The Ten Commandments
The Ten Commandments:
1. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
2. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness
of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath,
or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to
them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting
the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; and shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.
3. Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy
God in vain; for the LORD Will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name
4. Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt
thou labour, and do all thy work: but the seventh day is the sabbath of
the LORD thy
God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor
thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor
thy stranger that
is within thy gates: for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth,
the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore
the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.
5. Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.
6. Thou shalt not kill.
7. Thou shalt not commit adultery.
8. Thou shalt not steal.
9. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
10. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not
covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor
his ox, nor
his ass, nor anything that is thy neighbour's.
Weighed in the Balances
IN THE FIFTH CHAPTER of Daniel we read the history of King Belshazzar.
One chapter tells us all we know about him. One short sight of his
career is all we have. He bursts in upon the scene and then disappears.
THE EASTERN FEAST
We are told that he made a great feast to a thousand of
his lords and drank wine before them. In those days a feast in Eastern
sometimes last for six months. How long this feast had been going
on we are not told, but in the midst of it, he "commanded to bring the
silver vessels which his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken out
of the temple which was in Jerusalem; that the king, and his princes, his
wives, and his
concubines, might drink therein. Then they brought the golden
vessels that were taken out of the temple of the house of God which was
and the king, and his princes, his wives, and his concubines,
drank in them. They drank wine, and praised the gods of gold, and of silver,
of brass, of
iron, of wood, and of stone."
While this impious act was being committed, "in the same hour
came forth fingers of a man's hand, and wrote over against the candlestick
plaster of the wall of the king's palace; and the king saw
the part of the hand that wrote." We are not told at what hour of the day
or the night it
happened. Perhaps it was midnight. Perhaps nearly all the guests
were more or less under the influence of drink; but they were not so drunk
they suddenly became sober as they saw something
that was supernatural--a handwriting on the wall, right over the golden
Every face turned deathly pale "The king's countenance was changed,
and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his loins were loosed,
his knees smote one against another." In haste he sent for his
wisest men to come and read that handwriting on the wall. They came in
another and tried to make it out; but they could not interpret
it. The king promised that whoever could read it should be made the third
ruler in the
kingdom; that he should have gifts, and that a gold chain should
be put around his neck. But the wise men tried in vain. The king was greatly
At last, in the midst of the consternation, the queen came in,
and she told the monarch, if he would only send for one who used to interpret
dreams of Nebuchadnezzar, he could read the writing and tell
him the interpretation thereof. So Daniel was sent for. He was very familiar
with it. He
knew his Father's handwriting.
"This is the writing that was written, Mene. Mene, Tekel, Upharsin.
This is the interpretation of the thing: Mene-- God hath numbered thy kingdom
and finished it. Tekel-- Thou art weighed in the balances
and art found wanting. Peres-- Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the
Persians" (Dan 5:25-28).
If someone had told the king an hour before that the time had
come when he must step into the balances and be weighed, he would have
the thought. But the vital hour had come.
The weighing was soon over. The verdict was announced, and the
sentence carried out. "In that night was Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans
And Darius the Mede took the kingdom" (Dan 5:30-31). Darius and his
army came marching down those streets. There was a clash of arms. Shouts
war and victory rent the air. That night the king's blood
mingled with the wine of the banquet hall. Judgment came upon him unexpectedly,
suddenly: and probably ninety-nine out of every hundred
judgments come in this way. Death comes upon us unexpectedly; it comes
Perhaps you say: "I hope Mr. Moody is not going to compare me with that
I tell you that a man who does evil in these gospel days is far
worse than that king. We live in a land of Bibles. You can get the New
Testament for a
nickel, and if you haven't got a nickel, you can get it for
nothing. Many societies will be glad to give it to you free. We live in
the full blaze of
Calvary. We live on this side of the cross, but Belshazzar lived
more than five hundred years on the other side. He never heard of Jesus
never heard about the Son of God. He never heard about Cod except,
perhaps, in connection with his father's remarkable vision. He probably
portion of the Bible, and if he
had, probably he didn't believe it. He had no godly minister to point Him
to the Lamb of God.
Don't tell me
that you are better than that king. I believe that he will rise in judgment
and condemn many of us.
All this happened long centuries ago. Let us get down to this
century, to this year, to ourselves. We will come to the present time.
Let us imagine
that now, while I am preaching, down come some balances from
the throne of God. They are fastened to the very throne itself. It is a
throne of equity,
of justice. You and I must be weighed. I venture to say
this would be a very solemn audience. There would be no tiring There would
indifference. No one would be thoughtless.
Some people have their own balances. A great many are making balances
to be weighed in. But after all we must be weighed in God's balances, the
balances of the sanctuary. It is a favorite thing with infidels
to set their own standard, to measure themselves by other people. But that
will not do in
the Day of Judgment. Now we will use God's law as a balance weight.
When men find fault with the lives of professing Christians, it is a tribute
the law of God.
"Tekel." It is a very short text. It is so short I am sure you
will remember it: and that is my object, just to get people to remember
God's own Word.
Let me call your attention to the fact
that God wrote on the tables of stone at Sinai as well as on the wall of
These are the only messages to men that God has written with His
own hand. He wrote the commandments out twice, and spoke them aloud in
hearing of Israel.
If it were known that God Himself were going to speak once again to
man, what eagerness and excitement there would be! For nearly nineteen
years He has been silent. No inspired message has been added to the
Bible for nearly nineteen hundred years. How eagerly all men would listen
should speak once more. Yet men forget that the Bible is God's
own Word, and that it is as truly His message today as when it was delivered
The law that was given at Sinai has
lost none of its solemnity. Time cannot wear out its authority or the fact
of its authorship.
I can imagine someone saying, "I won't be weighed by that law. I don't
believe in it."
Now men may cavil as much as they like about other
parts of the Bible, but I have never met an honest man that found fault
with the Ten
Commandments. Infidels may mock the Lawgiver and reject Him who
has delivered us from the curse of the law, but they can't help admitting
the commandments are right. Renan said that they
are for all nations, and will remain the commandments of God during all
If God created this world, He must make some laws to govern it.
In order to make life safe we must have good laws; there is not a country
shines upon that does not possess laws. Now this is God's law.
It has come from on high, and infidels and skeptics have to admitthatitis
Legislatures nearly all over the world adopt it as the foundation of their
"The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony
of the LORD is sure, making wise the the simple: the statutes of the LORD
right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening
the eyes (Ps 19:7-8).
Now the question for you and me is-- are we keeping these commandments?
Have we fulfilled all the requirements of the law? If God made us, as we
know He did, He had a right to make that law; and if we don't
use it aright it would have been better for us if we had never had it,
for it will condemn
us. We shall be found wanting. The law is all right, but are we right?
AN INFIDEL'S TESTIMONY
It is related of a clever infidel that he sought an acquaintance
with the truths of the Bible, and began to read at the books of Moses.
He had been in the
habit of sneering at the Bible, and in order to be able to refute
arguments brought by Christian men, he made up his mind, as he knew nothing
it, to reed the Bible and
get some idea of its contents. After he had reached the Ten Commandments,
he raid to a friend:
"I will tell you what I used to think. I supposed that
Moses was the leader of a horde of bandits; that, having a strong mind,
he acquired great
influence over a superstitious people; and that on Mount Sinai
he played off some sort of fireworks to the amazement of his ignorant followers,
imagined in their fear and superstition that the exhibition was
supernatural. I have been looking into the nature of that law. I have been
trying to see
I could add anything to it, or take anything from it, so as to make it
better. Sir, I cannot! It is perfect!
"The first commandment directs us to make the Creator the object
of our supreme love and reverence. That is right. If He be our Creator,
and supreme Benefactor, we ought to treat Him, and none other,
as such. The second forbids idolatry. That certainly is right. The third
profanity. The fourth fixes a time for religious worship. If
there be a God, He ought surely to be worshipped. It is suitable that there
should be an
outward homage significant of our inward regard. If God be worshipped,
it is proper that some time should be set apart for that purpose, when
worship Him harmoniously, and without interruption. One
day in seven is certainly not too much, and I do not know that it is too
"The fifth commandment defines the peculiar duties arising from
family relations. Injuries to our neighbor are then classified by the moral
are divided into offenses against life, chastity, property, and
character; and I notice that the greatest offense in each class is expressly
the greatest injury to life is murder; to chastity, adultery;
to property, theft; to character, perjury. Now the greatest offense must
include the least of the
same kind. Murder must include the least of the same kind. Murder
must include every injury to life; adultery every injury to purity, and
so of the
rest. And the moral code is closed
and perfected by a command forbidding every improper desire in regard to
"I have been thinking. Where did Moses get that law? I have read
history. The Egyptians and the adjacent nations were idolaters; so were
and Romans; and the wisest or best Creeks or Romans never gave
a code of morals like this. Where did Moses obtain that law, which surpasses
wisdom and philosophy of the most enlightened ages? He lived
at a period comparatively barbarous; but he has given a law in which the
sagacity of all subsequent time can detect no flaw. Where did he obtain
it? He could not have soared so far above his age as to have devised it
I am satisfied where he obtained
it. It came down from heaven. It has convinced me of the truth of the religion
of the Bible."
The former infidel remained to his death a firm believer in the truth of
We call it the "Mosaic" law, but it has been well said that the
commandments did not originate with Moses, nor were they done away with
Mosaic law was fulfilled in Christ, and many of its ceremonies
and regulations abolished. We can find no trace of the existence of any
body in those early times, no parliament, or congress that built
up a system of laws. It has come down to us complete and finished, and
satisfactory account is that which tells us that God Himself wrote the
commandments on tables of stone.
Some people seem to think we have got beyond the commandments.
What did Christ say? "Think not that I am come to destroy the law and the
prophets; I am not come to destroy but to fulfill. For verily
I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one title shall
in no wise pass
from the law, till all be fulfilled." The commandments of God
given to Moses in the Mount at Horeb are as binding today as ever they
since the time they were proclaimed in the hearing of the people.
The Jews said the law was not given in Palestine (which belonged to Israel),
the wilderness, because the law was for all nations.
Jesus never condemned the law and the prophets, but He did condemn
those who did not obey them. Because He gave new commandments, it does
not follow that He abolished the old. Christ's explanation of
them made them all the more searching. In His Sermon on the Mount, He carried
principles of the commandments beyond the mere letter. He unfolded
them and showed that they embraced more, that they are positive as well
prohibitive. The Old Testament closes with these words: "Remember
ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for
Israel, with the statutes and judgments. Behold, I will send
you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day
of the LORD: and
he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and
the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth
with a curse" (Mal
Does that look as if the law of Moses was becoming obsolete?
The conviction deepens in me with the years that the old truths
of the Bible must be stated and restated in the plainest possible language.
I do not
remember ever to have heard a sermon preached on the commandments.
I have an index of two thousand five hundred sermons preached by Spurgeon,
and not one of them selects its text from
the first seventeen verses of Exodus 20. The people must be made to understand
that the Ten
Commandments are still binding, and that there is a penalty attached
to their violation. We do not want a gospel of mere sentiment. The Sermon
the Mount did not blot out the Ten Commandments.
When Christ came He condensed the statement of the law into this
form: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all
and with all thy mind and with all thy strength . . . [and] thy
neighbor as thyself" (Mk 12:30,31). Paul said: "Love is the fulfilling
of the law" (Ro
13:10). But does this mean that the detailed precepts of the
Decalogue are superseded and have become back numbers? Does a father cease
children rules to obey because they love him? Does a nation
burn its statute books because the people have become patriotic? Not at
all. And yet
people speak as if the commandments do not hold for Christians
because they have come to love God. Paul said: "Do we then make void the
through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law" (Ro 3:31).
It still holds good. The Commandments are necessary. So long as we obey,
not rest heavy upon us; but as soon as we try to break away,
we find they are like fences to keep us within bounds. Horses need bridles
even after they
have been properly broken in.
"We know that the law is good if a man use it lawfully;
knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the
disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for
unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers,
for manslayers, for
whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind,
for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other
thing that is
contrary to sound doctrine" (1 Ti 1:8-10).
Now, my friend, are you ready to be weighed by this law of God?
A great many people say that if they keep the commandments they do not
be forgiven and saved through Christ. But have you kept them?
I will admit that if you perfectly keep the commandments, you do not need
saved by Christ; but is there a man in the wide world who can
truly say that he has done this? Young lady, can you say: "I am ready to
by the law7 Can you, young man?
Will you step into the scales and be weighed one by one by the Ten Commandments?
Now face these Ten Commandments honestly and prayerfully. See
if your life is right, and if you are treating God fairly. God's statutes
are just, are
they not? If they are right, let us see if we are right. Let
us get alone with God and read His law-- read it carefully and prayerfully,
and ask Him to
forgive us our sin and what He would have us to do.
The First Commandment
Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.
MY FRIEND, are you ready to be weighed against this commandment?
Have you fulfilled, or are you willing to fulfill, all the requirements
law? Put it into one of the scales, and step into the other.
Is your heart set upon God alone? Have you no other God? Do you love Him
or mother, the wife of your bosom, your children, home or land, wealth
If men were true to this commandment, obedience to the remaining
nine would follow naturally. It is because they are unsound in this that
FEELING AFTER GOD
Philosophers are agreed that even the most primitive races of
mankind reach out beyond the world of matter to a superior Being. It is
as natural for
man to feel after God as it is for the ivy to feel after a sup
port. Hunger and thirst drive man to seek for food, and there is a hunger
of the soul that
needs satisfying, too. Man does not need to be commanded to
worship, as there is not a race so high or so low in the scale of civilization
some kind of god. What he needs is to be directed aright.
This is what the first commandment is for. Before we can worship
intelligently, we must know what or whom to worship. God does not leave
ignorance. When Paul went to Athens, he found an altar dedicated to
"The Unknown God," and he proceeded to tell of Him whom we worship. When
God gave the commandments to Moses, He commenced with a declaration
of His own character, and demanded exclusive recognition. "I am the Lord
thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out
of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me" (Ex 20:2-3).
Dr. Dale says these words have great significance. The Jews "knew Jehovah
as the God who had held back the waves like a wall while they fled across
the sea to escape the vengeance of their enemies; they knew
Him as the God who had sent thunder, and lightning, and hail, plagues on
plagues on men, to punish the Egyptians and to compel them to
let the children of Israel go; they knew Him as the God whose angel had
firstborn of their oppressors, and filled the land from end to
end with death, and agony, and terror. He was the same God, so Moses and
them, who by visions and voices, in promises and precepts, had
revealed Himself long before to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. We learn what
from what they say and from what they do. A biography
of Luther gives us a more vivid and trustworthy knowledge of the man than
philosophical essay on his character and creed. The story of
his imprisonment and of his journey to Worms, his Letters, his Sermons,
and his Table
Talk, are worth more than the most elaborate speculations about
him. The Jews learned what God is, not from theological dissertations on
attributes, but from the
facts of a Divine history. They knew Him for themselves in His own acts
and in His own words."
Someone asked an Arab: "How do you know that there is a God?"
"How do I know whether a man or a camel passed my tent last night?" he
God's footprints in nature and in our own experience are the best evidence
of His existence and character.
ISRAELITES EXPOSED TO DANGER
Remember to whom this commandment was given, and we shall see
further how necessary it was. The forefathers of the Israelites had worshiped
idols, not many generations back. They had recently been delivered
out of Egypt, a land of many gods. The Egyptians worshipped the sun, the
insects, animals, etc. The ten plagues were undoubtedly meant
by God to bring confusion upon many of their sacred objects. The children
were going up to take possession of a land that was inhabited
by heathen, who also worshipped idols. There was therefore great need of
commandment as this. There could be no right relationship between
God and man in those days any more than today, until man understood that
must recognize God alone, and not offer Him a divided heart.
If He created us, He certainly ought to have
our homage. Is it not right that He should have the first and only place
in our affections?
This is one matter in which no toleration can be shown.
