Page images

fervor of pious feeling that has resisted | wretch that Venāsi is! alas for his posall these untoward influences. But in terity, great will be their sufferings.' the general, what superstition, what 'Evil one, why are you going on in this profanation, what mockery, under the way; have you no pity for your seed ?' name of worship there prevail? For. 'Alas! alas ! I am now suffering for the giveness of sin by human authority, the sins of my fathers. When men enjoy withholding the Bible from the people, many blessings, it is common to say of and the grossest immorality among large them, 'Yes, yes, they are enjoying the portions of the priesthood are among the good deeds of their fathers. The prosfruits known and read of all men, of the perity of my house arises from the virpractical violation of the second com. tues of my forefathers. In the Scanda mandment.- For I the Lord thy Purāna it is recorded, "The soul is subGod am a jealous God, &c. We have ject to births, deaths, and sufferings. thus far considered the precept of the It may be born on the earth, or in the Second Commandment; the words be- sea. It may also appear in ether, fire, fore us bring us to its sanction. This or air. Souls may be born as men, as is drawn from the nature of God, and beasts or birds, as grass' or trees, as the words very strikingly exhibit the mountains or gods. By these we are peculiar feeling with which Jehovah re. reminded of the question, 'Who did sin, gards all rivalry in the affections and this man or his parents, that he was homage of his subjects. This feeling born blind ?' 'Jesus answered, Neither is here called "jealousy,' implying a hath this man sinned, nor his parents.' peculiar sensitiveness to every thing Roberts. To visit iniquity is to punish that threatens to trench upon the honor, it; and we have here the announcement reverence, and esteem that he knows to of a general principle of the divine adbe due to himself. The term will ap- ministration or an established ordering pear still more significant if it be borne of providence, viz., that the effects both in mind that idolatry in the Scriptures of obedience and disobedience, or bless. is frequently spoken of as spiritual adul. ings and curses, remain for a long time tery, and as jealousy is the rage of a after the original actors are no more. man,' so nothing can more fitly express Universal history and experience clear. the divine indignation against this sin ly go to show that this is a distinguishthan the term in question. Those senti- ing character of the divine economy, ments therefore which are naturally and the sentence is shielded from all awakened by the infidelity and treach charge of injustice by the terms in which ery of an espoused wife towards her it is couched— unto the third and fourth husband are strongly appealed to by generation of them that hate me ;' from the use of this language. -9 Visiting which it is obvious that the children the iniquity of the fathers, &c. 'It is were not to be thus punished for the universally believed that children suffer sins of their fathers irrespective of their for the iniquities of their ancestors, own conduct and deserts. The tokens through many generations. I wonder of the divine displeasure were to flow why Tamban's son was born a cripple ?! along the line of those who continued - You wonder! why, that is a strange the haters of God, as all idolaters are thing; have you not heard what a vile plainly considered by implication to be. man his grandfather was ? 'Have you This sense of the passage is distinctly heard that Valen has had a son, and that recognized in the Chal. version ; 'I the he is born blind ??— I did not hear of Lord thy God am a jealous God visiting it, but this is another proof of the sins the iniquities of the fathers upon the of a former birth. What a wicked I transgressing children, unto the third

6 And i shewing mercy unto thou-l 7k Thou shalt not take the name sands of them that love me, and of the LORD thy God in vain : for keep my commandments.

the LORD I will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

i ch, 34.7. Deut. 7. 9. Ps. 89. 34. Rom. 11. 28.

k ch. 23. 1. Lev. 19. 12. Deut. 5. 11. Ps. 15. 4. Matt. 5. 33. Mic. 6. 11.

