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For this cause, says St. Paul, that is, for conscience sake, pay ye tribute also. For they, that is, Rulers, are God’s ministers ; attending continually upon this very thing. Render, therefore, to all, their dues; tribute to whom tribute is due, and custom to whom custom. Taxes are, ordinarily, the only national supplies. Every public object, almost, demands some expense; in peace not a little ; in war much more. If the necessary supplies be not furnished; these objects must either languish, or o God has, therefore, wisely and benevolently required mankind to render tribute and custom, when lawfully demanded. It is to be remembered, that this requisition is made by Infinite authority; and can no more be dispensed with, than any other command of God. 6. Subjects are bound to Pray for their Rulers. To the performance of this duty no virtuous subject can ever want motives. The arduous nature of those duties, to which Rulers are called; the responsibility of their stations; the difficulties which they have to encounter; and the discouragements, under which they labour; teach us in the strongest manner, that they daily, and eminently, need the Divine Blessing. This blessing, like all others, will be given only in answer to prayer: to the Prayers, indeed, of the †. themselves; and still more to the united prayers of both Rulers and people. Mere benevolence then, mere compassion for men, struggling with peculiar difficulties in their behalf, demands this duty from subjects. At the same time, it is loudly .# for by the regard, which we owe to the Public Welfare. National blessings are given in answer to national prayers. Of these blessings Rulers are the chief instruments. But they cannot be the means of good to a nation, unless their efforts are crowned with the Divine blessing. If nations, then, would receive public blessings; they are bound, indispensably, to supplicate for their Rulers the favour of God. Finally. God has required such prayers at our hands. I exhort, therefore, says St. Paul, that first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made o: all mem: for kings, and for all that are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty; for this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour. The only remark, which I shall annex to this diseourse, is; that, connected with the preceding one, it shows, unanswerably, the groundlessness and folly of an observation, repeated proverbially by multitudes of men in this and other countries, viz. that “Religion has nothing to do with Politics, or, in other words, with Government.” These discourses, summarily as the subjects of them have been considered, prove beyond all reasonable debate, that the whole vindicable conduct of Rulers towards their Subjects, and of SubWol. III. 44
jects towards her Rulers, is Lothing but a mere collection of duties. objects of moral obligation- required by God, and indispensably owed to Him by men. The Christian Religion, therefore, the rule of all duty, and involving all moral obligation, is so far from having nothing to do with this subject. that it is inseparably interwoven with every part of it. Accordingly, the Bible regulates, and, were it not sinfully prevented from its proper influence, would exactly and entirely control, all the political doctrines and actions of men. It is indeed as easy, and as common, to deny truth and refuse to perform our duty, to disobey God and injure men, in political concerns, as in any other. In truth, there has been no field of iniquity, more extensive than this: none, in which more enormous crimes, or more terrible sufferings, have existed. All these crimes, and sufferings, have sprung from the ignorance, or the disobedience, of the Scriptures. Were they allowed to govern the political conduct of mankind; both the crimes, and the sufferin would vanish; every duty both of Rulers and subjects would performed; and every interest would be completely secured. In what manner the doctrine against which I am contending ever came to be received by any man, who was not peculiarly weak, or wicked, I am at a loss to determine. It would seem, that even the careless and gross examination of the most heedless reflector must have evinced both its folly and falsehood. A dream is not more unfounded: the decisions of frenzy are not more wild. To villains in power, or in pursuit of power, office, and public plunder, it is undoubtedly a most convenient doctrine; as it will quiet the reproaches of conscience, where conscience has not ceased to reproach; and throw the gate, which opens to every crime, and selfish gratification, from its hinges. To Subjects, to a State, to a Nation, it is literally fatal. The people which have adopted it, may be certainly pronounced to have bidden a final adieu to its peace and its happiness, its virtue and its safety.
IN the five preceding discourses, I have considered summaril several classes of duties, involved in the fifth Command. # no other object before me, beside the examination of this precept, I should feel myself obliged to investigate, also, the mutual duties of men in various other relations of life; particularly those of husbands and wives, masters and servants, ministers and their congregations. All these, together with the duties of friends and neighbours, of the aged and the young, are, I think, obviously included in this precept; and are of i. importance to claim, not only a discussion, but a more extensive and minute investigation, than I have given to those, already examined. But a Work of this nature, although it may seem large, must necessarily be compendious. The field is too vast even to be wandered over by any single effort; and many parts of it must be left unexplored by any traveller. e command, which is given us in the text, is expressed in the
most absolute manner: Thou shalt not kill. To kill, is the thing forbidden; and by the words it is forbidden in all cases whatever, Whenever we kill any living creature, therefore, we are guilty of a transgression of this command; unless we are permitted to take away the life in question by an exception, which God Himself has made to the rule.
