The Financial Times Part 1: The Servitude of Debt

Proverbs 22:7
      The borrower is servant to the lender.

 MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): The borrower is servant to the lender. Therefore it is part of Israel’s promised happiness that they should lend and not borrow, Deuteronomy 28:12. And it should be our endeavour to keep as much as may be out of debt.

 C. H. MACKINTOSH (1820-1896): We do not enter into the question as to how far persons engaged in trade can carry out this holy and happy rule. There are certain [billing] terms…such as “cash in a month,” or the like, and so long as these terms are observed, it may be questioned how far one is actually in debt.

 WILLIAM ARNOT (1808-1875): In some cases it may be right to borrow, and in others it is certainly wrong…When an honest and industrious man has been thrown into [financial] distress by a series of adverse circumstances which he could neither foresee nor avert, he may cast about for some one who can, by a loan, help him over the chasm which has suddenly opened across his path…[But] the honest man who borrowed in a time of need, never breathes freely till he is standing on his own feet, and working his own way again. “Owe no man anything,” sounded in his ears as long as he was in debt; and he felt that he could not answer to the Lord, whose word it is, if he should indolently neglect any opportunity of reducing it. His fear of God and his regard for man conspire to strain every nerve in the effort to be free.
       But there is in the community a numerous class whose normal condition is debt. If at the first they took borrowed money, as they might take opium, a medicine to relieve an acute disease which would not yield to other means, they chew it now every day and all day, as the staff of their life.

 MATTHEW HENRY: Some sell their liberty to gratify their luxury.

 WILLIAM ARNOT: This disease is prevalent in the community―[Some] seem to count debt their element; they live in it; they do not expect to get out of it; they scarcely wish―at least, they never energetically strive to get out.

  C. H. MACKINTOSH: The first grand business of a person in debt is to get out of it…A man may find himself unavoidably plunged in debt in fifty ways; but if he has an upright mind and healthfully exercised conscience, he will use every effort, he will curtail his expenses within the narrowest circle possible, he will deny himself in every way, in order to pay off the debt.

 C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): I remember the story of Thomas Olivers, the famous cobbler convert, who was a loose-living man till he was renewed by grace through the preaching of John Wesley, and became a mighty preacher, and the author of that glorious hymn, “The God of Abraham Praise.” This man, before conversion, was much in the habit of contracting debts, but could not be brought to pay them. When he received grace, he was convinced that he had no right to remain in debt. He says, “I felt as great sorrow and confusion as if I had stolen every sum I owed.” Now, he was not repentant for this one debt, or that other debt, but for being in debt at all, and, therefore, having a little coming to him from the estate of a relative, he bought a horse, and rode from town to town, paying everybody to whom he was indebted. Before he had finished his pilgrimage, he had paid seventy debts, principal and interest, and had been compelled to sell his horse, saddle, and bridle, to do it. During this eventful journey he rode many miles to pay a single sixpence: it was only a sixpence, but the principle was the same, whether the debt was sixpence or a hundred pounds.

 JOHN TRAPP (1601-1699): When Archbishop Cranmer discerned the storm [of persecution] which afterwards [martyred] him in Queen Mary’s days, he took express order for the payment of all his debts, which, when it was done, a most joyful man was he; that having set his affairs in order with men, he might consecrate himself more freely to God.

 AUGUSTUS TOPLADY (1713-1778): Luther had this passage in his last will and testament: “Lord God, I thank Thee for that Thou hast been pleased to make me a poor and indigent man upon earth. I have neither house, nor land, nor money to leave behind me. Thou hast given me wife and children: whom I now restore to Thee. Lord, nourish, teach, and preserve them, as Thou hast me.”

 WILLIAM S. PLUMER (1802-1880): Avoid debts. They eat as doth a canker.


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