« AnteriorContinuar »
But how can we smile when our fetters are
strong, Or sing Zion's songs in the ears of her
Ah, no! for our hearts are with bitterness
torn, When we think on the dearly lov'd land
of our birth; And all that is left us to do is to mourn Happy days that for ever have vanish'd
Jerusalem ! never shalt thou be forgot
of death. While living we'll bless thee, whatever our
lot, And will die with thy name on our last. sounding breath!
To be sung at the tea-meeting at the school-rooms
of the Independent chapel, Stratford-upon-Avon, on the occasion of Miss Welmore's departure for Africa.
Go, Christian sister, fare thee well,
To Afric's distant land,
The missionary band.
Immanuel's dying love;
And brighter worlds above.
In truth and virtue's way,
To go no more astray.
And fears thy heart appal,
And he is Lord of all.
Our hopes and prayers together rise
Before th' eternal throne, That God, thy God, thy father's God,
May all thy labours own.
ON THE NEW YEAR 1847.
SOFTLY upon the frosty air
The bells salute mine ear, And with a tuneful peal prepare
To welcome in the year.
But ere that gladsome sound shall ring,
A wholesome pause shall be, And varied recollections bring
Thoughts deep to you and me. Many there are who hail'd the sound
of its first dawning day, Who peaceful sleep beneath the ground
From earth have passed away. But we who yet awhile remain,
Are travelling homewards too:
And keep our end in view.
Thy friends again shall live;
And bids thy hope revive.
Thy daily pathway cheer. May Providence in mercy fill
Thy cup this coming year! Look up towards Heaven above
There view thy place of rest; And let thy prayers in filial love
To God be oft addrest.
So shall thy future, like the past,
Be but a theme for praise ;
God shall direct thy ways.
THE JEWISH CAPTIVES' LAMENT.
By Babylon's rivers we sat down and wept, And our once pleasing harps on the wil
lows we hung, For Zion was still in remembrance kept, And the thoughts of captivity silenced
each tongue. They that carried us captive demanded a
song, And asked us for mirth in the midst of
Beneath his all-protecting wing
Go, till thy work is done :
The triumphs Christ has won.
The PUNISHMENT of Death for the CRIME / partial discussion. A brief outline of the of MURDER, Rational, ScriptURAL, author's argument may be given : and Salutary. By Walter Scott, | “The infliction of capital punishment for President and Tbeological Tutor in Aire the crime of murder, is right in itself, or dale College, Bradford, Yorkshire. accordant with the principles of justice,
1 and is even required by them." Ward and Co.
I This first proposition is tot largely exThe subject of capital punishment for panded. It is supposed to embody a view the crime of murder is treated, in the pages too obvious to be denied-a view confirmed of Mr. S.'s pamphlet, as a grave theological, by the fact that God established capital question. This we aver is its true character. punishment amongst the Jews, and thereThe anti-capital interpreters of the law aim fore the law must have been right in itself, to divest it of this character, and thus clear or “accordant with the principles of justhe way for reaching bold and plausible' tice," and also from the nature of the crime conclusions, and for enlisting public sym. of murder. The loss of life by the band of pathy with views which they so zealously violence, is the loss of all earthly good, and advocate. On the other hand, the author oftentimes the loss of well-being in the life of the work before us bas carefully and de- to come. “In endeavouring then to ascer. voutly examined the scriptural argument tain the nature and the degree of the punishfor the practice of taking away life, and has ment which the murderer deserves, and which made a direct appeal to the law and to the the civil magistrate ought to inflict, the intestimony. He strongly eschews the method trinsic enormity of the crime should be conof many in dealing with this portion of our sidered and estimated ; and if this is done, it penal code. They speak of it in terms of surely must be granted that murder deserves unmeasured reprobation; they profess to death. The punishment is not too great fortify their statements by the ceaseless for the offence,- does not rise above its de. reiteration of a few scriptural passages, merit. Universal conviction seems to have wrested ia frequent instances from their pronounced-a universal verdict, that equity legitimate connection; they speak of the requires eye for eye, life for life. The most genius of our common Christianity as in. polished and humane nations have adopted imical to capital punishment under any cir- the law of capital punishment for the shed. cumstances; they represent execution as a ding of human biood.” lingering remnant of a barbarous age, or ! The next proposition, to the illustration the custom of savage feudalism, unworthy of which Mr. S. has brought the weightiest of a civilized state; and in the terms of a arguments, and has occupied the largest prevailing but morbid sensibility, coupled portion of his pamphlet, is, “ The legal inwith the calculations of a politico-moral fliction of death in the case of murder, is utilitarianism, they contend that putting to sanctioned, nay, required, by the Scrip. death according to law, is an ill-judged, i tures." Great stress is laid on the passage evil-working expedient, and is worthy of no in Genesis ; it is placed as the basis of the higher designation than "legalized mur scriptural argument: “And surely your der.” The subject is often treated in this blood of your life will I require; at the fashion from honest conviction ; and good hand of every beast wiil I require it, and motives we would respect, though they may at the hand of man; and at the band of take a wrong direction. But for the abolition every man's brother will I require the life of a great law which was originally framed of man. Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by by direct divine authority, and for the re. man shall his blood be shed, for in the peal of which we think we have no decisive image of God made he him.” Had this intimation in the Bible, we cannot accept passage been found in the category of juas a warrant loose and declamatory state dicial laws enacted by Moses, and found ments. The pamphlet of Mr. S. we regard nowhere else, like them it might have been as a timely and powerful contribution to regarded as the expression of a repealed wards the settlement of a question which law ; but existing long before the Jewish men in general would dispose of without a theocracy commenced, and containing a direct appeal to the Scriptures. We view great principle of the divine government, it the subject as a pure Bible question, requir. must be of unceasing authority and universal ing considerable biblical knowledge and application. To regard the passage as an power for its satisfactory elucidation. It early prophecy relative to what would take has fallen into the hands of one who has place for many ages to come, seems conthe needed requisites for its full and im. trary to the whole drift of the chapter, and
