If a man steal.
I. THEFT (vers. 1-4). As the wealth of an Israelite consisted mainly in flocks and herds, the depredations of the thief were directed for the most part against them.
II. HOUSEBREAKING (vers. 2, 3). Learn —
1. That God's providence extends to property as well as persons. Both are His gift.
2. That those who endeavour to thwart that providence play a losing game.
3. That the recognition of that providence is not inconsistent with, but demands the use of, means. It is an abuse and perversion of it to tamely submit to wrong when the legitimate prevention of wrong is within our reach.
4. That providence protects even the life of the wrong-doer, and no man must wantonly interfere with that protection.
(J. W. Burn.)
I. MEN MUST SUFFER FOR CRIME.
II. MEN MUST SUFFER, UNAVENGED, THE EXTREME CONSEQUENCES OF CRIMINAL CONDUCT.
III. MEN MUST LEARN, BY DEGREES OF SUFFERING, THAT THERE ARE DEGREES OF CRIMINALITY.
IV. MEN MUST LEARN THAT PROPERTY HAS RIGHTS.
V. MEN MUST LEARN TO CONSIDER THE WELFARE OF THEIR NEIGHBOURS.
(W. Burrows, B. A.)
(J. Parker, D. D.)
ex rapina holocaustum: out of a world of ill-gotten goods, they cull out some small fragments to erect some poor hospital; having cheated thousands, build alms-houses for some few, and then set a glorious inscription in front, whereas this one word, Aceldama, would be far more proper.
(Mrs. Child's Letters from New York.)
If fire break out.
I. This ancient law brings into view THE GENERAL DOCTRINE OF LIABILITY FOR THE CONSEQUENCES OF OUR ACTIONS AND NEGLECT. Nothing is more difficult than to raise in most men's minds a vivid sense of the widespreading results of their own character and conduct. They readily acknowledge the responsibility of others, but not their own. Men never take so modest a view of their own individuality, as when the object is to set forth the insignificance of their own contribution to "the evil that is in the world." But such calculations are founded on a gross delusion. The most commonplace sinner has a power of mischief in him which might sadden the blessed as they look at it.
II. The dormant sense of liability for the consequences of our conduct OUGHT SURELY TO BE AWAKENED BY CONSIDERING HOW WE HOLD OTHER MEN RESPONSIBLE IN COMMON LIFE.
II. THE RIGHT CONCEPTION OF JUDGMENT TO COME IS THE BRINGING TO THE CONSCIOUSNESS OF THE FINITE THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE INFINITE IN THIS REGARD. "This, hast thou done." He who subverts the faith or the conscience of one soul subverts in effect the faith and conscience of all souls, and "their blood will I require at the watchman's hand."
IV. These considerations should impress the mind with A NEW SENSE OF THE INFINITE BEARINGS OF OUR THOUGHTS, WORDS, AND ACTIONS; and should make us "swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath." Let to-day be the day of salvation by becoming the day of judgment, for "if we would judge ourselves, we should not be condemned with the world."
1. To be careful of your neighbour's material, intellectual, and spiritual interests, and do not damage them by a careless word or action.
2. In order that these interests may not be invaded, put a strong check on those loose and vagrant so-called interests of your own.
3. In order to prevent any possibility of the transgression of these interests, see that those passions of avarice, envy, and revenge which cause so much mischief in the world, are quenched.
4. If these interests are invaded, render a frank, manly, and ample restitution.(1) Confess your fault.(2) In the case of loss make it up.(3) In the case of injury to character, let the acknowledgment be co-extensive with the slander.(4) Let those who have been injured forgive as they hope to be forgiven.
(J. W. Burn.)
(J. Parker, D. D.)
1. If I invite a group of young men in my house to surround a card-table, I may simply design to furnish them an hour's amusement. But perhaps a lust for gambling may lie latent in some young man's breast, and I may quicken it into life by my offer of a temptation. There is fire in that pack of cards. And I deliberately place that fire amid the inflammable passions of that youthful breast. On me rest the consequences of that act, as well as upon him whom I lead into temptation. The motive does not alter the result by one iota.
