The Feast of the Holy Innocents (II)



Right to Life Australia (click here)


The Fifth Commandment

From the Commandments Explained 1898 : by Arthur Devine

Wilful murder is one of the sins that cries to heaven for vengeance. Blood is a loud and clamorous cry, and the first that ever was shed was heard as far as from earth to heaven. 3. The prohibition of not killing extends to all human beings--that is, not only to adults, but to infants, and to the children in their mother's womb. A recent writer thus speaks on this subject: Every child coming into this world has a right to live.

God gave the child life, and whoever robs it of life sins against its Creator. So in Christian lands the law extends its protection to the tiniest baby. No one can starve, or hurt, or kill any baby without becoming answerable to the law. But it was not always so. Among the heathen in olden times parents were at perfect liberty to kill their children, if they did not want the trouble of rearing them. Among the ancient Greeks there was only one State in which parents were not allowed to destroy their children, and that was Thebes; there, when they did not care to rear the new-born babe, they took it to the magistrate, who sold it by auction to the highest bidder. In Sparta parents took the children they did not desire to be burdened with to a horrible chasm in the earth, and flung the poor little creatures down into it. Generally they put their babes in earthen pots, and left them exposed by the roadside or in fields to die of starvation.

It was the same among the Romans. Fathers killed their babes, and no one took them to task for it. Indeed, one historian (Tacitus) says that it was a wonderful thing that the Jews and the Germans considered it a crime with them not to rear all their children; and the Emperor Augustus, in whose reign Christ was born, actually ordered his own grandchild to be exposed to death when it was born. An early Christian writer (Tertullian) wrote about this custom, thus addressing the Roman people: "How many are there among you, and they, too, of the magistrates, who put an end to your children? You deprive them of the breath of life in water, or you suffer them to die of cold or hunger, or to be eaten by dogs."

4. To call special attention to one of the most critical moments of human life, when it is necessary to make use of every precaution and means to save and preserve it--I refer to our coming into this world at our birth--I may use, even for the purpose of Christian instruction, the example of the midwives in Egypt.

Egypt in ancient times possessed a guild of midwives, to one portion of which was assigned the duty of ministering to the necessities of the Hebrew women in their confinements. Pharao issued secret orders to the two chief midwives, and through them to the others, that when they performed their office they should take care to destroy all the male children, and only suffer the female children to live. Although infanticide was a common practice among many ancient nations, in Egypt it was accounted a crime; and although the Pharao was reckoned a sort of divine being by his subjects, yet it was not felt that he could dispense with the laws of moral obligation. The midwives feared God more than they feared the King, and, though professing a willingness to carry out his will, practically disobeyed his orders. The male children were spared by them; and God dealt well with the midwives: and the people grew exceedingly strong (Exod. i. 17-20).

From this, all other midwives and doctors may be reminded that human life is to be saved at any cost, and, as it is exposed to special dangers on our coming into this world, greater care is demanded on the part of those whose duty it is to minister to women on such occasions. Since the introduction of Christianity, this moral law is more fully explained, and its principles are carried out by civil laws in Christian lands. Life is now held sacred even from the moment of our existence. No one may rob us of it. Life is protected by the laws of God and men, by the just penalties to be inflicted on those who are guilty of this fearful crime.

Since the legalization of abortion by the US Supreme Court in 1973 , over 56 million abortions have been performed in the United States alone (as of December 2013). Clearly humanity is returning to its once pagan roots described in the article above.