and fourth generation, of those who hate It is therefore an ordination or arrangeme, when the children follow the ini. ment of entire equity, and one too which quities of the fathers.' This natural at the same time makes a strong appeal and easy construction removes any ap to the parental feelings; as it repreparent discrepancy between the rule of sents the destinies of their descendants, procedure here stated and that affirm- for weal or woe, as lodged in a great ed, Ezek. 18. 20, 'The son shall not measure in their hands. bear the iniquity of the father, neither 6. Shewing mercy unto thousands, shall the father bear the iniquity of the &c. So much more abundant is the son ;' for the language of the prophet is Lord in mercy than in wrath, so much to be understood of the son who does more congenial to his nature is the exnot tread in the steps of his wicked ercise of loving-kindness than punitive father; whereas the threatening in this displeasure, that while he punishes to precept respects those children who do the third and fourth generation, he sheus follow the example of their evil parents. mercy to the thousandth. This is abund. This is evident from their being said to antly exemplified in the history of the be of those that hate God. The words posterity of Abraham, who were des. as originally spoken undoubtedly had a tined, on account of the distinguished primary reference to the sin of idolatry, virtues of their progenitor, to be the but it cannot be doubted that they an. most illustrious nation on earth at the nounce a general principle, to wit, that distance of several thousand years from the iniquities and vices of men are pup

his time. ished in their posterity ; not by any arbitrary enactment, but in virtue of that constitution of things which God has 7. Thou shalt not take the name of adopted, and so framed, that children the Lord thy God in vain. Heb. *3 cannot well avoid suffering in this X703 - on lo tissa -lashshav, thou world in consequence of the misdeeds shalt not take up (i. e. upon thy lips) of their parents. From the circum- the name of the Lord thy God to vanity, stances in which they are placed and or falsehood. Vulg. Non assumes, thou the influences that bear upon them, it shalt not assume. The name of God is almost inevitable that they should fall signifies primarily any word or expresinto the same sinful courses with their sion which denotes God; any title or epi. fathers, and if so, they must necessarily thet which goes to distinguish him from experience the same punishments. It all other beings. Of these the most pecuis to be observed, however, that this liar and pregnant is perhaps the title “Je. threatening has respect mainly to the hovah,' implying his absolute, eternal, temporal effects of sin, to its penal con- and immutable existence. But besides sequences in the present life, and is not this, he is denoted also by many other to be considered as affecting the eternal appellations of distinctive purport, such salvation of individuals, any farther as “God,' the Lord' 'the Almighty,' than as their final condition depends up- the Most High,' the Father,'' the on their personal conduct in this world. Creator,' the Holy One of Israel,' &c., VOL. I



some expressing what he is in himself, declarations of the apostles, clearly inand some his relations to his creatures. timate the intrinsic lawfulness of oaths, But the name of God is, from Scrip. and the scope of the third commandtural usage, generally and properly un- ment is primarily to inculcate a due derstood in a somewhat wider sense, of degree of reverence in the use of such every thing by which he makes himself an invocation of the Deity. An oath. known, and so including not only his is, in fact, an act of religious worship, various titles, but also his attributes, in which God is solemnly called upon ordinances, word, and works. That the to witness the truth of the affirmations leading idea of taking the name of God' made, and to act as punisher of the in this place is swearing by it, is uni- crime if any perjury is committed. It versally conceded, and is confirmed by imports that we acknowledge him to the three ancient versions, the Chal., be the infallible searcher of hearts, and the Syr., and the Arab., all which rend- the powerful and stern avenger of all er, 'Thou shalt not swear falsely by the falsehood, fraud, and deceit in such a name of the Lord thy God.' The orig. solemn transaction; and no inference inal term &70 shav signifies both what can be plainer than that it is the height is false and what is vain, and as both of irreligion and profanity to interpose senses are undoubtedly to be included that awful name in attestation of any in the term, it lays a foundation for a thing that is false, fraudulent, or hypo. twofold view of the prohibition ; for critical. The rule by which such an bidding (1) All false swearing, all per- act is to be governed is expressly given, jury, all use of the holy name of God Jer. 4.2, Thou shalt swear in truth, in which should go to make him witness judgment, and in righteousness,' and to a lie; (2) All rain, light, frivolous any deviation from this is an infraction swearing, including all cursing and of the precept before us, and though swearing in common conversation, all often accounted a trivial offence among blasphemy, and all rash, thoughtless, men, yet there is scarcely a more atroirreverent use of the titles and attri- | cious or provoking crime in the sight butes of Jehovah. As a matter of of the infinitely true, and pure, and up. course, the worshippers of the Most right Jehovah. The same general reHigh must have frequent occasion to marks apply also to vows and voluntary mention his name, and the scope of this engagements, which we assume upon commandment is to inculcate the ut- ourselves and solemnly promise to fulmost reverence of that holy name which fil. To invoke the holy name of God is but a symbol of every idea that can on such occasions, to appeal to him as awaken adoration, fear, and hom- the omniscient voucher of our sincer. age, in the bosoms of men or angels. ity, and then to neglect, slight, or vio. If we were to indicate the point of the late the obligations we have incurred is prohibition by specifying the directly but an impious mockery of the majesty opposite duty, it would be by adducing of Jehovah, which he will not fail to the words of the prophet, Is. 8. 13, punish. "Sanctify the Lord of hosts himself, But it is, perhaps, in common dis. and let him be your fear and your dread.' course that this command is most freIn perfect consistency, however, with quently and flagrantly disregarded. To the tenor of this precept, appeals may say nothing of downright malignant be made to God, on suitable occasions, blasphemy, which happily is rare in a in the form of judicial oaths taken in land of Bibles and churches, and the confirmation of the truth of our state grosser imprecations which often assail : ments. The example of Christ, and the the ear from profane and impious lips,



