Original Ten Commandments
An angel of the Lord guided Joseph Smith to recover numerous plates of scripture of ancient inhabitants of America buried on a hill near him. They including among other books the Book of Mormon and the Book of the Law of the Lord. He translated the Book of Mormon. James J. Strang—his legal successor in the Prophetic Office—received the plates with the Book of the Law of the Lord. This is the only place the original commandments are found. The Ten Commandments of sectarian churches provide only an abbreviation and then leave out the second most important commandment. “37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” (Matt. 22)
James J. Strang noted in the Book of the Law: “But of all the lost books the most important was the Book of the Law of the Lord. This was kept in the ark of the covenant, and was held too sacred to go into the hands of strangers. When the Septuagint translation was made, the Book of the Law was kept back, and the Book lost to the Jewish nation in the time that they were subject to foreign powers. The various books in the Pentateuch, containing abstracts of some of the laws, have been read instead of it, until even the existence of the book has come to be a matter of doubt.“It is from an authorized copy of that book, written on metallick plates long previous to the Babylonish captivity, that this translation is made. And being made by the same spirit by which the words were originally dictated, it is beyond doubt as perfect as the language will admit of. The utmost pains has been taken to make the execution of it in all respects what it should be, and the editor flatters himself that no errour has crept into the body of the work, and none of importance into the notes. That a little ambiguity may exist in some places, by means of the ambiguous or double import of words, is not doubted. Until a perfect language exists, it is not possible that it should be otherwise.” James J. Strang
The following was published at Saint James, Beaver Island in 1856. Notes are by James J. Strang. The Original
BOOK OF THE LAW OF THE LORD
From the plates of LabanRecovered by Joseph SmithTranslated by James J. Strang
THE DECALOGUE.11. These Commandments were given by the voice of God, in Mount Sinai, to Moses, and to all Israel; (Deut. ix, 10;) for though Moses and the Elders of Israel only went into the Mount, (Ex. xxiv, 1, 2, 9-11,) and Moses alone received the Tables of the Law; yet all Israel heard the voice of God, when he gave the Commandments. (Ex. xix, 16-19. xx, 22. Deut. v, 4, 5. Josephus’ Ant., B. iii, ch. v, 4.)2. The Commandments were written on two tables of stone, by the finger of God. (Deut. ix, 10, 11.) Moses broke these tables; after which he prepared two others, on which God wrote the same words, (Deut. x, 2, 4, 5,) and the tables were placed in the Ark of the Covenant, (Josephus’ Ant., B. viii, ch. iv, 1. Heb. ix, 4,) and kept within the Tabernacle and the Temple until the Babylonish captivity. (2d Mac. ii, 4, 5.)3. They were not restored to the Esdraic Temple, (Buck’s Th. Dic. “Ark.” But. Con. “Temple,”) and the Jews have not possessed them since going into Babylon.4. It was never allowable to write the exact words of the tables, (Josephus’ Ant., B. iii, ch. v, 4,) except in the Exemplar of the Law, kept in the Sanctuary. But the substance of them, as written out by the Prophets for publick use, is now restored by divine authority.1Ten Commandments, Ex. xx, 3-17. Deut. v, 7-21. Matt. xxii, 37-40. Mark xii, 30, 31. Luke x, 27. Rom. xiii, 9. on another, but we are forbidden to desire the possession of it.I.
THOU shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy might, and with all thy strength:1 thou shalt adore him, and serve him, and obey him: thou shalt have no other gods before thee: thou shalt not make unto thee any image or likeness of anything that is in the heaven above, or in the earth beneath, or in the waters of the earth, to bow thyself unto it, or to worship it: thou shalt not bow down thyself unto, nor adore anything that thine eye beholdeth, or thy imagination conceiveth of; but the Lord thy God only; for the Lord thy God is a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, from generation to generation, even upon all that hate him, and showing a multitude of mercies unto them that keep his commandments.2 143 words,597 letters.
[1 See Ten Commandments, p. 17. Deut. vi, 5. x, 12. [2 Deut. vii, 9, 19.
