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would be an easy thing for God to set fire to our globe. All that would be needed, would be to increase the proportion of one or two of the ingredients of our atmosphere. The naturalist can descry, in the volcanic craters which afford vent in different parts of the globe for the terrible agents that are struggling within, the vast reservoir of internal fires, which, at the Creator's will, can rend and melt this globe of ours. There is no want of the agents or supporters of combustion. The very laws of nature, if disturbed, as they sometimes have been, though now they work for its safety, would just as easily work for the world's destruction. It is the will and the hand of God that holds them in abeyance, and makes them subserve the purposes of life and happiness. They possess no necessary perpetuity. But the moral government of God is immutable, like himself; and he bas declared, that it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away, than one tittle of the law to fail. The word of the Lord shall stand, and he will do all his pleasure. But it is his will, that bis moral law and constitution should remain forever inviolate.
In view, then, of this important truth, how unspeakably foolish and delusive are the sinner's hopes! God declares that salvation is far from the wicked, and that escape is forever impossible for those who persist in violating his laws, and reject the only remedy which heaven has provided to obviate the consequences of their past rebellion. Yet what multitudes indulge hopes and schemes of bliss which are sustained and prosecuted in direct wanton violation of the law! Their sensuality and selfishness, their profanity and impiety, their falsehood and treachery, their avarice and cruelty, demand punishment, and will secure it, if they reject the boon of heaven, and refuse to return as humble penitents, and submit to the divine sway. On the basis of personal merit they can never stand, having once violated the law. However trivial they may allege their offence to have been, God will not allow one tittle of his law to fail. Another method of salvation is impossible. If the righteousness of Christ be rejected, there is no remedy, and there can be none other than delusive hopes.
The benevolence of God also appears distinctly in view of this subject. His law was made wisely, and was designed and adapted for the happiness of his subjects. Just in proportion to the strength of his benevolence, therefore, must he adhere to that law and enforce its provisions.
How utterly insecure and dangerous, too, must be the state of
that nation which throws off the restraints of God's good and wise and holy law, and whose rulers and governors will not recognise his authority and its prescriptions in their legislation and administration of justice! Egypt, and Nineveh, and Babylon, and Greece, and Rome, and other nations of ancient and modern ages, afford illustrations of the stability of God's word, and of the utter insecurity, yea, certain eventual destruction, of that people who will not give glory to God, and reverently observe his laws. We have had examples of his retributive justice already in the history of our own country; and if these United States will, by their constituted authorities and their popular habits, set at nought his will, and trample his law beneath their feet, desecrate his Sabbath, profane his name, disregard the solemn sanctions of his oath, violate public faith, disrespect obligations, and substitute their will and wisdom for his, we too shall learn, in our sad history, that there is a God which judgeth righteously in the earth, whose sway extends as well to nations as to individuals.
It will be but a poor pretence to urge that, as the God of nature, he may be treated with respect; but that the very genius of our government prevents us, as a people, from recognizing and honoring him as the God and Father of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. The God of nature is the God of grace; and he is Governor among the nations. To distin. guish between these revelations of the same Being, and that for the purpose of treating his mediatorial scheme with practical contempt or neglect, will only secure the merited vengeance of that dread Being, who will not allow the violations of his law and the rejection of his counsels, to pass unpunished.
Whether as individuals or nations, the reason and the means of destruction will be found the same, and the result as sure. Opposition to, or neglect of the constitution of God, will and must prove fatal. It is madness, for either the private individual, or the public functionary, or the authorities of a nation, or the mass of a people, to expect that God will annul his law. Few, if any, would dare to avow such an expectation. But what says their conduct ? Examine that, not only the conduct of the openly profane and vicious, but of those whose behavior is the most externally correct. Penetrate their secret thoughts, which they wrap up in darkness to conceal the horror of them from themselves, and it shall be seen, that there are not wanting those who madly hope to overcome God. Is it
asked who they are ? It is the fool-hardy soldier that brares danger, affronts death, and marches with undaunted step amidst fires and flames, but has never repented of his sins and committed his soul to Jesus Christ.
It is the foolish maddened votary of false honor, the miserable slave of cowardly fears which prevent him from manly independent exercise of his own judgment and will, and from submitting to the dictates of his own conscience, who ventures in single combat with his fellow man, and seeks by shedding blood to atone for the dishonor or the injury which he thinks have been done to him. It is the statesman, who pursues the suggestions of party wisdom, tramples the law and Sabbath of the Lord beneath his feet, and fears not to be guilty of state crimes, and to disclaim all practical respect for Jesus Christ and his religion. It is that proud philosophical stoic, who conceits himself to be superior to all the ills and vicissitudes of life, and lives in neglect of the law and worship of God. It is that luxurious son of wealth, who trusts in his riches and felicitates himself in their abundance. It is that voluptuary, who scoffs and sneers at all denunciations of divine vengeance, and turns away from all representations of heaven and hell, of eternity and damnation, and seeks to drown reflection in his
his amusements and diversions. In a word, they are who live in the violation of the law of God, and promise themselves escape from wrath, and bliss hereafter; when God hath said, “It is easier for heaven and earth to pass than for one tittle of the law to fail.”
