Verse 25. "It shall be our righteousness" - The evidence that we are under the influence of the fear and love of God. Moses does not say that this righteousness could be wrought without the influence of God's mercy, nor does he say that they should purchase heaven by it: but, God required them to be conformed to his will in all things, that they might be holy in heart, and righteous in every part of their moral conduct.
1. ON a very important subject in this chapter, it may be necessary to make some farther observations.
A most injurious and destructive maxim has lately been advanced by a few individuals, which it is to be hoped is disowned by the class of Christians to which they belong, though the authors affect to be thought Christians, and rational ones, too; the sum of the maxim is this: "Children ought not to be taught religion for fear of having their minds biased to some particular creed, but they should be left to themselves till they are capable of making a choice, and choose to make one." This maxim is in flat opposition to the command of God, and those who teach it show how little they are affected by the religion they profess. If they felt it to be good for any thing, they would certainly wish their children to possess it; but they do not teach religion to their children, because they feel it to be of no use to themselves.
Now the Christian religion properly applied saves the soul, and fills the heart with love to God and man; for the love of God is shed abroad in the heart of a genuine believer, by the Holy Ghost given to him. These persons have no such love, because they have not the religion that inspires it; and the spurious religion which admits of the maxim above mentioned, is not the religion of God, and consequently better untaught than taught. But what can be said to those parents who, possessing a better faith, equally neglect the instruction of their children in the things of God! They are highly criminal; and if their children perish through neglect, which is very probable, what a dreadful account must they give in the great day! PARENTS! hear what the Lord saith unto you: Ye shall diligently teach your children that there is one Lord, Jehovah, Elohim; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost: and that they must love him with all their heart, with all their soul, and with all their might. And as children are heedless, apt to forget, liable to be carried away by sensible things, repeat and re-repeat the instruction, and add line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little, carefully studying time, place, and circumstances, that your labour be not in vain: show it in its amiableness, excite attention by exciting interest; show how good, how useful, how blessed, how ennobling, how glorious it is. Whet these things on their hearts till the keenest edge is raised on the strongest desire, till they can say, "Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth I desire besides thee!" See the notes on "chap. iv. 9", and on Genesis 18., and 29. at the end. 2. Without offense to any, I hope, a few words more may be said on the nature of an oath, in addition to the note, See "ver. 13". The matter is important, and perhaps not well understood by many.
The making an appeal to the Supreme Being, and calling him to witness and record, constitutes the spirit and essence of an oath. It is no matter in what form this appeal is made, whether by putting the hand under the thigh, as among the patriarchs; by the water of the Ganges, as among the Hindoos; on a surat or chapter of the Koran, as among the Mohammedans; on a Hebrew Pentateuch, as among the Jews; on the form of the cross, as among the Roman Catholics; kissing the New Testament, as among Protestants in general; or holding up the hand, and making affirmation, as among the people called Quakers; still the oath is the same, for the appeal is made to God. On this ground (and this is the true ground), the holding up of the hand in a court of justice, is as perfect, as substantial, and as formal an oath, as kissing the New Testament. Why then so many objections against taking an oath in a court of justice by any one particular form, when the same thing is done in spirit, essence, and substance, when God is called to witness and record, though the form be different? When God says, Thou shalt fear the Lord thy God, and shalt swear by his name, he says, in effect, Thou shalt have no god besides me; thou shalt consider me the fountain of truth, the rewarder of righteousness, and the punisher of perfidy and wickedness. Swear by my name-bind thyself to me; take me for witness to all thy actions; and act in all things as having me continually before thine eyes, and knowing that for every act and word thou shalt give account to me in the day of judgment. Our Lord's command, Swear not at all, can never relate to an oath in a civil cause, taken according to the definition above given: profane and common swearing, with all light, irreverent oaths and imprecations, and all such oaths as are not required by the civil magistrate, in cases where the Lord is supposed to be witness, are certainly intended in our blessed Lord's prohibition. See on "chap. iv. 26".