12Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.
12 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.