1. What are the Ten Commandments?
Those celebrated commandments which God the Lord communicated himself to the people of Israel on Mount Sinai, without the intervention of a prophet; which means that the people heard them from God himself, and not from Moses, who received the other laws first from the Lord, and afterwards told them to the people.
"And the Lord spoke with you out of the midst of the fire; you heard the voice of words, but ye saw no similitude, only ye heard a voice. And He declared unto you his covenant, which He commanded you to perform, the Ten commandments, and He wrote them upon two tables of stone." Deut. iv. 12, 13.
2. In what light would you regard these Ten Commandments?
The Ten Commandments are the everlasting fundamental principles of the divine law, and are to be observed during all times, and throughout every generation. We may call them the Divine Constitution, according to which the other statutes have been enacted; and every other commandment has reference to one of the other of them, whether it regards the worship of the Lord, or our intercourse with other men.
"The Lord our God made with us a covenant on Horeb. Not with our forefathers made the Lord this covenant, but with ourselves, who are here all alive this day. Face to face the Lord spoke with you on the mount, from the midst of the fire. I stood between the Lord and you at that time, to tell unto you the word of the Lord, for ye were afraid of the fire, and ye ascended not the mount." Ibid. v. 2-5.
3. Why do you believe this?
Because the Ten Commandments are the testimony of the Lord, always true, and just throughout all times.
"The law of the Lord is perfect, quieting the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making the simple wise. The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is clear, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring for ever; the judgments of the Lord are true, and uniformly just." Ps. xix. 8-10.
4. What are therefore the characteristics of true religion?
Religion, to be true, must be in accordance with the precepts of the Decalogue, as the Ten Commandments are usually called, (from two Greek words signifying ten and precepts;) and we may therefore maintain, that any system of belief and action, commonly termed religion, which contradicts these precepts, cannot be from God.
Because, inasmuch as God is ever the same, and his word being unchangeable, it cannot be supposed that He would give at one time a religion which He would destroy or repeal at a future period. It is therefore impossible that such a religion, which contradicts the Decalogue in its doctrines, can be from God; and as no system of religion can be true, unless it be from the Supreme source, it follows farther, that whatever contradicts the Decalogue is false or erroneous belief, and consequently we are forbidden to act in accordance with such a system.
"Ye shall observe to do therefore as the Lord your God hath commanded you: you shall not turn aside to the right or to the left. You shall walk entirely in the way, which the Lord your God hath commanded you, that ye may live." Deut. v. 29, 30.
"Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or unto that dreamer of dreams; for the Lord your God proveth you, to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. After the Lord your God you shall walk, and Him ye shall fear, and his commandments ye shall observe, and his voice ye shall obey, and unto Him ye shall cleave." Ibid. xiii. 4,5.
"But the prophet who shall presume to speak a word in my name which I have not commanded him to speak, or who shall speak in the name of foreign gods--even that prophet shall die." Ibid. xviii. 20.
6. What religion does answer to these requisites?
The Mosaic Religion, as we ourselves profess it. It is therefore that system which we should obey, if we wish to prove our love and adherence to God.
7. Please to recite the FIRST commandment.
"I am the Lord thy God, who have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery."
8. What are we commanded in this precept?
We are commanded to believe in the existence of God, the only Creator and the Lord of all; and in consequence to love, fear, and honor Him as the mightiest and holiest Being, and as our greatest Benefactor.
"Unto thee it was shown, that thou mightest know that the Lord He is God, there is none else beside Him. Out of heaven He caused thee to hear his voice, that He might instruct thee; and upon earth He showed thee his great fire, and his words thou didst hear from the midst of the fire. And because He loved thy fathers, therefore He chose their seed after them, and brought thee out in his presence with his mighty power out of Egypt.--Know therefore this day, and reflect in thy heart, that the Lord He is God, in heaven above and on the earth beneath: there is none else." Deut. iv. 35-39.
9. Why does the bible mention the redemption from Egypt as the reason for our faith in God?
Because the Lord wanted to prove to the Israelites, that, since they had seen his power displayed in the punishments sent upon the Egyptians, it was evident that He was in truth the Creator and Supreme Ruler, capable of doing whatever He wishes to do; since He compelled the king of Egypt to let the Israelites go free by the performance of wonders and miracles, such as are beyond the power of man to accomplish. So also is it said in Exodus:
"Therefore say unto the children of Israel, I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will save you from their bondage, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm, and with great judgments. And I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God; and you shall know that I am the Lord your God, who bringeth you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians." Exod. vi. 6, 7.
10. What duty did God likewise wish to enforce?
By reminding the people of the benefits they had received, He wanted to teach them gratitude, and to impress on their minds, that the only thing which they could do to repay all this kindness would be to be faithful and obedient to his voice in doing whatever He might demand of them.
"And it shall come to pass, when your children shall say unto you, What mean you by this service? that ye shall say, It is the sacrifice of the Lord's Passover, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, when He smote the Egyptians, and delivered our houses." Exod. xii, 26, 27.
11. What is the SECOND commandment?
"Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thyself any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down to them, nor serve them."
