16.And I charged your judges. This charge is not found in Exodus 18:0, where the only object of Moses was to point out the origin of the alteration; but now omitting the praise of his father-in-law, he merely recalls to the recollection of the Israelites what he did with them. The sum, however, of the exhortation is, that they should adjudicate impartially between their brethren; which is more fully expressed in the next verse, where they are forbidden to “acknowledge faces.” (206) For there can be no greater corruption than to judge from personal appearance, which always draws away men’s minds from the merits of the ease. Wherefore Christ rightly opposes these two things to one another, to “judge righteous judgment,” and “according to the appearance.” (John 7:24.) This even philosophers have perceived, when they have advised that, as far as possible, judges should be restrained by fixed laws, lest;, being left free, they should be swayed this way or that by favor or ill will. And, in point of fact, wherever there is a sufficient capacity of intellect, equity and rectitude will prevail, unless respect to persons influences the judge. It, is plain from the context, where Moses forbids the making a distinction between small and great, what is meant by “acknowledging persons.” But although judges often inflict injury upon the poor and wretched out of contempt of them, yet Moses adverts to the more common fault, when he charges them “to be afraid of no man;” since it very often happens that those who are otherwise just, and disposed to study what is equitable and right, are made to swerve through fear of the threats of the powerful, and dare not; manfully encounter their ill will. Moses, therefore, requires magnanimity in judges, so that they may not hesitate to bring upon themselves the hatred of any, in their defense of a good cause. But we must specially observe the reason whereby he corrects their fear and alarm; for he says that they are to be afraid of no mortal man, because “the judgment is God’s.” He does not here merely remind them, as it; appears to some, that an account must be rendered to God; but shows how absurd it is to turn from the right course out of the fear of man, because thus the majesty of God is prostituted and exposed to scorn; as much as to say that this honor must be paid to God, whose representatives they are, that they should look upon all men as beneath them, and restrain the audacity of rite wicked with such inflexible magnanimity, that God alone may have the preeminence. The same is the object of Jehoshaphat’s words:
“Take heed what ye do: for ye judge not for man but for the Lord.” (2 Chronicles 19:6.)
If this were thoroughly impressed upon the minds both of magistrates and pastors, they would not vacillate so often; for relying on God’s aid, they would stand firmly against all the terrors by which they are so pitifully agitated. Wherefore let all those who are called to any public office, sustain themselves by this doctrine, that they are doing God’s work, who is well able to keep them safe from the violence as well as the craftiness of the whole world. Yet, at the same time we are taught by these words that all posts of command are sacred to God, so that whosoever are called to them should reverently and diligently serve God, and ever reflect that His is the dominion whereof they are the ministers.