the practice of interlarding our conver- 1 nounce pure, innocent, or clear ; will sation with the words "God," "Lord, not acquit. Gr. ov pen subapisn, will not

Christ, or the expressions 'the Lord cleanse; i. e. will not declare clean, will knows," "heaven help me,' without ne- not absolve. He will not let him go uncessity, seriousness, or reverence, in- punished. It is an instance of the idiom, volves a measure of the guilt of trans. by no means infrequent in Hebrew, by gressing the third commandment. Nor which a negative mode of expression can it be denied that profane writing couches under it a strongly affirmative is open to the same charge with profane idea. We have then in these words a speaking. In the statement of matters virtual assurance from Jehovah himself of fact by way of testimony, the use of that this precept cannot be disregarded irreverent expressions may indeed be with impunity. Men may not discover, allowable, but nothing is more common or they may neglect to punish, its viothan for writers of fiction to put the lations, and even the hardened conmost revolting oaths into the mouths of science of the sinner may fail to rebuke their various personages; and this they him on account of it; but let it not be seem to think harmless, provided they forgotten, that God will surely detect contrive to mask the grossness of the and punish the insult thus put upon his , language by dashes and asterisks. But great and glorious name. The words wherein this differs from any other pro- of inspiration clearly portray the char. faneness, except in being more deliber- acter of those who trangress this comate, and more pernicious in the way of mandment; Ps. 139. 20, “Thine enemies example, it is not easy to see. To take thy name in vain.' The profane give currency to such profane modes of swearer is the open and avowed enemy speech, under pretence of their being of the high and holy God, and it is no necessary to the faithful portraiture of more certain that there will be a judg. character and manners, incurs we think ment seat, before which the bold translittle less guilt than that of originally gressor must appear, than it is that he uttering them. The exhibition of such will be called to an account for his promanners, even by the greatest moral fane trifling with the most sacred things painter, can well be dispensed with. in the universe ; 'And I will come near