EXPOSITION OF JEPHTHAH's Vow, Judges 11: 30-40.
By Rev. Xenophon Bette, Vermillion, Ohio.
This vow of Jephthah belongs to the class which Moses describes (Lev. 27) as “ singular vows,” i. e., vows which were not prescribed particularly or required; something of the nature of free-will offerings. Jephthah was moved by the Spirit
of God to stir up the children of Israel, and lead them to war against their oppressors, the children of Ammon. As he, with his host, was ready to go against their enemies, “ Jephthah vowed a vow unto the Lord, and said, If thou shalt, without fail, deliver the children of Ammon into my hands, then it shall be, that whatsoever cometh forth of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the children of Ammon, shall surely be the Lord's, and (margin, or, Heb. 1) I will offer it up for a burnt offering,” 30, 31. He went out, was successful, and on his return to his house, his daughter, an only child, came out first to meet him, and it is said, he “ did with her according to his vow which he had vowed : and she knew no
The question arising on this passage is, What was the import of Jephthah's vow? This being settled, it settles the question, what he did with his daughter, for it is expressly said, be “ did with her according to the vow which he had vowed."
The import of the vow depends on the manner of rendering the conjunctive particle , whether it is used copulatively or disjunctively. It is well known that the structure of the Hebrew language admits of either. This particle has the same force as the Greek xai, which may signify either and or or, both or either. Its meaning is to be determined by the subject with which it is connected. Hence the margin of our Bible gives the disjunctive rendering to the particle in this case.
The vow will then read, “Whatsoever cometh forth of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the children of Aminon, shall surely be the Lord's, or I will offer it up for a burnt offering.” With this rendering, the fulfilment of the vow will imply that Jephthah, in some peculiar way, devoted his daughter to the Lord (probably to some such service as led to, or required, a life of celibacy).
The design of this article is, by establishing the marginal reading as the correct one, to remove a difficulty from the passage which strikes many minds with horror, and throws a dark shade over the character of Jephthah. With the marginal reading, the passage does not teach that Jephthah immolated his daughter, but that he devoted her to the service of God in some peculiar way, and thus to a life of celibacy. We are led to adopt the marginal as the true reading from the following considerations :
1. From the nature of singular vows. The account and reg
ulation of singular vows, or voluntary devotements, is found, Lev. 27. Such vows respected persons, clean and unclean beasts, houses, and lands. In respect to persons, the rule was, “ When a man shall make a singular vow, the persons shall be for the Lord by thy estimation," v. 1. Then follows a rate of estimation according to the age and sex. In respect to clean beasts, " whereof men bring an offering unto the Lord, all that any man giveth of such unto the Lord shall be holy," v. 9. There was no estimation put upon such devotements, and no condition of redemption. If it was an unclean beast, it was to be presented before the priest, and by him valued. It might then be redeemed by adding one-fifth to the value of it. Ofihe rules and conditions of other devoted things, it is not necessary to speak, as they could not be embraced in the condition of Jephthah's vow, - Whatsoever cometh forth of the doors of
my house to meet me." This could respect only the persons of his household, or the beasts of his possession. Now, by adopting the marginal reading, the language of the vow was exactly adapted to the rule respecting singular vows. A person, or an unclean beast, was to be the Lord's,' i. e., for his service; but clean beasts, those whereof men bring an offering unto the Lord, were to be holy, i. e., should be offered in sacrifice. His vow was, it “ shall surely be the Lord's, or I will offer it up for a burnt offering.” This embraced all the possible alternatives. If it should be one of his household, or a beast, which it was not proper to offer in sacrifice, it was to be separated to the Lord's service: but if it should be a beast, whereof men bring an offering to the Lord, then he would offer it up for a burnt offering.
2. The context favors the marginal rendering. There is nothing in the context, aside from the language of the vow, which would lead us to suppose that Jephthah put his daughter to death. All that is said in relation to his vow is, that he did with her according to the vow which he had vowed," which, as we have seen, necessarily signifies no more than that he, in a peculiar manner, according to the conditions of the singular vow, gave her to the Lord, probably including, devoting her to a life of celibacy. This is all that is required to explain the context; and some parts of it are better explained by this interpretation, than by supposing that he offered her up for a burnt offering. This will fully explain Jephthah's grief at meeting her. The context specifies that she was his only child. His