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Readings for the Young

By S. S.

No. II

The Behests of God.

In striving to reduce the revelations of the Most High, and to explain his intentions, by the aid of our finite reasoning faculties, we seem to forget this truth, that we stand, in point of knowledge, in relation to the Supreme, (if we can at all draw comparisons between things finite and infinite,) a new-born infant to one with faculties matured by years of study and experience; and as we prescribe rules for the treatment of the infant, without his knowledge or consent, and which he cannot comprehend until he has <<595>>passed beyond the state of infancy, so those rules which the Omnipotent has made for our guidance, though we may not be able to understand their whole intent and purpose, in this stage of our being, are nevertheless ordained for our physical good and moral progression.

When our first parents were placed in that lovely garden which the Most High had planted himself, whose beauties the painter and the poet have tried in vain to portray, doubtless they could see no reason why the fruit of the tree which grew in the midst of the garden, and which looked so delicious, was not as good as any other fruit; death could not be hid in anything so fair and inviting! But, my young friends, the penalty was not incurred by eating the fruit as fruit, but in breaking the command of God. The only use we have to make of our powers of reasoning, when the behests of God are the subject of our inquiry, is to investigate with all the seriousness that such a subject demands, whether God did actually command us to do this or abstain from doing the other. If, on the other hand, we go beyond this rule, we enter at once into an argument with the Supreme, and place our wisdom and judgment in antagonism to His, by questioning the fitness or necessity of any precepts of his ordination. Not that He wishes us to follow blindly his commands; for like a loving parent He has, with but a very few exceptions, placed them in a light, so that we can comprehend their uses, and acknowledge the  superior wisdom from which they emanated.

The ordinance to which I shall refer to in these remarks, is that concerning the animals which we may eat for food, (Leviticus, chapter 11.) and those of whose flesh we may not partake, without breaking the express command of God. It is not necessary to argue here, whether “what entereth the mouth defileth the body,” or not; but simply, did God command us to abstain from certain things or not. If He did, then our disobeying Him will entail upon us its punishment. And as sin is only elicited by acting contrary to the commands of God, and as all his commands are equally sacred: it therefore follows, that the infringement of the dietetic laws will draw upon us a full measure of the just anger of our offended Creator. We should bear, too, in mind the reason given for abstaining from certain animal food, <<596>>“For I am the Lord that bringeth you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God,” (thus calling to our minds the gratitude due Him for redeeming us from a house of bondage,) “Ye shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.” (Lev. 11:45.)

To discover so simple a thing in the animal economy as the circulation of the blood, was sufficient to immortalize the name of a scientific researcher; but it was infinite wisdom which constructed the human frame, and adapted it to its several purposes, and said that it could not be rendered a temple meet for the dwelling of a divine spirit, (if its delicate organization was clogged by aliment repugnant to its essence,) for such is the soul of man. And as the soul of man is an emanation of the Supreme, who in His omnipotent state would occupy and dwell in the same human receptacle, this command swells into immense importance. “Be ye holy, for I am holy;” therefore ye shall not do aught to defile that abode, which I have created holy, and sanctified, lest I abhor it, and my presence forsake you.

But there is another point that is entirely overlooked, and that is, that we only take the life of an animal by the express permission of its Creator, and had He not given us this permission, it would have been sinful in us to take the life of any living creature, and wicked to have feasted upon flesh; so that we sin doubly in partaking of forbidden food. We break an express command of God, and take that life, and appropriate that to us, to which we have no right or title.

But as science advances, how is the wisdom of the Omniscient made manifest! The researches of the celebrated Dr. Clark have proven beyond a doubt, that leprosy and many other frightful cutaneous diseases originate in swine, and are communicated to the human subject, by using their flesh as food; which also predisposes the system to diseases, from which it would be exempt, if this article of food were abandoned. And if this is caused by the uncleanly habits of the animal, and its indiscriminate gluttony, without its caring much for the nicety of the substances; can those shellfish which serve as scavengers of the waters, prove more healthy? But though science shows us good reasons why we should not prove slaves to appetite in these particulars, I must fall back to my original propositions; for they alone must be the rule of conduct. If God commanded us to <<597>>abstain from partaking of the flesh of certain animals, (and none deny his having done so,) were they as inviting to the appetite as the fruit of the tree of life, we dare not partake of them!

That, as Israelites, the commands of God are all of the same weight and dignity to us!

And that no sophistry of ours can shield us from the punishment due to their infringement.