Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub

He had need be a Divine Lawgiver, who takes upon him to impofe fuch precepts; and control thofe workings of the foul, which are invisible to mortal eye, and can be tried before no human tribunal.

We find no fuch injunction as this, I conceive, in the appointments of Lycurgus or Solon, in the Laws of the twelve tables, or the Inftitutes of the Roman Emperor. Content with the regulation of the external act, and the impofition of fome restraint on the tongue, they prefume not to proceed further; but decently and prudently stop, being arrived at the limits of their authority.

But the Supreme Lord has no bounds fet to his Empire; which both reaches throughout infinity, and penetrates to the inmost receffes: his dominion is uniEphef. iv. verfal, and complete. He is above all, and through all, and in you all. The thoughts and intents of the heart, make indeed

the

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

the principal fubject of his infpection and government: to defire, and wish only to be exempt from his authority, is already to have rebelled against Him.

Exhortations others may have used, or given their counfel, in the capacity of wife men or Philofophers, for the benefit of such citizens as would aspire to perfection: but here is a Law in all it's forms, fet forth with the most folemn, nay, even with a miraculous pomp, in terms the most precise and peremptory, and in company with the other fundamental inftitutions of the common wealth.

Thou shalt do no murder.

Thou shalt not commit adultery.

Thou shalt not steal.

Thou shalt not bear false witness.

Thou shalt not covet.

To

[ocr errors]

Exod.

xxii. 5.

19.

To what purpose this laft prohibition? If I fteal, or bear falfe witnefs, I know the penalty of the best of his own field or Deut. xix. vineyard, Shall he make reftitution; - Ye Shall do unto him, as he thought to have done unto his brother. If I commit murder, my life is answerable for the tranfgreffion: the punishment is fixed, and the witnesses ready to lay their hand upon my head.

But what if I commit no murder, but only defire and wish to do it? Suppose I do not steal with my hands, but covet only in my heart, the poffeffions of my neighbour what is the penalty of this tranfgreffion? or who fhall undertake to be the witnefs? Is it not fuperfluous and trifling, to iffue out proclamations that must be of no force, and edicts that can never be executed? What is a Law, without a fanction? or what are both these, where there can be no proof of the of fence? Is not this rather to sport with the majesty of laws; and to debafe and

تمام

expofe to ridicule, what is most import-
ant and facred? The dignity and wisdom
of the great Lawgiver of the Jews, forbid
us to afcribe to him a conduct so plainly
inconfiftent and unmeaning.

What then can we infer, but that he knew, his laws had an authority more than human; that they only paffed through his hands; but were indeed enacted by one, who was alfo able to fee them executed?

Hebr. iv.

12.

14.

Him, who is a difcerner of the thoughts and
intents of the heart; and can bring every Ecclus xii.
work into judgment, with every fecret thing,
whether it be good or evil: and who, he
knew, would do it; would interpofe even
in this prefent world, fo far as fhould be
neceffary for the honour of his govern-
ment, and the completion of his promises;
leaving however, we may well allow, a
more full and perfect, a more diftinguifh-
ed and universal display of his attributes,
and vindication of his providence, for

the

[ocr errors]

the final revelation by his Son, and the judgment of the world to come.

Gal. iii. 24.

[ocr errors]

It is written - The law was our Schoolmafter to bring us unto Chrift. In this command especially, Thou shalt not covet, it breathes the spirit of the Chriftian difpenfation; teaching men to practise it's precepts from an inward principle, and Rom. ii. to shew the work of the Law, written in - their hearts.

15.

There is fomewhere an account, fabulous I allow, but yet inftructive, of an Almond Tree, of a particular fpecies, endowed, it seems, with this fingular property; whatever mark you fhall inscribe upon the kernel of the nut, when it is planted, the fame will be found vifibly delineated on all the leaves and fruit of the tree that fprings from it. The stone being opened at first, and the intended character once carefully drawn, the

« EdellinenJatka »