2. Among social virtues none is more popular than that of hospitality. When bountifully practised toward the needy, it rises to the dignity of a Christian grace. And ordinary hospitalities may be set to the credit of a generous spirit. But here is the master or mistress of a house who spread their table with a lavish provision for the entertainment of their evening guests. Among the abundant viands of that table the lady of the house places the choicest brands of Madeira wine, and on a side-board she sets out a huge bowl of inviting punch. And among the invited guests of the evening comes a man who has promised the wife of his early love that be will never again yield to his awful appetite, and turn their sweet home into a hell. He sees the tempter in that accursed punch-bowl, and is pressed very courteously to "take a glass." The fire "catches in the dry thorns" in an instant. He drinks. He goes reeling into his own door that night, and his whole household is in a flame of excitement and terror, and agony and shame. Now, who kindled that fire? Let her who put the bottle to her neighbour's lips make answer.
3. The artillery of this Divine law against incendiarism has a wide range. It is pointed against that social nuisance, the slanderer. "Behold how great a matter his little fire kindleth." The utterance of evil reports may be well likened to playing with fire.
4. This law against incendiarism applies to every utterance of spiritual error and infidelity. He who utters a devilish suggestion to corrupt the innocence of chastity sets fire to passion, and becomes the incendiary of a soul. He who scatters a pernicious literature comes under the same condemnation. He who sows scepticism, by tongue or pen, sets fire to the "standing corn" of righteous opinion. Beware how you play with the sparks of falsehood. Beware how you play with the fire of wicked suggestion, that may kindle a blaze of sin in another's heart.
(T. L. Cuyler, D. D.)
If a man shall deliver unto his neighbour money or stuff to keep.1. God's law provides strictly to keep men faithful to their trusts by men.
2. Theft may abuse and frustrate the trust of the most faithful men.
3. Such theft discovered is punished with double restitution by God.
4. In theft undiscovered and upon suspicion, trustees are bound to clear themselves by oath.
5. A right oath as it terminates upon God, so ought in some cases to be taken before magistrates (ver. 8).
6. In doubtful cases about trust, civil powers are enabled to try men, and judge by oath.
7. The falsifier of trust convicted must restore double (ver. 9).
8. Living stuff trusted to any and dying, none knowing how, the trustee's oath must clear him (vers. 10, 11).
9. Living goods trusted to keeping upon consideration if stolen, must be made good by the keeper (ver. 12).
10. No law binds men to restore what Providence takes away from men by wild beasts (ver. 13).
(G. Hughes, B. D.)
If a man borrow.1. God in His law provideth against hurting our neighbour's goods by borrowing.
2. Hurt and death may come to things borrowed without the sin of the borrower.
3. In case of the borrower's faultlessness in hurt, no restitution doth God award.
4. In case of wilful hurt and spoil the borrower by God's law must make it good.
5. Things wilfully hurt which are borrowed by hire must be satisfied by God's law.
6. Perishing of such in a lawful use of them, God's law accounts satisfied by their hire (vers. 14, 15).
(G. Hughes, B. D.)
1. On the one hand —(1) To be obliging. If you can do a needy neighbour a good turn by lending advice or material assistance, do so.(2) Don't make your needy but obliged neighbour answerable for any accident that may occur through your own misfortune or fault.
2. On the other hand —(1) Be careful not to abuse that which is in kindness lent you; or —(2) Forget to return it, and thus render evil for good. Book-borrowers should note this. But —(3) Rather both in principle (2 Kings 6:5) and in action suffer the loss than inflict it.
(J. W. Burn.)
If a man entice a maid.1. Providence may suffer men through strength of lust to entice and defile virgins.
2. Such enticing and polluting is grievous sin against God and man abhorred of the Lord.
3. In case of such sin God hath judged recompense to men, as He executeth vengeance for Himself.
(G. Hughes, B. D.)
