« ПредишнаНапред »
From the observations which have been made in this Discourse, it is clear, that few cases of murder occur among man kind equally atrocious, or equally deserving of death, with that which is committed in a duel. Every thing pertaining to this subject also tends towards this issue, as regular and uniform means towards their proper ends. The crime, being as gross and heinous as murder in other cases, deserves the same punishment. It is also far more dangerous to a community, than murder in the customary acceptation. The persons whom. duelling especially threatens are, in many instances, persons of distinction ; formidable obstacles to the ambition of duellists ; persons, who by their influence and talents would naturally become important instruments of the public good; persons, against whom the vulgar assassin rarely aims the stroke of his dagger. At the same time, the ravages of Duelling are far more widely extended ; and the number of its victims is of course far more multiplied.
The manner in which God has judged concerning this subject is awfully displayed in the following passage : If a man smite any person with an instrument of iron, so that he die; he is a murderer: the murderer shall surely be put to death. And if he smite him with throwing a stone, wherewith be may die, and he die; he is a murderer: the murderer shall surely be put to death. Or if he smite him with an handweapon of wood, wherewith he may die, and he die ; be is a murderer: the murderer shall surely be put to death. The revenger of blood himself shall slay the murderer ; when he meeteth him, he shall slay him. And if he thrust him of hatred, or hurl at him by lying of wait, that he die; or in enmity smite him with his hand, that he die ; he that smote him shall surely be put to death: for he is a murderer. The revenger of blood shall slay the murderer, when he meeteth him. Whoso killeth any person, the murderer shall be put to death by the mouth of witnesses : but one witness shall not testify against any person, to cause him to die. Moreover, ye shall take no satisfaction for the life of a murderer, which is guilty of death ; but he shall be surely put to death. And ye shall take no satisfaction for him that is fled to the city of his refuge, that he should come again to dwell in the land, until the death of the high priest. So ye shall not pollute the land, wherein ye are : for blood, it defileth the land; and the land cannot be cleansed of the blood, that is shed therein, but by the blood of him that shed it. Defile not, therefore, the land which ye shall inhabit, wherein I dwell; for J, Jehovah, dwell among the children of Israel.'
THE LAW OF GOD.
THE SIXTH COMMANDMENT.
THOU SHALT NOT KILL.
EXODUS XX. 13.
The next violation of this command which I shall have occasion to consider, is suicide, or self murder. In examining this subject, I shall,
I. Consider the principal arguments urged in justification of suicide ; and,
II. Shall allege several proofs of its criminality.
Before I proceed to the consideration of the arguments which have been supposed to justify suicide, it will be necessary to observe, that there are two totally distinct classes of mankind, by which this crime is committed : those, who are labouring under the disease of melaucholy, or that of derangement; and those who act in the same manner, in the full possession of their faculties. In the former of these classes the mental powers are so much disordered, as greatly to change, if not absolutely to annihilate, the criminality. The latter are guilty of this crime in the same sense as of any
other. To the former class, it is obvious, arguments on this or any other topic can be of no use, if addressed to them, while under the influence of these infirmities. An habitual conviction of the turpitude of this crime, established in their minds, when possessed of their fall strength and soundness, may indeed, and not improbably, so far influence them as to prevent this terrible catastrophe. In their diseased state, such of them as have fallen under my observation, have been incapable of being controlled by the force of argument. The observations which I shall make concerning this subject will therefore be directed to those of the latter class : to men who, in the full possession of their reason, from sudden passion, from disappointment in the pursuit of some darling object, such as fame, power, wealth, or pleasure, the loss of some important enjoyment, the suffers ance of some severe disgrace, or the dread of some expected evil, put an end to their lives. These men, though acting thus irrationally under the pressure of violent feeling, may yet be reasoned with in their cooler moments. In these moments a conviction may perhaps be wrought, and principles established in their minds, which may control the distempered thoughts, and prevent the dangerous decisions, too naturally springing up in seasons of violent agitation.
The general doctrine insisted on by Mr. Huine, the only writer whom I shall attempt to answer, or whom I consider as having any claim to an answer on this subject, is, that man has a right to dispose of his own life. This he asserts in various forms of expression ; all of them contributing to show that he considered this right as to be exercised according to the pleasure of the individual. Indeed, if such a right exists, the exercise of it cannot be limited in any other manner, unless the limitation be directly expressed by him, who alone can give or limit the right. But no such limitation has been expressed by him. In the Scriptures this is not even alluded to; and, whatever proof the light of Nature may furnish, that God has given us this right, there cannot be a pretence that it discovers to us any such limitation. The right itself therefore is to be exercised according to every man's judgment; or, what will in this case be exactly the same, according to every man's pleasure.
But where is the proof, that God has given this right to mankind? The arguments which Mr. Hume adduces to this purpose are chiefly the following <
1. That we were created for the end of effectuating our own enjoyment in the present life. “Men," he says, “ are intrusted to their own judgment and discretion, and may employ every faculty with which they are endowed, to provide for their ease, happiness, or preservation.”
In a former Discourse I have explained the end for which man was made ; and have, I trust, satisfactorily proved, that man was created to glorify his Maker, by knowing, reverencing, loving, serving, and enjoying him for ever. The accomplishment of this end in the creation of man, I have, unless I have been deceived, shown to be in the highest degree honourable to God, and in the highest degree productive of happiness to man. That this end, whether the real end for which man was created, or not, is incomparably nobler, better, and more worthy of God, than the end proposed by Mr. Hume, which is no other than the enjoyment of the pleasures of sense in this world, cannot be denied. No more can it be denied, that of the ends which were capable of being answered by the creation of man, God selected that which was noblest, best, and most worthy of his character ; unless it be also denied, not only that he is infinitely wise and good, but that he is wise and good at all. As therefore there are ends for which man might be created, nobler and better than that alleged by Mr. Hume, as one infinitely nobler and better has been pointed out, it is certain, that that proposed by him is not the true end of the creation of man.
Besides, the enjoyment of this pleasure in the manner exbibited by Mr. Hume himself, is inconsistent with the existence of virtue in man, and much more with the existence of perfect virtue. But to be virtuous is to render more honour to our Creator, to be more conformed to his pleasure, and to enjoy more happiness than is possible, if we are destitute of virtue. To be perfectly virtuous is to render the highest honour to our Creator, to be perfectly comformed to his pleasure, and to be perfectly happy. If then God regarded either himself, or us, he did not propose, as the end of creating man, the enjoyment of the happiness mentioned by Mr. Hume.
2. Mr. Hume alleges, as another argument for this right, the insignificance of human life.--" In the sight of God,” he says, “every event is alike important: and the life of a