« 이전계속 »
to which the mind of man, in all ages, has been so prone to have recourse, to aid the weakness of its conceptions of an unseen Divinity, but which so easily tends to a substitution of the sign for the thing signified, as the object of the worshipper's faith; the third, securing to the name, and so to the idea, of the Divinity, the reverence which it rightfully claims, and which it so concerns the worshipper to cherish ; the fourth, demanding a solemn weekly recognition on the part of the nation, and of each one of its citizens, of the religious character which they bore. In the Second Table, as it has been called, of the Decalogue, we find the elements of social duty distinctly and emphatically enforced. The great human interests of the human being, which all regulations made by him for security in his social state are designed to protect, are life, liberty, property, and reputation. The first of these is the subject of the sixth commandment. The second is at the mercy of all abuses of government, but, in the form in which in that age it was most endangered, it was vindicated by the eighth commandment.*
The sacredness of property, to which, as far as the subject now under examination is concerned, the integrity of domestic relations belongs, is asserted in the seventh and eighth. The wickedness of assaults on character is denounced in the ninth ; while, through the exertion of a more general influence, touching all points of a community's well-being, the seventh takes care of that prevailing purity without which there can be no public
are the elements of their national prosperity, suffer that prosperity to decline, let them remember that they will not be the only sufferers. Their unoffending posterity will, according to the invariable course of human affairs, pay the forfeit of their unfaithfulness. The consideration should warn and check them. They should feel for their offspring, if they are regardless of me.
* Compare Exod. xxi. 16.
virtue or greatness, any more than individual worth ; the fifth lays the foundation of the citizen's virtues in the order of that smaller community, the domestic circle; * and the tenth, by forbidding the allowance even of those desires, which_tempt to wrong, meets and checks at their spring those impulses from which encroachments and disorders, of whatever form, commonly proceed.
The Decalogue is scarcely more than an assertion of general principles. These principles, being the basis, on which all subsequent discipline was to rest, might well deserve to be singled out from other communications, as they were, and announced with accompaniments of peculiar impressiveness. The rest of the Law given on Mount Sinai occupies the two next following chapters, and the greater part of a third. Without stopping to remark at length on the sense and bearing of its several provisions, I would pass them here in review, that it may be seen how far they correspond with the description given above of their design.
A subject on which a people accustomed, like the Jews, to bondage, would probably need as early instruction as on any other, is that of the relation of master and servant; and with this accordingly (after a few
* “Honor thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee." (xx. 12.) This is not, I suppose, what it is commonly understood to be, the extraordinary promise to dutiful children of a certain enjoyment of long earthly life. Jewish history gives us no evidence of its having been fulfilled in this sense. I understand the promise to be addressed to the nation, not to the individual. The national life would be long, if it should be a nation distinguished for the prevalence of filial piety, the foundation of all other social virtues. If it be said that this interpretation supposes a diversity, in the same sentence, in the use of the pronoun of the second person, singular number, since the individual is there called on to show filial piety, that the nation's life may be long, I refer, among other analogous instances which might be cited, to Deut. xvi. 1-8, 18-20; xxiii, 15, 16.
directions of a strictly religious character, *) the compendious code before us is introduced, while, a little further on, the free citizen's right to his liberty is guarded by the heaviest penalty, denounced against the invader.f The subject of criminal and excusable homicide, which, of course, would be one of immediately imminent concern, is next somewhat largely treated. I Directions respecting minor personal injuries follow, having reference to their aggravation. Property is protected by various detailed provisions ; || and the citizen is made responsible for consequences of his negligence in all the three last-named respects. 1 Laws against impurity are next provided. ** Respect for parents and magistrates is enjoined, a sentiment always needful, and never more so than in the present partially organized condition of the new commonwealth.tt The duties of equity in judicial transactions,ff and of humanity and mutual support and aid are urged; and the latter movingly enforced, in the fit cases, by considerations of the people's own recent need of the mercy they were now called upon to show.$$ One short direction || || seems to have had reference to a danger to which they were exposed in consequence of their irregular supplies of food. All the other precepts 11 relate to the principles or the observances of religion.
xx, 23-26. Verse 24 is a direction to abstain from erecting any permanent and expensive altar, which might tempt them to remain in one place. The object of the provision in verse 26, is obviously to secure the reverence belonging to an act of religious worship from being disturbed by what, according to the views of the age, would have been an inde
† xxi. 1-11, 16.
| xxi. 12 - 14, 18 – 21; xxii. 2. § xxi. 15, 22- 27.
|| xxii. 1-5,7 - 15. | xxi. 28-36, xxii. 6.
xxii, 16, 17, 19. If xxi. 15, 17; xxii. 28.
1 xxiii. 1-3, 6-8. $$ xxii. 21 -27 ; xxxiii. 4, 5, 9. || || xxii. 31. IT Viz, in xxii. 18, 20, 29, 30; xxiii. 10 - 19.
It might be remarked of a small number of these laws,* that they seem little suitable for the people's observance under their present unsettled circumstances. To this, it appears to me a sufficient reply, that there is no reason, in the nature of the case, why the knowledge of institutions and practices which were designed for the people's permanent observance, should be reserved till the favorable time for such observance arrived. On the contrary, as far as we can see, it would be altogether fit and useful, that their obligation should be announced beforehand, and kept in prospective view. Further, nothing would seem more suitable to enforce the obligation of practices of a given kind, which there was already opportunity to observe, than to add that there were others of the same class and tenor, which would be demanded as soon as opportunity should permit; and such, it will be seen, on reference to the passages in question, is actually the connexion in which they are found.
Respecting the obvious incompleteness of the Jewish Law, in its most mature state, when compared with the extent and variety of relations and exigencies in social life, for which law is intended to provide, there is room for no further remark, than that such is the universal character of Statute Law, which the code of Moses has been already observed to be.f In every nation, established practices provide the basis of practical jurisprudence, constituting that Common Law, as it is called, into which Statute Law does but introduce modifications and additions, as occasion calls for them; the latter being accordingly, of its nature, an imperfect system, when viewed apart. The Jewish code being (as far as matters of mere civil regulation are concerned) a collection of statutes, is, for that reason, when regarded alone, incomplete. It is not all the law which the nation possessed, since, where the current law was good and useful, there was no need of a change, and therefore no need of a statute ; and even when it was not good or useful in a high degree, still it might be tolerable, and therefore left undisturbed. And, further, that such was the fact, we shall find indirect proof, (which is all, that, from the nature of the case, we can expect,) when we come to read of some positive directions recognising or modifying existing rights and customs, as in the case of the Bloodavenger, of Nazarite consecration, and of Divorce.
* See xxii. 5, 29; xxiii. 10, 11.
I proceed to a quality of the Jewish Law, which perhaps has gone as far as almost any other to create a distrust of its divine original. I refer to its precise, circumstantial character. To some persons
it seems unworthy of the Divine Mind to interest itself in such minute, and, as it seems to them, undignified details. Is it credible, they would ask, that the Majesty of Heaven and earth will ascribe any importance to the materials and the manner of erecting and furnishing a house for his worship ; the attitudes and the costume of the worshipper; discriminations of places, times, and food, and other such minor matters as the Jewish Law is largely concerned in regulating; or that he should condescend to require numerous peculiar personal observances, of which the reason is to be sought neither in their intrinsic usefulness, nor in any permanent obligation ?
It seems to me that there lies at the basis of this argument, an error, which is also carried into various other applications. We judge of the Almighty too much by ourselves. Our estimate of the divine greatness is formed too much upon our notion of that human greatness, which never can do better than to