Scientific Illustrations.Flamingoes are very shy and timid birds, and shun all attempts of man to approach them; the vicinity of animals, however, they disregard. Any one who is acquainted with this fact can take advantage of it so as to effect the slaughter of these beautiful animals by dressing himself up in the skin of a horse or an ox. Thus disguised, the sportsman may get close to them and shoot them down at his ease. So long as their enemy is invisible they still remain immovable, the noise of the gun only stupefying them, so that they refuse to leave, although their companions are dropping down dead around them. They are taken in by appearances; and so long as the man is disguised they accept him as the creature which he pretends to be, even though his actions clearly indicate that he is something else. Shy, beautiful, and harmless, the unfortunate bird meets destruction simply for want of wariness. Many a lovely human being with the like qualities has met her doom for want of that same trait.
Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.
3. As sometimes trickery and imposture (Isaiah 8:19), "that peep and mutter" (probably ventriloquise. See art. Smith's Bible Dictionary, Smith's Dic. Bible).
4. As filthy defilement (Leviticus 19:31).
5. As deserving death (Leviticus 20:6. cf. text).
6. As one of the crimes for which the Canaanites were destroyed.
7. As inconsistent with a trust in God (Isaiah 8:19).
8. As frustrated by God (Isaiah 44:25).
9. As a power from which the godly have nothing to fear, for there is no solitary prayer in the whole Bible to be protected from its enchantments, and no thanksgiving for deliverance from them. In this country we only meet with it now in the form of spiritualism, and as such —
I. It is DANGEROUS.
1. Because it destroys all faith in the person and providence of God, and hence imperils the hopes, aspirations, and safety of the soul.
2. Because it tends to debase man's moral standards, and to obliterate the fact of sin.
3. Because its direct aim is to subvert Christianity, and to abolish the Word of God.
4. Because it comes before the imagination and the affections with plausible appeals.
II. It SHUNS THE LIGHT.
1. Its performances, like the old witchcraft, take place in the dark, and under circumstances the force of which requires the exertions of the strongest will. On the contrary, the grand facts of both Old and New Testaments were "not done in a corner," but in the light of day.
2. It is chary of the open exhibition of its credentials to the critic and the unbeliever; this privilege is reserved for those who first believe in the magician and in his powers. The miracles and other credentials of the Bible — court scrutiny — were mainly for the conviction of those who disbelieved.
3. And why does it shun the light? For the old reason (John 3:19-21).
III. It is UNLAWFUL..
1. Because expressly forbidden in the Word of God. Christ and His apostles meet the spirits not in darkened cabinets but with open exorcism.
2. Because of its avowed mission to pry into and traffic with the unrevealed matters of the spirit-world. God has emphatically set His face against this (Deuteronomy 29:29).
3. Because it is "another gospel" (Galatians 1:8).
IV. It is partly gross IMPOSTURE.
1. Spiritual realities are solemn and imposing, and worthy in every way of the high source from which they emanate. When God communicated to the prophets and apostles we do not hear that it was on dancing tables, illegible inscriptions on slates, or through books made luminous by phosphoric oil. We do not hear of angels or spirits, whether in Old Testament or New, pulling men's hair, scattering sweetmeats, rapping on walls, hurling bed pillows, appearing in regimentals, or handling hot coals.
2. Spiritual realities in the Bible were never discovered to be small tricks.
3. Spiritual realities in the Bible have never been explained by natural phenomena as have much of the legerdemain of modern magic.
V. It is uniformly USELESS.
1. For harm (Isaiah 8:19), when there is a firm trust in God.
2. For good (Luke 16:27-31), when there is no such trust.
(J. W. Burn.)
Neither vex a stranger.Leviticus 24:22).
(H. M. Field, D. D.)
( A. Clarke, D. D..)
Ye shall not afflict any widow, or fatherless child.I. THAT WIDOWS AND ORPHANS HAVE CLAIMS UPON OUR REGARD.
1. They have claims upon our sympathy. Their stay, comfort, defence is gone. What state can be more sorrowful and helpless!
2. They have claims upon our protection and help. Our resources are only held in stewardship for God's purposes, and to what better purpose could they be applied, both as regards its intrinsic merits and the Divine will concerning it.
