Deuteronomy 15
Biblical Illustrator
At the end of every seven years...a release.
One of the things that strikes a reader of Deuteronomy, and indeed of the Old Testament in general, is the way in which all kinds of subjects are brought under the scope of religion. The modern mind is ready with distinctions, and classifies subjects as religious, moral, political, scientific, economical, and so forth; but the Israelitish lawgivers, men with the prophetic spirit in them, subordinate politics, economics, and morals alike to religion. Laws, to whatever department of life they are applicable, are to be made and administered in the Spirit of God; they are not an end in themselves; their one end is to enable people so to live as that the purposes may be fulfilled for which God has called them into being and constituted them into societies. This high point of view must always be retained. If we know better than the Israelites the life which God intends human beings to live, we shall have a higher standard for our legislation than they; we shall be more bound than they to remember that law is an instrument of religion, a means to a spiritual end, and that it rests with us who make our own laws to adapt them, over the whole area of national life, to the ends which God sets before us.

1. In the first place, there is legislation regarding land. It proceeds upon the idea that the land belongs to God, and has been given by Him to the nation that on it as a foundation it may live that life of labour, of health, and of natural piety to which He has called it. Strictly speaking, there is no such thing as unrestricted private property in land. An individual does not have the power of alienating any part of it forever. One result, and no doubt one purpose of this was, to prevent a single worthless person from ruining his posterity by parting forever with what he really held in trust for them; another, was to prevent the accumulation of great masses of landed property, which was then the only kind of property, in the hands of individuals. Such accumulations, in the circumstances, and in most circumstances, could only lead to the practical enslavement of those who tilled the land to those who owned it. These aims of the land laws in Israel will very generally be acknowledged as worthy of approval. I suppose there is not a statesman in Europe who would not give a great deal to resettle on the land hundreds of thousands of those who have been driven or drawn into the towns. There is not one but sees that private property in land must, if the moral ends for which society exists are to be attained, be limited somehow. Similarly, legislation is justifiable — that is, it is in the line of a Divine intention — which aims at making it hard to beggar the poor, and hard to heap up wealth without limit. It is not a morally healthy situation in which one man of enormous wealth has thousands practically at his mercy. It is not good for him — I mean for his soul; it is not good for their souls either; and the law may properly aim, by just methods, at making it hard to create such a situation and impossible to perpetuate it. Unhappily, in most new countries the need of bribing settlers and capital has proved a temptation too strong to be resisted; and land has been parted with in masses, to individuals, on terms which have simply sown for future generations the seed of all the trouble under which older countries labour. The instinct for gain has proved stronger titan the devotion to ideal moral ends. The future has been sacrificed to the present, the moral interests of the community to the material interests of a few.

2. Besides the land, the Book of Deuteronomy contains a variety of laws regarding money, and particularly the lending of money. To begin with, the lending of money for interest was absolutely forbidden. The Israelites were not a commercial, but a farming people, and when a man borrowed, it was not to float a venture too great for his own means, but because he had got into difficulties, and wanted relief. To assist a brother in difficulty was regarded as a case of charity; he was to be relieved readily and freely; it were inhuman to take advantage of his distress to get him into one's power, as a money lender does his victim. It may be said, of course, that the effect of this law would be to discourage lending altogether; people would not be too ready to part with their money without some hope of profit. Probably this might be so, and to some extent with good effect. There are some people who borrow, and who ought not to do so. They ought not to have money lent to them. It is a mercy not to lend him money: it is a special mercy to protect him, as this law does, against the money lenders. But I am not sure that the law which prohibits lending money for interest has not another moral idea at the heart of it. As distinguished from agriculture, commerce, which depends so much more upon credit, i.e. upon money lent for interest, has a much larger element of speculation in it; and speculation is always to be discouraged, on moral grounds. Everyone knows that there are persons with little money of their own who contrive to make a livelihood by watching the ups and downs in the price of shares. This is a vocation which depends for its very existence on the lending of money for interest, and no one will say that it is morally wholesome, or that, whatever sensitiveness it may develop in certain of the intellectual faculties, it is elevating for the whole man. It would be far better for him to be doing field labour. But there is more still in this law. As it stands, I do not believe it is applicable to the vastly different conditions of modern life, especially in a trading community; here, to lend a trustworthy person money to carry on or extend his business may be what the law intended all lending to be, an act of charity. But the lender must consider his own position — I mean his moral position. His whole income may come — in many cases it does come — from investments. He lives on the interest of money he has lent. He takes no care of it, except to see at first that the investments are sound. He does no work in connection with it. He is largely ignorant of the use made of the power which it bestows. I am not going to say that no one should live on such terms: for many, life would be impossible otherwise. For many it is the proper reward of a life of labour: they are only reaping the fruit of their toils in earlier years. To such it is not likely to do any harm. But those who have inherited such a situation are undoubtedly exposed to moral perils of which they may easily become unconscious. They can live without needing to make their living; and there are very few people in a generation good enough to stand such a trial. Those who labour with the money are conscripts; let those who lend it be volunteers in all the higher services which society requires from its members. Let them be leaders in all philanthropies and charities, in all laborious duties which have it as their object to raise the moral and spiritual status of men.

3. A third class of economical laws which bulks largely in the Book of Deuteronomy, and to which special attention is due, is occupied with the care of the poor. This fifteenth chapter has a number of enactments bearing on this subject. The first is rather obscure, "At the end of every seven years thou shalt make a release." In the Book of Exodus (Exodus 23:10) this law refers to the land, and its meaning is that every seventh year it is not to be cropped. Here, there is a year of release established for debts, though it is not clear whether it means that a debt due seven years was to be irrecoverable by legal process, or that every seventh year there should be a period of grace, during which no debt should be recoverable by law. Then, in the laws about lending, the duty of charity is strongly enforced. The forgotten sheaf in the field, or the gleanings of the vineyard and the olive are not to be too carefully gathered in; they are to be left for the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, "that the Lord thy God may bless thee in all the works of thine hand." God is interested in humanity; He sees such consideration and rewards it, just as He sees inhumanity and judges it. But the most striking thing in these ancient poor laws is the way in which they realise the actual conditions of the life of the poor, and consider them. The lender is allowed to take a pledge, but if he takes the upper garment of the borrower he must not keep it all night. It is not only the poor man's cloak, but his blanket; he has nothing else to cover himself with, and God is angry with the man who inhumanly leaves his poor brother to shiver in the cold night air. So, too, no one may take the hand mill or the upper millstone as a pledge; that is to rob the poor of the means of grinding the handful of corn with which he keeps the breath in his body. We see from laws like these how excessively poor they were, yet the lawgiver who has the Spirit of God in him enters into this deep poverty, realises the conditions of life under it, and insists on due consideration for them. Business is business, of course; but humanity is also humanity, and it is an interest which no consideration of business will ever displace before God. And to refer in this connection to only one point more, what could be more beautiful than the law we find in verses 10 and 11 of Deuteronomy 24? It is a mean and inhuman temper, which is here reproved by God. The poor man is not to be insulted because he is in distress; he is to be treated by the lender as courteously and respectfully as if he were — what he is — his equal. The sacredness of his home is to be respected; he is not to be needlessly affronted before his children by having an unfeeling or insolent stranger walk into the house and carry off what he pleases. Laws like these move us to reflection on the provision which we ourselves make for the poor. On what a large scale poverty exists in the great cities! The practical difficulties of relieving distress without doing moral injury are undeniably very great, but I do not believe they will be overcome by men whom habitual contact with dishonesty and incapacity has rendered hard and inhuman. Those who have the care of the poor should care for them with humanity. They should care for their feelings too, and respect the common nature which is in them. If they do not, they suffer for it themselves, and one can hardly find a more odious type of human being than the man who has been hardened and brutalised by the administration of charity. There is one kind of criticism which has often been passed, and will no doubt continue to be passed, on such laws as these. It is this: they have never been kept. There is no evidence, for instance, that the law of the jubilee year, when all property returned to its original owners, was ever observed in Israel: as a means for preventing the dissipation of family property, or its accumulation in a few hands, it was a failure. So have all laws been which attempted to regulate the business of lending money, either by prohibiting interest altogether, or by fixing a maximum rate of interest. No law written in a book can ever compete with the living intellect of man, with his cunning and greed on the one hand, with his distress, his passions, or his stupidity on the other. There is a certain quantity of truth in this; but taken without qualification it is only a plea for anarchy — an invitation to give up the whole of the economical side of social existence to the conflict of ability, selfishness, and capital with incompetence, need, and passion. Surely there is a moral ideal for this side of existence; and surely if there is, it must find some expression, however inadequate, some assistance, however feeble, from the laws. We cannot by law protect people against the consequences of their vices or their follies; but we can provide in the law a safeguard for those interests which are higher than private gain or loss. We can make it impossible for anyone in the pursuit of private gain to trample humanity under foot.

(James Denney, D. D.)

My text was intended as an especial law to the ancients, and prefigured to all ages Gospel forgiveness. The fact is that the world is loaded down with a debt, which no bankrupt law or two-third enactment can alleviate. The voices of heaven cry, "Pay! Pay!" Men and women are frantic with moral insolvency. What shall be done? A new law is proclaimed, from the throne of God, of universal release for all who will take advantage of that enactment.

1. In the first place, why will you carry your burden of sin any longer? "The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from sin." Cut loose the cables which hold your transgressions, and let them fall off. Spiritual, infinite, glorious, everlasting release! "Blessed is the man whose transgressions are forgiven and whose sins are covered."

2. Some of you, also, want deliverance from your troubles. God knows you have enough of them. Physical, domestic, spiritual, and financial troubles. How are you going to get relief? The Divine Physician comes, and He knows how severe the trouble is, and He gives you this promise: "Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning." Does it not take effect upon you? Here, then, He pours out more drops of Divine consolation, and I am sure this time the trouble will be arrested: "All things work together for good to those who love God." All the Atlantic and Pacific oceans of surging sorrow cannot sink a soul that has asked for God's pilotage. The difficulty is, that when we have misfortunes of any kind, we put them in God's hand, and they stay there a little while; and then we go and get them again, and bring them back. A vessel comes in from a foreign port. As it comes near the harbour it sees a pilot floating about. It hails the pilot. The pilot comes on board, and he says: "Now, captain, you have had a stormy passage. Go down and sleep, and I will take the vessel into New York harbour." After a while the captain begins to think: "Am I right in trusting this vessel to that pilot? I guess I'll go up and see." So he comes to the pilot, and says: "Don't you see that rock? Don't you see those headlands? You will wreck the ship. Let me hold the helm for a while myself, and then I'll trust to you." The pilot becomes angry, and says: "I will either take care of this ship or not. If you want to, I will get into my yawl and go ashore, or back to my boat." Now we say to the Lord: "O God, take my life, take my all, in Thy keeping." We go along for a little while, and suddenly wake up, and say: "Things are going all wrong. O Lord, we are driving on these rocks, and Thou art going to let us be shipwrecked." God says: "You go and rest; I will take charge of this vessel, and take it into the harbour." It is God's business to comfort, and it is our business to be comforted. "At the end of seven years thou shalt make a release."

3. But what is our programme for the coming years? It is about the same line of work, only on a more intensified and consecrated scale. Ah, we must be better men and women.

(T. De Witt Talmage.)

God is putting lines of mercy amid all the black print of the law. It would seem as if wherever God could find a place at which He might utter some word of pity or compassion, He filled up that place with an utterance of His solicitude for the welfare of man. Flowers look lovely everywhere, but what must be the loveliness of a flower to the wanderer in a desert? So these Gospel words are full of charm wherever we find them, but they have double charmfulness being found in connection with institutions, instructions, precepts, and commandments marked by the severest righteousness. In the midst of time God graciously puts a year of release. We find in this year of release what we all need — namely, the principle of new chances, new opportunities, fresh beginnings. Tomorrow, said the debtor or the slave, is the day of release, and the next day I shall begin again: I shall have another chance in life; the burden will be taken away. The darkness will be dispersed, and life shall be young again. Every man ought to have more chances than one, even in our own life. God has filled the sphere of life with opportunities. But moral releases can only be accomplished by moral processes. The man who is in prison must take the right steps to get out of it. What are those right steps? — repentance, contrition, confession — open, frank, straightforward, self-renouncing confession; then the man must be allowed to begin again; God will, in His providence, work out for such a man another opportunity; concealment there must be none, prevarication none, self-defence none. Where the case lies between the soul and God — the higher morality still — there must be an interview at the Cross — a mysterious communion under the blood that flows from the wounded Christ. All this being done on the part of the creditor and the owner, what happens on the side of God? The answer to that inquiry is: "The Lord shall greatly bless thee in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance to possess it" (ver. 4). God never allows us to obey the law without immediate and large compensation. We cannot obey the laws of health without instantly being the healthier; we cannot obey the laws of cleanliness without the flesh instantly thanking us, in stronger pulsations and wider liberties, for what we have done to it. A blessing is attached to all obedience, when the obedience is rendered to law Divine and gracious. The reward is in the man's own heart: he has a reward which no thief can take away from the sanctuary in which it is preserved; heaven is within. None can forestall God, or outrun God, or confer upon God an obligation which He cannot repay; He takes the moisture from the earth only that He may return it in copious showers. No man can serve God for nought.

(J. Parker, D. D.)

I propose to consider death as the Christian's release, and then you will easily perceive what pleasure it must give to the believer, who is waiting for his discharge, to be told that the year of release is at hand.


