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Lecture Fifty-Fifth.

We yesterday explained why the Prophet says that no one is just unless he withdraw his hands from iniquity, because many occasions tempt us to injure others: unless we restrain ourselves in a middle course we often hurt our neighbors. Now among the virtues of a just man he puts, to judge according to truth: to act truthfully, says he, between man and man. This seems indeed to be the proper duty of judges who discharge a public office, but yet it is suitable to private persons; for although no one argues his own cause except before some one endued with power to decide it, yet we see that the inclinations of men often pervert equity and rectitude in judgments. Again, many are chosen arbitrators who do not hold any public office. The meaning is, that what Ezekiel previously sought concerning equity is extended to the causes of others, that no one should turn aside from right and equity through private friendship. Afterwards it follows, if he has walked in my statutes and kept my judgments, in acting with truthfulness. Again, the Prophet returns to general remarks: for he has recorded certain kinds of justice, as we said yesterday, whence its nature may be more clearly perceived. Besides, because God’s law contains within it more than the prophet has thus far mentioned; hence it was necessary to add this clause, who has walked in my decrees, says he. It is too cold to restrict this to ceremonies, as is sometimes done; hence I interpret it of edicts or decrees. The metaphor of walking does not require a long explanation, as it is very common in Scripture. Hence, to walk in God’s precepts is nothing else than to form his life and morals according to the rule which has been prescribed by God; or, what is the same thing, so to conduct oneself, that in desiring to be deemed just a man should attempt nothing but what is agreeable to God’s precepts. But since the observance of the law is difficult, first, because we are not only of a frail disposition, but prone to sin; hence the word “serving” is added, by which the Prophet commends diligence. Whoever wishes to direct his life according to God’s precepts should attentively keep them, since nothing is more natural than to transgress and fall. He now adds, for acting truthfully. Integrity is here denoted by the word truthfulness. We gather, then, from this word the fruitful teaching, that the object of God’s whole law is to conduct ourselves without deceit or fraud, and study to assist one another in simplicity, and to conduct ourselves with sincerity in every duty. If any one, then, asks the object of the law, the Prophet here describes it to us — the performance of truth; and this is said rightly of the second table. But this may be adapted to the former table, since the Scripture teaches us that no dissembling can be pleasing to God. And we see also what Paul says when he briefly defines the end of the law to be charity out of any pure heart, and faith unfeigned. (1 Timothy 1:5.) But the word truth in this passage is, in my judgment, referred to that sincerity which we must cultivate, so that no one should deceive another, nor act fraudulently or knowingly, but be really simple and sincere. He adds, he is just, and in living he shall live, says the Lord Jehovah. At length he pronounces, as we said, that he is just who has faithfully observed God’s law; then that a recompense is prepared for all the just who thus sincerely worship God. Now let us come to the second example.

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