Catechism For Jewish Children
By Isaac Leeser.
The Law Revealed Through Moses
1. What is the second article of the Jewish Faith?
I believe firmly and truly that the Lord god did reveal himself to the whole people of Israel on Mount Sinai, and there made known the TEN COMMANDMENTS; I believe also that the Lord God taught his servant Moses the whole law, which was afterwards delivered to us just as he had been taught it; and I farther believe that Moses, and, after him, the other prophets, were true and faithful messengers of God, and that they spoke the truth as it was announced to them.
"And the Lord commanded me at that time to teach you statutes and judgments, that you might do them." Deut. iv. 14.
"A prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me, will the Lord thy God raise up unto thee: unto him shall ye hearken." Ibid. xviii. 14.
"Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, to whom I commanded at Horeb statutes and judgments for all Israel." Mal. iii. 22.
2. What do you understand by the words "revealed law?"
All the books of the Scriptures, in number twenty-four, which we call the covenant of the Lord with Israel, through Moses and the prophets. These books are first, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, called the five books of Moses, or the LAW; Joshua, Judges, first books of Samuel, second book of Samuel, first book of Kings, and second book of Kings, in all six, called the OLDER PROPHETS; Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the twelve minor prophets (namely, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephania, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi), in all four books, called the LATER PROPHETS; and lastly, the books of Psalms, Proverbs, Job, the five rolls (namely, the Song of Solomon, the books of Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, and Esther), Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, the first book of Chronicles, and the second book of Chronicles, in all nine, called the HAGIOGRAPHA, or holy writings. He have, therefore, five books of Moses, also called the Pentateuch, six of older prophets, four of later prophets, and nine of the holy writings, in all twenty-four.
"These are the words of the covenant, which the Lord commanded to make with the children of Israel in the land of Moab, beside the covenant which He made with them in Horeb." Deut. xxix. 69.
3. What would you understand by "the whole law of Moses?"
By the law of Moses I would be understood as meaning all the written ordinances and commandments, which were written down by Moses himself, and the oral traditions which he left to the Israelites by word of mouth.
"And the Lord said unto Moses, come up to me into the mount, and be there; and I will give thee the tables of stone, and the law and commandments which I have written to teach unto them." Exod. xxiv. 12.
4. What is the written law?
The five books of Moses, which Moses wrote by the command of God.
"And Moses wrote this law, and delivered it unto the priests, the sons of Levi, who bore the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and unto all the elders of Israel." Deut. 31:9.
5. What is the oral law?
The interpretations of the written laws, which were delivered by Moses, by word of mouth, to the Israelites of his time, and which were so continued from generation to generation, till at length they were written down in the Mishnah and Gemarah. This oral law consists of the particular explanations of the written law, and contains the directions of the manner in which the ordinances of Scripture are to be observed. It is chiefly by this tradition also that we are acquainted with the doctrines of the Bible, and the extent of the things permitted and prohibited, which are laid down in the Scriptures merely in a general manner.
6. Do the Mishnah and Gemarah contain no other matter beside the traditions?
Yes; they contain the opinions of certain learned men, together with arguments, drawn from the Scriptures for their opinions, on disputed matters which were brought before them for their decision; and these decisions, so supported by bible-authority, are binding upon Israelites, since the doubtful matters were left to the decision of the people to whom the law was given. for so we read:
"If there arise a matter too hard for thee in judgment, between blood and blood, between plea and plea, between stroke and stroke; being matters of controversy within thy gates: then shalt thou arise, and go up to the place which the Lord thy God will choose; and thou shalt come unto the priests the Levites, and unto the judge who shall be in those days, and inquire, and they shall tell thee the sentence of judgment. According to the sentence of the law which they will say unto thee, shalt thou do; thou shalt not decline from the sentence which they will tell thee to the right or to the left." Deut. xvii. 8-11.
7. What are the contents of the Mosaic law?
First, The MORAL law.
8. What is the moral law?
Commandments and prohibitions which our religion lays upon us as members of the human family, dependent, as other men are, upon the bounty of God; and the observance of which is founded even upon human reason, and is necessary towards promoting the peace and happiness of mankind at large. They are called in the bible Mitzvot or commandments.
"And ye shall remember all the commandments of the Lord, and do them; and that ye seek not after the inclinations of your heart and the delight of your eyes, in pursuit of which ye have been led astray. That ye may remember and so all my commandments, and be holy unto your God." Numb. xv. 39,40.
