Page images

ishment, as if he had been guilty of impiety towards God him. self. When we offer facrifices to him, we do it not in order to surfeit ourselves to be drunken; for such excelles are a. gainst the will of God, and would be an occasion of injuries and of luxury ; but by keeping ourselves sober, orderly and ready for our other occupations, and being more temperate than others. And for our duty at the sacrifices themselves, we ought, in the first place, to pray* for the common welfare of all, and after that for our own: For we are made for fellowship one with another, and he who prefers the common good before what is peculiar to himlelf is above all acceptable to God. And let our prayers and supplications be made humbly to God, not [lo inuch that he would give us what is good, (for he hath already given that of his own accord, and hath propoled the same publicly to all) as that we may duly receive it, and when we have received it, may preserve it. Now the law has appointed several purifications at our sacrifices, whereby we are cleansed after a funeral, after what sometimes happens to us in bed, and alter accompanying with our wives, and upon many other occasions which it would be too long now to let down. And this is our doctrine concerning God and his worship, and is the same that the law appoints for our practice.

25. But then, what are our laws about marriage ? That law owns no other mixture of sexes but that which nature hath appointed, of a man with his wife, and that this be used only for the procreation of children. But it abhors the mixture of a male with a male ; and if any one do that, death is its punishment. It commands us alío, when we marry, not to have regard to portion, nor to take a woman by violence, nor to perfuade her deceitfully and knavilhly, but to demand her in marriage of him who hath power to dispose of her, and is fit to give her away by the nearners of his kindred ; for says the Scripture, Aüomanis inferior to her husband in all thingst. Let her, therefore, be obedient to him; not ļo, that he should abuse her, but that she may acknowledge her duty to her husband; for God hath given the authority to the husband. An husband, therefore, is to lie only with his wite whom he hath married ; but to have to do with another man's wife, is a wicked thing, which if any one ventures upon, death is inevitably his punishment: No more can he avoid the same, who forces


* We may here observe how known a thing it was among the Jews and heathens in this and many other instances, that sacrifices were fill accompanied with prayers; whence most probably came thote phrases of the sacrifice of prayer, me la. crifice of praise, the facrifice of thanksgiving." However, thoie ancient forms used at facrifices are now generaily lost, to the no linall damage of true religion. It is here also exceeding remarkable, that although the teinple at Jerusalem was built as the only place where the whole nation of the Jews were to offer their sacrifices, yet there is no mention of the sacrifices themselves, but of prayers only, in Solomon's long and famous form of devotion at its dedication, 1 Kings viii. 2. Chr, The War above, B VII ch. v. 6 6 vol II.

+ This text is 140 where in our prefent copies of the Old Teftament.

a virgin betrothed to another man, or intices another man's wile. The law, moreover, enjoins us to bring up all our offspring and forbids women to cause abortion of what is be. gotten, or to destroy it afterward; and if any woman appears to have so done, the will be a murderer of her child, by destroying a living creature, and diminishing human kind ; if any one, therefore, proceeds to {uch fornication or murder, he cannot be clean. Moreover, the law enjoins, that after the man and wife have lain together in a regular way, they fhall bath themselves ; for there is a deflement contracted thereby both in soul and body, as if they had gone into another couo. try ; lor indeed the soul, by being united to the body, is fubject to miseries, and is not freed therefrom again but by death; on which account the law requires this purification to be en tirely performed.

26. Nay indeed, the law does not permit us to make fefli. vals at the births of our children, and thereby afford occasion of drinking to excels ; but it ordains, that the very beginning of our education should be immediately directed to fobriety. It also conimands us to bring those children up in learning, and to exercise them in the laws, and make them acquainted with the acts of their predecessors, in order to their imitation of them, and that they might be nourilhed up in the laws from their infancy, and might neither transgress them, nor hare any pretence for their ignorance of them.