involves the supposition that men are now flection on the divine character. If such is attempting to make God a false prophet. their influence on society in a highly cultiA very weighty reason for the infliction of vated state like our own, its influence must death on the murderer is given in the words have been far greater on the post-diluvians just cited, “ For in the image of God made and the Jews who were comparatively ignohe man. In almost all nations where rant and barbarous. The preceding remarks capital punishment has existed, this reason embody Mr. S.'s arguments derivable from has been entirely overlooked; it has had the passage in Genesis. nothing to do in the appointment of the Another passage on which he lays conpunishment, and therefore if the words are siderable stress is in the Book of Numbers a prophecy, the prophecy is yet to receive XXXV. 30, “Whoso killeth any person, the its fulfilment. The language indicates God's murderer shall be put to death." * More. abhorrence of a deed which erases his own over ye shall take no satisfaction for the image from man, also the care and sacred- life of a murderer, which is guilty of death, ness with which he has fenced human life but he shall surely be put to death." from the assaults of violence; and we can. “ So you sball not pollute the land wherein not but think a permanent and immutable ye are: for blood, it defileth the land : and threatening of righteous retribution to every the land cannot be cleansed of the blood one who wantonly deprives a fellow-crea that is shed therein, but by the blood of ture of his existence. The taking away life him that shed it." Mr. S. contends that for the shedding of blood was one of the many of the judicial laws of the Israelites earliest institutions of divine appointment were founded on the nature of things, and among the post-diluvians. It existed for on the permanent relations of society, and nearly a thousand years prior to the Mosaic are on that account such as all nations economy; and it stands forth recorded as might and indeed should adopt. Our oppoan enactment apart from everything cere- nents have taken exception to any argument monial. What, we ask, was there so very for capital punishment derivable from the peculiar in that early age of the world which preceding passage. The objection stands demanded the existence of capital punish- thus. The judicial laws of Moses, which ment? and what is there so peculiar at the made the violation of the sabbath, adultery, present time that demands the repeal of and disobedience to parents, punishable that law? It is affirmed, that all preceding with death, have, it will be admitted by all, dispensations were preparatory to the gospel. been repealed. Why, it is asked, make the We admit this; but the great principles of law in the case of murder an exception to the divine goveroment are invariable in this act of repeal? It stands in the same their nature and application, and mercy, | category as the preceding Mosaic enactneither under the law nor under the gospel, ments, and has therefore the same authority is ever dispensed at the cost of justice. If for its annulment. We reply, that the me. the law in question were adopted by God in thod in which the sacred writers speak of the earliest period of the world, and were the crime of murder, and the various reainviolably upheld for so many ages, and sons which they advance for its punishment, that while mankind were comparatively in show it to have in it something special, a rude and barbarous condition, we ought something which does not belong to the to pause ere we lift up our hand for its im- judicial laws in general. mediate and final abrogation, under a dis- Should the argument derived from the pensation of augmented light and privilege. speciality of the case be rejected, we think The increase of spiritual blessings increases the whole force of the preceding objection the desert of punishment. If God saw right is lost, from the fact that the law in relation to take away life in the case of murder long to murder was established long before the before the economy of the gospel was estab- Jewish economy existed, and therefore does lished, we see not how it is wrong under not stand on the same footing as the enactthe gospel to do so, unless it can be shown ments concerning adultery, breaking the that there is an annulment of that law. If sabbath, &c. This is a distinction bich there are special reasons which can be as- the opponents of capital punishment find it signed against its continuance, as there can very convenient to overlook. The great ar. against many of the judicial laws of Moses, gument for taking away life is not derivable or if there is any direct command in the from the consideration that such a law is to New Testament to that effect, then we ought be found in the judicial code of Moses, bet earnestly to contend for the repeal of capital that such a law had a long previous existpunishment. If this cannot be done, at- ence; and from the position which it occupies tempts at repeal are man's weak efforts to in the Bible, it appears to us to assume a per. improve upon God's legislative wisdom. To manent and immutable shape. Taking the maintain that executions have a degrading preceding view, we see not how Mr. S.'s tendency, and a positively baneful influence logic compels him, as it has been somewbat on public morals, has appeared to us a re- boastingly and flippantly affirmed, to advo.