9. What is the foundation of the moral law?
It is founded upon the fact of its being necessary to the protections and preservation of the human family; and it is by its exercise chiefly that man appears truly as the creature made in the image of God. we may state, therefore, that the moral precepts contained in the Mosaic Law are based upon the divine nature inherent in the soul of man.
"For this commandment which I command thee this day is not hidden from thee, nor is it far off. It is in not in heaven, that thou shouldst say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it to us, and cause us to hear it, that we may do it? Nor is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldst say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, and cause us to hear it, that we may do it? but the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it." Deut. 30:11-14.
"He that keepeth the commandment, guardeth his own soul; but he that despiseth his ways shall die." Prov. 19:16.
10. What is the ceremonial law?
Such laws and enactments which the Mosaic Religion demands of us Israelites only; we alone of all mankind being those who profess to follow and to be bound by this law. these enactments are called Chuckim or statutes.
"Behold I have taught you statutes and judgments, as the Lord my God commanded me, that you should do so in the land, whither ye go to possess it. Keep them and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, who shall hear all these statutes, and they will say, Surely this great nation is a wise and intelligent people." Deut. iv. 5,6.
11. On what is the ceremonial law founded?
It is based upon the peculiar relation of our forefathers and of us, the people of Israel, their descendants, towards God.
"And thou shalt remember that thou hast been a bondsman in Egypt: therefore, shalt thou observe and do these statutes." Deut. xvi. 12.
12. Please to explain more fully some of these peculiar relations.
When Abraham in his time acknowledged alone, in the presence of idolaters, the Lord who made heaven and earth, God promised him, as was said above, that He would protect him and his descendants, and be peculiarly their god. and as a sign of the existence of this covenant or promise, the Lord demanded the covenant of circumcision from Abraham and his descendants. As we also read:
"And my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant." Gen. xvii. 13.
13. Correctly stated: so this covenant was to be the sign of the descendants of Abraham being in a peculiar relation to God, to distinguish them, one and all, from the heathen multitude. But as this is not the only enactment, be kind enough to give me a few more, together with such reasons as you may discover.
After the death of Abraham, besides the children of Isaac, other nations also adopted this sign of the covenant, in memory of their descent from or connection with the great patriarch; thus do the children of Ishmael, even to this day; and, as some aver, the people of ancient Egypt were likewise so distinguished. but it was the will of the Lord to erect those children of Abraham, descended from him by Isaac and Jacob, into a people devoted to his service: He therefore gave them other laws to mark the new relation which this people should maintain before all the world. And so we read:
"But you did the Lord take, and he brought you forth out of the iron furnace, out of Egypt, to be unto Him a people of inheritance, as ye are this day." Deut. iv. 20.
"For thou art a holy people unto the Lord thy God; of thee the Lord thy God made choice to be to Him a special people, of all the nations that are upon the face of the earth. Not because you were the most in number of all nations did the Lord desire and choose you; for you are the fewest of all nations. but because of the love of the Lord for you, and because He would keep the oath which He swore to your forefathers, hath the Lord brought you out with a strong hand, and redeemed thee from the house of bondage, from the power of Pharaoh, the king of Egypt." Deut. vii. 6-8.
14. This is the view I would take myself of the subject, and the texts which you have quoted prove the view to be correct: continue now to give me a few more particulars.
In order to effect this separation, or division of one people from the rest of the world, it was necessary to divide them from other men by such laws as would prevent the mixing up of the handful of Israelites with the multitudes of the other nations. God, therefore, instituted the ordinance of forbidden meats and drinks; so that his chosen servants should not, by too close and too intimate an intercourse with the heathens and other non-Israelites, become like those who are strangers to his service, forgetting that they are bound to regard Him as their Deliverer and Saviour.
"For I am the Lord your god, ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy, for I am holy; nor shall you defile yourselves with any manner of creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. for I am the Lord your god that bringeth you up out of the land of Egypt to be your God: ye shall therefore be holy, for I am holy." Lev. xi. 44,45.
"They who eat swine's flesh, and the abomination, and the mouse, shall be consumed together, saith the Lord." Isaiah lxvi. 17.
"They joined themselves also unto Baal-Peor, and ate of the sacrifices of the dead." Ps. cvi. 28.
"But Daniel purposed in his heart, that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank." Daniel i. 8.
