« AnteriorContinuar »
out Necessity, are unchristian and inhuman : as many Murders are committed, as Lives are loft in them; befides the innumerable Sins and Miseries of other Sorts, with which they are always attended. But Subjects, in their private Capacity, are incompetent Judges of what is requisite for the public Weal: nor can the Guardians of it perinit them to act upon their Judgment, were they to make one. Therefore they may lawfully serve in Wars, which their Superiors have unlawfully undertaken, excepting perhaps such offensive Wars as are notoriously unjuft. In others, it is no more the Business of the Soldiery to consider the Grounds of their Sovereign's taking up Arms, than it is the Business of the Executioner to examine whether the Magistrate hath pafled a right Sentence.
You see then, in what Cases killing is not Murder: in all, but there, it is. And you cannot fail of seeing the Guilt of this Crime to be singularly great and heinous. It brings designedly upon one of our Brethren, without Cause, what human Nature abhors and dreads moft. It cuts him off from all the Enjoyments of this Life at once, and sends him into another for which posfibly he was not yet prepared. It defaces the Image, and defeats the Design, of God. It overturns the great Purpose of Government and Laws, mutual Safety. It robs the Society of a Member, and consequently of Part of its Strength. It robs the Relations, Friends, and Dependents, of the Person destroyed, of every Benefit and Pleasure, which else they might have had from him. And the Injury done, in all these Respects, hath the terrible Aggravation, that it cannot be recalled. Most wisely therefore hath our Creator surrounded Murder with a peculiar Horror; that Nature, as well as Reason, may deter from it every one, who is not utterly abandoned to the worst of Wickedness: and most justly hath he appointed the Sons of Noah, that is, all Mankind, to punish Death with Death. Whoso heddeth Man's Blood, by Man fhall bis Blood be bed; for in the
Image of God made He Man
And that Nothing may protect to daring an Offender, he enjoined the Jews, in the Chapter which follows the ten Commandments ; If a Man come presumptuously upon his Neighbour to pay him with Guile, thou
shalt take him from mine Altar,that he may died. But fuppofing, what seldom happens, that the Murderer may escape judicial Vengeance; yet what piercing Reflections, what continual Terrors and Alarms must he carry about with him! And could he be hardened against these, it would only subject him the more inevitably to that future Condemnation, from which Nothing but the deepest Repentance can poflibly exempt him. For no Murderer hath eternal Life; but they shall have their part in the Lake that burneth with Fire and Brimstone, which is the second Death'.
But shocking, and deserving of Punishment here and hereafter, as this Crime always is ; yet there are Circumstances, which may augment it greatly. If the Person, whom any one deprives of Life, be placed in lawful Authority over him; or united in Relation or Friendship to him; or have done him Kindnesses; or only never have done him Harm; or be, in a peculiar Degree, good, useful, or pitiable; each of these Things considerably increases the Sin, though some indeed more than others. Again, if the horrid Fact be formally contrived, and perhaps the Design carried on through a Length of Time; this argues a much more steady and inflexible Depravity of Heart, than the Commission of it in a sudden Rage. But still, even the last, though it hath, in the Law of this Country, a different Name, of Man-Slaughter, given it, and a different Punishment prescribed for the first Offence; yet in the Sight of God is as truly Murder as the former, though freer from Aggravations. The Mischief done is done purposely ; and neither Paffon, nor Provocation, gives Authority for doing it, or even any great Excuse. For as God
hath required us, he hath certainly enabled us, to restrain the haftiest Sallies of our Anger, especially from such Enormities as this.
Nor doth it materially alter the Nature, or lessen at all the Degree of the Sin, if, whilst we attack another, we give him an Opportunity to defend himself, and attack us: as in duelling. Still taking away his Life is Murder : exposing our own is so likewise; as I shall quickly shew you. And an Appointment of two Perfons to meet for this purpose, under Pretence of being bound to it by their Honour, is an Agreement in Form to commit, for the Sake of an absurd Notion, or rather an unmeaning Word, the most capital Offence against each other, and their Maker; of which, if their Intention succeed, they cannot have Time to repent.
As to the Manner, in which Murder is committed whether a Person do it directly himself, or employ another; whether he do it by Force, or Fraud, or Colour of Justice; accufing falsely, or taking any unfair Advantage: these Things inake little further Difference in the Guilt, than that the most artful and studied Way is generally the worst.
