself hath said, I will in no wise fail thee, neither will I in any wise forsake thee. So that with good courage we say: The Lord is my helper; I will not fear: What shall man do unto me?" (Heb. 13:5-6.)
To return to the teaching of Jesus, a striking and forceful statement of the principle is contained in the remarkable words, "Ye cannot serve God and Mammon" (Matt. 6:25). He made this statement after warning His disciples against laying up treasures for themselves upon the earth. He followed it by declaring that they were not to be anxious concerning the things they should eat, or drink, or put on. They were rather "to seek first the kingdom of God." The sentence itself is most suggestive, as putting into contrast the two camps in which men serve-God and Mammon. The inspiration and force of service in the camp of God is that of rest and satisfaction. The stimulus and spur of service in the camp of Mammon is that of desire and covetousness. Man serves God in the quiet force of his rest in God. Man serves Mammon in the restless energy of his desire for Mammon. Herein lies the most terrible indictment of covetousness. It is the fever which makes the eye glisten with a false luster, the cheek flush with deceitful color, the muscles twitch with unnatural activity, the nerves throb with restless desire. It is the service whose final wage is death.
Wherever man desires anything, small or great, outside the possibility of righteousness, he is in that measure in the grip of a fever which must destroy him unless it is quenched.

The Application
Was there ever a day in which this great principle needed more forceful statement than today? Is it too much to say that covetousness lies at the root of all the evils that blight the world, especially its so-called civilized portion? The oppression of feeble races, the inability to cope with the outbreak of violence, the indifference to righteousness that alone exalts a nation, the toleration of giant evils that sap the virtue of the people-these all may be traced to the restless and unsatisfied heart of man in his covetousness for that which, possessed, does but breed new desire. Some great words are being dragged through the mire, because they are chained to the car of the unsatisfied god, covetousness. In Mr. Watts's famous picture of Mammon, a terrible indictment, he has portrayed the monster as of enormous proportions, bloated, and apparently comfortable in his swinish over-fullness. While I admit the force of the picture, had I the artist's brush I would not so paint him, but rather lean and gaunt, hungry and wild, with one arm clasping the nations, and the other out-reached, with fury on his face that there was no more to possess.
Not only in the national outlook is covetousness discovered, but at the base of all social problems lies the same worm of discontent. The greed of the capitalist and the madness of the anarchist, the brutality of great corporations and the superb cruelty of un-Christianized democracy, all arise from lust of possession. Your TV set has 5 to 6 ads for every few minutes of viewing the desired program. The lotteries are taking millions and now billions and giving to a person who did not labor for the prize. All the individual vices that are robbing the nations of their young men and maidens-drink, impurity, gambling-grow out of unsatisfied craving of the heart-covetousness. Humanity, away from God, covets, and no amount of getting proves to be gain.
Oh, that the words of Eliphaz the Temanite-true in principle, though wrong in their application to Job-might be sounded out in some such way as to-convince belief and produce obedience.

"Acquaint now thyself with Him, and be at peace:
Thereby good shall come unto thee.
Receive, I pray thee, the law from His mouth,
And lay up His words in thine heart.
If thou return to the Almighty, thou shalt be built up; If thou put away righteousness far from thy tents.
And lay thou thy treasure in the (lust,
And the gold of Ophir among the stones of the brooks;
And the Almighty shall be thy treasure, and precious silver unto thee.
For then shalt thou delight thyself in the Almighty, And shalt lift up thy face unto God.
Thou shalt make thy prayer unto Him, and He shall hear thee; And thou shalt pay thy vows.
Thou shalt also decree a thing, and it shall be established unto thee,
And light shall shine upon thy ways." (Job 22:21-28.)

Surely this last word of the Decalogue must bring every soul who honestly faces it into the place of conviction of sin, and to a sense of utter helplessness. It may be men have passed through the examination of all the foregoing commandments with some measure of self-respect still left, with some consciousness that they have not greatly sinned; but who at the last can stand in the light of this quick and powerful word, and claim to be guiltless? It was Paul who after thirty years of Christian experience, reviewing his old life as a Hebrew of the Hebrews, could say, "as touching the law, a Pharisee; as touching the righteousness which is in the law, found blameless," (Phil. 3:5) who yet had to say that when he faced this last word, "Thou shalt not covet," he became conscious that sin wrought in him "all manner of coveting;" (Rom. 7:8) and he found that the commandment which was unto life, was in him unto death. Very few dare look back upon the past and say even in the light of the earlier commandments conditioning the externals of life, that they have been "blameless," not one dare say they have not desired forbidden things.
The study of the Decalogue must therefore be closed with a confession of hopelessness. In it there is found the law of life, but not life. We are undone. It may be possible for men so to live as to escape the detection of their fellow men, but when God speaks to them in the secret stillness of the inner chamber of their being the arresting word, "Thou shalt not covet;" and when Jesus adds to that His word of exposition, "Everyone that looks... hath... already in his heart," (Matt. 5:28) they bow their heads in the dust, and say "We also have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." (Rom. 3:23) Thus the commandments bring men into the light of Divine requirement, and draw from them the confession of guilt, and leave them waiting for the Deliverer. The commandments without the Cross utter a sentence of death.