15. These quotations fully prove that certain meats were not forbidden without a good reason. How is it in regard to the festivals?
When the Israelites dwelt in Egypt, they were compelled by the kind and people of that country to do all sorts of hand-labour without receiving any pay for their work; or, as it is called, they were reduced to a state of slavery or bondage. Now it happened, that god, mindful of his promise to Abraham, sent Moses to the king of Egypt, called the Pharaoh, to demand of him the freedom of the Israelites, that they might go and worship God the Lord in the wilderness, in the manner He might be pleased to direct.
"And thou shalt come, thou and the elders of Israel, unto the king of Egypt, and ye shall say unto him, the Lord the God of the Hebrews hath made himself known to us; and now let us go, we pray thee, three days' journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice unto the Lord our God." Exod. iii. 18.
16. Did Pharaoh obey the will of God?
No; on the contrary, he refused to acknowledge the power of god, and scornfully disobeyed the command conveyed to him by the great prophet. Whereupon, the Almighty caused many wonderful things to happen in Egypt, and sent such severe punishments upon the king and people of Egypt, that they at length gladly consented to send the Israelites away.
"And the Egyptians were urgent upon the people, in order to send them out of the land in haste; for they said, We shall be all dead men." Ibid. xii. 33.
17. But what has this history to do with the festivals?
It is the foundation of all the festivals of the Lord, which He gave unto us. For, that we might remember all the days of our life the wonderful manner in which we were relieved from this Egyptian slavery, He commanded us to celebrate every year the feast of Passover, at the season in which our forefathers sent forth from Egypt.
"And this day shall be unto you for a memorial, and you shall keep it as a feast unto the Lord, throughout your generations; as an everlasting statute ye shall keep it." Ib. xii. 14.
"Seven days thou shalt eat unleavened bread, and on the seventh day shall be a feast unto the Lord. Unleavened bread shall be eaten these seven days, and there shall no leavened bread be seen with thee, neither shall there be any leaven seen with thee in all thy quarters. And thou shalt tell thy son on that day, saying, This is done because of that which the Lord did unto me, when I came forth out of Egypt. And it shall be for a sign unto thee upon thy hand, and for a memorial between thy eyes; that the Lord's law may be in thy mouth; for with a strong hand hath the Lord brought thee out of Egypt. Thou shalt therefore keep this ordinance in its season, from year to year." Exod. xiii. 6-10.
18. Can you state any thing with reference to the Pentecost?
After the Israelites had been redeemed from Egypt, God resolved that they should be taught to serve Him, whom they had found to be so powerful and good. He therefore brought them to the wilderness of Sinai, and there proclaimed before the whole people the Ten Commandments. This took place on the fiftieth day from their going out of Egypt; and this was therefore fixed as a festival forever.
"And ye shall proclaim on the self-same day, that it may be a holy convocation unto you; ye shall do no servile work thereon; it shall be a statute forever in all your dwellings, throughout your generations." Lev. xxiii. 21.
"Only take heed to thyself and keep thy soul diligently, that thou forget not the things which thy eyes have seen--the day that thou stoodest before the Lord thy God in Horeb." Deut. iv. 9,10.
19. Give now briefly the reason for the feast of Tabernacles.
When the Israelites had received the law in so wonderful a manner from the mouth of God himself, it would have been reasonable to expect that they should have been sincere worshippers, and fully convinced of the truth of God's ordinances. but it was not so; they sinned often and grievously; till at length it was decreed that all the males over twenty years old, who had left Egypt, should die in the wilderness of Arabia. To effect this, and not to leave the children unprotected, and the youths without guides, God would not destroy them all in one pestilence; but He caused them to travel about from place to place, for a space of thirty-eight years, till all the persons, doomed to death, had died by degrees.
"And the space in which we came from Kadesh Barnea, until we came over the brook Zared, was thirty-eight years; until all the generation of the men of war were wasted out from the midst of the camp, as the Lord had sworn unto them." Deut. ii. 14.
20. Continue your account, and show its application to the festival.
During all these travels in a land where there is no water even to drink, the people wanted for nothing; bread was given them in the shape of manna, which was found every day round their camp; water flowed unto them out of the hard rock; their garments grew not old, not did their shoes wear off from their feet; and, more than all, God's pillar of cloud was a shield over them by day, and the pillar of fire lighted their camp and guided their travels by night. Throughout this time the whole people dwelt in tents or booths, and entered not into a city of houses, or in a land where there can be sowing and reaping. In this manner, though the punishment of God lay heavily on them, still his protection and goodness were doubly displayed; and thus were the young men educated under the immediate guidance of God, whilst their parents were left to watch over them, although not permitted to enter themselves into the land of Canaan for their manifold sins.
