This section is from the "How To Pay Church Debts And How To Keep Churches Out Of Debt" book, by Rev. Sylvanus Stall. Amazon: How To Pay Church Debts And How To Keep Churches Out Of Debt.
"The earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof; the world and they that dwell therein," and as everything belongs to God, it is reasonable that in God's first covenant with his creature, man, we should expect to find some requirement looking to the recognition of the relation of man as the subject, and of God as the Great Proprietor of all things. God did not cede his rights as proprietor to Adam, but he put him "into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it." Adam did not become the proprietor, but was God's tenant. The grant of every tree of the garden was a grant of the sole and only Proprietor, ceding limited privileges to man, the dependent subject of his continual bounty and blessing. The one tree which was reserved was to be a continual memorial of God's ownership of the entire garden. Adam could not have been tried, or proven, by the principles subsequently incorporated in the second table of the Law. He had no father and mother to disobey, no being to kill, or with whom to commit adultery, or from whom to steal, or against whom to bear false witness, or the possession of whose property he might covet. But he was tested upon the principle which now lies at the very foundation of the first and each succeeding command of the Decalogue. He was tested upon the question of yielding implicit obedience to God as his supreme sovereign.
Not only was God the Proprietor of Eden and its products, which Adam was permitted to enjoy, but even the breath which he breathed, the time - the duration of his existence - this also, as well as everything, belonged to God. God was emphatically the universal Sovereign; as the universal Sovereign, "the Lord God commanded the man" concerning the restrictions and limitations of his covenant, making even the language of the command an explicit assertion of sovereignty. He reserved one tree of the garden as a symbol of his sovereign ownership of all the garden, and one day of each week, that day which had been "sanctified," he reserved as a memorial of his sovereign right to all of man's time. The angels coveted the glory which Christ had with the Father, and they fell; Adam and Eve coveted what belonged to God in Eden, and they fell; Judas coveted the wealth of the wicked, and he fell; Ananias and Sap-phira coveted what they had voluntarily promised to give to Christ and his cause, and they fell - and so on from the beginning to the end of time, through the long catalogue of the succeeding generations, the sin of covetousness has been the besetting sin of mankind, and has called down the displeasure and punishment of heaven. It was to counteract this tendency of our natures, to avert the fearful consequences of this sin, that God from the very first required a continual and adequate acknowledgment of our dependency and his supremacy. God's relation to all created things is now and ever has been the same, man's nature is the same, and his well-being requires the same discipline and the same lessons of God's supre-macy and man's dependency.
This brings us to the statement of our position in relation to the law of the tithe, which is, that this law was recognized from the beginning - it was not given for any limited time - it was not limited to any particular people - but that its binding force was recognized from the beginning, and sweeps on to the end of time, grasping in its divine requirements all ages, all nations, and all conditions of men alike.
From what has been said, it is undeniable that God's ownership is perpetual, inextinguishable, and under all circumstances indisputable and supreme. It has also been shown that God did, by explicit command in his first covenant with man, require some just and continual recognition of the fact that man was the mere tenant, and that God was the Great Proprietor of all things.
It cannot be denied that during the first two thousand five hundred years of the world's history man received no written revelation of the divine will. Until Moses received at the hand of God the commandments written with God's own finger upon tables of stone - until then the world had been governed by God's revealed but unrecorded will. Just the same as among the nations there are unwritten laws which together are called the Common Law. They embody the simplest, the most just, the most manifestly reasonable principles which lie at the foundation of all law. They grow out of the relations of men and the constituted nature of things, and are only written in our very being. There is also the written law, the Statute Law, expressed with all the requisite forms of leg-islation. Just so God has dealt with the human race. On mount Sinai the unwritten law was not abrogated, but received its confirmation by being expressed in the statutory laws of God.
The account given us in Genesis is an inspired account of the creation, and a history of the world for two thousand five hundred years. It is not a statutory book of laws, but a brief history of a long period. We cannot, therefore, expect to find in it a full record of all of God's requirements.
After man's expulsion from Eden, in the renewed covenant we find no permission to worship the God whom they had offended; no instructions how to approach him with acceptable sacrifices, and yet this permission and instruction must most assuredly have been given them. After the flood, although Noah and his family had witnessed the injustice and the wicked practices of those before the flood, yet we find in the account of this renewed covenant no record of any requirements of duty to God, or of duty to his neighbor (except that concerning murder), nor of the observance of the Sabbath or of sacrifice, and yet we would not for a moment suppose that these were not enjoined.
Just so with regard to the then unwritten law of the tithe, while it was unwritten, yet it was most clearly observed.
Before the giving of the statutory law by the hand of Moses, there were various offerings of material things made to God, accounts of which, in a somewhat incidental manner, are recorded in the Bible:
"And in process of time it came to pass that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof." - (Gen. iv. 3, 4).
"And Noah builded an altar unto the Lord; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar." - (Gen. viii. 20).
"And the Lord appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the Lord, who appeared unto him." - (Gen. xii. 7; see also, ver. 8; xiii. 18; xxvi. 25; xxxiii. 20; xxxi. 1; xlvi. 1).