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president to inflict capital punishment upon him, at last cried out : If thou let this man go, thou art not Cæsar's friend ; whosoever maketh himself a king, speaketh against Cæsar. Then delivered he him, therefore, to them to be crucified. Upon hearing this, all his former firmness instantly vanished; he could stem the torrent of popular fury no longer; to this he yielded, and immediately ordered his execution. This conduct of Pilate arose from his perfect knowledge of the character and temper of his master Tiberius, who was a gloomy old tyrant, day and night incessantly haunted with the fiends of jealousy and suspicion-who would never forgive any innovations in his government, but punished the authors and abettors of them with inexorable death. Pilate, therefore, hearing the Jews reiterating this with menaces, that if he let him go he was not Cæsar's friend knowing the jealousy and cruelty of Tiberius, and fearing that the disappointed rage of the Jews would instigate them to accuse him to the old tyrant, as abetting and suffering a person to escape with impunity, who had assumed the regal title and character in one of his provinces, was alarmed for his own safety; and rather than draw down upon his devoted head the resentment of the sovereign, who would never forgive or forget an injury, real or imaginary, contrary to his own judgment and clear persuasion of the innocence of Jesus, sentenced him to be crucified ?"
VI. Though not strictly a Roman tribunal, yet as its sittings were permitted by the Roman government, the senate and court of Areopagus, at Athens, claims a concise notice in this place. This tribunal is said to have been instituted at Athens, by Cecrops the founder of that city, and was celebrated for the strict equity of its decisions. Among the various causes of which it took cognizance, were matters of religion, the consecration of new gods, erection of temples and altars, and the introduction of new ceremonies into divine worship. On this account St. Paul was brought before the tribunal of the Areopagus as a setter forth of strange gods, because he preached unto the Athenians, Jesus and AvaoTAJIS or the Resurrection. (Acts xvii. 19.) Its sittings were held on the Ageros Ilayos or Hill of Mars (whence its name was derived), which is situated in the midst of the city of Athens, opposite to the Acropolis or citadel, and is an insulated precipitous rock, broken towards the south, and on the north side sloping gently down to the temple of Theseus. Its appearance is thus described by Dr. E. D. Clarke : _“It is not possible to conceive a situation of greater peril, or one more calculated to prove the sincerity of a preacher, than that in which the apostle was here placed : and the truth of this, perhaps, will never be better felt than by a spectator, who from this eminence actually holds the monuments of pagan pomp and superstition, by which he, whom the Athenians considered as the setter forth of strange gods, was then surrounded : representing to the imagination the disciples of Socrates and of Plato, the dogmatist.
1 See Suetonius, Tacitus, Dion Cassius. 2 Philo makes the very same remark concerning Pilate, p. 390. edit. Mangey.
of the porch, and the sceptic of the academy, addressed by a poor and lowly man, who, rude in speech, without the enticing words of man's wisdom, enjoined precepts contrary to their taste, and very hostile to their prejudices. One of the peculiar privileges of the Areopagitæ seems to have been set at defiance by the zeal of Saint Paul on this occasion ; namely, that of inflicting extreme and exemplary punishment upon any person, who should slight the celebration of the holy mysteries, or blaspheme the gods of Greece. We ascended to the summit by means of steps cut in the natural stone. The sublime scene here exhibited, is so striking, that a brief description of it may prove how truly it offers to us a commentary upon the apostle's words, as they were delivered upon the spot. He stood upon the top of the rock, and beneath the canopy of heaven. Before him there was spread a glorious prospect of mountains, islands, seas, and skies : behind him towered the lofty Acropolis, crowned with all its marble temples. Thus every object, whether in the face of nature, or among the works of art, conspired to elevate the mind, and to fill it with reverence towards that BEING, who made and gouerns the world (Acts xvii. 24. 28.); who sitteth in that light which no mortal eye can approach, and yet is nigh unto the meanest of his creatures ; in whom we live and move and have our being."1
CRIMINAL LAW OF THE JEWS. 1. CRIMES AGAINST God.-1. Idolatry.—2. Blasphemy.—3. Falsely
Prophesying.–4. Divination.-5. Perjury.-II. CRIMES AGAINST PARENTS AND RULERS.—III. CRIMES AGAINST PROPERTY :1. Theft. -2. Man-stealing.–3. The Crime of denying any thing taken in trust, or found.-4. Regulations concerning Debtors. IV. CRIMES AGAINST THE PERSON.-1. Murder.-2. Homicide.
