« PreviousContinue »
Now what the curse of children upon parents would be may be seen by what God's curse upon Israel would be when they walked not in his ways, saying, “Cursed shalt thou be in thy field, cursed shalt thou be in thy basket and thy store, cursed shall be the fruits of thy land, and the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep,” et cetera. Thus God's curse was to withhold the precious fruits of the earth, and to reduce and take away
their kine and their sheep, and to diminish their daily food in their basket and in their store. Thus if children refrain from ministering to the necessary wants of father and mother by supplying them not with food and raiment, that is what is meant by cursing father and mother; and children which were found guilty of this offence, God commanded that they should be put to death.
Therefore all laws and enactments that men may frame which absolve children from their obligations to their parents at the age of twenty-one years, more or less, are null and void, because they come in conflict with God's law; and no wise and good children will ever avail themselves of such improper and nefarious laws, but will honour their father and mother, that their days may be long upon the earth.
THE LAW OF MARRIAGE
When the Lord created man upon the earth, and then every beast of the field, and every owl of the air, and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them, and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof, and as Adam walked about by himself, the Lord God said to his fellows, “ It is not good that the man should be alone, I will make him an help meet (that is ‘fit and suitable ') for him. And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept, and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; and the rib which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my Aesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife, and they shall be one flesh ” (Gen. 2: 18-25).
The fact that Eve was created of part of Adam's own body, of his own flesh, and of his own bones, so that she was actually bone of his bone, and flesh of his flesh, is intended to teach a man when he takes a wife what his actual relations are to his wife, before both God and man. Consequently it is said after God had formed Eve of a portion of Adam's body and given her to him to be his wife, “Therefore (because of these facts as stated) shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife, and they shall be one flesh.” This is God's law of marriage, and this is the relation that a man and his wife when joined together sustain to each other; and when they have entered into that relation, neither of them has any power lawfully to dissolve that relation. It is dissolved by death only; then the surviving party is at liberty to marry again without violating God's law of marriage.
The Law of Marriage and Divorce It is said by Matthew that the Pharisees also “ came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read that he which made them at the beginning, made them male and female, and said, For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother and shall cleave to his wife, and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” This interpretation by the Son of man confirms the original law with emphasis saying, “What God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.”
THE LAW OF DIVORCE "They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? He said unto them, Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, suffered you to put away your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery, and whoso marryeth her that is put away doth commit adultery."
Jesus lopped off the nullifying precept which Moses gave to the children of Israel because of the hardness of their hearts, for this precept was no doubt given to prevent them from doing something worse. But Jesus restored the law of marriage to its original condition, as it came from the hand of God at the beginning; and in its restored condition as it was established by the Son of God it stands as the law of his church; and by this law, members of the body of Christ must be governed and judged.
Therefore, excepting for the cause of fornication, if a husband put away his wife for any other cause, or if a wife put away her husband for any other cause and marries again to another, they are guilty of adultery; and let the persons who are unwise enough to marry either of those divorced persons know and understand that by so doing they are guilty of adultery before God and Christ; and to live together as man and wife with these persons is to live in a state of adultery, and the children which may be born of such an unlawful union are the seed of falsehood.
The Exception Matthew records the words of Christ as follows, saying (5:32), "But I say unto you that whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery; and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced, committeth adultery." There is therefore one exception in which it is lawful for the innocent wife or husband (for this is a rule which works both ways) to divorce, or put away his or her companion and be free from the guilty party,— that is if either party commit the sin of fornication. This the Lord Jesus Christ pronounces a justifiable cause by which the innocent one may, and should, go free, for this reason, that if either husband or wife go and commit fornication with another, by that act they themselves put asunder what God has joined together, and again become one flesh with another, even as the apostle Paul testifieth in his first letter to the Corinthians (6:16) saying, “What! know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he (Gen. 2: 24), shall be one Alesh.”
Thus Paul shows plainly that if persons join themselves to an harlot, according to the original law which says, " They twain shall be one flesh," they become one Alesh with the harlot that they join themselves to. Therefore by this act of fornication they cut asunder what God had joined together, which sets the innocent free; and being set free, they may then again marry another, but not the party to whom they were married before, because saith the Prophet Jeremiah (3:1), “They say, if a man put away his wife, and she go from him, and become another man's wife, shall he return unto her again ? shall not that land be greatly polluted ?”
Now this rule again works both ways insomuch that if a woman puts away her husband because he has gone and joined himself to an harlot, shall she return to him again? The answer is No, for such wickedness would greatly pollute the land where things like these would be practised and tolerated. And I think that we are justified in saying that the land is greatly polluted in these days by the open violations of the laws of God the Father, and Jesus Christ his Son, touching these matters; for loose laws are enacted by the legislatures and governments of states and countries in matters of marriage and divorce, and unwise and ignorant people who know not God, nor regard his laws, gladly avail themselves of them, insomuch that divorces are freely granted for the most trifling causes, other than the one only cause that the Scriptures recognize; and these unwise people appear not to realize that they stand before God and Christ as adulterers and adulteresses, and their numbers are being multiplied so rapidly that the land is polluted with them, and the curse of God will surely follow upon such wickedness; and although God is merciful and long-suffering toward those who walk in pride and trample his laws under his feet, yet there is a limit beyond which, when people go, God rebukes them. Therefore it is written, “Thou hast rebuked the proud which are cursed, which do err from thy commandments (Ps. 119:21). And it must be remembered that when God's rebuke comes, it is effectual in its work.
