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prized in the world. For in a country so wicked there would be no safety. No one would be able to feel sure that his house, or his wife, or his daughters, might not be taken away from him before evening. And lawful redress for such injuries there could be none among a people with whom might made right.
Such would be the state of a people living without the second table of the law of Moses, or something at least answering thereto. I do not ask you whether it would be a happy one. This is a question you can both put and answer for yourselves. You all know what alarm and distress and confusion in a neighbourhood a single murder, a single rape, a single robbery, when attended by any outrageous violence, is sure to occasion. What then must be the misery of a land, which was full of murder, of blood, of outrage, of oppression, of violence and crime of every sort! It would be a hell upon earth. And no wonder: for it would be the devil's land; and where the devil is, there must hell be also. He would make a hell even of heaven.
It was to save his people from all this manifold misery, that God gave them the commandments contained in the second table of the law, in which the chief heads of their duties to each other were set before them in a few words. What is said in
the text of all the Lord's statutes, is more especially true of these commandments, that the Lord commanded us to do them for our good. Nothing can be shorter than most of them are: and yet, so great is their wisdom and their excellence, that any country which observed even the letter of them, would be free from almost every great crime; while, if any people endeavoured to keep them not in the letter only, but in the spirit,—if any people or nation were wise enough to obey them in all the length and breadth and height and depth of their full meaning,—such a people would not only be free from crime, but would enjoy a peace, a quiet, a security and tranquillity, and a degree of prosperous, undisturbed, rightful happiness, far surpassing anything which has ever been seen upon earth. The prophecy of Isaiah would be more than fulfilled among so just and righteous a people. We should see the wolf dwelling with the lamb, and the leopard lying down with the kid, and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together, and a little child leading them. That is, in such a land we should see the most perfect unity and concord, between all persons of all ranks and conditions. We should see tempers, naturally as fierce and violent as the leopard and the young lion, keeping within the rules of peaceableness and good order. There would be no taking advantage
of the weak, the innocent, or the rich, who are now as welcome a booty to the needy and reckless, as the kids and lambs and fatlings are to beasts of prey. All would live together harmoniously: and this, not from the dread of human laws,-for the government might be mild and gentle as the guidance of a little child,-but from a far worthier motive, from the fear of the Lord, and for the glory of his Majesty, as the prophet has exprest it in another place. In such a land the sucking child might safely play upon the hole of the asp, and the weaned child might put its hand into the cockatrice's den. That is to say, innocence would be secured from secret fraud, as well as from open force: so that, to sum up all in the words of the same prophet, none should hurt or destroy in all that holy kingdom. Such would be the state of a people who kept all the commandments of the second table, in the fulness of their spiritual purport. There could be no evil strife of any kind among that people; for that is forbid den by the sixth commandment. There could be no lewdness or impurity; for that is forbidden by the seventh. There could be no injustice, no oppression, no over-reaching, no taking advantage of a neighbour's ignorance, or of his necessities; there could be no petty frauds or petty thefts of any kind; for all these things are forbidden by
the eighth commandment. Again, there could be no speaking untruly of our neighbour, no evilspeaking of him: talebearing, backbiting, slandering, putting a hard or unkind meaning on the actions of others,-all these things would be banished out of this land, as being contrary to the ninth commandment. Moreover covetousness and greedy desires of every kind, be it of gain, be it of honours, be it of rank, be it of praise and glory, these too would be clean rooted out, being forbidden by the tenth commandment. Lastly, all the family virtues, all the kindly affections, all those amiable and gentle qualities, which make a man beloved, and are the honey and sugar of human life, rendering it sweet and pleasant, these good qualities would be nursed and fostered by the spirit of the fifth commandment, and would strengthen and spread throughout the land, till the whole kingdom, however large, would be so knit together, man to man, and house to house, by affectionate feelings and friendly offices,—all the people of the country caring for each man in it, and each doing his best for the good of all,-that the nation would grow to be like one great family, joined together by brotherly kindness, and governed by a voice of love.
Such, and no less than this, would be the happiness of a people acting fully up to the spirit of
the commandments of the second table. Therefore we ought to feel most grateful to Almighty God, for having called us to the knowledge of laws so excellent, that, if men would only keep, they would live and be happy by them. Do not tell me of human frailty, nor argue that man in a natural state is unable to do all this. For this, though true, is nothing to the present purpose. We are not in a natural state: we have been admitted into covenant with Christ: we have the promise of the Spirit, if we will ask for it in prayer. Whatever may be the case with others, we at least can keep these laws, through Christ that strengthens us. The feelings therefore, which I would have you cherish, when you think of these commandments, are thankfulness to our heavenly Father, for having given us these laws for our good, and shame, because we, his disobedient sons, have profited so little by his goodness.
I have shewn you what would be the state of a country, where the commandments were made the rule of life. Compare the picture with the present state of England; and you will see how much we lose, even in this life, by not keeping them better. Why are there so many laws in England, and so many trials, and so many gaols, and so many punishments of all kinds? Simply because men will not keep the commandments