3. Corporal Injuries. 4. Crimes of Lust.-5. CRIMES OF Malice, 1. It has been shown in a preceding chapter, that the maintenance of the worship of the only true God was a fundamental object of the Mosaio polity. The government of the Israelites being a Theocracy, that is, one in which the supreme legislative power was vested in the Almighty, who was regarded as their king, it was to be expected that, in a state confessedly religious, crimes against the Supreme Majesty of Jehovah should occupy a primary place in the statutes given by Moses to that people. Accordingly,
1. Idolatry, that is, the worship of other gods, in the Mosaic I Dr. Clarke's Travels, vol. vi, pp263–265. See also Mr. Dodwell's
Classical and Topographioal Tour through Greece, vol. i. pp. 361, 362.
This section is wholly an abridgment of Michaelis's Commentaries, vol. ir. 3 Bee pp. 77-81. supra.
law occupies the first place in the list of crimes. It was indeed, a crime not merely against God, but also against a fundamental law of the state, and consequently was a species of high treason, which was capitally punished. This crime consisted not in ideas and opinions, but in the overt act of worshipping other gods. An Israelite therefore was guilty of idolatry,
(1.) When he actually worshipped other gods besides JEHOVAH, the only true God. This was, properly speaking, the state crime just noticed ; and it is, at the same time, the greatest of all offences against sound reason and common sense. This crime was prohibited in the first of the ten commandments. (Exod. xx. 3.)
(2.) By worshipping images, whether of the true God under a visible form, to which the Israelites were but too prone (Exod. xxxii. 4, 5. Judg. xvii. 3. xviii. 4–6. 14–17. 30, 31. vi. 25–33. viii. 24-27. 1 Kings xii. 26-31.), or of the images of the gods of the Gentiles, of which we have so many instances in the sacred history. All image-worship whatever is expressly forbidden in Exod. xx. 4, 5. ; and a curse is denounced against it in Deut. xxvi. 15.
(3.) By prostration before, or adoration of, such images, or of any thing else revered as a god, such as the sun, moon, and stars. (Exod. XX. 5. xxxiv. 14. Deut. iv. 19.) This prostration consisted in falling down on the knees, and at the same time touching the ground with the forehead.
(4.) By having altars or groves dedicated to idols, or images thereof; all which the Mosaic law required to be utterly destroyed (Exod. xxxiv. 13. Dent. vii. 5. xii. 3.); and the Israelites were prohibited, by Deut. vii. 25, 26., from keeping, or even bringing into their houses, the gold and silver that had been upon any image, lest it should prove a snare, and lead them astray: because, having been once consecrated to an idol-god, (considering the then prevalent superstition as to the reality of such deities,) some idea of its sanctity, or some dread of it, might still have continued, and have thus been the means of propagating idolatry afresh among their children.
(5.) By offering sacrifices to idols, which was expressly forbidden in Levit. xvii. 1–7., especially human victims, the sacrifices of which (it is well known) prevailed to a frightful extent.
Parents immolated their offspring : this horrid practice was introduced among the Israelites, from the Canaanites, and is repeatedly reprobated by the prophets in the most pointed manner. The offering of human victims was prohibited in Levit. xviii
. 21. compared with 2, 3, 2430. xx. 1-5. Deut. xii. 30. and xviii. 10.
(6.) By eating of offerings made to idols, made by other people, who invited them to their offering feasts. Though no special law was enacted against thus attending the festivals of their gods, it is evidently presupposed as unlawful in Exod. xxxiv. 15.
