That There are Two Ways, -- The One Natural, of Life, and the Other Introduced Afterwards, of Death; And that the Former is from God, and the Latter of Error, from the Snares of the Adversary.
I. The lawgiver Moses said to the Israelites, |Behold, I have set before your face the way of life and the way of death;| and added, |Choose life, that thou mayest live.| Elijah the prophet also said to the people: |How long will you halt with both your legs? If the Lord be God, follow Him.| The Lord Jesus also said justly: |No one can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other.| We also, following our teacher Christ, |who is the Saviour of all men, especially of those that believe,| are obliged to say that there are two ways -- the one of life, the other of death; which have no comparison one with another, for they are very different, or rather entirely separate; and the way of life is that of nature, but that of death was afterwards introduced, -- it not being according to the mind of God, but from the snares of the adversary.
Moral Exhortations of the Lord's Constitutions Agreeing with the Ancient Prohibitions of the Divine Laws. The Prohibition of Anger, Spite, Corruption, Adultery, and Every Forbidden Action.
II. The first way, therefore, is that of life; and is this, which the law also does appoint: |To love the Lord God with all thy mind, and with all thy soul, who is the one and only God, besides whom there is no other;| |and thy neighbour as thyself.| And whatsoever thou wouldest not should be done to thee, that do not thou to another.| |Bless them that curse you; pray for them that despitefully use you.| |Love your enemies; for what thanks is it if ye love those that love you? for even the Gentiles do the same.| |But do ye love those that hate you, and ye shall have no enemy.| For says He, |Thou shalt not hate any man; no, not an Egyptian, nor an Edomite;| for they are all the workmanship of God. Avoid not the persons, but the sentiments, of the wicked. |Abstain from fleshly and worldly lusts.| |If any one gives thee a stroke on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.| Not that revenge is evil, but that patience is more honourable. For David says, |If I have made returns to them that repaid me evil.| |If any one compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.| And, |He that will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also.| |And from him that taketh thy goods, require them not again.| |Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee do not shut thy hand.| For |the righteous man is pitiful, and lendeth.| For your Father would have you give to all, who Himself |maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth His rain on the just and on the unjust.| It is therefore reasonable to give to all out of thine own labours; for says He, |Honour the Lord out of thy righteous labours,| but so that the saints be preferred. |Thou shalt not kill;| that is, thou shalt not destroy a man like thyself: for thou dissolvest what was well made. Not as if all killing were wicked, but only that of the innocent: but the killing which is just is reserved to the magistrates alone. |Thou shalt not commit adultery:| for thou dividest one flesh into two. |They two shall be one flesh:| for the husband and wife are one in nature, in consent, in union, in disposition, and the conduct of life; but they are separated in sex and number. |Thou shall not corrupt boys:| for this wickedness is contrary to nature, and arose from Sodom, which was therefore entirely consumed with fire sent from God. |Let such a one be accursed: and all the people shall say, So be it.| |Thou shall not commit fornication:| for says He, |There shall not be a fornicator among the children of Israel.| |Thou shalt not steal:| for Achan, when he had stolen in Israel at Jericho, was stoned to death; and Gehazi, who stole, and told a lie, inherited the leprosy of Naaman; and Judas, who stole the poor's money, betrayed the Lord of glory to the Jews, and repented, and hanged himself, and burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out; and Ananias, and Sapphira his wife, who stole their own goods, and |tempted the Spirit of the Lord,| were immediately, at the sentence of Peter our fellow-apostle, struck dead.
The Prohibition of Conjuring, Murder of Infants, Perjury, and False Witness.
III. Thou shalt not use magic. Thou shalt not use witchcraft; for He says, |Ye shall not suffer a witch to live.| Thou shall not slay thy child by causing abortion, nor kill that which is begotten; for |everything that is shaped, and has received a soul from God, if it be slain, shall be avenged, as being unjustly destroyed.| |Thou shalt not covet the things that belong to thy neighbour, as his wife, or his servant, or his ox, or his field.| |Thou shalt not forswear thyself; for it is said, |Thou shalt not swear at all.| But if that cannot be avoided, thou shalt swear truly; for |every one that swears by Him shall be commended.| |Thou shalt not bear false witness;| for |he that falsely accuses the needy provokes to anger Him that made him.|
The Prohibition of Evil-Speaking and Passion, of Deceitful Conduct, or Idle Words, Lies, Covetousness, and Hypocrisy.
