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God reserved to himself the punishment of those who broke this law by consulting the diviner. A striking admonition against the sinful practice is contained in Lev. xx. 6; Deut. xviii. 9—13. The fate of Saul showed that these commands were not to be disregarded with impunity, 1 Chron. s. 13. The folly as well as the guilt of such inquiries is exposed by the prophet, Isa. viii. 19, xliv. 25, xlvii. 13; and the impotence and helplessness of the sorcerers were shown, both in Chaldea and Egypt, where they were especially regarded, Exod. viii. 19, ix. 11; Dan. ii. 27, 28, iv. 7. A similar failure is threatened to the deceivers in later times, 2 Tim. iii. 8, 9; 2 Pet. ii. 1-3.
The prevalence of such customs among the heathens is well known, Ezek. xxi. 21. Even the enlightened Ephesians, in later times, used curious arts, which they renounced on receiving the gospel, Acts xix. 19. The sorcerers, who abused their powers of mind to deceive the ignorant, like Elymas, Acts xiii. 6, and Simon, Acts viii. 9, were always strongly opposed to the preaching of the word of God; and the eastern magicians, in later times, have evinced a similar spirit of enmity, being well aware that there is no agreement between the true God and idols; but wherever the Lord comes the idols are moved at his presence. Isa. xix. 1 ; even as Dagon of old fell before the ark of God. 1 Sam. v. 3.
THE SECOND COMMANDMENT. The Second Commandment stands almost word for word in Exod. xx. 4–6, and Deut. v. 8–10. It is as follows :
_“ Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth : thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them : for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;
and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.”
Here must be noticed the precepts for abolishing idolatry, and destroying all traces of it. See Exod. xxiii. 24, with the fuller explanation, Deut. vii. 25, 26. The whole of the latter chapter refers to the subject, as does also Deut. xii. 2, 3. These directions in their details are not binding on us now, but surely professed Christians should be more
careful on this subject than they often are. There is far too much trifling with idolatrous figures, and the recognised symbols of idolatrous worship, whether as to the pictures and statues honoured by the ritual of the church of Rome, or the mythology of the ancient heathens, from which the latter have, in many cases, been borrowed, as is clear to all who have attentively looked into the subject. The Ashtaroth of the Zidonians and Assyrians, (1 Kings xi. 5, Judg. ii. 13,) was the Venus of Greece and Rome, and the great Diana of the Ephesians. A personification of the whole frame or course of nature, was worshipped in still earlier times, as the queen of heaven, Jer. vii. 18. Many of their titles and attributes were, in the early days of popery, transferred to the virgin Mary; and the celebrated statue of St. Peter at Rome is in fact an image of the idol Jupiter. Other Romish rites and festivals have their origin in paganism; but the subject is too extensive for further discussion in these pages. Perhaps the above remarks will sufficiently show how contrary it must be to the principles of the Second Commandment, to introduce such images into buildings set apart for Christian worship. If symbolical representations are required there, they might be taken from the types and emblems of the Bible, as Hervey shows in his dialogue between Theron and Aspasio. Here may be applied the caution of St. Paul, 1 Cor. x. 20, 21.
Some writers have given particular descriptions of the heathen idols, but these may well be passed over with a few brief remarks. The weeping for Tammuz, Ezek. viii. 14, was an idolatrous custom observed in the month of Thammuz, or June, on account of the death of a youth called Adonis, who was said to have been slain by a wild boar, and the most impure observances were joined with it. The processions and ceremonies used by idolaters were very numerous. Both the worshippers and sacrificial victims appeared with garlands of flowers, and libations or drink-offerings were poured out upon them, a custom to which St. Paul alludes, 2 Tim. iv. 6; Phil. ii. 17. It was impossible to mingle with the heathen without learning some of their works, Psa. cvi. 36–39; Numb. xxv. 1, 2; 1 Kings xi. 1–8; and how mercifully it was ordered by God that the Hebrew nation should be a barrier or check to the prevalence of idol worship, which otherwise would have overspread the world, Rom. i. 20-25. In
reference to this sin alone does God describe himself as jealous, Exod. xxxiv. 14 ; Isa. xlii. 8; and in the warnings which he gave to his servants the prophets, he compares it to adultery and whoredom, so as to set forth most plainly its extreme guilt, Ezek. xvi. 15; xx. 30; Hos. ii. 5—7. Many other quotations might be added, in which the sin and folly of idolaters are fully described, as Isa. xliv. 12–20; Ps. cxv. 2–8. We read of Dagon, the god of the Philistines, was a figure half man and half fish, and probably commemorated the tradition of Noah's preservation: : see 1 Sam. v. Some remarks on them may be found as referring to the fine arts at pp. 97—99.
