We have here some general rules of justice laid down both for prince and people, the rules of distributive and commutative justice; for godliness without honesty is but a form of godliness, will neither please God nor avail to the benefit of any people. Be it therefore enacted, by the authority of the church’s King and God, 1. That princes do not oppress their subjects, but duly and faithfully administer justice among them (Ezek. 45:9): “Let it suffice you, O princes of Israel! that you have been oppressive to the people and have enriched yourselves by spoil and violence, that you have so long fleeced the flock instead of feeding them, and henceforward do so no more.” Note, Even princes and great men that have long done amiss must at length think it time, high time, to reform and amend; for no prescription will justify a wrong. Instead of saying that they have been long accustomed to oppress, and therefore may persist in it, for the custom will bear them out, they should say that they have been long accustomed to it and therefore, as here, Let the time pass suffice, and let them now remove violence and spoil; let them drop wrongful demands, cancel wrongful usages, and turn out those from employments under them that do violence. Let them take away their exactions, ease their subjects of those taxes which they find lie heavily upon them, and let them execute judgment and justice according to the law, as the duty of their place requires. Note, All princes, but especially the princes of Israel, are concerned to do justice; for of their people God says, They are my people, and they in a special manner rule for God. 2. That one neighbour do not cheat another in commerce (Ezek. 45:10): You shall have just balances, in which to weigh both money and goods, a just ephah for dry measure of corn and flour, a just bath for the measure of liquids, wine, and oil; and the ephah and bath shall be one measure, the tenth part of a chomer, or cor, Ezek. 45:11. So that the ephah and bath contained (as the learned Dr. Cumberland has computed) seven wine gallons and four pints, and something more. An omer was but the tenth part of an ephah (Exod. 16:36) and the one hundredth part of a chomer, or homer, and contained about six pints. The shekel is here settled (Ezek. 45:13); it is twenty jerahs, just half a Roman ounce, in our money 2s. 4 1/4d. and almost the eighth part of a farthing, as the aforesaid learned man exactly computes it. By the shekels the maneh, or pound, was reckoned, which, when it was set for a mere weight (says bishop Cumberland), without respect to coinage, contained just 100 shekels, as appears by comparing 1 Kgs. 10:17; where it is said three manehs, or pounds, of gold, went to one shield, with the parallel place, 2 Chron. 9:16; where it is said 300 shekels of gold went to one shield. But when the maneh is set for a sum of money or coin it contains but sixty shekels, as appears here, where twenty shekels, twenty-five shekels, and fifteen shekels, which in all make sixty, shall be the maneh. But it is thus reckoned because they had one piece of money that weighed twenty shekels, another twenty-five, another fifteen, all of which made up one pound, as a learned writer here observes. Note, It concerns God’s Israel to be very honest and just in all their dealings, very punctual and exact in rendering to all their due, and very cautious to do wrong to none, because otherwise they spoil the acceptableness of their profession with God and the reputation of it before men.
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