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I SAM. xii. 3. Bebold, bere I am, witness against me ben
fore the Lord, and before his anointed: W bofe ox have I taken? or whose ass bave I taken? or whom have I den frauded? whom have I oppressed? or of whose band have I received any bribe to blind mine eyes therewith? and I will tea store it you.
T HERE is no doubt but every one
will be ready to say, that this was
a noble and generous resolution of the prophet; and that the example is highly worthy of our imitation and regard. And this indeed in some part is true; and if every one throughout all his tranfac
tions would be so candid as to make this, profession, and to practise according to it, the world would be in a much better condition than now it is.
But yet this is so far from any extraordinary and consummate height of virtue, that less than this will not justify us in the light of God. Nay even this declaration, in its literal meaning, falls short of what was the law under the Mosaic dispensation. Bare restitution was not sufficient, in any of the instances here produced; but something was required over and above, whereby to make a reasonable compensation for the trouble and damage, which the injured person might have sustained, through the want of what had been unjustly taken or detained from him.
In discoursing therefore upon this subject, I lhall fhew, · I. How the case stood, with regard to this duty of restitution, under the Jewish law: By which though we are not bound as to the particular measures and instances of it, yet as to its reason, which is eterBb 3
nally nally the fame, we are still obliged. Therefore I Thall shew,
II. That reftitution is a duty reafonable in itself. "III. That it is moreover necessary. And,
ĮV. I shall add some motives to quicken the practice of it.
I. I AM to Thew, how the case stood, with regard to this duty of restitution, under the Jewish law.-Now the law amongst the Jews was this*: If a man offered a
oluntary restitution, he was then to reatore the whole, and to add moreover a äfth part; in order to make the injured person some reparation for the damages he might have fustained, during the time that his right was detained from him t. “If a man did not offer à voluntary restitution, then to make the injured person some amends, for the hazard there might be in discovering the unjust person, and for the trouble of convicting him before a magistrate, the offender was compelled to restore double ll. As for instance, If a
* Lev, vi. 1, &c. † Ex. xxii. 9. ll Ex. xxii. 4.
man stole an ox or an ass, or a sheep, and the theft were found in his hand alive, so that the injured person could certainly know them to be his own; the offender was in this case adjudged to restore the thing stolen, and another as good *.
But if the thief did kill, or sell, the ox or the sheep, by which the discovery might be rendered ftill more difficult; he was then to restore five oxen for an ox, and four sheep for a sheep. Thus king David, when he was decoyed by the prophet Nathan, to condemn himself, under the feigned character of a man who had robbed his neighbour of an ewe lamb, and had killed it, passed sentence according to the tenor of this law : As the Lord liveth, (faith he), the man that hath done this thing Mall surely die ; and he shall restore the lamb four-fold. The former part of the sentence indeed, he had no law for pronouncing, that the man should die for it; but the latter part, that he should restore the lamb four-fold, is exactly conformable to the law for that purpose.
* Ex. xxii. 1,
Thus, if we understand this declaration of Samuel, in its literal acceptation, to offer no more than a simple restitution, it is below the measures of that inftitution under which he lived : In order therefore to recommend it to imitation, we must be forced to qualify it by a favourable conftraction; And, no doubt, the reftitution he here proposeth muft intend at the lowo eft a legal restitution; which, since it was voluntary, must here implý, the whole, and a fifth part besides,
Not that we are exactly bound to those measures which were prescribed by the Jewish law. Yet there seemeth no objection to arise even against these proportions, save only, that the circumstances of the offenders are oftentimes so wretched and mean, that such a reftitution is impracticable; which may be the reason probably why violence and fraud are punished by other institutions in a different manner. But this is no reason, why restitution should not be made where it can; and even in fases where it cannot, the Jewith law did provide this remedy, namely, that the man