1. The design of the Almighty evidently is to found his government in love; and to make that the chief sanction of his law. Love is the first thing required of all men; love unto God, who first loved us, and who bestows on us all the good which we possess.2. The adoration service and obedience, which he demands of us, are but the natural sequence of that love; and the universal prohibition of false gods, is a necessary means of keeping our hearts unto him; for if we were allowed to bestow divine adoration on fire, the sun, or any instrument of his munificence, or any statue, or symbol, or any man, or officer, or imaginary being, as his representative, man’s shortsightedness would forget God, and soon worship only the creature.3. Thus the earth is filled with examples of nations relapsing to idolatry through such small beginnings as setting up apt symbols of God’s perfections, to be worshipped by the ignorant, instead of the God whose majesty they symbolized.4. The priesthood and the generality of the learned in most Pagan nations, do not worship the idols which they set up for the ignorant to adore; but rather the majesty who is above them, or the power and beneficence which they represent.5. And in Roman Catholick countries, it is to be feared that many of the ignorant, really terminate their adoration on the cross, the images and pictures, with which their churches are filled: though the mere presence of them in the church is not objectionable.6. Though God has founded his government in love, and made that the chief sanction of his law, we are not allowed for one moment to imagine that he will not punish sin, or that he will look upon it with any degree of allowance.7. For in the same breath he tells us that he is a jealous God, visiting iniquity on all that hate him; not as some have said, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon their innocent posterity; but upon their children who abide in their sins.8. Often it happens that though the father alone may have committed the sin, the children are its beneficiaries. If the fathers have obtained property by fraud and violence, the children who inherit it, receive it, subject to the curse; and unless they make reparation for the iniquity, must expect to be visited with the wrath of God, as for a sin done in their own persons.
Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain:1 thou shalt not usurp dominion as a ruler; for the name of the Lord thy God is great and glorious above all other names:2 he is above all, and is the only true God: the only just and upright King over all: he alone hath the right to rule; and in his name, only he to whom he granteth it:3 whosoever is not chosen of him, the same is a usurper, and unholy: the Lord will not hold him guiltless, for he taketh his name in vain.100 words,367 letters.
[1 See Ten Commandments, p.17. [2 Deut. xxviii, 58. [3 Dan. vii, 13, 14, 26, 27. Matt. xxviii, 18. Luke i, 38. Eph. i, 18-21. Phil. ii, 9-11. Heb. ii, 8. Rev. i, 3. ii, 26, 27.
1. By the first Commandment God establishes a government among men, which he makes supreme in all things. But as every government, besides laws and the sovereign power whence they emanate, must also have officers by whom the laws shall be administered; so those officers must derive their authority from the sovereign, in legal form.2. All officers act in the name of him from whom they de-rive their authority. In the several American States the official acts of most State officers are done “in the name of the people of the State.”3. Officers of the Federal Government, act “in the name of the United States of America.” In the monarchies of Europe, official acts are done “in the name” of the sovereign. And in voluntary societies and corporations, the officers act “in the name” of the society or corporation.4. It therefore appears that to act in the name of any one, is to act by his authority; and to act in the name of God, is to act by his authority.5. Hence taking the name of God in vain, is taking his authority without being authorized; it is attempting to govern, without being called to that office; in any matter wherein God has declared a law, and appointed an administrator of the law.6. It follows, therefore, that every form of government among men, which was not instituted of God, is a usurpation, (Zech. xiv, 9, 17, Dan. ii, 44. vii, 14. Rev. xi, 15,) and that every exercise of the proper functions of government under it, is a taking of the name of God in vain, as every exercise of functions not proper to government, is tyranny.7. Priests made by the authority of man, and not called of God; Priests who constantly profess to have received no dispensation from God, and who deny that he has revealed himself to any for eighteen hundred years, do constantly administer in his name, as boldly as though they were sent by him.8. They baptize in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; they go about doing works in the assumed power and might of God’s ministers, of whom Jesus Christ said, “I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matt vii, 23.)9. He did not deny that they had preached, prophesied, or worked miracles in his name. He denounced them as workers of iniquity, because they were unknown to him; that is, were not his ministers. They took God’s name in vain.10. God has appointed a door to the priesthood; a call of God by revelation, and an ordaining by the hands of his ministers; (Heb. v, 4. Ex. xxviii, l. 1st Tim. iv, 14. Acts vii, 35;) and Christ declares that he that comes not in by the door, but climbs up some other way, is a thief and a robber. (John x, 1.)III.
Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work; thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy manservant, nor thy womanservant, nor thy cattle, nor the stranger that is within thy gates: for in six ages the Lord thy God made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that in them is, and rested the seventh age: wherefore the Lord thy God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it:1 thou shalt keep it holy unto him, that thou forget not the Law, nor be found keeping the company of the vile, nor be despised by the righteous. 129 words,508 letters.