1. From labour (Revelation 14:13). They know little of religion who think that a Christian has nothing to do. When Christ first calls us, He says: "Go, work today in My vineyard." There is not only a great variety of employments, but that which requires much application and labour. To mortify sin is difficult work. But courage, Christians, the year of release is at hand. In heaven there will be much service, but no kind of labour. They rest not, day nor night, from rapturous adorations, and yet feel no fatigue, for the joy of the Lord is their strength.

2. But I said also that you shall be released from sorrow as well as from labour. The sources of present grief are almost innumerable. There are personal, family, and national troubles; and these sometimes follow one another so quickly, that many have tears for their meat, night and day. But courage, Christians, the year of release is at hand, when they that sow in tears shall reap in joy.

II. There will be A RELEASE FROM SIN. Though you go out of this world lamenting your numerous infirmities, you shall be presented before the throne of God without spot or wrinkle or any such thing.

III. It will be A RELEASE FROM TEMPTATION. Within the gates of the New Jerusalem you shall be free from all assaults and troubles whatever, and be proclaimed more than conquerors through Him that loved you.

IV. There will be A RELEASE FROM THIS STATE OF EXILE AND CONFINEMENT. Mysteries of Providence will then be unfolded, and the most delightful discoveries made of the infinite wisdom and goodness of God. The much greater mysteries of grace shall be also laid open; and fill our hearts with love and admiration, and our mouths with never-ending praises.

(S. Lavington.)


1. They were, at the end of every seven years, to release every man his debtor from the debt which he had accumulated. A man might pay if he could, and he should do so. A man might, at some future time, if his circumstances altered, discharge the debt which had been remitted; but, as far as the creditor was concerned, it was remitted.

2. They were never to exact that debt again. The moral claim might remain, and the honest Israelite might take care that his brother Israelite should not lose anything through him; but, still, according to the Divine command, there was to be no exacting of it. None but a generous Lawgiver would have made such a law as this. It is noble-hearted, full of loving kindness; and we could expect that none but a people in whose midst there was the daily sacrifice, in the midst of whom moved the high priest of God, would be obedient to such a precept.

3. They were to do this for the Lord's sake: "because it is called the Lord's release." It is not enough to do the correct thing; it must be done in a right spirit, and with a pure motive. A good action is not wholly good unless it be done for the glory of God, and because of the greatness and goodness of His holy name. The most powerful motive that a Christian can have is this, "For Jesus' sake." You could not forgive the debt, perhaps, for your brother's sake; there may be something about him that would harden your heart; but can you not do it for Jesus' sake? This is true charity, that holy love which is the choicest of the graces. And then, like the Israelites, we may look believingly to the gracious reward that God gives. We do not serve God for wages; but still we have respect unto the recompense of the reward, even as Moses had. We do not run like hirelings; but yet we have our eye upon the prize of our high calling in Christ Jesus. They were not only to perform this kindness once, but they were to be ready to do it again. It is the part of Christians not to be weary in well doing; and if they get no reward for what they have done from those to whom it is done, still to do the same again. Remember how gracious God is, and how He giveth to the unthankful and the evil, and maketh His rain to fall upon the field of the churl as well as upon the field of the most generous.

5. While they were to forgive and remit, on this seventh year, the loans which remained unpaid, they were also to let the bondman go. It was not to be thought a hardship to part with a servant man or woman. However useful they might have been in the house or field, however much they were felt to be necessary to domestic comfort or farm service, they were to be allowed to go; and, what was more, they were not to go empty handed, but they were to receive a portion out of every department of the master's wealth.

6. Further, this setting free of their brother at the specified time was to be done for a certain reason: "Thou shalt remember," etc. How can you hold another a bondman when God has set you free? How can you treat another with unkindness when the Lord has dealt so generously with you? Down at Olney, when Mr. Newton was the rector of the parish, he put in his study this text where he could always see it when he lifted his eyes from his text while preparing his sermon, Remember that thou wast a bondman in the land of Egypt, and the Lord thy God redeemed thee. Would it not do many Christians good if they had that text often before their eyes? Would it not excite gratitude to their Redeemer, and tenderness towards those who happened to be in subjection to them, tenderness to every sinner that is a bondslave under the law, tenderness to the myriads that swarm these streets, slaves to sin and self, and who are perishing in their iniquity?

7. The spirit of this release of the Lord is this, "Never be hard on anybody." It is true that the man made the bargain, and he ought to keep to it; but he is losing money, and he cannot afford it; he is being ruined, and you are being fattened by his mistake. Do not hold him to it. No Christian man can be a sweater of workers; no Christian man can be a grinder of the poor; no man, who would be accepted before God, can think that his heart is right with Him when he treats others ungenerously, not to say unjustly.


1. Let me proclaim to every sinner here, who owns his indebtedness to God, and feels that he can never discharge it, that if you will come, and put your trust in Christ, the Lord promises oblivion to all your debt, forgiveness of the whole of your sins.

2. This release shall be followed up by a nonexacting of the penalty forever.

3. God will do all this for thee on the ground of thy poverty. See the fourth verse: "Save when there shall be no poor among you. When you cannot pay half a farthing in the pound of all your great debt of sin, when you are absolutely bankrupt, then may you believe that Jesus Christ is your Saviour.

4. I may be addressing a soul here that says, "I like that thought, I wish I could catch hold of it; but I feel myself to be such a slave that I cannot grasp it." Well, the Lord may allow a soul to be in bondage for a time; indeed, it may be needful that He should. The Hebrew might be in bondage six years, and yet he went free when the seventh year came. There are reasons why the Spirit of God is to some men a Spirit of bondage for a long time. Hard hearts must be melted, proud stomachs must be brought down.

5. The man was set free at the end of the sixth year, paying nothing for his liberation. Though not freeborn, nor yet buying his liberty with a great sum, yet he was set free. O Lord, set some soul free tonight!

6. And when the Lord sets poor souls at liberty, He always sends them away full-handed. He gives something from the flock, and from the threshing floor, and from the wine press.

7. This act never seems hard to the Lord. He says to the Hebrew, in the eighteenth verse, "It shall not seem hard unto thee, when thou sendest him away free." It never seems hard to Christ when He sets a sinner free.

8. One thing I feel sure of, and that is, if the Lord sets us free, we shall want to remain His servants forever. We will go straight away to the door-post, and ask Him to use the awl; for, though we are glad to be free, we do not want to be free from Him.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

Save when there shall be no poor among you.
These two sentences (vers. 4 and 11) seem, at first sight, to contradict one another. There are three ways of reading the fourth verse. "Save when there shall be no poor among you," says the text. "To the end that there be no poor," reads the margin. Howbeit, there shall be no poor with thee, runs the Revised Version. The explanation may be briefly put thus: There would always be poor people among them; "howbeit, they must not let them be poor, i.e. not let them sink down in poverty.