Religious liberty is a good thing, within certain limits. But it is one
thing to show
toleration to those who agree on essentials, and another, to those
who differ on fundamental beliefs. They were willing to admit any god to
Pantheon. One reason the early Christians were persecuted was
that they would not accept a place for Jesus Christ there. Napoleon is
said to have
entertained the idea of having separate temples in Paris for
every known religion, so that every stranger should have a place of worship
toward that city. Such plans are directly opposed to the divine
one. God sounded no uncertain note in this commandment. It is plain, unmistakable,
We may learn a lesson from the way a farmer deals with the little
shoots that spring up around the trunk of an apple tree. They look promising,
one who has not learned better might welcome their growth. But
the farmer knows that they will draw the life-sap from the main tree, injuring
prospects so that it will produce inferior fruit. He therefore
takes his axe and his hoe, and cuts away these suckers. The tree then gives
a more plentiful
and finer crop.
"Thou shalt not" is the pruning-knife that God uses. From beginning
to end, the Bible calls for wholehearted allegiance to Him. There is to
compromise with other gods.
It took long years for God to impress this lesson upon the Israelites.
He called them to be a chosen nation. He made them a peculiar people. But
will notice in Bible history that they turned away from Him continually,
and were punished with plague, pestilence, war, and famine. Their sin was
not that they renounced God altogether, but that they wanted
to worship other gods beside Him. Take the case of Solomon as an example
whole nation. He married heathen wives who turned away his heart
after other gods, and built high places for their idols, and lent countenance
worship. That was the history of frequent turnings of the whole
nation away from God, until finally He sent them into captivity in Babylon
them there for seventy years. Since then the Jews have never turned to
Hasn't the church to contend with the same difficulty today? There
are very few who in their hearts do not believe in God, but what they will
is give Him exclusive right of way. Missionaries tell us that
they could easily get converts if they did not require them to be baptized,
renouncing their idols. Many a person in our land would become
a Christian if the gate was not so strait. Christianity is too strict for
them. They are
not ready to promise full allegiance to God alone. Many a professing
Christian is a stumbling block because his worship is divided. On Sunday
worships God; on weekdays God has little or no place in his thoughts.
FALSE GODS IN AMERICA TODAY
YOU don't have to go to heathen lands today to find false gods.
America is full of them. Whatever you make most of is your god. Whatever
more than God is your idol. Many a man's heart is like some
Kafirs' huts, so full of idols that there is hardly room to turn around.
Rich and poor,
learned and unlearned, all classes of men and women are guilty
of this sin. "The mean man boweth down, and me great man humbleth himself"
A man may make a god of himself, of a child, of a mother, of some precious
gift that God has bestowed upon him. He may forget the Giver and let his
heart go out in adoration toward the gift.
Many make a god of pleasure; that is what their hearts are set
on. If some old Greek or Roman came to life again and saw man in a drunken
would he believe that the worship of Bacchus had died out? If
he saw the streets of our large cities filled with harlots, would he believe
worship of Venus had ceased?
Others take fashion as their god. They give their time and thought
to dress. They fear what others will think of them. Do not let us flatter
that all idolaters are in heathen countries.
With many it is the god of money. We haven't got through worshiping
the golden calf yet. If a man will s+ll his principles for gold, isn't
it a god? If he trusts in his wealth to keep him from want and
to supply his needs, are not riches his god? Many a man says, "Give me
money, and I
will give you heaven. What care I for all the glories and treasures
of heaven? Give me treasures here! I don't care for heaven! I want to be
businessman." How true are the words of Job: "If I have made
gold my hope, or have said to the fine gold, Thou art my confidence; if
because my wealth was great, and because mine hand had begotten
much; if I beheld the sun when it shined, or the moon walking in brightness;
my heart hath been secretly enticed, or my mouth hath kissed
my hand: this also were an iniquity to be punished by the judge: for I
denied the God that is above" (Job 31: 24-28).
But all false gods are not as gross as these. There is the atheist.
He says that he does not believe in God; he denies His existence, but he
setting up some other god in His place. Voltaire said, "If there
were no God, it would be necessary to invent one." So the atheist speaks
of the Great
Unknown, the First Cause, the Infinite Mind, etc. Then there
is the deist. He is a man who believes in one God who caused all things;
but he doesn't
believe in revelation. He only accepts such truths as can be discovered
by reason. He doesn't believe in Jesus Christ, or in the inspiration of
Then there is the antheist, who says: "I believe that the whole
universe is God. He is in the air, the water, the sun, the stars" the liar
and the thief
MOSES FAREWELL MESSAGE
Let me call your attention to a verse in the thirty- second
chapter of Deuteronomy, thirty-first verse: "For their rock is not as our
Rock, even our
enemies themselves being judges." These words were uttered by
Moses, in his farewell address to Israel. He had been with them forty years.
their leader and instructor. All the blessings of heaven came
to them through him. And now the old man is about to leave them. If you
read his speech, do so. It is one of the best
sermons in print. I know few sermons in the Old or New Testament that compare
I can see Moses as he delivers this address. His natural activity
has not abated. He still has the vigor of youth. His long white hair flows
shoulders, and his venerable beard covers his breast. He throws
down the challenge: "Their rock is not as our Rock, even our enemies themselves
Has the human heart ever been satisfied with these false gods?
Can pleasure or riches fill the soul that is empty of God? How about the
deist, the pantheist? What do they look forward to? Nothing!
Man's life is full of trouble; but when the billows of affliction and disappointment
rising and rolling over them, they have no God to call upon.
They shall "cry unto the gods unto whom they offer incense: but they shall
them at all in the time of their trouble" (Jer 11:12). Therefore I contend
"their rock is not as our Rock."
My friends, when the hour of affliction comes, they call in a
minister to give consolation. When I was settled in Chicago, I used to
be called out to
attend many funerals. I would inquire what the man was in his
belief. If I found out he was an atheist, or a deist, or a pantheist, when
I went to the
funeral and in the presence of his friends, said one word about that
man's doctrine, they would feel insulted. Why is it that in a trying hour,
have been talking all the time against God--why is it that in
the darkness of affliction they call in believers in that God to administer
Why doesn't the atheist preach no hereafter, no heaven, no God
in the hour of affliction? This very fact is an admission that "their rock
is not as our
Rock, even our enemies themselves being judges."
The deist says there is no use in praying, because nothing
can change the decrees of deity; God never answers prayer. Is his rock
as our Rock?
The Bible is true. There is only one God. How many
men have said to me: "Mr. Moody, I would give the world if I had your faith,
consolation, the hope you have with your religion."
Isn't that a proof that their rock is not as our Rock?
Some years ago I went into a man's house, and when I commenced to talk
about religion he turned to his daughter and said: "You had better leave
room. I want to say a few words to Mr. Moody." When she had
gone, he opened a perfect torrent of infidelity upon me. "Why did you send
daughter out of the room before you said this?" I asked.
"Well," he replied, "I did not think it would do her any good to hear what
Is his rock as our Rock? Would he have sent his daughter out if he really
believed what he said?
NO CONSOLATION EXCEPT IN GOD
No. There is no satisfaction for the soul except in the God of
the Bible. We come back to Paul's words and get consolation for time and
know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is
none other God but one. For though there be that are called gods, whether
in heaven or in
earth (as there be gods many, and lords many), but to us there
is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and
one Lord Jesus
Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him" (I Co 8:4- 6).
My friend, can you say that sincerely? Is all your hope centered
on God in Christ? Are you trusting Him alone? Are you ready to step into
and be weighed against this first commandment?
God will not accept a divided heart. He must be absolute monarch.
There is not room in your heart for two thrones. Christ said: "No man can
two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other;
or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve
mammon" (Mt 6: 24). Mark you, He did not say, "No man shall serve
... Ye shall not serve" but "No man can serve.. .Ye cannot serve." That
more than a command; it means that you cannot mix the worship
of the true God with the worship of another god any more than you can mix
water. It cannot be done. There is not room for any other throne
in the heart if Christ is there. If worldliness should come in, godliness
would go out.
The road to heaven and the road to hell lead in different directions.
Which master will you choose to follow? Be an out-and-out Christian. Him
shall you serve. Only thus can you be well pleasing to God.
The Jews were punished with seventy years of captivity because they worshiped
gods. They have suffered nineteen hundred years because they
rejected the Messiah. Will you incur God's displeasure by rejecting Christ
too? He died
to save you. Trust Him with your whole heart, for with the heart man believeth
I believe that when Christ has the first place in our hearts--when the
kingdom of God is first in everything--we shall have power, and we shall
power until we give Him His rightfulplace. If we let some false
god come in and steal our love away from the God of heaven, we shall have
The Second Commandment
Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness
of any thing that is in heaven above, or that
is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:
thou shalt nor bow down thyself to them, nor
serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting
the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto
the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; and shewing
mercy unto thousands of them that love me,
and keep my commandments
THE FIRST COMMANDMENT, which we have just considered, points
out the one true object of worship; this commandment, is to tell us the
right way in which to worship. The former commands us to worship
God alone; this calls for purity and spirituality as we approach Him. The
condemns the worship of false gods; this prohibits false forms.
It relates more especially to outward acts of worship; but these are only
of what is in the heart.
Perhaps you will say that there is no trouble about this weight.
We might go off to other ages or other lands and find people who make images
bow down to them; but we have none here. Let us see if this is
true. Let us step into the scales and see if we can turn them when weighed
I believe this is where the battle is fought. Satan tries to keep
us from worshiping God aright, and from making Him first in everything.
If I let some
image made by man get into my heart and take the place of God
the Creator, it is a Sin. I believe that Satan is willing to have us worship
however sacred--the Bible, the crucifix, the church--if only we do not
worship God Himself.
You cannot find a place in the Bible where a man has been allowed
to bow down and worship anyone but the God of heaven and Jesus Christ His
Son. In the book of Revelation when an angel came down to John,
he was about to fall down and worship him, but the angel would not let
him. If an
angel from heaven is not to be worshiped, when you find people
bowing down to pictures, to images, even when they bow down to worship
cross, it is a sin. There are a great many who seem to be carried
away with these things. "Thou shalt have no other gods before me." "Thou
bow down thyself to any graven image." God wants us to worship
Him only, and if we do not believe that Jesus Christ is God manifest in
we should not worship Him. I have no more doubt about the divinity of Christ
than I have that I exist.
Worship involves two things: the internal belief, and the external
act. We transgress in our hearts by having a wrong conception of God and
Christ before ever we give public expression in action. As someone
has said, it is wrong to have loose opinions as well as to be guilty of
practices. That is what Paul meant when he said: "We ought not
to think , that the Godhead is like unto gold or silver, or stone, graven
by art and
man's device" (Acts 17:29, italics added). The opinions
that some people hold about Christ are not in accordance with the Bible
and are real
violations of this second commandment.
The question at once arises--is this commandment intended to
forbid the use of drawings and pictures of created things altogether? Some
it does. They point to the Jews and the Muslims as a proof.
The Jews have never been much given to art. The Muslims to this day do
designs of animals, etc., in patterns. But I do not agree with
them. I think God only meant to forbid images and other representations
were intended to be used as objects of religious veneration.
"Thou shalt not make unto thee ... Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them,
nor serve them." In Exodus we are told that God ordered the bowls
of the golden candlestick for the tabernacle to be made "like unto almonds,
a knop and a Aower" (Ex 25:33); and the robe of the ephod had
a hem on which they were to put a bell and a pomegranate alternately. How
God order something that broke this second commandment?
I believe that this commandment is a call for spiritual worship.
It is in line with Christ's declaration to that Samaritan woman, "God is
a Spirit: and
they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth" (Jn 4:24).
This is precisely what is difficult for men to do. The apostles
were hardly in their graves before people began to put up images of them,
worship relics. People have a desire for something tangible,
something that they can see. That is why there is a demand for ritualism.
are born Puritans; they want a simple form of worship. Others
think they cannot get along without forms and ceremonies that appeal to
And many a one whose heart is not sincere before God takes refuge
in these forms, and eases his conscience by making an outward show of religion.
The second commandment is to restrain this desire and tendency.
God is grieved when we are untrue to Him. God is love, and He
is wounded when our affections are transferred to anything else. The penalty
to this commandment teaches us that man has to reap what he sows,
whether good or bad; and not only that, but his children have to reap with
Notice that punishment is visited upon the children unto the
third or the fourth generation, while mercy is shown unto thousands, or
(as it is more
correctly) unto the thousandth generation.
THE FOLLY OF IMAGES
Think for a moment, and you will see how idle it is to try to
make any representation of God. Christians have tried to paint the Trinity,
but how can
you depict the invisible? Can you draw a picture of your own
soul or spirit or will? Moses impressed it upon Israel that when God spake
to them out
of the midst of the fire they saw no manner of similitude, but only heard
A [manmade] picture or [manmade] image of God must degrade our
conception of Him. It fastens us down to one idea, whereas we ought to
grace and in knowledge. It makes God finite. It brings Him down
to our level. It has given rise to the horrible idols of India and China,
fashion these images according to their own notions. How would
the president feel if Americans made such hideous objects to resemble him
make of their gods in heathen countries? Isaiah bore down with
tremendous irony upon the folly of idol-makers: upon the smith who fashioned
with tongs and hammers; and upon the carpenter who took a tree,
and used part of it for a fire to warm himself and roast his meat, and
made part of it
in the figure of a man with his rule and plane and compass,
and called it his god and worshiped it. "A deceived heart hath turned him
A man must be greater than anything he is able to make or manufacture.
What folly then to think of worshiping such things! The tendency of the
human heart to represent God by something that appeals to the
senses is the origin of all idolatry. It leads directly to image-worship.
At first there
may be no desire to worship the thing itself, but it inevitably
ends in that. As Dr. Mac Laren says: "Enlisting the senses as allies of
the spirit is risky
work. They are apt to fight for their own hand when they
once begin, and the history of all symbolical and ceremonial worship shows
experiment is much more likely to end in religion than in spiritualizing
If, every day, I bow before a crucifix in prayer, if I address
it as though it were Christ, though I know it is not, I shall come to feel
for it a reverence
and love which are of the very essence of idolatry."
Did you ever stop to think that the world has not a single [manmade]
picture of Christ that has been handed down to us from His disciples? Who
knows what He was like? The Bible does not tell us how He looked,
except in one or two isolated general expressions as when it says, "His
was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of
men." We don't know anything definite about His features, the color of
and eyes, and the other details that would help to give a true
representation. What artist can tell us? He left no keepsakes to His disciples.
were seized by the Roman soldiers who crucified Him. Not a solitary
thing was left to be handed down among His followers. Doesn't it look as
Christ left no relies lest they should be held sacred and worshiped?
History tells us further that the early Christians shrank from
making pictures and statues of any kind of Christ. They knew Him as they
had seen Him
His resurrection, and had promises of His continued presence that pictures
could not make any more real.
I have seen very few pictures of Christ that do not repel
me more or less. I sometimes think that it is wrong to have pictures of
Him at all.
Speaking of the crucifix Dr. Dale says: "It makes our worship
and our prayer unreal. We are adoring a Christ who does not exist. He is
not on the
cross now, but on the throne. His agonies are past forever. He
has risen from the dead. He is at the right hand of God. If we pray to
a dying Christ, we
are praying not to Christ Himself, but to a mere remembrance
of Him. The injury which the crucifix has inflicted on the religious life
in encouraging a morbid and unreal devotion, is absolutely incalculable.
It has given us a dying Christ instead of a living Christ, a Christ separated
from us by many centuries instead of a Christ nigh at hand."
THE INDWELLING CHRIST
No one can say that we have nowadays any need of such things. "Behold
I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the
I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me." If Christ
is in our hearts, why need we set Him before our eyes? "Where two or three
gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them."
If we take hold of that promise by faith, what need is there of outward
reminders? If the King Himself is present, why need we bow down
before statues supposed to represent Him? To fill His place with an image,
someone has said, is like blotting the sun out of the heavens
and substituting some other light in its place: "You cannot see Him through
ceremonialism; or through the blind eyes of erring man; or by
images graven with art and man's device; or in cunningly devised fables
of artificial and
perverted theology. Nay, seek Him in His own Word, in the revelation
of Himself which He gives to all who walk in His ways. So you will be able
to keep that admonition of the last word of
all the New Testament revelation: little children, keep yourselves from
idols" (1 Jn 5:21 ).
