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And it brings glory to God, as well as good to mortals. Says. Paul, “ the administration of this service (of giving) not only supplieth the wants of the saints, but abounds by many thanksgivings unto God.” This service was an ordinance under the Old Testament. A part of the yearly income of the Jew went directly t.) the Lord. And in the New Testament it has the same high place. Definite rules are given to regulate it. It is to be systematic. Each one is to lay aside at a certain time. It is to be voluntary and not constrained, “ willing of themselves." The gifts are to be brought in, and not gathered in. As to the amount, it is to be as God hath prospered each one. So the poor as well as the rich are to make offerings unto the Lord. And, finally, it is to be with simplicity, not as an eye service, not with covetousness, nor grudging, nor shirking. This ordinance is a part of Christianity. It gives visibility and the proper test to the Christian religion. It cannot be spared from the constellation of Christian ordinances and graces. If it had need to be an ordinance under the old dispensation, where the responsibility of the church was limited to a single nation, how much more under the new dispensation, where the church is set as the light of the world, and is sent forth to evangelize the world. But this ordinance of giving, alas, how neglected, how ignored! But it cannot be spared. The greatest of these is charity. We may better part with baptism than benevolence. That is a sign, this a grace. Better spare the communion than the grace that makes us welcome there. That commemorates, this admits to the marriage supper. Better let go the shadow than the substance, the mere symbols than the living spirit.
We do not undervalue the Christian ordinances. We only ask that this lost one, this orphan institution, have its own high place among them. We often administer at the Lord's table, where the members all apparently partake. Then follows frequently a supplemental ordinance, for which this other prepares us. It has for its end not commemoration, but communication. It is celebrated not by receiving, but by imparting ; a surer test, indeed, of discipleship. But, alas ! how few apparently partake! He that sat over against the treasury, and saw the two mites of the widow, and the rich men's gifts, notices now the noddings of the head, the stiff bolt
form, or averted, perhaps contemptuous, eye. We sometimes think if this latter ordinance were celebrated by taking something out of the treasury, rather than by putting something into it, there would be quite another appearance. Perhaps all would partake. But is it not a greater privilege to put something into the treasury of the Lord than to take something out of it? or in the words of Christ, is it not more blessed to give than to receive?
By what one great act was this world redeemed? It was by giving, in the form of sacrifice. And never will peace and life come to the earth till this principle is accepted and honored. The church will never become the light of the world, and the instrument of God in its conversion, till this first lesson of Christianity is accepted. God so loved that he gave! Christ so loved that he gave! What? Whom? Himself! And for what? For this world! And we do not follow him, nor imitate him, nor commemorate him, till we accept this condition of discipleship in the form of sacrifice! So may we fill up our measure of the sufferings of Christ. If that is an ordinance which brings Christ to the memory merely, is not that also which helps to bring Christ himself to the world and the world to him ?
If, then, we take testimony of ourselves, our consciousness and feelings ; if we interrogate nature and her teachings; if we bring the matter to the test of true expediency; or to that of sacred principle, or of inspired authority, or of the divine example and sanction, we find the question settled just as the great Teacher and Saviour of men has settled it,—that it is more blessed to give than to receive.
May the churches soon arise to this high privilege and calling. Then will righteousness rest upon the earth as a crown; and Christ the Redeemer of men will wear his many crowns, for then he shall have the heathen for his inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for his possession.
ART. II.-THE HEBREW LAWGIVER.*
REVIEW OF HIS WORK.
In the present article we are to consider Moses as a statesman,as the founder of the Hebrew commonwealth, with an unique code, in which he reduces to practice the principles of government acquired in the court of Egypt.
In the inauguration of the new state, he exhibits a breadth of view and a constructive ability, equalled only by his decision, courage, promptness and humanity, in the executive department, far exceeding any other example of statesmanship. This may appear in part when we consider the MATERIALS out of which he constructed the state.
Here we naturally revert to the condition of the people at the time he took them in charge,—destitute of culture, and degraded by more than two centuries of Egyptian bondage. As a nation, they were a confused, unorganized mass. Yet, strangely too, they had some form of government of their own, by which they controlled their own affairs, as a distinct but subordinate people. In this we find a prophecy of their future institutions.