I. THE EXISTENCE OF POVERTY. My own experience has been that those who are most hurt cry out least. The most deserving, and generally the most pitiful, cases of distress have to be looked for. But, say some, is it not their own fault that they are so badly off? No doubt it often is so. Idleness, drink, waste, folly, incapableness may all cause poverty; but what of that? We cannot stand by and see people starve. It would be easier to die by hanging than hunger; but we do not even hang people except for high treason or murder. Much more must we not by any sin of omission condemn the innocent to suffer with the guilty — the hardworking wife or the helpless children for the sake of the worthless husband or father. The fact is that poverty is largely the consequence of an unequal struggle between the strong and the weak.

II. THE DUTY OF RELIEVING POVERTY. Look at what Moses taught the Israelites.

1. That prevention is better than cure. There was never to be a "bitter cry of outcast" Canaan.(1) We may use our influence to encourage better education. With the next generation more intelligent, temperate, and capable, pauperism will be less.(2) We may exert our influence towards giving the labourer a heartier interest in the land he tills.(3) We may inculcate a love of independence. Poverty is no sin, but pauperism is a reproach, and should be felt as such.

2. That each nation, or community, or church, should care for its own poor.

3. That charity should be systematic. The time was precise — every third year; the quantity was precise — one tenth; the object was precise — "thy poor brother."Contrast with these laws of Moses the teaching of Christ.

1. The law of Moses aimed at preventing poverty. Christ came and found men poor. He did more than prevent; He cured. To heal sickness is a harder task than to maintain health. To deliver the needy when he crieth is often more difficult than to preserve him before he has had occasion to cry. Moses provided for keeping people up who were not overthrown; Christ actually went down to the low dark depths, and raised those who were sunk there.

2. Moses taught that each nation, or community, or church, should care for its own. To go beyond that was permitted, but not enjoined. Christ taught a much broader truth than that — charity without distinction. Our neighbour is not the person who lives next door to us, or who has most affinity with us; but the person who is nearest to our helping hand, even though he be a Jew and we are Samaritans. Our first duty is to our own, but not our last. Charity begins at home, but does not end there.

3. Moses was systematic, but Christ was above systems. There was no fixed standard with Him, except this. "Sell all that thou hast. and distribute unto the poor." There was no stint in His giving. It was not certain objects of His kindness whom He blessed: "Whosoever will, let him come." It was not every few years merely that He was benevolent; but "yesterday, today, and forever."

(Charles T. Price.)


1. Contiguity. It is the poor "in thy land." Those living nearest us, other things being equal, have the first claim on our charity. Let it bless as it goes; work as the leaven in the meal, from particle to particle, until it gives its spirit to the mass.

2. Heartiness. "Thou shalt not harden," etc. The heart must go with the deed.

3. Liberality. "Open thine hand wide unto him." The liberality of men is not to be judged by the sums they subscribe, but by the means they possess.


1. Your relationship to the poor. "He is thy brother." He has the same origin, the same nature, the same great Father, the same moral relationships, as thyself.

2. The imprecation of the poor. "And he cry," etc.

3. The blessedness insured to the friend of the poor.

4. The Divine plan as to the permanent existence of the poor.


A poor dragoman told me that General Gordon used to come often to his house in Jerusalem when he and his wife lay ill, and that he would take any cushion or mat and put it on the floor as a seat, there being no chairs or furniture, and sit down with his Testament to read and speak to them about Christ. But his zeal did not end with such easy philanthropy. Ascertaining that a doctor's account had been incurred to the amount of three pounds, he went off secretly and paid it. Far away at Khartoum, he still thought of one whom he had thus striven to lead into the fold of Christ, and sent a letter to him which reached Jerusalem almost at the same time as the news of its writer's death. "That letter," said the poor Copt, "I would not part with for all that is in the world. General Gordon was a real Christian. He gave away all he had to the poor in Jerusalem and the villages round, and the people mourn for him as for their father."

A poor sewing girl, who went to the late Dr. John F. Gray for advice, was given a, phial of medicine and told to go home and go to bed. "I can't do that, doctor, the girl replied, "for I am dependent on what I earn every day for my living." "If that's so," said Dr. Gray, I'll change, the medicine, a little. Give me back that phial." He then wrapped around it a ten-dollar bill, and returning it to her, reiterated his order, "Go home and go to bed," adding, "take the medicine, cover and all." He who takes account of the cups of cold water will not forget such deeds of kindness and charity. Oh to hear Him say at the last, "Ye have done it unto Me!"

In Rochester there lived a wealthy man who made a great profession of religion; he knelt at communion seasons and attended church with great regularity, but be would not give one shilling to the poor, nor to any other person. In the year 1862, I asked a trifle of money from him to relieve some families who were in great distress, but he refused, saying, "I am a poor man, sir; I am a poor man." Listen to what this thorny-ground hearer said, as he lay with glazing, dying eyes, to a clergyman who, noticing his lips move, bent down to catch the whisper, "Ninety thousand pounds, and I must leave it all behind me!" If there be among you a poor man of one of thy brethren. —

As God had chosen all Israel, so He desired that they should love as brethren. Each was to stand by the other, and all were to be zealous for the Divine honour. Thus they would bear, in contradistinction to the heathen, the character of a people consecrated to God. But even in Israel there were rich and poor, happy and unhappy. Wherever men went the poor and afflicted would be met with. Therefore the people were exhorted to hold heart and hand open — not to harden the heart nor shut the hand. Each was to be ready to stand by his fellow to see that his brother should not suffer.


1. If we belong to the people of God — if this were so in Israel, much more should it be among Christians — then there will be in our hearts a tender feeling toward our fellow men — a feeling implanted by God Himself. The heart will say: "This is thy brother; help him." This results from God's love in the heart, which leads the brethren to "love one another."

2. But this tender-heartedness can be destroyed and the heart be hardened, even among Christians, and this against the light of conscience. They often do as it is rumoured the New Zealanders did with their children. They pressed down the necks of the children under a flinty stone in order to harden them, so Christians make their hearts sometimes hard as flints through avariciousness. The avaricious heart ever thinks: "This belongs to me and to no one else, and none shall share it."

3. This is not well-pleasing to God. He sees that by covetousness men are led to destruction, and to reject His love toward them. For when men are so hard-hearted, how can they have the love of God in them?


1. When this is so, then the love of God has full scope in their hearts; and thus He causes through those open hands and hearts much good to flow out into this evil world. For to His children who are ever ready to give to those who need He will give yet more, so that from their increased store they may give yet more fully to others, and that thus these also may learn to praise God.

2. Therefore he who has a kind heart and open hand will experience and receive a blessing. As he gives, so he receives. It is with such as with Cornelius: "Thy prayers and thine alms are come up before God." Thus, too, the way is made open for the reception of God's gifts both temporal and spiritual. Let us all, then, endeavour to preserve a tender heart, arid not let our heart be hardened.

(J. C. Blumhardt.)