I believe many an earnest Christian would be found wanting if
put in the balances against this commandment "Tekel" is the sentence that
written against them, because their worship of God and of Christ
is not pure. May God open our eyes to the danger that is creeping more
into public worship throughout Christendom! Let us ever bear
in mind Christ's words in the fourth chapter of John's Gospel, which show
worship is not a matter of special times and special places because it
is of all times and all places:
"Believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall " neither in this
mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father... . But the hour cometh,
is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit
and truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit:
and they that
worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth" (Jn 4:21-24).
The Third Commandment
Thou shall nor take the name of the Lord thy God in vain: for
the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh
His name in vain.
I WAS GREATLY AMAZED not long ago in talking to a man who thought
he was a Christian, to find that once in a while, when he got angry, he
would swear. Isaid: "My friend, I don't see how you can tear
down with one hand what you are trying to build up with the other. I don't
see how you
can profess to be a child of God and let those words come out of your lips."
He replied: "Mr. Moody, if you knew me you would understand.
I have a very quick temper. I inherited it from my father and mother, and
uncontrollable; but my swearing comes only from the Iips."
When God said, "I will not hold him guiltless that takes my name
in vain," He meant what He said, and I don't believe anyone can be a true
God who takes the name of God in vain. What is the grace of God
for, if it is not to give me control of my temper so that I shall not lose
bring down the curse of God upon myself? When a man is born of
God, God takes the "swear" out of him. Make the fountain good, and the
will be good. Let the heart be right; then the language will
be right; the whole life will be right. But no man can serve God and keep
His law until he
is born of God. There we see the necessity of the new birth.
To take God's
name "in vain" means either (1) lightly, without thinking, flippantly;
or (2) profanely, deceitfully.
USING GOD'S NAME IRREVERENTLY
I think it is shocking to use God's name with so little reverence
as is common nowadays, even among professing Christians. We are told that
Jews held it so sacred that the covenant name of God was
never mentioned amongst them except once a year by the high priest on the
Atonement, when he went into the holy of holies. What a contrast
that is to the familiar use Christians make of it in public and private
are apt to rush into God's presence and rush out again without
any real sense of the reverence and awe that is due Him. We forget that
we are on holy
Do you know how often the word "reverend" occurs in the Bible?
Only once. And what is it used in connection with? God's name. Psalm 11:9:
"holy and reverend is his name." So important did the Jewish
rabbi consider this commandment that they said the whole world trembled
when it was
first proclaimed on Sinai.
USING GOD'S NAME PROFANELY
But though there is far too much of this frivolous, familiar
use of God's name, the commandment is broken a great deal more by profanity.
name of God in vain is blasphemy. Is there a swearing man who
reads this? What would you do if you were put into the balances of the
you had to step in opposite to
this third commandment? Think a moment Have you been taking God's name
in vain today?
I do not believe men would ever have been guilty of swearing
unless God had forbidden it. They do not swear by their friends, their
mothers, their wives or children. They want to show how they despise God's
A great many men think there is nothing in swearing. Bear
in mind that God sees something wrong in it, and He says He will not hold
guiltless, even though society does.
I met a man sometime ago who told me he had never sinned in his
life. He was the first perfect man I had ever met. I thought I would question
and began to measure him by the law. I asked him: "Do you ever get angry?"
"Well," he said, "sometimes I do; but I have a right to do so. It is righteous
"Do you swear when you get angry?"
He admitted he did sometimes.
"Then," I asked, "are you ready to meet God?"
"Yes," he replied, "because I never mean anything when I swear."
Suppose I steal a man's watch and he comes after me.
"Yes," I say, "I stole your watch and pawned it, but I did not
mean anything by it. I pawned it and spent the money, but I did nor mean
You would smile at and deride such a statement.
Ah, friends! You cannot trifle with God in that way. Even if you
swear without meaning it, it is forbidden by God. Christ said: "Every idle
that men shall speak, they shall give an account thereof in the
day of judgment; for by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words
(Mt 12:36, 37). You will be held accountable whether your words are idle
A SENSELESS HABIT
The habit of swearing is condemned by all sensible persons. It
has been called "the most gratuitous of all sin,," because no one gains
by it; it is "not
only sinful, but useless." An old writer said that when the accusing
angel, who records men's words, flies up to heaven with an oath, he blushes
hands it in.
When a man blasphemes, he shows an utter contempt for God. I was
in the army during the war, and heard men cursing and swearing. Some godly
woman would pass along the ranks looking for her wounded son, and not
an oath would be heard. They would not swear before their mothers, or their
wives, or their sisters; they had more respect for them than they had for
Isn't it a terrible condemnation that swearing held its own until it
came to be recognized as a vulgar thing, a sin against society? Men dropped
who never thought of its being a sin against God.
There will be no swearing men in the kingdom of God. They
will have to drop that sin, and repent of it, before they see the kingdom
HOW TO KEEP FROM SWEARING
Men often ask: "How can I keep from swearing?" I will tell you.
If God puts His love into your heart, you will have no desire to curse
Him. If you
have much regard for God, you will no more think of cursing Him
than you would think of speaking lightly or disparagingly of a mother whom
love. But the natural man is at enmity with God and has utter contempt
for His law. When that law is written on his heart, there will be no trouble
When I was out west about thirty years ago, I was preaching one
day in the open air, when a man drove up in a fine turn-out, and after
little while to what I was saying, he put the whip to his fine-looking
steed, and away he went, I never expected to see him again, but the next
he came back, and he kept on coming regularly night after night.
I noticed that his forehead itched--you have noticed people who
keep putting their hands to their foreheads?--he didn't want any one to
shedding tears--of course not! It is not a manly thing to shed tears in
a religious meeting, of course!
After the meeting I said to a gentleman: "Who is that man who
drives up here every night? Is he interested?" "Interested! I should think
should have heard the way he talked about you today." "Well," I said, "that
is a sign he is interested."
If no man ever has anything to say against you, your Christianity
isn't worth much. Men said of the Master, "He has a devil," and Jesus said
they had called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more them of
I asked where this man lived, but my friend told me not to go
to see him, for he would only curse me. I said: "It takes God to curse
a man; man can
only bring curses on his own head." I found out where he lived
and went to see him. He was the wealthiest man within a hundred miles of
and had a wife and seven beautiful children. Just as I got to
his gate I saw him coming out of the front door. I stepped up to him and
said: "This is
Mr. ~, I believe?"
He said, "Yes, sir; that is my name." Then he straightened up and asked--
"What do you want?"
"Well," I said, "I would like to ask you a question, if you won't be angry."
"Well, what is it?"
"I am told that God has blessed you above all men in this part
of the country; that He has given you wealth, a beautiful Christian wife,
lovely children. I do not know if it is true, but I hear that all He gets
in return is cursing and blasphemy"
He said, "Come in; come in." I went in.
"Now," he said, "what you said out there is true. If any man has
a fine wife I am the man, and I have a lovely family of children, and God
good to me. But do you know, we had company here the other night,
and I cursed my wife at the table and did not know it till after the company
gone. I never felt so mean and contemptible in my life as when
my wife told me of it. She said she wanted the floor to open and let her
down out of
her seat. If I have tried
once, I have tried a hundred times to stop swearing. You preachers don't
know anything about it."
"Yes," I said,' know all about it; I have been a drummer."
"But," he said, "you don't know anything about a businessman's
troubles. When he is harassed and tormented the whole time, he can't help
"Oh, yes," I said, "he can. I know something about it. I used to swear
"What! You used to swear?" he asked; "how did you stop?"
"I never stopped."
"Why, you don't swear now, do you?"
"No; I have not sworn for years."
"How did you stop?"
"I never stopped. It stopped itself."
He said, "I don't understand this."
"No," I said, "I know you
don't. But I came up to talk to you, so that you will never want to swear
as long as you live."
began to tell him about Christ in the heart; how that would take the temptation
to swear out of a man.
"Well," he said, "how am I to get Christ?"
"Get right down here and tell Him what you want."
"But," he said, "I was never on my knees in my Life.
I have been cursing all the day, and I don't know how to pray or what to
"Well," I said, "it is mortifying to have to call on God for mercy when
you have never used His name except in oaths; but He will not turn you
Ask God to forgive you if you want to be forgiven."
Then the man got down and prayed-- only a few sentences, but thank
God, it is the short prayers, after all, which bring the quickest answers.
prayed he got up and said: "What shall I do now?"
said, "Go down to the church and tell the people there that you want to
be an out-and-out Christian."
"I cannot do that," he said; "I never go to church except to some funeral."
"Then it is high time for you to go for something else,"I said.
After a while he promised to go, but did not know what the people
would say. At the next church prayer meeting, the man was there, and I
in front of him. He stood up and put
his hands on the settee, and he trembled so much that I could feel the
settee shake. He said:
you know all about me. If God can save a wretch like me, I want to have
you pray for my salvation."
That was thirty odd years ago. Sometime ago I was back in that
town, and did not see him; but when I was in California, a man asked me
dinner with him. I told him that I could not do so, for I had
another engagement. Then he asked if I remembered him, and told me his
name. "Oh," I
said, "tell me, have
you ever sworn since that night you knelt in your drawing-room, and asked
God to forgive you?"
"No," he replied, "I have never had a desire to swear since then. It was
all taken away."
He was not only converted, but became an earnest, active Christian,
and all these years has been serving God. That is what will take place
man is born of the divine nature.
Is there a swearing man ready to put this commandment into the
scales, and step in to be weighed? Suppose you swear only once in six months
year--suppose you swear only once in ten years--do you think
God will hold you guiltless for the act? It shows that your heart is not
clean in God's
sight. What are you going to do,
blasphemer? Would you not be found wanting? You would be like a feather
in the balance.
The Fourth Commandment
Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour,
and do all thy work: but the seventh day
is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do
any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy
manservant, nor thy maidservant. nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger
that is within thy gates: for in six days the
Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is,
and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord
blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.
THERE HAS BEEN an awful letting-down in this country regarding
the Sabbath during the last twenty-five years, and many a man has been
spiritual power, like Samson, because he is not straight
on this question. Can you say that you observe the Sabbath properly? You
may be a
professed Christian: are you obeying this commandment? Or do
you neglect the house of God on the Sabbath day, and spend your time drinking
carousing in places of vice and crime, showing contempt for God
and His law? Are you ready to step into the scales? Where were you last
How did you spend it?
I honestly believe that this commandment is just as binding today
as it ever was. I have talked with men who have said that it has been abrogated,
but they have never been able to point to any place in the Bible
where God repealed it. When Christ was on earth, He did nothing to set
it aside; He
freed it from the traces under which the scribes and Pharisees
had put it, and gave it its true place. "The sabbath was made for man,
not man for the
sabbath." It is just as practicable and as necessary for
men today as it ever was--in fact, more than ever, because we live in such
an intense age.
The Sabbath was binding in Eden, and it has been in force ever
since. The fourth commandment begins with the word remember, showing that
Sabbath already existed when God wrote this law on the tables of stone
at Sinai. How can men claim that this one commandment has been done away
with when they will admit that the other nine are still binding?
I believe that the Sabbath question today is a vital one for the whole
country. It is the burning question of the present time. If you give up
the church goes; if you give up the church the home goes; and
if the home goes the nation goes. That is the direction in which we are
The church of God is losing its power
on account of so many people giving up the Sabbath, and using it to promote
HOW TO OBSERVE THE SABBATH
"Sabbath" means "rest," and the meaning of the word gives a hint
as to the true way to observe the day. God mated after creation, and ordained
Sabbath as a rest for man. He blessed it and hallowed it Remember
the rest-day to keep it holy. It is the day when the body may be refreshed
strengthened after six days of labor, and the soul drawn into closer fellowship
with its Maker.
True observance of the Sabbath may be considered
under two general heads: cessation from ordinary secular work, and religious
1. CESSATION FROM SECULAR WORK
A man ought to turn aside from his ordinary employment one day
in seven. There are many whose occupation will not permit them to observe
Sunday, but they should observe some other day as a Sabbath.
Saturday is my day of rest, because I generally preach on Sunday, and I
to it as a boy does to a holiday. God knows what we need.
Ministers and missionaries often tell me that they take no rest-day;
they do not need it because they are in the Lord's work. That is a mistake.
God was giving Moses instructions about the building of the
tabernacle, He referred especially to the Sabbath, and gave injunctions
for its strict
observance; and later, when Moses was conveying the words of
the Lord to the children of Israel, he interpreted them by saying that
not even were
sticks to be gathered on the Sabbath to kindle fires for smelting
or other purposes. Inspite of their zeal and haste to erect the tabernacle,
were to have their day of rest. The command applies to ministers
and others managed in Christian work today as much as to those Israelite
WORKS OP NECESSITY AND OP EMERGENCY
In judging whether any work may or may not be lawfully done on
the Sabbath, find out the reason and object for doing it. Exceptions are
to be made
for works of necessity and works of emergency. By "works of necessity"
I mean those acts that Christ justified when He approved of leading one's
or ass to water. Watchmen, police, stokers on board steamers,
and many others have engagements that necessitate their working on the
"works of emergency" I mean those referred to by Christ when
He approved of pulling an ox or an ass out of a Pt on the Sabbath day.
In case of fire or
sickness a man is often called on to do things that would not otherwise
A Christian man was once urged by his employer to work on Sunday.
"Does not your Bible say that if your ass falls into a pit on the Sabbath,
may pull him out?" "Yes," replied the other; "but if the ass had the
habit of falling into the same pit every Sabbath, I would either fill up
the pit or sell
Every man must settle the question as it affects unnecessary work, with
his own conscience.
No man should make another work seven days in the week. One day is demanded
for rest. A man who has to work the seven days has nothing to look
forward to, and life becomes humdrum. Many Christians are guilty in this
Take, for instance, the question of Sabbath traveling. I believe
we are breaking God's laws by using the cars on Sunday and depriving conductors
others of their Sabbath. Remember, the fourth commandment expressly
refers to the "stranger that is within thy gates." Doesn't that touch Sabbath
But you ask, "What are we to do? How are we to get to church?"
I reply, on foot. It will be better for you. Once when I was holding
meetings in London, in my ignorance I made arrangements to preach four
different places one Sabbath. After I had made the appointments
I found I had to walk sixteen miles; but I walked it, and I slept that
night with a clear
conscience. I have made it a rule never to use the cars, and
if I have a private carriage, I insist that horse and man shall rest on
Monday. I want no
hackman to rise up in judgment against me.
My friends, if we want to help the Sabbath, let business men and
Christians never patronize cars on the Sabbath. I would hate to own stock
companies, to be the means of taking the Sabbath from these men,
and have to answer for it at the day of judgment. Let those who are Christians
any rate endeavor to keep a conscience void of offense on this point.
There are many who are inclined to use the Sabbath in order
to make money faster. This is no new sin. The prophet Amos hurled his invectives
against oppressors who said, "When will the new
moon be gone, that we may sell corn? and the Sabbath, that we may set forth
Covetous men have always chafed under the restraint, but not
until the present time do we find that they have openly counted on Sabbath
make money. We are told that many street car companies would
not pay if it were not for the Sabbath traffic, and the Sabbath edition
of newspapers is
also counted upon as the most profitable.
The railroad men of this country are breaking down with softening
of the brain, and die at the age of fifty or sixty. They think their business
important that they must run their trains seven days in the
week. Businessmen travel on the Sabbath so as to be on hand for business
morning. But if they do so God will not prosper them.
Work is good for man and is commanded, "Six days shalt thou labor";
but overwork and work on the Sabbath takes away the best thing he has.
NECESSARY AND BENEFICIAL
The good effect on a nation's health and happiness produced by
the return of the Sabbath, with its cessation from work, cannot be overestimated.
needed to repair and restore the body after six days of work.
It is proved that a man can do more in six days than in seven. Lord Beacons
"Of all divine institutions, the most divine is that which secures
a day of rest for man. I hold it to be the most valuable blessing conceded
to man. It
is the cornerstone of all civilization, and its removal might affect even
the health of the people."
Mr. Gladstone recently told a friend that the secret of his long
life is that amid all the pressure of public cares he never forgot the
Sabbath, with its rest
for the body and the soul. The constitution of the United States
protects the president in his weekly day of rest. He has ten days, "Sundays
in which to consider a bill that has been sent to him for signature.
