The Signs of the Times


February 7, 1884

The Christian Rule in Deal


“Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill? He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart.... He that putteth not out his money to usury, nor taketh reward against the innocent. He that doeth these things shall never be moved.” ST February 7, 1884, par. 1

The psalmist here describes some of the characteristics of those whom God accepts, and who will be permitted to join in his worship in the heavenly courts. ST February 7, 1884, par. 2

The first is, “He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness.” The very first step in the path to life is to keep the mind stayed on God, to have his fear continually before the eyes. A single departure from moral integrity blunts the conscience, and opens the door to the next temptation. “He that walketh uprightly walketh surely; but he that perverteth his way shall be known.” We are commanded to love God supremely, and our neighbor as ourselves; but the daily experience of life shows that this law is disregarded. Uprightness in deal and moral integrity will secure the favor of God, and make a man a blessing to himself and to society; but amid the varied temptations that assail one whichever way he may turn, it is impossible to keep a clear conscience and the approval of Heaven without divine aid and a principle to love honesty for the sake of the right. ST February 7, 1884, par. 3

A character that is approved of God and man is to be preferred to wealth. The foundation should be laid broad and deep, resting on the rock Christ Jesus. There are too many who profess to work from the true foundation, whose loose dealing shows them to be building on sliding sand; but the great tempest will sweep away their foundation, and they will have no refuge. ST February 7, 1884, par. 4

Many plead that unless they are sharp, and watch to advantage themselves, they will meet with loss. Their unscrupulous neighbors, who take selfish advantages, are prospered; while they, although trying to deal strictly in accordance with Bible principles, are not so highly favored. Do these persons see the future? Or are their eyes too dim to see, through the miasma-laden fogs of worldliness, that honor and integrity are not rewarded in the coin of this world? Will God reward virtue with mere worldly success? He has their names graven on the palms of his hands, as heirs to enduring honors, riches that are imperishable. What did that dishonest man gain by his worldly policy? How high a price did he pay for his success? He has sacrificed his noble manhood, and has started on the road that leads to perdition. He may be converted; he may see the wickedness of his injustice to his fellow-men, and, as far as possible, make restitution; but the scars of a wounded conscience will ever remain. ST February 7, 1884, par. 5

What a lesson we have in the course pursued by Abraham! The tidings come that Lot and his family are prisoners. Abraham's affection for his nephew is awakened; and he determines that he shall be rescued. He gathers an army in haste, and soon overtakes the enemy. The Lord aids, and a victory is gained. The scene is one to inflame the worst passions of the heart. The field is strewn with dead bodies, and the groans of the dying mingle with the voice of triumph. The rich spoils of the enemy lie scattered in profusion, and, according to the usage of war, a large share falls to Abraham. The king of Sodom begs for his subjects, but freely yields the goods. How many would have taken advantage of this opportunity to secure a rich booty, regardless of the claims of justice or the rights of others! But what a noble, unselfish disposition does Abraham manifest on this occasion! What a rebuke to such mercenary spirits is his example! ST February 7, 1884, par. 6

Abraham regards the claims of justice and humanity. He obeys the rule, “As ye would that others should do unto you, do ye even so unto them.” He says to the king of Sodom: “I have lifted up mine hand unto the Lord, the most high God, the possessor of Heaven and earth, that I will not take from a thread even to a shoe-latchet, and that I will not take anything that is thine, lest thou shouldst say, I have made Abram rich.” This is an example worthy of imitation; it illustrates the Christian maxim, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” ST February 7, 1884, par. 7

He that “speaketh the truth in his heart.” Some, when their feet once diverge from the right path, go on and on in moral degradation. The fact may be concealed from every one else, but the man himself knows that he is no longer walking uprightly. His advertisements are deceptive; he is exacting in his deal with his workmen. He clutches his coin with a miserly grasp; for has he not sacrificed everything that was worth living for to obtain it? Others, in their eager desire for gain, practice secret fraud, act a lie; and they do not see that their course is sinful if they are not detected. But God reads men's hearts as an open book, and the record of their deeds will be made manifest before all men. “Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” Some success may seem to attend this dishonest policy for a time; but will it pay? Will you part with rectitude and a clear conscience for a little worldly wealth? ST February 7, 1884, par. 8

