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in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles; that they looked for a city which had foundations, whose builder and maker is God; that they confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth, and thereby declared plainly that they were seeking and desiring a country, that is, a heavenly one. Should not we also feel that we are yet in the wilderness? that here we have no continuing city? and that this is not our rest? Powerfully indeed this Jewish festival teach us not may to take up our home and habitation here, as if we were fixed and established for ever; but rather to look upon ourselves as sojourners and wayfaring men, inhabiting tents of perishable and frail materials which are soon to be taken down. Oh! that it might teach us to live, according to Apostolic instruction, as those who know that "if the earthly house of this our tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens."
THE PENAL CODE OF THE MOSAIC LAW.
LEVIT. XXIV. 14.
Bring forth him that hath cursed without the camp; and let all that heard him lay their hands upon his head, and let all the congregation stone him.
In several preceding sermons I have been endeavouring to give you a general view of the Jewish law, as it established and ordered their religious services, and to shew you how those services, consisting almost entirely of sacrifices, typified the great truths of the gospel. You would probably perceive that I omitted some chapters in this book of Levitians preceding that from which I took my last text, which chapters contain most of those offences which are called capital, and
were to be punished with death. As the circumstance to which the present text refers was one of those offences, it is my intention to give you in this sermon as brief a view as I can of the penal code of the Jews. I have endeavoured to collect from the various parts of the scriptures those crimes which were to be punished with death, and I will place them before you in a general view previous to our consideration of the particular circumstance of the present offence. And you will bear it in mind that I am now to speak of a law which was given by Almighty God himself, and entirely by his own appointment for the government of that people, which he had especially chosen, and to which he revealed his will.
The offence which stood at the head of all the criminal law was Idolatry. This was the greatest crime of all, being a direct renunciation of God, and a transgression of his first and greatest law, "Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve." It was uniformly to be punished
No commutation, no expiation
could be made for it under the Jewish law. And not only so, but if any person should attempt to seduce another into idolatry, he also should be put to death, however near a relation, or however dear to natural affection, he might be. The law run thus, (Deut. xiii. 6) "If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other Gods; thou shalt not consent unto him nor hearken to him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him: but thou shalt surely kill him, thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people." So if any of their cities should fall into idolatry, the rest of the nation were to go against it, and “smite the inhabitants of that city with the edge of the sword, destroying it utterly, and all that was therein." Those also who made any approach to idolatry by professing witchcraft, or having familiar spirits, were surely to be put to death, being stoned with stones.
Moreover, against all those that sought after such as had familiar spirits, and were wizards, though the law was not to be executed upon them by the people, yet God would set his face against them, and they should be cut off from among his people. Such was the case with king Saul, who went to consult the witch of Endor.
Next after these came the crime of Blasphemy. This was another grievous sin against God, and is the offence to which the text refers. Also presumptuous sabbath-breaking, of which an instance is found in Numbers xv. 32, in the man who gathered sticks on the sabbath-day, ranked in the same class.
Great and wilful Contempt of the authority of parents or of the chief magistrate of the land, was also another capital offence. Every one that cursed his father or mother should surely be put to death. Also every stubborn and rebellious son, who would not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that when they had chastened him, would not hearken to them, was to be brought before the elders, and being judged