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born, and the next best thing to be cut off as soon as possible ; whereas God rather so exercises men by various afflictions, as that it should be good for them nevertheless to be created in His image, and to be accounted His children. A clearer explanation also is added in Deuteronomy, not only that they should live, but that it may go well with them ; so that not only is length of life promised them, but other accessories also. And in fact, many who have been ungrateful and unkind to their parents only prolong their life as a punishment, whilst the reward of their inhuman conduct is repaid them by their children and descendants. But inasmuch as long life is not vouchsafed to all who have discharged the duties of piety towards their parents, it must be remembered that, with respect to temporal rewards, an infallible law is by no means laid down; and still, where God works variously and unequally, His promises are not made void, because a better compensation is secured in heaven for believers, who have been deprived on earth of transitory blessings. Truly experience in all ages has shewn that God has not in vain promised long life to all who have faithfully discharged the duties of true piety towards their parents. Still, from the principle already stated, it is to be understood that this Commandment extends further than the words imply; and this we infer from the following sound argument, viz., that otherwise God's Law would be imperfect, and would not instruct us in the perfect rule of a just and holy life.
The natural sense itself dictates to us that we should obey rulers. If servants obey not their masters, the society of the human race is subverted altogether. It is not, therefore, the least essential part of righteousness that the people whom, as well as by Cicero, it is called the reply of Silenus to Midas,— “ Affertur etiam de Sileno fabella quædam : qui cum a Mida captus esset, hoc ei muneris pro sua missione dedisse scribitur: docuisse regem, non nasci homini longe optimum esse; proximum autem, quamprimum mori.” - Tusc. Quæst. i. 48. “Ex quo intelligi licet, non nasci longe optimum esse, nec in hos scopulos incidere vitæ ; proximum autem, si natus sis, quamprimum mori, et tanquam ex incendio effugere fortunæ. Sileni quæ fertur fabula, etc.”—Consolatio. Lactantius refers to the latter passage, De falsa sapientia, $ 19. “Hinc nata est inepta illa sententia, etc."
""Pars justiciæ non postrema.”—Lat. “ Une partie de la justice, qui nous devons tous garder;" a part of righteousness which we ought all to observe.-Fr.
should willingly submit themselves to the command of magistrates, and that servants should obey their masters; and, consequently, it would be very absurd if it were omitted in the Law of God. In this commandment, then, as in the others, God by synecdoche embraces, under a specific rule, a general principle, viz., that lawful commands should obtain due reverence from us. But that all things should not be distinctly expressed, first of all brevity itself readily accounts for; and, besides, another reason is to be noticed, i.e., that God designedly used a homely style in addressing a rude people, because He saw its expediency. If He had said generally, that all superiors were to be obeyed, since pride is natural to all, it would not have been easy to incline the greater part of men to pay submission to a few. Nay, since subjection is naturally disagreeable, many would have kicked against it. God, therefore, propounds a specific kind of subjection, which it would have been gross barbarism to refuse, that thus, their ferocity being gradually subdued, He might accustom men to bear the yoke. Hence the exhortations are derived, that people should “honour the king ;" that “every soul should be subject unto the higher powers ;” that “servants should obey their masters, even the froward and morose." (Prov. xxiv. 21; 1 Pet. ii. 13; Rom. xiii. 1; Eph. vi. 5; 1 Pet. ii. 14, 18.)
The Exposition of the Commandment.
LEVITICUS, CHAPTER XIX.
3. Ye shall fear every man his mother and his father.
3. Unusquisque patrem suum et matrem suam timeat.
Since this passage unquestionably relates to the explanation of the Fifth Commandment, it confirms what I have before shewn, that the honour which God commands to be paid to parents, does not consist in reverence only, but also embraces obedience. For the reverence which He now prescribes will render children submissive and compliant. Now, then, we more clearly understand how parents are to be honoured, when God exhorts their children to beware of offending them ; for this is, in a word, the true manifestation of filial piety, calmly to bear the yoke of subjection, and to prove by acts a sincere desire to obey.
The Supplements of the fifth Commandment.
EXODUS, CHAPTER XXI.
15. And he that smiteth his father 15. Qui percusserit patrem suum or his mother shall be surely put to aut matreni, morte moriatur. death.
17. And he that curseth his father 17. Qui maledixerit patri suo vel or his mother shall surely be put to matri suæ, morte moriatur. death.
Lev. xx. 9. For every one that 9. Qui maledixerit patri suo aut curseth his father or his mother shall matri suæ morte moriatur : qui be surely put to death: he hath patri suo et matri suæ maledixit, cursed his father or his mother; his sanguis ejus super eum. blood shall be upon him.