And he cry unto the Lord against thee
The poor cry to heaven — from the scenes of oppressive labour, from wretched hovels, from beds of straw, shivering in the cold, from the depths of starvation, they cry! Many a poor mother in these blood-freezing nights hugs to her shivering bosom her starving infant, and tries to hush its cries of cold and hunger with the wails of her own broken heart. God alone knows the cries that rise and pierce the heavens every night from this "great country" — as the cant is. Alas! Alas! that from this land, overflowing with luxuries and burdened with wealth, such wails of wretchedness should rise! Against whom do they cry? Against their Maker? No! The most unobservant of them can scarcely fail to discover that He sends food enough for all. Besides, deep and ineradicably rooted in the heart of all is the sentiment that God is good — a sentiment this, which seems to me the core of conscience. Against the overreaching monopolist, the iron-hearted miser, the ruthless oppressor, the man who has the power to help but not the heart. Against all selfish men and unrighteous laws that grind the people down, they cry — and cry with unremitting vehemence too. Will He hear? Is the ear of Him who heard of old the cries of the enslaved millions in Egypt, and interposed with avenging thunders for their rescue, grown heavy? Nay, modern oppressor! Those cries shall be answered; not a solitary wail shall die away unheeded. Woe to the nation that oppresses the poor! Woe! and again, woe! when retribution comes, as come it must.


The poor shall never cease out of the land
I. THE PERPETUAL EXISTENCE OF THE POOR AMONGST US. You must become reconciled to your poverty. And if you would become really reconciled to it do not regard it as something inflicted by the misgovernment or the management of your fellow men. Put it before you in the light this text puts it, as God's ordinance and God's will concerning you; as something that rulers and governors can no more drive out of the world than they can drive midnight out of it, or sickness, or pain, or sorrow. Poverty is to be alleviated, and it is to be removed if honest industry will remove it; but if not so, it is to be welcomed and borne. I could tell you where it often comes from. From the poor man's own idleness, improvidence, intemperance, and waste; from the foolish indulgence of children; from the still more criminal indulgence of self. But even then it is from God; it is God's way of showing displeasure against these things. And when it comes not from these things, where does it come from? Often from a love that neither you nor I, nor any angel above us, can measure. The same love that provided a Saviour and built a heaven for sinners now sends poverty often to sinners, to turn them to that Saviour and heaven.

II. OUR DUTY TOWARDS THE POOR. Now if we looked only at the declaration in the first part of the text, and were disposed to reason on it, we might say, Be our duty to the poor what it may, we must not interfere with their poverty; it is God's will they should be poor, and we must not interfere with His will. This would be like saying, God has sent sickness amongst us, and we must not make use of any means to cure or relieve it; or, He has made the winter, and we will do nothing to mitigate the rigour of it; or, He has created the darkness, and it is wrong to have lights in our dwelling to enlighten it. Many of what we call the evils of our condition are designed of God to bring into lawful and healthy action the powers of man's mind and the feelings of man's heart, and this evil of poverty among the number. "The poor shall never cease out of the land"; that is My will, says God. "Therefore I command thee" — what? to let the needy alone in their poverty? No; I have placed them in the land to call forth and exercise thy bounty. The painful work is Mine — I have ordained poverty; the pleasant work shall be thine — thou shalt relieve it. "Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor and to thy needy in thy land." It is a touching circumstance that not only is the general duty of what we call charity to the poor enjoined in Scripture, but so great is the interest God takes in it that the measure and manner of it are strongly enjoined. Here we are told, in the first place, that it must be liberal. "Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother." And it must be extensive charity; that is, as extensive as we can make it. "I will not give my money," we sometimes say, "to this man or that; he has no claim on me; I must keep the little I have to spare for those who have claims on me." But look again, "Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother" — to "thy brother" first, to those who from relationship or from some other cause seem to have claims on thee; but not to "thy brother" only, "to thy poor and to thy needy in thy land." The words are multiplied; to those who have no claims whatever on thee but their poverty and their need. And it must be also a cheerful charity.

III. We may go on now to THE MOTIVES BY WHICH WE ARE URGED TO THE EXERCISE OF THIS GRACE. For these, some of you may be ready to say, I must turn to the Gospel. But no, the God of the Gospel is the God of the law also, the God of the Christian Church was the God of the ancient Church, and there is no motive urged now on us in these Gospel days which was not urged in substance on the Jews in the days of old.

1. For instance, to begin, our own mercies are made use of under the Gospel to impel us to show mercy to others. "Freely ye have received," our Lord says, "freely give." Now look at this chapter. "Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor and to thy needy" — why? "For the Lord thy God," the sixth verse says, is opening His hand wide unto thee; He "is blessing thee," and blessing thee as abundantly as He said He would; "the Lord thy God blesseth thee as He promised thee."

2. But again, the special love of God to the poor is another reason why our hands should be opened to them. Of all the books that were ever written, no book manifests such care for the poor as the Bible. This has often been noticed by those who have closely studied this book, and many others with it, as one of the many internal evidences of its Divine original. But turn to the tenth chapter of the part of it now before us, the nineteenth verse. "Love ye therefore the stranger," says God. And why? Ye yourselves, He adds, "were strangers in the land of Egypt." But this is not the only reason; read what goes before. The Lord Himself "loveth the stranger." "The Lord loveth the stranger," "love ye therefore the stranger," says God. And this applies with much greater force to the widow and fatherless. If natural feeling, as we call it — if our own parental feelings — do not incline us to open our hand to them, let the feelings of God towards them incline us to do so. I love the fatherless, He says; let us, for His sake, because He loves them, love them also.

3. But here is a third motive pressed on you; this "opening of our hand" to the poor will lead the Lord to open His hand to us. "For this thing," we read in the verse before the text — "for this thing the Lord thy God shall bless thee in all thy works, and in all that thou puttest thine hand unto." This is the legal promise, you may say. And true, it is; but the Lord is not less bountiful or less generous under the Gospel than under the law.

(U. Bradley, M. A.)

Consider —

I. That poverty is a real evil which, without any impeachment of the goodness or wisdom of providence, the constitution of the world actually admits.

II. That providential appointment of this evil in subservience to the general good, brings a particular obligation upon men in civilised society to concur for the immediate extinction of the evil wherever it appears.

(Bp. Horsley.)

"The poor shall never cease out of the land." That is a remark which is not understood. Poverty is not an accident; there is a moral mystery connected with poverty which has never yet been found out. The sick chamber makes the house, the infirm member of the family rules its tenderest thinking. Poverty has a great function to work out in the social scheme, but whilst we admit this we must not take the permanence of poverty as an argument for neglect; it is an argument for solicitude, it is an appeal to benevolence, it is an opportunity to soften the heart and cultivate the highest graces of the soul. It is perfectly true that the bulk of poor people may have brought their poverty upon themselves, but who are we that we should make rough speeches about them? What have we brought upon ourselves? If we are more respectable than others, it is still the respectability of thieves and liars and selfish plotters. We, who are apparently more industrious and virtuous and regardful, are not made of different clay, and are not animated by a different blood. It is perfectly true that a thousand people may have brought today's poverty upon themselves, and they will have to suffer for it; but beyond all these accidents or incidents there is the solemn fact that poverty is a permanent quantity, for moral reasons which appeal to the higher instincts of the social commonwealth. We have that we may give, we are strong that we may support the weak, we are wise that we may teach the ignorant. "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus." No man has the slightest occasion or reason for reproaching any other man, except in relation to the immediate circumstance. If the assize were on a larger scale, and we were all involved in the scrutiny, the issue would be this, "There is none righteous, no, not one."

