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Chapter XIX.—The Minute Prescriptions of the Law Meant to Keep the People Dependent on God. The Prophets Sent by God in Pursuance of His Goodness.  Many Beautiful Passages from Them Quoted in Illustration of This Attribute.

But even in the common transactions of life, and of human intercourse at home and in public, even to the care of the smallest vessels, He in every possible manner made distinct arrangement; in order that, when they everywhere encountered these legal instructions, they might not be at any moment out of the sight of God. For what could better tend to make a man happy, than having “his delight in the law of the Lord?” “In that law would he meditate day and night.” 2922 It was not in severity that its Author promulgated this law, but in the interest of the highest benevolence, which rather aimed at subduing 2923 the nation’s hardness of heart, and by laborious services hewing out a fealty which was (as yet) untried in obedience:  for I purposely abstain from touching on the mysterious senses of the law, considered in its spiritual and prophetic relation, and as abounding in types of almost every variety and sort.  It is enough at present, that it simply bound a man to God, so that no one ought to find fault with it, except him who does not choose to serve God. To help forward this beneficent, not onerous, purpose of the law, the prophets were also ordained by the self-same goodness of God, teaching precepts worthy of God, how that men should “cease to do evil, learn to do well, seek judgment, judge the fatherless, 2924 and plead for the widow:” 2925 be fond of the divine expostulations: 2926 avoid contact with the wicked: 2927 “let the oppressed go free:” 2928 dismiss the unjust sentence, 2929 “deal their bread to the hungry; bring the outcast into their house; cover the naked, when they see him; nor hide themselves from their own flesh and kin:” 2930 “keep their tongue from evil, and their lips from speaking guile: depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it:” 2931 be angry, and sin not; that is, not persevere in anger, or be enraged: 2932 “walk not in the counsel of the ungodly; nor stand in the way of sinners; nor sit in the seat of the scornful.” 2933 Where then?  “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity;” 2934 meditating (as they do) day and night in the law of the Lord, because “it is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man; better to hope in the Lord than in man.” 2935 For what recompense shall man receive from God? “He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither, and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” 2936 “He that hath clean hands and a pure heart, who hath not taken God’s name in vain, nor sworn deceitfully to his neighbour, he shall receive blessing from the Lord, and mercy from the God of his salvation.” 2937 “For the eyes of the Lord are upon them that fear Him, upon them that hope in His mercy, to deliver their souls from death,” even eternal death, “and to nourish them in their hunger,” that is, after eternal life. 2938 “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivereth them out of them all.” 2939 “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.” 2940 “The Lord keepeth all their bones; not one of them shall be broken.” 2941 The Lord will redeem the souls of His servants. 2942 We have adduced these few quotations from a mass of the Creator’s Scriptures; and no more, I suppose, are wanted to prove Him to be a most good God, for they sufficiently indicate both the precepts of His goodness and the first-fruits 2943 thereof.



Ps. i. 2.


Edomantis, cf. chap. xv. sub fin. and xxix.




Isa. 1:16, 17.


Quæstiones, alluding to Isa. i. 18: δεῦτε καὶ διαλεχθῶμεν, λέγει Κύριος.


Alluding to Isa. lviii. 6: “Loose the bands of wickedness.”


Isa. lviii. 6.


A lax quotation, perhaps, of the next clause in the same verse:  “Break every yoke.”


Isa. lviii. 7, slightly changed from the second to the third person.


Ps. 34:13, 14.


Comp. Ps. iv. 4.


Ps. i. 1.


Ps. cxxxiii. 1.


Ps. cxviii. 4.


Ps. i. 3.


Ps. 24:4, 5. He has slightly misquoted the passage.


Ps. 33:18, 19, slightly altered.


Ps. xxxiv. 19.


Ps. cxvi. 15.


Ps. xxxiv. 20, modified.


Ps. xxxiv. 22.



Next: The Marcionites Charged God with Having Instigated the Hebrews to Spoil the Egyptians. Defence of the Divine Dispensation in that Matter.