Every workingman in the republic ought to be as thoroughly protected as
president. If workingmen got up a strike against
unnecessary work on the Sabbath, they would have the sympathy of a good
"Our bodies are seven-day clocks," says Talmage, "and they need
to be wound up, and if they are not wound up they run down into the grave.
man can continuously break the Sabbath and keep his physical
and mental health. Ask aged men, and they will tell you they never knew
continuously broke the Sabbath who did not fail in mind, body, or moral
All that has been said about rest for man is true for working
animals. God didn't forget them in this commandment, and man should not
2. RELIGIOUS ACTIVITY
But "rest" does not mean idleness. No man enjoys idleness for
any length of time. When one goes on a vacation, one does not lie around
nothing all that time. Hard work at tennis,
hunting, and other pursuits fills the hours. A healthy mind must find something
Hence the Sabbath rest does not mean inactivity. "Satan finds
some mischief still for idle hands to do." The best way to keep off bad
thoughts and to
avoid temptation is to engage in active religious exercises.
As regards these, we should avoid extremes. On the one hand we find
a rigor in Sabbath observance that is nowhere commanded in Scripture, and
reminds one of the formalism of the Pharisees more than of the
spirit of the Gospel. Such strictness does more harm than good. It repels
makes the Sabbath a burden. On the other hand, we should jealously
guard against a loose way of keeping the Sabbath. Already in many cities
When I was a boy, the Sabbath lasted from sundown on Saturday
to sundown on Sunday, and I remember how we boys used to shout when it
over. It was the worst day in the week to us. I believe it can
be made the brightest day in the week. Every child ought to be reared so
that he shall be
able to say that he
would rather have the other six days weeded out of his memory than the
Sabbath of his childhood.
Make the Sabbath a day of religious activity. First of all,
of course, is attendance at public worship. "there is a discrepancy," says
"between our creed about the Sabbath day and our actual conduct. In
many families, at ten o'clock on the Sabbath, attendance at church is still
question. There is no open question on Monday morning--'John, will you
go to work today"
A minister rebuked
a farmer for not attending church, and said, "You know, John, you are never
absent from market."
"Oh," was the reply, "we must go to market."
Someone has said that without the Sabbath, the Church of Christ
could not, as a visible organization, exist on earth. Another has said
that "we need
to be in the drill of observance as well as in the liberty of
faith." Human nature is so treacherous that we are apt to omit things altogether
is some special reason for doing them. A man is not likely to
worship at all unless he has regularly appointed times and means for worship.
and private devotions are almost certain to
be omitted altogether unless one gets into the habit and has a special
time set apart daily.
I remember blaming my mother for sending me to church on the
Sabbath. On one occasion the preacher had to send someone into the gallery
me up. I thought it was hard to have to work in the field all
the week and then to be obliged to go to church and hear a sermon I didn't
thought I wouldn't go to church any more when I got away from
home; but I had got so in the habit of going that I couldn't stay away.
After one or
back again to the house of God I went. There I first found Christ, and
I have often said since,
"Mother, I thank you for making me go to the house of God when I didn't
want to go."
Parents, if you want your children to grow up and honor you, have
them honor the Sabbath day. Don't let them go off fishing and getting into
company, or it won't be long before they will come home and curse
you. I know few things more beautiful than to see a father and mother coming
the aisle with their daughters and sons, and sitting down together
to hear the Word of God. It is a good thing to have the children, not in
remote loft or gallery, but in a good place, well in sight. Though
they cannot understand the sermon now, when they get older they won't desire
break away, they will continue attending public worship in the house of
But we must not mistake the means for the end. We must not think
that the Sabbath is just for the sake of being able to attend meetings.
some people who think they must spend the whole day at meetings
or private devotions. The result is that at nightfall they are tired out,
and the day
has brought them no rest. The number of church services attended
ought to be measured by the person's ability to enjoy them and get good
them, without being wearied. Attending meetings is not the only
way to observe the Sabbath. The Israelites were commanded to keep it in
dwellings as well as in holy convocation. The home, that center
of so great influence over the life and character of the people, ought
to be made the
scene of true Sabbath observance.
Jeremiah classified godless families with the heathen: "Pour
out thy fury upon the heathen that know thee not, and upon the families
that call not on
thy name: for they have eaten
up Jacob, devoured him, and consumed him, and have made his habitation
Many mothers have written to me at one time or another to know
what to do to entertain their children on the Sabbath. The boys say, "I
'twas night," or, "I do hate the Sabbath," or, "I do wish the Sabbath
were over." It ought to be the happiest day in the week to them, one to
forward to with pleasure. In order to this end, many suggestions
might be followed. Make family prayers especially attractive by having
learn some verse or story from the Bible. Give more time to your
children than you can give on weekdays, reading to them and perhaps taking
to walk in the afternoon or evening. Show by your conduct that
the Sabbath is a delight, and they will soon catch your spirit. Set aside
some time for
religious instruction, without making this a task. You can make
it interesting for the children by telling Bible stories and asking them
to guess the
names of the characters. Have Sunday games for the younger children.
Picture books, puzzle maps of Palestine, and such things can be easily
Sunday albums and Sunday clocks are other devices. Set aside
attractive books for the Sabbath, not letting the children have these during
By doing this, the children can be brought to look forward to the day with
eagerness and pleasure.
Apart from public and family observance, the individual ought
to devote a portion of the time to his own edification. Prayer, meditation,
ought not to be forgotten. Think of men devoting six days a
week to their body, which will soon pass away, and begrudging one day to
which will live on and on forever! Is it too much for God to
ask for one day to be devoted to the growth and training of the spiritual
senses, when the
other senses are kept busy the other six days?
If your circumstances permit, engage in some definite Christian
work, such as teaching in Sunday school, or visiting the sick. Do all the
can. Sin keeps no Sabbath, and no more should good deeds. There
is plenty of opportunity in this fallen world to perform works of mercy
religion. Make your Sabbath down here a foretaste of the eternal Sabbath
that is in store for believers.
You want power in your Christian life, do you? You want Holy
Ghost power? You want the dew of heaven on your brow? You want to see men
convicted and converted?
I don't believe we shall ever have genuine conversions until we get straight
on this law of God.
Men seem to think they have a right to change the holy day into
a holiday. The young have more temptations to break the Sabbath than we
years ago. There are three great temptations: first the trolley
car, that will take you off into the country for a nickel to have a day
of recreation; second,
the bicycle, which is leading a good many Christian men to give
up their Sabbath and spend the day on excursions; and the third, the Sunday
Twenty years ago Christian people in Chicago would have been horrified
if anyone had prophesied that all the theaters would be open every Sabbath;
but that is what has come to pass. If it had been prophesied
twenty years ago that Christian men would take a wheel and go off on Sunday
and be gone all day on an excursion, Christians would have been
horrified and would have said it was impossible; but that is what is going
all over the country.
THE SUNDAY NEWSPAPER
With regard to the Sunday newspaper, I know all the arguments that
are brought in its favor--that the work on it is done during the week,
that it is the
Monday paper that causes Sunday work, and so on. But there are
two hundred thousand newsboys selling the paper on Sunday. Would you like
have your boy one of them? Men are kept running trains in order
to distribute the papers. Would you like your Sabbath taken away from you?
then practice the Golden Rule, and don't touch the papers.
Their contents make them unfit for reading any day, not to say
Sunday. Some New York dailies advertise Sunday editions of sixty pages.
pieces of scandal in this and other countries are raked up and
put into them. "Eight pages of fud"- that is splendid reading for Sunday,
isn't it? Even
when a so-called sermon is printed, it is completely buried
by the fiction and news matter. It is time that ministers went into their
preached against Sunday newspapers if they haven't done it already.
Put the man in the scales that buys and reads Sunday papers. After
reading them for two or three hours he might go and hear the best sermon
world, but you couldn't preach anything into him. His mind is
filled up with what he has read, and there is no room for thoughts of God.
that the archangel Gabriel himself could not make an impression
on an audience that has its head full of such trash. If you bored a hole
into a man's
head, you could not inject any thoughts of God and heaven.
I don't believe that the publishers would allow their own children
to read them. Why then should they give them to my children and to yours?
A merchant who advertises in Sunday papers is not keeping the
Sabbath. It is a master-stroke of the devil to induce Christian men to
do this in order
to make trade for Monday. But if a man
makes money, and yet his sons are ruined and his home broken up, what has
Ladies buy the Sunday papers and read the advertisements of Monday
bargains to see what they can buy cheap. Just so with their religion. They
willing to have it if it doesn't cost anything. If Christian
men and women refused to buy them, if Christian merchants refused to advertise
they would soon die out, because that is where they get most of their support.
They tell me the Sunday paper has come to stay, and I may as well
let it alone. Never! I believe it is a great evil, and I shall fight it
while I live. I
never read a Sunday paper, and wouldn't have one in my house.
They are often sent me, but I tear them up without reading them. I will
to do with them. They do more harm to religion than any other
one agency I know. Their whole influence is against keeping the Sabbath
are an unnecessary evil. Can't a man read enough news on weekdays
without desecrating the Sabbath? We had no Sunday papers till the war came,
and we got along very well without them. They have been increasing
in size and in number ever since then, and I think they have been lowering
tone ever since. If you believe that, help to fight them too. Stamp them
out, beginning with yourself.
PUNISHMENT OR BLESSING?
No nation has ever prospered that has trampled the Sabbath in
the dust. Show me a nation that has done this and I will show you a nation
got in it the seeds of ruin and decay. I believe that Sabbath
desecration will carry a nation down quicker than anything else. Adam brought
and the Sabbath with him out of Eden, and neither can be disregarded
without suffering. When the children of Israel went into the Promised Land,
God told them to let their land rest every seven years, and He
would give them as much in six years as in seven. For four hundred and
they disregarded that law. But mark you, Nebuchadnezzar came
and took them oh into Babylon, and kept them seventy years in captivity,
land had its seventy sabbaths of rest. Seven times seventy is
four hundred and ninety. So they did not gain much by breaking this law.
You can give
God His day, or He will take it.
On the other hand, honoring the fourth commandment brings blessing:
"If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on
holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD,
honorable; and shalt honor him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine
pleasure, nor speaking thine own words [thine own as contrasted
with what God enjoins]: then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and
cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed
thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father, for the mouth of the LORD hath
spoken it" (Is
I do not know what will become of this republic if we give up
our Christian Sabbath. If Satan can break the conscience down on one point,
break it down on all. When I was in France in 1867, I could wt
tell one day from the other. On Sunday, stores were open and buildings
the same as on other days. See how quickly that country went
down. One hundred years ago France and England stood abreast in the march
nations. Where do they stand today? France undertook to wipe
out the Sabbath, and has pretty nearly wiped itself out, while England
belts the globe.
A FIRM STAND
We have a fighting chance to save this nation,
and what we want is men and women who have moral courage to stand up and
"No, I will not touch the Sunday paper, and all the influence
I have I will throw dead against it. I will not go away on Saturday evening
if I have to
travel on Sunday to get back. I will not do
unnecessary walk on the Sabbath. I will do all I can to keep it holy as
someone says: "Mr. Moody, what are you going to do? I have to work seven
days a week or starve."
Then starve! Wouldn't it be a grand thing to have a martyr in
the nineteenth century? "The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church."
says the seed is getting very low; it has been a long time since
we have had any seed. I would give something to erect a monument to such
for his fidelity to God's law. I would go around the world to attend his
We want today men who will make up their minds to do what is
right and stand by it if the heavens tumble on their heads. What is to
Christian Associations and Sunday schools, of churches and Christian
Endeavor societies, if the Christian Sabbath is given up to recreation
a holiday? Hasn't the time come to call a halt if men want power
with God? Let men call you narrow and bigoted, but be man enough to stand
God's law, and you will have power and blessing. That is the kind of
Christianity we want just now in this country. Any man can go with the
but we want men who will go against the current.
Sabbath-breaker, are you ready to step into the scales?
NOTE: The author of this book was not an advocate of the tenets of Seventh
The Fifth Commandment
Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long
upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth
WE ARE LIVING in dark days on this question too. It really seems
as if the days the apostle Paul wrote about are upon us: "In the last days
times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves,
covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful,
without natural affection,.. despisers of those that are good"
(2 Ti 3:1-3). If Paul were alive today, could he have described the present
state of affairs
more truly? There are perhaps more men in this country that are
breaking the hearts of their fathers and mothers and trampling on the law
of God than
in any other civilized country in the world. How many sons treat
their parents with contempt and make light of their entreaties? A young
have the kindest care from parents; they will watch over him
and care for all his wants, and some bad companion will come in and sweep
from them in a few weeks. How many young ladies have married
against their parents wishes and have gone off and made their own life
bitter! I never
case that did not turn out badly. They invariably bring ruin upon themselves
unless they repent.
BEGIN IN THE HOME
The first four commandments deal with our relations to God. They
tell us how to worship and when to worship; they forbid irreverence and
in word and act. Now God turns to our relations with each other,
and isn't it significant that He deals first with family life? "God is
going to show us
our duty to our neighbor. How does He begin? Not by telling us
how kings ought to reign, or how soldiers ought to fight, or how merchants
to conduct their business, but how boys and girls ought to behave at home."
We can see that if their home life is all right, they are almost
sure to fulfill the law in regard to both God and man. Parents stand in
the place of God
to their children in a great many ways until the children arrive
at years of discretion. If the children are true to their parents, it will
be easier for them
to be true to God. He used the human relationship as a symbol of our
relationship to Him both by creation and by grace. God is our Father in
We are His offspring.
On the other hand, if they have not learned to be obedient and
respectful at home, they are likely to have little respect for the law
of the land. It is all
in the heart; and the heart
is prepared at home for good or bad conduct outside. The tree grows the
way the twig is bent.
"Honour thy father and thy mother." That word honor, means more
than mere obedience--a child may obey through fear. It means love and affection,
gratitude, respect. We are told that in the East the words "father"
and "mother" include those who are "superiors in age, wisdom and in civil
religious station," so that when the Jews were taught to honor
their father and mother it included all who were placed over them in these
well as their parents Isn't there a crying need for that same
feeling today? The lawlessness of the present time is a natural consequence
of the growing
absence of a feeling of respect for those in authority.
HONOR THY MOTHER
It has been pointed out as worthy of notice that this commandment
enjoins honor for the mother, and yet in eastern countries the present-day
is held of little account. When I was in Palestine a few years
ago, the prettiest girl in Jericho was sold by her father in exchange for
a donkey. In many
ancient nations, just as in certain parts of heathendom today,
the parents are killed off as soon as they become old and feeble. Can't
we see the hand of
God here, raising the woman to her rightful
position of honor out of the degradation into which she had been dragged
"Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon
the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee." I believe that we must get
to the old truths. You may make light of it and laugh at it,
young man, but remember that God has given this commandment, and you cannot
aside. If we get back to this law, we shall have power and blessing.
TEMPORAL BLESSING OR CURSE
I believe it to be literally true that our temporal condition
depends on the way we act upon this commandment. "Honour thy father and
(which is the first commandment with promise), that it may be
well with thee, and that thou mayest live long on the earth." "Honour thy
thy mother, as the Lord thy God hath commanded thee; that thy
days may be prolonged, and that it may go well with thee, in the land which
Lord thy God giveth thee." "Cursed is he that setteth light by
his father or mother." "Whoso curseth his father or mother, his lamp shall
be put out in
It would be easy to multiply texts from the Bible to prove this truth.
Experience teaches the same thing. A good, loving son generally turns out
than a refractory son. Obedience and respect at home prepare
the way for obedience to the employer, and are joined with other virtues
that help toward
a prosperous career, crowned with a ripe, honored old age. Disobedience
and disrespect for parents are often the first steps in the downward track.
Many a criminal has testified that this is the point where he
first went astray. I have lived over sixty years, and I have learned one
thing if I have
learned nothing else-- that no man or woman who dishonors father or mother
Young man, young woman, how do you treat your parents? Tell me that,
and I will tell you how you an going to get on in life. When I hear a young
man speaking contemptuously of his grey-haired father or mother,
I say he has sunk very low indeed. When I see a young man as polite as
gentleman can be when he is out in society, but who snaps at
his mother and speaks unkindly to his father, I would not give the snap
of my finger for
his religion. If there is any man or woman on earth that ought
to be treated kindly and tenderly, it is that loving mother or that loving
father. If they
cannot have your regard through life, what reward are they to
have for all their care and anxiety? Think how they loved you and provided
for you in
your early days.