12. What are we commanded in this precept?
That, since God alone is supreme above all, we should honor and worship Him alone; for, though He cannot be seen by our eyes nor perceived by our other senses, He is still the only one God, who watches over us, and directs all our ways.
"Take ye therefore good heed unto yourselves, (for ye saw no manner of figure on the day when the Lord spoke unto you in Horeb out of the midst of the fire,) that you do not corrupt yourselves and make yourselves a graven image, the similitude of any figure, the likeness of a male or female." Deut. iv. 15, 16.
"For Thou art great and performest wonders: Thou art God alone. Teach me, O Lord! thy ways, let me walk in thy truth; cause my heart to devote itself solely to fear thy name; that I may thank Thee, O Lord, my God! with all my heart, and honor thy name for evermore." Ps. lxxxvi. 10-12.
13. What is forbidden by this precept?
We are prohibited to practice all manner of idolatry.
14. What is idolatry?
Idolatry is when a man believes in the existence of any other god besides the Creator, or pays religious adoration to any other being, be this great or small, save the Lord our God alone.
"You shall make yourselves no idols, nor rear yourselves up a graven or standing image, neither shall ye set up a carved stone in your land to bow down upon it; for I am the Lord your God." Lev. xxvi. 1.
"And that thou lift not up thy eyes unto heaven, and see the sun, and the moon, and the stars--all the host of heaven--and be misled, and bow down to them, and worship them." Deut. iv. 19.
15. What do you understand by "believing" in idols?
By this I mean to entertain a belief that any being whatever has any power independently of God; or that such a being could exist without Him, or do any thing by which He could be injured, or which He should not have the power to prevent, if He wished to do so. For there is nothing, of which we can form any idea, which has not its existence given, and its power for good or evil limited, by the great Creator our God.
"I am the Lord, and there is none else; there is no God beside me; that they may know from the rising of the sun and from the west that there is none without me; I am the Lord and there is none else; I form the light and create darkness; I make peace and create evil; I the Lord do all these things." Isaiah xiv. 5-7.
And again it is said:
"I have made the earth, and created man upon it; I--my hands have stretched out the heavens, and all their host I have commanded" (to exist). Ibid. xlv. 12.
16. What is meant by "worshipping" idols?
To pray to any being save God alone, to ask it for assistance in our need, or to offer it presents or sacrifices, as though we could by this means obtain any assistance from such a being, whether this be actually existing, such as the sun or moon, or be only a creature of our imagination. It is likewise wrong and idolatrous to worship the Lord even in the manner the heathens serve their idols, or to introduce into the holy religion which we have received, customs not consistent with its letter and spirit.
"And ye shall overthrow their altars, and break their pillars, and burn their groves with fire; and ye shall hew down the graven images of their gods, and destroy the name of them out of that place. Ye shall not do so unto the Lord your God." Deut. xii. 3, 4.
"Take heed to thyself, that thou be not ensnared to follow them after they have been destroyed from before thee, and that thou inquire not after their gods, saying, How did these nations use to serve their gods? even so will I do likewise. Thou shalt not do so unto the Lord thy God; for every abomination to the Lord which He hateth have they done unto their gods." Ibid. 80, 81.
"Because they have forsaken me,--and have build the high-places of Baal, to burn their sons in fire as burnt-offerings to Baal, which I did not command, nor spoke, and which came not in my mind; behold, therefore, days are coming, that--I will make void the counsel of Judah and Jerusalem in this place--and I will make this city desolate and a hissing: every one that passeth thereby shall be astonished and hiss, because of all its plagues." Jer. xix. 4-8.
17. What else is prohibited under this precept?
It is sinful, and showing a want of faith in God, to place confidence in things which have no influence upon our fortunes. By this I mean that we ought to regard signs, omens, fortune-telling, or similar superstitious notions, as withdrawing us from our God, who alone is the Ruler of our life and fortune; and if we are convinced that our intentions are lawful and honorable, we should fearlessly fulfill to do what we intended, and not be frightened by what superstitious fears or foolish signs might threaten, according to the opinion of the ignorant and those weak of faith.
"Surely there is no enchantment against Jacob, nor divination against Israel; at this time it shall be said to Jacob and to Israel, what God hath wrought." Numb. xxiii. 23.
18. Does this commandment prohibit nothing else?
It likewise is sinful to imagine God as possessed of a material form, or as having the faults of a mortal being. It is sinning against the dignity of the Supreme, to teach or to believe that He ever divided himself into parts, or that any change was made in the being of the Deity; farther, that the Lord is incapable of doing whatever is pleasing to Him, or that He requires any mediator or assistant to grant salvation to the creatures which He alone has created. In short, we are forbidden to ascribe to God any other qualities than those which He has taught us himself.
"To whom then will ye liken God, and what likeness will ye compare to Him?" Isa. xl. 18.
"Fear not, thou worm of Jacob, men of Israel! I help thee, saith the Lord, and I, the holy One of Israel, am thy Redeemer." Ibid. xli. 14.
"I, I am the everlasting One, and beside me there is no savior. I have told, and I have saved, and I have proclaimed, and no strange god was among you, and you are my witnesses, saith the Lord, and I am God.--I, the Lord, am your holy One, the Creator of Israel your King." Ibid. xliii. 11-15.