"Ye shall dwell in booths seven days; all that are Israelites born shall dwell in booths. That your generations may know, that I caused the Israelites to dwell in booths, when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God." Lev. xxiii. 42, 43.
21. So then, I understand from your account, that the three festivals had all a close reference to the history of the Israelites, and their education as a people devoted to the service of God. Were there any other observances connected with them?
Yes; on the Passover we were commanded to eat a lamb roasted in a particular manner on the first evening of the feast, together with bitter herbs and unleavened bread; at the same time we were bound to speak of, and tell to those younger and not knowing, the wonderful manner in which God delivered us from Egypt. Since at present we have no longer the sacrifice of the paschal lamb, (as sacrifices belong to the temple-service only,) we celebrate this event on the first two evenings of the Passover by eating the unleavened bread and bitter herbs; and drinking the cup of grace amidst psalms, and reading the account of the redemption from Egypt. This we call Reading the Haggadah.
"And it shall be, when thy son asketh thee, in time to come, saying, What is this? that thou shalt say unto him, By strength of hand the Lord brought us forth from Egypt." Exod. xiii. 14.
These ordinances, which in themselves may perhaps have no meaning to one not acquainted with our laws and history, are nevertheless full of meaning, and wisely adapted to the object for which they were instituted. They are peculiar ordinances, such as no human wisdom would have invented; they are enactments from God as a special gift to the people whom He had chosen. The other ceremonies relating to the Omer, or a measure of barley to be brought to the temple as the commencement of the harvest, as also the two wheaten loaves to be brought on the Pentecost, cannot now be observed any more; because we have no longer a temple or a priesthood, as was the case formerly, since our dispersion and expulsion from Palestine have deprived us of the same; nevertheless, when these ceremonies were observed, they were to show that we devoted to God, the Giver of all, the first of all fruits which He was pleased to give to us.
"Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye have come into the land which I give unto you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, ye shall bring an omer-full of the first fruit of your harvest unto the priest." Leviticus xxiii. 10.
"You shall bring from your habitations two wave-loaves, of two tenth parts; they shall be of fine flour; they shall be baked leaven; they are the first fruits unto the Lord." Ib. 17.
23. Correctly stated.
The feast of Tabernacles was also distinguished by the presentation of the fruits of the earth unto the Lord. As the Passover and Pentecost were the commencement of the barley and wheat-harvest in Palestine, so was the Tabernacles feast the close of all field-labour. Then everything must be taken home on account of the approach of winter. The fruits of the tree are then ripe; the green leaves must soon turn yellow, and fall off; and plants as well as the soil must rest during the cold, to get new strength for the coming spring. At this period, therefore, the citron, the fairest of fruits, the branch of that blessing of Palestine and Arabia, the palm-tree, the hardy evergreen myrtle, the robust yet easily-withering willow, were all united in one bunch, to be waved in the presence of the Lord, who made everything so well adapted for the service of man. In this offering are likewise joined the great and lowly, the fragrant and the inodorous, the useful and ornamental, in one bond, consecrated to the service of the Maker of all, He before whom all his creatures are alike.
"And ye shall take unto you, on the first day, the fruit of the tree hadar, branches of palm-trees, and the boughs of the myrtle-tree, and willows of the brook; and ye shall rejoice before the Lord your God seven days." Lev. xxiii. 40.
24. How about the New Year?
The day when the Lord created his world should be made holy to his service; then we should resolve to devote ourselves anew to worship Him in sincerity, and proclaim the Holy One as King of all the earth. We therefore assemble in our places of worship and blow the cornet in memory of God's perpetual and universal kingdom over all that is.
"God ascendeth amidst the shout, the Lord amidst the voice of the cornet. Sing praises to god, sing praises; sing praises to our King, sing praises! for God is King over all the earth; sing the song of instruction. God is King over the heathen; God sitteth on his holy throne." Ps. xlvii. 6-9.
