RPM, Volume 17, Number 11, March 8 to March 14, 2015

Systematic Theology

By R. L. Dabney, D. D., LL. D.

Chapter 32: The Second Table of the Law—Commandments 5-10

Scope of 5th Commandment.
Parents represent all Superiors.
Extent of the Promise.
Scope of 6th Commandment.
Animal Life, Capital Punishment, Defensive War, Moral Character of Dueling.
Scope of 7th Commandment.
Adultery and its Punishment.
Limits of Consanguinity.
Scope of 8th Commandment.
Origin of Right of Private Property.
Buying and Selling under the Law of Charity.
Scope of 9th Commandment.
Grounds of Duty of Veracity.
Its practical importance.
Evil Speaking.
Are all Deceptions Lies?
Scope of 10th Commandment.
Roman Catholic Division of it.
The Decalogue only from God.
What does every Sin deserve?
[Lectures 33 & 34 & 35]

Section Four—God's Law
Chapter 32: The Second Table of the Law—Commandments 5-10

Syllabus for Lectures 33, 34 & 35:

1. What is the general scope of the 5th Commandment?

2. Show that, under the names "Father and Mother," all superiors in family Church and State are included.

3. What is the meaning of the promise attached?

4. What is required and forbidden in the 6th Commandment?

5. Does it prohibit the slaying of animals for food?

6. Does it prohibit defensive war, or forcible self defense by persons?

7. Are capital punishments righteous?

8. What is the moral character of dueling?
Shorter Catechism, Qu. 63-69 Larger Cat., Qu. 123-136. Calvin's Inst., bk. 2, ch. 8, 35 40. Turrettin, Loc. 11, Qu. 16, 17. Green's Lectures 46-50. Ridgeley's Divinity, Qu. 123-136. Hopkins on the Ten Commandments. Hodge's Theology, Vol. i2, ch. 19, 9, 10. American Peace Society Publications.

9. What are the scope and extent of the 7th Commandment, and what sins are forbidden under it?

10 What is the degree of guilt in adultery, and what its grounds?

11. Was polygamy ever lawful? Explain Moses' law of divorce. Is celibacy meritorious?
Turrettin, Loc. 11, Qu. 18. Hodge's Theology pt. i2, ch. 19, 11. Dr. C. C. Jones' History of Israelitish Nation. Michaelis' Com. on Laws of Moses

12. Ought this precept to be publicly preached?

13. What is the scope of the 8th Commandment, and what are the particular duties and sins embraced under it?

14. What is the origin of the Right of Private Property?

15. Is usury lawful?

16. What rule should govern the Christian as to making gain of his neighbor's necessities?
Turrettin, Loc. 11, Qu. I9. Hodge as above, 12. See, on whole, Larger Catechism, Qu. 137-142. Calvin's Inst. bk. 2, ch. 8, 41-46. Ridgeley's Div., Qu. 137-142. Bp. Hopkins on 7th and 5th Commandments. Green's Lectures 51-53.

Lecture 35:

1. What is the general scope of the eighth Commandment, and what are the duties required, and sins forbidden under it? See Thornwell on Truth and Pascal's Provincial Letters.

2. On what is the duty of speaking truth grounded, and how does its practical importance appear?

3. Define the sin of speaking evil of one's neighbor, and argue.

4. Is it ever lawful to deceive?

5. What is the scope and meaning of the 10th Commandment, and what are the duties required and sins forbidden under it?

6. What evidence of the divine mission of Moses in the character of the Decalogue?

7. What does every sin deserve at God's hands? See Anselm, Cur Deus Homo, pt. 1., ch. 21. See, on the whole, Larger Cat., Qu. 143-152. Ridgeley (same Qu). Turrettin, Loc. 11, Qu 20-23, and Qu. 26. Green's Lectures, 54-58. Calvin's Inst., bk. 2, ch. 8, 47-51. Hodges' Theol, pt. iii, ch. 19, Sect. 13, 14. Bp. Hopkins on the 8th and 10th Commandments.

We enter now upon the consideration of the Second Table. The immediate objects of the duties of this table are our fellow men. But still, the breach of one of them is a sin against God also, because it is He who has enjoined them, and has placed us in those relations in which the duties arise.

1. Scope of the Fifth Commandment. Parents Represent All Superiors.

As the first table began with that which is fundamental to all religion; the pointing out of the only scope of the 5th Commandment a proper view of religious service; so the rents represent all second table begins with that duty which is fundamental to all social duties, and the most important of all; subjection to domestic authority. I must here again remind you of the rule of interpretation laid down at the outset, that a whole class of duties is enjoined, and of sins forbidden, under one prominent specimen. So, we understand that here, under the example of filial duties, all the relative duties between superiors and inferiors, in the Family, the Church, and the Commonwealth, are included. Not only the duties of children to parents, but of servants to masters, pupils to teachers, and people to rulers in Church and State, are here implied. If these most important classes of social duties are not intended to be included in this precept, then they are nowhere in the decalogue for there is no other precept where they can be fairly embraced. Can we believe that the summary so omits what the subsequent Scriptures so often enforce in detail? The including of all these duties under the fifth commandment will seem far more natural, if we remember that the original forms of government in the old world were all patriarchal, in which the father was the head, priest, and prince of all his descendants and servants. The family was no doubt the germ out of which civil institutions and the organized Church grew. The Jewish nation was just now passing, in part, out of this patriarchal form; and many of its features were retained in the Mosaic government. How natural then, to an ancient Israelite to represent the general idea of civil and ecclesiastical superiors under the term Parents? Servants (who were usually slaves) were on much the same footing in ancient society with children. Kings were called Fathers, 1 Sam. 24:11. Prophets were generally addressed as Fathers, by the young men entrusted to their religious instruction, who, in turn, were called "sons of the prophets," 2 Kings 2:3 and 12.

Obligations Are Reciprocal.

Many duties are of a reciprocal nature. Obligation on one side implies a corresponding obligation on the other. Thus the duties of inferiors imply the reciprocal duties of superiors. Under this commandment, then, are included the duties of parents towards their children, masters towards servants, rulers towards subjects, church teachers towards their charges. Thus, we find that St. Paul, in the former part of the sixth chapter of Ephesians, (which may fairly be taken as his exposition of the fifth commandment), begins with the duties of children towards parents, but follows it up immediately with the duties of parents towards their children, and after instructing servants, proceeds immediately to instruct their masters. We feel, therefore, fully justified in giving the fifth commandment the general scope assigned to it in the Catechism. "The general scope of the fifth commandment is the performance of those duties which we mutually owe in our several relations, as superiors, inferiors, or equals."

2. It is under this head of the decalogue, that the important Scripture doctrine of the civil magistrate, and duty of citizens, should fall, which is the subject of the 23rd chapter of our Confession. But this is a subject of so much importance, that I reserve it for separate discussion in the Senior course. The details of the other duties of inferiors and superiors may be seen so fully stated in your catechisms, that it would be mere repetition to recite them here.

3. Extent of the Promise.

The fifth commandment is peculiar in closing with a promise to encourage it's observance. "That of the thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee." The first recipient of the promise was the Nation, and it may be national permanency which is pledged. But the Apostle applies it (Eph. 6:2), to Christian children, after Israel was cast out. This authorizes us to give it a personal application. As a long life spent in adversity would be no blessing, this promise is obviously understood as one of "long life and prosperity." We understand it to give us that encouragement which is also presented by the established connection of causes and effects in God's providence, where the faithful and general performance of the duties of inferiors and superiors, and especially of parents and children, ensures, as far as any earthly means can, general health, peace, prosperity and temporal welfare; Rebellious neglect of those duties, and especially of the parental and filial duties, plunges every society into violence, disease, disorder, misery, and premature death. We do not understand God's promise in this commandment as absolute and universal. To claim this would be to claim that God should work for dutiful sons a continual miracle, in suspending the mutual influences of men on each other's welfare, by which the virtuous especially when few, share the calamities procured by the more prevalent crimes of the wicked. The first promise is given to a society (as to Israel) in the aggregate. The general performance of the duty is necessary to ensure the happy result. If there is a general neglect of the duties, as in our day, it must result in calamities, and some of the most dutiful of our sons may fall, as many a virtuous Confederate soldier fell in the prime of his days, in the general disorder.

4. Scope of Sixth Commandment.

The sixth commandment is in these terse words. "Thou shalt not kill." Its obvious scope is the preservation of life. It forbids all that assails our own and others lives, and enjoins all suitable means for the preservation of both. This command is based upon these two great truths: that life is God's gift, and therefore to be abridged or taken away only at His command; and that life is of supreme value to every man. In robbing a man of life, you would virtually rob him of every valuable thing which life includes. It is committing against a fellow man every species of robbery in one. The Scriptures also ground the prohibition of taking man's life on his likeness to God. Gen. 9:6. "For in the image of God made He man. James 3:9; also founds the lesser sin of slander and reviling partly on the same fact. Man's rational, moral and immortal nature is the chief glory of his being; it reflects the glory of God's. Hence, to invade this being is at once the most enormous wrong against the creature, and an act of impiety against God.

