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thou shalt make unto me ; no high altar or pyramid, with engravings and hierog/yphies, but a low, humble altar of earth shall thou make, and shalt sacrifice thereon thy burnt offerings, and thy peace offerings, thy sheep, and thine oxen: in all places where I record my name, and fix my solemn worship, I will come unto thee, and I will bless thee, give thee the testimo
25 ny ofmy approbation and acceptance. And if thou wilt make me an altar of stone, thou shalt not build it of hewn stone ; for if
26 thou lift up thy tool upon it, thou hast polluted it. Neither shalt thou go up by steps unto mine altar, that thy nakedness "be not discovered thereon.
1. T E T its pray that God would write all these laws on our \ A hearts; teach us our duty to him, to ourselves, and to others ; teach us to do well, and lead us in the way in which we should go, in the way of peace and holiness. The law is holy, and the commandment holy, just ami good: but we need his aid to help us to observe them, and his mercy, to pardon our many breaches of them; for we have all sinned, and come short of the glory oJ God. Let the law be a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ; who by his spirit can so renew and sanctify our minds, that obedience will be a delight. Then shall we, not from a principle of terror, but from a principle of love, obey all the commandments from our heart.
2. Let us be thankful that the gospel, that better dispensation, is given in so gentle a manner; not amidst thunder and lightning, tempest and fire; but by the Son of God, the great mediator, arrayed in human flesh, who hath spoken to us with all gentleness and compassion. His terrors do not fall on us, neither doth his dread make us afraid. The apostle introduces this thought in a most beautiful manner, Heb. xii. 18—25. For ye arc 'not come unto the mount that might be touched, and tltat burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness and tempest, and the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which voice they that heard entreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more: (For they could not endure that which was commanded. And if so much as a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned, or t/irust through with a dart: And so terrible was the siglu, that Moses said, I exceedingly Jear and quake :) But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem; and to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the judge of all, and t» the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus the medir ator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel. See that ye refuse not him that tfteaketh in such a gentle manner; far if tfay eacafied not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not -we escafie, if we turn away from him that sfieaketh from heaven.
In the former chafiter, we had God's moral lata, which м of eternal obligation, delivered with awful majesty; and are now entering on tltose fiolitical laws, by which God, as their king, governed the Jewish nation.
l "^T"O W these [are] the judgments, or judicial laws, which
3 J.N thou shalt set before them. If thou buy an Hebretf servant,* six years he shall serve: and in the seventh he shall go out free for nothing; cxcefit the year of jubilee come between, and then he shall go out free, though he hath served but
9 ont year. If he came in by himself, he shall go out by himself: if he were married, then his wife shall go out with him.
4 If his master have given him a wife, a heathen bond «reman (for such onlii with their children might be left in senitude^ JLe*. xxv. 44.) and she have borne him sons or daughters; thfe wife and her children shall be her master's, and he shall go out by himself. This ivas designed to discourage the marriage of the Inraeliles with strangers.
5 And if the servant shall plainly say, I love my master, my
6 wife, and my children; I will not go out free: Then his master shall bring him unto the judges, or governors ;f he shall also bring him to the door, or unto the door post: and his master shall bore his ear through with an awl, to denote his f'erftftual cl-ligation to abide in that house, and there to hear and obey his master's commands; and he shall serve him for ever, till th' year of jubilee, Lev. xxv. 40.
f And if a man through extreme poverty, (as tvets the case on their return from Babylon, JVeh. v. 5.) sell his daughter to be a maid servant, in ex-fiectation of her marrying her master, or kis son, she shall not go out as the men sen-ants do, tut upon
8 better terms. If she please not her master, who hath betrothed her to himself, (or rather, so that he doth not betroth her:tb bimsrlf,) then shall he let her be redeemed, by any relation of friend that is so disfioeed: to sell her unto a strange nation he shall have no power, seeing he hath dealt deceitfully with her.
* This might beclone when he solJbimselfftir poverty, Dcwr xv. n.-Lr?. xxv. 39. when he Wm sold by the magistrate tor theft, th. xxii. ). or in case of debt, i Hints iv. I. Matt. Xvlii. 25.
t Perprtnal servitude Wm too important я mutter far a private bargain : it taiet b« done belore the magbtrau, as a proof that the m»ti wu willing.
9 And if he hath betrothed her unto his son, he shall deal with her after the manner of daughters, by giving her a dowry, (chap.
10 xxii. 16, and all the other privileges of a free woman. If he take him another [wife ;] her food, her raiment, and her
11 duty of marriage, shall he not diminish. And if he do not these three unto her, then she shall go out free without money for her redemption.
13 He that smiteth a man willfully, so that he die, shall be
13 surely put to death. And if a man lie not in wait, but God deliver [him] into his hand by some speciai, unexpected providence; then I will appoint thee a place whither he
14 shall flee. But if a man come presumptuously, purposedly, and maliciously, upon his neighbour, to slay him with guile; thou shalt take him from mine altar, that he may die ; for
15 God will not have his altar to be a refuge for murderers. And he that smiteth his father, or his mother, shall be surely put to death, though he till them not.
16 And he that stealeth a man, an Jsrmelite, (Deut. xxrv. 7.) and selleth him, or if he be found in his hand, lie shall surely be put to death.
17 And he that curseth his father, or his mother, that wishat any mischief may befitl them, or uses any kind of malicious, reviling speeches, which argue a contempt of his parents, shall surely be put to death.