TRIBE ORGANIZATION. The families of Israel while in Egypt had separate forms of government, the father being supreme; yet they were so related as to be homogeneous. These formed clans or larger families, and were governed by heads of houses, who were each called “ head of the house of their fathers," addressed and spoken of as “ Elders of Israel." Under their immediate direction the people were arranged for the exode, five abreast. At that time there were fifty-eight such clan families, exclusive of the family of Levi. Each of these had a chief, higher in grade than the “ heads” just alluded to, and to which twelve " princes of tribes" were added, one from a tribe, forming a representative body of seventy, the type of their future senate. Their government, at that time, was similar to that of the descendants of Ishmael, the Edomites and Arabians, and also to that of the ancient German and Scottish tribes, and the Aborigines of America. Each family, tribe and clan constituted a quasi state.
*Authorities ----Exodus, Chronicles, Horne, Wines and others.
Each tribe had its origin with the family. Smaller tribes, composed of families formed into clans, as occasion required, organized into tribe families, instituting a special but temporary government, separate and independent, having their own chiefs, like smaller clans or families, yet never relinquishing their hold on or interest in those primary organizations. But aside from these tribe families, there was the tribe itself, an organization running parallel with the family. They were twelve in number, each a state, having a specific and local government, inherent rights, independent, yet related. Each was ruled by its own prince to whom chiefs of lesser bodies were subordinate. Tribe princes were representative and administrative, engaged for their respective tribes, and now conducting them forward to liberty.
FORMATION OF A JUDICIARY. Before arriving at their destination they are called upon to join in selecting a board of counsellors and assistants chosen “ from all the people,” good men, fearing God, able and wise. This is the first popular election on record, the officers being chosen by vote of representative heads and sanctioned by the masses in general assembly. Their responsibilities were specific and various, from “rulers of tens, fifties, hundreds,” to “rulers of thousands.” They were graded justices or minor judges, to whom questions were submitted. Such as the lower grade was unable to decide were referred to the next higher, and so through each successive grade. If, finally, any cases remained unsettled they were left to the decision of Moses.
NUMBER OF JUDGES.
Ruling over thousands there were six hundred; over hundreds, six thousand ; over fifties, twelve thousand ; over tens, sixty thousand ; seventy-eight thousand and six hundred in all. They were subsequently called “heads over the people," and were to the masses and to Moses as our Heads of Departments are to us and the president of the United States. On petition or complaint by any one, they were to attend to the case presented, listen“ at all seasons” having no respect to persons, thus rendering the settlement of all questions, practicable, speedy, cheap and just. Like the princes, they were representative men, clothed with delegated powers, engaged for the people as well as for their greater chief. By virtue of their office they seem to have been entitled, subsequently, to legislative positions.
IN FRONT OF SINAI.
The place selected, as a legislative hall, was solemnly impressive and appropriate to the occasion. Here was the commencement of the THEOCRATIC and MOSAIC legislation, in its higher and more significant sense. At a distance of two hundred miles from Egypt, and at the end of the forty-fifth day, the people pitched camp on the Sinaitic plains, a locality familiar to Moses from a residence in that vicinity the forty years preceding. On the ninetieth day from Egypt he submitted to the people a proposition from God to make Jehovah their king and supreme Ruler, promising to make them a
kingdom of priests” in return. Doubtless it was through the “ elders of Israel” and the judges that the proposition was extended to the people. The forth-coming convention bears the marks of a delegated body, chosen by and on behalf of the people to consider the proposition. Concurrent with this was the presentation of the covenant or ten commandments, preceded by a brief preamble, as a declaration of rights on the part of God. These comprised the first section of the constitution, each being a separate article. Others were added at subsequent times, as recorded from the 20th of Exodus to the 23d; also in the chapters following to the 11th of Numbers, are amendments, resolves and special acts, called, taken together, the commandments and statutes of the Lord.” All of these were acted upon, first by delegated bodies, then by the masses. The first were called (Numbers 1: 16) “the renowned of the congregation, princes of the tribes of their fathers, heads of thousands in Israel."
Their deliberations were brief, resulting in the unanimous acceptance of the proposition. This acceptance was unanimously sanctioned by the masses in a more general convention where