We have here then, another instance of the profoundly logical arrangement which infinite wisdom has given to the decalogue. The second table, after fixing those relative duties out of which society itself emerges, then proceeds to protect, first, that value which is transcendent with every man—his temporal existence. It then secures that which is next in order of essential importance—man's chastity, including the purity of the marital relation, the foundation of the domestic and postpones to the last those duties of commutative righteousness, and of truth, which are the outer bonds of society.

But when God says, "Thou shalt not kill," what are the things whose slaying is inhibited?

5. Animal Life May Be Taken.

There is a small class of fanatics in Christian lands, larger in some Pagan ones, who answer, that we may kill nothing that has animal life. Hence the use of the flesh of quadrupeds, birds, and fishes, for food, is of course inhibited by them. This party is known in America as Grahamites. Their tendency is infidel; for the Bible speaks too plainly on this subject to be questioned by any devout believer. We read that God gave to Adam and his family only the vegetable world for food, assigning him the use of the animals as his servants. (Hence, the skins in which God clothed Adam and Eve after their fall, must have come either from the religious sacrifices which He taught them to offer, the more probable surmise; or from beasts which died by the violence of their own kind, or by disease.) But after the flood, the fruitfulness of the earth having been probably impaired for all subsequent time, God expressly gave Noah and his family the privilege of eating the flesh of animals, only reserving the blood, with which they should "make atonement for their souls upon the altar." This permission is doubtless now valid. It was expressly continued to the Hebrews, in the distinction of the clean beasts. It is equally certain that it was not abrogated after Christ came; for we find Him, even after His resurrection (Luke 24:43; John 21:9), eating the flesh of fishes, and encouraging His followers to do so. See also Rom. 14:3, and 1 Cor. 10:25.

Reason approves this. The sanctity of human life is placed, where inspiration places it (in Gen. 9:6), in man's rational responsibility and immortality. The life of the beast, "whose spirit goeth downward," is no such inviolable boon to him. And while we admit that the duty of benevolence extends to the brutes, as does God's benevolence, we argue that the employment of animals for food has, on the whole, greatly promoted their animal well being. For man thus has a sufficient motive for their careful nurture, whereas otherwise he would regard them as nuisances.

6. Capital Punishments and Defensive War, Etc., Not Forbidden.

Still another, and a larger class of fanatics, hold that there are no circumstances under which human life can be taken lawfully by man. Claiming the admission which we have made, that life is to man God's loan, they urge that no creature can under any circumstances assume authority to take it away from his fellow man. Hence it must follow that personal self defense against unrighteous aggression, that the defensive wars of commonwealths, and the infliction of capital punishments upon the most enormous criminals even, are all unlawful. Here is the theory of the "nonresistance" and the "peace parties."

Arguments—Magistrate Slays By Delegated Authority.

I may make the same remark of these, that they are virtually infidel parties. If the authority of the Scriptures is admitted, their conclusions are obviously false. They are obviously illogical. It is true that human life is God's loan to His creatures. No one may take it away without the authority of the Divine Giver. It is therefore simply a question of revealed testimony, whether God has, in any cases, deputized to man, or to society, the authority to take life. If He has, then it is God's authority which, in the appropriate case, takes away the boon; and the human agent is merely God's executioner. It is, then, simply a question of fact as to the Scriptural teachings.

Self-defense Lawful.

If life is thus sacred, as God's boon, and is man's one possession of transcendent value, then to take it away without right is an enormous outrage. Suppose this outrage is obviously about to be perpetrated by an aggressor upon an innocent person. Suppose, also, that the protection of the law is absent, and cannot be successfully invoked? What shall the defendant do? Is it his duty to be passive and yield up his life; or to take the defensive, and protect it by force, even to the extent of taking the assailant's life if necessary? Human laws and conscience concur in the latter answer. Remember that the aggressor unrighteously creates the dilemma, making it necessary that at least one life must go. Whose had best go? Obviously the life of the criminal, rather than that of the innocent man. Again: If law subsequently has its just course, the murderer, after his guilty success, will have to die for it. The case is then still stronger: that the passive theory sacrifices two lives, one innocent; whereas the theory of self-defense saves the righteous life, and only sacrifices the guilty one. Our conclusion is also confirmed by the existence in us of the emotion of lawful resentment, the righteousness of which, within its proper bounds, the Savior allows (Matt. 5:22; Eph. 4:26). For if there is no forcible self-defense against wrong, there is no reasonable scope for this emotion.

The Scriptures expressly confirm us. The right of slaying the housebreaker clearly implies a right of self-defense. Ex. 22:2. The law of the cities of refuge contains the same right. Num. 35:22. The effect of this permission is evaded, indeed, by the pretense that Moses' legislation was imperfect and barbarous, and is corrected by the milder instructions of our Savior. Matt. 5:39. But I have taught you the falsehood of this notion, and showed you that the Old Testament teaches precisely the same morality with the New.

Capital Punishment In Scripture.

As to the delegation of the right of capital punishment for flagrant crimes, the feeble attempt has been made to represent the injunction of Gen. 9:6 as not a precept, but a prediction; not as God's instruction what ought to be done to the murderer, but His prophecy of what human vindictiveness would do. The context refutes this. This command for the capital punishment of the murderer, having been given to Noah, the second father of mankind, and before there was a chosen people, is of course, universal. Look also at the express injunction of capital punishments for several crimes: for murder, Num. 35:31; for striking a parent; Ex. 21:15; for adultery, Lev. 20:10; for religious imposture, Deut. 13:5. In Numb. 35:33, a reason is given which, on general principles, necessitates the capital punishment of murder. "For blood, it defileth a land, and the land cannot be cleansed of the blood that is shed therein, but by the blood of him that shed it." Capital punishments are also authorized in the New Testament. Rom. 13. assures us that the magistrate "beareth not the sword in vain," but in bearing it he is God's minister to execute wrath upon the evil doer.

7. Defensive War Lawful.

Unprovoked war is the most monstrous secular crime that can be committed. It is at once the greatest of evils, and includes the worst forms of robbery and murder. Wherever war is prompted by mere irritation or lust of aggrandizement, or ambition for fame and power, it deserves all that can be said of its mischief and criminality by the most zealous advocates of peace. And nothing can rescue a people waging war from this guilt, except the fact that their appeal to arms is necessary for the defense of just and vital rights. But while the Scriptures teach this, they give no countenance to the weak fanaticism, which commands governments to practice a passive nonresistance, in such a world as this. Nations are usually unjust and unscrupulous. The very fact that they are politically sovereign implies that there is no umpire between them except Divine Providence. A passive attitude would usually only provoke, instead of disarming attack. Hence its only effect would be to bring all the horrors and desolation's of invasion upon the innocent people, while the guilty went free. God has therefore both permitted and instructed rulers, when thus unjustly assailed, to retort these miseries upon the assailants who introduce them. The very fact that all war is so terrific a scourge, and that aggressive war is such an enormous crime, only makes it more clear that the injured parties are entitled to their redress, and are justified in inflicting on the injurers such chastisement as will compel their return to justice, even including the death and ruin which they were preparing against their inoffensive neighbors.

It is perfectly clear that Sacred Scripture legalizes such defensive war. Abram, Moses, Joshua, Samuel, David, Josiah, the Maccabees, were such warriors and they were God's chosen saints. It was "through faith they waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens." Heb. 11:34. God fought for and with them by giving, in their battles, answers to their prayers, and miraculous assistance to their arms. Under the New Testament, when Christ's forerunner was preaching the baptism of repentance, he did not enjoin on soldiers the surrender of their profession as sinful, but only the restricting of themselves to its lawful duties. The New Testament tells us of a Centurion, affectionately commended by our Redeemer as possessed of "great faith; and of a Cornelius, who was "accepted with God, as fearing Him and working righteousness." Luke 3:14; 7:9; Acts 10:35. The Apostle Paul, Rom. 13:4, tells us that the magistrate "beareth not the sword in vain; for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil." It would be strange indeed, if the ruler who is armed by God with the power of capital punishment against the domestic murderer, could not justly inflict the same doom on the foreign criminal, who invades our soil unprovoked, for the purpose of shedding blood. The security of life and property which the magistrate is intended to provide by his power of punishing, would be illusory indeed, if it could only be used against individual criminals, while the more mischievous and widespread crimes of organized multitudes must go unpunished. Aggressive war is wholesale murder, and when the government sends out its army to repel and chastise the invader, it does but inflict summary execution on the murderer caught in the act.