27. Our law hath also taken care of the decent burial of the dead, but without any extravagant expences for their fune. rals, and without the erection of any illuftrious monuments for them ; but hath ordered that their nearest relacions should perform their obsequies, and hath shewed it to be regular, that all who pass by when any one is buried should accompany the funeral, and join in the lamentation. It also ordains, that the house and its inhabitants should be purified after the funeral is over, that every one may thence learn to keep at a great dil. tance from the ihoughts of being pure, if he hath beea once guilty of murder.

28. The law ordains allo, that parents should be honoured immediately after God himlelt, and delivers that son who does not requite them for the benefits he hath received from them, but is deficient on any such occasion, to be stoned. It allo says, that the young men should pay due respect to every el. der, fince God is the eldest of all beings. It does not give leave to caceal any thing from our friends, because, that is not true friend lhip which will not commit all things to their fidel. ity : It also forbids the revelation of secrets, even though an cnmity arise between thein. It any judge takes bribes, his punishment is death : He that overlooks one that offers him a petition, and this when he is able to relieve him, he is a guilty person. What is not by any one intrusted to another, ought not to be required back again. No one is to touch another's

goods. He that lends money must not demand usury for its loan. These and many more of the like sort are the rules that unite us in the bands of society one with another.

29. It will also be worth our while to see what equity our legislator would have us exercile in our intercourse with stran, gers ; for it will thence appear, that he made the best providon he possibly could, both that he should not dissolve our own conftitution, nor shew any envious mind towards those that would cultivate a friendlhip with us. Accordingly our legillator admits all those that have a mind to observe our laws lo to do, and this after a friendly manner, as csteeming that a true union, which not only extends to our own stock, but to those that would live after the same manncr with us : Yet does he not allow those that come to us by accident only, to be adipitted into communion with us. · 30. However, there are other things which our legislator ordained for us beforehand, which of neceflity we ought to do in common to all men ; as to afford fire, and water, and food to such as want it; to lhew them the roads ; nor to let any ong lie unburied. He also would have us treat those that are elteemed our enemies with moderation ; for he doth not allow us to let their country on fire, nor permit us to cut down thole trees that bear fruit; nay farther, he torbids us to spoil those that have been flain in war. He hath also provided for such as are taken captive, that they may not be injured, and espe. cially that the women may not be abused. Indeed he hath taught us gentleness and bumanity so effectually, that he hath not despised the care of brute beasts, by permitting no other than a regular ule of them, and forbidding any other; and if any of them come to our houses, like supplicants, we are for. bidden to to flay them : Nor may we kill the dams, together with their young ones ; but we are obliged, even in an ene. my's country, to spare and not kill those creatures that labour tor mankind. Thus hạth our lawgiver contrived to teach us an equitable conduct every way, by using us to such laws as instruct us therein ; while at the same time he hath ordained, that such as break these laws should be punished, without the allowance of any excuse whatsoever.

31. Now the greatest part of offences with us are capital; as if any one be guilty of adultery; if one force a virgin ; if any one be so impudent as to attempt sodomy with a male, or if, upon another's making an attempt upon him, he submits to be so used. There is also a law for llaves of the like nature that can never be avoided. Moreover, if any one cheats another in measures, or weights, or makes a knavish bargain and sale, in order to cheat another ; it any one steal what belongs to another, and takes what he never deposited, all these have pu. nishments allotted them; not such as are met with among other nations, but more severe ones. And as for attempts of unjust behaviour towards parents, or for impiety against God, though VOL. III.

R 3

they be not actually accomplished, the offenders are destroy ed immediately. However, the reward for such as live exactly according to the laws, is not silver nor gold; it is not a garland of olive branches or of Imallage, nor any such public sign of commendation ; but every good man hath his own conscience bearing witness to himself, and by virtue of our legislator's prophetic spirit, and the firm lecurity God himself affords such an one, he believes that God hath made this grans to thole that observe these laws, even though they be obliged readily to die for them, that they shall come into being again, and at a certain revolution of things shall receive a better life than they had enjoyed before. Nor would I venture to write thus at this time, were it not well known to all by their ac. tions, that many of our people have many a time bravely resolved to endure any sufferings, rather than speak one word a. gainit our law,