[1 See Ten Commandments, p. 17. Gen. ii, 2, 3.
1. The day of rest originated in the rest of God, when he ceased the work of creation, at the making of man, to have dominion over the earth.2. It was had in remembrance as an institution of God, before promulgated by his voice in Sinai; (Gen. ii, 2, 3. Ex. xvi, 23;) and there is no ground for believing that the sanctifying of the Sabbath, was not a law among the Patriarchs and the Antediluvians, because it is not mentioned in the scriptures; for from the time of Moses until that of Solomon, when it was unquestionably in force, it is nowhere mentioned.3. Throughout Christendom, with some slight exceptions, the first day, and not the seventh, is kept as a Sabbath. For this they have no warrant in the scriptures, and pretend to none. (Buck’s Th. Dic. “Sabbath.”) The reason given for the change, is, that Christ raised from the dead the first day, and the attempt is to justify it by tradition, and the practice of the Church.4. But, evidently, the Church have no power to change or abrogate a commandment of God, who required us to keep the seventh day, not any other day in the seven.5. The early Christians did undoubtedly frequently meet on the first day for religious worship, precisely as the Saints do nowadays, in exclusively Christian communities; not because they regarded it as the Sabbath of God, but because on that day, being the regular day of heathen festivals, men would come together to hear them.6. Keeping the first day as a Sabbath, instead of the seventh, is one of the innovations forced upon Christianity by the Emperour Constantine, to make the change of national religion less difficult.7. The very language of this Commandment, seems to pre-sage the propensity of man to change the Sabbath; remember the Sabbath day; and God, foreseeing what wicked men would do, has placed on his chosen a special injunction that they keep that day in all their generations for a perpetual covenant; (Ex. xxxi, 13-17;) and awful penalties are denounced against those who abolish it.8. The Sabbath is appointed for men in every station in life. The crime of exacting labour of children and servants on the Sabbath day, is a great offence unto God. But it is the Sabbath of the beast as well as of men, and to work beasts for our pleasure or profit, is an offence unto God.
IV.Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.1 thou shalt not revile him, nor speak evil of him, nor curse him:2 thou shalt do no injustice unto him; and thou shalt maintain his right, against his enemy: thou shalt not exact rigorously of him, nor turn aside from relieving him: thou shalt deliver him from the snare and the pit, and shalt return his ox when he strayeth: thou shalt comfort him when he mourns, and nurture him when he sickens: thou shalt not abate the price of what thou buyest of him, for his necessity; nor shalt thou exact of him, because he leaneth upon thee: for in so doing thousands shall rise up and call thee blessed, and the Lord thy God shall strengthen thee in all the work of thy hand. 133 words,558 letters.
[1 See Ten Commandments, p. 17. Lev. xix, 18. Matt. xix. 19. Gal. v, 14. James ii, 8. [2 Matt. v, 22. Rom. xii, 14.
1. As God has founded his government on the dominion of love, and as our principal relations in life are to God as a superiour, and to our neighbours as fellows, love to our neigh-bour is as necessary to a faithful observance of his law, as love to him.2. All the Commandments which follow after, are but the elaboration of the law, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself;” a law very aptly expressed in that other form of words, “Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.” (Matt. vii, 12. Luke vi, 31.)3. Many infidel writers of late years, have attempted to de-rive this precept, under the name of the golden rule, from heathen philosophers, and have claimed that Christ borrowed it from Zoraster, or Confucius; whereas, they, as well as he, have only copied it, with a slight change of words, from the Commandment, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”4. The doctrine contained in it, is original with God, and does not even date with Moses, but was known in the days of Adam; and it was in violation of this law, as well as that which says, thou shalt not kill, that Cain lifted up his hand against Abel.5. If all men were under the law of God, this law would introduce a universal brotherhood: a consummation most desirable. But so long as men are found in rebellion against the law of God, it is most important that those who cleave unto it should remember this thing, that they love one another.6. If any one has really done us an injury, we ought, as far as possible, to believe that he was blinded to the right by the common infirmities of our corrupt nature, rather than that he has deliberately, and of malice aforethought, designed to do a wrong.7. But if the utmost stretch of charity will not bring us to so favourable a conclusion, still we should remember that his corrupt conduct will injure him more than us, and so remembering, should look upon him as an object of compassion, whom we ought to reclaim, rather than an object of vengeance, to be destroyed.8. Even when we are obliged to bring him to judgment, our prayer should be that he be not utterly condemned; but that when he is found in the wrong, there may be found room for repentance.