8. Dueling Murder.

The modern duel is a very peculiar usage, which has descended to us from a perversion of an institution of chivalry: the ordeal by battle. This was a means adopted by the ignorance of the Middle Ages, to appeal to God's judgment where the question of right was too obscure to be unraveled by their rude courts. It was founded on an abuse of the doctrine of Providence. Because the Scriptures teach that this providence is concerned in all events, the Middle Ages jumped to the conclusion, that this providence would so decide the issue, as to vindicate justice. It needs no argument to show you the fallacy. Since the intelligence of modern days has exploded the idea of the divine ordeal, the duel remains a barbarous remnant of the middle ages, without even the shadow of an argument in its favor.

Arguments For It Futile.

In refuting the arguments by which the duel is defended, I will not take the ground that the sentiment of personal honor is irrational or unchristian; I will not assume that it is no real injury to wound it. My position is, that the duel is no proper remedy for that injury. And, first, the only lawful object, when one is wounded in his honor, is self-defense, and not revenge. The latter is expressly forbidden in every case. Now, for the defense of one's honor and good name, a duel is naught. Perhaps where malignant passions are not harbored, the challenger to a duel is most frequently actuated by this feeling; that his passive endurance of an insult will cause his fellow men to think him a coward, and that therefore he must expose himself to the dangers of combat, in order to convince that he is not a coward; and thus retrieve his credit. Now dueling does not prove courage; for notoriously, if some brave men have fought, so have many cowards. It only proves a species of moral cowardice, which shrinks from the path of rectitude, and cowers before the finger of scorn. It is yet more obvious that the issue of the duel will prove nothing as to the truth or falsehood of the charge which constituted the insult. If one calls me a liar, and I kill him, therefore, this shows nothing whatever as to my truth or falsehood. The proper and reasonable remedy here, is to require the accuser to substantiate his charge, or else confess its injustice. His refusal to do either would place him so effectually in the wrong, that no other reparation would be needed.

Duels Unfair.

Another objection to the duel is, that it usually prevents, and that in the most deadly manner, that very fairness and equality which it boasts of securing. The plea is, that it puts the weak man equal to the strong one, by appealing from mere brute muscle, to arms and skill. But according to its laws, the duel authorizes an inequality of skill far more deadly. I am ignorant of the use of the pistol. A violent and malignant man who knows himself a dead shot, may so outrage me that I am impelled under the code of honor, to challenge him. He, exercising the right of the challenged, chooses pistols. Thus he has me more completely at a disadvantage than if he were a pugilist of the first fame, and I an infant, and the result is not a parcel of bruises, but my death. The system is, when tried by its own presence, flagrantly unfair.

Jeopardizing of the Injured Unjust.

It is also absurdly unequal in this that if its proceedings have any justice, then it puts the righteous man and the culprit on the same footing. Unless the challenger is committing a monstrous wrong, he must hold that the challenged is a capital criminal, for does he not claim that it is right to subject him to the liability of a capital punishment? Why then should the innocent man, already so grievously wronged, when he proceeds to inflict the righteous penalty, give the culprit equal chances to inflict the same penalty on him? Shall the magistrate, in putting a condemned felon to death, courteously invite him to take his equal chances to put the magistrate to death? What more absurd? If the assailant really deserves to die, and this is duly ascertained (if it is not, the challenger is guilty of murder in seeking to slay an innocent man) then by all means, let him be killed, without giving him opportunity to perpetrate another unprovoked crime. When one has to kill a mad dog, he does not feel bound to give the dog a chance to bite him!

The Interested Made Judge, Etc.

Last, the dueling code is a monstrous one, because it makes the man who supposes himself wronged, accuser, judge, and executioner in his own cause. It is right then, that the statute laws of the Commonwealth treat the duelist who has slain his adversary, as a murderer with prepense malice.

Pleas Refuted.

One plea for dueling is, that it is the necessary chastisement for classes of sins, (as against one's good name, against the chastity of one's family) for which the laws afford either no remedy, or such a one as no man of delicacy can seek. The answer is, that if the facts are true, they are arguments for perfecting the penal laws, not for the iniquities of dueling. Another argument is, that nothing, but the code of honor will secure chivalrous manners; which it boasts of doing through the influence of the knowledge that the man who departs from that style of manners is in danger of a challenge. The answers are two. Surely that courtesy has little claim to be chivalrous, which is only coerced by fear. And facts show that the influence of the code is not what is claimed, for the societies where it has fullest sway, are sometimes the rudest and most debauched.

9. Scope of Seventh Commandment.

As has been already observed, the scope of the seventh commandment is to regulate the relations between the sexes, with all the virtues of purity connected therewith. These virtues are the basis of the domestic relations. And as the family is the foundation of human society, the importance of the class of duties involved is second only to those which preserve man's existence itself. It should be added also, that the sins against personal purity are peculiarly flagrant, because they involve in sensual bestiality the body which is the habitation of the rational, responsible soul, and the temple of the Holy Spirit (see 1 Cor. 6:15). Experience also shows that sins of unchastity have a peculiarly imbruting and degrading effect on both sexes, but especially on that which should be the purer, seducing them to hypocrisy, lying, treachery, cruelty, drunkenness, gluttony, and shamelessness. For the usual details of the sins embraced under the capital instance, adultery, I refer you to your catechisms.

10. Criminality of Adultery.

Adultery, in strictness of speech, is the sin of illicit cohabitation by a married person. Its eminence in criminality is due to these traits; that in addition to the uncleanness, it involves the breach of the marriage contract, and the treachery contained therein; and that by corrupting the descent of families, it uproots the whole foundation of domestic society. Adultery and divorce without cause are directly antagonistic thereto. They are therefore deadly stabs against all home affections, against all training of children, against every rudiment of social order. Were all to take the license of the adulterer, men would in due time be reduced precisely to the degradation of wild beasts. The sin of the adulterer therefore, is scarcely less enormous than that of the murderer. The latter destroys man's temporal existence; the former destroys all that makes existence a blessing. Let the crime of the adulterer be tried by its effects upon the family it invades. We must either suppose that the husband and wife have, or have not, the sentiments of modesty, natural jealousy, purity, and shame, usually imputed to virtuous persons. If they have not, then the lack of them implies a degradation which can only make them the parents of reprobates, and the general prevalence of such a type of character would dissolve domestic society into ultimate putrescence. If the parents have those sentiments, then the success of the seducer plunges the husband into agonies of revenge, despair and wounded affection, the guilty wife into a shame and remorse deeper than the grave, the children into privation of a mother, and all the parties into a bereavement at least as irreparable as that of a death, and far more bitter. It would have been, in some aspects, a less crime to murder the mother while innocent.

Proper Punishment of It.

The laws of Moses, therefore, very properly made adultery a capital crime; nor does our Savior, in the incident of the woman taken in adultery, repeal that statute, or disallow its justice. The legislation of modern, nominally Christian nations, is drawn rather from the grossness of Pagan sources than from Biblical principles. The common law of England, and the statutes and usage's which our Commonwealth has drawn from, present a most inconsistent state. There is no statute whatever for punishing adultery as a crime! And yet a usage, which is as fully recognized both in England and Virginia as any common law, entitles juries to acquit the injured husband of murder who slays the violator of his bed in heat of blood. This seems to be a recognition of the capital guilt of the crime of adultery, and at the same time an allowance, in this case, of the barbarous principle of "goelism," which the law, in all other cases, has so stringently prohibited. But here is the monstrous inconsistency, that if the crime of the adulterer be of long standing, and gradually discovered, no matter how certain the guilt, the husband, because no longer punishing in heat of blood, is debarred from inflicting the just punishment. The only other remedy that remains at the law is an action of damages against the seducer, in which the injured husband is constrained to degrade all his wrongs to the sordid, pecuniary plea of the loss of his wife's services, as a domestic, by this interference. And juries are instructed, after ascertaining that there has been an unjust interruption of the wife's domestic services, to appraise the compensation, not at its commercial, but at any imaginary value, which the seducer's wealth may enable him to pay. Such is the wretched fiction which the law offers to the outraged spouse as the satisfaction for his wrongs.