19. When are we guilty of a refined species of idolatry?
When we fear any existing thing more than God, or when we place greater confidence in any earthly thing than in our heavenly Father. It is therefore rebellion against the Lord, if we omit doing his will, in order to gain money, or to please another man, or from fear of offending those who like ourselves are creatures, bound to obey the Creator. And we are not acting as honest servants of God, if we value ourselves on account of our riches, political power, or great wisdom, thereby forgetting to serve Him; or if we ascribe such possessions to our own skill and power, and not to the goodness of God, from whom all our happiness comes.
"Beware, that thou forget not the Lord thy God, so as not to observe his commandments, and judgements, and statutes, and art satisfied, and hast build good houses and dwelt therein; and when thy herds and flocks multiply, and thy silver and thy gold are multiplied, and all that thou hast is multiplied, thy heart be not lifted up, and thou forget the Lord thy God, who brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of slavery:--and thou say in thy heart, My power and the might of my hand have obtained me all this wealth; but thou shalt remember the Lord thy God, for it is He who giveth thee power to get wealth; that He may fulfil his covenant, which He swore unto thy fathers, as it is this day." Deut. viii. 11-18.
20. How does the second commandment read in continuation?
"For I the Lord thy God am a watchful God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; and showing kindness unto the thousandth generation of them that love me, and keep my commandments."
21. What are we to learn from this?
That God is just when He punishes, and merciful in forgiving our sins.
"For his anger is momentary, but his favor is everlasting." Ps. xxx. 6.
22. Please to explain yourself a little more at length: did you not say "Visiting the iniquities of the fathers upon the children, unto the third and fourth generation?"
Yes, so says the Scripture; but it adds also "of them that hate me;" when the children persevere in their fathers' sinning, then will they be punished for their own wrongs and bear the iniquity of their fathers since the consequences of the preceding punishment will and must be continued, whilst there is no merit in us to deserve the return of God's favor. As we read:
"And they that are left of you shall pine away for their iniquity in the lands of your enemies, and also for the iniquities of their fathers with them, shall they pine away." Lev. xxvi. 39.
Which is explained "for the iniquity of their fathers with them," when they persevere in the wrong done by their fathers, and are not warned by the punishment sent upon these.
23. I understand you therefore to mean that, only when the misconduct of the children deserves punishment, will they receive the consequences of their fathers' sin; how is it when a wicked father had a virtuous child?
When the child is virtuous and obedient to God's will, when, seeing how his father merited the visitation of the Lord, he himself returns and seeks to serve his Maker in faith and truth: then will most assuredly no evil come to him for the sin of his parent; on the contrary, he will be blessed, because, seeing the evil done, he preferred the service of Heaven to the vain doings of the world.
"But if from there thou wilt seek the Lord thy God, thou shalt find Him: if thou seek Him with all thy heart and with all thy soul." Deut. iv. 29.
"The word of the Lord came again unto me saying, What mean ye, that ye use this proverb concerning the land of Israel, saying, The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge? As I live, saith the Lord God, ye shall not have any more to use this proverb in Israel. Behold, all the souls are mine; no less the soul of the father, than the soul of the son, is mine; the soul that sinneth alone shall die." Ezek. xviii. 1-4.
And in continuation we read:
"As for his father, because he cruelly oppressed, spoiled his brother by violence, and did that which is not good among his people, surely he shall die for his iniquity. Yet say ye, Why doth not the son bear the iniquity of the father?--when the son hath done that which is lawful and right, all my statutes he hath kept, and hath done them: he shall surely live. The soul that sinneth shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, nor shall the father bear the iniquity of the son; the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him." Ezek. xviii. 18-20.
24. How is it with the piety of the parents?
The piety of the parents will stand good to their children; and we are promised in many parts of the Bible that God will remember the virtue of the good even to their undeserving children.
"And the Lord appeared to him the same night, and said, I am the God of Abraham thy father: fear not, for I am with thee, and I will bless thee, and multiply thy seed for the sake of Abraham my servant." Gen. xxvi. 24.
"Notwithstanding in thy days I will not do it, for David thy father's sake." I Kings xi. 12.
"Nevertheless I will not take the whole kingdom out of his hand,--for the sake of David my servant, whom I chose, because he kept my commandments and my statutes." Ibid. 34..
25. What are the words of the THIRD commandment?
"Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who taketh his name in vain."
26. What does this precept command?
That we should love and fear the Lord our God to such an extent, and regard Him holy to such a degree, that we should never make use of his name except it be to promote sanctity in ourselves.
"And they shall lay my name upon the children of Israel, and I will bless them." Numb. vi. 27.
27. What is prohibited by this precept?
To swear uselessly by the name of God, or to utter any curses; but above all to swear falsely whilst invoking the holy name; or to lie or practice deceit under color of religion; lastly, to pretend to the power of sorcery, witchcraft or conjuration, all which tend to dishonor the name of the Lord.
"You shall not swear by my name falsely, and thereby profane the name of thy God: I am the Lord." Lev. xix. 12.
"Regard not those who have a familiar spirit, not the wizards, seek not to be defiled by them; I am the Lord." Ib. 31.
28. How and when are we permitted to use the name of the Lord?
In prayer and in studying or teaching the law.
