A merchant shall hardly keep himself from doing wrong; and an huckster shall not be freed from sin.
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If we do not examine it closely, this passage seems contradictory and problematical. If in fact every merchant or shopkeeper merits condemnation, then no one who practices a trade can escape the same punishment. Is not a transaction the attempt to sell something at a higher price than what it cost? Elsewhere, we read in the Lives of the Fathers that Paphnutius, a very holy man, was compared by a divine revelation with a merchant, and even now we find some in the church who are dedicated to business but are very highly thought of. What is condemned is evil action, not honest activity, as when we read that a rich person will not enter the kingdom of heaven, though Job and the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were very rich. Therefore, only those merchants are considered blameworthy who, corrupted by an immoderate desire for money, never think of the Lord"s justice and fix their prices more to cheat people than to make an honest gain. Such were cast out of the temple by the Lord with the words, "Do not make of my Father"s house a marketplace and a den of thieves." - "On Ecclesiasticus 6.5"