11. Divorce and Polygamy In Pentateuch.

It has always seemed to me that much causeless doubt and debate exist among expositors, and that many gratuitous admissions have been made by the most of them, touching the true status of polygamy and divorce in the Old Testament. But so much misapprehension exists about the two cases, that the general interests of truth prompt a little farther separate discussion of each. The two enactments touching divorce which present the supposed contradiction in the strongest form, are those of Moses in Deut. 24:1 to 4, and Matt. 19:3 to 9. These the reader is requested to have under his eye. The form of the Pharisees' question to Christ, "Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?," concurs with the testimony of Josephus, in teaching us that a monstrous perversion of Moses' statute then prevailed. The licentious, and yet self-righteous Pharisee claimed, as one of his most unquestioned privileges, the right to repudiate a wife, after the lapse of years, and birth of children, for any caprice whatsoever. The trap which they now laid for Christ was designed to compel him either to incur the odium of attacking this usage, guarded by a jealous anger, or to connive at their interpretation of the statute. Manifestly Christ does not concede that they interpreted Moses rightly; but indignantly clears the legislation of that holy man from their licentious perversions, and then, because of their abuse of it, repeals it by His plenary authority. He refers to that constitution of the marriage tie which was original, which preceded Moses, and was therefore binding when Moses wrote, to show that it was impossible he could have enacted what they claimed. What, then, did Moses enact? Let us explain it. In the ancient society of the East, females being reared in comparative seclusion, and marriages negotiated by intermediaries, the bridegroom had little opportunity for a familiar acquaintance even with the person of the bride. When she was brought to him at the nuptials, if he found her disfigured with some personal deformity or disease (the undoubted meaning of the phrase "some uncleanness"), which effectually changed desire into disgust, he was likely to regard himself as swindled in the treaty, and to send the rejected bride back with indignity to her father's house. There she was reluctantly received, and in the anomalous position of one in name a wife, yet without a husband, she dragged out a wretched existence, incapable of marriage, and regarded by her parents and brothers as a disgraceful encumbrance. It was to relieve the wretched fate of such a woman that Moses' law was framed. She was empowered to exact of her proposed husband a formal annulment of the unconsummated contract, and to resume the status of a single woman, eligible for another marriage. It is plain that Moses' law contemplates the case, only, in which no consummation of marriage takes place. She finds no favor in the eyes "of the bridegroom." He is so indignant and disgusted that desire is put to flight by repugnance. The same fact appears from the condition of the law, that she shall in no case return to this man, "after she is defiled," i. e., after actual cohabitation with another man had made her unapproachable (without moral defilement) by the first. Such was the narrow extent of this law. The act for which it provided was divorce only in name, where that consensus, qui matrimonium facit, in the words of the law maxim, had never been perfected. The state of social usages among the Hebrews, with parental and fraternal severity towards the unfortunate daughter and sister, rendered the legislation of Moses necessary and righteous at the time, but "a greater than Moses" was now here; and He, after defending the inspired lawgiver from their vile misrepresentation, proceeded to repeal the law, because it had been so perverted, and because the social changes of the age had removed its righteous grounds.

Under the New Testament, divorce proper can take place only on two grounds, adultery and permanent desertion: See Matt. 19:9, 5:32; 1 Cor. 7:15. A careful examination of these passages will lead us to these truths. That marriage is a permanent and exclusive union of one woman to one man, and, can only be innocently dissolved by death. But that extreme criminality and breach of contract by one party annihilates the bond so that the criminal is as though he were dear to the other. That the only sins against the bond, which have this effect, are those which are absolutely incompatible with the relation, adultery, and willful, final desertion. In these cases, the bond having been destroyed for the innocent party, he is as completely a single man, as though the other were dead. Some commonwealths have added many other trivial causes of divorce, thus sinning grievously against God and the purity of the people. The Church may not recognize by her officers or acts, any of these unscriptural grounds, or the pretended divorces founded on them.

The case of the polygamist is still clearer, for we assert that the whole legislation of the Pentateuch and of all the Old Testament is only adverse to polygamy. As some Christian divines have taught otherwise, we must ask the reader's attention and patience for a brief statement. Polygamy is recorded of Abraham, Jacob, Gideon, Elkanah, David, Solomon; but so are other sins of several of these; and, as every intelligent reader knows, the truthful narrative of holy writ as often discloses the sins of good men for our warning, as their virtues for our imitation. And he who notes how, in every Bible instance, polygamy appears as the cause of domestic feuds, sin, and disaster, will have little doubt that the Holy Spirit tacitly holds all these cases up for our caution, and not our approval. But, then, God made Adam one wife only, and taught him the great law of the perpetual unity of the two, just as it is now expounded by Jesus Christ. (Genesis 2:23, 24, with Matthew 19:4 to 6). God preserved but one wife each to Noah and his sons. In every statute and perceptive word of the Holy Spirit, it is always wife, and not wives. The prophets everywhere teach how to treat a wife, and not wives. Moses, Leviticus 18:18, in the code regulating marriage, expressly prohibits the marriage of a second wife in the life of the first, thus enjoining monogamy in terms as clear as Christ's. Our English version bath it. "Neither shalt thou take a wife to her sister, to vex her, to uncover her nakedness, besides the other, in her lifetime." Many insist on taking the word sister here in its literal sense, and thus force on the law the meaning that the man desiring to practice polygamy may do so, provided he does not marry two daughters of the same parents; for if he did this, the two sisters sharing his bed would, like Rachel and Leah, quarrel more fiercely than two strangers. But the word "sister" must undoubtedly be taken in the sense of mates, fellows, (which it bears in a number of places, e. g., Ex. 26:3, 5-7; Ezek. 1:9 and 3:13), and this for two controlling reasons. The other sense makes Moses talk nonsense and folly, in the supposed reason for his prohibition; in that it makes him argue that two sisters sharing one man's bed will quarrel, but two women having no kindred brood will not. It is false to fact and to nature. Did Leah and Rachel show more jealousy than Sarah and Hagar, Hannah and Peninnah? But when we understand the law in its obvious sense, that the husband shall not divide his bed with a second mate, the first still living, because such a wrong ever harrows and outrages the great instincts placed in a woman's heart by her Creator, we make Moses talk truth and logic worthy of a profound legislator. The other reason for this construction is, that the other sense places the 18th verse in irreconcilable contradiction to the 16th verse. This forbids the marriage of a woman to the husband of her deceased sister while the 8th verse, with this false reading, would authorize it.

Once more, Malachi (chap. 2:14, 15), rebuking the various corruptions of the Jews, evidently includes polygamy. He argues in favor of monogamy (and also against divorces without cause) from the fact that God, "who had the residue of the Spirit," and could as easily have created a thousand women for each man as a single one, made the numbers of the sexes equal from the beginning. He states this as the motive, "that He might seek a godly seed," that is to say, that the object of God in the marriage relation was the right rearing of children, which polygamy notoriously hinders. Now the commission of an Old Testament prophet was not to legislate a new dispensation, for the laws of Moses were in full force; the prophets' business was to expound them. Hence, we infer that the laws of the Mosaic dispensation on the subject of polygamy had always been such as Malachi declared them. He was but applying Moses' principles.

To the assertion that the law of the Old Testament discountenanced polygamy as really as the New Testament, it has been objected that the practice was maintained by men too pious towards God to be capable of continuing in it against express precept; as, for instance, by the "king after God's own heart," David. Did not he also commit murder and adultery? Surely there is no question whether Moses forbids these. The history of good men, alas! shows us too plainly the power of general evil example, custom, temptation, and self-love, in blinding the honest conscience. It has been objected that polygamy was so universally practiced, and so prized, that Moses would never have dared to attempt its extinction. When will men learn that the author of the Old Testament law was not Moses, but God? Is God timid? Does He fear to deal firmly with His creatures? But it is denied that there its any evidence that polygamy was greatly prevalent among the Hebrews. And nothing is easier than to show that, if it had been, Moses was a legislator bold enough to grapple with it. What more hardy than his dealing with the sabbatical year, with idolatry? It is objected that the marriage of the widow who was childless to the brother of the deceased, to raise up seed to the dead, presents a case of polygamy actually commanded. We reply, no one can show that the next of kin was permitted or required to form such marriage when he already had a wife. The celebrated J. D. Michaelis, a witness learned and not too favorable, says, in his Commentaries on the Laws of Moses, of this law, "Nor did it affect a brother having already a wife of his own" (Book 3, ch. 6. Pg. 98).

It is objected that polygamy is recognized as a permitted relation in Deut. 21:15-17, where the husband of a polygamous marriage is forbidden to transfer the birthright from the eldest son to a younger, the child of a more favored wife; and in Ex. 21:9, 10, where the husband is forbidden to deprive a less favored wife of her marital rights and maintenance. Both these cases are explained by the admitted principle, that there may be relations which it was sin to form, and which yet it is sinful to break when formed. No one doubts whether the New Testament males polygamy was unlawful; yet it seems probable that the apostles gave the same instructions to the husbands of a plurality of wives entering the Christian Church. There appears, then, no evidence that polygamy was allowed in the laws of Moses.

