Verse 19. "Then shall ye do unto him as he had thought to have done unto his brother" - Nothing can be more equitable or proper than this, that if a man endeavour to do any injury to or take away the life of another, on detection he shall be caused to undergo the same evil which he intended for his innocent neighbour.
Some of our excellent English laws have been made on this very ground. In the 37th of Edw. III., chap. 18, it is ordained that all those who make suggestion shall incur the same pain which the other should have had, if he were attainted, in case his suggestions be found evil. A similar law was made in the 38th of the same reign, chap. 9. By a law of the twelve Tables, a false witness was thrown down the Tarpeian rock. In short, false witnesses have been execrated by all nations.
Verse 21. "Life-for life, eye for eye, &c." - The operation of such a law as this must have been very salutary: if a man prized his own members, he would naturally avoid injuring those of others. It is a pity that this law were not still in force: it would certainly prevent many of those savage acts which now both disgrace and injure society. I speak this in reference to law generally, and the provision that should be made to prevent and punish ferocious and malevolent offenses. A Christian may always act on the plan of forgiving injuries; and where the public peace and safety may not be affected, he should do so; but if law did not make a provision for the safety of the community by enactment against the profligate, civil society would soon be destroyed.