« PreviousContinue »
thou shalt make unto me"; no high altar or pyramid, with engravings and hieroglyphics, but a low, humble altar of earth shalt thou make, and shalt sacrifice thereon thy burnt offerings, and thy peace offerings, thy sheep, and thine oxen : in alt 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 of my 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 ET us pray that God would write all these laws on our · Lad 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 and 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 of 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 are not come unto the mount that might be touched, and that 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 qvas commanded. And if so much as a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned, or thrust through with a dart : And so terrible was the sight, that Moser said, I exceedingly fear 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 to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of spirinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel. See that ye refuse
not him that speaketh in such a gentle manner ; for if they escaped not who refused him that sprake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speakech from heaven. . .
In the former chapter, we had God'a moral law, which is of eternal
obligation, delivered with awful majesty ; and are now entering on those political laws, by which God, as their king, governed the Jewish natiun.
N O W these [are] the judgments, or judicial laws, which 2 IV thou shalt set before them. If thou buy an Hebrew
servant,* six years he shall serve : and in the seventh he shall go out free for nothing ; except the year of jubilee come between, and then he shall go out free, though he hath served but one year. If he came in by himself, he shall go out by him.
self : if he were married, then his wife shall go out with him. 4 If his master have given him a wife, a heathen bond woman
for such only with their children might be left in servitude, Lev. xxv. 44.) and she have borne him sons or daughters ; the wife and her children shall be her master's, and he shall go out by himself. This was designed to discourage the mar.
riage of the Israelites 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 ;t he shall also bring him to the door, or unto the door post : and his master shail bore his ear through with an awł, to denote his perpetual obligation to abide in that house, and there to hear and obey his master's commands ; and he shall serve him for
ever, till the year of jubilee, Lev. XXV. 40. 7 And if a man through extreme poverty, (as was the case on
their return from Babylon, Neh. v. 5.) sell his daughter to be à maid servant, in expectation of her marrying her master, or
his son, she shall not go out as the men servants do, but upon 8 better terms. If she please not her master, who hath betroth
ed her to himself, or rather, so that he doth not betroth her to himself, then shall he let her be redeemed, by any relation of friend that is so disposed : to sell her unto a strange nation he shall have no power, seeing he hath dealt deceitfully with her.
This might be done when he sold himself for poverty, Deut. xv. 12. L'o. xxv. 39. when he was sold by the magistrate for thett, ch. xxii. 3. or in case of debt, 2 Kings iy. 1. Matt. xviii. 25.
† Perpetnal servitude was too important a matter for a private bargain : it most be done before the magistrate, as a proof that the man was 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, 17,) and all the other frivileges 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. 12 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 sorac special, unexpected
providence ; then I will appoint thee a place whither he 14 shall fee. 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 kill them not. 16 And he that stealeth a man, an Israelite, (Deut. xxiv. 7.)
and selleth him, or if he be found in his hand, he shall surely
be put to death. 17 And he that curseth his father, or his mother, that wishes
any mischief may befal 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. Not.
withstanding, 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.
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 fol24 low, then thou shalt give life for life, Eye for eye, tooth for 25 touth, 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 the
ox shall be surely stoned, to prevent his doing further mis
chief, 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 this. * 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 gor.
ed a daughter, according to this judgment shall it be done 32 unto him. If the ox shall push a man servant, or maid ser
vant ; he shall give unto their master thirty shekels of silver, three pounds eight 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.
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.
1. T ET us be thankful for the good laws by which our lives
U 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 is an old English law that makes it felony to let a mischievous beast go loose.
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 render 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 us to 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 domestics 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 visit. eth, what shall I answer ?
Contains many other political laws for the government of the 1s.
raelites. ITF a man shall steal an ox, or a sheep, or goat, and kill it,
T or sell it ; he shall restore five oxen for an ox, and four sheep for a sheep.* This was a necessary law, considering hory 2 much their wealth lay in cattle. If a thief be found breaking
up a house by night, 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 restitu
tion ; 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 treshass,
• The general law of restitution was to be double, if the beast was found alive ; but if slain or sold, four or five fold, because it was more difficult to prove the property. There was to be an ox more than a sheep, because the owner lost his labour while detained.