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The Law of the Immutable.

by S. S.

The grass withereth, the flower fadeth; but the word of our God shall stand for ever.—Isaiah, 40.8.

Although the Bible is silent as to the length of time the children of Israel were oppressed in Egypt, enough is there expressed to show us that their servitude was sufficiently long to suppress the finer sensibilities of the people; and to render their self-esteem so low as to cause them, in a measure, to copy with servility the manners and customs of the Egyptians. For how else can we account for the murmurings and rebellions, in many instances, and the idolatrous spirit shown by the Israelites during their journey in the wilderness? They that had seen the sublime power of the Most High so awfully exhibited before Pharaoh and the Egyptian people; they that had been witnesses of the continual miracles from the first prophetic mission of Moses until his death, must have strongly imbibed the idolatrous worship of Egypt, or their hearts would have overflowed with gratitude towards that great and good Being, who had fed, clothed, and provided for all their wants, instead of drawing down upon themselves, by their obduracy of heart, the just punishment of the offended Deity, the doom of dying in the wilderness without entering the beautiful country promised in the covenant of Abraham.*

* Although the remarks concerning the religious state of the Israelites, at their departure from Egypt, is irrelevant to the subject of this article, I have introduced them to exhibit the state of mind most likely to engender a belief in a plurality of gods. I might have written pages in proof of the unity of God; but my object here has been, not to add by argument to the strength of the Bible text, for that would be impossible, but to point out those passages of the law which we should strive to act up to, they being ordinances for an everlasting observance.

From the time of the departure of the children of Israel from Egypt, guided by the pillar of cloud by day, and of fire by night, until their assemblage before Sinai, we find them in the continual absolute presence of the Deity, who never left them until their moral and religious law was fully established; a law that was to be acknowledged as the only true one, by all the nations of the earth at the appointed time.

The unity of God is one of those broad truths which must be self-evident to a mind that can without prejudice contemplate the marvelous correctness in which the immensity of creation fulfils its destined courses, without deviating from the laws of its government during the lapse of ages. For unity of results can only flow from unity of action; we may therefore ask with truth, Could this be the case if there were more than one supreme controlling Power? But when we call to mind the religious state of the Hebrews to which I alluded, we must admit that this belief in the unity was too important a tenet of faith to be left to the unaided reflection of man to discover; and that the law was of right compelled to use such language in reference thereto that none but the willfully blind could ever be mistaken concerning what he should believe. If we now turn to the pages of the Bible, the unity of God meets us at every step; we find it written by the finger of the Deity in the Decalogue; if we search the prophets, the words stand in bold relief: "Fear ye not, neither be afraid have not I told thee from that time, and have declared it; ye are even my witnesses, is there a God besides me? yea, there is no God; I know not any."—Isaiah, 44.8. "See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no God with me; I kill, and I make alive; I wound and I heal, neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand."—Deut. 32.39. Do these passages indicate any redeemer save the eternal Unity? Thick must be the veil that blinds the votaries of erroneous opinions, which can hinder them from seeing that the Bible, in every passage where it treats of the attributes of the Deity, points out in the strongest language which thought can conceive, that there is no being to share the power and greatness of God; that He ever has, does now, and will forever reign the sole, supreme, unchangeable, infallible One.

If sin had not caused the dispersion of Israel from the land of their fathers, and they were now a nation dwelling in Canaan, they would not feel concerned about this or that interpretation which different sects give to isolated portions of the Scriptures, to support each new-fangled tenet of their various creeds. Contented with the law concerning which the perfect One commanded that it should neither be increased nor diminished, they would feel pity in seeing the attempts made by those who neither understand the spirit in which the text of the Holy Bible was written, nor can explain ideas expressed more than three thousand years ago to an Eastern people whose manners, customs, expression and modes of thought were totally at variance with existing nations; who contort the prophecies of Israel's seers so as to express any thing but what a common sense view requires them to say, and to mean any and every other nation but the Hebrew; for, contented with the law, they would obey its ordinances without speculating on the time of the fulfillment of the prophecies. But situated as we are, it behooves us, when our religious opinions are attacked by those of an adverse faith, to show the influence of the law given to us, as well as to our ancestors, by the One Supreme, and to assert that no prophecy can militate against any of the statutes given for the government of Israel by the Almighty himself at his glorious descent on Sinai. Had the Almighty intended at any time to abrogate any part of his law, He would have plainly said, This law shall endure throughout your generations until I, or the messenger I may send, shall alter or annul it. But so far from this being the case, we find, at the first covenant made with Abraham, (Gen. 17.) that it was to be of everlasting duration, equally binding on his remotest descendants with himself; that the penalty was to be the cutting off the soul of him who did not obey its requirements, without qualification as to time and place. Shall the delusive arguments of those who, guided by false lights, call the everlasting covenant made with us through Abraham, by the ever blessed One, of no effect towards the soul's salvation (thus arrogating to themselves a knowledge above that of Scripture) be of weight with us, when the advice they give would, if followed, be death to the soul? No! let us be firm in support of the truth, and let us in patience abide the time when gentiles, guided by a new light, shall at last acknowledge that there is salvation in Israel. There is, moreover, in this, as in all other vital commandments, the announcement of an ever­lasting duration. So also as regards the Sabbath; for as the creation was the first great work of the Almighty apparent to his creatures, gratitude alone should be a sufficient inducement for keeping a day in memorial of it, as a willing tribute from the creature to the Creator. How much more holy, then, should that day of rest be kept now, when we find the ordinance for so doing in the Ten Commandments, and see so oft repeated,