Honour thy father and thy mother:1 give heed to their commandments, obey their laws, and depart not from their precepts: reverence their age, and seek unto their house all the days of thy life: exalt not thyself against them, nor withhold to build up their house above thine own: honour and obey the King and the Judges, and the rulers, and all that are set in authority; for they are as fathers among the people: that they may be a fear unto evil doers; and the Priest also, who stands before the Lord, that he may instruct thee: and thy days shall be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.114 words476 letters.
[1 See Ten Commandments, p. 17. Matt. xv, 4-6. xix, 19. Mark vii, 10. Eph. vi, 1-3.
1. The Patriarchal ages were distinguished by veneration for parents, and deference to age, as well as by a proper regard for those who by their priesthood, or office, stood as fathers of the people.2. Even at this day, in some Oriental and Levantine countries, children so honour their fathers and mothers.3. But in no country on earth, have men so far departed from this rule, as in the United States.4. It is the continual scandal of the time and country, that children constantly speak of their parents as the “old man and woman;” and as age grows upon them, rather look upon them as encumbrances upon the estate, than as heads of the house.5. This evil is increasing with time. A single generation back, children were instructed at home and at school, to make obeisance to parents, teachers, and to men and women generally, at entering and leaving a house, at meeting them on all occasions, and especially on receiving favours from them.6. All this is changed now. Very small children pride themselves on wanting respect to age, station, and parentage. This is all wrong.7. The general lawlessness which pervades the continent, the boldness with which laws and the ministers of justice are defied, by small bodies of men, grow naturally out of the education of boys, in the customary manner.8. But due honour to parents, does not consist solely in mere forms. The whole idea that at a certain age a son becomes independent of his father, is vicious.9. A son should be subject to his father all his days. He should ever look up to him as the head of the house, and though separately established on his own inheritance, should pay such deference to him, as he in turn would desire from his own sons.10. If parents attempt to use their authority over their sons, for selfish and private ends, endeavouring to make mere servants of them, instead of building them up, they greatly abuse their authority. (Col. iii, 20, 21.)11. But for that or greater causes, children cannot justify dishonouring their parents, though they may refuse submission to mere usurpation.12. It is every man’s duty, as far as in his power, and at as early a period as possible, to establish his sons in such position as to make them useful members of society, remembering that when so established they are yet his sons, and their honour is his honour. VI.
Thou shalt not kill:1 thou shalt slay no man in malice; neither thy child, nor thy wife, nor thy bondman, nor thy bondwoman, nor thy servant: nor the child of thy servant: neither shalt thou slay thine enemy, except thou admonish him, and entreat him, and he hear thee not, and God give him into thy hand: thou shalt only slay him in lawful war: and if any man trespass against thee, and break through, and do violence, thou shalt not slay him in revenge. If thou overtake him in the trespass, thou mayest resist unto blood; but except thou slay him in the trespass, thou shalt deliver him to the Judge; he shall judge him, and the hand of the officer shall be on him. 126 words, 518 letters.
1. In very few Christian countries, have publick men had the moral courage to refuse duelling which once became so thoroughly established as an honourable arbitrament of controversies, as to have a force little less than that of law.2. Duelling is now, to some extent, discarded. But in place of it has risen up the more barbarous Lynch law, in pursuance of which mobs get up mock courts, to judge those they have already doomed to exile or death.3. To execute the judgments of such courts, is as much murder, as any killing under any circumstances can be. No amount of evidence of the real guilt of the condemned can give the slightest colour of justification to such a deed.4. All killing by mobs, or bodies of unauthorized men, acting upon no matter what provocation, and not in open and legal war, belong to the category of mere murder.5. Nor should that be regarded as legal war, which men by their law have authorized, but only that which the law of God authorizes.6. Consequently, he who voluntarily enters upon an unjust war, is guilty of murder. As part of the force, he is guilty, when death is inflicted by others.7. Nor will he be justified, though required by the law of his country; for that which the law of God declares to be sin, man cannot make lawful.8. It is, therefore, the duty of the Saints, to abstain from all wars which are not authorized by the express word of God, or the plain principles of his law; as from murder.9. Many laws have been made among men, especially among barbarous nations, which are themselves opposed to the divine law, and enforced with the punishment of death.10. To have any share, however indirectly, in enforcing such laws, or inflicting the penalties for their violation, is in the last degree culpable.11. It does not follow, however, that one should rebel against such governments. In most cases it is better to remove beyond their dominion.12. To those who remain, remonstrance is better than resistance. If one is thus involved in punishment, patient, unresisting submission, is a faithful testimony against sin.13. Even those trades and employments not necessary for the happiness of mankind, and which minister principally to vices destructive of life, are in their nature murderous, and should be avoided as deadly sins, which God will judge. VII.