Friday, January 29, 2016



"Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor." EXODUS 20:16.
This commandment has a two-fold intention. First, it guards the reputation; and, secondly, it closes the door of opportunity against unworthy men, who might seek to enter therein upon false testimony. Reputation is of great value to those who desire to dwell in the government of God. Such have seen the true nature of things, and have discovered that the only shame that can ever come to man is the shame of sin. Men outside the Divine government are ashamed of what they speak of as failure, are ashamed, moreover, of poverty. To be little and unknown, or to be poor, fills the heart of the average man of the world with terror and foreboding. To those who walk in the light of the Divine thought, to be little and unknown may be a part of that Divine purpose, which ever moves toward glorious consummation; and to be poor may be a part of the condition of being rich toward God.

To all such the only thing to be feared is sin, and a reputation undamaged by evil is a most precious possession. In the last analysis it really matters nothing what others may think of a man. To be right with God depends upon character, and character is not affected by reputation. Character is the engraving upon the being of a man, of the true facts concerning himself. Reputation is the estimate which others form of him. The latter should ever be dependent upon the former. That it is not so is due to the false ideals men have of success and of greatness; to the shallowness of the popular estimate of sin; and to the contempt of the worldly for rightness. Many whom the world has condemned have passed stainless into the Divine presence.

May it not be reverently said that the Perfect One is the supreme example of this truth? Looking at Him and His career from the purely human side, He lost His life through the sin against which this commandment is directed-that, namely, of false witness. For the comfort of those whose reputation has been assailed, let it forever be remembered that "He was despised and rejected of men"; (Isa. 53:3) and, moreover, that He said, "Blessed are ye when men shall reproach you and persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely for My sake." (Matt. 5:11); Yet God does care for the reputation of His own. In the end He will vindicate them. For the passing hour He guards their reputation by this stern and unbending requirement, and those who love His law will forever remember this word, and refuse to rob any man of his acquired right of reputation.

The commandment has also the other effect, that of guarding the righteous from the evils resulting from receiving unworthy men upon false testimony. The man who willingly gives a rogue an entrance to some position on a false statement of character shares his roguery, and harms those upon whom the evil man is imposed. It is not necessary to stay to consider the subtle and far-reaching power of thought when expressed in speech. The words of James occur naturally in this connection, "And the tongue is a fire; the world of iniquity among our members is the tongue, which defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the wheel of nature, and is set on fire by hell." (James 3:6) More harm has been wrought in human society by false testimony than can ever be stated or fully understood. Hence it is of great importance to carefully examine this 9th word of the Decalogue; and this will be done by noticing, first, the simple intention of the command; second, how the command may be violated; and, third, its application to present-day questions.

The Simple Intention of the Command

The words "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor" demand truth in the statement, directly or indirectly, made by man, to man, concerning man. As the 3rd commandment forbade the taking of the name of God in vain, and so conditioned the relation of man to God in sincerity and truth; so the 9th reveals the fact that man in his relation to his fellow is to be actuated by the same principles, and proceed on the same lines. God always deals with man upon the basis of His full and accurate knowledge of what man is. The Divine attitude towards man, and dealings with man, are not governed by the appearances which man desires to keep up before his fellows, nor by the opinion formed of him by his neighbors. No truer or weightier words were ever spoken than those in which the Psalmist describes the Divine knowledge in Psalm 139:1-2 "O Lord, Thou hast searched me, and known me. Thou knows my lying down and mine uprising, Thou understands my thought afar off."

Upon that intimate and absolute knowledge God bases His dealings with men. Such also is his purpose for man in his relation to his fellow man. Human knowledge is of necessity limited, but limited knowledge is true so far as it goes, and the Divine requirement is that every man should sincerely speak of, and deal with, his brother man. The interaction of men with each other is to depend upon actual facts of character, conduct, and capability. The whole social fabric is based upon testimony that one bears to another, and in order that that fabric may be established in truth and righteousness, such testimony is to be true. No man must be helped or harmed by statements made concerning him, which are not exactly in accordance with the facts as far as they are known. Beyond knowledge, therefore, no testimony may be kept, and in the giving of testimony, no facts are to be withheld that would alter the decision. In order that men may approximate in their dealings with each other, to the same law of rectitude which characterizes the Divine dealing with them, the opinions which one man produces in the mind of a second concerning the character of a third are to be simple, exact, true.

How the Commandment May Be Violated

The first and simplest application of the commandment is to evidence given in courts of justice. The very name just used indicates the true function of such courts. They are tribunals for the execution of justice. Justice is based upon truth, and any false testimony accepted is a violation of truth and produces a miscarriage of justice. For this reason, therefore, perjury is made a criminal offence, and rightly so, because through perjury other forms of crime may go unpunished, and the innocent be made to suffer. To stay here, however, would be to rob the commandment of more than half its force, and because the majority of men may never have had to give evidence in a court of human law, and yet are daily in danger of breaking this word of the Divine law, they should carefully examine the sevenfold way in which false witness may be tolerated.