A MOTHER'S LOVE
Let your mind go back to the time when you were ill. Did your
mother neglect you? When a neighbor came in and said, "Now, mother, you
lie down; you have been up for a week; I will take your place
for a night'-did she do it? No; and if the poor worn body forced her to
it at last, she lay
watching, and if she heard your voice, she was at your side directly,
anticipating all your wants, wiping the perspiration away from your brow.
wanted water, how soon you got it! She would gladly have taken
the disease into her own body to save you. Her love for you would drive
her to any
lengths. No matter to what depths of vice and misery you have
sunk, no matter how profligate you have grown, she has not turned you out
heart. Perhaps she loves you all the more
because you are wayward. She would draw you back by the bands of a love
that never dies.
When I was in England, I read of a man who professed to be a
Christian, who was brought before the magistrate for not supporting his
aged father. He
had let him go to the workhouse. My friends, I'd rather be content
with a crust of bread and a drink of water than let my father or mother
go to the
workhouse. The idea of a professing Christian doing such a thing!
God have mercy on such a godless Christianity as that! It is a withered-up
and the breath of heaven will drive it away. Don't profess to love God
and do a thing like that.
A friend of mine told me of a poor man who had sent his son to
school in the city. One day the father was hauling some wood into the city,
to pay his boy's bills. The young man was walking down the street
with two of his school friends, all dressed in the very height of fashion.
saw him, and was so glad that he left his wood, and went to the sidewalk
to speak to him. But the boy was ashamed of his father, who had on his
working clothes, and spurned him, and said:
"I don't know you."
Will such a young man ever amount to anything?
I remember a very promising young man whom I had in the Sunday
school in Chicago. His father was a confirmed drunkard, and his mother
washing to educate her four children. This was her eldest son,
and I thought that he was going to redeem the whole family. But one day
happened that made him go down in my estimation.
The boy was in the high school, and was a very bright scholar.
One day he stood with his mother at the cottage door--it was a poor house,
could not pay for their schooling, and feed and clothe her children,
and hire a very good house too, out of her earnings. When they were talking
young man from the high school came
up the street, and this boy walked away from his mother. Next day the young
"Who was that I saw you talking to yesterday?"
"Oh, that was my washerwoman."
I said: "Poor fellow! He will never amount to anything."
That was a good many years ago. I have kept my eye on him. He
has gone down, down, down, and now he is just a miserable wreck. Of course
would go down. Ashamed of his mother who loved him and toiled
for him, and bore so much hardship for him! I cannot tell you the contempt
for that one act. Let us look at...
A BRIGHTER PICTURE
Some years ago I heard of a poor woman who sent her boy to school
and college. When he was to graduate, he wrote his mother to come, but
sent back word that she could not because her only skirt had
already been turned once. She was so shabby that she was afraid he would
be ashamed of
her. He wrote back that he didn't care how she was dressed and
urged so strongly that she went. He met her at the station, and took her
to a nice place
to stay. The day came for his graduation, and he walked down the broad
aisle with that poor mother dressed very shabbily, and put her into one
best seats in the house.
To her great surprise he was the valedictorian of the class, and he carried
everything before him.
He won a prize, and when it was
given to him, he stepped down before the whole audience, and kissed his
mother, and said:
"Here, mother, here is the prize. It is yours. I would not have had it
if it had not been for you."
Thank God for such a man!
The one glimpse the Bible gives us of thirty out of the thirty-three
years of Christ's life on earth shows that He did not come to destroy this
commandment. The secret of all those silent years is embodied
in that verse in Luke's Gospel-- "And he went down with them and came to
and was subject to them." Did He not set an example of true filial
love and care when in the midst of the agonies of the cross He made provision
His mother? Did He not condemn the miserable evasions of this law by the
Pharisees of His own day:
"Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written,
This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.
vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments
of men.... Full well do ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep
your own tradition. For Moses said, Honour thy father and thy
mother; and, Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death: but
ye say, If a
man shall say to his father or mother, It is Corban, that is to say,
a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; he shall be free.
And ye suffer
him no more to do ought for his father or his mother; making
the word of God of none effect by your tradition, which ye have delivered"
I have read of one heathen custom in China, which would do us
credit in this so-called Christian country. On every New Year's morning
and boy, from the emperor to the lowest peasant, is said to pay
a visit to his mother, carrying her a present varying in value according
to his station
in life. He thanks her for all she has done for him and asks
a continuance of her favor another year. Abraham Lincoln used to say: "All
I have I owe to
I would rather die a hundred deaths than have my children grow
up to treat me with scorn and contempt. I would rather have them honor
thousand times over than have the world honor me. I would rather
have their esteem and favor than the esteem of the whole world. And any
seeks the honor and esteem of the world, and doesn't treat his parents
right, is sure to be disappointed.
Young man, if your parents are still living, treat them kindly. Do
all you can to make their declining years sweet and happy. Bear in mind
that this is
the only commandment that you may not always be able to obey. As long
as you live, you will be able to serve God, to keep the sabbath, to obey
the other commandments; but the day comes to most men when father
and mother die. What bitter feelings you will have when the opportunity
gone by if you fail to show them the respect and love that is
their due! How long is it since you wrote to your mother? Perhaps you have
home for months, or
it may be for years. How often I get letters from mothers urging me to
try to influence their sons!
Which would you rather be--a Joseph or an Absalom? Joseph wasn't satisfied
until he had brought his old father down into Egypt. He was the greatest
man in Egypt, next to Pharaoh; he was arrayed in the finest garments;
he had Pharaoh's ring on his hand, and a gold chain about his neck, and
cried before him, "Bow the knee." Yet when he heard Jacob was
coming, he hurried out to meet him. He wasn't ashamed of the old man with
shepherd's clothes. What a contrast we see in Absalom. That young
man broke his father's heart By his rebellion, and the Jews are said to
stone at Absalom's pillar to the
present day, whenever they pass it, as a token of their horror of Absalom's
Come, now, are you ready to be weighed? If you have been dishonoring
your father and mother, step into the scales and see how quickly you will
found wanting. See how quickly you will strike the beam. I don't
know any man who is much lighter than one who treats his parents with contempt.
Do you disobey them just as much as you dare? Do you try to deceive
them? Do you call them old-fashioned, and sneer at their advice? How do
treat that venerable father and praying mother?
You may be a professing Christian, but I wouldn't give much for
your religion unless it gets into your life and teaches you how to live.
give a snap
of my finger for a religion that doesn't begin at home and regulate your
conduct--toward your parents.
The Sixth Commandment
Thou shalt not kill.
I USED TO SAY: "What is the use of taking up a law like this in
an audience where, probably, there isn't a man who ever thought of, or
commit, murder?" But as one gets on in years, he sees many a murder
that is not outright killing. I need not kill a person to be a murderer.
If I get so
angry that I wish a man dead, I am a murderer
in God's sight. God looks at the heart and says he that hateth his brother
is a murderer.
First, let us see what this commandment does not mean.
It does not forbid the killing of animals for food and for other reasons.
Millions of rams and lambs and turtledoves must have been killed every
sacrifices under the Mosaic system. Christ Himself ate of the
Passover lamb, and we are told definitely of cases where He ate fish and
provided it for
His disciples and the people to eat.
It does not forbid the killing of burglars or attackers in self-defense.
Directly after the giving of the Ten Commandments, God laid down the ordinance
that if a thief be found breaking in and be smitten that he die,
it was pardonable. Did not Christ justify this idea of self-defense when
He said: "If the
goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would
come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be
up" (Mt 24:43).
It does not forbid capital punishment. God Himself set the death
penalty upon violations of each of the first seven commandments, as well
as for other
crimes. God said to Noah after the deluge, "Whoso sheddeth man's
blood, by man shall his blood be shed" (Gen 9:2);and the reason given is
true today as it was then--"for in the image of God made he man."
What it does forbid is the wanton, intentional taking of human
life under wrong motives and circumstances. Man is made in God's image.
He is built
for eternity. He is more than a mere animal. His life ought therefore
to be held sacred. Once taken, it can never be restored. In heathen lands
is no more sacred than the life of animals; even in Christian lands
there are heartless and selfish men who hold it cheap; but God has invested
it with a
high value. An infidel philosopher of the eighteenth century
said: "In the sight of God, every event is alike important; and the life
of a man is of no
greater importance to the universe than that of an oyster."
"Where is the crime," he asked, "of turning a few ounces of blood out of
Such language needs no answer.
THE VALUE OF MAN
Let me give you a passage from H. L. Hastings: "A friend of
mine visited the Fiji Islands in 1844, and what do you suppose an infidel
there then? You could buy a man for a musket, or if you paid
money, for seven dollars, and after you had bought him you could feed him,
work him, whip him, or eat him--they generally ate them, unless
they were so full of tobacco they could not stomach them! But if you go
you could not buy a man for seven million dollars. There are
no men for sale there now. What has made the difference in the price of
twelve hundred Christian chapels scattered over that island
tell the story. The people have learned to read that Book which says: 'Ye
redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold,.. but with the
precious blood of Christ(1 Pe 1:18-19); and since they learned that lesson,
is for sale there."
Men tell me that the world is getting so much better. We talk
of our American civilization. We forget the alarming increase of crime
in our midst. It
is said that there is no
civilized country on the globe where murder is so frequently committed
and so seldom punished.
There is that other kind of murder that is increasing at an appalling
rate among us--suicide. There have been infidels in all ages who have advocated
it's a justifiable means of release from trial and difficulty;
yet thinking men, as far back as Aristotle, have generally condemned it
as cowardly and
unjustifiable under any conditions.
No man has a right to take his own life from such motives any more than
the life of another.
It has been pointed out that the Jewish race, the people of God,
always counted length of days as a blessing. The Bible does not mention
instance of a good man committing suicide. In the four thousand
years of Old Testament history it records only four suicides, and only
one suicide in
the New Testament. Saul, king of Israel, and his armorbearer,
Ahithophel, Zimri and Judas Iscariot are the five cases. Look at the references
Bible to see what kind of men they were.
OTHER KINDS OF MURDER
But I want to speak of other classes of murderers that are very
numerous in this country, although they are not classified as murderers.
The man who
is the cause of the death of another through criminal carelessness
is guilty. The man who sells diseased meat; the saloonkeeper whose drink
maddened the brain of a criminal; those who adulterate food;
the employer who jeopardizes the lives of employees and others by unsafe
and conditions in harmful occupations-they are all guilty of blood where
life is lost as a consequence.
When I was in England in 1892, I met a gentleman who claimed
that they were ahead of us in the respect they had for the law. "We hang
murderers," he said, "but there isn't one out of twenty in your
country that is hung." I said, "You are greatly mistaken, for they walk
about these two
countries unhung." "What do you mean?" "I will tell you what
I mean," I said; "the man that comes into my house and runs a dagger into
for my money, is a prince compared with a son that takes five
years to kill me and the wife of my bosom. A young man who comes home night
night drunk, and when his mother remonstrates,
curses her grey hairs and kills her by inches, is the blackest kind of
That kind of thing is going on constantly all around us. One young
man at college, an only son, whose mother wrote to him remonstrating against
his gambling and drinking habits, took the letters out of the
post-office, and when he found that they were from her, he tore them up
them. She said, "I thought I would die when I found I had lost my hold
on that son."
If a boy kills his mother by his conduct, you can't call it anything
else than murder. and he is as truly guilty of breaking this sixth commandment
if he drove a dagger to her heart. If all young men in this country
who are killing their parents and their wives by inches, should be hung
week, there would be a great many funerals.
How are you treating your parents? Come, are you killing them?
This sixth commandment follows very naturally after the fifth, "Honor thy
dry mother." Don't put any thoughts in their pillows and make
their last days miserable. Bear in mind that the commandment refers not
shooting a man down in cold blood; but he is the worst murderer
who goes on, month after month, year after year, until he has crowded the
life out of
a sainted mother and put a godly father under the sod.
THE WORDS OF CHRIST
Let us look once again at the Sermon on the Mount, that men think
so much of, and see what Christ had to say: "Ye have heard that it was
them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill
shall be in danger of the judgment: but I say unto you, That whosoever
is angry with
his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment:
and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca [an expression of contempt],
shall be in
danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool [an expression
of condemnation], shall be in danger of hell fire (Mt 5:21-22). "Three
of murderous guilt," as has been said, "all of which can
be manifested without a blow being struck: secret anger; the spiteful jeer;
unrestrained outburst of violent, abusive speech."
Again, what does John say? "Whosoever hateth his brother is a
murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him"
(1 Jn 3:15).
Did you ever in your heart wish a man dead? That was murder. Did you
ever get so angry that you wished any one harm? Then you are guilty. I
be addressing someone who is cultivating an unforgiving
spirit. That is the spirit of the murderer, and needs to be rooted out
of your heart.
We can only read men's acts--what they have done. God looks down
into the heart. That is the birthplace and home of the evil desires and
that lead to the transgression of all God's laws.
Listen once more to the words of Jesus: "From within, out
of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders,
wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy,pride, foolishness"
May God purge our hearts of these evil things, if we are harboring
them! Ah, if many of us were weighed now, we should find Belshazzar's doom
written against us--"Tekel--wanting!''
The Seventh Commandment
Thou shalt not commit adultery.
AN ENGLISH ARMY-OFFICER in India who had been living an impure
life went around one evening to argue religion with the chaplain. During
their talk the officer said:
is all very well, but you must admit that there are difficulties--about
the miracles, for instance."
The chaplain knew the man and his besetting sin, and quietly looking him
in the face, answered:
"Yes, there are
some things in the Bible not very plain, I admit: but the seventh commandment
is very plain."
I would to God I could pass over this commandment, but I feel
that the time has come to cry aloud and spare not. Plain speaking about
it is not very
fashionable nowadays. "Teachers of religion have by common consent
banished from their public teaching all advice, warning or allusion in
love between the sexes," says Dr. Stalker. These themes are left
to poets and novelists to handle. In an autobiography recently published
the writer attributed no small share of the follies and vices
of his earlier years to his never having heard a plain, outspoken sermon
on this seventh
But though men are inclined to pass it by, God is
not silent or indifferent in regard to it. When I hear anyone make light
of adultery and
licentiousness, I take the Bible and see how God has let His curse and
wrath come down upon it.
"Thou shalt not commit adultery" (Ex 20:14); "For this is a heinous
crime; yea, it is an iniquity to be punished by the judges. For it is a
consumeth to destruction, and would root out all mine increase" (Job
31:11-12); "By means of a whorish woman a man is brought to a piece of
and the adulteress will hunt for the precious life. Can a man take
fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned? Can one go upon hot coals,
feet not be burned? So he that goeth in to his neighbor's wife;
whosoever toucheth her shall not be innocent" (Pr 6: 26:28);"Whoso committeth
adultery with a woman lacketh understanding: he that doeth it destroyeth
his own soul. A wound and dishonor shall he get; and his reproach shall
be wiped away" (Pr 6:32- 33).
"Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom
of God? Be not deceived: neither fomicators,.. nor adulterers, nor effeminate,
abusers of themselves with mankind . . . shall inherit the kingdom
of God" (1 Co 6:9-10); "But fornication, and all uncleanness, . . . let
it not be
once named among you, as becometh saints; neither filthiness,
nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather
giving of thanks.
For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person . .
. hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no man
with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God
upon the children of disobedience. Be not ye therefore partakers with them"
5:5-6); "Whoremongers ... shall have their part
in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second
death" (Rev 21:8).
These are a few of the threatenings and warnings contained
in the old Book, up to its closing chapter. It speaks plainly, without
MARR1AGE AND THE HOME
This commandment is God's bulwark around marriage and the home. Marriage
is one of the institutions that existed in Eden; it is older than the Fall.