Thou shalt not commit adultery:1 thou shalt not in any wise lie with the wife of thy neighbour; and if she seduce thee, thou shalt resist her; that thou pollute not thyself, and make not the place of thy house unclean, and destroy not the house of thy neighbour, and that thou cause no violence in the land:2 thou shalt not lie with the wife of the stranger; neither shalt thou lie with the wife of thine enemy; lest thy children be scattered abroad, and know not thee, nor the fear of thee be upon them, and they be strangers to the covenant of God, and the whole land be corrupt, and thine offspring be destroyed with the wicked. 119 words,495 letters.
[1 See Ten Commandments, p. 17. Matt. v, 27, 28. [2 Case of Sodom, Gen. xix, Case of the Benjaminites, Judges xix, xx. 2d Sam. xii, 10.
1. Few crimes have worked so terrible destruction among men as adultery, that popular vice, which, in these degenerate days, is rather boasted of, than concealed, by the guilty.2. The most wicked delusion of the times, is that which places the obligation of chastity, on woman alone; visiting the penalty of crime on the victim, rather than on the criminal.3. Every man of the world understands very well, that with-in certain trifling limitations, he can indulge in unrestrained licentiousness, without suffering reproach in fashionable society.4. Worse than this; those who are reputed successful in this crime, are most popular among women, and envied by men. Thus society offers bounties for the crime which, of all others, most desolates the household, and the social circle.5. There can be no remedy for these evils until chastity becomes the duty of men, as well as women. Such is the rule of God’s law. The interdict of adultery is addressed principally to men, as the persons chiefly bound to preserve the sanctity of this Commandment.6. This rule was well understood in the days of the Patriarchs, as well as in later times. Joseph resisted the seductions of his master’s wife, and numerous instances are recorded where crimes against chastity, were visited on the guilty men, rather than on their victims. (2d Sam. xii, 9, 10. Gen. xxxiv, 1, 2. 25-29.)7. Happily for the people of God, this rule, in spite of the corrupt education, which, as Gentiles, they received, has become a sentiment among the Saints, so strong that treating it lightly produces universal indignation.8. Among Gentiles a man would be laughed at and lose caste, who professed to practise chastity in the face of strong temptation; but a woman once overtaken in sin, is irrecoverably disgraced, no matter by what false practices overcome.9. But among the Saints, a man guilty of adultery, would be avoided as though infected with a plaguespot, and his victim, though deeply disgraced, might hope, by a long course of humility and penitence, for some of that forgiving charity, which, from the infirmities of human nature, all so much need.10. The crime of fornication is only an inferiour kind of adultery. For, as adultery is a pollution of the marriage bed, so fornication is the pollution of the bed of celibacy.11. Nor should any one imagine for a moment, that any subsequent reparation can justify fornication. For though the law compels the guilty seducer to marry the victim on whom he has begotten seed, he is yet guilty.
Thou shalt not steal:1 thou shalt not trespass upon anything that is thy neighbour’s, to take it from him, nor to destroy it: neither shalt thou trespass upon the stranger that dwelleth within thy gates, to destroy his substance, nor to take it from him;2 for to thee he looketh for justice, and a shield round about all that he hath; and the fear of the Lord thy God is upon him also, and to his righteousness he also seeketh: neither shalt thou overreach him by cunning, nor by stratagem, to take his substance from thy neighbour, nor the stranger within thy gates. Remember that ye were strangers, and were oppressed, and oppress not the stranger, lest his cry ascend to God against you. 124 words,545 letters.
[1 See Ten Commandments, p. 17. 1st Thess. iv, 6. 1st Cor. vi, 8-10. [2 Ex. xxii, 21. Jer. vii, 5, 6. Zech. vii, 10. Mal. iii, 5.