25. There is one more festival, the Day of Atonement; what does this mean?
Led away by the desires of the human heart, we are constantly induced to forget the God who has made us; we sin, as it were, by habit, and one wrong causes another to be done. The Lord therefore ordained, that one day at least in the year should be entirely devoted to reflection and repentance; that each man should then examine his heart, and refrain thereon from all earthly enjoyments. Not that God has need of our fasting, or that our suffering would give Him pleasure; but that we should fast and afflict ourselves, in order that we may be healed of our transgressions, and become worthy to be servants of the Most High, and holy unto our God.
"Also on the tenth day of this seventh month, there shall be a day of atonement; it shall be a holy convocation unto you; and ye shall fast, and offer an offering made by fire unto the Lord. And ye shall do no work on that same day, for it is a day of atonement, to make an atonement for you before the Lord your God.--It shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations, in all your dwellings." Lev. xxiii. 27, 28-31.
20. We will not trouble you any more at present with giving explanations of the other ceremonies relating to the festivals, as we wish to leave them for a future occasion; but tell me in one word the foundation of all our ceremonies and particular prohibitions.
The whole of our ceremonies were calculated and given for the purpose of separating Israel from all nations and preserving them as a distinct people. It was therefore made unlawful for an Israelite to marry a non-Israelite; as by such connections we might be induced to forsake the faith of God and join ourselves to the erroneous beliefs of others. So also were we prohibited marking our bodies, or pulling out the hair for the dead, as was the custom of heathens; or, ploughing the field, or working in general with divers sorts of cattle; or sowing different kinds of seed in the same field, which, as some supposed, would increase the products of the earth. So also all systems of fortune-telling, divinations, omens, belief in lucky or unlucky days; in forebodings, watching of clouds, the flight of birds, or similar acts of superstition or false belief, practised by heathens or superstitious persons; as all such acts would withdraw us from God, and induce us to rely upon falsehood and vanity for support. In the same manner the ceremonial commandments for certain acts to be done were given as an exercise of devotion and attachment to God, which Israelites should display, they being the people consecrated to his service.
"Neither shalt thou make marriages with them: thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, and his daughter thou shalt not take unto thy son." Deut. vii. 3.
"Ye are the children of the Lord your God; ye shall not cut yourselves, nor make any baldness between your eyes for the dead. For thou art a holy people unto the Lord thy God, and the Lord hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all nations that are upon the face of the earth." Deut. xiv. 1,2.
"There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divinations, or is an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a wizard, or a charmer, or a consulter with a familiar spirit, or a conjurer, or one that asketh of the dead. For all that do these things are an abomination unto the Lord." Ibid. xviii. 10-12.
"Thou shalt not sow thy vineyard with divers seeds; lest the fruit of thy seed which thou hast sown, and the fruit of the vineyard, be defiled. Thou shalt not plough with an ox and an ass together. Thou shalt not wear a garment of divers sorts, of woolen and linen together." Ibid. xxii. 9-11.
27. What would you say with regard to such enactments for which no particular reason can be given, such as the ceremonies belonging to the sacrifices?
That they are ordinances proceeding from the Supreme Wisdom, therefore they must be wise and useful, even if our reason be not able to discover the cause of their being given. They are obligatory on us as followers of the law, and as exercises of a sincere faith towards the Author of our holy religion. The law brings life, and in the faithful performance of its enactments, and in a perfect conviction of their wisdom and usefulness alone, can we be deserving of the favour and mercy of God. Thus we read of the priestly garments, about which so many particular directions are given:
"And they shall be upon Aaron and upon his sons, when they come in unto the tabernacle of the assembly, or when they come near unto the altar to minister in the holy place, that they bear not iniquity, and die. It shall be a statute for ever unto him, and for his seed after him." Exod. xxviii. 43.
So also of the ordinances of forbidden marriages:
"Ye shall therefore keep my statutes and my judgments; which, if a man do, he shall live in them: I am the Lord." Lev. xviii. 5.
28. Your views are quite satisfactory, I should judge; and consequently, seeing how holy the reasons are upon which the ceremonial law is founded, we should be extremely cautious to pay due respect to the commandments, which, if strictly observed, will purify the heart, and cause us to adhere to our God. But it is time that we proceed to other subjects.*
*If thought too difficult, the explanation of the ceremonies (from Par. 10 to 28) might with advantage be left out, till a second reading of this work. It is inserted as a guide, more than a complete exposition.
Can you tell me now what is the political law?
Those laws and ordinances which bound our forefathers as citizens and members of the Israelitish state: they are called Mishpatim or judgments.
