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ter is endowed with the power to attract other matter, and exerts that power in this specific manner and degree. So, all that we mean by natural law is the order and degree in which the things which God created are able to act. All these laws are permanent and immutable. They were made in “the beginning" and have never been revised. Till heaven and earth pass away no jot or tittle of these laws shall be changed. In

if
any

of the laws of nature should be changed the present order of the heavens and earth would pass away.

The establishment of this order, the fixing of the mode of action of every created thing is what we mean by the constitution of the universe. The whole world material and mental is a cosmos, a system, in which every part is correlated with every other. Nothing is more absolutely settled in the realm of nature than the uniformity of the activities of every material mass and atom-which we call the laws of nature.

It is not so generally recognized but no less certain, that the moral universe is just as absolutely regulated as the physical universe.

The constitution of the moral world is from “the beginning" and right is always right, not because we find it so, but because it is so by the constitution of the world.

Murder and lust and the worship of false gods were always wrong, and must be wrong so long as the present order of the world remains.

The Ten Commandments are a revelation-an unveiling, a bringing forth to light and knowledge truth that dates from the day when God made the heavens and the earth and constituted the order of the universe. There is no mystery in the Decalogue. It deals with duties which all reasonable creatures recognize as necessary if men are to dwell together in peace and safety on the earth. It defines that which is less clearly revealed in the works of nature-written in the human heart and manifest to human reason,

From the very dawn of civilization there must have been some recognition of the rights of individuals and some thought of the relations of man to man and of man's relation to the world in which he lives. Long before the days of Moses there were codes which, like the Decalogue, aimed to define these relations and protect these rights. The recently discovered code of Hammurabi is an example of such definition which is of special interest because it was framed long before the time of Moses and was probably well known by him, and may have had much to do with the form in which the divine commandments were given; for God adapts his form of revelation to the capacity of the mind to apprehend it.

The great importance and peculiar excellence of the Decalogue is not the novelty of its contents, nor the originality of its form, but in its completeness and perfection.

Like the Sermon on the Mount, like our Lord's Prayer, like all great revelations, it is remarkable for its simplicity. It covers the entire field of human conduct, but contains nothing that is unnecessary. Every evil way is hedged off and forbidden by the principles defined in these ten commandments. Yet there is nothing local, temporary, or provisional. They are absolute and everlasting. They have the sanction of divine authority. They are not only the expression of God's will as embodied in the order of the universe, but they were revealed and published by his express and definite command. They were certified by the word of God as the divine order of human life. They form the only perfect definition of a righteous life, and as such they furnish an infallible standard of conduct till heaven and earth pass away.

It is significant that these laws are for the most part negative in form, not directing what we should do, but prohibiting what we may not. They fix the limits of our freedom, define the scope of our proper activities; within these limits man is at liberty, but beyond these he may not go, because he would

thereby invade or violate the rights of others. This consideration brings to view the principle which underlies the whole law, that is, its purpose to protect the rights of all God's creatures.

One may not kill, because he would thereby violate another's right to live. One may not steal, because each man has a right to his own. False worship destroys the truth; adultery destroys the purity of family life; false witness takes away the right of some one. So in all the ten commandments the aim and purpose is to conserve and protect the rights which in the order of the world belong to the children of men.

The fourth and fifth commandments are positive in form, but their purpose, like that of all the others, is to protect and preserve, in the one the foundations of spiritual life, and in the other, the dignity and sweetness of the family life.

All human rights are but our claim to the share of gifts of nature assigned to us by the order of the universe. The eternal sanction of all law is the will of God to "destroy them that destroy the earth."

This great revelation—the Decalogue, occupies the central place in the system of government that was ordained at Sinai.

It was the nucleus around which the whole order of worship was formed; and it was the essence of all the statutes and ordinances that were drawn.

The supreme importance of the Decalogue was indicated by the intense emphasis placed upon it by the manner and circumstances of its publication. The giving of this law was the crowning event of the whole Wilderness experience of Israel.

The people delivered from the cruel bondage of Egypt, led in safety through all the dangers and distress of the great and terrible Wilderness, and gathered peacefully at the foot of Mt. Sinai, they are ready to be instructed in those things most necessary to their welfare, both moral and religious.

To impress upon their minds the transcendent worth of these

great fundamental laws, every means available is used, and every circumstance accumulated that would add dignity and majesty to the occasion. The time and place, the solemn preparation by fasting and washing, the awful grandeur of Mt. Sinai veiled in clouds and flashed with lightning; the strict exclusion of man and beast from the sacred precincts, the longdrawn trumpet call, then a solemn stillness—then God spake all these words,

I am the Lord thy God which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:

Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.

Six days shalt thou labor and do all thy work: but the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates :

For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and hallowed it.

Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.

Thou shalt not kill.

Thou shalt not commit adultery.
Thou shalt not steal.
Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.

Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is thy neighbour's.

These commandments were then written on two tables of stone: these were encased in a golden casket—the ark of the covenant—and placed in the inner sanctuary of the sacred tabernacle, and the whole system of worship and social order constructed upon them. They were and are and ever will be the definition of all righteousness, the measure of man's rights.

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