"O give thanks unto the Lord; call on his holy name, make known his deeds among the people. Sing, and chant hymns unto Him; proclaim ye all his wondrous works. Glory in his holy name; let the heart of them rejoice who seek the Lord." Ps. cv. 1-3.
29. Upon what other occasion can the holy Name be used?
When we are called upon in a court of justice to take an oath as a confirmation of what we say.
30. What is an oath?
It is an assertion of a fact, or an assumption of a duty, at which we call God to witness that we say the exact truth as far as we know it, or obligate ourselves to do as we speak, and call upon Him to avenge the sin if there be falsehood, untruth, or deceit, in what we declare to be true, or intend doing.
"If any man trespass against his neighbor, and an oath be laid upon him to swear, and the oath come before thy altar in this house: then hear Thou in heaven, and do, and judge thy servants, to condemn the wicked, in order to bring his way upon his head; and to justify the righteous, in order to give to him according to his righteousness." I Kings. viii. 31, 32.
31. How does a man transgress this precept?
When he takes an oath, that is, swears, against the truth, and against his own inward conviction, or conceals the whole or any part of the truth, which is requisite to set any matter of controversy in its true light.
"If a person sin, and hear the voice of swearing, (that is, if he be called upon to testify), and is a witness, whether he hath seen or known any thing: if he do not tell, he shall bear his iniquity." Lev. v. 1.
"Who shall ascend the mountain of the Lord? and who shall stand in his holy place? He who is clean of hands, and pure of heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive a blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation." Ps. xxiv. 3-5.
32. What is called "swearing deceitfully?"
If we affirm with an oath to do any thing which we afterwards omit doing, we are guilty of rebellion against God; because we have called upon Him to be witness to the honesty and truth of our intention, and we now dare to show that we only meant to deceive Him who cannot be deceived, and who knows all our thoughts: it is therefore also that He will punish such rebellion with proper visitation.
"When thou shalt make a vow unto the Lord thy God, thou shalt not delay to pay it; for the Lord thy God will surely require it of thee, and it would be sin in thee." Deut. xxiii. 21.
"Lest there be among you one--who when he heareth the words of this curse would bless himself in his heart, saying, I shall have peace, though I walk in the imagination of my heart, to add drunkenness to thirst: him the Lord will not forgive, but then the anger of the Lord and his indignation will smoke against that man, and every curse written in this book will rest upon him, and the Lord will blot out his name from under the heaven. And the Lord will single him out unto evil out of all the tribes of Israel, according to all the curses of the covenant, which are written in this book of the law." Ibid. xxix. 17-20.
"Who sweareth to his own hurt and changeth not--he that doth these things shall not be moved for ever." Ps. xv. 4, 5.
33. What are the words of the FOURTH commandment?
"Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy; six days thou shalt labor, and do all thy work; but the seventh day is the Sabbath in honor of the Lord thy God: on it thou shalt not do any work, neither thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy man-servant, nor thy maid-servant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore, the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it."
34. What are we taught by this precept?
We should out of love and reverence to the Lord regard as holy that day which He has set apart as devoted to his service, and do nothing to profane it. God is the Master of our labor, the Possessor of our bodies, and, as such, He demands of us that we, his servants, should cease from labor one day in seven, and this on the last day of that period which He instituted as the week from the first creation of man upon the earth.
"Ye shall keep my Sabbaths, and reverence my sanctuary: I am the Lord." Lev. xxvi. 2.
"And say unto them, Hear ye the word of the Lord, ye kings of Judah, and all Judah, and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, that enter in by these gates: Thus saith the Lord, Take heed to yourselves and carry no burden on the Sabbath day; nor bring it in by the gates of Jerusalem; neither carry forth a burden out of your houses on the Sabbath day, neither do ye any work, but hallow ye the Sabbath day, as I commanded your fathers." Jer. xvii. 20-22.
35. What is the meaning and object of the Sabbath?
The Sabbath is a sign of the covenant between us and our Creator, by which we are to be sanctified, and acknowledge that we are sincerely convinced of our subjection to his will.
"And the Lord spoke unto Moses, saying, Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my Sabbaths ye shall keep; for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations, that ye may know that I am the Lord who sanctify you.--And the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, observing the Sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever; for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day He rested." Exod. xxxi, 12-17.
36. How shall we sanctify the Sabbath?
We shall sanctify the Sabbath by abstaining from labor and business, and spend it in devotional exercises and contemplating the word and works of God.
"Ye shall keep the Sabbath, for it is holy unto you; every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death; for whosoever doth any work thereon, that soul shall be cut off from among his people." Exod. xxxi. 14.
37. What sort of labor is prohibited?
Every sort of labor, even the slightest, were it even but for amusement. The Sabbath is intended as a day of perfect rest, and we cannot therefore do any work, for instance, writing, playing on instruments, travelling, superintending the work of others, or similar things, without infringing the commandment, though we ourselves might not call such things labor.
"If thou restrain thy foot on the Sabbath day, not doing thy pleasure on my holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight, and the holy feast of the Lord honorable; and honor it by refraining from thy usual ways, from pursuing thy pleasure, and speaking vain words: then shalt thou find delight in the Lord, and I will cause thee to tread upon the high places of the earth, and I will cause thee to enjoy the inheritance of Jacob thy father; for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it." Isaiah lviii. 13, 14.