It is the most sacred relationship that can exist between human beings,
taking precedence even of the relationship of the parent and child. Someone
pointed out that as in the beginning God created one man and
one woman, this is the true order for all ages. Where family ties are disregarded
dishonored, the results are always fatal. The home existed before
the church, and unless the home is kept pure and undefiled, there can be
religion, and the church is in danger. Adultery and licentiousness
have swept nation after nation out of existence. Did it not bring fire
from heaven upon Sodom and Gomorrah? What carried Rome
into ruin? The obscene frescoes and statues at Pompeii and Naples tell
Where there is no sacredness around the home, population dwindles;
family virtues disappear; the children are corrupt from their very birth;
of sure decay are already planted. In 1895 there were
twenty-five thousand divorces in this country. I was an one of the fashionable
sheets of a
prominent city some time ago, where every family except two in
the whole street had either a son or a daughter that had been divorced.
debauchery go hand in hand. We are not gaining much in turning away from
this old law, are we?
THE DEVIL'S COUNTERFEIT
Lust is the devil's counterfeit of love. There is nothing more
beautiful on earth than a pure love, and there is nothing so blighting
as lust. J do not
know of a quicker, shorter way down to hell than by adultery
and the kindred sins condemned by this commandment. The Bible says that
heart man believeth unto righteousness, but "whoredom and wine
and new wine take away the heart" (Ho 4: 11). Lust will drive all natural
out of a man's heart. For the sake of some vile harlot he will
trample on the feelings and entreaties of a sainted mother and beautiful
wife and godly
Young man, are you leading an impure life? Suppose God's scales
should drop down before you, what would you do? Are you fit for the kingdom
heaven? You know very well that
you are not. You bathe yourself. When you look upon that pure wife or mother,
"What a vile wretch I am! The harlot is bringing me down to an untimely
and dishonored grave."
May God show us what a fearful sin it is! The idea of making
light of it! I do not know of any sin that will make a man run down to
quickly. I am appalled when I think of what is going on in the
world; of so many young men living impure lives, and talking about the
women as if it didn't amount to anything. This sin is coming
in upon us like a hood at the present day. In every city there is an army
Young men by hundreds are being utterly ruined by this accursed sin.
THE PRODIGAL DAUGHTER
I think that the most infernal thing that shines on in America
is the way a woman is treated after she has been ruined by a man, often
promises of marriage. Someone said that when the prodigal son
came home he had the best robe and the fatted calf, but what does the prodigal
daughter get? Although she may have been more sinned against
than sinning, she is cast out and ostracized by society. She is condemned
almost hopeless life of degradation and shame, sinking step by
step into a loathsome grave, unless she hurries her doom by suicide. But
who has ruined her in body and soul holds his head as high as
ever, and society attaches no stain to him. If he had failed to pay his
or was detected cheating at cards, he would promptly be dropped
by society; but he may boast of his implore life, and his companions will
nothing of it. Parents who would not allow their daughters to
become acquainted with a man who is rude in manners, sometimes do not hesitate
accept the society of men who are known to be impure.
Talk about stealing--a man who steals the virtue of a woman is
the meanest thief that ever was on the face of the earth! One who goes
into your house
and steals your money is a prince compared with a vile libertine who
takes the virtue of your sister, or steals the affection of your wife,
and robs you of
her; no sneak thief that ever walked the earth is so mean as
he. How men pass laws to protect their property, but when that which is
far nearer and
dearer to them than money is taken, it is made light of! If a
man should push a young lady into the river and she should be drowned,
the law would
lay hold of him, and he would be tried for murder and hung.
But if he wins her affection and ruins her, and then casts her off, isn't
he worse than a
murderer? There are some sins that are worse than murder, and
that is one of them. If someone should treat your wife or sister so,you
would want to
shoot him as you would a dog. Why do you not respect all women as you
do your mother and sister? What law of justice forgives the obscene bird
prey, while it kicks out of its path the soiled and bleeding dove?
GOD'S COMING JUDGMENT
God has appointed a day when this matter will be set right. "Be
not deceived; God is not mocked: whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he
(Gal 6:7). He will render to every man according to his deeds.
You may walk down the aisle of the church and take your seat, thinking
that no one
knows of your sin. But God is on the throne, and He will surely
bring you to judgment. Do you believe that God will allow this infernal
thing to go
on-- women bearing all the blame while guilty men go unpunished?
God has appointed a day when He will judge this world in righteousness,
the day is fast approaching.
If you are guilty of this sin, do not let the day pass until you
repent. If you are living in some secret sin or are fostering impure thoughts,
your mind that by the grace of God you will be delivered. I
don't believe a man who is guilty of this sin is ever going to see the
kingdom of God
unless he repents in sackcloth and ashes, and does all he can to make restitution.
AN EVIL HARVEST
Even in this life adultery and uncleanness bring their awful
results, both physical and mental. The pleasure and excitement that lead
so many astray at
the beginning soon pass away, and only the evil remains. Vice
carries a sting in its tail, like the scorpion. The body is sinned against,
and the body
sooner or later suffers. "Every sin that a man doeth is without
the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body"
6:18), said Paul. Nature herself punishes with nameless diseases, and
the man goes down to the grave rotten, leaving the effects of his sin to
posterity. There are nations whose manhood has been eaten out by this awful
It drags a man lower than the beasts. It stains the memory. I
believe that memory is "the worm that never dies," and the memory is never
obscene stories and unclean acts. Even if a man repents and reforms he
often has to fight the past.
Lust gave Samson into the power of Delilah, who robbed him of
his strength. It led David to commit murder and called down upon him the
God, and if he had not repented he would have lost heaven. I believe
that if Joseph had responded to the enticement of Potiphar's wife, his
have gone out in darkness.
It ends in one or other of two ways: either in remorse and shame
because of the realization of the loss of purity, with a terrible struggle
against a hard
taskmaster; or in hardness of heart, brutalizing of the finer senses, which
is a more dreadful condition.
We hear a good deal about intemperance nowadays. That sin advertises
itself; it shows its marks upon the face and in the conduct. But this hides
itself away under the shadow of the night. A man who tampers
with this evil goes on step by step until his character is blasted, his
his health gone, and his
life made as dark as hell. May God wake up the nation to see how this awful
sin is spreading!
Will anyone deny that the house of the strange woman is "the way
to hell, going down to the chambers of death," as the Bible says? Are there
men whose characters have been utterly ruined for this life through
this accursed sin? Are there not wives who would rather sink into their
live? Many a man went with a pure woman to the altar a few years
ago and promised to love and cherish her. Now he has given his affections
vile harlot and brought ruin on his wife and children!
ARE YOU GUILTY?
Young man, young woman, are you guilty, even in thought? Bear
in mind what Christ said: "Ye have heard that it was said by them of old
Thou shalt not commit adultery: but I say unto you, That whosoever
looketh on a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already
his heart" (Mt 5: 27-28). How many would repent but that they
are tied hand and foot, and some vile harlot whose feet are fastened in
hell, clings to
him and says:
"If you give me up, I will expose you!" Can you step on the scales and
take that harlot with you?
If you are guilty of this awful sin, escape for your life. Hear
God's voice while there is yet time. Confess your sin to Him. Ask Him to
snap the fetters
that bind you. Ask Him to give you victory over your passions.
If your right eye offends, pluck it out. If your right hand offends, cut
it oh. Shake yourself like Samson, and say:
"By the grace of God I will not go down to an adulterer's grave."
There is hope for you, adulterer. There is hope for you, adulteress.
God will not turn you away if you truly repent. No matter how low down
and misery you may have sunk, you may be washed, you may be sanctified,
you may be justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of
our God. Remember what Christ said to that woman which was a
sinner, "Thy sins are forgiven ... thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace"
and to that woman that was taken in adultery, "Go, and sin no more" (Jn
The Eighth Commandment
Thou shalt not steal.
DURING THE TIME Of slavery, a slave
was preaching with great power. His master heard of it, and sent for him,
"I understand you are preaching?"
"Yes," said the slave.
"Well, now," said the master, "I will give you all the time you
need, and I want you to prepare a sermon on the Ten Commandments, and to
down especially on stealing, because there is a great deal of stealing
on the plantation."
The slave's countenance fell at once. He said
he wouldn't like to do that; there wasn't the warmth in that subject there
was in others.
I have noticed that people are satisfied when you preach about
the sins of the patriarchs, but they don't like it when you touch upon
the sins of today.
That is coming too near home. But we need to have these old
doctrines stated over and over again in our churches. Perhaps it is not
speak here about the grosser violations of this eighth commandment,
because the law of the land looks after these; but a man or woman can steal
without cracking safes and picking pockets. Many a person who
would shrink from taking what belongs to another person thinks nothing
from the government or from large public corporations, such as
street car companies. If you steal from a rich man it is as much a sin
as stealing from a
poor man. If you lie about the value of things you buy, are you
not trying to defraud the storekeeper? "It is naught, it is naught, saith
the buyer: but
when he is gone his way, then he boasteth" (Pr 20:14).
On the other hand, many a person who would not steal himself, holds
stock in companies that make dishonest profits; but "though hand join in
the wicked shall not go unpunished" (Pr 11:21).
A young man in our Bible Institute in Chicago got on the streetcar,
and before the conductor came around to take the fare, they reached the
and he jumped oh without paying his fare. In thinking over that
act he said: "That was not just right. I had my ride, and I ought to pay
He remembered the face of the conductor, and he went to the car barns and
paid him the five cents.
"Well," the conductor said, "you are a fool not to keep it."
"No," the young man said, "I am not. I got the ride, and I ought to have
paid for it."
"But it was my business to collect it."
"No, it was my business to hand it to you."
The conductor said, "I think you must belong to that Bible Institute."
I have heard few things said of the Institute that pleased me
so much as that one thing. Not long after that the conductor came to the
asked the student to come to see him. A cottage meeting was
started in his house; and not only himself but a number of others around
converted as a result of that one act.
You can hardly take up a paper now without reading of some cashier
of a bank who has become a defaulter, or of some large swindling operation
has ruined scores, or of
some breach of trust, or fraudulent failure in business. These things are
going on all over the land.
I would to God that we could have all gambling swept away. If
Christian men take the right stand, they can check it and break it up in
a great many
places. It leads to stealing.
WHERE THE STREAM STARTS
The stream generally starts at home and in the school. Parents are
woefully lax in their condemnation and punishment of the sin of stealing.
begins by taking sugar, it may be. The mother makes light of
it at first, and the child's conscience is violated without any sense of
wrong. By and by
it is not an easy matter to check the habit, because it grows and multiplies
with every new commission.
The value of the thing that is stolen has nothing to say to the
guilt of the act. Two people were once arguing upon this point, and one
you will not contend that a theft of a pin and of a dollar are
the same to God?" "When you tell me the difference between the value of
a pin and of a
dollar to God," said the other, "I will answer your question."
The value or amount is not what is to be considered, but whether the
act is right or wrong. Partial obedience is not enough: obedience must
The little indulgences, the small transgressions are what drive
religion out of the soul. They lay the foundation for the grosser sin.
If you give way to
little temptations, you will not be able to resist when great temptations
come to you.
Extortioner, are you ready to step into the scales? What will
you do with the condemnation of God-- "Thou hast taken usury and increase,
gained of thy neighbors by extortion, and hast forgotten me, saith the
Lord God" (Eze 22: 12)?
Employer, are you guilty of sweating your employees? Have you
defrauded the hireling of his wages? Have you paid starvation wages? "Thou
not oppress an hired servant that is poor and needy, whether
he be of thy brethren, or of thy strangers that are in thy land within
thy gates (Deu
24:14). What mean ye that ye beat my people to pieces, and grind
the faces of the poor? saith the Lord God of hosts (Is 3:15). Behold, the
hire of the
laborers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back
by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into
of the Lord of sabaoth" (Ja 5:4).
And you, employee, have you been honest with your employer? Have
you robbed him of his due by wasting your time when he was not looking?
God should summon you into His presence now, what would you say?
Let the merchant step into the scales. See if you will prove light
when weighed against the law of God. Are you guilty of adulterating what
Do you substitute inferior grades of goods? Are your advertisements
deceptive? Are your cheap prices made possible by defrauding your customers
either in quantity or in quality? Do you teach your clerks to
put a French or an English tag on domestic manufactures, and then sell
them as imported
goods? Do you tell them to say that the goods are all wool when
you know they are half cotton? Do you give short weight or measure? See
God says in His Word: "Shall I count them pure with the wicked balances,
and with the bag of deceitful weights?" (Mic 611; "Thou shalt not have
thy bag divers weights, a great and a small: thou shalt not have
in thy house divers measures, a great and a small. But thou shalt have
a perfect and
just weight, a perfect and just measure shalt thou have: that
thy days may be lengthened in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee"
"Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment, in mete yard, in weight,
or in measure. Just balances, just weights, a just ephah and a just hin,
have" (Lev 19:35-36). Are you like those who said: "When will the new
moon be gone, that we may sell corn? and the sabbath, that we may set forth
wheat, making the ephah small, and the shekel great, and falsifying
the balances by deceit? that we may buy the poor for silver, and the needy
pair of shoes; yea, and sell the refuse of the wheatl (Amos 8:5-6).
"Show me a people whose trade is dishonest," said Froude, "and
I will show you a people whose religion is a sham." Unless your religion
you honest in your business, it isn't worth much; it isn't the
right kind. God is a God of righteousness, and no true follower of His
can swerve one
inch to the right or left without disobeying Him.
STOLEN GOODS A BURDEN
I heard of a boy who stole a cannonball from a navy yard. He
watched his opportunity, sneaked into the yard, and secured it. But when
he had it, he
hardly knew what to do with it. It was heavy, and too large to
conceal in his pocket, so he had to put it under his hat. When he got home
with it, he
dared not show it to his parents, because it would have
led at once to his detection. He said in after years it was the last thing
he ever stole.
The story is told that one of Queen Victoria's diamonds valued
at six-hundred thousand dollars was stolen from a jeweler's window, to
whom it had
been given to set. A few months afterward a miserable man died
a miserable death in a poor lodging-house. In his pocket was found the
a letter telling how he had not dared to sell it lest it lead
to his discovery and imprisonment. It never brought him anything but anxiety
Everything you steal is a curse to you in that way. The sin overreaches
itself. A man who takes money that does not belong to him never gets any
lasting comfort. He has no real pleasure, for he has a guilty
conscience. He cannot look an honest man in the face. He loses peace of
mind here, and all
hope of heaven hereafter. "As the partridge sitteth on eggs,
and hatcheth them not; so he that getteth riches, and not by right, shall
leave them in the
midst of his days, and at his end shall be a fool" (Jer 17:11).
"That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that
the Lord is
the avenger of all such" (1 Th 4:6).
I may be speaking to some clerk who perhaps took five cents today
out of his employer's drawer to buy a cigar; perhaps he took ten cents
to get a
shave, and thinks he will put it back tomorrow--no one will ever
know it. If you have taken a cent, you are a thief. Do you ever think how
stealings may bring you to ruin? Let your employer find it out.
If he doesn't take you into court, he will discharge you. Your hopes will
and it will be hard work to get up again. Whatever condition
you are in, do not take a cent that does not belong to you. Rather than
steal, go up to
heaven in poverty--go up to heaven from the poorhouse.
Be honest rather than go through the world in a gilded chariot of stolen
If you have ever taken money dishonestly, you need not pray God
to forgive you and fill you with the Holy Ghost until you make restitution.
have not got the money now to pay back, will to do it, and God accepts
the willing mind.
Many a man is kept in darkness and unrest because he fails to
obey God on this point. If the plough has gone deep, if the repentance
is true, it will
bring forth fruit. What use is there in my coming to God until
I am willing to make it good, like Zacchaeus, if I have done any man wrong
taken anything from him falsely? "If the wicked restore the
pledge, give again that he had robbed, walk in the statutes of life, without
iniquity; he shall surely live, he shall not die. None of his
sins that he hath committed shall be mentioned unto him" (Eze 33:15-16).
restitution are the steps that lead up to forgiveness. Until
you tread those steps, you may expect your conscience to be troubled, your
sin to haunt
I was preaching in British Columbia some years ago, and a young man
came to me and wanted to become a Christian. He had been smuggling opium
into the States.
"Well, my friend," I said, "I don't think there is any chance
for you to become a Christian until you make restitution." He said, "If
I attempt to do
that, I will fall into the clutches of the law, and I will go
to the penitentiary." "Well," I replied, "you had better do that than go
to the judgment-seat
of God with that sin upon your soul, and have
eternal punishment. The Lord will be very merciful if you set your face
to do right."