The most bare and unblushing form of the sin is, of course, that of slander, the lie invented and distributed with malicious intention. Perhaps no form of injury done by man to man is more despicable than this. The person who makes use of it is one compared with whom the main road man is a gentleman, and the assassin almost kind. The highwayman robs of material things that have been gained, and may be replaced. The assassin ends the life by swift or sudden stroke, often with little pain; but the slanderer who invents a lie, and uses it, forms a weapon which takes away a reputation, and all the chances are against its ever being regained; and thus oftentimes causes untold and prolonged suffering to the innocent, while, in the majority of cases, he himself goes undiscovered and unpunished.

Again, false witness is accepted by tale-bearing, that is, by repetition of some report without careful investigation. It is a very great question whether the law of libel is not based on righteousness when it provides that not even the truth is to be circulated to the detriment of any person. This, at any rate, is certain, that to repeat a story, if it reflects upon the honor or character of any man, without the most careful inquiry, is to violate the 9th commandment. This is certainly one of the most common forms in which it is done, and the tale-bearer perpetually excuses the action by saying that there was no intention to deceive, and the rumor was believed to be correct. This, however, is no justification. It is of the essence of wickedness to speak of a neighbor in such a way as is likely to work harm, unless the statements made are the statements of simple and actual fact. There are persons who seem to revel in this form of lawlessness, delighting in the very havoc wrought by the tales they tell.

False witness is also tolerated when a false impression is made upon the minds of certain persons about others, by a hint, a suggestion, or even the skillful asking of a question. Stigma has been cast upon many a fair reputation by such a question as, "Have you heard about Mr.?" The answer being given in the negative, the questioner says, "Ah, well, the least said soonest mended." Nothing further can be drawn from him, but an unfavorable impression has been created, and the innuendo has had all the deceiving effect of false witness.

False witness, moreover, may also be endured by silence. When one man utters a slander upon a second in the hearing of a third, if the third knows the statement to be a defamation, and for some personal reason or dislike, or it may be of fear, remains silent, that person is as guilty of the breach of the law as is the one uttering the slander.

Then again, the charge of motive is a prolific source of evil. Some deed done, or some gift bestowed, is called in question, not because they in themselves are wrong, but because it is hinted there was a reason for doing this other than that appearing-an ulterior, selfish, sordid motive. Some sentences that mark the methods of imputed motives are so commonly in use that to mention them is to reveal how prevalent this form of the sin is. "Ah, yes; he knows what he is doing." "The gift was only a sprat to catch a mackerel." "He knows which side his bread is buttered on."

Flattery is also a form of the same sin. (Luke 6:26) To say to another man concerning him things which are not believed to be true, which, indeed, are known to be untrue, simply for the sake of pleasing him, and paying tribute to his vanity, is to perjure the soul, and may be to imperil his safety. In the same way, to utter unwarranted praise, to give a testimonial of character, or to recommend a man simply out of friendship for him, while he is known to be unworthy of the testimony accepted, is to inflict injury upon the person to whom he is thus recommended.

Thus it will be seen how subtle a danger this of false witness is, how easily and almost imperceptibly, impressions of other people which are untrue may be created. There is no word of the Decalogue more often and unconsciously broken than this ninth commandment, and men need perpetually and persistently to pray,
"Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips." (Psa. 141:3)

Application to Present-Day Questions

The sin of bearing false witness is terribly prevalent among individuals today. It would be a somewhat startling revelation if records could be taken of all the conversations at afternoon teas, Dorcas meetings, and all those institutions at which women do congregate. There is no doubt that men are also guilty of much wrong-doing in this way, but it seems a peculiarly favorite form of iniquity among women. The habit of talking of other people, discussing their affairs, is a most pernicious one, filled with peril to those who do it, and to those of whom they speak. It is largely indulged in through want of better occupation and lack of mental culture, with its accompaniment of conversational power. It is spoken of often as a harmless vice, the only truth in that statement being that it is vice-harmless it by no means is.

A whisper broke the air,
A soft light tone, and low,
Yet barbed with shame and woe;
Now, might it only perish there,
Nor further go I
Ah me! a quick and eager ear Caught up the little-meaning sound;
Another voice has breathed it clear,
And so it wandered round,
From ear to lip, from lip to ear,
Until it reached a gentle heart,
And that-it broke.

There is also abroad today a great deal of false charity, which always works larger harm in the end. When out of pity for the present necessity of an incompetent man, he is recommended to a position for which he is not fitted, his final failure is made surer, and harm is wrought in the work committed to his trust. This is done in commercial, literary, political, and religious life.

Nations and societies as well as individuals, may be guilty of the sin of false witness. It seems today the perpetual habit of certain sections of the press to impute motives to foreign nations, and for politicians to heap rude comments and abuse on their opponents. Half the unrest in America and Europe may be said to be due to false witness accepted by one nation against another through the press. It might be a good thing if many of our politicians and pressmen could for one brief half-hour divest themselves of their critical capacity, and read without prejudice an article of Marie Corelli's which appeared in the pages of The Free Lance, entitled "Manners, Gentlemen."