1. The general interdict, “Thou shalt not steal,” does not prohibit larceny alone, but all those modes and contrivances, by which one person appropriates the labour or property, of another, unjustly.2. Even if the unjust appropriation be consummated through legal forms; or the consent of the victim be obtained through deception or fraud; or by taking advantage of mental imbecility; it is stealing as much as where the taking is done secretly, without the consent of the owner.3. Obtaining property by gambling is stealing; for the owner receives nothing for that with which he parts; and the inducement of each to the undertaking, is the hope of obtaining of the other something for nothing.4. Taking property in pledge for debts or advances disproportionate to the amount pledged, and retaining it forfeited for nonpayment, is another mode of stealing.5. Letting money on mortgage, and buying the mortgaged property at the mortgage sale for less than its value, is stealing; and if two combine, one to take the mortgage, and the other to buy the property, both are alike guilty.6. Buying or selling property to be delivered on time, at a fixed price, and operating on the markets to produce an artificial scarcity or abundance, so as to obtain money for releasing the contract, or damages for the nonperformance of it, or any similar transaction, equivalent to that, is only a civil mode of stealing.7. In fine, all those speculative transactions, by which one man obtains from another anything valuable, without making what is esteemed by both parties a just and full equivalent partakes of the nature and guilt of theft.8. But these definitions do not include letting money at reasonable interest. For the use of money is of substantial worth, and it is just that one who borrows money to make money by the investment of it, should pay for the use of it.9. Nor do they extend to buying property in quantity, to be retailed at a higher price; for the subdivision and keeping open market is a just consideration for a higher price. And so of all legitimate commercial transactions, where a real difference in the value of property is produced by transportation, transmutation, or timely retention.10. Neither do they extend to cases where bounties are offered to the successful competitors in any laudable under-taking, and truly awarded, and so received.
Thou shalt not bear false witness:1 thou shalt not speak falsely before the King, nor before the Judge, nor in the assembly of the Princes, nor in the presence of the Ruler, nor unto the Minister of the Law, nor among the multitude;2 nor in the ear of thy friend, nor to thy wife, nor thy child, nor thy servant: neither shalt thou withhold the truth from the King, nor the Judge, nor him that is set in authority: for thus shall righteousness be established in all thy borders. 89 words,373 letters.
[1 See Ten Cornmandments, p. 17. Deut. xix, 18-21. [2 Ex. xxiii, 1, 7. Ps. xv, 3. ci, 5.
1. At Common Law a man is liable to be punished for bearing false witness, only when under oath; and then only in cases where the proceeding is judicial, the oath false, the intention wilful, the assertion absolute, the falsehood material to the matter in question, and the person legally sworn. (Chitty’s Crim. Law, Vol. ii, p. 302, 303)2. So narrow is this rule, that any person may swear in the most solemn manner to anything whatever, no matter how false, in any case not in the course of proceedings at law, and he is subject to no punishment.3. And on a trial for perjury, if it should turn out that the Magistrate before whom the perjury was committed was not duly qualified, or that in some manner he had failed to get jurisdiction of the cause, or that the particular part of the testimony wherein the perjury was committed was not material to the issue, no matter how corrupt the intention, or how false the testimony of the accused, he would go clear, legally.4. Indeed, so loose is the rule of law among Gentiles on this subject, that for all practical purposes nearly all perjury, and every form of false witness not under oath, is lawful.5. If it should be alleged that the laws against libel and slander are a restraint upon false witness in cases less than perjury, it should be remembered that the action for a libel is not founded on its falsehood, but on its tendency to cause a breach of the peace; and an indictment for a libel lays for printing the truth, as well as a falsehood, though lately this rule has been slightly modified.6. And the action for slander cannot be maintained, simply for bearing false witness against another; but for falsely accusing him of some indictable offence, involving moral turpitude, or subjecting him to infamous punishment; (5 Johns. R., 188;) some act injurious to him in his profession or business; (8 Johns. R., 64. 1 Johns. C., 330. 5 Johns. R., 476. 17 Johns. R., 217;) or anything by which he suffers a pecuniary injury. (10 Johns. R., 281. 5 Cow., 351. 1 Wend., 506.)7. Under these rules perjury and slander, false witness in nearly every form, are actually legal. One may, by his falsehoods, keep the neighbourhood in a perpetual broil; speak evil of dignities, and almost all manner of falsehood of the purest of God’s creatures, and the law has no bridle for his tongue.8. The Law of God changes all this. It exacts truth of all men, in all places, when it allows anything to be put in issue; and takes no denial, when it makes inquisition.9. Its searching supervision goes into the family circle, and forbids that a man speak falsely to his wife, his child, or his servant; and among the multitude it rebukes the talebearer, and forbids all men to raise a false report.