18 And if men strive together, and one smite another, with a stone, or with [his] fist, and he die not, but keepeth [his] bed:
19 If he rise again, and walk abroad upon his staff, then shall he that smote [him,] be quit: only he shall pay [for] the loss of his time, and shall cause [him] to be thoroughly healed.
20 And if a man smite his servant, his slave, or his maid, with a rod, any instrument fit for correction, and he die under his
21 hand ; he shall be surely punished by the magistrates. Notwithstanding, if he continue a day or two, he shall not be punished: for he [is] his money, his property, and he had a right to correct him in a proper manner.
22 If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, who interposes in the quarrel, so that her fruit depart [from her,] and yet.no other mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman's husband will lay upon him ; and he shall pay
23 as the judges [determine.] And if [any] other mischief fol.
24 low, then thou shalt give life for life, Eye for eye, tooth for
25 tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, Burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe. This was the law of retaliation, which might be put into execution, if the person doing the injury did not make satisfaction.
26 And if a man smite the eye of his servant, or the eye of his maid, that it perish; he shall let him go free for his eye's
27 sake. And if he smite out his man servant's tooth, or his maid servant's tooth; he shall let him go free for his tooth's sake. This was designed to prevent cruelty, and to make men cautious not to exceed in due correction, or do any thing in a passion.'
28 If an ox gore a man or a woman, that they die : then th» ox shall be surely stoned, to fire-vent his doing further nutchief, and his flesh shall not be eaten ; but the owner of
29 the ox [shall be] quit. But if the ox were wont to push with his horn in time past, and it hath been testified to his owner, and he hath not kept him in, but that he hath killed a man or woman ; the ox shall be stoned, and his owner also shall be put to death, because he did not take proper care to.
30 prevent Ms.* If there be laid on him a sum of money, then he shall give for the ransom of his life whatsoever is
31 laid upon him. Whether he have gored a son, or have gored a daughter, according to this judgment shall it be done
32 unto him. If the ox shall push a man servant, or maid servant; he shall give unto their master thirty shekels of silver, three pounds eigit shillings sterling, and the ox shall be stoned.
33 And if a man shall open a pit in the highway or unenclosed grounds, or if a man shall dig a pit, and not cover it, and an
34 ox or an ass fall therein ; The owner of the pit shall make [it] good, [and] give money unto the owner of them ; and the dead [beast] shall be his.
35 And if one man's ox hurt another's, that he die; then they shall sell the live ox, and divide the money of it; and the
36 dead [ox] also they shall divide. Or if it be known that the ox hath used to push in time past, and his owner hath not kept him in; he shall surely pay ox for ox; and the dead shall be his own.
J. T E T us be thankful for the good laws by which our lives 1- ^ and properties are preserved ; that we are not subject to the malice and violence of wicked and unreasonable men; that we are not like the fish of the sea, where the greater devour the less. We live under a good government, where our lives and property are secure; and those who by violence or fraud take it away, will receive just punishment. Blessed be God, who hath so well fixed the bounds of our habitation ; that we live in a free land; are not subject to bondage, nor at the mercy of merciless tyrants; the lines are fallen to us in pleasant places.
2. How observant should Christians be of all the rules of equity and law! Many of these laws are happily superseded and laid
• There U an old EngiUli liw that milt« it felony to let > mUchievou» beast go loóte.
aside, by the laws of our country and the rules of the gospel: but they teach us this important lesson, to do justice, and love mercy; to rentier unto all their due; and to be careful that we do not injure any, even by negligence. Let masters and mistresses learn to treat their servants with all gentleness and humanity. If these directions were given with relation to slaves, who were their master's property, being bought and sold; how much more reasonable is it that we should observe them to servants who become so by their own voluntary choice and consent! God will not allow his people to trample even on slaves. It becomes usto be courteous to all men, but especially to servants, that the burden of their situation may become as easy as possible. Let christian masters, according to Paul's directions, give to their servants that which is right, forbearing threatening ; knowing they have a master in heaven, with whom there is no respect of persons. Let those who tyrannize over their servants, or treat their domes* tics roughly, or cruelly, ask themselves that striking question, which Job did himself, and gives it as a reason for tenderness to his servants, What shall I do when God riseth up? When he visiteth, what shall I answer?
Contains many other political laws for the government of the Israelites.
1 T F a man shall steal an ox, or a sheep, or goat, and kill it, X or sell it; he shall restore five oxen for an ox, and four sheep for a sheep.* This was a necessary law, considering how
2 much their wealth lay in cattle. If a thief be found breaking up a house by nght, and be smitten that he die, [there shall] no blood [be shed] for him; it shall not be considered as mur
3 der. If the sun be risen upon him, [there shall be] blood [shed] for him; it shall then be reckoned murder, because the master of the house might see who he was, be able to pursue him,' and bring him to judgment; [for] he should make full restitution ; if he have nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft,
4 for six years. If the theft be certainly found in his hand alive, whether it be ox, or ass, or sheep ; he shall restore double, namely, that which was stolen, and anothor as good, or the full value of it.
5 If a man shall cause a field or vineyard to be eaten, and shall put in his beast, or through neglect suffer him to trespass,
• The general law of restitution wan to be double, if the beast was found alive ; but if slain or sold, four or five fold, because ir was more difficult to prove the property. There was to be an ox wore than a sheep, because the owner lost hi. labour while detained.