Page images
PDF
EPUB

C

phecy; and the fulfilment of prophecy is seen in their extermination. Of Egypt it is written

- It shall be the basest of the kingdoms, ' neither shall it exalt itself any more above

the nations; for I will diminish them, that they shall no more rule over the nations. Has not history here been the very transcript of prophecy, and that, because the provocations of Egypt had brought upon it the ban of prophecy? But above all the history of the Israelites themselves, to whom the law of God was especially given, illustrates the supremacy of that law, which they have broken, and may convince us by a fearful example, daily before our eyes, that, where the word of God has given its command, it shall never want either prophecy for its herald, or miracles for its executioners.

Surely then there can be nothing, which it more nearly concerns us to know, than what is that law of God, which comes to us, so strongly authenticated ; nor can we be at any loss, where to discover it, when we find the handwriting of God, so clearly impressed upon it in the bible.

If any thing, like this, could be pleaded on

behalf of the koran or shaster or any code of antichristian superstition, you might justly suspect error in the reasoning, and reject it, as a ground of confidence. But I believe it has never been attempted to produce a tissue of prophecy, of miracle, and of moral enactment, so strongly attested, so wonderfully combined, so reciprocally corroborated, in any work, except the bible. This is a threefold cord, of which it may be truly said, that it is not quickly broken ; and, while it remains entire, the sanction of the divine law, revealed in the bible, is established, like a rock, which may not be removed, but standeth fast for

ever.

It is impossible therefore, as I said before, that we can stop here. We must be anxious to know, what is the law of God, so marvellously ushered in to our view, because we cannot but be sensible, that it is a law, to which we are bound to conform ourselves in every particular, and because all the miracles and prophecies of both testaments are many concurring proofs, that the divine

SO

being is jealous of its violation. Now every direction in holy writ is a part of that law; and we seem therefore to have a slow and difficult task before us, to extract from various detached histories, predictions, and discourses the scattered rules, which form the measure of our duty. The task however is shortened by observing, that there are some directions in the bible, which are peculiar to the people of Israel, being designed to keep them a peculiar nation, or relating to a state of things, in which the promised saviour of the world was still expected, and therefore no longer binding, when that long promised redeemer is arrived. It is yet further shortened by having been expressly reduced into summaries in the bible itself. Thus Jesus Christ says to his disciples in the text— Did not Moses give you

the law?'—; from which question we may infer, that the whole law of God may be substantially gathered even from the writings of Moses alone.

Accordingly find in the twentieth chapter of Exodus, which is one of the five books, written by Moses, the law of God,

we

[ocr errors]

delivered by himself with extraordinary solemnity amidst thunders, and lightnings, and thick darkness, and the sound of a trumpet, and afterwards written on tables of stone by the finger of God himself, to distinguish it from all temporary or national enactments, as the everlasting law, binding on all mankind. And our saviour appeals to these very commandments, as containing in them the essence of all the law of God. "Thou knowest the

commandments'-said he“ Do not commit “adultery! Do not kill! Do not steal! Do not “ bear false witness! Honor thy father and thy “ mother"

But the substance of the divine law, given by Moses, has been still further reduced by our saviour, and thus brought, as it were, to a single point, which no understanding can be so feeble as not to comprehend, no memory so treacherous as not to retain : and even this compendious epitome of the law of God he quotes together with its solemn introduction, as it is found in the writings of Moses. Thus he says—' The ' first of all the commandments is—“ Hear, “ O Israel! The lord, our God, is one lord ; « and thou shalt love the lord, thy God, with “all thy heart and with all thy soul and with “all thy mind and with all thy strength.” « This is the first commandment: and the second is like, namely this. “ Thou shalt “ love thy neighbour, as thyself.” There is

none other commandment, greater than these.' -and again-On these two commandments * hang all the law and the prophets. The first of these two commandments is found in the fourth and fifth verses of the sixth chapter of Deuteronomy, the second in the eighteenth verse of the nineteenth chapter of Leviticus, both in the writings of Moses, which thus furnish us in an extremely small compass with a concentrated view of the whole law of our maker. • Our inquiry therefore is extremely simple. Have we ourselves kept this law hitherto ? and how may we hope to keep it hereafter?

It must be owned, that we set out on this inquiry with a very unfavorable intimation of its probable result. 'Did not Moses' (said the blessed Jesus to the Israelites of his day) give you the law ? and yet none of you keep

« PreviousContinue »