QUESTION 73. Which is the Eighth Commandment?
ANSWER: The Eighth Commandment is Thou shalt not steal.
QUESTION 74. What is required in the Eighth Commandment?
ANSWER: The Eighth Commandment requireth the lawful procuring and furthering the wealth and outward estate of ourselves and others.
Q. 1. What is the subject matter of this commandment?
A. The wealth and outward estate of ourselves and others.
Q. 2. What does it require with reference to these?
A. The procuring and furthering of them.
Q. 3. In what manner does it enjoin us to procure and further them?
A. Only in a lawful manner; for it requires the LAWFUL procuring and furthering of them.
Q. 4. Whose wealth is it we should procure and further?
A. Our own wealth, and that of others.
Q. 5. By what lawful means should we procure and further OUR OWN wealth?
A By labour and industry in some honest calling, Eph. 4:28.
Q. 6. What is included in the labour and industry we should exercise in our respective stations and callings?
A. Frugality in managing the affairs of our calling, and a moderate endeavour to recover our own when wrongfully detained from us.
Q. 7. What is to be understood by frugality in managing the affairs of our calling?
A. Prudence and moderation in our expenses, so as to be sure always to spend within our incomes, Prov. 31:16.
Q. 8. Is it warrantable to go to law, for recovering our own, when wrongfully detained?
A. Yes, surely; provided other means have been previously tried without success.
Q. 9. How do you prove that it is warrantable for Christians to go to law with one another, when urged by necessity?
A. From the lawfulness of magistracy, which is the ordinance of God, Rom. 13:2, "for the punishment of evil doers, and for the praise of them that do well," 1 Pet. 2:14.
Q. 10. Does not our Lord find fault with this method, when he says, "If any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also?" Matt. 5:40.
A. The meaning is, that we should rather part with a little of our right, than run ourselves into unnecessary charges at law, perhaps vastly beyond the value of what we are seeking to regain; and thus discover a contentious and quarrelsome spirit, unbecoming Christianity.
Q. 11. Does not the apostle also blame Christians for this practice, when he says, "Ye go to law one with another; why do ye not rather take wrong?" 1 Cor. 6:7.
A. The apostle is there speaking of bringing pleas unnecessarily before Heathen magistrates; and his meaning is, that Christians should make up differences among themselves, by submitting to arbitration; or even by suffering some wrong, rather than by vexatious law-suits, (especially about lesser matters) thus bringing a scandal upon the religion which they profess.
Q. 12. How is the necessity of labouring in an honest calling enforced in scripture?
A. From the necessity of eating: the apostle argues from the natural necessity of the one, to the moral necessity of the other, 2 Thess. 3:10 -- "This we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat."
Q. 13. Can we procure and further our wealth and outward estate, merely by our own labour and industry?
A. Our own industry is necessary; but without the Lord's blessing upon it, it will not be successful; "for it is the blessing of the Lord that maketh rich," Prov. 10:22.
Q. 14. What ends should we propose to ourselves, in endeavouring to further, or increase, our own outward estate?
A. That we may honour the Lord, with our substance, Prov. 3:9; live comfortably ourselves, Eccl. 5:19; and be useful to others, Eph. 4:28.
Q. 15. By what means should we procure and further the wealth and outward estate of OTHERS?
A. By exercising justice and righteousness towards all, Psalm 15:2; and by relieving the wants and necessities of those who stand in need of our charity, 1 John 3:17.
Q. 16. What is the rule and standard of that justice and righteousness we should exercise towards all men?
A. That we so deal with others, as we would have them deal with us, if we were in their place or condition; or, that we should never do that to another, which, if we were in the other's place or circumstances, we would reckon to be unjust, Matt. 7:12.
Q. 17. In what cases is this rule to be particularly applied, according to the scope of this commandment?
A. In all contracts, or matters of traffic and commerce between man and man; and likewise in making satisfaction for injuries.
Q. 18. How is it to be applied in contracts, or matters of traffic between man and man?
A. It is to be applied thus: that in buying and selling, there be always a just proportion between the price and the thing sold; or, that the sale be according to the worth or value of the goods; without taking the advantage of ignorance or poverty on either side, Gen. 23:15, 16.
Q. 19. How may the worth and value of goods be known?
A. By this general maxim, That every thing is worth as much as it may be currently sold for.
Q. 20. May not the price of the same commodity vary and change at different times?
A. Yes; according to the plenty or scarcity of the commodity at the time of sale.
Q. 21. What satisfaction should be made to others, for taking or detaining what belongs to them, or in any manner defrauding them?
A. No other satisfaction is agreeable to God's will of precept, or will gain the approbation of men, but RESTITUTION, if the injuring party is ever capable to make it, Lev. 6:2-6; 1 Sam. 12:3.
Q. 22. What if the person to whom the restitution should be made, or his nearest of kin, cannot be found?
A. In that case, what has been unjustly detained ought to be given to the poor, or some pious use, Num. 5:8.
Q. 23. Is relieving the necessities of the poor a duty required in this commandment?
A. Yes; because it is a furthering the outward estate of our neighbour who is in want.
Q. 24. Why should we relieve the necessities of the poor?
A. Because, "He that hath pity upon the poor, lendeth to the Lord; and that which he hath given, will he pay him again," Prov. 19:17.
Q. 25. Who are the proper objects of Charity?
A. All who are in real poverty and want, and are not able to work; especially those "who are of the household of faith," Gal. 6:10.
Q. 26. How should our acts of charity be managed?
A. They should be conducted with prudence, namely, as our own circumstances will permit, and the necessity of the object requires, 1 John 3:17.
Q. 27. When should we perform acts of charity?
A. Presently, if the necessities of those whom we are bound to relieve, call for present assistance, Prov. 3:28.
Q. 28. What should we shun or avoid, in our acts of charity?
A. All ostentation, or a desire to be seen of men, and commended by them, Matt. 6:2-5.