The light of nature, as revealed in the sentiments of nearly all mankind, teaches that there are degrees of relationship, between which marriage would be unnatural and monstrous. Thus, most commonwealths make incest penal. The only place in the Scriptures where these degrees are laid down, is Leviticus 18.Concerning this place two important questions arise. 1. Is this law still binding? 2. How is it to be expounded? We hold that this law, although found in the Hebrew code, has not passed away, because it is neither ceremonial nor typical, and because it is founded in traits of man and society common to all races and ages. We argue also, presumptively, that if this law is a dead one, then the Scriptures contain nowhere a distinct legislation against this great crime of incest. But we have more positive proof. In the law itself it is extended to foreigners dwelling in Israel. (Lev. 18:26) and to all pagan nations, equally with the Hebrew (verses 24 to 27). In the New Testament, we find the same law enforced by the Apostle Paul. 1 Cor. 5. For this incestuous member evidently took his stepmother as his wife. Unless this Levitical law is the one on which this man is condemned, there is no other. The permanent, rational grounds, for prohibiting marriage within these degrees, seem to be the following. The marital affection is unique, and such that it cannot righteously obtain towards more than one object. But the virtuous social affections, which should obtain towards near relatives, embrace all such with similar sentiments, though varying in degree. The one affection is incompatible with the other. The fraternal, for instance, excludes marital. Second, if the more intimate relations were legitimately in prospect, between persons who must before live in the daily intimacy of the same home, temptation presented by this privacy and opportunity would corrupt the family and reduce it to a bestial grossness. And third, man's animal nature now utters its protest, by the deterioration and congenital infirmities, which it visits usually on the unfortunate children of these marriages within lawful degrees. Naturalists now teach, that among the lower animals, the deterioration of offspring from "breeding in" depends on the question, whether the blood of the parents is purely of one variety. They say that if it is, no depreciation appears. But if the parents are of a mixed stock, "breeding in" results in a rapid decline of the progeny.

This curious fact may perhaps throw some light on the difficult question whence Adam's son's drew their wives without incest. We, who hold to the unity of the race, must answer that they married their own sisters. Must we admit then, that an act which is now monstrous, was then legitimate? Does not this admission tend to place the law against incest among the merely positive and temporary precepts? The only reply is that the trite say, "Circumstances alter cases," has some proper applications even to problems essentially moral. The peculiar condition of the human family may have rendered that proper at first, which, under changed conditions became morally wrong. Among these circumstances, was the purity or homogeneity of the blood. There was absolutely but the one variety of the human race, so that deterioration of the progeny by physical law could not follow. But now, in consequence of the dispersions and immigrations of the race, the blood of every tribe is mixed, and breeding in becomes a crime against the offspring. But we know too little of the scanty history of the first men, to speculate with safety here. The command to replenish the earth was given to Adam and Eve in their pure estate, in which, had it continued, incest, like every other sin would have been impossible. Who can deny, but that the marriages contracted between the sons and daughters of the first parents, after the fall, were sinful in God's eyes? It is not unreasonable to suppose that, thus, the very propagation of the degraded race, to which its present earthly existence under the mercy of God is due, began in sin and shame; that its very perpetuation is the tolerated consequence of a flagrant crime!

Every Christian Church and commonwealth has acted on the belief, that this Levitical law fixes, for all subsequent time the degrees within which marriage is lawful. The second question is touching its interpretation. We must either assume that every degree within which God designed to prohibit marriage is expressly mentioned in the law, or that the prohibitions mentioned are representatives of classes. The former construction is excluded by this thought; that it would have permitted cases of incest precisely as unnatural and monstrous as those so sternly forbidden. Why should it be a crime for a man to marry the widow of his deceased brother and legitimate for a woman to marry the husband of a deceased sister? Hence all sound expositors are agreed in this view. That when marriage within a given relationship is forbidden, this excludes the connection between other corresponding degrees of the same nearness. The law in some cases, as in verse 10, extends itself on this principle, and thus confirms our construction.

Rome and many other corrupt Churches, while allowing marriage to be lawful for laymen, yet exalt celibacy as a state of superior purity and excellence. She seeks to find ground for this, in such passages as Matt. 19:1-13; 1 Cor. 7:34. We set her plea aside, by showing that the New Testament only advises celibacy as a matter of prudence, (not of sanctity) in times of persecution and uncertainty. Rome's doctrine finds its real origin in the philosophy of the Gnostics and Manichcean who regarded the flesh as the source of all evil, and hence its propagation as unholy. The same error led them to deny Christ's corporeal humanity, and the resurrection of the body. It needs no refutation here. That "marriage is honorable in all," we argue from man's very nature, as male and female; from the fact that God instituted it for man in Paradise; from the example of the holiest prophets; from the fact that it is the chosen type of Christ's union to his Church; and from its necessity to the existence of man's most holy social affections, as the maternal.

Sins Against Seventh Commandment To Be Rebuked With Sanctity.

A supposed obligation of propriety and delicacy has usually kept our pulpits silent concerning the sins of unchastity, and hence, no doubt, in large part, the shocking callousness and unsoundness of public opinion concerning the sins of its breach. It is my opinion that this omission should be corrected by the pastors. When I say this, I would not by any means be understood as encouraging ministers to disregard any sentiment of delicacy or propriety which may exist. On the contrary, all such sentiments, where not positively false, are to be honored by him, and he should be, in all his conversation, the model of delicacy. But there is a guarded and holy way of discussing such subjects, which clearly reveals chastity and not pruriency as its temper, and purity as its object. This is the style in which the pastor should speak on these difficult subjects.

5. Scope of Eighth Commandment.

In discussing the eighth commandment, we proceed from the duties of chastity to those of commutative justice. The scope of the command is to protect the rights of property.

Under the simple head of "stealing" it "forbids whatsoever doth or may unjustly hinder our own, or our neighbor's wealth and outward estate " and "requireth the lawful procuring and furtherance of the wealth of ourselves and others." This exposition implies that there is a sense in which a man may steal from himself. While there is a sense in which our property belongs to us, and not to our neighbor, and his to him, and not to us, yet we are all stewards of God, and in the higher sense, all property belongs to Him. Obviously then, God's property right may be as much outraged by our misuse of what is lawfully in our stewardship, as by interfering with an other's trust. The forms in which the worldly estate of our neighbor may be wronged, are innumerable. The essence of theft is in the violation of the Golden Rule as to our neighbor's property. The essence of stealing is the obtaining our neighbor's goods without his intentional consent and without fair market value returned. However it may be done, whenever we get from our neighbor something for nothing, without his consent, there is theft.

Special Sins and Duties Under It.

This commandment requires us, as to our own worldly estate, to practice such industry as will provide for ourselves and those dependent on us a decent subsistence to eschew idleness, which is a species of robbery practiced on the common hive by the drone; to avoid prodigality; and to appropriate our own goods in due proportion to their proper uses. The commandment, as it applies to our neighbor's wealth, forbids robbery, or forcible taking, theft, or taking by stealth, all swindling and getting of property by false presence; forestalling and regrating in times of scarcity; wastefulness, tending to the greed for other's wealth, extortion, embezzlement of public wealth, false measures and weights, contracting debts beyond the known ability to pay, eating usury, gambling, infidelity in working for wages, or in the quality of things manufactured for sale, availing oneself of legal advantages for evading obligations morally binding.

12. Right of Possession Whence.

But what is the origin of the moral rights of possession? The sense of meum and tuum is one of the earliest rational ideas developed, and continues to be one of the strongest. But its ethical origin has been much debated. Some have reasoned that in a state of nature, it arose out of first possession. But is not priority in finding and possessing a natural object, a mere accident? And if men are naturally equal in rights, as these persons always assume, can it be that a mere accident determines the moral right? Some, therefore, desert this theory, and suppose that the right of possession in a state of nature, arises out of the expenditure of some labor on the object possessed. This theory, again, fails to account for many cases, where no labor is bestowed, and yet the right is perfect, and it is moreover, unreasonable. Jurists incline much to make property the mere creature of civil law. This is evidently erroneous. For the right of property must precede civil society, being one of the foundations on which it is built. These futile surmises illustrate the folly and defect of a philosophy which insists on proceeding upon mere naturalistic grounds. These men leave out God, the most essential, and in a true sense, the most natural member of the theorem, and they assume a "state of nature," in which no creature ever rightfully existed. No wonder, therefore, that their solution is abortive. Now, the truth is, that there is but one perfect source for a right of property, creation out of nothing, and consequently, but one natural proprietor, God the Maker. The only rational solution of the existence of a right of property in man is also the scriptural one, that contained in the second and ninth chapters of Genesis, God's gift of the world and its contents to man, as His tenant. Our individual interests in the gift are, then, based on the golden Rule, and properly regulated in detail by the laws of civil society. This position is vital to our security. For on any lower theory of right, an invasion of property may be plausibly justified whenever the majority persuade themselves that it is most politic.

13. Usury, Not Unlawful, If Moderate.

The question whether all usury, or hire for the use of money, is not unrighteous, was much debated by mediaeval moralists. The usual argument against it was that money coin, had in it no power of increase. A box of coin, said these Scholastics, is not like a measure of corn, capable of germination and increase, it is as barren, if left to itself, as the gravel of the Sahara. It is labor only (or nature) which multiplies values. Hence to exact hire for money is taking something for nothing, essentially theft. And the legislation of Moses, which prohibited the taking of any usury from brother Hebrews, was misunderstood, and then cited to confirm their conclusion.