(J. Parker, D. D.)

Open thine hand wide unto thy brother
I. IT IS DUE TO THE CONSTITUTION OF SOCIETY. "The poor always ye have with you." We shall perhaps think correctly on the subject if we admit as the will of God that in every state of society there shall be poor, and that a provision for the production of this fact is laid in the gifts of His providence, in the constitution of men, and in the scheme of His moral government.

II. CHARITY IS DUE TO OURSELVES. It is due to ourselves, as we would wish with uprightness to discharge the duties of that station in which we are placed. To administer relief to the poor is graciously connected with our present comfort and our future well-being. The very act of charity is accompanied with the most refined complacency; it is answering that sympathy which is born in the heart of every man, and which, unless stifled by unnatural discipline, calls loudly for gratification. They are happy who are the objects of your bounty, but ye who have experienced it can tell that "it is more blessed to give than to receive." Connected with this is that blessing over our worldly concerns "which maketh rich, and to which is added no sorrow." And let it be remembered, that prosperity is but for a season; now, therefore, it is time to lay up a store of good deeds, the remembrance of which shall be the best support when misfortune overtakes the prosperous. Let it be remembered yet again that what possessions men have are not their own, but are the property of their Master, who hath committed it to their stewardship. All their opportunities, and all their means of doing good, must he accounted for.

III. IT IS DUE TO RELIGION — to a religion which is in its origin, its effects, its principle, and its precepts a system of charity; a religion which, originating in the love of God, proposes to restore to happiness and dignity those who are "poor, and miserable, and wretched, and blind, and naked." They to whom mercy is shown should be merciful. This is what Christianity requires, nay, what it affirms to be the amount and the criterion of a genuine profession.

IV. IT IS DUE TO THE POOR. As a something voluntary is implied in the idea of charity, it may sound paradoxical to speak of the rights of the poor on the charity of the rich. But the incongruity is only in sound, for it is an acknowledged maxim of civil economy that the poor (the industrious poor, of whom only I now speak) have an absolute right to be supported by the State, whose agriculture, commerce, and manufactures have benefited by their exertions. Further, the poor have a right as brethren, and this is a right which the heart of a Christian cannot deny.

V. IT IS DUE TO THE AGE IN WHICH WE LIVE — an age characterised for beneficence, an age distinguished above all others for the magnitude of its political events, for the advancement of science, for the general diffusion of literature, and more especially for a spirit that has amalgamated all classes of society, the most opposite ranks and professions, into one mass, and stamped the whole with benevolence.

(A. Waugh, M. A.)

It is of importance not only that we should do good, but that we should do it in the best manner. A little judgment and a little reflection added to the gift does not merely enhance the value, but often gives to it the only value which it possesses, and even prevents that mischief of which thoughtless benevolence is sometimes the cause.

1. Mankind can never be too strongly or too frequently cautioned against self-deception. If a state of vice be a state of misery, a state of vice of which we are ignorant is doubly so, from the increased probability of its duration. It is surprising how many men are cheated by flighty sentiments of humanity into a belief that they are humane, how frequently charitable words are mistaken for charitable deeds, and a beautiful picture of misery for an effectual relief of it.

2. Another important point in the administration of charity is a proper choice of the objects we relieve. To give promiscuously is better, perhaps, than not to give at all, but instead of risking the chance of encouraging imposture, discover some worthy family struggling up against the world, a widow with her helpless children, old people incapable of labour, or orphans destitute of protection and advice; suppose you were gradually to attach yourselves to such real objects of compassion, to learn their wants, to stimulate their industry, and to correct their vices; surely these two species of charity are not to be compared together in the utility or in the extent of their effects, in the benevolence they evince or in the merits they confer.

3. The true reason why this species of charity is so rarely practised is that we are afraid of imposing such a severe task upon our indolence, though, in truth, all these kinds of difficulties are extremely overrated. When once we have made ourselves acquainted with a poor family, and got into a regular train of seeing them at intervals, the trouble is hardly felt and the time scarcely missed; and if it is missed, ought it to be missed?

4. These charitable visits to the poor, which I have endeavoured to inculcate, are of importance, not only because they prevent imposture by making you certain of the misery which you relieve, but because they produce an appeal to the senses which is highly favourable to the cultivation of charity. He who only knows the misfortunes of mankind at second hand and by description has but a faint idea of what is really suffered in the world. We feel, it may be said, the eloquence of description, but what is all the eloquence of art to that mighty and original eloquence with which nature pleads her cause; to the eloquence of paleness and of hunger; to the eloquence of sickness and of wounds; to the eloquence of extreme old age, of helpless infancy, of friendless want! What pleadings so powerful as the wretched hovels of the pool, and the whole system of their comfortless economy!

5. You are not, I hope, of opinion that these kinds of cares devolve upon the clergy alone, as the necessary labours of their profession, but upon everyone whose faith teaches And whose fortune enables him to be humane.

6. Nor let it be imagined that the duties which I have pointed out are much less imperative because the law has taken to itself the protection of the poor; the law must hold out a scanty relief, or it would encourage more misery than it relieved: the law cannot distinguish between the poverty of idleness and the poverty of misfortune; the law degrades those whom it relieves, and many prefer wretchedness to public aid; do not, therefore, spare yourselves from a belief that the poor are well taken care of by the civil power, and that individual interference is superfluous. Many die in secret, — they perish and are forgotten.

7. Remember that every charity is short-lived and inefficacious which flows from any other motive than the right. There is a charity which originates from the romantic fiction of humble virtue and innocence in distress, but this will be soon disgusted by low artifice and scared by brutal vice. The charity which proceeds from ostentation can exist no longer than when its motives remain undetected. There is a charity which is meant to excite the feelings of gratitude, but this will meet with its termination in disappointment. That charity alone endures which flows from a sense of duty and a hope in God. This is the charity that treads in secret those paths of misery from which all but the lowest of human wretches have fled; this is that charity which no labour can weary, no ingratitude detach, no horror disgust; that toils, that pardons, that suffers, that is seen by no man, and honoured by no man, but, like the great laws of nature, does the work of God in silence, and looks to future and better worlds for its reward.

(Sydney Smith, M. A.)