Thou shalt not covet thy neighbours inheritance: thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, nor his bondman, nor his bondwoman, nor his manservant, nor his womanservant, nor his horse, nor his carriage, nor the instruments of his labour, nor the produce of his land, nor the things that he has made, nor the treasures that he has in store, nor anything that is thy neighbour’s:1 thy desire shall not be upon them, to take them by stealth, nor by fraud, nor by cunning, nor by violence: neither shalt thou covet that which belongeth to the stranger that dwelleth within thy gates;2 but thou shalt improve thine own, and thy desire shall be unto it; lest thou be corrupt, and the hand of thy neighbours be against thee, and the cry of the poor ascend to God against thee.3 138 words,605 letters.Total-10 sec., 1,215 words, 5,042 letters
[1 See Ten Commandments, p. 17. Mic. ii, 1, 2 Hab. ii, 9. Eph.v, 3, 5. Heb. xiii, 5, [2 Ex. xxii, 21. xxiii, 9. Jer. vii, 6. Zech. vii, 10. Mal. iii, 5. [3 Ex. xxii, 27. Ps. cxiv, 19. on another, but we are forbidden to desire the possession of it..
1. Other systems of Law are satisfied with external actions. God’s Law demands the allegiance of the heart. It will not be satisfied because our actions appear to be righteous; only when we are moved to them by just motives.2. Thus we are not merely forbidden to steal, but we are forbidden to desire our neighbour’s property. We are not merely forbidden to usurp dominion which God has bestowed3. Covetousness does not consist in the desire to increase our substance, and multiply riches; for that desire is laudable. Covetousness is the desire to obtain that which is another’s, rather than to increase our own by production.4. Many men, possessed of industry and talent, spend their lives in a series of efforts to make themselves rich on the possessions, or out of the earnings of others; when, with equal efforts, they could produce wealth.5. So great is this propensity, that there are numerous occupations and professions, the chief business of which is, not to make anything valuable, or add value to anything in being, but to get away something from the owner; and either leave him destitute, or to new toils to supply himself.6. Such business is unlawful. If our neighbour has a good farm, we have a right to desire as good; but we have no right to desire his, even for a price. Our desires ought to be to our own, and we should seek to improve that, and make it desirable, rather than get away that of another.7. God created all the land for man. Man made none of it. Why should he sell it? There is enough for all, if they will but go and possess it. Why take that of any man, when there is countless millions as good, unoccupied?8. It is the duty of every man to obtain an inheritance, if he has none, and labour faithfully to improve it, and make it a good inheritance for his posterity; and that his desire be unto it, and to the substance which he shall accumulate, and not to that of his neighbour.9. And it is not right to seek to purchase, or to tempt any one to sell that which he needs for himself, or his household. We should rather produce for ourselves, or buy that which was produced for the market.