Idolatry was punished by stoping the guilty individual. When a whole city became guilty of idolatry, it was considered in a state
of rebellion against the government, and was treated according to the laws of war. Its inhabitants, and all their cattle were put to death; no spoil was made, but every thing which it contained was burnt, together with the city itsels; nor was it ever allowed to be rebuilt. (Deut. xiii. 13–19.) This law does not appear to have been particularly enforced; the Israelites (from their proneness to adopt the then almost universally prevalent polytheism) in most cases overlooked the crime of a city that became notoriously idolatrous; whence it happened, that idolatry was not confined to any one city, but soon overspread the whole nation. In this case, when the people, as a people, brought guilt upon themselves by their idolatry, God reserved to himself the infliction of the punishments denounced against that national crime; which consisted in wars, famines, and other national judgments, and (when the measure of their iniquity Was o in the destruction of their polity, and the transportation of the people as slaves into other lands. (Lev. xxvi. Deut. xxviii. xxix. xxxii.) For the crime of seducing others to the worship of strange gods, but more especially where a pretended prophet (who might often naturally anticipate what would come to pass) uttered predictions tending to lead the people into idolatry, the appointed punishment was stoning to death. (Deut. xiii. 2–12.) In order to prevent the barbarous immolation of infants, Moses denounced the punishment of stoning upon those who offered human sacrifices; which the bye-standers might instantly execute upon the delinquent when caught in the act, without any judicial inquiry whatever. (Levit. xx. 2. -
2. b. being both the sovereign and legislator of the Israelites,
Blasphemy (that is, the speaking injuriously of his name, his attri
butes, his government, and his revelation) was not only a crime against Him, but also against the state; it was therefore punished capitally by stoning. (Levit. xxiv. 10–14.) ,
3. It appears from Deut. xviii. 20–22. that a False Prophet was punished capitally, being stoned to death; and there were two eases in which a person was held as convicted of the crime, and consequently liable to its punishment, viz. § If he had prophesied any thing in the name of any other god, whether it took place or not-he was at all events considered as a false prophet, and, as such, stoned to death. (Deut. xiii. 2–6.)—(2.) If a prophet spoke in the name of the true God, he was tolerated, so long as he remained unconvicted of imposture, even though he threatened calamity or destruction to the state, and he could not be punished: but when the event which he had predicted did not come to pass, he was regarded as an audacious impostor, and, as such, was stoned. (Deut. xviii. 21, 22.)
4. Divination is the conjecturing of future events from things which are supposed to presage them. The eastern people were always fond of divination, magic, the curious arts of interpreting dreams, and of obtaining a knowledge of future events. When Moses gave the law which bears his name to the Israelites, this
disposition had long been common in Egypt and the neighbouring countries. Now, all these vain arts in order to pry into futurity, and all divination whatever, unless God was consulted by prophets, or by Urim and Thummim (the sacred lot kept by the high priest), were expressly prohibited by the statutes of Lev. xix. 26. 31. xx. 6. 23. 27. and Deut. xviii. 9-12. In the case of a person transgressing these laws, by consulting a diviner, God reserved to himself the infiction of his punishment; the transgressor not being amenable to the secular magistrate. (Lev. xx. 6.) The diviner himself was to be stoned. (Lev. xx. 27.)
5. Perjury is, by the Mosaic law, most peremptorily prohibited as a most heinous sin against God; to whom the punishment of it is left, and who in Exod. xx. 7. expressly promises that he will inflict it, without ordaining the infliction of any punishment by the temporal magistrate ; except only in the case of a man falsely charging another with a crime, in which case the false witness was liable to the same punishment which would have been inflicted on the accused party if he had been found to have been really guilty (as is shown in P:
135. infra); not indeed as the punishment of perjury against God, but of false witness.
II. CRIMES AGAINST PARENTS and MAGISTRATES constitute an important article of the criminal law of the Hebrews.
1. In the form of government among that people, we recognise much of the patriarchal spirit; in consequence of which fathers enjoyed great rights over their families. The cursing of parents --that is, not only the imprecation of evil on them, but probably also all rude and reproachful language towards them, was punished with death. (Exod. xxi. 17. Levit. xx. 9.); as likewise was the striking of them. (Exod. xxi. 15.) An example of the crime of cursing of a parent, which is fully in point, is given by Jesus Christ in Matt. xv. 4-6. or Mark vii. 9-12.; " where he upbraids the Pharisees with their giving, from their deference to human traditions and doctrines, such an exposition of the divine law, as converted an action, which, by the law of Moses, would have been punished with death, into a vow, both obligatory and acceptable in the sight of God. It seems, that it was then not uncommon for an undutiful and degenerate son, who wanted to be rid of the burden of supporting his parents, and in his wrath, to turn them adrift upon the wide world, to say to his father or mother, Korban, or, Be that Korban (consecrated) which I should appropriate to thy support; that is, Every thing wherewith I might ever aid or serve thee, and, of course, every thing, which I ought to devote to thy relief in the days of helpless old age, I here vow unto God. A most abominable vow indeed! and which God would, unquestionably, as little approve or accept, as he would a vow to commit adultery. And yet some of the Pharisees pronounced on such vows this strange decision; that they were absolutely obligatory, and that the son, who uttered such words, was bound to abstain from contributing, in the smallest article, to the use of his parents; because VOL. III.