And though a Defign of Murder should not take Effect; yet whoever hath done all that he could towards it, is plainly as much a Sinner, as if it had. Nay, doing any Thing towards it, or so much as once intending it, or asisting or encouraging any other who intends it, is the same sort of Wickedness. And if a Perfon doth not directly design the Death of another ; yet if he designedly doth what he knows or suspects may probably occasion it; he is, in Proportion to his Knowledge, or Suspicion, guilty. Nay, if he is only negligent in Matters, which may affect human Life; or meddles with them, when he hath Cause to think he understands them not, he is far from innocent. And there are several Profeffions and Employments, in which these Truths ought to be confidered with a peculiar Degree of Seriousness, 5
Further yet: If it be criminal to contribute in any Manner towards taking away a Person's Life immediately; it must be criminal also to contribute any Thing towards shortening it, which is taking it away after a Time: whether by bringing any bodily Disease upon him, or causing him any Grief or Anxiety of Mind, or by what indeed will produce both, distressing him in his Circumstances : concerning which the Son of Sirach faith : He that taketh away his Neighbour's Living, Nayeth him; and he that defraudeth the Labourer of his Hire, is a Blood-Shedder .
Indeed, if we cause or procure any Sort of Hurt to another, though it hath no Tendency to deprive him of Life, yet if it makes any Part of his Life, more or less, uneasy or uncomfortable, we deprive him so far of what makes it valuable to him: which is equivalent to taking so much of it away from him, or possibly worse.
Nay, if we do a Person no Harm; yet if we wish him Harm, St. John hath determined the Cafe: WhoSoever hateth his Brother, is a Murderer h. For indeed, Hatred not only leads to Murder; and too often, when indulged, produces it unexpectedly; but it is always, though perhaps for the most Part in a lower Degree, the very Spirit of Murder in the Heart; and it is by our Hearts that God will judge us. Nay, should our Diflike of another not rise to fixed Hatred and Malice; yet if it rise to unjust Anger, we know our Saviour's Declaration. It was said by them of old Time, Thou shalt not kill : and whosoever shall kill, shall be in Danger of the Judgment. But I say unto you, Whosoever is angry with his Brother without a Cause shall be in Danger of the Judgment'. That is, whosoever is angry, either with Persons that he ought not, or on Occasions that he ought not, or more vehemently, or fooner, or longer than he ought, is guilty in some Measure of that Uncha
& Ecclus, xxxiv, 22.
1 John iii. 15.
Matth. v. 21, 22.
. ritableness of which Murder is the highest Act; and liable to the Punishment of it in the same Proportion. •
Nor even yet have I carried the Explanation of this Commandment to the Extent of our Duty. Whoever doth not, as far as can be reasonably expected from him, endeavour to guard his Neighbour from Harm, to make Peace, to relieve Distress and Want, fails of what Love to human Kind certainly requires. Now Love is the fulfilling of the Lawk: and he that loveth not his Brother, abideth in Death!.
We are also carefully to observe, that however heinous it is, to fin against the temporal Life of any one ; injuring him in Respect of his eternal Interests, is yet unspeakably worse. If it be unlawful to kill or hurt the Body, or overlook Men's worldly Neceflities; much more is it to destroy the Soul of our Brother, for whom Christ diedm; or any Way endanger it; or even suffer it to continue in Danger, if we have in our Power the proper and likely Means of delivering it. And, on the other Hand, all that Mercy and Humanity, which, in the civil Concerns of our Neighbours, is so excellent a Duty, must proportionably be ftill more excellent in their religious ones, and of higher Value in the Sight of God.
Hitherto I have confidered the Prohibition, Thou shalt do no Murder, as respecting others: but it forbids also Self-Murder. As we are not to commit Violence against the Image of God in the Person of any of our Brethren; so neither in our own. As we are not to rob the Society to which we belong, or any part of it, of the Service, which any other of its Members might do it; we are not to rob either of what we might do. are not to send any one else out of the World prematurely; we are not to send ourselves; but wait with Pa. tience all the Days of our appointed Time, till our Change come". If the Sins, which Persons have committed, prompt them to Despair ; they of all others, instead of * Rom. xiii. 10 ! John iii, 14.
m Rom. xiv. 15. Job xiv. 14.