THE HOLY BIBLE IN AMERICAN JURISPRUDENCE

PrecedentOriginally Titled “THE BIBLE AS A PERSUASIVE JUDICIAL AUTHORITY” in The Mercantile Adjuster, and the Lawyer and the Credit Man. Published 1900

It is a noteworthy fact in the history of the Anglo~Saxon Jurisprudence and a signiflcant commentary on the life-work of men like lngersoll and Paine that the Bible is cited by our judges oftener and more approvingly than any other publication, excepting those technical “law” books which constitute the ordinary working tools of the legal profession. Adjuster readers, who are curious in such matters, are referred to the following judicial authorities:

Reddin v. Dunn, 2 Col. Apps, 518; Groth v. Kersting, 4 Col. Apps, 595; Ex Parte Schneider, 21 Dist.Col., 433; Times Publishing Company v. Carlisle, 94 Fed. Rep, 762; Giles v. State, 6 Ga., 276; Epps v. State, 19 Ga., 102; Jackson v. Jackson. 32 Ga, 325; Stein v. Hauck, 56 Ind. 65; Dascomb v. Marston, 80 Me., 233; ill. Cent. R. R. Co. v. James (Miss), 16 Sou. Rep, 300; Farrell v. Fire Ins. Co., 60 Mo. Apps, 165; Schoonmaker v. Ref. Prot. Dutch Church, 5 How. Pr. (N. Y.); Thomas v. Thomas, 24 Ore., 251; Miller’s Estate, 150 Penn. St., 562; Rex v. Camb. University, 1 Strange. 557; Bansock Mach. Co. v. Woodrum, 88 Va., 512; Day v. Essex County Bank, 13 Vt., 97.

In very many instances the exact language of the sacred text is quoted and the book. chapter and verse specified, thus indicating that Anglo-Saxon judges are commendably familiar with the Book of books.

For example: Eccl. xxxiii, 19-38; Gen. xxiii; Job xxx. 3; John iii. 8; Luke xi, 46; I Sam. xxi, will be found specified in the above cases.

In the New York case above cited the judge refers to Gen. xxiii as the earliest known instance of a recorded title to land; but that chapter indicates very much more, in the midsummer of 1897 the Commercial Travelers‘ Adjuster quoted that part of the Bible as showing not only a “bargain and sale of land,” but also showing a distinct recognition of “business custom and usage;” because the agreed price, 400 shekels of silver, was to be and was paid in “current money with the merchant.” The simple formalities by which the sons of Heth transferred the field of Ephron to Abraham constituted “livery of seizin;” as much so as the formalities by which, in December, 1803, France transferred Louisiana to the United States, or those by which Spain transferred Santiago to the United States. Livery of seizin, as that term has always been understood in the common law, was the method by which Abraham acquired a parcel of land “wherein he might bury his dead out of his sight;” and it has been a recognized muniment of title ever since. The contract of “bailment,” which is essential to the daily life of the business world, became perfect when “Benjamin was lent to Judah,” the only condition on which Joseph would grant audience to his brethren. Samuel was not only a judge, but he was a “circuit” judge, going yearly to Bethel, Gilgal and Mizpeh, judging Israel at each of those places, as well as at Ramah.

An instrument possessing all essential common law requisites of a conveyance in fee simple, an instrument witnessed and scaled before delivery, is described in Jere. xxxil, 9-13. Nehemiah, full of the altruistic spirit, zealous to rebuild the waste places and restore the ancient glories of Jerusalem, quitted his favored position at the Persian court, only to find himself face to face with complaining brethren. who said: “We have mortgaged our lands, vineyards and houses, that we might buy corn, because of the dearth.” The concessions exacted from King John, at Runnymede, have come down to us, embodied in what is called Magna Charta. But a still greater charter is to be found in the book of Nehemiah: the sealed covenant of the leaders of Israel, their solemn promise to abide in the faith sworn to their fathers.

An instance of the redemption of “labor” is found in the book of Numbers. Moses paid to Aaron 1365 shekels of the sanctuary, and thereby actually redeemed 273 fighting men. In the book of Ruth we have a. perfect instance of the redemption of “land.” Elimelech and his sons having died without issue, their inheritance was liable to “escheat” to the commonwealth of Israel. But that escheat was prevented and that inheritance redeemed by the intermarriage of Boaz and Ruth. There was a “senior redemptioner,” but he waived his right in favor of Boaz.

The latter, as a junior redemptioner, espoused Ruth and redeemed the inheritance. David’s royal patrimony included the land thus redeemed. It was known as Bethlehem of the Gentiles. Under the operation of Israel’s law of descents, it passed from generation to generation.

Some of the reasons why our judges so often quote Scripture are not far to seek. The magnificent “Arch of Titus,” reared to commemorate Judah’s downfall, the desecration of her altars, the dispersion of her people, the total extinction of her laws and the final and grandest triumph of imperial Rome, is but a crumbling ruin—a favorite haunt of the owl and the bat. For almost twenty centuries the children of Judah have been wanderers on the face of the earth, exiles from their own land, strangers and pilgrims, without a government, a city, a temple or a home. While all other peoples have multiplied (the Anglo-Saxons having increased about sevenfold during the present century) Judah has remained stationary. At the date of the crucifixion the Jews numbered about seven millions, which is about their present numerical strength. But the Mosaic law, which the admirers of Titus so ostentatiously consigned to endless oblivion, remains a living, growing force. Translated into hundreds of languages, printed in thousands of editions, scattered broadcast by hundreds of millions of copies that law has penetrated to the remotest corners of the earth. In this closing year [1900 AD] of the nineteenth century there is no spot on the habitable globe where either female virtue, personal liberty, private property or human life are safe unless that spot has been visited by the Bible and subjected to its teachings. In the Anglo-Saxon jurisprudence of to-day there is very little to be found which cannot be traced to its source in the Mosaic code; and the little thus found is scarcely worth either fighting or praying for. To readers who do their own thinking, who delve beneath the surface, who follow the truth wherever it may lead, we commend the subjoined quotation.

It is borrowed from a charge given almost sixty years ago to a jury in one of the Atlantic States; and it doubtless voices the prevailing sentiment of the Anglo-Saxon bench and bar. Replying to some criticisms of the Mosaic code, made by counsel in the course of argument, the judge said this: “When these giants in human intellect can tell me whence Moses derived his science in legislation without admitting the superlative and divine authority of the ten commandments I shall begin to listen with more reverence to the teachers of human perfectibility. In that short and comprehensive code we find given us a perfect rule of action, covering the whole ground of man’s existence; a rule not only prescribing our duty to God and man in our external behavior, but reaching to the thoughts and feelings of the hearts in every possible condition of life, and in all our relations to our Maker and our fellow-beings. The wisdom of ages, the learning and philosophy of the schools, have never discovered a single defect in that code. Not a virtue which is not there inculcated. Not a vice in its most doubtful and shadowy form which is not there prohibited.

“Whence, then, I ask. did that great Jewish lawgiver derive his spirit of legislation? If that code was written by the finger of the Almighty, let us bow to it with reverence and seek no better rule of life, nor any wiser principle of action. But if they emanated only from the capacious mind and were dictated by the wisdom of Moses. Then Moses was a wiser, a more learned man than any of our new teachers; and I had rather be under his jurisdiction

“l keep his commandments than to learn new rules of civil polity and social intercourse from the most wise and learned of the present day.”

From Alex De Tocqueville who came to America in the 1830’s traveling here extensively. Afterwards he wrote about his experience in volumes called Democracy in America from which he cites a court case in New York.

While I was in America, a witness, who happened to be called at the assizes of the county of Chester (state of New York), declared that he did not believe in the existence of God or in the immortality of the soul. The judge refused to admit his evidence, on the ground that the witness had destroyed beforehand all confidence of the court in what he was about to say. The newspapers related the fact without any further comment. The New York Spectator of August 23rd, 1831, relates the fact in the following terms:

“The court of common pleas of Chester county (New York), a few days since rejected a witness who declared his disbelief in the existence of God. The presiding judge remarked, that he had not before been aware that there was a man living who did not believe in the existence of God; that this belief constituted the sanction of all testimony in a court of justice: and that he knew of no case in a Christian country, where a witness had been permitted to testify without such belief.”

NOTE: Christian Principles are the bedrock of this Republic to separate them from our government you’d have to eliminate the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, our Courts, all past precedent, and our whole form of government.

One thought on “THE HOLY BIBLE IN AMERICAN JURISPRUDENCE

  1. Pingback: James Madison Regarding Religious Duty & Religious Liberty | The Patriot Brotherhood From Sea to Shining Sea

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