The conclusion of the second commandment claims attention. It was afterwards wilfully misapplied by the Jews, Ezek. xviii. 2. Yet Scripture and experience clearly prove that they who turn away from the sins of their parents, have no cause to fear, Num. xiv. 31, though, alas! this is seldom found to be the case, for how often,
“ Trained by bad parents in an evil way,
Children grow up more reprobate than they.". And the evil consequences must be familiar to every observant mind. A few of the most striking texts which bear on this point, may be mentioned: Gen. ix. 25; xiv. 16 ; 1 Kings xi. 36-38; xv. 26-30; xxi. 29; 2 Kings xv.
12; 2 Chron. xxxvi. 14–16; Ezra ix. 14; Zech. i. 4; Matt. xxiii. 35; 1 Thess. ii. 16.
THE THIRD COMMANDMENT.
The Third Commandment reads the same in Exodus and Deuteronomy: “Thou shalt not take the name of The LORD thy God in vain ; for the LORD will not hold him guiltlesss that taketh his name in vain.” Deut. v. 11; Exod. xx. 7.
This commandment includes all false oaths and vain and profane swearing, Lev. xix. 12. There are many instances in Scripture of solemn oaths being administered and taken. Thus, to go no farther, in the case of Rahab, Josh. ii. 17; and the Gibeonites, Josh. ix. 15; and the oath between David and Jonathan, 1 Sam. xx. 3–17. We may read on this subject Deut. vi. 13; Psa. Ixiii. 11; Isa. xlv. 23.
Several enactments show that an oath was to be regarded as solemn and binding, Lev. v. 4; Num. xxx. 2 ; and there was considerable difficulty felt as to being released from an oath as well as to being engaged by one, if it was unlawful, Josh. ix. 20; Ezek. xvii. 15. As for the wicked oaths prevalent in later days, they certainly are included under profaning the name of the Lord, but they rather may be considered as blasphemies, and that this command has especial reference to solemn engagements by the deliberate and solemn use of the name of the Lord. In all the applications of the word "profane,” to the name of the Lord, it is evident that actions are meant even more than mere words, as Lev. xx. 6; xxi. 2.
THE FOURTH COMMANDMENT,
Exod. xx. 8—11.- Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: but the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God : in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy man-servant, nor thy maid-servant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates : for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea,
Deut. v. 12–15. – Keep the sabbath day to sanctify it, as the Lord thy God hath commanded thee. Six days thou shalt labour, and do all thy work : but the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God : in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy manservant, nor thy maid-servant, nor thine ox, nor thine ass, nor any of thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is
and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.
within thy gates; that thy manservant and thy maid-servant may rest as well as thou. And remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the Lord thy God brought thee out thence through a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm: therefore the Lord thy God commanded thee to keep the sabbath day.
There are also many other passages of Scripture which enjoin the observance of this institution, which was not first given from Mount Sinai, but had existed from the creation, Gen. ii. 2, 3. The very word “Remember," proves that it had previously existed, and therefore this command is binding on all men, and not on the Jews only. The following texts more fully point out the duties connected with the observance of the sabbath, Exod. xxiii. 12, xxxi. 13–17; Lev. xix. 3, 30; xxiii. 3; and xxvi. 2.; Jer. xvii. 21–25; Ezek. xx. 12, 24; Isa. lvi. 2, 4, 6, and lviii. 13, 14; Neh. xiii. 15—22; and show that a special blessing was promised to those who regarded it. In many other works a fuller statement has been given, both of the motives for obedience to this command, and of the manner in which it was misapplied by many of that nation; and the subject must not here be overlooked, for it is a point on which the prosperity of individuals, families, and nations closely depends. The example of presumptuous disobedience, recorded in Num. xv. 35, was a breach of this command.
Christians observe the first day of the week for their sabbath, in remembrance of the resurrection of their Lord (See p. 283). But if the time be altered, the spirit and manner in which it is to be kept, even as holy unto the Lord, must remain unchanged, Rev. i. 10; and where this rule is practised, a blessing will surely follow. Even outward holiness and seriousness will produce a degree of peace and comfort; but still more blessed are they who are enabled to make the Lord's day “a kind of transfiguration day," as it has been beautifully described, “shedding a mild glow upon every object, and enabling us to view the concerns of time in connexion with those of eternity.”
It was the well known remark of one of the greatest men who ever filled the office of an English judge, that according to his observance of the sabbath, he found his