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Private and Domestic Obligations.
PURITY IN EVERY RELATION OF LIFE.
NOT IN THE LUST OF CONCUPISCENCE, EVEN AS THE GENTILES WHICH KNOW NOT GOD: TIIAT NO MAN GO BEYOND AND DEFRAUD HIS BROTHER IN ANY MAT
TER, BECAUSE THAT THE LORD IS THE AVENGER OF ALL SUCH, AS WE ALSO HAVE
FOREWARXED YOU AND TESTIFIED. FOR GOD HATH NOT CALLED US UNTO UN-
Verg. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. “And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak
unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, I am the Lord your
ye not do: and after the doings of the land of Canaan, whither
live in them: I am the Lord.” The Lord prefaces the laws he is to lay down in this chapter by very solemn declarations of his sovereignty,
I am Jehovah," and of his relation to them as a reconciled God, “ I am your God.” He sets before them his
* The general principles and precepts are, anun,“ judgments ;” the "statutes," nipm, are special details under these heads. Dat is what your very nature binds you to observe, and what depends on the arbitrary appointment of God.
authority and his constraining love. He knows our frame; and he sees that man resents interference with his liberty in daily life and private actions, more than in anything else; therefore, to silence objection, and to draw the will, he adduces his sovereignty and his love.
Besides, nothing is so directly fitted to subdue lust as a full recognition of the glorious Godhead and his presence in the soul. The sweetness and blessedness of a present God causes a holy, heavenly satisfaction in the soul that altogether banishes impure desire. Hence 2 Peter i. 4, “Partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust."* And in Rom. i. 23, 24, the root of uncleanness is said to be, “ They changed the glory of the incorruptible God.” In vers. 25, 26, the origin of vile affections is declared to be, “ They changed the truth of God into a lie, and served the creature ;" and in ver. 28, 29, it is plainly stated, that their not liking to retain God in their knowledge was the cause of the "things not convenient, unrighteousness, fornication,” that followed.
In ver. 5, he subjoins another motive, namely, life to be found in them. This might mean, here, that God's appointments are the sinner's sign-posts, by which he learns how to go to the city of refuge, and how to keep on the way of holiness. But if, as most think, we are to take, in this place, the words “ live in them,” as meaning "eternal life to be got by them," the scope of the passage is, that so excellent are God's laws, and every special, minute detail of these laws, that if a man were to keep these always and perfectly, the very keeping would be
* The original implies that “partakers of the divine nature" are "fleers from-fugitives from the corruption—the lustful corruption—that is in the world."
eternal life to him. And the quotations in Rom. x. 5, and Gal. iii. 12, would seem to determine this to be the true and only sense here.
Ver. 6. “ None of you shall approach to any that is near of kin to him,
to uncover their nakedness : I am the Lord.” The "nearness of kin,” is sister, mother, daughter; the woman being born of the same flesh as the man is. (Patrick.) The following Latin lines (quoted in Poli Synopsis) sum up the forbidden degrees :
“Nata, Soror, neptis, matertera, fratris et uxor,
The Lord again sets forth his authority in beginning to enter upon the details that follow. By his divine authority he issues these laws. And they are still binding. 1. They are really no more than an amplification of the seventh commandment. The different channels in which lust might flow are pointed out, and then filled up-choked up—by the divine prohibition. 2. They are not ceremonial precepts, and therefore they are permanent in their obligations. They bind all nations, even as does the seventh commandment. 3. They are so truly moral obligations, that in vers. 24, 25, the Canaanites are stamped with infamy for not having recognized and observed them. It is plain, therefore,* that these laws were in force before the Mosaic ritual existed; and if so, they have patriarchal authority. 4. There is no hint in the New Testament that they have been repealed; but, on the contrary, Paul's horror, expressed in 1 Cor. v. 1, unequivocally declares that he recognized the precepts as both moral and divine in their authority.
* See Bush, ad locum.
The Lord would hereby preserve purity and peace throughout the wide circle of domestic intercourse. He wishes perfect confidence and a pure familiarity to prevail among relatives. Having, in former chapters, fenced his own tabernacle, he now fences the tabernacles of
Vers. 7, 8. “The nakedness of thy father, or the nakedness of thy
mother, shalt thou not uncover : she is thy mother ; thou shalt not uncover her nakedness. The nakedness of thy father's wife shalt
thou not uncover : it is thy father's nakedness." Whether thy full mother, or only thy step-mother; and although thy step-mother be now left a widow. The heathen story of Jocasta and Edipus proves how deep this precept as to the mother is engraven in the nature of man; and not only the divine stigma on Reuben (Gen. xxxv. 22), but even the heathen abhorrence of the same in 1 Cor. v. 1, “not so much as named among them," show how this same feeling extends to the case of stepmother.
May we not here, from the fact that in this instance human law and feeling among Heathens coincided with the divine, derive light as to the other commandments ? If the law of God be thus recognized by the human conscience, in such cases as these, is it not plain that the same conscience will yet testify to all other parts of this holy law in like manner ? There is sufficient to prove that the law was once there, and sufficient also to prove that it was displaced. The fragments testify that it was there; yet, being only fragments, they also testify that it was effaced.
Vers. 9, 10, 11. “The nakedness of thy sister, the daughter of thy
father, or daughter of thy mother, whether she be born at home, or born abroad, even their nakedness thou shalt not uncover. The nakedness of thy son's daughter, or of thy daughter's daughter, even their nakedness thou shalt not uncover : for theirs is thine own nakedness. The nakedness of thy father's wife's daughter, begotten of thy father, she is thy sister, thou shalt not uncover her nakedness.”
The case of a sister, legitimate or not, and of a granddaughter, and of a step-sister, i. e., half-sister by the side of the mother-each of these is here taken up. Of course Cain and Abel were not under this law; they married their sisters. Abraham marrying his half-sister, Sarah, is an instance of the unsettled state of the law then, and an instance of what Solon thought might be allowed, viz., the marriage of “ duonatgioi," but not of “ Quountiou," those who had the same father, but not the same mother. (Gen. xx. 12.) But to prevent a recurrence of these unions, the law is clearly stated for the future. Temporary considerations were allowed by God to supersede these precepts on some occasions ; but so strong and binding are they in all other cases, that it would need nothing less than Divine permission to make them justifiable. All this was fitted to set up in families a system of pure domestic peace; intercourse where no impure principles had sway; affection flowing out in a clear stream of disinterested affection. Families on earth should come to a resemblance of the heavenly family, who walk in holy intercourse, receiving from the Father himself, through the Son, an overflowing love. For the love of God to them comes in upon the love they have to one another; and forthwith, as when a massy rock glides down into the bosom of some mountain-pool, there is a gushing over of its waters on every side-on all around.
The case of grandchildren, in vers. 10, 11, has an