IV. Thou shall not speak evil; for says He, |Love not to speak evil, lest thou beest taken away.| Nor shalt thou be mindful of injuries; for |the ways of those that remember injuries are unto death.| Thou shall not be double-minded nor double-tongued; for |a man's own lips are a strong snare to him,| and |a talkative person shall not be prospered upon earth.| Thy words shall not be vain; for |ye shall give an account of every idle word.| Thou shalt not tell lies: for says He, |Thou shalt destroy all those that speak lies.| Thou shalt not be covetous nor rapacious: for says He, |Woe to him that is covetous towards his neighbour with an evil covetousness.|
The Prohibition of Malignity, Acceptation of Persons, Wrath, Malice, and Envy.
V. Thou shalt not be an hypocrite, lest thy |portion be with them.| Thou shalt not be ill-natured nor proud: for |God resisteth the proud.| |Thou shalt not accept persons in judgment; for the judgment is the Lord's.| |Thou shalt not hate any man; thou shalt surely reprove thy brother, and not become guilty on his account;| and, |Reprove a wise man, and he will love thee.| Eschew all evil, and all that is like it: for says He, |Abstain from injustice, and trembling shall not come nigh thee.| Be not soon angry, nor spiteful, nor passionate, nor furious, nor daring, lest thou undergo the fate of Cain, and of Saul, and of Joab: for the first of these slew his brother Abel, because Abel was found to be preferred before him with God, and because Abel's sacrifice was preferred; the second persecuted holy David, who had slain Goliah the Philistine, being envious of the praises of the women who danced; the third slew two generals of armies -- Abner of Israel, and Amasa of Judah.
Concerning Augury and Enchantments.
VI. Be not a diviner, for that leads to idolatry; for says Samuel, |Divination is sin;| and, |There shall be no divination in Jacob, nor soothsaying in Israel.| Thou shalt not use enchantments or purgations for thy child. Thou shall not be a soothsayer nor a diviner by great or little birds. Nor shalt thou learn wicked arts; for all these things has the law forbidden. Be not one that wishes for evil, for thou wilt be led into intolerable sins. Thou shalt not speak obscenely, nor use wanton glances, nor be a drunkard; for from such causes arise whoredoms and adulteries. Be not a lover of money, lest thou |serve mammon instead of God.| Be not vainglorious, nor haughty, nor high-minded. For from all these things arrogance does spring. Remember him who said: |Lord, my heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty: I have not exercised myself in great matters, nor in things too high for me; but I was humble.|
The Prohibition of Murmuring, Insolence, Pride, and Arrogance.
VII. Be not a murmurer, remembering the punishment which those underwent who murmured against Moses. Be not self-willed, be not malicious, be not hard-hearted, be not passionate, be not mean-spirited; for all these things lead to blasphemy. But be meek, as were Moses and David, since |the meek shall inherit the earth.|
Concerning Long-Suffering, Simplicity, Meekness, and Patience.
VIII. Be slow to wrath; for such a one is very prudent, since |he that is hasty of spirit is a very fool.| Be merciful; for |blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.| Be sincere, quiet, good, |trembling at the word of God.| Thou shalt not exalt thyself, as did the Pharisee; for |every one that exalteth himself shall be abased,| and |that which is of high esteem with man is abomination with God.| Thou shalt not entertain confidence in thy soul; for |a confident man shall fall into mischief.| Thou shalt not go along with the foolish, but with the wise and righteous; for |he that walketh with wise men shall be wise, but he that walketh with the foolish shall be known.| Receive the afflictions that fall upon thee with an even mind, and the chances of life without over-much sorrow, knowing that a reward shall be given to thee by God, as was given to Job and to Lazarus.
That It is Our Duty to Esteem Our Christian Teachers Above Our Parents -- The Former Being the Means of Our Well-Being, the Other Only of Our Being.
IX. Thou shalt honour him that speaks to thee the word of God, and be mindful of him day and night; and thou shalt reverence him, not as the author of thy birth, but as one that is made the occasion of thy well-being. For where the doctrine concerning God is, there God is present. Thou shalt every day seek the face of the saints, that thou mayest acquiesce in their words.
That We Ought Not to Divide Ourselves from the Saints, But to Make Peace Between Those that Quarrel, to Judge Righteously, and Not to Accept Persons.
X. Thou shalt not make schisms among the saints, but be mindful of the followers of Corah. Thou shalt make peace between those that are at variance, as Moses did when he persuaded them to be friends. Thou shalt judge righteously; for |the judgment is the Lord's.| Thou shalt not accept persons when thou reprovest for sins; but do as Elijah and Micaiah did to Ahab, and Ebedmelech the Ethiopian to Zedekiah, and Nathan to David, and John to Herod.