“He that putteth not out his money to usury.” Exacting usury is directly opposed to God's rule as given in Exodus 22:21-26: “Thou shalt neither vex a stranger, nor oppress him; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt. Ye shall not afflict any widow, or fatherless child. If thou afflict them in anywise, and they cry at all unto me, I will surely hear their cry; And my wrath shall wax hot, and I will kill you with the sword; and your wives shall be widows, and your children fatherless. If thou lend money to any of my people that is poor by thee, thou shalt not be to him as a usurer, neither shalt thou lay upon him usury. If thou at all take thy neighbor's raiment to pledge, thou shalt deliver it unto him by that the sun goeth down.” Deuteronomy 23:19, 20: “Thou shalt not lend upon usury to thy brother; usury of money, usury of victuals, usury of anything that is lent upon usury. Unto a stranger thou mayest lend upon usury; but unto thy brother thou shalt not lend upon usury; that the Lord thy God may bless thee in all that thou settest thine hand to in the land whither thou goest to possess it.” ST February 7, 1884, par. 9

Thus God commanded his people not to take advantage of the necessities of the poor, to enrich themselves by impoverishing their poorer brethren. Of Gentiles they might take usury; but they were not permitted to be exorbitant or oppressive. God is the rightful king of the universe. And he inquires of Israel, “What nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day?” Today he might make the same challenge. The laws he gave to his ancient people were wiser, better, and more humane than those of the most civilized nations of the earth. The laws of the nations bear marks of the infirmities and passions of the unrenewed heart; but God's laws bear the stamp of the divine, and if they are obeyed, they will lead to a tender regard for the rights and privileges of others. The Lord appeals to man's compassion for his fellow-man. His watchful care is over all the interests of his children, and he declares he will undertake the cause of the afflicted and the oppressed. If they cry unto him, he says, “I will hear, for I am gracious.” ST February 7, 1884, par. 10

A man of means, if he possesses strict integrity, and loves and fears God, may be a benefactor to the poor. He can help them, and take no more interest than can be mercifully exacted. He thus meets with no loss himself, and his unfortunate neighbor is greatly benefited, for he is saved from the hands of the dishonest schemer. The principles of the Golden Rule are not to be lost sight of for a moment in any business transaction. Every man who lends money at ten or twelve per cent. interest is a robber in the sight of God. Although the laws of man may justify him, the law of God condemns him. He is dealing unjustly; and God will reward him according to his deeds. God never designed that one man should prey upon another. He jealously guards the rights of his children, and in the books of Heaven great loss is set down on the side of the unjust dealer. ST February 7, 1884, par. 11

In the Holy Scriptures fearful denunciations are pronounced against the sin of covetousness. “No covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.” The psalmist says, “The wicked boasteth of his heart's desire, and blesseth the covetous, whom the Lord abhorreth.” Paul ranks covetous men with idolaters, adulterers, thieves, drunkards, revilers, and extortioners, none of whom shall inherit the kingdom of God. These are the fruits of a corrupt tree, and God is dishonored by them. We are not to make the customs and maxims of the world our criterion. Reforms must take place; all injustice must be put away. ST February 7, 1884, par. 12

We are commanded to “search the Scriptures.” The whole word of God is our rule of action. We are to carry out its principles in our daily lives; there is no surer mark of Christianity than this. We must carry out the great principles of justice and mercy in our intercourse with one another. We must be daily cultivating those qualities that will fit us for the society of Heaven. If we do these things, God becomes our surety, and promises to bless all that we undertake; and we “shall never be moved.” ST February 7, 1884, par. 13