cate the putting to death “ the murderer, your righteousness shall exceed the rightthe adulterer, the blasphemer, the profane eousness of the scribes and pharisees, you swearer, the sabbath breaker, the idolater, shall in no case enter into the kingdom of the disobedient son, witches, wizards," &c. | heaven.' This may almost be called the To confound two things so radically distinct text of his Sermon on the Mount. What indicates either unfairness in argument or preceded was the introduction ; at the least, dulness of discrimination.
it is the proposition wbich he proceeds to But leaving the Old Testament, we may illustrate in what immediately follows. And observe, that however much of mercy there does he intimate that the Jewish doctors may be in the constitution of the gospel, we had interpreted the law too rigidly, and dethink there is nothing to warrant the abro. nounced unmerited punishment against those gation of the law in relation to murder. | who violated its precepts ? Quite the conThe present dispensation is not a system of trary. He asserts in the plainest terms its unmingled mercy, nor the manifestation of spirituality, and gives the most appalling mercy at the expense of justice. Its ana- views of the doom of those who fell under themas against all ungodliness and unright. its malediction, intimating that they had eousness of men are as fearful as any that cause to fear inflictions more terrible than can be found in the writings of Moses. the scribes and pharisees had threatened. Entertaining the views already unfolded, And his explanation of the command which and regarding capital punishment as the law relates to murder deserves particular attenwhich God established with Noah and his tion, (verse 21,) Ye have heard that it was descendants, and the operation of which He said by them of old time, Thou shalt not deemed essential to the government of the kill, and whosoever shall kill shall be in world for so long a period prior to the danger of the judgment,' that is, of being Jewish dispensation, and then occupying a brought before the Jewish court, by which prominent place in the penal code of the | he would be condemned to suffer death, Mosaic economy, it seems perfectly natural verse 22. “But I say to you'-what?for us to expect, according to the view of that this punisbment is too severe? it should opponents, that the gospel should possess be mitigated ? it is barbarous, and should special reasons for the repeal of this law, or be abolished ? Far indeed is he who had a plain command to treat it now as pull and God's law in his heart, and who came to void. We think that neither the one nor labour and die in order to vindicate its the other is to be found in the New Testa honour, from giving any such intimation. ment. Several passages are currently cited, The substance of his answer is, that even and loosely applied, by the opposers of causeless anger and reviling words, which death-punishment. To these Mr. S. has indicate and foster the spirit of the murreferred, rescuing them from forced and un derer, expose to a punishment more severe patural interpretations, and giving to them than that which was denounced on him by a plain and intelligible exposition. " It is the Mosaic law. “But I say unto you, often urged that the capital punishment of that whosoever is angry with his brother, the murderer is inconsistent with some without a cause, shall be in danger of the parts of our Lord's Sermon on the Mount, judgment. But whosoever shall say, Thou and is, indirectly at least, prohibited by fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. Most them. Nothing, however, can be more evi. assuredly there is nothing here which looks dent than that it was far from being the like the disapproval of the infliction of capi. design of the Saviour to advance anything tal punishment on him who should wickedly contrary to the moral spirit or precepts of and wantonly take away the life of a fellowthe law of Moses, or to abrogate any of its creature.” The general view Mr. S. has enactments. Attend to his own solemn given of the Saviour's Sermon on the Mount declarations : Think not that I am come is the correct one, as will appear from an to destroy the law or the prophets. I am examination of the different passages in the not come to destroy, but to fulfil.' Is it Sermon to which the anti-capitals ever and possible, that after uttering such language anon make their appeal. he should immediately proceed to disannul “Ye have heard that it hath been said, one of the most important and explicit in An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth; junctions that God bad ever given under but I say unto you, That ye resist not evil." either the patriarchal or Mosaic dispensa. Here we have the doctrine of equivalents, tions, and one relating to the punishment of which these words were intended not to inthe greatest crime that man can commit? validate but to confirm. The whole drift of On the contrary, he proceeds to vindicate the discourse on the Mount was not an ex. the law from the false interpretations and position of the letter of the law merely, but glosses of the scribes and pharisees, and to a faithful inculcation of its spirit, thus point out its spiritual meaning. That this assigning to it a spirituality and extent far is bis intention is plain from his own lan- beyond the notions of the scribes and the guage: For I say unto you, that except | pharisees. When stress is laid upon not