The air is full of suspicion, and while the old methods of persecution by imprisonment and torture have passed, martyrs are still being trade by the process of false witness accepted, while all the while the thunder of the Divine fiat sounds over the age, "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor," and the Master's words are still found in His manifesto of the kingdom of heaven, "Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured unto you. And why beholds thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considers not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me cast out the mote out of thine eye; and lo, the beam is in thine own eye. Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye." (Matt. 7:1-5)

Every violation of truth is a desecration of the Decalogue, and there is no meaner form of rebellion against God and harming one's fellow-men than that of creating impressions which are not true in the minds of others. He that breaks this command is at once a thief, a coward, and a liar--a liar, because false witness is the opposite of truth; a coward, because a lie once started on its way, is never finally overtaken, and he who thus aims at the heart of his fellow-man gives him no chance of correction; a thief, for as Shakespeare says:

Who steals my purse steals trash:
But he that filches from me my good name
Robs me of that which not enriches him
And makes me poor indeed.

The corrective is, of course, in the cession of the being to Him Who is at once the embodiment of truth and incarnate love - Where He reigns the motive is love, and love ever expresses itself in truth.

Thursday, January 28, 2016



"Thou shalt not steal."-Exodus 20:15

At this point the Decalogue passes from the discussion of the essential facts of human life to matters of lesser importance, affecting human inter-relation. By the phrase "of lesser importance" it is not intended to suggest that they are unimportant, but in the words of Jesus, "Life is more than meat"; (Luke 12:23) and up to this point the commandments have forbidden sins which interfere with the relation of man to God, or harm in any way the life of man in itself. In the Mosaic economy, violation of any of the first seven commandments incurred the death penalty. This was not so with regard to the last three, proving that in the realm of comparison the first seven are of greater importance. To the mind of God, worship and the relation of the worshipper to Himself are matters of utmost moment.

The rebellious nature of sin is remarkably evidenced by the fact that human laws have inverted the order of this importance. At the present moment, laws protecting property are far more numerous upon the statute-books of all lands than laws protecting life. It would assuredly be wrong for man to punish man for refusal to worship, or for worshipping gods other than the true, or the true in ways other than appointed; yet it is an appalling matter that the breakdown of active and solemn recognition of relationship between man and God is hardly counted sin at all in public opinion. A preacher may denounce murder, impurity, theft, lying, in terms of fiery indignation, and he will carry any ordinary audience with him, but if he denounces the sin of godlessness in the same terms, he will most probably arouse the resentment of a large percentage of his congregation. And then there is his politically correct country where he resides. And yet this sin of rebellion is the root from which all others grow. Gradually, however, the best opinion of all men is being conformed to the Divine ideal, and the age is coming to understand that "life is more than meat." Whether it can he said that as yet there is any approach to a consensus of opinion that life is only perfectly conditioned in the will of God, may be open to question.

So much having been said as to the relative value of the commandment, now turn to a consideration of this law dealing with the question of human possession. "Thou shalt not steal." There is urgent need for close attention to this commandment, for while the actual act of stealing is looked upon increasingly as vulgar, yet the day is characterized by a multiplication of methods of theft, which men are prone to speak of by any other than the right. "Business acumen," “the habit of the trade," "imperialism," are all phrases used under certain circumstances, where the true fact of the case might be expressed in the one, less pleasant sound, but far more truthful, word theft. Even in the realm of actual stealing, if the person perpetrating the deed is of sufficiently good social standing, one is apt to hear of kleptomania. It is a curious thing that the word is hardly, if ever, used anymore in the courts. Let there be an honest facing of the Divine purpose as marked in the command, "Thou shalt not steal." Consider, first, the command; secondly, the light of the New Testament upon it; and, thirdly, its application to our own time.

The Command

The command is, in the first instance, recognition of the rights of property. It gives the lie to the dictum of Proudhon, the father of anarchism;-La propriete, c'est le vol. Property is not theft. Man is by his creation able to possess, and to deny the possibility of possessing property is to make theft impossible. In the last analysis all possessions belong to God, as all wealth is created by God. Man, in his relation to God, is ever compelled to know that nothing he possesses can be held to be outside of the right of divine interference. Man in relation to man can claim to possess, outside the right of human interference, this being clearly recognized by the command.

While thus recognizing the rights of property, the commandment forbids any violation of these rights. For illustration, let it be taken for granted that men do possess the things which they call their own. It will immediately be seen that there are only three ways in which man can come into possession of anything: either by the free gift of another person, or by toil, which receives something as legitimate return, or by theft, the taking that from another which belongs to him.

The 8th commandment recognizes the first two, and forbids the third. The reason for this will be discovered by an examination of the three. The first two are based upon the essential laws of human inter-relation; namely, love and work. The first of such is the law of love. The gift bestowed by one upon another or by another upon one, is an expression of love, and becomes the property of the one to whom it is given. Something earned by toil, for the possession of which the work done has been a legitimate return, in that it has also benefited the person who received it, is property. Theft violates both of these laws. The thief cannot love the person from whom he steals, and it is very difficult for the person from whom the theft is made to love the thief. The thief violates the law of toil by attempting to possess without toil, and thus to take from another something for which no equivalent return is made. Thus the commandment recognizes the true rights of property, the rights of love and work, and forbids the possession of anything except upon the condition of obedience to these laws.