38. Is it permitted for us to work on the Sabbath from fear of losing money, or of not gaining as much as otherwise we might do?
By no means; all our work must stop before the Sabbath begins; on Friday, or sixth day afternoon, before the sun goes down, every true Israelite should be prepared to do honor to the Lord's day; he should be clad in clean and decent clothes, and go to the house of God to offer up his prayers in thankfulness and freedom from care; nor suffer the fear of loss, or of not gaining enough, to induce him to pursue his usual labors on the day of rest.
39. Do I understand you to say that we are to rest on the Sabbath, even if we lose money by so doing?
This is the law; and no one who professes to have faith in the Lord his Maker can transgress it without confessing that he is not sincere in his religious profession. For we read:
"Six days thou shalt do work; but on the seventh day thou shalt rest: even in ploughing and in harvest thou shalt rest." Exod. xxxiv. 21.
This text teaches us that even the farmer, who can only work in such weather as is suitable to his labors, must leave his field-work undone, whenever the Sabbath commences; and from this we may draw a comparison to every other employment in which we may be engaged.
40. You said, "That no one who professes to have faith in the Lord can transgress this precept, without confessing that he is not sincere:" why not?
Because God promises us his blessing if we rest; and the violator of the Sabbath proves by his acts that he does not have confidence or faith in the promises of the unchanging One; and surely there can be no greater act of rebellion, than a disbelief of the truth of the Lord.
41. Do you know of an instance in the Bible-history of a special manifestation of the holiness of the Sabbath?
When God had redeemed out forefathers from Egypt, He led them into the land of Arabia, in order to teach them more effectually how He wished them to serve Him. But the country, in which it was his pleasure to cause them to sojourn for a period of forty years, is one in which there is scarcely a single spot where any thing can grow,--it is what we call a desert, and is known by the name of the Arabian desert, or at times Stony Arabia. When they now became dissatisfied because they had no bread to eat, the Lord sent them every day a new species of food, especially created for the people consisting of at least two millions of persons. This was called Manna. Now they obtained every day for each person one omer-full; but on the sixth day there were two for each, because on the seventh day no manna fell; thus proving, that it was a day holy to the Lord, and no one should even go out and gather up what was on other days provided without human labor.
"And it came to pass, that on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for each one; and all the chiefs of the congregation came and told Moses. And he said unto them, This is what the Lord hath said, To-morrow is the rest of the holy Sabbath unto the Lord; what ye wish to bake, bake now, and what you wish to boil, boil now; and all the remainder lay up for you to be kept until the morning. And they laid it up until the morning as Moses had bidden; and it did not stink, nor were there any worm therein. And Moses said, Eat it today, for today is a Sabbath unto the Lord; today ye shall not find it in the field. Six days ye shall gather it, but on the seventh day is the Sabbath, on it there shall be none." Exod. xvi. 22-26.
42. But is it not matter of indifference which day of the seven is kept holy? And is there any evidence that the seventh day was always looked upon as the Sabbath?
In reply to your first question I would say that, as the Lord ordained the seventh day, it must be requisite that this and no other day should be kept holy; He sanctified the seventh and no other day; we have therefore no right to choose any other as a day of rest and sanctification. To your second question I have to answer, that there is positive proof, that at the time of Nehemiah, which is at the close of the books of the Bible, the Sabbath was again confirmed, and declared to be holy. Now if it even were possible to suppose that God could change, which we do not believe, there is no evidence in Scripture that He has done so; for after Nehemiah to this day, there has arisen no prophet by whom the Lord has been pleased to make his will known; and surely mere men have no right to alter what God has established.
"And it came to pass, that when the gates of Jerusalem were closed before the Sabbath, I commanded that the doors should be locked, and I charges that none should open them till after the Sabbath; and some of my servants I placed by the gates, that no burden should be brought in on the Sabbath-day." Neh. xiii. 19.
43. Is there any occasion when work may be done?
Only in case of actual necessity to preserve the life, or to prevent danger to the life of one or more of our fellow-men; because the preservation of human life is the first duty which is commanded to us.
44. What are the words of the FIFTH commandment?
"Honor thy father and thy mother; that thy days may be prolonged in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee."
45. What are we commanded by this precept?
We should honor and fear God in the respect and honor we pay to our parents, and to obey their commands equally as the word of God, whenever the will of our parents does not demand a disregard of the divine law; and to do nothing which could vex them or make them angry.
"He that smiteth his father or his mother shall surely be put to death.--And he that curseth his father or his mother shall surely be put to death." Exod. xxi. 15-17.
"Ye shall fear every man his mother and his father, and keep my Sabbaths; I am the Lord your God." Lev. xix. 3.
"My son, keep the commandment of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother. Bind them continually upon thy heart, and tie them about thy neck. When thou goest, it shall lead thee; when thou sleepest, it shall guard thee; and when thou wakest, it shall talk with thee." Prov. vi. 20-22.
