Ellen G. White Writings

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Historical Sketches of the Foreign Missions of the Seventh-day Adventists, Page 165

then as now; but so long as they followed the instruction given by God there were no beggars among them, neither any who suffered for food. Their wise Governor, foreseeing that misfortune would befall some, made provision for them. When the people entered Canaan, the land was divided among them according to their numbers, and special laws were enacted to prevent any one person from joining field to field, and claiming as his, all the land that he desired, or had money to purchase. No one was allowed to choose the most fertile parts for himself, and leave the poor and less desirable portions for his brother; for this would cultivate selfishness and a spirit of oppression, and give cause for dissatisfaction, complaint, and dissension.

By the special direction of God, the land was divided by lot. After it had been thus divided, no one was to feel at liberty, either from a love of change or a desire to make money, to trade his estate; neither was he to sell his land unless compelled to do so on account of poverty. And then whenever he or any of his kindred might desire to redeem it, the one who had purchased it must not refuse to sell it. And if the poor man had no one to redeem it for him, and was unable to do so himself, in the year of jubilee it should revert to him, and he should have the privilege of returning to his home and again enjoying it. Thus the poor and unfortunate were ever to have an equal chance with their more fortunate neighbors.

More than this, the Israelites were instructed to sow and reap their fields for six successive years; but every seventh year they were commanded to let the land rest. Whatever grew of itself was to be gathered by the poor; and what they left, the beasts of the field were to eat. This was to impress the people with the fact that it was God's land which they were permitted to possess for a time; that he was the rightful owner, the original proprietor, and that he would have special consideration made for the poor and unfortunate. This provision was made to lessen suffering, to bring some ray of hope, to flash some gleam of sunshine, into the lives of the suffering and distressed. Is any such statute regarded in England? Far from it. The Lord set needy human beings before the beasts; but this order has been reversed there, and, compared with the poor, horses, dogs, and other dumb animals are treated as princes. In some localities the poor are forbidden to step out of the path to pick the wild flowers which grow in abundance in many of the open fields. Anciently a man when hungry was permitted to enter another man's field or vineyard and eat as much as he chose. Even Christ and his disciples plucked and ate of the corn through which they passed. But how changed the order of things now!

If the laws given by God had continued to be carried out, how different would be the present condition of the world, morally, spiritually, and temporally. Selfishness and self-importance would not be manifested as now; but each would cherish a kind regard for the happiness and welfare of others, and such wide-spread destitution and human wretchedness as is now seen in most parts of England and Ireland would not exist. Instead of the poorer classes being kept under the iron heel of oppression by the wealthy, instead of having other men's brains to think and plan for them in temporal as well as in spiritual things, they would have some chance for independence of thought and action.

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