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, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers;
7 Namely, of the gods of the people which are round about you, nigh unto thee, or far off from thee, from the one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth;
8 Thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him:
9 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.
HERE is the foundation of all the terrible persecutions for a change of faith so lamentable among the Jews and so intensified among the Christians. And this idea still holds, that faith in the crude speculations of unbalanced minds as to the nature of the great first cause and his commands as to the conduct of life, should be the same in the beginning, now and forever. All other institutions may change, opinions on all other subjects may be modified and improved, but the old theologies are a finality that have reached the ultimatum of spiritual thought. We imagine our religion with its dogmas and absurdities must remain like the rock of ages, forever.
6 ¶ And thou shalt rejoice before the Lord thy God, thou, and thy son, and thy daughter, and thy manservant, and thy maidservant, and the Levite that is within thy gates, and the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, that are among you, in the place which the Lord thy God hath chosen to place his name there.
14 And thou shalt rejoice in thy feast, thou, and thy son, and thy daughter, and thy manservant, and thy maidservant, and the Levite, the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, that are within thy gates.
15 Seven days shalt thou keep a solemn feast unto the Lord thy God in the place which the Lord shall choose.
16 ¶ Three times in a year shall all thy males appear before the Lord thy God in the place which he shall choose; in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles.
In the general festivities women of all ranks were invited to take part, but three times a year Moses had something special to say to the men; then women were not allowed to be present. We have no instance thus far in the Jewish economy of any direct communication from God to woman. The general
opinion seemed to be that man was an all-sufficient object of worship for them, an idea not confined to that period. Milton makes his Eve with sweet humility say to Adam, "God thy law, thou mine."
This is the fundamental principle on which the canon and civil laws are based, as well as the English classics. It is only in the galleries of art that we see the foreshadowing of the good time coming. There the divine artist represents the virtues, the graces, the sciences, the seasons, day with its glorious dawn, and night with its holy mysteries, all radiant and beautiful in the form of woman. The poet, the artist, the novelist of our own day, are more hopeful prophets for the mother of the race than those who have spoken in the Scriptures.
E. C. S.
1 Thou shalt not sacrifice unto the Lord thy God any bullock or sheep, wherein is blemish, or any evil favouredness: for that is an abomination unto the Lord thy God.
2 ¶ If there be found among you, man or woman that hath wrought wickedness in the sight of the Lord thy God, in transgressing his covenant:
3 And hath gone and served other gods, and worshipped them, either the sun, or the moon, or any of the host of heaven, which I have not commanded;
4 And it be told thee, and thou hast heard of it, and inquired diligently, and, behold, it be true, and the thing certain, that such abomination is wrought in Israel:
5 Then shalt thou bring forth that man or that woman unto thy gates and shalt stone them with stones, till they die.
This is certainly a very effective way of strengthening religious faith. Most people would assent to any religious dogma, however absurd, rather than be stoned to death. As all their healthy tender lambs and calves were eaten by the priests and rulers, no wonder they were so particular to get the best. To delude the people it was necessary to give a religious complexion to the sacrifices and to make God command the people to bring their choicest fruits and grains and meats. It was very easy for these accomplished prestidigitators to substitute the offal for sacrifices on their altars, and keep the dainty fruits and meats for themselves, luxuries for their own tables.
The people have always been deluded with the idea that what they gave to the church and the priesthood was given unto the Lord, as if the Maker of the universe needed anything at our hands. How incongruous the idea of an Infinite being who
made all the planets and the inhabitants thereof commanding his creatures to kill and burn animals for offerings to him. It is truly pitiful to see the deceptions that have been played upon the people in all ages and countries by the priests in the name of religion. They are omnipresent, ever playing on human credulity, at birth and death, in affliction and at the marriage feast, in the saddest and happiest moments of our lives they are near to administer consolation in our sorrows, and to add blessings to our joys. No other class of teachers have such prestige and power, especially over woman.
E. C. S.