The commandment is now sanctioned by the denunciation of capital punishment for its violation, yet not so as to comprehend all who have in any respect sinned against their parents, but sufficient to shew that the rights of parents are sacred, and not to be violated without the greatest criminality. We know that parricides,' as being the most detestable of all men, were formerly sewn up in a leathern sack and cast into the water ; but God proceeds further, when He commands all those to be exterminated who have laid violent hands on their parents,2 or addressed them in abusive language. For to smite does not only mean to kill, but refers to any violence, although no wound may have been inflicted. If, then, any one had struck his father or mother with his fist, or with a stick, the punishment of such an act of madness was the same as for murder. And, assuredly, it is an abominable and monstrous thing for a son not to
'By the Roman law parricides were sewn up in a leathern sack with a dog, a cock, a viper, and a monkey, and cast into the sea, or the nearest river.-Vide Cicero pro Rosc. Amer., ii. 25, 26.
: “ Ceux qui auront outragé pere ou mere, soit de faict, soit de parole;” those who shall have outraged father or mother either by act or word.-Fr.
hesitate to assault those from whom he has received his life; nor can it be but that impunity accorded to so foul a crime must straightway produce cruel barbarism. cond law avenges not only violence done to parents, but also abusive words, which soon proceed to grosser insults and atrocious contempt. Still, if any one should have lightly let drop some slight reproach, as is often the case in a quarrel, this severe punishment was not to be inflicted upon such an inconsiderate piece of impertinence : and the word 55p, kalal, from which the participle used by Moses is derived, not only means to reproach, but also to curse, as well as to esteem lightly, and to despise. Whilst, therefore, not every insult, whereby the reverence due to parents was violated, received the punishment of death, still God would have that impious pride, which would subvert the first principles of nature, held in abhorrence. But, inasmuch as it might seem hard that a word, however unworthy of a dutiful son, should be the cause of death; this objection is met, by what is added by God in Leviticus, “his blood shall be upon him, because he hath cursed his father or mother:" as if He would put a stop to what men might otherwise presume to allege in mitigation of the severity of the punishment.
DEUTERONOMY, CHAPTER XXI.
18. If a man have a stubborn and а
18. Quum quis habuerit filium rebellious son, which will not obey perversum et rebellem, non obedithe voice of his father, or the voice entein voci patris sui et matris suæ, of his mother, and that, when they et castigaverint illum, nec paruerit have chastened him, will not hearken illis : unto them ;
19. Then shall his father and his 19. Tum apprehendent eum pater mother lay hold on him, and bring eius et mater eius, educentque ad him out unto the elders of his city, seniores urbis suæ et portam loci and unto the gate of his place: sui :
20. And they shall say unto the 20. Dicentque senioribus urbis, elders of his city, This our son is Filius iste noster perversus et restubborn and rebellious, he will not bellis est, non obediens voci nostra, obey our voice; he is a glutton and epulo est ac comessator. a drunkard. 21. And all the men of his city 21. Tunc lapidabunt eum omnes
1 « Une injure verbale ;" a verbal injury.- Fr.
shall stone him with stones, that he homines urbis suæ lapidibus, et modie: so shalt thou put evil away rietur: atque ita auferes malum e from among you; and all Israel medio tui, universusque Israel aushall hear, and fear.
diet, et timebit.
18. If a man have a stubborn. What God had previously adverted to in two clauses, He now embraces in a general law, for it cannot be doubted but that by rebellious children all are designated who are abusive or insulting to their father and mother. For if it be a capital crime to be disobedient to parents, much more is it to strike, or beat them, and to assail them with reproachful words. In sum, Moses declares that those are deserving of death who are of such a stubborn and intractable disposition as to reject the authority of their father and mother, and to hold them in contempt. Whence also we infer what it is to honour our father and mother, for the punishment is only denounced for the transgression of the Commandment. When, therefore, the law delivers over to death all who contumaciously rebel against the discipline of their parents, it follows that they have refused them their due honour. An admirable means, however, of moderating the severity of the law is introduced, when God requires the case to be decided on the evidence of the father and mother; and commands that it should be publicly heard, so that none may be condemned at the will of private individuals. By the Roman law the power of life and death over his children' was given to the father, because it was not probable that fathers would be carried away by such senseless inhumanity as to deal cruelly with their own bowels; but, since sometimes fathers are found who are not unlike wild beasts, and examples shew us that many, blinded by hate or avarice, have not spared their own children, this concession of the Roman law is justly to be repudiated. I allow, indeed, that those who desired to inflict punishment on their children called their friends into council; but,
“A father among the Romans had the power of life and death over his children. He could not only expose them when infants, but, even when his children were grown up, he might imprison, scourge, send them bound to work in the country, and also put them to death by any punishment he pleased, if they deserved it. Sall. Cat., 39. ; Liv., ii. 41 ; viii. 7 ; Dionys., viii. 79.”—Adam's Rom. Antiq.