Remember that thou wast a bondman.
In an autobiography of William Jay we read that on one occasion he called to see the famous Mr. John Newton at Olney, and he observed that over the desk at which he was accustomed to compose his sermons he had written up in very large letters the following words: "Remember that thou wast a bondman in the land of Egypt, and the Lord thy God redeemed thee." To my mind this story invests the text with considerable interest; it was most fitting that such a remarkable convert as he should dwell upon such a theme, and place such a text conspicuously before his own eyes. Might it not with great propriety be placed in a similar position by each one of us? Mr. Newton lived and acted under the influence of the memory which the text commands, as was seen that very morning in his conversation with Mr. Jay. "Sir," said Mr. Newton, "I am glad to see you, for I have a letter just come from Bath, and you can perhaps assist me in the answer to it. Do you know anything of So-and-so (mentioning the name)?" Mr. Jay replied that the man was an awful character, had once been a hearer of the Gospel, but had become a leader in every vice. "But, sir," said Mr. Newton, "he writes very penitently; and who can tell. Perhaps a change may have come over him. Well, said Mr. Jay, "I can only say that if ever he should be converted I should despair of no one." "And I," said Mr. Newton, "never have despaired of anybody since I was converted myself." So, you see, as he thought of this poor sinner at Bath he was remembering that he also was a bondman in the land of Egypt, and the Lord his God had redeemed him; and why should not the same redemption reach even to this notorious transgressor and save him? The memory of his own gracious change of heart and life gave him tenderness in dealing with the erring, and hopefulness with regard to their restoration.

I. First let us consider OUR BONDAGE. It was exceedingly like the bondage of the children of Israel in Egypt.

1. First, when we were unregenerate, and sold under sin, we were enslaved to a mighty power against which we could not contend. If man had been capable of his own redemption there would never have descended from heaven the Divine Redeemer; but because the bondage was all too dire for man to set himself free, therefore the eternal Son of God came hither that He might save His people from their sins. The prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience, held us beneath his iron sway, and sin exercised a tyrannical dominion over us, from which we could not break.

2. Our slavery had so degraded us that we had no heart to desire an escape. One of the worst points of slavery is, that it frequently .degrades men into contentment with their condition. That would be thought by some to be a benefit, but it is a giant evil, for a man has no right to be satisfied in slavery. Such contentment is an ensign of debased manhood.

3. Remember, again, that you were in a bondage similar to that of Egypt, for while in that condition you toiled hard and found that all the service wherein Satan made you to serve was with rigour. The Israelites built treasure cities for Pharaoh, and they are supposed to have erected some of the pyramids; but their wage was very small, and their taskmasters were brutal. Could not many a sinner tell of horrible nights and woeful mornings, when under the power of his passions? Who hath woe? who hath redness of the eyes? who is filled with dread of death? who flees when no man pursueth? Of all tyrants, sin and Satan are the most cruel. If men were but in their senses, drunkenness, gambling, gluttony, wantonness, and many other vices would be rather punishments than pleasures, and yet they abide in them.

4. There was a time when, in addition to our hard toil, our bondage brought us misery. Do you not remember when you dared not think a day's conduct over for the life of you? I recollect also when a sense of sin came over me; and then, indeed, my life was made bitter with hard bondage.

5. All this while our enemy was aiming at our destruction. This was what Pharaoh was driving at with Israel; he intended to cut off the nation by severe tasks, or at least to reduce its strength. As his first policy did not succeed, he set about to destroy the male children; and even so Satan, when he has men under his power, labours by all means utterly to destroy them; for nothing short of this will satisfy him. Every hopeful thought he would drown in the river of despair, lest by any means the man should shake off his yoke. The total overthrow of the soul of man is the aim of the great enemy. What a mercy to have been redeemed out of the hand of the enemy!

6. And like Israel in Egypt, we were in the hands of a power that would not let us go, Your sins captivated you. Then came the reading of the Scriptures, or a mother's exhortation, or another earnest sermon, and again the voice was heard, "Thus saith the Lord, let My people go" You began to feel uneasy in your condition, and to venture somewhat into the border country, but you could not escape, the iron had entered into your soul, your heart was captive. Blessed was the day when the strong man armed that kept you as a man keeps his house was overcome by a stronger than he and cast out forever. Then Jesus took possession of your nature, never to leave it, but to hold His tenancy world without end. We were bondmen in Egypt, but the Lord our God redeemed us, and let His name be praised.

II. The blessed fact of OUR REDEMPTION: "The Lord thy God redeemed thee." Here again there is a parallel.

1. He redeemed us first by price. Israel in Egypt was an unransomed nation. God claimed of that nation the firstborn to be His. That portion had been His claim from the first, and the law was afterwards carried out by the setting apart of the Levitical tribe to take the place of the firstborn; but Israel in Egypt had never set apart its firstborn at all, and was therefore an unredeemed people. How was all that indebtedness to be made up? The nation must be redeemed by a price, and that price was set forth by the symbol of a lamb which was killed, and roasted, and eaten, while the blood was smeared upon the lintel and the two side posts. You and I have been redeemed with blood (Revelation 5:9; 1 Peter 1:18).

2. But there would not have been a coming out of Egypt unless there had been a display of power as well as a payment of price, for with a high hand and an outstretched arm the Lord brought forth His people. Greater than Moses' rod was Christ's pierced hand. Our tyrant hath no more power to hold us in chains, for Christ hath vanquished him forever.

3. Another form of redemption was also seen by Israel, namely, in the power exerted over themselves. I think sufficient stress has never been laid upon this. That they should have been willing to come out of Egypt was no small thing, — universally willing, so that not a single person remained behind. Marvellous display of power this; and so we will tell it to the praise of God this day, that He made us willing to come out of the Egypt of our sin to which we were rooted; and making us willing, He made us able too; the power of the Spirit came upon us and the might of His grace overshadowed us, and we did arise and come to our Father. Let grace have all the glory. Shall I need to press upon you, then, to let your minds fly back to the time when you realised your redemption, and came up out of the land of Egypt?

(1)It was Divine interposition. "The Lord thy God redeemed thee."

(2)And it was personally experienced, for "The Lord thy God redeemed thee." It was a matter of clear consciousness to your own soul. Thou wast a bondman; thou didst know it and feel it: the Lord thy Cod redeemed thee, and thou didst know it and feel that also.


1. We should naturally conclude, without any reference to Scripture, that if a Christian man kept always in mind his former and his present state it would render him humble. Thou wouldst have been in hell now if it had not been for sovereign grace; or if not there, perhaps thou wouldst have been among drunkards and swearers, and lewd men and women, or at least among the proud, self-righteous Pharisees. When thou art honoured of the Lord and happy in the full assurance of faith, still remember that thou wast a bondman, and walk humbly with thy God.

2. In the next place, be grateful. If you have not all the temporal mercies that you would desire, yet you have received the choicest of all mercies, liberty through Jesus Christ, therefore be cheerful, happy, and thankful.