If their premises were true, their conclusion would be valid. Money is not, in fact, fruitless, and utterly devoid of a power of reproduction. It is a mere illusion to compare the box of coin to a box of barren gravel. For money is the representative of values; it is its purchasing power, and not its metallic constitution as simple matter, which makes it money. Now values are reproductive. Capital has a true power of increase. The multiplication of values is by the combination of capital and labor. If labor fecundates capital, it is equally true that capital arms labor for success. Hence, it is just as fair that capital lent should receive its just hire, as that labor should.

It is interesting to notice that the Bible never commits itself to any erroneous philosophy, no matter how current among men. The Hebrew laws, properly understood, do not condemn all usury as sinful. They permit taking reasonable usury from Gentiles and forbid it from their brethren. Nor was this permission as to Gentiles an expression of hostility towards them. The system of Moses harbored no such spirit, but taught the Hebrews to regard Gentiles (except the Amorites) as neighbors. On the contrary, the taking of a fair hire for money lent, lawful and reasonable in itself, was only forbidden as to their Hebrew brethren, as one instance of that special fraternity and mutual help, which God enjoined on them as pensioners upon His land. The case stands on the same footing with the prohibition to glean the fields, to beat the olive groves, or to take up the sheaf casually dropped on the road. These things were exacted, as special contributions to their more needy brethren. The law of the case may be seen in Ex. 22:25; Lev. 25:36, 37; Deut. 23:19, 20; Neh. 5:7, 8; Matt. 25:27.

14. Buying and Selling Under the Law of Charity.

When we take advantage of the urgent necessities of our neighbor, in buying or selling, we sin against both honesty and charity. If our neighbor is compelled by his wants to sell some commodity, for whatever he can get, that fact does not make that commodity worth less than the market price to you who buy it. If he is compelled to have some commodity instantly, whatever it may cost him, that fact does not make it worth more than the market price to you who sell it to him. If therefore, you take advantage of his necessity, to force him to sell you his goods for a lesser price than you yourself would give if you could not take this advantage, you rob him of the difference. And it is fraud committed under peculiarly base circumstances. For his necessity, instead of arousing your cupidity, ought to excite compassion. Instead of taking advantage of his necessities, you should charitably aid in relieving them. Such measures are excused, I know, by saying that he makes the bargain voluntarily, or that his necessity makes the price which you give him, actually worth to him individually, in his circumstances, what he gave in exchange for it. To these heartless excuses there is one answer, which at a touch, exposes their worthlessness, "Do unto others as ye would they should do unto you." How would you like to have your necessity thus abused? And yet, how many men are there who watch, like harpies, for these opportunities to make what they call a good bargain.

It is much to be feared that one chief trait of modern civilization is its fertility in expedients by which theft may be committed without incurring its social and legal penalties. The Wise Man has said, that "money answereth all things." Its purchasing power commands all material, and many intellectual values. Hence the desire for money, or avarice, is the protean and all including affection. Money gratifies ambition, pride, all sensual appetites, in a word, all the appetencies which make up the "carnal mind." Hence the eighth commandment, is, in a peculiar sense, the perpetual object of invasion and assault in the daily lives of worldly men. With the multiplication of the expedients and combinations for creating wealth, opportunities by which astute men can abstract their fellow's possessions without just equivalent, are enormously multiplied. The intricacies of finance, the power of boards of directors sitting in secret to enhance or depreciate the values entrusted to them; the vastness and complication of the business and obligations of the great corporations who are debtors to multitudes of private persons, rendering the credit of the former a question utterly unfathomable to their creditors; the unscrupulous means for blighting the credit of securities; and a thousand other arts of like character, enable the adepts to filch from their neighbors vast aggregates of wealth. All these measures are but disguised thefts. And alas, they constitute a large part of modern methods of business. The sudden accumulation of a large speculative fortune can rarely be innocent, and ought not to be the object of any Christian's desire. So, the concealment from the vendor of a recent increase in the value of what he sells, in order to buy it for less than its worth is an injustice exactly parallel to the concealment of a defect in the thing sold for the purpose of getting more than its worth. Those who plead for this urge that their special knowledge is their private property, which they have a right to use for their own profit. The answer is, that knowledge affecting a joint transaction, like bargain and sale, where two parties' rights are equitably involved, is not private property, and cannot be monopolized without violating the law of love. It should be admitted, that when merchants employ their means and industry to collect useful commercial intelligence, a fair compensation for that use of capital and labor should be a part of the lawful profits of traffic. But when this power of knowledge is pressed beyond that limit, it becomes a breach of the precept. It is to be feared, that the chief practical obstacle to the proper exposition of it is the consciousness, that it would "cut too deep," and condemn inexorably the larger part of what nominal Christians practice.

1. Scope of Ninth Commandment.

We hold that the general scope of the Ninth Commandment is to enjoin the virtue of Truth, as represented, according to the usual method of the Decalogue, under the capital duty of fidelity in public witness bearing. This precept "requireth the maintaining and promoting of truth between man and man, and of our own and our neighbor's good name, especially in witness bearing." It "forbiddeth whatsoever is prejudicial to truth, or injurious to our own or our neighbor's good name."

2. Grounds of Duty of Veracity.

The duty of veracity is founded on the nature and importance of God's will enjoining truth. Truth may be said to be the using of signs by which we express or assert anything, contrary to our belief of the real state of the thing spoken of.

Only Real Communications Useful.

All the practical concerns of man's life are with the real state of things. Fictitious information are, to us, naught, or worse than naught. They may fatally betray us into mistake. They cannot be the grounds of any beneficial or successful action. On the real state of the markets depends the merchant's profits. On the real power of the medicine depend the physician's success and the sick man's restoration. On the real nature of vegetable laws depends the reward of the farmer's toil. In every conceivable concern of man it is truth, the communication which is in accordance with reality, that is useful. Accordingly, our Maker has endued us with a mental appetite of which truth is the natural food. The statement on which we cannot rely gives no pleasure. True, another faculty than the understanding, the fancy, finds its appropriate pleasure in fiction. But here also a tribute is paid to the truth, for in order that the fictitious may give any pleasure to the fancy, even, it must be truth like.

Knowledge Chiefly Derived.

Now veracity is the observance of truth in our communications. Its importance appears from the fact that almost all that man knows is derived from communication. The whole value of the statements we receive is in their truth. If they are false they are worth nothing, or worse than valueless.. The usefulness of communicated knowledge to us, depends, therefore, wholly on our confidence in its truth. Every lie helps to destroy that confidence. Just so far as we perceive lies prevail, so far the value of communicated knowledge to us is destroyed. Should we reach that state when no trust could be put in the veracity of any fellow man, all such knowledge would, to us, virtually, cease to exist. But to what a state would this reduce us? We proudly call the brutes dumb; indicating that it is man's gift of speech mainly, which separates us from beasts. It is this which enables us to receive facts and ideas besides our own. The wise teach the ignorant. The skill of each generation does not die with it, but it is communicated to the next. Knowledge is handed down, until our generation finds itself endowed with the accumulated experience of all previous ones. It is this which makes our civilization. But if all reliance upon communicated knowledge is destroyed, we are reduced to a state of savage ignorance, but little above that of the higher animals. We should know nothing but what we had ourselves seen and experienced, because we could trust nothing else. Education would be impossible. For how can knowledge be communicated when truth is banished? We must continue to exist in that infantile ignorance in which the child begins life, except so far as our own unaided efforts might instruct us, at the cost of suffering and perhaps of destruction. The advance which each individual made in such a condition, would wholly die with him; his son must begin life as he did, an ignorant savage, and run the same contracted round of puny, misdirected progress, and in his turn die, carrying all his knowledge to the grave with him. The latest generation would live in the same savage ignorance with the earliest. Religion would be as impossible as education, and all its blessings and consolations equally unknown; for religion cannot exist without trust. Each one of you would be an insulated, helpless, wretch, more completely deprived of society than the gregarious herds. He who deals in falsehood does what in him lies to bring his race to this degraded and miserable state. If all men should be false like him, and in all their communications, this state would be actually reached.

Lies Destroy Confidence.

It may be shown in another light that the liar is the enemy of God and man, by considering the effect of his vice on our mutual confidence. The intercourse of human business is but a countless series of implied engagements. Unless we can trust the fidelity of those whom we must employ, cooperation is at an end. If you cannot trust the postman who contracts to carry your letters, the conductor who guides the vehicle in which you ride, the pilot who steers your ship, the agent who transacts your business, the cook who engages to dress your food, you can neither write, nor ride, nor sail, nor eat, nor conduct any trade. Government would be at an end, because the ruler could not trust his agents and officers, and his power would be limited to his own presence. In short, if confidence is destroyed then all the bands which unite man with his fellow are loosed, each man must struggle on unaided by his fellows, as though he were the sole forlorn remnant of a perishing race. Confidence is as essential also, to all the social affections which shed happiness on the heart as to the utilities of our outer life. It is the basis of friendship and love. To mistrust is to despise. To trust, to be trusted with unshaken faith, is the charm of domestic love.

