« AnteriorContinuar »
Ignorance, or Unforeseen and Unavoidable Accident, deprives another of his Life. For an Action which has no Foundation in the Will and Intention of the Agent, is not properly a Moral Action, and cannot confequently be Criminal And therefore under the Mofaical Dif pensation, a Sanctuary was, by Divine Appointment *, provided for every one who was so Innocently. Unfortunate, as to kill his Neighbour Ignorantly and at unawares, left the Avenger of Blood laquld pursue and flay him, before his Innocence could be sufficiently clear'd up.
Indeed the Justification of Abraham, in Designing and Attempting to Sacrifice his Son, does not fall Directly under any of these Reasons or Observations, but Depends upon Circumstances which were: Peculiar to his own Person; and such as never were, nor ever can be drawn out into a Precedent, or with any Colour of Reason, be assigned as a Vindication of any Private Person, who should make an Attempt upon his Neighbour's Life: This Friend and Favourite of God, who had so frequent and familiar Communications with Him, could not possibly be Miftaken in his Call to This Extraordinary Enterprise; but was Undoubtedly and Infallibly Convinced, by Clear Revelation made to him, that God did Directly and Immediately Require him to * Offer Ifaac for a Burnt-Offering: Otherwise, the Holy + Scriptures would never have been so Full and Remarkable as they are in Testifying, that his Readiness to perform this Sacrifice was a moft Excellent and Acceptable Instance of his Faith, and Obedience to God.
* Exod. xxi. 13. Deut. xix. 2---10. Numb. xxxv. 10,
But whatsoever Private Person, without Supernatural Manifest Revelation, (and such Extraordinary Revelations, 'tis universally agreed, are now long since ceased) and not Ignorantly or Accidentally, but Knowingly and Designedly, and that without any Necesity arising from the Imminent, and, otherwise, Unavoidable Danger of his own Destruction, does take away or invade his Neighbour's Life,
-* Gen. xxii. 2. Gen. xxii. 12, 16, 17, 18, Heb. xi. * 17, 18, 19. Jam. ii. 21, 22, 23.
is chargeable with the Guilt of the Sin forbidden in the Text. And this Imputation of Murther. falls properly upon Them who so deprive their Neighbour of his Life either by Open Assault and Violence, or by Stratagem and Secret Contrivance; either by shedding his Blood Themselves, or by Engaging other Hands to be Imbrued in it; either by Acting as Principals or Accessaries; either by Command or by Persuasion; either by Threatning or Encouragement; either by Direct Concert and Consultation, or by Suggestions and Insinuations; either by bearing, False Witness against him, in their own Persons, or by their Subordination of Others; or, Finally, by any Instruments, or Means, or Methods whatsoever, which are not allowed by Divine Authority, For All Such do evidently fall under the Prohibition now before us. And hence it will follow in the
Second Place, that every Person, who knowingly and wilfully destroys his own Life, is guilty of Murther. For he hath no Colour of Allowance from Divine Authority, to become the Author or
Cause of his own Death. We are not, ftrictly speaking, the Proprietors of. our own Lives, and Therefore may not Difpose of them, ourselves, at Pleasure. God only, who Gave them, hath a Right to take them away again; and by Confequence, every Man, who offers Violence to his own Life, does manifeftly Invade the Prerogative, and Ufurp the Right and Authority of God.
Thirdly, Duels are Direct Violations of the Commandment. And the Truth of this Propofition is grounded upon the Principle already laid down. For Duets are undoubtedly to be rank'd in the Number of those Violent Attempts upon Humane Life, which are not Allowed by Divine Authority; And, Therefore, the Guilt of Murther is Chargeable upon the Persons engaging in them. The Liberty allowed to a Private Man of destroying his Neighbour's Life, without the Sanction of Publick Authority, is confined, both by the Natural and Revealed Law, purely and folely, to the Case of Self-Prefervation. But the Plea of Self-Preservation is utterly Foreign to the Condition and Circum
stances of Him, who Formally Gives or Accepts a Challenge. And he adds to the Sin of making an Unnecessary Attempt upon his Neighbour's Life, by throwing himself unnecessarily into the utmost Danger of losing his own. Nor is it any Just Plea or Vindication of Men who thus Expose their Lives, That their Attempt upon each other is founded upon their Mutual Consent and Permission, and that neither of them takes any other Liberty with his Adverfary, than what his Adverfary freely gives: And the Reafon, why no Just Vindication of them can be drawn from fuch Notions as thefe, how plausible foever they may feem, is This, That since. God is the Sole Proprietor of every Man's Life, and no Man is the Absolute Lord of himself, or, has any Right to dispose of his own Life, and to determine the Duration of it Himself; Therefore no Man can Lawfully Transfer the Disposal of it to Another.
Fourthly, The Commandment extends it self in the True Spiritual Purpose of it, and according to the Application and