The Light of the New Testament

This may be gathered from one remarkable passage -"Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labor, working with his hands the thing that is good, that he may have whereof to give to him that hath need" (Eph. 4:28). It will immediately be seen that the argument of the preceding section is here gathered up and stated with startling force. Mark well the antithesis. On the one side, stealing, the false method of possession; on the other, working and giving, the true methods. This is a drawing of the line with surprising definiteness. According to this, all property which has not been obtained by working or by giving is stolen property. Every item possessed has either been bestowed as a gift, or worked for, or stolen. Apply this to much of the social, commercial, and national life of our time, and a great deal of vaunted morality will be seen to be grossest immorality.

But the New Testament carries the idea further, and lays upon the strong the burden of the weak, declaring that property is to be gained by work, not merely that it may be possessed, but that the over surplus may be given to the disabled brother by the way, who has lost his power to work, and yet may not steal. Thus within the new economy of the "holy nation," that man also steals who simply works for the satisfaction of his own necessity, and fails to recognize the strenuous claim of the common life he shares with the weakest member of the new social order. This last statement has reference strictly only to those who are living immediately within the Kingdom of God. But, as the very genius of the life of that kingdom is that of caring for and loving the unfit and the unworthy, no man who claims to have put the crown of his being upon the brow of the Christ is truly loyal to his King except as he wins by toil possessions that he may pass on to the most needy and afflicted.

Its Application to Our Own Times

Broadly stated, the 8th commandment forbids all forms of communism which deny man's right to property. Of course, the word property is used throughout this article in its simplest as well as in its broadest sense. Anything honestly obtained is property, be it ever so small or large. It, moreover, denies all right to property, except that of gift or work. All that a man possesses as the result of gifts freely bestowed, or of work honestly done, is secured to him by this enactment; and whosoever shall come into possession of any such property, except by the free gift of the present owner, or as return for work rendered, is to be branded as a thief, and punished accordingly. Therefore, the 8th commandment arrests all men that possess anything which they have obtained in any way, except as the free gift of another, or in return for work rendered. This commandment, then, strikes at many different forms of stealing, which are being practiced today.

Perhaps it is hardly necessary to say anything concerning the simple act of stealing articles belonging to other persons. This is universally acknowledged to be dastardly, and petty larceny may be severely punished through the agency of the criminal courts of the country. For this reason very largely, thousands of persons who are in heart quite capable of dishonesty are kept from the overt act. Even in most respectable and moral society, however, some forms of common theft have come to be looked upon as regrettable lapses, rather than sin against God. One illustration will suffice. It would be interesting, but extremely painful, to pass through the homes of thousands of Church members, instituting a rigid examination as to the ownership of all the books to be found therein. The habit of borrowing books is in itself malicious, but the appalling extent of the carelessness as to the return of the same is hardly realized, because people forget that to borrow a book and not to return it is a theft. For Amazon has many copies of all the various books in print. If these sentences should cause the discovery of some of my books, and they are returned to me, I shall be forever grateful for having had this opportunity of enforcing the 8th commandment.

The sin of stealing is terribly prevalent in the matter of fraudulent getting. In this age, when a man's "worth" is estimated by the amount he possesses, the lust of possession seems to destroy the principle of honesty in thousands of those who in other matters are scrupulously careful. In certain circles, also, trickery, dishonesty, lying, are all looked upon as evidences of shrewdness and acumen in business matters. The 8th commandment that governs a very large percentage of commercial life today is not "Thou shalt not steal," but "Thou shalt not be found out." Unjust weights, false measures, and (by far the most common of all) lying advertisements, all break the 8th commandment. Nothing need be said of the long-firm swindles, and the bogus companies that are so common, except this, that God Almighty will hold every person guilty of a breach of the 8th commandment that has given his or her name to any such enterprise without having carefully and personally examined the honesty or dishonesty thereof.

Then the whole habit of gambling and lotteries are of the essence of theft and this for the reason that it is a means by which men come into possession of property which is a violation of both the laws upon which property may alone be held. A man who gambles, whether by play or betting, puts into his pocket, money for which he has done no honest work; and by the very act he robs the man from whom he receives, and violates the law of love. Among all the foolish things that the enemies of righteousness have ventured to say, no person has yet been found foolish enough to write an essay on the bond of brotherhood existing among betting men, or the social possibilities of gambling. Although the lottery commissions attempt to peddle the fact that schools will be a recipient of a portion of the proceeds that God might understand. It is, moreover, a fact that ought not to pass unnoticed, that the gambling fever is the cause of more petty larceny and wholesale fraud than any other form of sin. There is no more insidious evil sapping away the integrity and uprightness of the nations of the earth today than this lust for possession without toil, which lies at the root of all gambling. It behooves all lovers of God and men, resolutely and without apology, to thunder the words of the 8th commandment in the ears of all gamblers, whether their practices are gilded by the glory of a court, or tarnished by the vulgarity of a slum. The gambler, lottery player, whether he wear the purple, broadcloth, or corduroy, is a thief in the sight of God, and ought, therefore, to be so in the sight of all honest men.