Falsehood Upturns Affection.

Were there no truth then, every fellow man would be your enemy; you would be insulated from your kind; every social affection would take its flight from the earth. Man would be reduced to a solitary miserable savage, "whose hand would be against every man and every man's hand against him." Even the animals must, in a certain sense, keep faith with each other, in order to make their gregariousness possible. Even savages must cultivate fidelity to truth within some narrow limits, or else the extermination of their scanty existence would speedily follow.

Indeed the conditions of savage society are sufficient illustrations of my conclusions; for when you examine into the causes of its barbarism; when you detect why savages are, compared with civilized men, few, poor, wretched, insecure and unfurnished with all the blessings which ameliorate life; you perceive that it is because falsehood and unrighteousness have made trust, mutual aid, and instruction almost impossible among them. They remain such, only because they cannot trust each other. Savagery is simply sin, and most notably the sin of lying.

Truth In Order To All Morality.

Not only is veracity a virtue, but truth is, in a certain sense, the condition of all other virtues. Hence it is that in many places of the Bible, truth is almost synonymous with righteousness. The "man that doeth truth" is the man that does his duty. The godly man is "he that speaketh the truth in his heart." To "execute the judgment of truth" is to execute righteous judgment. This language is profoundly accurate. The motive of every act which has moral quality must be a reasonable one, and truth, as we know, is the appointed light of the understanding. I mean that no man does a truly virtuous act unless he has an intelligent reason for doing it. But how can the mind see a reason unless it finds it in some truth? Consider, further, that all the inducements to right actions are in the truth, but all the inducements to wrong acts are false. Error and sin are kindred evils, as truth and holiness are handmaid and mistress. Truth is the instrument by which the Holy Spirit sanctifies the soul (John 17:17). Thus we find its most exalted value in this, that it is the means of redemption for a ruined world. It is as beneficent as falsehood is mischievous. The one is our guide to heaven; the other leads to hell.

There is a world just such as the liar would make his, where falsehood reigns and where confidence is unknown. There, in its fiery lake, all liars have their part. The ruler of this world is he who "was a liar from the beginning and the Father of it." There, to deceive and be deceived is the universal rule, and therefore mistrust sits brooding over every heart, and scowls in every look. Each one beholds in every other an object of fear and scorn, and feels an equal scorn for himself, because he knows himself as false as they. In the midst of myriads each suffering heart is alone, for it finds no other breast on which it can repose. Hostility and solitude separate each wretch from his fellows, and the only society is the reciprocation of reproaches and injuries. Hell is but the complete and universal reign of falsehood, and the tendency of every lie is to reduce our world to it.

If we weigh these things we shall see the grounds of that practical truth, that the virtue of veracity is the foundation of all right character. Says the French proverb. Qui dit menteur dit aussi larron. And a more infallible proverb asserts that "If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man." (Jas. 3:2). Hence a sacred regard for truth should be included, especially in the case of the young, and they should be taught to regard lying as the inlet of all vice and corruption.

In thus illustrating the usefulness and importance of the practice of veracity, I do not intend to rest its obligation on that ground. These facts are merely subordinate to the argument. They illustrate, but do not constitute, the obligation, and even for this use, their chief value is, that they are instances under a general truth, leading us to it. That proposition is, that truth is natural to man's soul. It is the appointed pabulum anions. As the eye craves light, so the mind loves the truth. It is the natural instinct of the mind, undebauched by a sinful experience, to credit what is told it by any rational fellow and it requires the bitter experience of deceptions often repeated to curb this tendency. While we are limited to the sphere of philosophy and natural theology then, we find the obligation to truth in these fundamental facts, which reveal the will of the Creator as it is impressed on the constitution of the soul. "To those therefore, who would ask. Why am I bound to speak the truth? I would briefly answer. Because it is the law of our nature it is the fundamental datum of conscience, a command of God impressed upon the moral structure of the soul." It follows hence that the obligation is universal, and is not conditioned, as Paley intimates, on any implied promise given by the speaker. When we pass from philosophy to revelation, we find a still broader and deeper foundation for the obligation to truth, in the nature of that God "who cannot lie," who is the "God of truth," His precepts are the sure and sufficient rule of our duty. He has told us that "every liar is abomination in His sight," and has required us to speak truth one to another.

Every right habit of action (consuetudo ) implies a right disposition (habitus ) of will. This general law should be enough to convince us of another great fact, which is too often overlooked in ethical discussions of this duty, that there is a virtue of truthfulness, back of the practice of veracity, and the source of it, which we are bound to possess. This is the love of truth for its own sake. The virtue in its last analysis is not a habit qualifying the actions and words, but an active principle qualifying the will itself. Just as in any other class of moral acts, the act is moral simply because of the active principle which is regulative thereof. No more is needed than to state the truth. And this truth dissolves, at a touch, the vain assertion that the intelligence acts by its necessary logical laws and therefore irresponsibly to the conscience. On the contrary, the intelligence acts always under strict responsibility to the conscience, and man is responsible for his mental beliefs.

3. Evil Speaking, What?

The malignancy of the sin of slander is a terrible vice, and we know that to assert untrue evils belong to our neighbor is wicked. Doing so assails him with undue injury at a dear point to him, his good name, and such malign behavior is usually also attendant with secrecy and treachery (Jas. 3:6, 7). However, it is also likewise a sin to speak forth truths about one's neighbor, and to accuse him even if he stands guilty. True, there are times when one must speak out against ill conduct, and a righteous man will not fear to speak. But it is a sin against our erring neighbor to give unnecessary currency to his faults. "Charity rejoiceth not in iniquity." The fact that our neighbor has truly sinned does not place him outside the pale of charity, nor does it entitle us to inflict on him any unnecessary injury or pain. Moreover, the recital of evil, true or false, has a natural tendency to familiarize the soul with it, to defile the memory and imagination, and to habituate the mind and conscience to wrong. It is, especially to the young, a real misfortune to have to hear of that which is morally foul. This mischief should never be carelessly wrought by detailing sins, no matter how true, without necessity.

4. Are All Deceptions Lies? Negative Argument.

Many Christian moralists have held that there are intentional deceptions which are not breaches of the ninth commandment, and are innocent in God's sight. They describe these, as the cases where the person deceived had no right to know, and where the result of the deception was righteous and beneficial; as when a robber or murderer is misled away from his victim by an innocent deception; or where a defensive army deceives an invader by stratagems. Their arguments are chiefly that the parties deceived, in such cases, being engaged in a wicked design, have no right to the benefits of veracity as between man and man. That the best men, as Joshua, Washington, when commanders of armies, made adept use of stratagems and the common conscience of mankind approves, and would count it morbid conscience and insane quixotry, to refuse such means of defense. That many instances are recorded, of Bible saints as Abraham, Moses, Joshua, who prosperously employed concealment and stratagems, (see for instance, Joshua 8:3) and that there are even cases in which God or Christ seems to do the same; as in the assumption of a human body, Gen. 18:2; in the walk to Emmaus, Luke 24:28. They add, also, that the consistent enforcement of the opposite doctrine would many times be suicidal and preposterous.

There are however, those who hold that absolutely "no lie is of the truth." They admit indeed, that it is a man's privilege, where no right exists to demand information of him, to keep silence, or use concealment. But they assert that, if he employs any signs by which it is usually understood information is conveyed, he must employ them absolutely according to reality, and that in no case can he intentionally produce a deception, without the sin of lying. They argue in general, that the opposite license proceeds upon a utilitarian theory of obligation. But this theory is false, and as no finite mind can correctly judge the whole utility or hurtfulness of a given declaration in its ulterior consequences, no practical basis or rule of obligation would be left at all. To the instances of deception in war by great patriots, and their approval by the world, they reply that good men are imperfect, and commit errors, and that the public conscience is unhealthy. To the instances of Bible saints they say with justice, that often the errors of good men are recorded for our instruction, when they are by no means sanctioned. As to the instances claimed, from the acts of the Messiah concealment is not deception; His appearance in human form, without at first disclosing His divinity, was not a suggestio falsi, but only a concealment of His nature until the suitable time. So, His seeming to design a Journey farther than Emmaus was a mere question propounded to the disciples. As to the inconveniences of absolute truth, sometimes extreme, they point to the obligations laid upon the martyrs, and remind us, that it is no rare thing for Christ to require of us obedience rather than life. In fine, they urge that on any other ground than theirs, no tenable or consistent rule remains, and we have a mere point of honor requiring us to speak truth under certain contingencies, instead of a fixed rule of moral obligation.