This consideration of the absolute universality of the command. in the text ought invariably to be remembered in all our comments upon it. These, it is ever to be remembered, are the words, which God Himself has chosen. They accord, therefore, with the dictates of Infinite Wisdom concerning this subject; and bind us with Infinite authority. Man cannot alter them. Man cannot lawfull originate an exception to them, nor in any other manner limit their import. Every comment upon them must, of course, be derived from the words themselves; or from other precepts; or from comments on this precept, found in other parts of the Scriptures. At the same time, a scrupulous attention to the words themselves will, if I mistake not, remove several difficulties concerning this subject, and contribute not a little towards settling, finally, some important doctrines of Morality.
In examining this subject I shall endeavour to point out, I. Those instances in which life may be lawfully taken away, agreeably to scriptural erceptions under this law; I. Some of those instances, in which life is destroyed in contradiction to this law. I. I shall mention those instances, in which life may be lawfully taken away under scriptural erceptions to this law. 1. The life of Animals may be lawfully taken away in two cases: when they are necessary for our food; and when they are hostile and dangerous to us. In Genesis iz. 3, God said to Noah and his sons, Every thing that moveth shall be meat for you : even as the green herb have I given you all things. That this so was necessary we know, because it was given. But if it was necessary; men had no right to eat the flesh of animals before it was given. The same thing is evident, also, from the terms of the permission, Even as the green herb have I given you all things. If God gave men all things, that is, all of. to be their food ; then men have no original, natural, or previous right to use them for food. Accordingly, the Antediluvians, abandoned as they were, appear, plainly, never to have eaten animal food. Noah and his descendants began this practice, under this permission. Here is found the only right of mankind to this food. Animals belonged originally, . solely, to their Creator. We, therefore, could have no right to their lives, unless He, who alone possessed that right, had transferred it to us. From these observations it is plain, that Infidels, who deny the Divine revelation of the Scriptures, can plead no right to eat the flesh of animals. The only . who can possibly communicate this right to us, is God: since He is the Al; Being, who possesses the right to dispose of them. But God has no where communicated this right to mankind, unless. He has done it in the Scriptures. But this communication they deny to have been made; and are, therefore, without any warrant for the use of animal food. Nor can they ever make use of it, without contravening the dictates of a good conscience, and violating the plainest principles of justice and .. The arguments, by which Infidels have endeavoured to defend this conduct in themselves, are, in my view, miserable fetches of a disingenuous mind, struggling hard to justify itself in a practice, which it is loth to give up; and not the honest reasons of fair conviction. They are these. “It is the analogy of nature, that the stronger so prey upon the weaker: that we feed animals, and have, therefore, a right to their lives, and their flesh, as a retribution for our kindness to them: and that, if we did not destroy them, they would multiply in such a manner, as ultimately to de
* us. * hese reasons are characteristically suited to the mouth of a wolf or a tiger; but proceed with a very ill grace from the mouth of a man. Were a savage, of superior force, to attack an Infidel, lunder his property, and destroy his life, in order to convert his #. into food; and were he, beforehand, to allege, as the justifying reason for this conduct, that it was the analogy of nature §: the stronger to prey upon the weaker; the argument, it is believed, would scarcely satisfy the Infidel. Were the Oz endued with speech, he might unanswerably reply to the allegation, drawn from the kindness of men to oxen, that their labour was an ample compensation for their food; and that men fed them for their own benefit, and not theirs. With respect to the third argument, he might ask, without fearing any reply: Where, and when, did oxen ever multiply in such a manner, as to become dangerous to mankind? ... If Infidels can be satisfied with these arguments for the use of flesh; we can no longer wonder, that they are equally well satisfied with similar arguments against the Revelation of the Scriptures. The truth is; they are not thus satisfied with either the one or the other. Inclination, and not conviction, is, probably, the source of their conduct in both cases. Were they as scrupulous, as all men ought to be; they would, like the #. and even the Antediluvians, abstain entirely from eating the flesh of 'animals. Animals, hostile and dangerous to men, God has not only permitted, but commanded, us to put to death; at least whenever they have intentionally destroyed human life. In Genesis iz. he says to Noah and his Children, Surely your blood of your lives, will I require ; at the hand of every beast will I require it; and at the hand of man. Agreeably to this law, which makes animals in this situation punishable with death, the or, which gored a man, or woman, was commanded to be stoned. As the beast, which had perpetrated this act, could be punished only by men; men were required to put him to death. It will not, I suppose, be contended, that we are not warranted to anticipate this mischief, and prevent the tiger from shedding human blood, as well as to destroy him after his depredations are completed. In all other cases we are unwarranted to take away the life of animals, because God has given us no warrant. There are persons, who destroy their domestic animals by compelling them to labour beyond their strength, or their capacity of enduring fatigue. There are others, who beat them, under the influence of furious passions, in immoderate degrees; or afflict them by other exertions of violence and cruelty. There are others, who deny them the necessary food, and keep them, continually, half famished through hunger. There are others, who take away the lives of birds, fishes, and other small animals, for the mere purpose of indulging the pleasure of hunting, or fishing. And there are others still, who find an inhuman pleasure in merely distressing and torturing this humble and defenceless class of crea