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the eye of the world, or injuring his reputation by slander and defamation. Though perjury be the plague that slayeth in the noon day, false calumny is the pestilence that walketh in darkness, and, by destroying the mutual good opinion and confidence of mankind, unties and disunites the bond of society.
The last Commandment teaches the blessings of content, enjoins men to sit down satisfied with their own possessions, neither to covet the superior riches, nor envy the greater good fortune, of others; for this envy and covetousness must lead to theft, to murder, and to the commission of every crime. “ Rather “ let any one labour (saith St. Paul), that “ instead of being in a situation to be worse “ than another, he may have to give to him " that needeth.”
Such were these Tables, the basis of the Jewish law, replete with sound wis
dom and social utility, consonant to right reason, congenial to the nature of man, worthy of the God that gave them, and beneficial they will remain, till such a being as man shall cease to exist.
“ Though blest with these high privileges, “ the Jews revolted from their deliverer, to
the worship of idols that could not save: 66 they grew dissatisfied and rebellious under 6. the ceremonial part of their religion, of which God had instituted, in order to keep 66 them clear of the idolatries that ruined the 56 nations around them. Besides this, they 66 shamefully broke their moral law, regard6 less of its sacred and social obligations.” The Mosaical institution was not sufficient for them; its laws were rather negative than positive: this people had arrived at such a pitch, that their religion had lost all the ore of virtue, and nothing scarcely remained but the dross of ceremony; they were exact and
anxious to pay the tithes of mint, anise, and. cummin, but they neglected justice and judginent, the weightier matters of the law; they made long prayers indeed, but they added oppression to the oppressed, they devoured widows houses ; they made the word of God of none effect through their own traditions ; finally, though they had received the law by the disposition of angels, they had not kept it.
The Pagan world was also sunk in all the absurdities of the grossest superstition and the basest idolatry; the Mosaic law was but the shadow of good things to come; a new dispensation was wanted, a new revelation and a new covenant were made; this was that grace and truth* which came by Jesus
* As the Mosaic law was full of burdensome ceremonies, it was a yoke upon the Jews; it was harsh and full of ri. . gour, however necessary. But as the Gospel abolished those ceremonies, taught the worship of Godin spirit and truth, and brought a gratuitous offer of salvation to all, it is justly stiled grace, or a matter of especial FAVOUR from the
Christ. God became Emmanuel, and dwelt with us. Men were taught of God, his laws were put in their hearts, and in their minds were they written. Superstition gave way to faith, and ceremony to religious sincerity; sacrifice was performed by mercy. Rational and polite learning shone together with the light of the Gospel, and Christianity, led on by humble purity on the one hand, and humanity on the other, made her progress through the world. Mankind wondered at their former ignorance, and were shocked at their former absurd credulity; their manners were less ferocious, they performed their duty to God, but they did not forget that one part of it was justice and benevolence to mankind; and civil freedom has been ever the inseparable companion of pure religion. To Almighty; and as the Mosaic dispensation was but the shadow of good things to come, so the Gospel is truth, that is, the consummation or completion, ultimate improvement, and perfection of the law.
expatiate upon many of those excellent and sacred laws, or moral injunctions, contained in the Gospel, would lead us into too wide a field of disquisition; it shall suffice, therefore, to mention one, as characteristic of Christianity, and justly called a new Commandment.
All nations, whether Jews or Gentiles, had early imbibed the maxim of retaliation; an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth. This spirit evidently checked the progress of humanity and civilization. An act of the most cruel injustice, dictated by passion, often blind, always excessive, and sometimes mistaken, was returned by another action of more deliberate cruelty, and of almost equal injustice. One of the greatest philosophers,* in his definition of anger, calls it a certain uneasiness of mind, attended, however, with some pleasure, from the prospect of revenge.