Primary Moral Duties not Original
Matthew 7:12
Therefore all things whatever you would that men should do to you, do you even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.

It is critically urged that our Lord's moral teachings were not original. We may gladly admit that they were not. How could they be? What are original moral teachings? Man was endowed from the beginning with the complete circle of moral principles. If he had them not at the very first, he gained them all in the first experiences of human relationship; and the "Decalogue ' did but state, in brief and formal sentences, the moral duties which man has always apprehended that he owed to man. Did any one arise now, and presume to teach us authoritatively new morals, we should know well what to say to him. "The new is not true, and the true is not new." It would have been the moralist's criticism of the teachings of Christ, if they had been original and new. Hillel, the great Jewish teacher, is reported to have said, "Do not unto another what thou wouldest not have another do unto thee. This is the whole Law; the rest is mere commentary." If we expand this moral duty, it will at once appear how common, how human, and how universal it is. Every noble moral teacher will find expression for it in some more or less appropriate form.

I. THAT WHICH IS PLEASING TO SELF IS LIKELY TO BE PLEASING TO OTHERS. This is recognized as a good assumption to go upon; but it does not always prove a correct assumption. Probably it would if the "pleasing" were not too often made the equivalent of self-indulgence. Clearly we should try to please others. The standard to begin with is what pleases us; but this will be altered as we get accurately to know them.


1. We claim rights which we are not prepared to give.

2. We give ourselves liberties which we deny others. And universal morality stamps both these as unfair. My rights my brother can equally claim; my liberties are my brother's due.

III. THAT WHICH WE CLAIM FROM OTHERS WE MAY REASONABLY EXPECT OTHERS TO CLAIM FROM US. This may appear to fail in recognizing the various relations of classes in society. But it is based on what is the true equality of mankind. Equality of ability, place, opportunity, education, influence, even of character, there can never be. But equality in service, mutual service, there can be. The master serves the servant; the servant serves the master. Then Christ's Law is seen to apply. "The service I seek is the service I should give." - R.T.

Parallel Verses
KJV: Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.

WEB: Therefore whatever you desire for men to do to you, you shall also do to them; for this is the law and the prophets.

Duty Towards Our Neighbour
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