"There are the statutes and judgments, which ye shall observe to do, in the land which the Lord the God of thy fathers giveth thee to possess, all the days that ye live upon the earth." Deut. xii. 1.
29. Which are some of the political ordinances?
The law of the tax of a half shekel to be given for the temple-service (Exod. 30:11-16); the laws relative to domestic servants and slaves (Exod. 21:1; Lev. 25:10, &c.); the laws of war (Deut. 20), and many of like character.
30. Upon what principle is the political law of God founded?
All the laws of god in this respect have for their object the maintenance of each person's rights and possessions, and to enforce the great law of
"And thou shalt love thy neighbour like thyself." Lev. 19:18.
31. What is the church law?
Those enactments which had reference to the public service of the Lord in the tabernacle in the wilderness, in the first instance, and afterwards in the great temple at Jerusalem. They are called Toroth or laws.
"And thou shalt say unto them, Whatsoever man of the house of Israel, or any of the strangers who sojourneth among them, that offereth a burnt-offering or a sacrifice, and bringeth it not unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, to offer it unto the Lord, that man shall be cut off from among his people." Lev. xvii. 8,9.
"Take heed to thyself, that thou offer not thy burnt-offerings in every place that thou seest. but in the place which the Lord will choose in one of thy tribes, there shalt thou bring thy burnt-offerings, and there shalt thou do all that I command thee." Deut. xii. 13, 14.
32. Name some of these church laws.
The laws of sacrifices (Lev. i.-vii.); of priests and Levites and their services at the temple (Lev. xvi.; Num. i. 48-53,&c.); the tithes (Num. xviii. 8-32, &c.); the three annual pilgrimages to Jerusalem (Ex. 34:23), and many others of the same kind.
33. On what is the church law founded?
On the wisdom of God, who himself chose to ordain the manner in which He delighted to be served. As followers of his law, we are bound to possess a simplicity of faith, and an entire reliance upon his unerring wisdom, if we really desire to devote ourselves to his service; and it is only for such faith and for service of this kind that He promises to bless and protect us. So too we read:
"And they shall put my name upon the children of Israel, and I will bless them." Numb. vi. 27.
34. What is the reason that we observe not now the two kinds of enactments, called judgments and laws?
Because we form no longer an independent state, governed exclusively by the law of God, and on account of the loss of the temple, where all the chief commandments relative to the public divine service were to be executed. but all those not immediately referring to the temple, such as the priestly blessing by the descendants of Aaron, the service of the Levites as attendants on the Cohanim, and a few others, are to be observed even to this day upon all proper occasions.
35. But tell me, are these laws abolished, because they are not now obeyed?
By no means; the law is in every respect unchanged and in full force, and is consequently binding on every Israelite, who should do whatever lies in his power. But the enforcement of the judicial and church laws is suspended, only for want of the means on our part to execute them: still we hope that the time will come, when, by a restoration of the Jewish state, both these institutions will again be made the law of the land, as heretofore in the times of David and Solomon. for so we are taught in Scripture:
"And they shall teach my people to decide between the holy and profane, and inform them to distinguish between the unclean and clean; and in controversy they shall stand to judgment, and they shall decide according to my judgments; and my laws and my statutes for all my festivals they shall keep, and they shall hallow my sabbaths." Ezek. xliv. 23, 24.
"Then shall the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the Lord, as in the days of old, and as in former years." Mal. iii. 4.
36. Which parts of the law are now practicable?
the moral and ceremonial parts; and both are equally beneficial in their consequences; for by the first we are taught to do justice and exercise kindness towards men, thus imitating in a feeble manner our heavenly Father; and by the other, we are daily brought nearer to sanctity, and the love of God, and devotion to his will.
37. What are the consequences of obedience? What of disobedience?
Obedience will bring happiness to ourselves, as well as to others; but if we disobey the laws of God, we expose ourselves to his displeasure, and we will surely receive such punishment as our bad conduct deserves. In a word, obedience will make us happy here and render us permanently blessed hereafter; but disobedience will deprive us of peace here, and of the blessing of god when we are dead.
"Behold! I set before you this day a blessing and a curse. A blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you this day; and a curse, if ye will not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside out of the way which I command you this day." Deut. xi. 26-28.
"For the commandment is a lamp, and the law is the light, and the reproofs of instruction are the way of life." Prov. vi. 23.
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