32. Nay indeed, in case it had so fallen out, that our nation had not been so thoroughly known among all men as they are, and our voluntary submission to our laws had not been so open and manifest as it is, but that somebody had pretended to have written these laws himself, and had read them to the Greeks, or had pretended that he had met with men out of the limits of the known world, that had such reverent notions of God, and had continued a long time in the firm observance of such laws as ours, I cannot but suppose that all men would admire them, on a reflection upon the frequent changes they had therein been themselves subječt to ; and this while those that have attempted to write somewhat of the same kind for politie government, and for laws, are accused as composing monitrous things, and are said to have undertaken an impossible task upon them. And here I will say nothing of those other philo fophers who have undertaken any thing of this nature in their writings. But even Plato himself, who is so admired by the Greeks on account of that gravity in his manners, and force in his words, and that ability he had to persuade men beyond all other philosophers, is little better than laughed at and esposed to ridicule on that account, by thole that pretend to fagacity in political affairs ; although he that shall diligently peruse his writings, will find his precepts to be somewhat gentle and pretty near to the customs of ihe generality of mankind. Nay Plato himselt confesseth that it is not safe to publish the true notion concerning God among the ignorant multitude. Yet do some men look upon Plato's discourses as no better than certain idle words set off with great artifice. However, they admire Lycurgus as the principal lawgiver, and all men celebrate Sparia for having continued in the firm observance of bis laws for a very long time. So far then we have gained, zhat it is to be confessed a mark o! virtue to submit to laws.*

* It may not be amils to fa down here a very remarkable teftimony of the gre But then let such as admire this in the Lacedemonians compare that duration of theirs with more than two thousand years which our political government hath continued ; and let them farther consider, that though the Lacedemonians did seem to observe their laws exactly, while they enjoyed their liberty, yet that when they underwent a change of their fortune, they forgat almost all those laws ; while we having been under ten thousand changes that happened among the kings of Asia, we have never betrayed our laws under the most presling distrefles we have been in; nor have we neglected them either out of sloth or for a livelihood.t Nay, if any one will consider it, the difficulties and labours laid upon us have been greater than what appears to have been borne by the Lacedemonian fortitude, while they neither ploughed their land, nor exercised any trades, but lived in their own city, free from all such painstaking in the enjoyment of plenty, and using such exercises as might improve their bodies while they made use of other men as their servants for all the necessaries of life, and had their food prepared for them by the others : And thele good and humane actions they do for no other purpose but this, that by their actions and their sufferings they may be able to conquer all those against whom they make war, I need not add this, that they have not been fully able to observe their laws ; for not only a few single persons, but multitudes of them have in heaps negleéted, thole laws, and have delivered themlelves together with their arms, into the hands of their enemies.

33. Now as for ourselves, I venture, to say, that no one can teli of lo many, nay not more than one or two that have betrayed our laws, no not out of fear of death itlelt.; I do not mean luch an easy death as happens in battles, but ibat which comes with bodily torments, and seems to be the feverest kind of death of all others. Now I think those that have conquered us have put us to such deaths, not out of their hatred to us when they had subdued us, but rather out of their delize of seeing a surprising light, which is this, whether there be such men in the world who believe that no evil is to them so great as to be compelled to do or to speak any thing contrary to their own laws! Nor ought inen to wonder at us, if we are more couragcous in dying for our laws than all other men are ; for other men do not easily submit to the ealer things in which we are instituted; I mean working with our hands, and eating but little, and being contented to eat and drink not at random, or at every one's pleasure, or being under inviolable rules in lying with our wives, in magnificent furniture, and

philosopher Cicero, as to the preference of laws to philofophy: I will,” says, he 4 boldly declare my opinion, though the whole world be offended at it. I prefer this little book of the Twelve Tables alone to all the volumes of the philosophers. I find it to be not only of more weight, but also much more useful.” De Oratore.

# Or, we have observed our timus of reft, and forts of food allowed us, Lduring our distresses.)

« PreviousContinue »