resisting evil, the argument proves too much, , private revenge-a recommendation to overand therefore proves nothing, because, ac- come an enemy by acts of the purest chacording to this mode of interpretation, re- rity-opposing deeds of the greatest good sistance in any shape would be contrary to to deeds of the greatest evil. If we have the spirit of the passage. “This law, in enemies, we are not always to seek redress the hands of the magistrate, was equitable by demanding righteous retribution, but to and adapted to general good ; nor was it our leave them in the hands of God, that he may Lord's design to undermine its authority. be both judge and executioner. All this does But by the glosses of the Jews, it had been not apply to the conduct of the magistrate perverted in favour of private retaliation in the punishment of daring offenders; the and revenge. Against this principle the Jewish law required the life of the murSaviour inveighs." "Ye have heard that derer, though the Jewish people knew that it bath been said, Thou shalt love thy neigh- God had said, “To me belongeth vengebour, and hate thy enemy; but I say unto ance and recompense.". you,”' &c., &c. In these words we have a So far in our examination of the New perversion of the Rabbins, for in no part of Testament we see nothing in the shape of a the Old Testament are we commanded to repeal of a law which had existed so long, hate our enemies; and good-will to them is and which was so well known among the inculcated as strongly in the Old, though Jews; but as we advance, we meet with not as frequently as in the New Testament. several passages in which we have distinct The law approves of love to our enemies as implication of the propriety and justice of truly as the gospel does, and in this respect capital punishment. “But if thou do that there is no variance between the one and which is evil, be afraid ; for he beareth not the other. Christian writers have sometimes the sword in vain; for be is a minister of conceded that the Jewish gloss was founded God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him on the spirit of the Mosaic dispensation ; that doeth evil.” “The sword, as borue have made incautious comparisons between by the legitimate authority, like the axe the many maledictions of the Psalms of which was carried before the chief magis. David and the many merciful admonitions trate of the Romans, was the instrument of our Lord ; and have represented the doc- and emblem of capital punishment, and was trine of love to enemies as the peculiar doc- used to deprive of life. Will our oppotrine of the gospel economy. To affirm nents inform us when and where, in any age that the law of capital punishment should or nation, or by any writer, the sword was be abolished because the gospel is a system employed as the instrument or emblem of of love, is to mistake the nature both of the chastisement, or of minor punishment? law and the gospel. The sum of the second And that this was far from being the idea of table of the law given on Mount Sinai was, the apostle, is evident from the other teras “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself," which he uses. The power that bears the and yet the Jews were expressly commanded sword is represented as the minister of to take away, by the sword of the civil God, an avenger to execute wrath.'” We magistrate, the life of the wilful murderer. deem Mr. S.'s reasoning on this passage Did God then give a command which was sound and conclusive. He has made no directly opposed to the whole spirit and sum reference to the apostle's defence of bimof the law, which he gave them in the most self, which, by implication, has an import. solemn and public manner, so that they ant bearing upon the question : "For if I could not obey the former without violating be an offender, or have committed anything the latter? Yet the design of the whole worthy of death, I refuse not to die ; but if discourse on the Mount was to guard us there be none of these things whereof these against the loose and relaxing interpretations accuse me, no man may deliver me unto of the law by the Jewish Rabbins, and also them. I appeal unto Cæsar." The apostle from the wilful perversions of the law, in heartily accords to the commission of crime using it for the purpose of private revenge, the punishment of death, and declares, be. as the magistrate used it for the public fore Festus, bis willingness to surrender his security of the commonwealth of Israel. life into the hands of the executioner, on the
“ Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith conviction of his guilt. If capital punishthe Lord,” is a passage frequently cited in ment is unjust, or contrary to the genius of the controversy, but very vaguely under the gospel, or a barbarous and degrading stood. It is a quotation from Deuteronomy public act, which it is represented to be, xxxii. 35, and was primarily addressed to how can we reconcile this with the fact that the Jews, when they were required by God the apostle lent the weight of his influence to take away the life of the murderer. If to the propriety and perpetuity of the pe. its spirit is at variance with capital punish- nalty, by a cordial consent to endure its ment now, it must have been so formerly. infliction in his own person, when bis crimi. The passage, as appears from the whole nality should be established? context, is a prohibition of the practice of Another general thought which Mr. S.