II. THAT WIDOWS AND ORPHANS HAVE SPECIAL PRIVILEGES.
1. God has legislated for them. Not in the dry and hard manner in which penal and ceremonial codes are obliged to be enacted, but in a way which throws them on the broad and better principles of humanity and love.
2. God stands in a peculiar relation to them (Psalm 68:5). In the absence of their natural guardians He takes them under His wing.
3. God is always ready to help them; to hear their cry (ver. 23; Jeremiah 49:11).
III. THAT ANY OPPRESSION OF THE WIDOW AND FATHERLESS WILL BE RIGOROUSLY PUNISHED (ver. 24).
1. The oppressor is left to the righteous judgment of God, who will surely avenge His own (Luke 18:7).
2. The oppressor is left to the terrible retribution of a hard and cruel heart, which inflicts as much punishment on the subject as on the object.
3. The oppressor is left to the certain contempt and execration of his fellow-men.Husbands and fathers, learn —
1. To provide for the wants of those whom you may leave behind to mourn your loss.
(1) (2) (3) 2. Then, having made a proper use of means, leave them with calm faith in the power and goodness of their "Father in heaven." 3. Help the widow and the orphan, as your wife may be left a widow and your children fatherless. (J. W. Burn.)
(2) (3) 2. Then, having made a proper use of means, leave them with calm faith in the power and goodness of their "Father in heaven." 3. Help the widow and the orphan, as your wife may be left a widow and your children fatherless. (J. W. Burn.)
(3) 2. Then, having made a proper use of means, leave them with calm faith in the power and goodness of their "Father in heaven." 3. Help the widow and the orphan, as your wife may be left a widow and your children fatherless. (J. W. Burn.)
3. Help the widow and the orphan, as your wife may be left a widow and your children fatherless.
(J. W. Burn.)
Any of My people that is poor.
(Wm. Anderson, D. D.)
Christian Age.While General Grant was President of the United States, he was at one time the guest of Marshall Jewell, at Hartford, Conn. At a reception tendered him by the Governor, where all the prominent men of the State were gathered, a roughly-pencilled note, in a common envelope, signed by a woman, was handed him. It was put into his hands by a young politician, who thought it a good joke that "an old woman in tatters" should presume to intrude upon the President at such a time. "You need not bother about her; I sent her away — told her you were not here to be bored," the young man said to Grant. The President's answer much surprised the politician. "Where is this woman; where can I find her?" he inquired, hurrying from the room. The letter he held in his hand, written poorly in pencil, told a sorrowful story. It said in substance: "My son fought in your army, and he was killed by rebel bullets while fighting for you. Before he died he wrote me a letter which told how noble a man you were, and said you would look out for his mother. I am poor, and I haven't had money or influence to get anybody interested in me to get a pension. Dear General, will you please help me for my dead boy's sake?" Sadly the woman had turned away from the mansion, her last hope dead. A servant pointed her out to President Grant, walking slowly up the street. The old soldier overtook her quickly. She was weeping, and turned towards him a puzzled face as he stopped her and stood bareheaded in the moonlight beside her. The few words the great, kind man spoke turned her tears into laughter, her sorrow into joy. The pension before refused her came to her speedily, and her last days were spent in comfort.
Christian Age.The welfare of the lowest is bound up with that of the highest, so that the "injury done to the meanest subject is," as Solon said, "an insult upon the whole constitution," and a blow at the prosperity of all. Sir Robert Peel gave his daughter, on her birthday, a splendid riding-habit, and rode by her side for an airing in the park, his heart swelling with pride that be could call such a maiden daughter! At once, however, she fell sick of the most malignant type of typhus fever, and despite all medical skill and parental care died. A careful inquiry as to the source of the germs of the fatal disease revealed the fact that the poor seamstress, who had embroidered that robe in a wretched attic, had been compelled to use it to cover her husband when he shivered with the chills of the deadly fever. And from that garret of poverty the infection of death passed into the mansion of the Premier. Society has her own ways of avenging our neglect of her poorest and neediest children. In one bundle are we all bound up, for weal or woe. We give, though we do not always know it, to save ourselves, not alone to save others. Ignorance and idleness are handmaids of vice, as intelligence and industry are handmaids of virtue. God sees that no one is so much profited as ourselves by those gifts to His poor, which are corrective of self-indulgence, expansive of our noblest sympathies, educative of our highest nature, and which, while they help to lift humanity to a higher level, as surely lift ourselves with the rest.
