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lous folly, and daring, impious prefumption. emnly enjoins, that the tenderest and most refpectable ties of nature be difregarded in the cafe of those who fhould dare to fet the example of violating the divine will in this respect; that the most intimate friends and nearest relations fhould become strange and hateful, if they prefumed, by precept or by practice, to countenance this tranfgreffion. His own emphatic language will beft exprefs his meaning, and fhew with what oppreffive weight the fubject lay upon his heart. "If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy fon, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bofom, or thy friend, which is as thine own foul, entice thee fecretly, faying, Let us go and ferve other gods, (which thou haft not known, thou nor thy fathers; namely, of the gods of the people which are round about you, nigh unto thee, or far off from thee, from the one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth) thou shalt not confent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither fhall thine eye pity him, neither fhalt thou fpare, neither fhalt thou conceal him. But thou fhalt furely kill him; thine hand fhall be firft upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people. And thou fhalt ftone him with ftones, that he die; becaufe he hath fought to thrust thee away from the Lord thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage. And all Israel fhall hear, and fear, and fhall do no more any fuch wickednefs as this is, among you." And again, "If there be found among you within any of thy gates which the Lord thy God giveth thee, man or woman that hath wrought wickednefs in the fight of the Lord thy God, in tranfgreffing his covenant, and hath gone and ferved other gods, and worshipped them, either the fun, or moon, or any of the hoft of heaven, which I have not commanded; and it be told thee, and thou haft heard of it, and inquired diligently, and behold, it be true, and the thing certain, that fuch abomina
*Deut. xiii. 6-11.
tion is wrought in Ifrael: then fhalt thou bring forth that man, or that woman (which have committed that wicked thing) unto thy gates, even that man, or that woman, and fhalt ftone them with ftones, till they die. At the mouth of two witneffes, or three witneffes, fhall he that is worthy of death, be put to death; but at the mouth of one witnefs he fhall not be put to death. The hands of the witneffes fhall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterward the hands of all the people: fo thou fhalt put the evil away from among you."
Did we not know, that "the heart is deceitful above all things, and defperately wicked :" did we not know, by fatal experience, that there is no abfurdity too grofs for men to adopt, no impiety too daring for them to commit, we fhould be aftonished to think that the enactment of fuch laws fhould ever have been neceffary; that having been enacted, there fhould be occafion to explain and enforce them by fo many awful fanctions, and that notwithstanding, in defiance of fanctions fo formidable, any fhould have been found bold enough to tranfgrefs.
3dly. Mofes labours in this, his laft difcourfe, to establish the importance and neceffity of knowing the divine law, and, for that end, of making it the fubject of continual study and meditation. Every fon of Ifrael must daily employ himself in the reading of it. The young muft not plead exemption on account of his youth, nor the old plead the privilege of age. No clofenefs of application to fecular bufinefs, no eagernefs to profecute a journey, no eminence of rank and station, no, not the ftate and neceffary duties of royalty itself, muft pretend to claim a difpenfation from the fuperior obligations of the law of the Most High. "These words," fays he, " which I command thee this day, fhall be in thine heart. And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and fhalt talk of them when thou fitteft in the house, and
* Deut. xvii. 2-7.
when thou walkest by the way, and when thou lieft down, and when thou rifeft up. And thou fhalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou fhalt write them upon the pofts of thy house, and on thy gates."* "And it fhall be," fpeaking of the duty and office of the king who might hereafter be chofen to reign over God's people of Ifrael," when he fitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book, out of that which is before the priests the Levites. And it fhall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life; that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, to keep all the words of this law, and thefe ftatutes, to do them that his heart be not lifted up above his brethren, and that he turn not afide from the command. ment, to the right hand or to the left: to the end that he may prolong his days in his kingdom; he, and his children in the midft of Ifrael."+
Some of the Rabbins accordingly pretend, that Mofes, with his own hand, transcribed thirteen copies of the Deuteronomy, one for each of the twelve tribes, and one to be laid up till the time of electing a king should arrive, to be given him to tranfcribe for his private and particular use.
4thly. Mofes difplays, with fingular skill and address, the motives fuggefted from their peculiar circumftances, to make the law of God the object of their veneration, and the rule of their conduct; such as, firft-Thefe laws all iffue from the love of God as their fource, and converge towards it as their centre. Their great aim and end is to engage us to love, with fupreme affection, a God who is fupremely amiable and excellent. "And now, Ifrael, what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to ferve the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy foul, to keep the commandments of the Lord,
Deut. vi. 6-9.
Deut. xvii. 18-20.
Lord, and his ftatutes which I command thee this day for thy good? Behold, the heaven, and the heaven of heavens, is the Lord's thy God, the earth alfo, with all that therein is. Only the Lord had a delight in thy fathers to love them, and he chofe their feed after them, even you above all people, as it is this day."
A fecond motive to obedience is, that the obferv. ance of the laws has a native tendency to procure and to preferve both public and private felicity; to make them refpectable in the eyes of the nations, and thereby to ensure their tranquillity. "Behold I have taught you," fays he, "ftatutes and judgments, even as the Lord my God commanded me, that ye fhould do fo, in the land whither ye go to poffefs it. Keep therefore, and do them, for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the fight of the nations, which fhall hear all these statutes, and fay, Surely this great nation is a wife and understanding people. For what nation is there fo great, who hath God fo nigh unto them, as the Lord our God is in all things that we call upon him for? And what nation is there fo great, that hath statutes and judgments fo righteous, as all this law which I fet before you this day?"+
Thirdly-The laws prescribed were imposed on them by a being who had lavished miracles of mercy and goodness upon them and their fathers, and flood engaged to be a covenant God to their posterity, to the latest generations. "For afk now of the days that are paft, which were before thee, fince the day that God created man upon the earth, and afk from the one fide of heaven unto the other, whether there hath been any fuch thing as this great thing is, or hath been heard like it? Did ever people hear the voice of God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as thou haft heard, and live? Or hath God affayed to go and take him a nation from the midst of another nation, by temptations, by figns, and by wonders, and by war, and by a mighty hand, and by a ftretched-out arm,
+ Deut. iv. 5-8.
Deut. x. 12-15.
and by great terrors, according to all that the Lord your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes? Unto thee it was fhewed, that thou mightest know that the Lord he is God; there is none elfe befides him. Out of heaven he made thee to hear his voice, that he might inftruct thee: and upon earth he fhewed thee his great fire, and thou heardeft his words out of the midst of the fire."*
In a word, the laws of God are in themselves just and reasonable, plain and intelligible; accommodated to the nature and faculties of man, and carry their own wisdom and utility engraven on their forehead. "For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that thou shouldeft fay, Who fhall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who fhall go over the fea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it and do it? But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayeft do it."+
Mofes, while he thus forcibly inculcates the motives of obedience, motives infpired and preffed by every tender, by every awful confideration, finds himself under the unpleasant neceflity of venting his heart in the keenest reproaches of that highly-favoured but rebellious nation, for their perverfenefs and ingratitude; he deplores in the bitterness of his foul, the inftability and tranfitorinefs of their good motions and purposes, their fatal proneness to revolt, the inconceivable rapidity of their vibrations from virtue to vice. That exquifitely beautiful and pathetic fong with which he clofes his tender expoftulation, and which contains a flriking abridgment of this whole address, confists in a great meafure of juft and fevere, yet affectionate upbraidings and remonftrances upon their past conduct. "They have corrupted themfelves, their fpot is not the fpot of his children; they are a perverfe and crooked
Deut. iv. 32-36.
+ Deut. xxx. II—14.