Notes on the Decalogue by James J. Strang
20. Had the divine spirit guided and inspired the theologians of Christendom; in the impossibility of making more than nine Commandments, in the reading which they adopted, they would have looked to the words of Christ, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself,” (Matt. xxii, 39. Mark, xii, 31. Luke, x, 27. Rom. xiii, 9. Gal. v, 14. James ii, 8,) to supply the lack, as he declared this to be one of the Commandments.21. The wisdom of men never made the discovery. It was left till the translation of the plates of Laban, by the gift and power of God. But the discovery once made, the Bible of all the sects is our witness.22. The Commandments, as here given, were translated by the Prophet James, from the plates which were taken by Nephi from Laban, in Jerusalem, (B. of M. 1st Nephi i,) and brought to America, in the time of Zedekiah, King of Judah; and are the substance of the two tables, written by the finger of God in the days of Moses.23 Though the exact words of the two tables were never written in any book, (Josephus’ Ant. B. iii, ch. v, 4,) except that kept in the most holy place, the substance was carefully written out by the inspired Prophets, and to the paraphrases so prepared, all transcribers of repute made their copies conform.24. Subsequent to the Babylonish captivity, the Jews were without the Divine Tables, and the literal copy of the Law which belonged to the Sanctuary. They had only the copies used by the Prophets. These have long since been lost.25. The Jews were not fond of allowing their sacred books to pass into the hands of the Gentiles. Jews had become very numerous in Alexandria, and the use of the Greek language among them was so general, that vast numbers were unable to read Hebrew, before the translation of the Old Testament into that language.26. Even then the translation into the Greek language was made at the instance of a powerful and liberal King, Ptolemy Philadelphus, who obtained this favour of the Jews by liberating many of them from captivity, rather than of their own disposition. From the account of Josephus (Ant. B. xii, ch. ii,) it is doubtful how much of the Sacred Oracles were then translated; but the reasonable inference is, that it was so much of the Old Testament as in the tripartite division of Law, Prophets and Psalms, was called the Law, to wit, the books of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, the two books of Samuel, and the two books of Kings.27. But these are not the “Book of the Law of the Lord,” for that was written by Moses, and placed in the Ark of the Testimony in his day; (Deut. xxxi, 24—26;) whereas, many of these books were written subsequently.28. This tripartite division of the Old Testament was subsequent to the Babylonish captivity, and the name “Law” appears to have been adopted, because those books contained numerous recitals and illustrations of the Law, and were a convenient substitute for the book itself, which had become very rare.29. It is reputed, however, that the genuine “Book of the Law,” that is, an authorized paraphrase of it, was actually, translated into Greek in the time of Ptolemy Philadelphus; and numerous incredible tales are found on the subject in old Jewish legends, nearly all of which, in a still less credible form, have been preserved by the Christians of the third and fourth centuries, as applicable to the Septuagint Bible.30. The most credible history of this translation is that contained in the Hebrew preface to the Book of Jasher, (Jasher, p. xvii,) where, after giving an account of the translation of the other sacred books for Ptolemy Philadelphus, the writer says: “After some time the persecutors of Israel became aware of this, that the Israelites had not sent the Book of the Law to the King, and they came and said unto him, ‘0 King, the Israelites have treated thee with contempt; for they did not send to thee the Book of the Law, which we had mentioned to thee, but they sent to thee another book, which they had in their hands; therefore send to them that they may forward unto thee the Book of their Law; for from that book thou wilt obtain thy desire, much more than from the book which they have sent to thee.’ So when the King heard their words, he became exceedingly wroth against the Israelites, and his anger burned within him until he sent again to them for them to forward to him the Book of the Law. Fearing that they might still continue to scorn him, he acted prudently with them, and sent to seventy of their Elders, and placed them in seventy houses, that each should write the Book of the Law, so that no alteration might be found in it, and the divine spirit rested upon them, and they wrote for him seventy books, and they were all of one version, without addition or diminution. At this the King rejoiced greatly, and he honoured the Elders, together with all the Jews; and he sent offerings and gifts to Jerusalem, as it is written there.At his death the Israelites acted cunningly with his son, and took from his treasures the Book of the Law, but left the Book of Jasher there, and took it not away, in order that every future King might know the wonders of the Lord, blessed be his name, and that he had chosen Israel from all nations, and that there is no God beside him.”31. All this carries with it the air of probability, except the assertion that seventy separate translations were made, of the entire book, which is doubtless a mere mistake in the relation, by some person over fond of the marvellous. Each translator was assigned his portion or seventieth part of the Law to translate, without communicating with the others; and as the parts, when put together, formed a continuous series or code of laws, the King was satisfied that they had furnished him the genuine Book of the Law; though the translation was not quite as perfect as it might have been, had the seventy been allowed to help each other.32. But this book, so placed in the Alexandrian Library, it is expressly asserted, was withdrawn from the Library at the end of that reign, and no trace of it is found in the history of the Eastern Continent, at any subsequent period. The anxiety of the Jews to prevent its falling into the hands of the Gentiles was so great, as to preclude the multiplication of copies, and in their various persecutions the few copies in existence were lost.33. The tables of stone had never been restored since the Babylonish captivity. Consequently, before the Christian era, the sole evidence of the import of the Ten Commandments was oral tradition, and such books as incidentally related the substance, without attempting to give the words of them. Had not God preserved them, we should now be without them, as our fathers were, and Christians are.