In fine, the rule of safety in this mat- to you to judgment : and I will be a ter is that laid down by our Lord in his swift witness against the sorcerers, and commentary on the rabbinical precepts, against the adulterers, and against false Mat. 5. 33–37, 'Again ye have heard swearers, and against those that oppress that it hath been said by them of old the hireling in his wages, the widow, time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, and the fatherless, and that turn aside but shalt perform unto the Lord thine the stranger from his right, and fear not oaths: But I say unto you, Swear not at me, saith the Lord of hosts.' Mal. 3.5 all: neither by heaven; for it is God's The remarkable passage Josh. 9. 19, 20, throne: nor by the earth; for it is his foot shows in what light the children of Is stool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the rael regarded the breach of their plightcity of the great King: neither shalt thou ed faith even to a portion of the devoted swear by thine head, because thou canst nations of Canaan; “But all the princes not make one hair white or black. But said unto all the congregation, We have let your communication be, Yea, yea ; sworn unto them by the Lord God of Nay, nay; for whatsoever is more than Israel: now therefore we may not touch these cometh of evil. - The Lord them. This will we do to them; we will not hold him guiltless, &c. Heb. will even let them live, lest wrath be upon opy *3 lo yenakkeh, will not pro- l us; because of the oath which we sware

8 m Remember the sabbath-day 9nSix days shalt thou labour, and to keep it holy.

do all thy work: mch. 31. 13. 14. Lev. 19. 3, 30. & 26. 2. nch. 23. 12. & 31. 15. & 34. 21. Lev. 23, 3. Deut. 5. 12.

Ezek, 20. 12. Luke 13. 14.

unto them.' Nor can we forbear in this import of the original word for “Sab. connexion to advert to the fact that the bath,' and on the origin, nature, and sin in question has often been followed end of the institution in general, see by sudden and fearful marks of divine Note on Gen. 2. 3. The term 'rememretribution, even in the present world. ber' in this connexion (17757 zakor), However it be accounted for, certain it implies more than the mere mental act is that in more than one well-attested of memory, as it is the only Hebrew instance men have fallen dead in the word equivalent to our celebrate or commidst of the most horrid imprecations, memorate, importing that it was to be as if God had taken them at their word remembered by appropriate observances. in calling upon him to seal their per. If therefore the clause were to be rendition. We do not say that such cases dered, 'Remember the sabbath day by are to be regarded as miraculous. It is way of commemoration or celebration,' very possible that the physical effects, it would bring us still nearer to its caused by an unnatural degree of ex. genuine purport. Thus Ex. 13. 3, 'Moses citement of the passions, and the sud said unto the people, Remember (7757 den incursion of a violent pang or panic zakor) this day, in which ye came out of conscience may have been sufficient from Egypt,' where see Note. But how to account for the result. Still such was it to be remembered ? Not simply cases should be looked upon as solemn by mental reminiscence, but by special warnings; since it may be no less a real observance ; for it is added, “There visitation of divine wrath for being shall no unleavened bread be eaten.' It made by the agency of natural laws could not be adequately remembered acting upon the nervous system. It is without being kept in the manner pre. to be considered also, that as this is a scribed. So also Ex. 12. 14, 'This day sin which aims perhaps more directly shall be unto you for a memorial (77957 than any other at God; one in which the zikkaron);' and then the manner in inward spirit of the offender comes more which the precept should be complied immediately in collision with the spirit with is immediately described,'ye shall of God; it is not perhaps to be won. keep it a feast by an ordinance for. dered at that he should occasionally ever.' So in the present case, the Sabcome out in more marked judgment bath was to be remembered by practical against it. But however it be under. acknowledgment as well as by bearing stood, this solemn denunciation of the in mind, with special care, the stated Almighty ought to be to this command season of its occurrence, and by cherish. ment what the restraining limits were ing the recollection of its early appointaround the hallowed base of Sinai, a ment as a memorial of God's rest at the sacred fence to guard it from unhallowed close of the work of creation. Accord. violation.

ingly, in the parallel passage, Deut. 5. 12, the language is not bremember the

sabbath to sanctify it,' but keep the 8. Remember the sabbath day to keep sabbath day,' no doubt with the design

. zakor eth yom hashshabboth, remember connexion were equivalent. Thus too the day of cessation, or rest. On the we learn, from Lev. 23. 3, that on the


to intimate that these two terms in this | זכור את יום השבת

.it holy


[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »