By swearing, and lying - Where there is no truth there will be lies and perjury; for false swearing is brought in to confirm lying statements. And when there is no mercy, killing, slaying, and murders, will be frequent. And where there is no knowledge of God, no conviction of his omnipresence and omniscience, private offenses, such as stealing, adulteries, etc., will prevail. These, sooner or later, break out, become a flood, and carry all before them. Private stealing will assume the form of a public robbery, and adulteries become fashionable, especially among the higher orders; and suits of crim. con. render them more public, scandalous, and corrupting. By the examination of witnesses, and reading of infamous letters in a court of justice, people are taught the wiles and stratagems to be used to accomplish these ends, and prevent detection; and also how to avoid those circumstances which have led to the detection of others. Every report of such matters is an experimental lecture on successful debauchery.
Blood toucheth blood - Murders are not only frequent, but assassinations are mutual. Men go out to kill each other; as in our duels, the frenzy of cowards; and as there is no law regarded, and no justice in the land, the nearest akin slays the murderer. Even in our land, where duels are so frequent, if a man kill his antagonist, it is murder; and so generally brought in by an honest coroner and his jury. It is then brought into court; but who is hanged for it? The very murder is considered as an affair of honor, though it began in a dispute about a prostitute; and it is directed to be brought in manslaughter; and the murderer is slightly fined for having hurried his neighbor, perhaps once his friend, into the eternal world, with all his imperfections on his head! No wonder that a land mourns where these prevail; and that God should have a controversy with it. Such crimes as these are sufficient to bring God's curse upon any land. And how does God show his displeasure? See the following verse.
By swearing, and lying - Literally, “swearing or cursing”, “and lying, and killing, and stealing, and committing adultery!” The words in Hebrew are nouns of action. The Hebrew form is very vivid and solemn. It is far more forcible than if he had said, “They swear, lie, kill, and steal.” It expresses that these sins were continual, that nothing else (so to speak) was going on; that it was all one scene of such sins, one course of them, and of nothing besides; as we say more familiarly, “It was all, swearing, lying, killing, stealing, committing adultery.” It is as if the prophet, seeing with a sight above nature, a vision from God, saw, as in a picture, what was going on, all around, within and without, and summed up in this brief picture, all which he saw. This it was and nothing but this, which met his eyes, wherever he looked, whatever he heard, “swearing, lying, killing, stealing, committing adultery.” The prophet had before said, that the ten tribes were utterly lacking in all truth, all love, all knowledge of God. But where there are none of these, “there,” in all activity, will be the contrary vices. When the land or the soul is empty of the good, it will be full of the evil. “They break out,” i. e., burst through all bounds, set to restrain them, as a river bursts its banks and overspreads all things or sweeps all before it. “And blood toucheth blood,” literally, “bloods touch bloods”. The blood was poured so continuously and in such torrents, that it flowed on, until stream met stream and formed one wide inundation of blood.
Popery had become the world's despot. Kings and emperors bowed to the decrees of the Roman pontiff. The destinies of men, both for time and for eternity, seemed under his control. For hundreds of years the doctrines of Rome had been extensively and implicitly received, its rites reverently performed, its festivals generally observed. Its clergy were honored and liberally sustained. Never since has the Roman Church attained to greater dignity, magnificence, or power. GC 60.1
But “the noon of the papacy was the midnight of the world.”—J. A. Wylie, The History of Protestantism, b. 1, ch. 4. The Holy Scriptures were almost unknown, not only to the people, but to the priests. Like the Pharisees of old, the papal leaders hated the light which would reveal their sins. God's law, the standard of righteousness, having been removed, they exercised power without limit, and practiced vice without restraint. Fraud, avarice, and profligacy prevailed. Men shrank from no crime by which they could gain wealth or position. The palaces of popes and prelates were scenes of the vilest debauchery. Some of the reigning pontiffs were guilty of crimes so revolting that secular rulers endeavored to depose these dignitaries of the church as monsters too vile to be tolerated. For centuries Europe had made no progress in learning, arts, or civilization. A moral and intellectual paralysis had fallen upon Christendom. GC 60.2
The condition of the world under the Romish power presented a fearful and striking fulfillment of the words of the prophet Hosea: “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee: ... seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.” “There is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land. By swearing, and lying, and killing, and stealing, and committing adultery, they break out, and blood toucheth blood.” Hosea 4:6, 1, 2. Such were the results of banishing the word of God. GC 60.3Read in context »
Had Israel heeded the messages of the prophets, they would have been spared the humiliation that followed. It was because they had persisted in turning aside from His law that God was compelled to let them go into captivity. “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge,” was His message to them through Hosea. “Because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee: ... seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God.” Hosea 4:6. PK 297.1
In every age, transgression of God's law has been followed by the same result. In the days of Noah, when every principle of rightdoing was violated, and iniquity became so deep and widespread that God could no longer bear with it, the decree went forth, “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth.” Genesis 6:7. In Abraham's day the people of Sodom openly defied God and His law; and there followed the same wickedness, the same corruption, the same unbridled indulgence, that had marked the antediluvian world. The inhabitants of Sodom passed the limits of divine forbearance, and there was kindled against them the fire of God's vengeance. PK 297.2
The time preceding the captivity of the ten tribes of Israel was one of similar disobedience and of similar wickedness. God's law was counted as a thing of nought, and this opened the floodgates of iniquity upon Israel. “The Lord hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land,” Hosea declared, “because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land. By swearing, and lying, and killing, and stealing, and committing adultery, they break out, and blood toucheth blood.” Hosea 4:1, 2. PK 297.3Read in context »