Now while we are commanded to submit ourselves to the ordinances of man for the Lord's sake, and to obey magistrates, and to be subject to governments, yet there is one exception to this good general rule. Where human laws and human traditions are contrary to, and render God's law void, and when we have to choose between the two as to whether we will obey God rather than men, and keep God's laws rather than men's laws, we must needs follow the example of the apostles in such cases. For when the apostles were arrested by order of the chief priests and rulers of Israel for preaching through Jesus the resurrection from the dead, and were brought before them for examination, and when they were commanded and threatened, saying, "Speak not at all, nor teach in the name of Jesus," then Peter and John answered and said unto them, “Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you, more than unto God, judge ye, for we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard."
THE SUBJECT OF PRAYER Before closing this part of our manuscript we think it essential to say something upon this important subject, as Jesus spake a parable to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint, and the apostle says, “ Pray without ceasing, and in everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." It is our duty therefore and our privilege to pray for whatever we are authorized to expect at the hand of the Lord. The apostle John says, “If we ask anything according to the will of God, he heareth us.” God's will is revealed in the Holy Scriptures, and without that revelation we would not know how to pray, or what to pray for. “Godliness,” saith the apostle, “is profitable unto all things, having the promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come. Therefore the blessings of this present life are matters of promise, and therefore proper things to pray for, as well as those things which appertain to the life which is to come at the resurrection of the just. Food and raiment, life and health, and all the blessings and comforts obtainable and enjoyable in moderation, according to God's will, in the present time, are all necessary things to pray to our Heavenly Father for.
Paul said to the idolatrous Lycaonians at Lystra, “God in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways, nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.” This witness of the faithful God continues, attesting the great truth that he still remembers his covenant with Noah, and with all that came out of the ark, that “while the earth remaineth, seed time and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.” Thus the precious fruits of the earth that are brought forth and developed by the returning seasons are all evidences of the goodness of God and are matters of promise, and therefore proper subjects of prayer. But it may be said that all these things will come, whether we pray for them or not, and so we might add, the kingdom of God will come whether we pray for it or not, yet we are commanded to pray " Thy kingdom come,” and by so doing we express our personal faith in God's promises, and our interest in their fulfillment, and our attentiveness to what he has said he will surely bring to pass.
The glory, honour, and immortality of the ages to come, are matters of promise for which we pray; and those who live in the days of miracles could pray for and receive things in answer to their prayers that we cannot receive now, and for which no properly instructed person would pray, knowing that if they prayed for them they would get no answer. For instance we must not look for an immediate and instantaneous interposition of the power of God in answer to prayer for healing the sick, curing the lame or blind, or casting out devils, or doing any of these wonderful and supernatural works which were done by the hands of the apostles, for the confirmation of the word of the Gospel which they were sent out to establish among men, for when this great work was accomplished, then those supernatural powers were withdrawn (Heb. 2:3-4). Nevertheless it is manifestly proper to desire and pray for the restoration of the sick to health from infirmities that may be cured by those natural remedies which God has provided in the world for the purposes of curing many of the ills that flesh is heir to, but there are always many natural and physical defects and infirmities which no art of man employing natural remedies, can possibly alleviate, but which can only be done by the immediate interposition of the power of God. Therefore to pray for the healing of such, in our day, would be absurd, and manifest the grossest ignorance of divine things on the part of those who should thus pray.
Jesus did not specify any definite time when prayer should be made, but commanded us to watch and pray, lest we should enter into temptation; but the time is indicated by the morning and evening sacrifices. In the Psalms it is said, “ Evening, morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud, and he shall hear my voice" (55:17). Daniel was accustomed to express the desires of his heart in prayer to God three times a day.
All persons who pray to God should be careful to remember the Scriptural injunctions concerning prayer.
The form and manner of prayer we are taught by the mediator himself, the very person through whom all prayers and petitions are to be presented to the Father. For even earthly princes give directions and ordain rules and customs that must govern those who would approach their presence to ask petitions of them, and how much more the King of Kings, the great creator and upholder of the universe, who has also revealed his will, and made known, and that specially by the hand of his Son, how his worshippers shall approach him, and what shall be the manner and nature of their thank offerings and prayers; and these instructions must be observed if we desire that our prayers shall be heard, and our petitions granted.
Those ignorant and misguided people who persist in vain repetitions like the heathen, who also think that they shall be heard for their much speaking and who, like the hypocrites, make long prayers for a pretence, virtually say by their conduct to the Mediator between God and man, the Lord Jesus Christ, When you were upon earth, you sketched out a short form of prayer, as a model after which the prayers and petitions of worshippers were to be fashioned, but upon trial, it has been found wholly inadequate to the wants and necessities of pious people, affording entirely too little scope for the outpouring of devotional feeling; for many pious people, powerful in prayer, cannot in so short a time pour out what is in them, for before they could properly get their voices up to the proper pitch, and their feelings properly
Amen ” would cut them short. Therefore in this thing forgive thy servants, even as Naaman the Syrian desired to be forgiven when he should go into the house of Rimmon, and bow down with his master.
But it is written, "God is in heaven, and thou upon the earth; therefore let thy words be few." Brevity in prayer, says the Mediator, is required from the fact that your Father knows what things ye have need of before ye
ask him. Therefore, being neither ignorant, deaf, nor on a journey, or asleep, it is not necessary that his worshippers should enter upon a long, tedious, and detailed account of matter wearisome to God and man, nor to cry aloud like Baal's prophets. The petitions and statements of the Lord's prayer constitute a model prayer, for it is said, After this manner shall ye pray.” This prayer is brief but very comprehensive, containing much in small compass, thus teaching us that words uttered before God should be well pondered, so that what we say will be to the point, and free from all repetitions, and superfluities. Again, at the Lord's table, the Master gave thanks, first for the bread, after that for the wine, thus showing that words appropriate for the bread and afterwards words appropriate for the wine should be uttered