December 21: A Timely Warning

Recently the PCA Historical Center acquired a sizable collection of an old Presbyterian newspaper, THE NEW YORK OBSERVER. Looking through the first issue in this group, the following brief article speaks from the vantage point of valuing honest labor, recognizing the sin of theft, and trusting the Lord for our daily bread. And given some recent hot topics in the news, on how to make lots of money, it seems all the more a needful word to those who will listen:


I read a story, long since, of a good farmer who consulted his wife as to some plan for making money faster than it could grow out of the ground. It all looked fair, sure; it seemed as if there were hardly a possibility of failure; but it involved suspense, anxiety, disappointment in failure, or exultation in success, and she advised against it, adding, “I have always observed that speculation is dangerous to the soul.”

One needs but little observation to confirm this remark. Do you know a single, earnest, live, working Christian man with whom speculation is a habit or even a common thing?

The argument is ever ready, “If I don’t, somebody else will;” but that is stale and mean. It is a painful fact that all these things come so heavily upon the poor. Those who have money can buy a quantity of an article that is rising to speculative prices, but the poor must buy as they need, at whatever rate, and it is mostly their hard-earned wages which the successful man puts in his pocket.

The whole system is nearly allied to gambling, and all the customs of the world and all the examples of men who stand high in the world’s estimation cannot make it otherwise. Remember, too, the Bible declaration that there are things “highly esteemed” among men which are “abomination” in the sight of God.

No wonder. Look at recent examples we have seen. Young men swept off their feet and carried away by the tide beyond their depth, beyond mercy. It is cruel to expose them; yet example is stronger than warning, and where older men go the younger will follow.

Make haste slowly; let conscience speak now, for the time may come when its voice will have a sting. Let the Word of God speak against wealth hastily gotten. Let experience teach that “speculation is dangerous to the soul.”


The New York Observer, 44.2 (11 January 1866): 15, column 6.

“He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need.”—Ephesians 4:28, NASB.

…and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you,”—1 Thessalonians 4:11 (NIV)

“For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.”—2 Thessalonians 3:10 (NIV)



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