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to evil, under the influence of the Holy Ghost, subdues the powerful enemy of his soul; who, by self-denial and mortification, gains a victory over himself, over perverse dispositions, importunate passions, and rooted prejudices, who will suffer any temporal pain sooner than do what God has forbidden, and who, with the feeling strong on his mind that he must on no account be ashamed of Christ and his religion, will not conform to any of the wicked manners and customs of the world, though scorn, ridicule, and contumely, pursue him to the grave.
While I am upon this part of my subject, let me call your attention to a practice, which shows how much the fear of man sometimes prevails over the fear of God, and which, to the disgrace of our country, and to the shame of those who profess to be believers in Christ, too greatly obtains amongst us. I mean the practice of duelling. To defend and excuse this practice has been the attempt of many; and as long as our hearts are liable to be misled by the deceitfulness of Satan, and by the suggestions of pre
judice and passion, so long will it continue to be defended and excused. For there is scarcely, any cause, however bad, which the artifice of sophistry cannot dress out in specious colours; there is scarcely any error, however palpable, which the ingenuity of its advocates cannot vindicate upon some principle or maxim of truth.
But duelling is one of those evil practices, which it is impossible to justify upon any ground of duty or precept of religion. It is in direct opposition to the Law of God, which says,
*66 Thou shalt not kill.” fi" Surely,” says the Lord God, “at the hand of every man's brother will I require the life of man. Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed.” It is sin in any way to attempt the life of a fellow-creature; for the life of man is the gift of God. It is sin unnecessarily to risk or throw away our own; for God, when he gave us our existence, did not at the same time grant us the liberty to part with it when we please. It is sin
* Exodus, xx, 13.
+ Genesis, ix. 5, 6.
to rush out of the world with blood-guiltiness on our heads, and uncharitableness in our hearts. It is sin, the very aggravation of sin, to send a brother violently out of life, and deprive him of that space to repent, in which he might, perhaps, have made satisfaction to God for his offence, and have worked out at last the salvation of his soul.
We are commanded * “ to love one another,” to to "give place unto wrath,"
to endure patiently, though we suffer wrongfully, § to forgive the injuries that have been done us, and l " as much as lieth in us, to live peaceably with all men."
When a man lifts his hand against a brother's life, does he observe these precepts ? does he show his fear of God in submitting to his will ? Most assuredly not. On the contrary, he disobeys the word of God; for although he may previously disavow all malice of heart, and plead in his justification that he yields to an imperious necessity, which his nobler feelings will not permit him to resist, yet the commission of the prohibited act is a proof, that the brotherly love, the selfconquest, the patient endurance, the forgiving spirit, and the disposition of charity and
* John, xv. 17.
+ Romans, xii. 19. # 1 Peter, ii. 20. § Matthew, vi. 14,
Romans, xii, 8,
peace, which the Gospel enjoins, have failed to influence his conduct. God, in giving us laws, meant that those laws should be obeyed. It cannot, therefore, be right nor safe, under any circumstances, however trying, nor under any provocations, however undeserved, to violate or disregard them.
It is urged, perhaps, that cases are sometimes of so aggravating a nature, and the trials so great and
so great and overpowering, that there is no possible way to avert the evil, but by submitting to a degradation past all human sufferance. But in this assertion there is both impiety and error ; impiety, because it contains an inference that God will permit us to be tempted above that we are able ; and error, because it attaches degradation to a forbearance which God has enjoined, and which exalts the creature in his sight. Those,
who advance this plea, should consider, that the stronger the trials, and the greater the privations and sacrifices they require, the richer will be the recompence, *“ if we faint not,” and to" endure unto the end.”
Duelling is likewise contrary to the Laws of Man. It has ever been considered by wise Legislators as an evil of the most dangerous tendency, as an enemy to the peace of civil society, and as the bane of every thing that is good in morals, and pure in religion. No pious man could ever bring himself to defend it; no true believer in Christ Jesus has ever written upon
the subject, without pronouncing it to be neither more nor less than deliberate murder; without condemning it as an act, that impiously attempts to wrest the prerogative of life and death out of the hands of the Almighty.
As a convincing argument, that the general sentiment is directly against this evil custom, and that every heart in its private sense and judgment condemns it,
* Gal. vi. 9.
+ Matt. xxiv. 13.