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Verse 12

Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men - This is a most sublime precept, and highly worthy of the grandeur and beneficence of the just God who gave it. The general meaning of it is this: "Guided by justice and mercy, do unto all men as you would have them to do to you, were your circumstances and theirs reversed." Yet this saying may be misunderstood. "If the prisoner should ask the judge, 'whether he would be content to be hanged, were he in his case,' he would answer, 'No.' Then, says the prisoner, do as you would be done to. - Neither of them must do as private men; but the judge must do by him as they have publicly agreed: that is, both judge and prisoner have consented to a law, that if either of them steal he shall be hanged." - Selden. None but he whose heart is filled with love to God and all mankind can keep this precept, either in its spirit or letter. Self-love will feel itself sadly cramped when brought within the limits of this precept; but God hath spoken it: it is the spirit and design of the law and the prophets; the sum of all that is laid down in the Sacred Writings, relative to men's conduct toward each other. It seems as if God had written it upon the hearts of all men, for sayings of this kind may be found among all nations, Jewish, Christian, and Heathen. See many examples in Wetstein's notes.

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