The 8th commandment is, moreover, violated by all such as enrich themselves by means that rob their fellowmen of the inalienable rights of human beings. The wealth that is tarnished by a death-rate higher than is necessary is ill-gotten gains, and they who spend their days in the enjoyment of such wealth are branded in the light of the perfect law of God as thieves-thieves, indeed, by the side of whom Bill Sykes, the burglar, is a hero, for in the prosecution of his unlawful practices he risks his life; but these men risk nothing but the lives of their fellow-creatures.

The 8th commandment is broken again and again every day within the great realm of capital and labor. How often today the words of James might be quoted with advantage: "Behold, the hire of the laborers . . . which is of you kept back by fraud, cries out; and the cries . . . have entered into the ears of the Lord of Sabbath." (James 5:4) It is lamentable, but equally true, that many a working man robs his master in that he withholds his fair share of honest labor, while he takes his wage. To capital and labor the 8th commandment has a double message. First, a fair day's wage for a fair day's work; and, secondly, a fair day's work for a fair day's wage.

Principles apply to individuals and to nations with equal force. This being so, this 8th word of the Decalogue is a severe denunciation of the false imperialism which is growingly manifest through all the nations of the world. Strong peoples have, without cause, stolen the land of the weaker. Weak nations have been handed over to the control of new powers without reference to their own rights, and to the wrong of those so dealt with. It would be a humiliating business for men of many countries to quietly sit down, and examine the history of their own nation in the light of this great word.

Those who pray "Thy kingdom come" should consistently act in the light of this commandment by recognizing the right every man has to the things bestowed upon him as gifts, and those which he has earned by toil, and should have no complicity with any form of violating this principle of morality. The communion of the Church is that of love, not of theft, and within the borders of the kingdom the command is as binding as ever-"Thou shalt not steal."

Wednesday, January 27, 2016



"Thou shalt not commit adultery."-Exodus 20:14.

Immediately after the commandment declaring the sacredness of human life follows that which safeguards the highest earthly relationship, and conditions in strength and purity the holy and sacred office of the procreation of life. God's first circle of society is that of the family, and the origin of the family in His purpose lies within the sacred unity of man and woman. The first principle of human life is its relationship to God. The second is its inter-relation, that of man to man. Within this second realm the type and origin of all subsequent relations is the family. Nothing can be more essential, therefore, for the social order, than that the relationship upon which all subsequent ones are based should be jealously guarded against any and every form of attack. The unity of the race is the purpose of God, and this grows out of the unity of husband and wife. The union of husband and wife is not capricious, but essential; for "God created man in His own image …….male and female created He them" (Gen. 1:27). The unity of husband and wife is thus the unity of the expression of the Divine image. Both are necessary to give full expression to the Divine. The duality, therefore, is only the double expression of a most sacred and holy power of procreation.

Such a consideration as this reveals at once the tremendous force of this 7th commandment, and explains its binding nature upon the race in all ages and places. The actual words of the command are directed against the sin of lewd conduct as violating the sacred rights of the marriage relation. Its spirit emphatically forbids all lewd conduct, for if this sense of essential unity in marriage be admitted, and it be accepted that the union of lives is always in the plan and government of God, then it at once becomes evident that all unchaste conduct before marriage, on the part of man or woman, is a wrong done to the marriage that is to be; and unfaithfulness before marriage is as much adultery as unfaithfulness after marriage.

There is no subject; perhaps, more difficult to deal with faithfully and yet there is none demanding more honest and fearless handling.

Consider, then, first the command; second, its bearing on certain facts of present-day life; and finally, the fierce and searching Christian ethic that touches the subject.

The Command

The command is a simple, unqualified, irrevocable negative. "Thou shalt not"! No argument is used, no reason given, because none is required. The sin is of so destructive and damning a nature that it is in itself sufficient cause for the stern forbidding. To emphasize the commandment, therefore, it is only necessary to consider the sin against which it is directed. A sevenfold vice is this sin of unchaste conduct, being sin against the Individual, the Family, Society, the Nation, the Race, the Universe, and God.

It is a sin against the Individual. This needs no proof. Nature visits the sin with the heaviest penalties in every department of the complex being of man. The terrible results of an immoral life in the purely physical realm are such as cannot be named here. They are well known. Every man of science will bear testimony to the awful demand that Nature makes for purity, and will assert that she has no pity for the unclean. The statistics of lunacy in this and all lands could tell horrible tales of the effect of unclean life upon the mental side of man's nature. Many sad stories prove that the highest spiritual culture and usefulness have been marred and ended by the sin of yielding unlawfully to lust. The perfect unity and balance of spirit, soul, and body is destroyed by this vice, and that man or woman surely and irrevocably commits suicide who falls into and persists in immoral habits: and life.