He went away sorrowful, but came back the next day, and said:
"I have a young wife and child, and all the furniture in my house I have
money I have got in this dishonest way. If I become a Christian,
that furniture will have to go, and my wife will know it." "Better let
your wife know
it, and better let your home and furniture
go." "Would you come up and see my wife?" he asked, "I don't know what
she will say."
I went up to see her, and when I told her, the tears trickled
down her cheeks, and she said: "Mr. Moody, I will gladly give everything
if my husband
can become a true Christian."
She took out her pocketbook, and handed over her last penny. He
had a piece of land in the United States, which he deeded over to the government.
do not know in all my backward track of any living man who has
had a better testimony for Jesus Christ than that man. He had been dishonest,
when the truth came to him that he must make it
right before God would help him, he made it right and then God used him
No amount of weeping over sin and saying that you
feel sorry is going to help it unless you are willing to confess, and make
The Ninth Commandment
Thou shalt nor bear false witness against thy neighbour.
TWO OUT OF THE Ten Commandments deal with sins that find expression
by the tongue-the third commandment, which forbids taking God's
name in vain, and this ninth commandment, which forbids false
witness against our neighbor. This twofold prohibition ought to impress
us as a
solemn warning, especially as we find that the pages of Scripture
are full of condemnation of sins of the tongue. The Psalms, Proverbs, and
of James deal largely with the subject.
Organized society of a degree higher than that of the herding
of animals and Rocking of birds depends so much upon the power of speech,
it we may say society would be impossible. Language is an essential
element in the social fabric. To fulfill its purpose it must be trustworthy.
must command confidence. Anything which undermines the truth
takes (as it were) the mortar out of the building, and if general, must
Paul said, "Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth
with his neighbour: for we are members one of another" (Eph 4:25). Note
given-- "we are members one of another." All community, all union
and fellowship would be shattered if a man did not know whether to believe
neighbor or not.
The transgressions of this commandment are very varied in form,
and very frequent. Men and women of all ages have to guard against them.
include some of the most besetting sins. David said in his haste,
"All men are liars" (Ps 116:11). Someone has remarked that if he had been
nowadays, he might say it without haste and not be very far wide of the
The bearing of false witness is forbidden, but this
must not be limited merely to testimony given in the law court or under
oath. Isn't it a
condemnation that men have to be put under oath in order to make
sure of their speaking the truth? As a legal offense, perjury-- the bearing
witness when under oath-- is one of the most serious crimes that
can be committed. Nearly every civilized nation visits it : with heavy
Unless promptly checked, it would shake the very foundation
of justice. Lying-- uttering or acting falsehood-- and slander-- the spreading
reports tending to
destroy the reputation of another-- are two of the most common violations
of this commandment.
We have got nowadays so that we divide lies into white
lies and black lies, society lies, business lies, etc. The Word of God
knows no such
letting-down of the standard. A lie is a lie, no matter what are the
circumstances under which it is uttered, or by whom. I have heard that
in Slam they
sew up the mouth of a confirmed liar. I am afraid if that was
the custom in America, a good many would suffer. Parents should begin with
children while they are young and teach them to be strictly
truthful at all times. There is a proverb: "A lie has no legs." It requires
other lies to
support it. Tell one lie and you are forced to tell others to back it up.
You don't like to have anyone bear false witness against you,
or help to ruin your character or reputation; then why should you do it
to others? How
public men are slandered in this country! None escape, whether
good or bad. Judgment is passed upon them, their family, their character,
by the press
and by individuals who know little or nothing about them. If one-tenth
that is said and written about our public men were true, half of them should
hung. Slander has been called "tongue murder." Slanders are
compared to flies that always settle on sores, but do not touch a man's
If the archangel Gabriel should come down to earth and mix in
human affairs, I believe his character would be assailed inside of forty-eight
Slander called Christ a gluttonous man and a wine- bibber. He
claimed to be the Truth, but instead of worshiping Him, men took Him and
spoke evil of another in the presence of Peter the Great, he used promptly
to stop him, and say:
"Well, now, has he not got a bright side? Tell me what you know
good of him. It is easy to splash mud, but I would rather help a man to
I need not stop to run through the whole catalog of sins that
are related to these three. False rumor, exaggeration, misrepresentation,
gossip, equivocation, holding back of the truth when it
is due and right to tell it, disparagement, perversion of meaning: these
transgressions of this ninth commandment, differing in form and
degree of guilt according to the motive or manner of their expression.
They bear false
witness against a man before the tribunal of public opinion--
court whose judgment none of us escapes. As so much of our life is passed
view, any untruth that leads to a false judgment is a grievous wrong.
A TEST OF TRUE RELIGION
Government of the tongue is made the test of true religion by
James. "If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his
deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain" (Ja 1:
26). "For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word,
the same is a perfect
man, and be able also to bridle the whole body" (Ja 3:2). Just
as a doctor looks at the tongue and can tell the condition of the bodily
health, so a
man's words are an index of what is within. Truth will spring
from a good heart: falsehood and deceit from a corrupt heart. When Ananias
part of the price of the land, Peter asked him, "Why hath Satan
filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost" (Ac 5:3)? Satan is the father
of lies and the
promoter of lies.
FOR GOOD OR EVIL
The tongue can be an instrument of untold good or incalculable
evil. Someone has said that a sharp tongue is the only edged tool that
with constant use. "Thy tongue deviseth mischiefs; like a sharp
razor, working deceitfully" (Ps 52:2); "They have sharpened their tongues
serpent; adders poison is under their lips" (Ps 140:3); "The
mouth of a righteous man is a well of life: but violence covereth the mouth
of the wicked"
(Pr 10:11); "A wholesome tongue is a tree of life: but perverseness
therein is a breach in the spirit" (Pr 15:4). Bishop Hall said that the
busybodies are like the tails of Samson's
foxes-- they carry firebrands and are enough to set the whole field of
the world in a flame.
"Behold, we put bits in the horses mouths, that they may obey
us; and we turn about their whole body. Behold also the ships, which though
so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned
about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth. Even
so the tongue is a
little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great
a matter a little fire kindleth! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity:
so is the
tongue among our members, that it defileth
the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set
on fire of hell.
"For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and
of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed by mankind: but the
tongue can no
man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. Therewith
bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made
similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing
and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. Doth a fountain
at the same place sweet water and bitter? Can the fig tree, my
brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountain both
yield salt water
and fresh. Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let
him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom.
But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and
lie not against the truth" (Ja 3:3-14).
Blighted hopes and blasted reputations are whims to its awful
power. In many cases the tongue has murdered its victims. Can we not all
where men and women
have died under the wounds of calumny and misrepresentation? History is
full of such cases.
WORDS NEVER CALLED BACK
The most dangerous thing about it is that a word
once uttered can never be obliterated. Someone has said that lying is a
worse crime than
counterfeiting. There is some hope of following up bad coins
until they are all recovered; but an evil word can never be overtaken.
The mind of the
hearer or reader has
been poisoned, and human devices cannot reach in and cleanse it. Lies can
never be called back.
A woman who was well known as a scandalmonger, went and confessed
to the priest. He gave her a ripe thistle-top, and told her to go out and
the seeds one by one. She wondered at the penance, but
obeyed; then she came and told the priest. He next told her to go and gather
scattered seeds. Of course she saw that it was impossible.
The priest used it as an object lesson to cure her of the sin of scandalous
THE FATE OF THE LIAR AND SLANDERER
These sins are devilish, and the Bible is severe in its denunciations
of them. It contains many solemn warnings. "Thou shalt destroy them that
leasing: the LORD Will abhor the bloody and deceitful man" (Ps
5:6). The mouth of them that speak lies shall be stopped. Whoso privily
his neighbour, him will I cut off" (Ps 101:5); "Lying lips are
an abomination to the LORD: but they that deal truly are His delight" (Pr
thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt
be condemned" (Mt 12:37); "All liars, shall have their part in the lake
with fire and brimstone: which is the second death" (Rev 21:8).
"Whosoever loveth and maketh a lie" shall in no wise enter into the new
HOW TO OVERCOME
"But, Mr. Moody," you say, "how can I check myself? How can I
overcome the habit of lying and gossip?" A lady once said to me that she
so into the habit of exaggerating, that her friends said they could never
The cure is simple, but not very pleasant. Treat it as a sin,
and confess it to God and the man whom you have wronged. As soon as you
yourself lying, go straight to the person and confess you have
lied. Let your confession be as wide as your transgression. If you have
slandered or lied
about anyone in public, let your confession be public. Many a
person says some mean, false thing about another in the presence of others,
tries to patch it up by going to that person alone. That is not making
restitution. I need not go to God with confession until I have made it
that person, if it is in my power to do so; He will not hear me.
Hannah Moore's method was a sure cure for scandal. Whenever she
was told anything derogatory of another, her invariable reply was: "Come,
go ask if it be true."
The effect was sometimes ludicrously painful. The talebearer was
taken aback, stammered out a qualification, or begged that no notice might
of the statement. But the good lady was inexorable. Off
she took the scandalmonger to the scandalized to make inquiry and compare
It is not likely that anybody ventured a second time to repeat a gossipy
story to Hannah Moore.
My friend, how is it? If God should weigh you against this commandment,
would you be found wanting? "Thou shalt not bear false witness." Are
you innocent or guilty?
The Tenth Commandment
Thou shalt nor covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not cover
thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor
his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is thy neighbour's.
IN THE TWELFTH CHAPTER Of Luke, our Saviour lifted two danger
signals. "Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy"
1), and "Take heed, and beware of covetousness" (v. 15).
The greatest dupe the devil has in the world is the hypocrite;
but the next greatest is the covetous man, "for a man's life consisteth
not in the
abundance of the things which he possesseth" (Lk 12:15).
I believe this sin is much stronger now than ever before in the
world's history. We are not in the habit of calling it a sin. In his first
epistle to the
Thessalonians Paul speaks of a "cloak of covetousness" (2:5).
Covetous men use it as a cloak and call it prudence and foresight. Who
ever heard it
confessed as a sin? I have heard many confessions, in public
and private, during the past forty years, but never have ] heard a man
confess that he was
guilty of this sin. The Bible does not tell of one man who ever recovered
from it, and in all my experience I do not recall many who have been able
shake it off
after it had fastened on them. A covetous man or woman generally remains
covetous to the very end.
We may say that covetous desire plunged the human race into sin.
We can trace the river back from age to age until we get to its rise in
Eve saw that the forbidden fruit was good for food and that it
was desirable to the eyes, she partook of it, and Adam with her. They were
with alt that God had showered upon them, but coveted the wisdom
of gods which Satan deceitfully told them might be obtained by eating the
She saw, she desired, then she took! Three steps from innocence into sin.
A SEARCHING COMMANDMENT
It would be absurd for such a law as this to be placed upon
any human statute book. It could never be enforced. The officers of the
law would be
powerless to detect infractions. The outward conduct may be
regulated, but the thoughts and intents of a man are beyond the reach of
But God can see behind outward actions. He can read the thoughts
of the heart. Our innermost life, invisible to mortal eye, is laid bare
We cannot deceive Him by external conformity. He is able to detect
the least transgression and shortcoming, so that no man can shirk detection.
cannot be imposed upon by the cleanness of the outside of the cup and the
we have here another proof that the Ten Commandments are not of human origin,
but must be divine.
This commandment, then, did not, even on the surface, confine itself
to visible actions, as did the preceding commandments. Even before Christ
and showed their spiritual sweep, men had a commandment that
went beneath public conduct and touched the very springs of action. It
prohibited-- not the wrong act, but the wicked desire that prompted
the act. It forbade the evil thought, the unlawful wish. It sought to prevent--
only sin, but the desire to sin. In God's sight it is as wicked
to set covetous eyes as it is to lay thieving hands upon anything that
is not ours.
And why? Because if the evil desire can be controlled, there will
be no outbreak in conduct. Desires have been called "actions in the egg."
in the heart is the first step in the series that ends in action.
Kill the evil desire, and you successfully avoid the ill results that would
follow upon its
hatching and development. Prevention is better than cure.
We must not limit covetousness to the matter of money. The commandment
is not thus limited; it reads, "Thou shalt not covet ... anything." That
word "anything" is what will condemn us. Though we do not join
the race for wealth, have we not sometimes a hungry longing for our neighbor's
goodly lands, fine houses, beautiful clothes, brilliant reputation,
personal accomplishments, easy circumstances, comfortable surroundings?
not had the desire to increase our possessions or to change our
lot in accordance with what we see in others? If so, we are guilty of having
GOD'S THOUGHTS ABOUT COVETOUSNESS
Let us examine
a few of the Bible passages that bear down on this sin, and see what are
God's thoughts about it.
"Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom
of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers,
effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves,
nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit
of God" (1 Co 6:9-10, italics added).
Notice that the covetous are named between thieves and
drunkards. We lock up thieves and have no mercy on them. We loathe drunkards
consider them great sinners against the law of God as well as
the law of the land. Yet there is far more said in the Bible against covetousness
against either stealing or drunkenness.
Covetousness and stealing are almost like Siamese twins--
they go together so often. In fact we might add lying, and make them triplets.
covetous person is a thief in the shell. The thief is a covetous
person out of the shell. Let a covetous person see something that he desires
let an opportunity of taking it be offered; how very soon he
will break through the shell and come out in his true character as a thief.
The Greek word
translated covetousness means "an inordinate desire of getting."
When the Gauls tasted the sweet wines of Italy, they asked where they came
never rested until they had overrun Italy.
"For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor
covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of
and of God" (Eph 5:5).
There we have the same truth repeated; but notice
that covetousness is called idolatry. The covetous man worships mammon,
"Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men,
such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over
them, to be
rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers
of tens" (Ex 18:21, italics added).
Isn't it extraordinary that Jethro, the man of the desert, should
have given this advice to Moses? How did he learn to beware of covetousness?
honor men today if they are wealthy and covetous. We elect them
to office in church and state. We often say that they will make better
because we know them to be covetous. But in God's sight a covetous
man is as vile and black as any thief or drunkard. David said: "The wicked
boasteth of his heart's desire, and blesseth the covetous, whom
the Lord abhorreth" (Ps 10:3). I am afraid that many who profess to have
wickedness also speak well of the covetous.
A SORE EVIL
"He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor
he that loveth abundance with increase: this is also vanity. When goods
increase, they are
increased that eat them: and what good is there to the owners
thereof, saving the beholding of them with their eyes? The sleep of the
labouring man is
sweet, whether he eat little or much: but the abundance of the
rich, will not suffer him to sleep. There is a sore evil which I have seen
under the sun,
namely, riches kept for the owners thereof to their hurt" (Ec 5:10-13).
Isn't that true? Is the covetous man ever satisfied with his possessions?
Aren't they vanity? Does he have peace of mind? Don't selfish riches always
The folly of covetousness is well shown in the following extract:
If you should see a man that had a large pond of water, yet living in continual
nor suffering himself to drink half a draught for fear of lessening
his pond; if you should see him wasting his time and strength in fetching
to his pond, aIways thirsty, yet always carrying a bucket of
water in his hand, watching early and late to catch the glimpse of rain,
gaping after every
cloud, and running greedily into every mire and mud in hopes
of water, and always studying how to make every ditch empty itself into
the pond; if
you should see him grow grey in these anxious labors, and at
last end a thirsty life by falling into his own pond, would you not say
that such a one
was not only the author of his own disquiet, but was foolish
enough to be reckoned among madmen? But foolish and absurd as this character
does not represent half the follies and absurd disquiets of the covetous
I have read of a millionaire in France who was a miser. In order
to make sure of his wealth, he dug a cave in his wine cellar so large and
deep that he
could go down into it with a ladder. The entrance had a door
with a spring lock. After a time, he was missing Search was made, but they
no trace of him. At last his house was sold, and the purchaser
discovered this door in the cellar. He opened it, went down, and found
the miser lying
dead on the ground in the
midst of his riches. The door must have shut accidentally after him, and
he perished miserably.
A TEMPTATION AND A SNARE
"They that will be [that is, desire to be] rich fall into temptation
and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in
and perdition" (1 Ti 6:9). The Bible speaks of the deceitfulness
of two things-- "the deceitfulness of sin" and "the deceitfulness of riches."
like a mirage in the desert which has all the appearance of satisfying
and lures the traveler on with the promise of water and shade; but he only
his strength in the effort to reach it. So riches never satisfy: the pursuit
of them always turns out a snare.
