A COURSE OF
BY REV. C. G. FINNEY
MORAL GOVERNMENT.--NO. 9.
Ex. 20:14. "Thou shalt not commit adultery.["]
I. Show what is implied in this command.
1. It implies the pre-existence of the institution of marriage.
2. It implies that marriage is recognized as not only already existing but as a divine institution.
II. Show what its true spirit prohibits.
1. All carnal commerce of married persons, with others than their lawful husband or wife.
2. All carnal commerce between unmarried persons.
3. All lewd and unchaste desires, thoughts, and affections:
Mat. 5:28. "I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart."
4. All marriages and consequent carnal commerce between persons within those degrees of consanguinity, whose marriage is prohibited by the law of God. This is not only adultery but incest.
5. All marriages, and consequent carnal commerce, between unmarriageable persons, such as persons already having a husband or wife living, from whom they have not been properly divorced. Such as have been put away, or divorced, are considered by the law of God as unmarriageable persons:
Mat. 5:32. "Whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery."
6. It prohibits sodomy, or the crime against nature:
Lev. 20:13. "If a man lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them."
7. It prohibits buggery, or carnal commerce between men and beasts:
Lev. 18:23. "Neither shalt thou lie with any beast to defile thyself therewith: neither shall any woman stand before a beast to lie down thereto: it is confusion." And--
Lev. 20:15. "If a man lie with a beast he shall surely be put to death; and ye shall slay the beast." And--
Deut. 27:21. "Cursed be he that lieth with any manner of beast."
8. It prohibits Onanism, or self-pollution.
9. It prohibits every kind and degree of licentiousness, in word, thought, desire, and action.
10. It prohibits all writing, conversation, pictures, modes of dress, and whatever has a natural tendency to beget in any degree a licentious state of mind; for he who provokes to lust is guilty of the crime of which he is the guilty cause.
III. Reasons of this command.
1. Marriage is a necessity of our nature, both moral and physical.
2. The species must be propagated.
3. So propagated as to secure the highest physical and moral perfection of the race.
4. Children must be born within the lawful bonds of marriage, to secure to them parental affection, with that nurture, training, and maintenance that is essential to their highest well-being.
5. Marriage is, therefore, wholly indispensable to the highest well-being of the race.
6. But the benefits of marriage will be entirely excluded, unless licentiousness be prevented. Every kind and degree of licentiousness is inconsistent with the highest well-being of man.
7. This command, therefore, is only declaratory, and an application of the principle of benevolence, to this particular relation.
8. It is therefore universally binding upon all men in all nations and ages.
9. While human beings exist in this world, the law of marriage cannot possibly be abrogated or altered in its spirit by the will of any being.
Ex. 20:15. "Thou shalt not steal."
I. What is implied in this command.
1. That the persons of human beings are their own, or that every human being has a property in himself, and that he is, so far as his fellow-men are concerned, his own proprietor. This law plainly implies this; for if men do not own themselves, they certainly own nothing else, and of course nothing could be stolen from them.
2. It implies the right of property--that human beings can, with respect to their fellow-men, have a lawful right to their possessions.
3. It implies that self-ownership, and the right of property, are agreeable to the law of nature and of God.
4. It implies that these rights are based in the very nature and relations of human beings, and that while this nature and these relations exist, these rights can never be cancelled, or set aside, except by such infamous crimes as forfeit life and liberty.
II. What the true spirit of this command prohibits.
1. All appropriations of the property of another to ourselves, without his knowledge and consent.
2. It prohibits every kind and degree of fraud.
3. It prohibits taking any advantage in business, that is inconsistent with the rule, "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself."
4. It prohibits the infliction of any injury upon the person, morals, education, reputation, family, or property of a human being, whereby he has less of good than he would have possessed but for your interference.
5. It prohibits every sinful omission, that naturally tends to the same result.
6. It prohibits every disposition to defraud, overreach, circumvent, or in any way inflict an injury on a human being.
III. Reasons for this commandment.
1. Self-ownership is implied in moral agency.
2. It is indispensable to accountability.
3. Hence self-ownership is indispensable to virtue.
4. It is also indispensable to that happiness which is the result of virtue.
5. The right of property is founded upon, and is necessarily connected with self-ownership.
6. Both these are indispensable to the highest well-being of individuals, and of the race.
7. Hence, the command "Thou shalt not steal," is only declaratory of the one great, universal law of benevolence.
IV. When the spirit of this law is violated.
1. Slavery is a flagrant and infamous violation of it.
2. Taking whatever belongs to another, for temporary use only, but without leave. Many think that nothing is stealing but the taking of property without leave, without any design of returning it; but taking the temporary use of a thing, without leave, is as absolute stealing, as to take the thing without the design of returning it, In the one case the thing itself is stolen, and in the other the use of it is stolen.
3. Every selfish use of your neighbour's property, although with his permission, such as living by borrowing and using your neighbour's things, when you are as able to provide them for yourself as he is to provide them for himself and for you too.
4. Using a borrowed article for a different purpose than that for which the consent was given.
5. Lending that which is not your own, and which you have no right to lend, is also a violation of the spirit of this commandment.
6. All careless, injurious, or improper use of a borrowed article.
7. All neglect to return a borrowed article in due time, whereby the owner's interest is made to suffer.
8. All keeping back the wages due to laborers.
9. All refusal or neglect to pay honest debts.
10. All refusal to bear your full proportion in building churches, supporting ministers, and sustaining all the institutions of religion. To receive these things gratuitously, is to make slaves of your neighbors, to receive their services for nought, and involves the very principle of theft.
11. Every wrong done or intended to a neighbor, is a violation of his rights, and a violation of the spirit of this commandment.
12. Every thing that is properly a speculation in business transactions; that is--where full equivalents are not given and received.
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