|Faith Strengthened||Chapter 16||Part 1|
Deuteronomy 27:26, "Cursed is he who will not keep the words of this law to fulfill them; and all the people shall say Amen." The Christians infer from this verse that the law of Moses curses all who neglect any commandment of the law, and there being so many commandments, no man can properly practice them: hence, all Jews must be cursed.
Refutation.—The tenor of this verse does not go to pronounce a curse against every one who will not keep the obligations and prohibitory laws set forth in the Books of Moses. A strict fulfillment of all the commandments is utterly impossible. Even our legislator Moses, the chief of prophets, observed only those which he found practicable out of Palestine; since many of the divine precepts had been especially adapted to and where solely practicable in the Holy Land. How much greater is the claim of other Israelites to be forgiven if they abandon certain precepts, the performance of which is rendered impracticable in consequence of existing circumstances? Nor will they be included in the curse if they transgress a commandment when led astray by the impulse of passion, provided it be followed by sincere repentance, "for there is no righteous man on earth who will do good and not sin;" and repentance is the balm and remedy for the pain and the mortification of sin. An instance is afforded in King David, though he sinned in the case of Uriah, the Hittite, he was not cursed (by reason of his repentance); on the contrary, he was blessed by the Almighty with an everlasting benediction, since a covenant was made with him that his throne should never be destroyed. See Jeremiah 33:20, "Thus speaketh the Lord, if ye can break my covenant with the day and my covenant with the night, and there should not be day and night in their season, then may also my covenant be broken with David my servant, that he should not have a son to reign upon this throne." The merit of his general piety availed during a long period to him and his seed after him, and to all his nation. See Isaiah 37:35, "And I shall protect the city and save it for mine own sake and for the sake of my servant David." This is a clear evidence, that a man failing to observe a portion of the divine law will not be accursed, so long as no opportunity of evincing his obedience has been afforded him. In like manner will he be spared who, sinning under the influence of passion, resolutely abandons his error, and shows sincere contrition. Only such a man is cursed who refuses to believe in the revealed will of the Almighty, or who rejects and contemns the divine commands.
In corroboration of the argument, we may refer to the identical words of the passage under consideration, viz., "Cursed is he who will not keep the words of the law to fulfill them." If no exception whatever were admissible in the rigid observance of the divine precepts, the inspired penman necessarily would have said, "Cursed be he who will not keep every word of the law." The latter words, "to fulfill them," shows that the malediction concerns only those who evade the opportunity of manifesting their obedience. We further find in Deuteronomy 28:15, "And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt not obey the voice of the Lord thy God to keep and fulfill all the commands and statutes which I command you this day, all these curses shall come upon thee and reach thee." This warning does not refer to a person who neglects the keeping and fulfillment of all the commandments without any exception, but to him who does not listen to the voice of God, but impiously rebels against it, and shakes off the yoke of divine government. The curses will come upon him if he does not finally return to God with perfect repentance. It is acknowledged that God gave the law to His people from pure love, not for His own sake, but for their benefit; nor did He multiply His commandments to weigh His creatures down with their burden, and bring perdition upon man’s soul, but to increase the claim of reward, and prepare the spirit for a glorious futurity. Not a single commandment is to be despised, for each contains the seed of heavenly bliss. The more strictly and diligently man conforms to the number of divine precepts, the greater becomes his worth and merit in the eyes of the Lord.
We find that Moses yearned to enter into the Holy Land in order to obtain an opportunity to fulfill all those commandments that had been ordained to be practiced in Palestine. Here we must remind the reader that the curses proclaimed in Deuteronomy 27, obviously relate to the commission of secret and revolting sins, for the maledictions contain the expression וְשָׂם בַּסָּתֶר "And who put it (viz., the idol) into a secret place," while overt transgressions meet punishment from the human tribunal. In a like manner we find, in the same chapter, that he will be cursed "who smites his neighbor secretly;" this alludes, also, to the slanderer who secretly injures his fellow-man. A parallel expression occurs in verse 5 of the 101st Psalm
, in the words "Whoso privily slandereth his neighbour, him will I cut off." To avoid the error of its being understood with regard to corporal punishment, the law adds the words secretly or privately. A similar curse recoils upon him who refuses to observe certain laws, because he considers the word of God unimportant, a presumption which certainly ranks among the secret sins. To sum up our review of these twelve verses of Deuteronomy 27, we remark, that in the same mode as the public transgressor is punished by public justice here below so the secret transgressor will be punished by the invisible and supreme justice of our Heavenly Father. Only that man will be condemned who obstinately persists in vice and scornfully disdains mercy which the Lord offers to repentant sinners. This again may be illustrated by the words in Deuteronomy 29:29, "The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but matters revealed, belong to us and to our children for ever." The Christians have argued against us from this verse without fully comprehending its purport, and we can oppose them on their own grounds, by referring them to the concluding verses of their Gospel, viz., "For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecies of these books, if any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in these books; and if any man shall take away from the words of the book of these prophecies, God shall take away his part out of the Book of Life and out of the Holy City, and from the promises written in these books." Now the Christians must be well aware that they have acted in contradiction to these emphatic warnings, in having both added and diminished from their own doctrines. Thus, for instance, they have made an innovation by keeping the Sabbath on the first day of the week instead of the seventh, for which no sanction whatever can be found in the Gospel. On the other hand, they have totally disregarded commands enforced on them. See Acts 15:20, where the eating of blood and of strangled creatures is forbidden. To these commands they actually do not conform, for they unscrupulously eat of both these forbidden articles.