Concerning Him that is Double-Minded and Desponding.
XI. Be not of a doubtful mind in thy prayer, whether it shall be granted or no. For the Lord said to me Peter upon the sea: |O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?| |Be not thou ready to stretch out thy hand to receive, and to shut it when thou shouldst give.|
Concerning Doing Good.
XII. If thou hast by the work of thy hands, give, that thou mayest labour for the redemption of thy sins; for |by alms and acts of faith sins are purged away.| Thou shalt not grudge to give to the poor, nor when thou hast given shalt thou murmur; for thou shalt know who will repay thee thy reward. For says he: |He that hath mercy on the poor man lendeth to the Lord; according to his gift, so shall it be repaid him again.| Thou shalt not turn away from him that is needy; for says he: |He that stoppeth his ears, that he may not hear the cry of the needy, himself also shall call, and there shall be none to hear him.| Thou shall communicate in all things to thy brother, and shall not say thy goods are thine own; for the common participation of the necessaries of life is appointed to all men by God. Thou shalt not take off thine hand from thy son or from thy daughter, but shalt teach them the fear of God from their youth; for says he: |Correct thy son, so shall he afford thee good hope.|
How Masters Ought to Behave Themselves to Their Servants, and How Servants Ought to Be Subject.
XIII. Thou shall not command thy man-servant, or thy maid-servant, who trust in the same God, with bitterness of soul, lest they groan against thee, and wrath be upon thee from God. And, ye servants, |be subject to your masters,| as to the representatives of God, with attention and fear, |as to the Lord, and not to men.|
Concerning Hypocrisy, and Obedience to the Laws, and Confession of Sins.
XIV. Thou shalt hate all hypocrisy; and whatsoever is pleasing to the Lord, that shalt thou do. By no means forsake the commands of the Lord. But thou shalt observe what things thou hast received from Him, neither adding to them nor taking away from them. |For thou shalt not add unto His words, lest He convict thee, and thou becomest a liar.| Thou shalt confess thy sins unto the Lord thy God; and thou shalt not add unto them, that it may be well with thee from the Lord thy God, who willeth not the death of a sinner, but his repentance.
Concerning the Observance Due to Parents.
XV. Thou shalt be observant to thy father and mother as the causes of thy being born, that thou mayest live long on the earth which the Lord thy God giveth thee. Do not overlook thy brethren or thy kinsfolk; for |thou shalt not overlook those nearly related to thee.|
Concerning the Subjection Due to the King and to Rulers.
XVI. Thou shalt fear the king, knowing that his appointment is of the Lord. His rulers thou shalt honour as the ministers of God, for they are the revengers of all unrighteousness; to whom pay taxes, tribute, and every oblation with a willing mind.
Concerning the Pure Conscience of Those that Pray.
XVII. Thou shalt not proceed to thy prayer in the day of thy wickedness, before thou hast laid aside thy bitterness. This is the way of life, in which may ye be found, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
That the Way Which Was Afterward Introduced by the Snares of the Adversary is Full of Impiety and Wickedness.
XVIII. But the way of death is known by its wicked practices: for therein is the ignorance of God, and the introduction of many evils, and disorders, and disturbances; whereby come murders, adulteries, fornications, perjuries, unlawful lusts, thefts, idolatries, magic arts, witchcrafts, rapines, false-witnesses, hypocrisies, double-heartedness, deceit, pride, malice, insolence, covetousness, obscene talk, jealousy, confidence, haughtiness, arrogance, impudence, persecution of the good, enmity to truth, love of lies, ignorance of righteousness. For they who do such things do not adhere to goodness, or to righteous judgment: they watch not for good, but for evil; from whom meekness and patience are far off, who love vain things, pursuing after reward, having no pity on the poor, not labouring for him that is in misery, nor knowing Him that made them; murderers of infants, destroyers of the workmanship of God, that turn away from the needy, adding affliction to the afflicted, the flatterers of the rich, the despisers of the poor, full of sin. May you, children, be delivered from all these.
That We Must Not Turn from the Way of Piety Either to the Right Hand or to the Left. An Exhortation of the Lawgiver.
XIX. See that no one seduce thee from piety; for says He: |Thou mayst not turn aside from it to the right hand, or to the left, that thou mayst have understanding in all that thou doest.| For if thou dost not turn out of the right way, thou wilt not be ungodly.