46. In what light do you look upon this commandment?
As the noblest duty of man. We are to love our parents who watch over us in our helpless infancy; who provide with anxious care, under God, for all our wants; who attend us during the hours of sickness and affliction; who labor for us that we may have ease and plenty. we are to esteem them, because they point out to us the way of life, in teaching us the law of God, and directing us to observe the duties which, if observed, will render us happy and cheerful. How wicked, therefore, is the child that disregards the words of father or mother! such a one cannot love his God; one who loves not God cannot love his fellow-men; and one who has no love for others is a useless member of society, and is an evil, a disgrace, and not deserving of the life that has been given him, nor of the favors he daily receives from his Maker.
"Cursed be he who lightly esteemeth his father or his mother." Deut. xxvii. 16.
"The eye that mocketh at his father, and despiseth to obey his mother--the ravens of the valley shall pluck it out, and the young eagles shall eat it." Prov. xxx. 17.
47. In what manner should we honor our parents?
By love, obedience, and gratitude. Love, because they are our best friends and kindest benefactors; obedience, because they are to us on earth what God is to us in heaven, the authors of our being; and gratitude, as a slight return for their care and kindness.
"A wise son maketh the father glad; but a foolish son is the grief of his mother." Prov. x. 1.
48. What else is commanded by this precept?
We shall out of reverence to the Lord honor and love our teachers and instructors; pay deference to our superiors and masters; and honor and respect aged people, and endeavor to be at all times obedient, in all lawful things, to the will of all these persons.
"Before a hoary head thou shalt rise up, and honor the face of an old man, and feat thy God; I am the Lord." Lev. xix. 32.
"Hear me now, therefore, O ye children, and depart not from the words of my mouth.--that thou mourn not at last, when thy flesh and thy body are consumed, and say, How have I hated instruction, and my heart hath despised reproof; and I have not obeyed the voice of my teachers, nor inclined my ear to them that instructed me!" Prov. v. 7-13.
49. What duty is derived likewise from the fifth commandment?
The love for our country.
50. What do you understand by "our country?"
Not only that country in which we were born, but also, and chiefly, that in which we enjoy liberty of person, security of property, and the protection and benefit of the laws enacted for the common welfare.
51. How is this love to be shown?
We ought to love our country to such an extent, that we should do whatever might benefit it; we should likewise pay due deference to the laws, provided always they do not contradict the law of God; pay the taxes and dues without any evasion or fraud, and be obedient to the authorities, without regard whether they be monarchical or republican; and whenever our country should be in danger from foreign enemies or domestic commotions, we, as Israelites, are bound to hurry to its defense, and share the dangers and toil of our other fellow-citizens.
"Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, unto all that are captives, whom I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem unto Babylon, Build ye houses, and dwell in them; and plant gardens, and eat the fruit of them.--And seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the Lord for it; for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace." Jer. xxix. 4-7.
52. What is the SIXTH commandment?
"Thou shalt not kill."
53. How do you understand this?
We should love and reverence God in his image; that is to say, we should regard the life of our fellow-men as sacred, and of equal value with our own; and reflect, that the Almighty, who has given us being, has created also all other human beings in his image, and has given them life and being.
"Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed; for in his image hath God made man." Gen. ix. 6.
54. What is forbidden by this precept?
First. Self-murder, commonly called suicide.
Secondly. Murder of another person.
55. What does the Bible call "murder?"
First. An actual slaying or taking away of life; God has given us life, and we are not permitted to take away either our own or that of another. Because, since we have been sent on earth for a wise purpose, we are not authorized to throw away our own life without being summoned by the actual agency of the Lord; or to deprive another of his earthly being, except by a judicial decision, by which evil-doers can be punished with death according to the expressed will of the divine law:
"He that smiteth a man that he die, shall surely be put to death." Exod. xxi. 12.
Secondly. The injuring of our neighbor even in a remote degree, either in body or in soul.
56. How in "body?"
We are forbidden to strike, wound, maim, or cause bodily pain to any one, or to let him suffer from cold, hunger, or thirst, if we can by a possibility relieve him.
"And if a man cause a blemish on his neighbor; as he hath done, so shall it be done to him." Lev. xxiv. 19.
"Is it not, to distribute thy bread to the hungry? and to bring the miserably afflicted poor into thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou clothe him, and that thou hide not thyself from thy own flesh?" Isa. lviii. 7.
57. How in "soul?"
We are forbidden to persecute or injure any one through quarrelling, disputing, or maliciously contradicting him; through anger, hatred, derision, or game-making; farther, through ingratitude, faithlessness, tale-bearing, revenge, or unmerciful behavior; in short, in any manner which could mortify him, or tend to shorten his life. All men are equal before the Lord, though one may be richer, more powerful, or wiser than the other; and therefore no one has a right, and it is for this reason sinful, to do any act to another which he would look upon as an injury if done to himself.
"Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thy heart; thou mayest in any wise rebuke thy neighbor, and not suffer sin upon him. Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people; but thou shalt love thy neighbor like thyself: I am the Lord." Lev. xix. 17, 18.
"Thou shalt not deliver up to his master the servant who hath escaped unto thee from his master." Deut. xxiii. 16.