The ruler of thy people.I. THAT THE POWERS THAT BE ARE ORDAINED OF GOD (Romans 13:1-5; 1 Peter 2:13-15).
II. THAT MAGISTRATES MUST RE TREATED WITH RESPECT, both their persons and their decisions (Joshua 1:16-18).
1. Because they administer that which, when it is law at all, is based on the will and authority of God (Romans 13:2).
2. Because they administer that which is the bulwark of national stability and personal safety (Romans 13:3).
III. That magistrates must receive respect, IRRESPECTIVE OF THE EFFECT OF THEIR DECISION (Proverbs 17:26).
1. Because they are but the servants of the law.
2. Because if through human infirmities, justice should occasionally miscarry, it is better to suffer than to bring the law into disrepute (Proverbs 24:21, 22).
1. Fear will warp the judgment.
2. Fear will divert the course of justice.
VI. THAT DISRESPECT TO MAGISTRATES IS SEVERELY CONDEMNED (Jude 1:8). Let magistrates, all who are in authority and all who administer law whether civil or domestic, whether in law courts, homes, or houses of business, remember —
1. That they are responsible to God (2 Samuel 23:3). Let them see
(1) (2) 2. That they are responsible to man. Upon their decisions depend the well-being of the citizen, and the stability of the realm. 3. That their title to sympathy and veneration is recognized by the people at large. (J. W. Burn.)
(2) 2. That they are responsible to man. Upon their decisions depend the well-being of the citizen, and the stability of the realm. 3. That their title to sympathy and veneration is recognized by the people at large. (J. W. Burn.)
2. That they are responsible to man. Upon their decisions depend the well-being of the citizen, and the stability of the realm.
3. That their title to sympathy and veneration is recognized by the people at large.
(J. W. Burn.)
I. God asks for the first ripe fruits of our EDUCATION. The wise man's education is never finished. To cease to learn is to cease to grow; to cease to grow is to decay in force and faculty. Yet there is a special sense in which education ceases. The youth leaves school, the scholar the university, the apprentice is "out of his time." Then we have to think and act for ourselves, and use the knowledge we have acquired. We have to face the great questions that concern man's life and destiny. Then God asks from us the first ripe fruits of our education in the use of our intelligence and feeling and conscience. He asks us to face these great questions; to think soberly and ponder the path of our feet.
II. God asks from us the first ripe fruits of our TOIL. The Jews gave this in kind — from flock, vineyard, or field. We give an equivalent — money. The first money earned is the first-fruits of toil. From that lay by something for God.
III. God asks from us the first ripe fruits of our CONVERSION. I have often seen a child so overcome with an unexpected gift that he has forgotten to say "Thank you," but surely Christ does not expect such forgetfulness from those whom He has snatched from the burning.
IV. Then there are some first-fruits of EXPERIENCE which God commands us to offer to Him. "I have learned by experience" is the confession sometimes of self-convicted folly, sometimes of grateful wonder. How near have we been to spiritual death! How well hidden the pit. falls under our feet! How strong the arms that have held us up! How wonderful the consolations! How sweet the grace of the Divine! So experience enriches the soil in which we are planted to produce a lustier and richer growth. Now to offer to God the first ripe fruits of experience is surely to learn and profit by its lessons. It is to remember; to take warning; to know our own selves — our peculiar weaknesses and danger; it is to trust God more and self less; to look for larger answers to prayer, and more wonderful vindications of faith.
V. Does not God want THOSE LOVELY AND PRECIOUS FRUITS WHICH GROW ON THE HOUSEHOLD VINE? The only true dedication of children to God is that Christian nurture which leads to their dedicating themselves.
(R. B. Brindley.).