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seclusions of the Roman church. The sanctity, the purity, which was to attend the wife of the priest, was a further incentive to the purity and holiness of the women in Israel. Superiority of actual ranks there was none, but superiority in virtue there was, and to gain that superiority was in the power of all women under the guidance of the law. The priests were the very highest and noblest in the sight of the people, being the elect of the Lord, and the ministers of His will. How pure then and holy must have been the ambition to become worthy of selection as the priests' wives; and how beautifully is the superior holiness and sanctity of the women of Israel brought forward, by the simple fact that the priests of the Lord might only choose a wife from "their own people"!

It is evident, then, from every law we have regarded, that, instead of being degraded and enslaved, the wives in Israel were peculiarly and especially objects of the Eternal's love. For their safety, their honour, those laws were issued, now recognised by the greater part of the civilised world; and all those who deny this shake the very foundations of the whole system of morality, under whatever creed it may be found. The Gentile is in very truth "debtor to the Jew" for far more than he acknowledges; for every law unconsciously guiding and sanctifying his domestic relations, refining his own conduct, elevating his own mindfor every law blessing his home with a faithful wife, respected mother, and duteous child. That, therefore, any woman can fling odium on the Jewish law, can only excite our pity towards her. The innocence, honour, and purity, and domestic, social, and religious duties

of wives, being more clearly and unanswerably developed in the sacred canon of the Mosaic law than in any other, from the very simple fact, that every other is founded upon them.



BEFORE regarding the laws instituted for the widows of Israel, let us pause one moment on the full tide of anguish and unprotected isolation comprised to woman in that one word "widow," that we may comprehend our Father's love to the full extent. What woman's heart, awake to kind and generous feelings, can look upon a widow without sympathy-without the yearning prayer, that consolation may be granted her, and her fatherless babes find friends to guide them through a stormy world? We know no description so thrillingly powerful of this, the heart's desolation, as the lines we subjoin.

"Lone sharer of a widowed lot,

Where is the language, though a Seraph hymned
The poetry of heaven, to picture thee,

Wrecked as thou art, whose life has now become
Affliction's martyrdom? for such is love

Doomed to remain on desolation's rock

And look for ever where the past lies dead.
What is the world to thy benighted soul?
A dungeon! Save that where thy children's tones
Can ring with gladness its sepulchral gloom.
Placid and cold, and spiritually pale

Art thou. The lustre of thy youth is dimm'd,

The verdure of thy spirit o'er. In vain
The beaming eloquence of day attracts
Thy heart's communion with creation's joy.
Like twilight imaged on a bank of snow
The smile that waneth o'er thy marble cheek."


Such, indeed, is the earthly sadness of the widow. One with him who has departed, how may she tread the earth's dark vales alone? Where look for love to supply the place of that now gone? Where find a father for those babes, clinging to her for that support, that love, which in her first bereavement she feels utterly unable to bestow? Where but in Him, who in His law so especially provides for her and for her fatherless children? And, by his prophets, reinforces the statutes already given, and brings forward their neglect as one of the manifold sins which called down His displeasure.

We find in His gracious word not alone the command, but the severe penalty attached to its disobedience, first in Exodus xxii. 22, 23, 24: "Ye shall not afflict any widow or fatherless child. If thou afflict them in any wise, and they cry at all unto ME, I will surely hear their cry, and my wrath shall wax hot, and I will kill you with the sword; and your wives shall be widows, your children fatherless."

Can any language more emphatically and forcibly denote the tender mercy of the Eternal? His love made their sorrows His own. As a positive sin against Himself, He threatened to afflict all those who dared afflict them by the infliction of similar suffering. He knew that, left to man's mercy, the widow and the fatherless would often meet with oppression, fraud, and injustice; be defrauded of their natural rights, and afflicted by hard creditors. Not only as a widow, called upon to bear "affliction's martyrdom," but as a mother, to behold her children a prey to suffering and want. In Israel this could not be. The widow and the fatherless were God's

own, for He knew, that not alone the wife, but the mother must be cared for.

"Leave thy fatherless children to ME," He said by His prophet Jeremiah, at a time when misery, desolation, and destruction were falling on Judea and her sons for their awful iniquity. "Leave them to ME, and I will keep them alive. And let thy widows trust in ME." Even then, when disobedience and idolatry had so cursed the land, that His wrath could no longer be withheld, He reiterated the gracious promise given in His law. Sunk into the lowest ebb of iniquity, how could the widow and orphan be protected if left to the care of man? Where might they look, at such a season, but to their God, who for them alone had mercy and long suffering still?

The ruin and worldly misfortunes and trials, so often now the portion of the widow, could not exist in Israel. The nation at large was commanded to provide for them, and in every feast of offerings or of festivals, and in the ingathering of their corn, and oil, and fruits, to include the widow and the fatherless; laws not once, but several times repeated. "When thou cuttest down thy harvest in thy field, and hast forgotten the sheaf in the field, thou shalt not go again to fetch it, but it shall be for the stranger, and the FATHERLESS, and the WIDOW, that the Lord thy God may bless thee in all the works of thy hands. When thou beatest thy olive tree thou shalt not go over the boughs again, it shall be for the stranger, the FATHERLESS, and the widow. When thou gatherest the grapes at thy vineyard, thou shalt not glean it again, it shall be for the stranger, the FATHERLESS, and the WIDOW."

Nor was this all. The tithes of wine, corn, and oil,

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