It is a sin against the Family. The sacredness of motherhood and childhood, and the demands they make upon the care and thought of all, are secured and met in the Divine institution of marriage. Wherever the rights of the marriage relationship are violated and set aside, God's provision for both is broken down, and the disastrous result of the breakdown of the family circle and entity results. The race is to be trained in groups and the power and provision for such training is the government of the essential love of parents. As the 5th commandment clearly teaches, the two sides of parenthood are necessary to the nurture of child-life. When the family is destroyed as a perfect whole by the sin of lewdness, an incalculable harm is done to the children. There is no more heartbreaking announcement in the newspapers than that which declares that in the granting of a decree nisi, the charge of the children has been given to one parent. Therein lies the destruction of the family after the Divine pattern, and the sin that leads to it is indeed terrible for this reason also.

It is a sin against Society. This follows from the previous consideration. The family is a unity of individuals sharing a common life and governed by a common love. Society is a union of families. Every attempt to create society upon any other basis is wicked and ends in disaster. The history of the monkish orders is a flaming proof of this fact. The attempts also to organize societies upon bases of common interests of trade or intellectual pursuits all break down sooner or later. Society is the accumulation of families, and all the human inter-relations of property, of reputation, and of character break down with the breakdown of the family. The sin which blights the marriage relation and destroys the family is the enemy of all true social democracy. All the things that may be had in common can only so be shared as it is forever understood that communism in the realm of sex is the most damnable sin against the commonwealth.

It is a sin against the Nation. This, again, moves out as a logical sequence from the former considerations. The adulterer is the enemy of the state, and as such, after being divorced in the divorce court, should be imprisoned by the criminal courts. The man or woman upon whose guilt the marriage tie is broken, no Christian minister of any denomination has a right to remarry. It is an act of treason to the state to allow such persons to go free. They should be incarcerated in separation from the other sex to the end of their days, and then they could not wipe out the wrong they did the nation when by unchaste action they struck a blow at the family. The greatness of a people depends upon the purity and strength of the people and in every nation where the marriage relation is violated with impunity the virus of death is surely and certainly at work. This is at once proved by the lurid lights that flash from the decay of Assyria, Greece, Rome, and in our own times, of France also. In this respect it is most true that "righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people." (Prov. 14:34.)

It is a sin against the Race. No man can deny his accountability for a share in the development or destruction of the race. The solidarity of humanity is more than a dream of visionaries. It is an indisputable fact. Every life is contributing its quota of force to the forces that make or mar. All are hindering or hastening the perfect day. The crime of prolonging sorrow and agony lies at the door of every impure human being. The agony and wrong of degraded humanity is a curse upon the lewd behavior of the past, and every licentious and bestial man or woman is inflicting new wounds, not only upon the immediate present, but also upon the years yet unborn. The voice of the human race, so often, alas unheard in the clamor of the interests of the passing moment, is thundering perpetually the Divine command, "Thou shalt not commit adultery."

It is a sin against the Universe. The life of the universe is love. The origin of all is love, for "God is love." The propagation of all is love. From the highest form, that of the unity of the marriage relation, through all the lower spaces of action, love is the law of growth. The lair of the wild beast is fiercely guarded by the love that holds it sacred. The nesting of the birds is token of the impulse of the love-life that throbs through all creation. The bee that carries the pollen from flower to flower is the messenger of the same instinct. Love is everywhere. The sin of lustful lewd conduct is the violation of love, blighting and destroying it. Let every adulterer and adulteress know, then, that their impurity sins against all the genius of the universe, and if they but listen, every pure and holy love of man and young girl, every devotion of the beasts to their mates, every song of bird, and every hum of the wing of summer bee, proclaims the heinousness of their offence against the whole creation.

It is a sin against God. This has virtually been said in every previous argument. Every human being is made in His image. Of every family He is the true Father. In all society He is the Shepherd. Over all nations He is King: The race is His own to its utmost limit. The love law of the universe is the will of God for all. Thus, lastly and consequently, every impure act or person strikes a blow at the very heart of God. By An eternal necessity He excludes the "abominable… and fornicators" (Rev. 21:8) from the new heaven and the new earth, and gives them "their part in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death."

Thus the 7th commandment is seen to be binding and inexorable because of the purpose of God that all His love creation should reach the highest platform of perfection. (Jude 24) To minimize the law against impurity is to deny the value of love.

Application of the Command Today

There are certain signs of the times which point to the necessity for a re-statement of this commandment. The first of these is the tendency, which is only too apparent, to loosen the binding nature of the marriage tie. There seems to be an increasingly popular notion that the marriage relation if civil opt only. This is a vital error. It is wholly divine. The lawfulness of the married state lies within the ultimate fact of sex, and this is a part of the Divine creation. God, who thus created, has conditioned the law of union, and every marriage is, therefore, a part of a Divine plan.

Unfortunately, too constantly the relationship is entered upon without any recognition of God, and hence the awful misery that often ensues, for no human being can tamper with Divine matters without being harmed. Once the union is consummated it is for the period of life.