"Say not unto thy neighbor, Go and come again, and tomorrow I will give, when thou hast it by thee. Devise not evil against thy neighbor, who dwelleth securely by thee. Strive not with a man without cause, if he have done thee no harm." Prov. iii. 28-30.
58. What is the SEVENTH commandment?
"Thou shalt not commit adultery."
59. What is meant by this?
We should reverence the covenant, entered into by man and wife in the presence of the Lord, and hold it so sacred as to do nothing to violate it.
"And the man that committeth adultery with another man's wife--the adulterer and adulteress shall surely be put to death." Lev. xx. 10.
60. What are we commanded by this precept?
Man and wife whom the Lord has joined in the holy bonds of wedlock should love each other, and live in faith, union and harmony, and not violate the covenant which they have entered into. God was witness to their vow, and He will surely avenge the wrong, if even human beings should not be able to discover the sin which has been committed secretly.
"Therefore doth a man leave his father and his mother, and cleave unto his wife; and they become one flesh." Gen. ii. 24.
61. What else are we taught in this precept?
We should be particular in our conduct; not to speak, nor even think, indecent things; to be chaste and modest in our behavior, and not to acquire habits which might be indecorous, or offensive to others; and lastly, not to dress so as to expose the body more than strict modesty will allow, nor should men and women put on any other clothes than the customs of the country permit each sex to wear. Our body is the work of God, and we should not defile it, which immodest conduct would do; we are to be holy, because He is holy, and this holiness consists in due propriety, and decorum in our behavior, and in obedience to the precepts of the law.
"A woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man; neither shall a man put on a woman's garment; for every one that doeth so is an abomination unto the Lord thy God." Deut. xxii. 5.
62. What is the EIGHTH commandment?
"Thou shalt not steal."
63. What is meant by this precept?
We shall, loving and fearing the Lord our God, regard as sacred the property which He has given to our neighbor, and do nothing to deprive him of the same, either through our own agency or that of others.
64. What do the Scriptures call "stealing?"
First. We shall not commit actual theft or robbery; we shall not have false weights and measures; not sell fraudulent wares or merchandise; not cheat any one in any manner whatever, nor withhold from him the wages he has earned, or any part of his property which may be in our hands, either accidentally or by having been entrusted to us.
"Ye shall not steal, neither deal falsely, nor lie one to another. And ye shall not swear by my name falsely, and not profane the name of thy God: I am the Lord. Thou shalt not defraud thy neighbor, nor rob him; the wages of him that is hired shall not abide with thee until the morning." Lev. xix. 11-13.
"Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgement, in meteyard (cloth measure), in weight, or in measure. Just balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just hin, shall ye have: I am the Lord your God, who have brought you out of the land of Egypt." Ibid. 35, 36.
65. What else is prohibited under this commandment?
Secondly. We shall not commit secret theft; we shall never try to obtain any thing through artfulness, lying, or fraud, nor through concealment of the quality of merchandise, usury, or selfish seeking of our own interest, thereby disregarding the rights or property of others; farther, we are prohibited to receive or conceal stolen property, or to retain any thing which has been lost, and has come in our possession, by our finding it, or receiving it from others, even though the loser by our enemy.
"If a person sin and commit a trespass against the Lord, and lie unto his neighbor in that which was delivered him to keep, or in fellowship, or in a thing taken away by violence, or hath defrauded his neighbor; or hath found that which was lost, and lieth concerning it, and sweareth falsely:--then shall he bring his trespass-offering unto the Lord." Lev. v. 21-25.
"Thou shalt not see thy brother's ox or his sheep go astray, and hide thyself from them: thou shalt in any case bring them again unto thy brother. And if thy brother be not nigh unto thy own house, and it shall be with thee until thy brother seek after it, and thou shalt restore it to him again. In like manner shalt thou do with his ass; and so shalt thou do with his raiment; and so shalt thou do with every thing lost by thy brother, which he hath lost, and thou hast found: thou mayest not hide thyself." Deut. xxii. 1-3.
"When thou dost lend unto thy neighbor any thing, thou shalt not go into his house to fetch his pledge. Thou shalt stand without, and the man to whom thou dost lend shall bring out the pledge abroad unto thee. And if the man be poor, thou shalt not sleep with his pledge; in any case thou shalt deliver him the pledge again when the sun goeth down, that he may sleep in his own raiment and bless thee; and it shall be righteousness unto thee before the Lord thy God." Deut. xxiv. 10-13.
66. Is possession only confined to property? by which I mean, has a man nothing besides goods and actual visible possessions in which he can be injured?
Yes; such as his honor, his good name, his peace of mind, his words and his thoughts made known in his writings; all these and similar things are likewise possessions, and are to be sacred as much as goods and property which our neighbor has acquired.
67. What is therefore prohibited with regard to them?
It is sinful to slander, abuse or vilify any one, by which means his honor or fair name might be injured in the least; likewise to report the words he has spoken to another, or to carry to him what others have said to his disadvantage, by which his peace of mind might be disturbed, unless the cause of truth or justice should absolutely demand it. We are also forbidden to divulge any secret entrusted to us; to persuade another to do any thing which he ought not to do, or to flatter him so as to gain his favor by saying that to him which we know he does not merit; and, lastly, to appropriate designedly to ourselves the words and thoughts of others as our own, for by this means we deprive them of their just and due praise, or cause them actual injury.
