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Duties in the Eurri-day Relations of Life.
"FOLLOW PEACE WITH ALL MEN, AND HOLINESS, WITHOUT WHICH NO MAN SHALL SEE THE LORD: LOOKING DILIGENTLY LEST ANY MAN FAIL OF THE GRACE OF GOD : LEST ANY BOOT OF BITTERNESS SPRINGING UP TROUBLE You." —Heb. xii. 14, 15.
Vers. 1, 2. “ And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto all
the congregation of the children of Israel, and say unto them, Ye
shall be holy: for I the Lord your God am holy." HERE are duties to be inculcated that for the most part depend upon the man's inward feeling. Hence, at the outset, the Lord presents himself again to our view. He speaks to reconciled children; and with these what argument could be stronger than this ? “Oh; be ye as I your God and Father am.” Paul knew the force of this kind of persuasion when he said to the Galatians who so loved him, “ Brethren, I beseech you, be as I am." (Gal. iv. 12.) And so the beloved John, on whose soul this argument had continual effect. “Every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.” (1 John iii. 3.)
Ver. 3. “Ye shall fear every man his mother, and his father, and keep
my Sabbaths : I am the Lord your God.”
These two precepts are a summary of the whole law, or rather are a specimen of the two tables-duty to all men in their relations, and duty to the Lord. But besides this, the principle of both these special precepts is, regard for, and reverence towards, God in his ordinances, and man in his relation towards us. And the respect shown to parents has an intimate connection with the submission of our mind to authority in any other case; such as this of the Sabbaths of the Lord.
Ver. 4. “Turn ye not unto idols, nor make to yourselves molten gods :* I am the Lord
God." In your public life, be careful to honor God before all men. Turn not to other gods; which implies the duty of being guided by the Lord's will in our public or common-life transactions. You are not to be led by Mammon, nor by the smile of the great, nor by the fear of the mighty. The fear of Jehovah is to pervade your actions.
Vers. 5, 6, 7, 8. "And if ye offer a sacrifice of peace-offerings unto the
Lord, ye shall offer it at your own will. It shall be eaten the same day ye offer it, and on the morrow: and if aught remain until the third day, it shall be burnt in the fire. And if it be eaten at all on the third day, it is abominable; it shall not be accepted. Therefore every one that eateth it shall bear his iniquity, because he hath profaned the hallowed thing of the Lord : and that soul shall be
cut off from among his people.” There must be care taken, in holy actions, of the effect on others which our example would have. Peaceofferings are left to the free will of the offerers; only when they do bring them, they must strictly follow the prescribed rules. And if, on leaving any of their offering to the third day, some one should eat of the portion left (ver. 8), that soul must suffer for it by being shut out from the congregation.
* Perhaps there is emphasis in each clause. “ Turn not,” or look not. to. The attire and elegance of idol worship was attractive, like Popish splendor, to the natural eye; therefore, do not cast even a glance on it. And perhaps there is ridicule in the other clause,“ molten gods,”—cast. metal gods! It is a Divine sarcasm on Idolatry.
There is probably, another view to be taken of this precept. It prescribes nothing but what has been already prescribed in former chapters; but then we must notice the position in which it occurs. It occurs among rules regarding a man's relation to his fellows in common acts of life. Hence, this precept may be intended here to guide them in the circumstances wherein they were placed towards others. It is meant to prevent ostentation in their free-will offerings, or any selfish ends. For it is to be brought "of their own will"-spontaneous outflowing of gratitude to God. It is to be used immediately, and on the spot. It is to be treated as one of the Lord's "hallowed things." All this, of course, in no way interferes with the typical design of the ceremonies themselves, which have been already spoken of in chap. vii. 16.
Vers. 9, 10. “And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt
not wholly reap the corners of thy field, neither shalt thou gather the gleanings of thy harvest. And thou shalt not glean thy vineyard, neither shalt thou gather every grape of thy vineyard; thou shalt leave them for the poor and stranger: I am the Lord your God."
The Jewish writers say that a sixteenth part was left in every field. Then, if in reaping, or binding what was cut, some fell out of the sheaves, it was to be left in the field for the poor-for such as Ruth. And thus, too, in gathering the clusters of their vines. Such as Ruth, who was both “poor and a stranger" (ver. 10), must be
allowed to take what was left. All this was meant to check selfishness and greediness; to encourage brotherly kindness and liberality; and to condemn covetous, avaricious, griping tendencies in the people of Israel.*
God tried them to see if they would really act as stewards for him. And when he sends the poor and the stranger to Boaz, he blesses the rich man who had the desire to act as the Lord commanded.
Besides, Israel were thus taught, that though they got the best of the substance, yet there were strangers who were to share in their blessings. There were poor Gentiles often coming across their borders from Moab or from Egypt, from Syria or from Edom, who must receive a share in Israel's blessings. Here was a type of the Gentiles partaking in their spiritual things. Such persons as Ittai, the Gittite; Hiram, King of Tyre; the Queen of Sheba; the widow of Sarepta ; Naaman, the Syrian ; Jehonadab, the Kenite; Ebedmelech, the Ethiopian; and many, many unknown, but whose names are in the book of life, though they were not of the seed of Israel.
Vers. 11, 12. “Ye sball not steal, neither deal falsely, neither lie one
to another. And ye shall not swear by my name falsely, neither
shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the Lord." In their civil transactions with each other-in business and trade. In ver. 11 theft, or any dishonest deed, is forbidden, however plausible it appear; “Ye shall not steal, nor be guilty of any deceptive practice" (neimer). Nor must they carelessly appeal to God in common affairs, when their truth may be doubted by a neighbor.
Christians need to be warned and admonished on these heads, as much as Israel. There ia a contamination of conscience too frequently found in even Christian men, from continual intercourse with an unconscientious world. Glorify God, therefore, by a jealous integrity, and by a noble uprightness. Cast reproach on the world's meanness, and show you carry God's presence with you into 'every place, and at every hour, and in all engagement. Write “ Holiness to the Lord" on the bells of the horses.
* The “corners” of the field were the edges, or skirts. Then (ver. 10) " thou shalt not gather the (?) single grapes,” that stood not in clusters.
Ver. 13. " Thou shalt not defraud thy neighbor, neither rob him : the
wages of him that is hired shall not abide with thee all night until
the morning." Far from defrauding, or withholding what is due to thy neighbor, thou shalt not even delay giving him what he is entitled to. This precept is directly pointed against incurring debt. Fraudulent bankruptcies, and pretexts for withholding payments, are condemned by it; but remaining in debt to any one is also pointedly condemned. “Owe no man anything, but to love one another." In James v. 4, this is spoken of as a sin of the last days.
Ver. 14. “Thou shalt not curse the deaf, nor put a stumbling-block
before the blind, but shalt fear thy God: I am the Lord.” Oh! how great the hard-hearted selfishness of man, since such a precept is needed! and how deep the inclination to Atheism in practice, since such a testimony, “I am Jehovah,” needs ever to be repeated! The Lord abhors the meanness that would take advantage of a neighbor's defects, instead of aiding that neighbor in supplying the want he feels. Oh! how unlike the Lord when a man acts so.
“He that might the advantage best have took
Found out the remedy.”