There is only one reason for its disannulling until death, and that is the far more awful fact than death, that, namely, of fornication. The prevalent notion that incompatibility of temperament is sufficient reason for divorce is a blow at the very throne of God; and also, therefore, at the foundations of human well-being. Purity must refuse to give one moment's countenance in any form to such a doctrine of hell.

Another sign of the times in this direction is the filthy fiction which has polluted the realm of literature in recent years, fiction in which the marriage relation is treated with amused pity, and whoremongers and adulterers are pitied and excused, if not defended. Such literature is the most pernicious prostitution of a free press that any country can suffer from. A writer who once publishes a book or an article which undervalues the necessity of absolute chastity should by such action put himself or herself outside the pale of true literature. So long as the nation is in thousands of its members impure, such reading will be provided and read; but surely every member of the Christian Church should be true to the unalterable law of love expressed in this commandment, and that not only in their own personal lives, but in the influence they exert. Then the Church should refuse to give any visage whatsoever to such writers or their books.

Then, again, is there not a growing danger of ministering to impurity in the multiplication on every hand of callings for women which throw them among men and give them wages which are insufficient? One of the greatest curses of the world today, is the employment of young women in the various shops of our cities and towns. At this point it is of great regret that the conditions of life created in this feverish age of Mammon worship have made it necessary for our daughters to go out of our homes at all to secure their living. If this be necessary, at any rate let them take the most religious care as to the character of the men with whom they are to be thrown in contact day by day. Lewd qualities are begun too often under conditions that seemed to be honest and pure enough.

Then how one would thank God if some word that was not prudish or narrow might be spoken to the women of this country about their dress. The half dress, the jeans, the pant suits of the society woman is surely a sign of reversion to type, and has in it the pandering to animalism which has for ages been the curse of the marriage relation. Moreover, the distortions of the female form that are common everywhere are alike an insult to beauty and to goodness, and therefore to God. I am not pleading for the uniform of the Salvationists, but for the becoming and beautiful and modest attire, which shall have no possible suggestiveness that is not in harmony with the homage and reverence that man should ever render to woman. This is a subject that seems to be of no moment to some. Let every daughter of the King think the subject out alone with her Master, and that which I have failed to say will be understood.

And yet once more. There is an anomaly that dies hard in the distinction that is being made between the guilt of man and woman in this matter of lewd conduct. When General Booth issued that remarkable book, "Darkest England," he said, in defense of his using the word "fornication":

"Why not say prostitution? For this reason: prostitution is a word applied to one-half of the vice, and that the most pitiable. Fornication hits both sinners alike."

The importance of that statement cannot be overestimated. Until the man who sins is branded with as deep a scar as is the woman, that public opinion which shields him is guilty of complicity with this vice which is deadly and damning.

 The Christian Ethic

After all that has been said, there yet remain the most scorching, withering words of all to repeat. The fell from the lips of the Incarnate Purity in that manifesto of His Kingdom which He gave to His disciples during the days of His sojourn on earth. Let them be read as He uttered them: "I say unto you, that everyone that looks on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. And if thy right eye causes thee to stumble, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not thy whole body be cast into hell. And if thy right hand causes thee to stumble, cut it off, and cast ii from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not thy whole body go into hell. It was said also, Whosoever should put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: but I say unto you, that everyone that putts away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, makes her an adulteress: and whosoever shall marry her when she is put away commits adultery." (Matt. 5:28-32)

If this law be obeyed, the impure act will indefinitely be prevented, for this ethic passes beyond the act to the thought. According to this teaching the wish proves capacity for the deed, and is to be condemned equally with the deed. In order that impurity of thought and desire may be prevented, it is profitable to maim the body. The eye and the hand are precious, but not so precious as purity of spirit. At the severest cost the law of love is to be obeyed. He knew that lewd conduct of thought and deed makes spiritual development impossible, and therefore repeated the old commandment with new emphasis and meaning. The word of Jesus is the sternest of all, and there can be no obedience to it except as the heart itself is purified. The grace of His Kingdom is manifested here, in that He imparts His own purity to those who submit to Him, and thus saves all such from the unholy and polluting influence of lewd conduct.

The duty of every Christian, and of the Christian Church, is plainly marked in the light of this word of the Master. First, of course, there must be no trifling with impurity, and discipline must be received within the borders of the fellowship. To permit known wrong to continue unjudged is to insult the Lord Himself, and to rob the Church of her power of witness to purity. There must be no intermarriage between the godly and the ungodly. The high ideal of the family taught in the New Testament can only be realized when the marriage relation is cemented and glorified in the common loyalty of husband and wife to Jesus Christ. If the Church is to be the messenger of peace and power to the present age, there must be no room in her fellowship for any person who in any degree is lewd in speech or conduct; and no room in individual lives for any act or thought that is smirched with uncleanness.

It is for those to whom is given the sacred work of teaching the will of God, by precept and life to repeat the great purifying laws of God in words that burn, "Thou shalt not commit adultery"; "Everyone that looks on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart." (Matt. 5:28)