3. Being grateful, be patient too. If you are suffering, or if sometimes your spirits are cast down, or if you are poor and despised, yet say to yourself, "Why should I complain? My lot may seem hard, yet it is nothing in comparison with what it would have been if I had been left a prisoner in the land of Egypt. Thank God, I am no longer in bondage to my sins."

4. Next, be hopeful. What may you not yet become? "It doth not yet appear what we shall be." You were a bondman, but grace has set you free. Who knows what the Lord may yet make of you?

5. Then be zealous. Here earnestness should find both fire and fuel; we were bondmen, but the Lord has redeemed us. What, then, can be too hard for us to undertake for His sake? John Newton persisted in preaching even when he was really incapable of it, for he said, "What, shall the old African blasphemer leave off preaching Jesus Christ while there is breath in his body? No, never." He felt that he must continue to bear testimony, for our text was always before him, "Remember that thou wast a bondman in the land of Egypt, and the Lord thy God redeemed thee."

6. But now follow me while I show you the Lord's own use of this remembrance; and the first text I shall quote will be found in chap. Deuteronomy 5:14. You were a bondman. What would you have given for rest then? Now that the Lord has given you this hallowed day of rest, guard it sacredly. Rest in the Lord Jesus yourself, but endeavour to bring all your family into the same peace, "that thy manservant and thy maidservant may rest as well as thou." In chap. Deuteronomy 7. we have another use of this remembrance. Here the chosen people are commanded to keep separate from the nations. They were not to intermarry with the Canaanites, nor make alliances with them. Israel was to be separated, even as Moses said, "thou art a holy people unto the Lord thy God." And the reason he gives in the eighth verse is this: "the Lord redeemed thee out of the house of bondmen." Ah, if we are redeemed from among men, then as the specially blood-bought ones we are under solemn obligations to come out from the world and to be separate from it. In the eighth chapter redemption is used as an argument for obedience, and they are exhorted not to forget the laws and statutes of the Lord, and above all warned lest in the midst of prosperity their heart should be lifted up so as to forget the Lord their God, who brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage. The same argument runs through the eleventh chapter, and is a very clear one. We ought to render glad obedience to Him who has wrought us so great a deliverance. We find in the thirteenth chapter that the redemption from bondage is used as an argument for loyal attachment to the one and only God. Our own text is set in the following connection. If a man entered into forced servitude, or came under any bonds to his fellow man among the Jews, he could only be so held for six years, and on the seventh he was to go free. The Lord's people should be considerate of those who are in their employment. The recollection of their own bondage should make them tender and kind to those who are in subservience to themselves, and never should a Christian man be ungenerous, illiberal, severe, churlish with his servant, or with any who are dependent upon him. There should be in a man redeemed with the blood of Christ something like nobility of soul and benevolence to his fellow men, and so even this stern book of law teaches us. I remind you that they were bound to keep the Passover because of their deliverance from Egypt as we find in the sixteenth chapter at the first verse. So let us also take heed unto ourselves that we keep all the statutes and ordinances of the Lord blamelessly. Let us keep the ordinances as they were delivered unto us, and neither alter nor misplace them. Again, in the sixteenth chapter, verses 10 to 12, you have the great redemption used as an argument for liberality towards the cause of God: they were to give unto the Lord rejoicingly of that which the Lord had given to them. "Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the Lord thy God which He hath given thee"; and that because of the twelfth verse, "Thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in Egypt: and thou shalt observe and do these statutes." In the twenty-sixth chapter the same teaching is reduced to a set form, for they were there commanded to bring each one a basket of first fruits and offer it unto the Lord, saying, "The Lord brought us forth out of Egypt," etc. Last of all, in the twenty-fourth chapter there remains one more lesson. We are there exhorted to be careful concerning the fatherless and the widow (Deuteronomy 24:17). A generous spirit was to be exhibited towards the poor. Be ye thoughtful of all your fellow men. You that have been redeemed with price, be ye tender-hearted, full of compassion, putting on bowels of mercy. In spiritual things take care that you never rake the corners of your fields. Do not rob the Gospel of its sweetness.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

In this ordinance we may see —


1. The redemption which God vouchsafes to His people.

2. The mercy which He exercises towards His redeemed.

II. AN INSTRUCTIVE LESSON. We are to regard God's mercies as —

1. A pattern for our imitation.

2. A notice for our exertion.

(C. Simeon, M. A.)

Eat it before the Lord thy God year by year.
"Year by year." It might seem at first sight, antecedent to experience, a surprising thing that the mere mechanical movement of the earth through the heavens should have any special relationship to man's mind and spirit. Yet we know that it has. Our memory associates special experiences with certain seasons and days. As the season or day returns the event is recalled, and sometimes the impressions awakened by it have, apparently, all their original sharpness. So, in this regard, the course of the heavens comes to be, as it were, a colossal memorandum book.

1. There is a sure evidence of the event seen in the fact of its commemoration.

2. We are taught how comparatively rare are these conspicuous and startling events which punctuate our public and private life. It is well for the sanity of the human mind that life is not filled with startling events. It would be like substituting pyrotechnics for the moonlight, or the stars for the silent skies. It is in the ordinary quiet on going of life that we find healthfulness of heart.

3. Life is always, serious. For we are ever treading on the edge of something unexpected, it may be something terrible. Let us walk circumspectly, and realise that we may always dwell under the shield of God's providence and under the light of His promises.

4. We see the innate superiority of mind to all temporary events. You recall perhaps your wedding day, the hour, the place, the guests, the joy, through a score of years, a half century ago. Intervals of time fade from view in presence of this supreme experience, just as you look from one lofty peak to another and think not of field, valley, and river between. You see those shining points of life when you were at twenty, forty, or sixty years of age, and lesser experiences are hidden. The mind itself is superior to mere measurements of time, and so is constituted for immortality; is akin to Him to whom a thousand years are but as yesterday.

5. How deep in us is the element of affection which has its expression in the anniversary or festival. As we review the past our memory clings to those experiences in which the heart has a part, those which have touched its springs of joy and grief. We properly cultivate intellectual strength, power of will and endurance, but, after all, it is love that is supreme. Love brings us nearer Him who is perfect love.

6. A sweet illustration of the grace of God in the Gospel is furnished in the fact, with which every believer is familiar, that in these remembered events sorrow loses its sting and joy comes to be even more full in reminiscence than it was at first. Our sorrow only makes more glorious the preciousness and amplitude of Divine grace and sympathy, just as the glory of the sun, shot through a dark cloud, illumines and transfigures it by its splendour and its peace.

7. What a rest it is to the aged to recall the past when they are released from life's active and strenuous struggles! They are like ships home from long voyages, moated in a quiet harbour, where the memory of storms that are past only enhances the serenity and peace enjoyed.

8. Whatever measurements may hereafter be had as to time and eternity in our immortal life, one thing is certain: we will keep one point in vivid remembrance — that of our entrance into life, when we first knew the joys eternal.

(R. S. Storrs, D. D.).

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