It must be confessed, that the reasons of the latter party are more honorable to the divine authority, and more elevating and safe, than those of the former. The replies given to a part of their arguments are also valid. I would add that it is of perilous tendency and obviously erroneous, to represent one's obligation to speak truth as only correlated to the hearer's right to receive a true communication. Man could never be safely trusted to judge for himself when his fellow man had that right. Indeed, on that basis, human declarations would be practically worthless; for the hearer must always remember that the speaker's word can only be accepted as conveying truth, provided he secretly judges the hearer to be entitled to it; and of this proviso there can be no assurance not encumbered with the same fatal condition. Again, it is very far from being a general truth, that our duties are only correlated to the rights of their objects. Thus, I may be under a high obligation (to God) to bestow alms on my undeserving enemy. And this suggests the still stronger answer; that God, and not the hearer, is the true object on whom any duty of veracity terminates. God always has a right to expect truth of me, however unworthy the person to whom I speak.

Yet the sober mind cannot but feel that there is an extreme to which the higher view cannot be pushed. I presume that no man would feel himself guilty for deceiving a mad dog in order to destroy him, or for misleading an assassin from his victim when helpless otherwise, to prevent murder. But it is more important to say, that, in at least a few cases, as in Joshua 8:2, God Himself authorized a designed deception for the purpose of punishing the guilty. As His authorizing Joshua to exterminate the Amorites proves that all killing is not murder, so, does not His authorizing him to deceive them prove that all deception is not lying? Hence, I would offer, with diffidence, another statement of the matter, which may be found to contain the reconciliation of the difficulty. Under what circumstances is killing by man no murder? Is not human life sacred, and the property of the Maker alone? The law answers. Man may kill, when the guilty life is forfeited to God, and He authorizes man to destroy it, as His agent. So, I conceive, extreme purposes of aggression, unjust and malignant, and aiming at our very existence, constitute a forfeiture of rights for the guilty assailant. During the dominance of his active malice, they dehumanize him as to his intended victim. his life is forfeited to the superior right of self-defense. That right emerges, and the man attacked innocently slays the assailant. By the rule that the greater includes the less, may he not also deceive him for a righteous purpose? One advantage of this view is that it gives this right of deception only in the extreme case where life is maliciously assailed. And the argument is not the same we discarded, which made the duty of veracity correlative only to the hearer's right to truth. For my plea is this assailant not only has no right to it, he is out of the category of beings to whom truth is relevant, for the time. He is not a rational man, but a brute. It may be asked with much force, has this outlaw for the time being, a right to truth, after he has forfeited the right to existence? Does not the greater forfeiture include the less? Is he not, pro tempore, in the category of a beast of prey? But the moment he is disabled from aggression, or turns to a better mind, his rights to truth revive, as do his claims on our charity and forbearance. Hence, while the good man will righteously deceive his invading enemy with stratagems, the moment a flag of truce appears, or his enemy is disabled and captured, he is bound to act with as perfect sincerity as towards his bosom friend. I would add, regarding this concession, that if an innocent man makes a vow, promise, or engagement to his unrighteous assailant, under whatever violent threat, or other inducement, he is bound to the faithful performance of that engagement, unless the thing promised is sin per se. For the engagement was voluntary, he had the option of choosing to make it or endure the threatened evil. The good man is one who "sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not," Ps. 15:4.

5. Papal Division of 10Th Commandment.

Rome, as we saw, having suppressed the 2nd Commandment, divides the 10th in order to make out the requisite number. Her 9th Commandment is, "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house," and her 10th, "Neither shalt thou desire his wife." Her plea is, that houses are typical of property, and wives of those things which excite sensual desire. The 9th Commandment, therefore, forbids covetousness; the 10th, lust and appetite. But unfortunately, the "ox and ass," obvious "property," are in the latter part and in Deut. 5:21, where Moses recites the Decalogue literally, he puts the wife first, and the property second. There is no basis for the distinction. For what is property craved by sinners? Only for its instrumentality to satisfy some appetite or sensual desire. The general unity of the subject, besides, proves that it was one command.

Its Scope.

It may be said, in brief, that this command finds the keynote of its exposition in the text. "Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life." The five commands of the second table cut off the streams of transgression; this deals with the fountain head. The others forbid wrong volition; this forbids concupiscence, as tending thereto. In the 10th Commandment, then, we have the crowning spirituality of the Law, thus making it complete, and in every way worthy of God, and adapted to man as a rational free agent.

6. Decalogue Only From God.

In closing this subject I would offer two remarks. The first is upon the admirable comprehension, wisdom, and method of the Decalogue. We have here ten simple and brief precepts, each one commending itself to the natural conscience of the most unlearned, simple in word, few in number, unostentatious in arrangement. When we first look at them, we are inclined to think that, while they are very true and good, there is nothing very wonderful; that they are obvious things which any good man might utter, and to a much greater number than ten. But when we examine them in detail, we find that they are the heads of all the branches of man's duty, arranged with the most logical order, presenting nothing superfluous, and yet, with all their brevity, omitting nothing of all the vast circle of human duty! How clear their purity and justice! How amazing their comprehension! What completeness! Let human ingenuity hunt out some branch of human duty which is omitted. It cannot. In these ten words, we have a system of morality more wise and complete than human wisdom ever devised. Now, we ask, whence did Moses get these ten words? A man of an unlearned and pastoral race, educated in the learned follies of Egypt, whose theology and morals, as they are revealed to us by Herodotus and the modern decipherers of their monuments, show an impurity and puerility utterly opposite to the Bible, goes into a waste desert, and after forty years, comes forth with this strangely wise and perfect law! Whence did he get it? There is but one rational account—that given by the Bible—that it was written for him by the finger of God. Unless Moses was an inspired man, then he has produced a miracle of wisdom more incredible than all the difficulties of inspiration.

7. What Does Every Sin Deserve.

Our Catechism, while recognizing the greater gravity of some sins than others, by reason of their aggravations, teaches us that, "Every sin deserveth God's wrath and curse, both in this life and that which is to come." The exceeding demerit of sin, and its desert of eternal and grievous punishment is a doctrine which meets with obstinate resistance from sinners. It is urged that to make the desert of any sin such is to revive the old Stoic absurdity, of the equality of all sins; for if the lesser sin is punished and so the greater cannot be punished more. The answer is, that infinities are by no means all equal; as we have shown.

To clear this awful truth of the desert of sin, from the cavils of unbelief, I would observe, first, that sinful men are in a most unlikely attitude to judge correctly between themselves and God, in this matter. They naturally desire to break the law. Our emotions always blind the judgment to the objects which are opposed to their current. They are condemned by the law of God, which fact produces a natural jealousy of it. They have their moral judgments brutified by the universal habitude and example of sinning, amidst which they live. It would be almost a miracle, if there were not, under these circumstances, a perversion of the moral judgments here.


But affirmatively the ill-desert of sin is infinite, because of the excellence, universality, and practical value of the law broken by it. Because of the natural mischievousness of sin to the sinner himself; as was illustrated when I spoke of Adam's first transgression. Because of the Majesty and perfection of the Law giver assailed by transgression. Because sin is committed against mercies and blessings so great. Because it violates so perfect a title to our services, that of creation out of nothing. And last, because it is so continually multiplied by transgressions.

Men deny the demerit and guilt of sin, because they are so in the habit of attempting to measure transgression as the civil magistrate does, insulated from all its attendants and sequels. Does the court, for instance, indict a man for murder? The act is considered by itself, and the court does not concern itself with antecedent character, or with results, save as they throw light on the intention or evidence. Now men mislead themselves by these examples, as though an omniscient God could, or would judge sins against himself in this partial, fragmentary way. In denying the gravity of sin against God, they seem to have before them some such case as this. Here is one actual sin committed by a man, which God is to judge, as expressive of no moral state preexisting in the man, as destined to breed no repetitions, as exercising no influence to form a vicious habit in the agent's soul, and as carrying no consequence into his own immortal character or those of his fellows. The caviler seems to think the question is. Has God declared a single act thus insulated, by itself worthy of eternal penalty? I reply that neither the caviler nor I know anything of that question. For in fact, God can never have such a case to judge, because it can never arise. Every case which He has to judge is that of a sinner, not of a sin, and in weighing any one act, the omniscient mind will, of course, look at it as it really occurs, with all its antecedents, connections, and consequences. Is it an oath? God sees in it, first, a specific breach of the 3rd Commandment; then, an expression of preexistent sentiments of willfulness, irreverence, levity or malice, in the profane man; then thirdly, an evil influence on spectators, to be propagated, unless grace intervene, forever; fourth, a confirming influence, intensifying the wicked temper and habit; and last, a natural tendency involving a series of increasing profanities forever. In a word, God, as final and omniscient judge, has to judge each sinner as a concrete whole, and each transgression as identical, part, and cause, as well as fruit, of a disease of sin, a deadly, spiritual eating cancer, whose tendency is to involve an immense evil, eternal death. Thus judged, sin is an infinite evil, and deserves an eternal penalty. One reason why God punishes forever is that the culprit sins forever. God's point of view is, that this everlasting series of sins is the fruit of the first rebellion.

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