Lot coveted the rich plains of Sodom, and what did he gain? After
twenty years spent in that wicked city, he had to escape for his life,
leaving all his
wealth behind him.
What did the thirty pieces of silver do for Judas? Weren't they a snare?
Think of Balaam. He is generally regarded as a false prophet,
but I do not find that any of his prophecies that are recorded are not
true; they have been
literally fulfilled. Up to a certain point his character shone
magnificently, but the devil finally overcame him by the bait of covetousness.
over a heavenly crown for the riches and honors that Balak promised
him. He went to perdition backwards. His face was set toward God, but be
backed into hell. He wanted to die the death of the righteous,
but he did not live the life of the righteous. It is sad to see so many
who know God
miss everything for riches.
Then consider the case of Gehazi. There is another man who was
drowned in destruction and perdition by covetousness. He got more out of
than he asked for, but he also got Naaman's leprosy. Think how
he forfeited the friendship of his master Elisha, the man of God! So today
friends are separated by this accursed desire. Homes are broken
up. Men are willing to sell out peace and happiness for the sake of a few
Didn't David fall into foolish and hurtful lusts? He saw Bathsheba,
Uriah's wife, and she was "very beautiful to look upon," and David became
murderer and an adulterer. The
guilty longing hurled him into the deepest pit of sin. He had to reap bitterly
as he had sowed.
I heard of a wealthy German out West who owned a lumber mill.
He was worth nearly two millions of dollars, but his covetousness was so
he once worked as a common laborer carrying railroad ties all day. It was
the cause of his death.
"And Achan answered Joshua, and said, Indeed I have sinned against
the Lord God of Israel, and thus and thus have I done: When I saw among
spoils a goodly Babylonish garment, and two hundred shekels of
silver, and a wedge of gold of fifty shekels weight, then I coveted them,
them; and, behold, they
are hid in the earth in the midst of my tent, and the silver under it"
(Jos 7:20-21, italics added) .
He saw-- he coveted-- he took-- he hid! The covetous eye was what
led Achan up to the wicked deed that brought sorrow and defeat upon the
We know the terrible punishment that was meted out to Achan.
God seems to have set danger signals at the threshold of each new age.
remarkable how soon the first outbreaks of covetousness occurred.
Think of Eve in Eden, Achan just after Israel had entered the Promised
Ananias and Sapphira in the early Christian church.
A ROOT EXTRACTOR
"For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while
some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves
many sorrows" (1 Ti 6:10).
The Revised Version translates it-- "a root of all kinds of evil."
This tenth commandment has therefore been aptly called a "root-extractor,"
would tear up and destroy this root. No one but God can rid us
of it. Matthew tells us that the deceitfulness of riches chokes the Word
of God. Like
the Mississippi river, which chokes up its mouth by the amount
of soil it carried down. Isn't that true of many businessmen today? They
engrossed with their affairs that they have not time for religion.
They lose sight of their soul and its eternal welfare in their desire to
They do not even hesitate to sell their souls to the devil. How
many a man says, "We must make money, and if God's law stands in the way,
The word "lucre" occurs five times in the New Testament, and each time
it is called "filthy lucre."
"A root of all kinds of evil." Yes, because what will not men
be guilty of when prompted by the desire to be rich? Greed for gold leads
commit violence and murder, to cheat and deceive and steal.
It turns the heart to stone, devoid of all natural affection, cruel, unkind.
families are wrecked am the father's will! The scramble for
a share of the wealth smashes them to pieces. Covetous of rank and position
parents barter sons and daughters in ungodly marriage. Bodily
health is no consideration The uncontrollable fever for gold makes men
their settled prospects and undertake hazardous journeys--no peril can
drive them back.
It destroys faith and spirituality, turning men's minds and hearts
away from God. It disturbs the peace of the community by prompting to acts
wrong. Covetousness has more than once led nation to war against
nation for the sake of gaining territory or other material resources. It
is said that
when the Spaniards came over to conquer Peru, they sent a ":
message to the king, saying, "Give us gold, for we Spaniards have a disease
only be cured by gold."
Dr. Boardman has shown how covetousness leads to the transgression
of every one of the commandments, and I cannot do better than quote his
words: *Coveting tempts us into the violation of the first commandment,
worshiping mammon in addition to Jehovah. Coveting tempts us into a
violation of the second commandment, or idolatry. The apostle
Paul expressly identifies the covetous man with an idolater: "Covetousness,
idolatry.' Again: Coveting tempts us into violation of the third
commandment, or sacrilegious falsehood: for instance, Gehazi, lying on
the matter of
his interview with Naaman the Syrian,
and Ananias and Sapphira perjuring themselves in the matter of the community
"Again: Coveting tempts us into the violation of the fourth commandment,
or Sabbath-breaking. It is covetousness which encroaches on God's
appointed day of sacred rest, tempting us to run trains for merely
secular purposes, to vend tobacco and liquors, to hawk newspapers. Again:
tempts us into the violation of the fifth commandment, or disrespect
for authority; tempting the young man to deride his early parental counsels,
citizen to trample on civic enactments. Again: Covetousness tempts
us into violation of the sixth commandment, or murder. Recall how Judas'
of money lured him into the betrayal of his divine Friend
into the hand of His murderers, his lure being the paltry sum of, say,
"Again: Covetousness tempts us into the Violation of the seventh
commandment, or adultery. Observe bow Scripture combines greed and lust.
Again: Covetousness tempts us into the violation of the eighth
commandment, or theft. Recall how it tempted Achan to steal a goodly Babylonish
mantle, (two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold
of fifty shekels weight. Again: Covetousness tempts Us into the violation
of the ninth
commandment, or having false witness against our neighbor. Recall
how the covetousness of Ahab instigated his wife Jezebel to employ sons
to bear blasphemous and fatal testimony against Naboth, saying, "Thou didst
curse God and the king."
HOW TO OVERCOME
You ask me how you are to cast this unclean spirit out of your heart? I
think I can tell you.
In the first place, make up your mind that by the grace of God
you will overcome the spirit of selfishness. You must overcome it, or it
you. Paul said: "Mortify therefore your members which are upon
the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence,
covetousness, which is idolatry:
for which things sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience"
I heard of a rich man who was asked to make a contribution on
behalf of some charitable object. The text was quoted to him, "He that
hath pity upon
the poor lendeth unto the LORD; and that which he hath given
will he pay him again" (Pr 19:17). He said that the security might be good
but the credit was
too long. He was dead within two weeks. The wrath of God rested upon him
as he never expected.
If you find yourself getting very miserly, begin to scatter,
like a wealthy farmer in New York state I heard of. He was a noted miser,
but he was
converted. Soon after, a poor man who had been burned out and
had no provisions, came to him for help. The farmer thought he would be
give the man a ham from his smokehouse. On his way to get it, the tempter
whispered to him:
"Give him the smallest one you have."
He had a struggle whether
he would give a large or a small ham, but finally he took down the largest
he could find.
"You are a fool," the devil said.
"If you don't keep still," the farmer replied, "I will give him every ham
I have in the smokehouse."
Mr. Durant told me he woke up one morning to find that he was
a rich man, and he said that the greatest struggle of his life then took
place as to
whether he would let money be his master, or he be master of
money; whether he would be its slave, or make it a slave to him. At last
he got the
victory, and that was how Wellesley College came to be built.
In the next place, cultivate the spirit of contentment. "Let your
conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as
ye have: for
he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that
we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man
shall do unto
me" (Heb 13:5-6).
Contentment is the very opposite of covetousness, which is continually
craving for something it does not possess. "Be content with such things
have" (Heb 13:5), not worrying about the future, because God
has promised never to leave or forsake you. What does the child of God
want more than
this? I would rather have that promise than all the gold of the earth.
Would to God that we might be able to say with Paul, "I have
coveted no man's silver, or gold, or apparel" (Ac 20:33). The Lord had
partaker of His grace, and he was soon to be a partaker of His glory,
and earthly things looked very small. "Godliness with contentment is great
he wrote to Timothy; "having food and raiment therewith let us
be content" (1 Ti 6:6, 8). Observe that he puts godliness first. No worldly
satisfy the human heart. Roll the whole world in, and still there would
May God tear the scales off our eyes if we are blinded by this
sin. Oh, the folly of it, that we should set our heart's affections upon
For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we
can carry nothing out. "Be not thou afraid when one is made rich, when
the glory of his
house is increased; for
when he dieth he shall carry nothing away: his glory shall not descend
after him" (Ps 49:16-17).
The Handwriting Blotted Out
WE HAVE NOW CONSIDERED the Ten Commandments, and the question
for each one of us is-- are we keeping them? If God should weigh us by
them, would we be found wanting or not wanting? Do we keep the
law, the whole law? Are we obeying God with all our heart? Do we render
full and willing obedience?
ONE LAW, NOT TEN
These Ten Commandments are not ten different laws; they are one
law. If I am being held up in the air by a chain with ten links and I break
them, down I come, just as surely as if I break the whole ten.
If I am forbidden to go out of an enclosure, it makes no difference at
what point I break
through the fence. "Whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet
offend in one point, he is guilty of all" (la 2: 10). The golden chain
of obedience is
broken if one link is missing.
We sometimes hear people pray to be preserved from certain sin,
as if they were in no danger of committing others. I firmly believe that
if a man
begins by willfully breaking one of these commandments it is
much easier for him to break the others. I know of a gentleman who had
clerk and insisted on his going down Sunday morning to work on
his books. The young man had a good deal of principle, and at first refused;
was anxious to keep in the good graces of his employer and finally
yielded. He had not done that a great while before he speculated in stocks,
became a defaulter for one hundred and twenty thousand dollars.
The employer had him arrested and put in the penitentiary for ten years,
but I believe
he was just as guilty in the sight of God as that young man,
for he led him to Cake the fist step on the downward road. You remember
the story of a
soldier who was smuggled into a fortress in a load of hay, and
opened the gates to his comrades. Every sin we commit opens the door for
ALL HAVE COME SHORT
For fifteen hundred years man was under the law, and no one was
equal to it. Christ came and showed that the commandments went beyond the
letter; and can anyone since say that he has been able to keep
them in his own strength? As the plummet is held up, we see how much we
are out of
the perpendicular. As we measure ourselves by that holy standard,
we find how much we are lacking. As a child said, when reproved by her
and told that she ought to do right: "How can I do right when
there is no right in me?" "All have sinned and come short of the glory
of God" (Ro
3:23), "There is none righteous, no, not one" (Ro 3:10).
I do not say that all are equally guilty of gross violations of
the commandments. It needs a certain amount of reckless courage openly
to break a law,
human or divine; but it is easy to crack them, as the child said.
It has been remarked that the life of many professors of religion is full
of fractures that
result from little sins, little acts of temper and selfishness.
It is possible to crack a costly vase so finely that it cannot be noticed
by the observer; but
let this be done again and again in different directions, and
some day the vase will go to pieces at a touch. When we hear of someone
who has had a
lifelong reputation for good character and consistent living,
suddenly falling into some shameful sin, we are shocked and puzzled. If
we knew all, we
would find that only the fall has been sudden, that he has been
sliding toward it for years. Away back in his life we should find numerous
commandments. His exposure is only the falling of the vase to pieces.
Men have all sorts of weights that they think are going
to satisfy, but they will find that they are altogether vanity, and lighter
The moral man is as guilty as the rest. His morality cannot save
him. "Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish" (Lk 13:3, 5). "Except
converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter
into the kingdom of heaven" (Mt 18:3). I have often heard good people say
meetings were doing good, they were reaching the drunkards, and
gamblers, and harlots; but they never realized that they needed the grace
of God for
Nicodemus was probably one of the most moral men of his day. He
was a teacher of the law. Yet Christ said to him: "Except a man be born
cannot see the kingdom of God." It is much easier to reach thieves
and drunkards and vagabonds than self-righteous Pharisees. You do not have
preach to those men for weeks and months to convince them that
they are sinners. When a man learns that he has need of God and that he
is a sinner,
it is very easy to reach him.
But the self-righteous Pharisee needs salvation as much as any drunkard
that walks the streets.
I read of a minister traveling in the South who obtained permission
to preach in the local jail. A son of his host went with him. On the way
young man who was not a Christian, said to the minister:
"I hope some of the convicts were impressed. Such a sermon as that ought
to do them good."
"Did it do you good? the minister asked.
"Oh, you were preaching to the convicts" the young man answered.
The minister shook his head, and said: "I preached Christ, and you need
Him as much as they."
If you do not repent of your sins and ask Him for mercy,
there is no hope for you. Let me ask you to take this question home to
yourself. If a
come at midnight for you to be "weighed in the balances," what would become
of your soul?
Many are only making a profession. Are you ready to be weighed--
ready to step into the scales? A great many would be found like those five
virgins. When the hour came, they would be found with no oil
in their lamps. If you have only an empty lamp, or are living on mere formalism,
beg of you to give it up. Give up that dead, cold, miserable
lukewarmness. God will have none of it. Are you lusting to your good works?
drink your Bible, your crucifix, your prayers, your churchgoing will help
Or do you set your hope upon your education, your wealth, your
earthly distinctions? What will your university education amount to, and
wealth and honors, if you go down through lust and passion and
covetousness, and lose your soul at last? We are not redeemed with corruptible
things as silver and gold but with the precious blood
of Christ. If you have not Christ when God weighs you, "Tekel" will be
DO NOT DESPAIR
I can imagine that you are saying to yourself, "If we are to
be judged by these laws, how are we going to be saved? Nearly every one
of them has been
broken by us-- in spirit, if not in letter." I almost hear you
say: "I wonder if Mr. Moody is ready to be weighed. Would he like to put
those tests to
With all humility I reply that if God commanded me to step into
the scales now, I am ready. "What!" you say, "haven't you broken the law?
have. I was a sinner before God, the same as you; but forty years
ago I pled guilty at His bar. I cried for mercy, and He forgave me. If
I step into the
scales, the Son of God has promised to be with me. I would
not dare to step in without Him. If I did, how quickly the scales would
CHRIST IS ALL
Christ kept the law. If He had ever broken it, He would have
to die for Himself; but because He was a Lamb without spot or blemish,
death is efficacious for you and me. He had no sin of
His own to atone for, and so God accepted His sacrifice. Christ is the
end of the law for
righteousness to everyone that believeth. We are righteous in
God's sight, because the righteousness of God which is by faith in Jesus
Christ is unto
all and upon all them that believe.
If we had to live forever with our sins in the handwriting of
God on the wall, it would be hell on earth. But thank God for the Gospel
we preach! If we
repent, our sins will all be blotted out. "You, being dead in
your sins . . . hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you
blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against
us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to
his cross" (Col
LOVE, THE FULFILLING OF THE LAW
If the love of God is shed abroad in your heart, you will be
able to fulfill the law. Paul reduced the commandments to one: Love is
the fulfilling of the
law" (Ro 13:10). Someone has written the following:
Love to God will admit no other God.
Love resents everything that debases its object by representing it by an
Love to God will never dishonor His name.
Love to God will reverence His day.
Love to parents makes one honor them.
Hate, not love, is a murderer.
Lust, not love, commits adultery.
Love will give, but never steal.
Love will not slander or lie.
Love's eye is not covetous.
ARE YOU READY?
It is the height of madness to turn away and run the risk of
being called by God to judgment and have no hope in Christ. Now is the
day and hour to
accept salvation, and then He will be with you. Do you step aside
and say: "I'm not ready yet. I want a little more time to prepare, to turn
over in my mind"? Well, you have time, but bear in mind it is
only the present; you do not know that you will have tomorrow. Wasn't Belshazzar
cut off suddenly? Would he have believed that that was going
to be his last night, that he would never see the light of another sun?
That banquet of
sin didn't close as he expected. As long as you delay you are
in danger. If you don't enter into the kingdom of heaven by God's way,
you cannot enter
at all. You must accept Christ as your Saviour, or you will never be fit
to be weighed.
My friend, do you have Him? Will you remain as you are and be
found wanting, or will you accept Christ and be ready for the summons?
the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this
life is in His Son. He that hath the Son hath life: and he that hath not
the Son of God hath
not life" (1 Jn 511, 12).