"Whosoever doeth any work on the Sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death;" "Wherefore the Children of Israel shall keep the Sab­bath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations for a perpetual covenant?"—Ex. 31. l5, 16. Shall we be told that a perpetual covenant means a definite term of years? What term, then, are we to make use of to denote eternity? If an ordinance is perpetual, no subsequent action can change its duration, unless accompanied by the same manifestation of the Divine Majesty which accompanied its promulgation. But are we to entertain the idea, that the Deity, like weak and finite man, needs must legislate to amend that which He ordained to be an ever­lasting precept? Forbid it piety! reason rebels at the thought!

Again, we find in the twenty-third chapter of Leviticus, an enumeration of the Sabbaths and festivals, and after each commandment concerning the same, the words, "It shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations, in all your dwellings;" and we are to be told, when we keep these Sabbaths and festivals, that we are doing something displeasing to the Immutable? that we have not light, or we would see our error in fulfilling the behests of the Divine Law? and that the Almighty never intended that we should keep them after the thirty-eighth century, although He commanded us to keep them for ever? If we need light to convinced of this, thankful should we be for the absence of the false glare.

In relation to the perpetual sacrifices, we find the ordinance in the same chapter, and in the 34th verse of the 16th chapter, as well as in other places; and even the priests were prescribed the particular dress they should officiate in, as a statute for ever.—(Ex: 28. 42, 43). And as they were to have no inheritance in the land, "they should have all the tenths of Israel, for an inheritance;" (Num. 18. 19-21,) so that their whole time might be spent in religious purposes, and in teaching the law; and in order that the daily and perpetual sacrifices might never cease through want of ministers, a whole tribe was set apart for this purpose; "a perpetual inheritance of the Lord." And yet it has been asserted by those who claim superior wisdom, that the sacrifices were merely typical, and were to cease after a certain period; as if the Omniscient One could not penetrate far enough into the future, to know whether a law that He ordained should last for ever, would serve the purposes for which it was intended only for a short time, and that after a certain period He should have to acknowledge that He had ceased to know the future, as well as the past, by being induced or compelled to send a messenger to abrogate an everlasting ordinance, because He had found that it would not answer the end for which it was ordained.

If a parent, a teacher, or a respected friend, should, through his desire for our welfare, lay a restriction on us, as the price of his love, and we know that his knowledge far exceeds ours, and that no selfishness is mixed up with his advice, but that love for us is the sole incentive of it: should we not follow the directions of superior knowledge? How much more ready should we then be in obeying the voice of the Deity! Confident in his knowledge, we should feel delight in obeying his behests. In the 11th chapter of Leviticus, we find the commandment concerning those

animals of whose flesh we might partake, and of those animals that were to be considered unclean, and which were forbidden to us to be made food of. The Most High showing here, no less than every where else, his care of the bodily as well as the spiritual welfare of his chosen people. Now, some have advanced, that this law (as well as a number of other laws) was a merely local ordinance, and that it is not at all necessary for the soul's salvation to abstain from the forbidden food, when one is out of the land for the climate of which it was adapted. But, I ask, and dare the proof from the pages of the Bible, is there any expression made use of in the commandment that limits it as to place or circumstance?

In partaking of the forbidden food, we commit two sins: partaking of that which is not holy, and breaking a command of the most high God. Has not the wisdom of this law shown itself in the increased numbers of the Israelites? Would this have been the case had they mixed more freely in the festivities of the stranger? I think not. Had it been a local law, it would have been like the law of the sacrifices, specifically confined to the place where it was to be in force.

Now, is it to be supposed that the immutable God should descend to the earth, clothed in his terrible majesty, to give all these laws which He ordained to be of eternal duration, and then allow finite, erring man to abrogate that which He deemed of sufficient importance so as to require his own presence at its promulgation? And to substitute another, in which a man is the judge and the redeemer? This is contended for by those who admit that the passages I quote are truly translated from the original Scriptures, and that they believe in the truth of them; and yet say, that although these passages declare that the law shall endure for ever, still they do not believe that this is their meaning. If we cannot convince such by the text of the Bible, our arguments will not do it; seeing that their so-called light, like the will-o'-the-wisp, leads them farther away from the true path. But this will not deter us from cherishing the beautiful law of our God as the apple of the eye; trusting in his divine mercy as our passport to heaven, and acknowledging "That the secret things belong to the Lord our God: but those things that are revealed belong to us and our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law."—(Deut. 29. 29.)