"Thou shalt not go up and down as a tale-bearer among thy people." Lev. xix. 16.
"He that goeth about as a tale-bearer revealeth secrets; and meddle not with him that flattereth with his lips." Prov. xx. 19.
"Debate thy cause with thy neighbor himself; and discover not the secret of another." Ibid. xxv. 9.
68. What is the NINTH commandment?
"Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor."
69. What is meant by this?
We should always have the love and fear of God in our hearts, so that we should never be induced to say any falsehood, or give any untrue testimony against our neighbor; but we should always say the truth, and give publicity only to what is correct.
"If a false witness rise up against any man, to testify against him that which is wrong: then both the men, between whom the controversy is, shall stand before the Lord, before the priests and the judges who shall be in those days. And the judges shall make diligent inquiry; and, behold! if the witness be a false witness, and has testified falsely against his brother: then shall ye do unto him as he had thought to do unto his brother; so shalt thou put the evil away from the midst of thee." Deut. xix. 16-19.
70. What is forbidden by this precept?
It is forbidden to give a false or unjust decision in judgement, to calumniate any one, to spread false reports, or to give false evidence, or to testify to any thing as absolutely true of which we have no direct and positive knowledge; it is likewise sinful to be deceitful or double-dealing toward our neighbor, or to be so anxious for reputation or overbearing as to induce us to act towards others in a proud and presumptuous manner, as though we were better than they. In short, we should not do any thing or say any thing without having the strict truth on our side; and whoever does otherwise, either directly through injustice, or indirectly through deceit, falsehood, or pride, offends against the will of God.
"Thou shalt not raise a false report; put not thy hand with the wicked to be an unrighteous witness." Exod. xxiii. 1.
"Thou shalt not wrest the judgment of thy poor in his cause." Ibid. 6.
"An ungodly person, a wicked person, walketh with a froward mouth. He winketh with his eye, pusheth with his feet, pointeth with his fingers. Frowardness in his heart, he deviseth mischief continually; he soweth discord." Prov. vi. 12-14.
"Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord." Ibid. xvi. 5.
71. What is the TENTH commandment?
"Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house; thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife, nor his man-servant, nor his maid-servant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbor's."
72. What is meant by this precept?
The love and fear of the Lord should be deeply rooted in our heart; we shall therefore purify our inclinations and feelings; suppress all evil desires, and remove every thought which could tend to induce us to injure our neighbor in any of his possessions which are lawfully his, and which the Giver of all has assigned to him as his portion on earth. Such purity of thought will teach us benevolence for our fellow-men, inasmuch as it must produce content with our own lot, and render us thereby cheerful in the observance of the duties to others which the other precepts of the Decalogue demand of us.
"Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, Execute true judgment, and show mercy and compassion every one to his brother; and oppress not the widow and the fatherless, the stranger and the poor; and let none of you imagine evil against his brother in his heart." Zech. vii. 9, 10.
"Stand in awe and sin not; commune with your heart upon your bed, and cease from murmuring." Ps. iv. 5.
73. Can the mere thought be injurious?
Certainly; inclination, if not checked, will become desire, and unchecked desire will soon induce us to act; and thus what was first but idle thought has become by gradual steps transgression and actual sin.
"Woe to them that devise iniquity, and work evil upon their beds! when the morning is light, they practice it, because it is in the power of their hand. And they covet fields, and take them by violence; and houses, and take them away; and they oppress a man and his house, and the master and his heritage." Micah ii. 1, 2.
74/ What does the Bible call "coveting?"
We should never yield ourselves to any sensual desires, that is to say, we should never suffer our thoughts to desire those things which we cannot lawfully obtain; nor are we justified to indulge in idle wishes; but we should labor cheerfully, relying upon God's blessing, in order that we may avoid idleness and consequently escape sinning, which is the usual consequence of a state of inactivity.
"And that ye seek not after the inclination of your heart, and the delight of your eyes, in pursuit of which ye have been led astray. That ye may remember, and so all my commandments, and be holy unto your God." Numb. xv. 39, 40.
"I have treasured up thy words in my heart, that I might not sin against Thee." Ps. cxix. 11.
"Blessed is every one who feareth the Lord, who walketh in his ways. When thou eatest the labor of thy hands, then shalt thou be happy, and it shall be well with thee." Ibid. cxxviii. 1,2.
75. What else is prohibited by this precept?
It is forbidden to us to be envious of the wealth of others, or to be jealous of their success. It should be enough for us to know that our neighbor's wealth and success proceed from the Lord; and that, therefore, we would be in fact accusing Him, who never wrongs, of injustice, were we to feel dissatisfaction, because others are happy, or more wealthy than we.
"Fret not thyself because of evil-doers, nor be thou envious against the workers of iniquity. For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb. Trust in the Lord, and do good, so shalt thou dwell in the land, and be fed in faith. And thou shalt find delight in the Lord, and He will give thee the desires of thy heart. Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in Him, and He will bring it to pass. And He will bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noon-day. Rest in the Lord, and hope patiently in Him; fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass." Ps. xxxvii. 1-7.
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