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deed ; and therefore suicide in such a case cannot affect a person's future state.
Let all guard against this awful deed. And that none of us may be left to terminate our lives in this way, let us avoid those courses which lead to this fatal end. Every thing which wounds the conscience, and therefore every evil course may lead to this end; for a wounded spirit who can bear? Let us therefore endeavour to keep consciences void of offence. The sin of gambling, which irritates the passions and often destroys estate, is not unfrequently a cause of suicide. So also are all those vices which are branded with infamy by the world, and which when known fix an indelible stain on a man's character. If therefore we fear suicide, let us fear and guard against such sins as have led others to the commission of this crime. Another frequent cause is an eager grasping after ihe things of this world, and a fond attachment to them. When such persons are disappointed, and crossed in their pursuits, or meet with heavy losses, they are filled with vexation and sorrow, sometimes so insupportable, that they rush into the arms of death, to rid themselves, as they falsely suppose, of their troubles. This is emphatically “ the sorrow of the world” which “worketh death :" 2 Cor. vii. 10. This love of the world is in itself a very great sin, and is productive of many other sins; and is especially one of the most fruitful sources of the sin of suicide. If therefore we fear self-murder, let us guard against this pitiable, degrading, wicked, and I may add detestable love of the world, to such a degree as to be glued as it were to it. Let us sensible of our own weakness, seek and secure an interest in Christ, who is able to keep us. Let us daily trust in him, and daily pray, “ lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.” We proceed,
2. To consider this commandment as forbidding the taking away of the lives of others, unjustly. We say unjustly because, it is right sometimes to take the life of others. I mention three cases in which I suppose it to be just, and which are to be considered as excepted in the general law, “ Thou shalt not kill.” The cases are these. Life may be taken away by the civil magistrate; in lawful war; and in necessary self-defence. Let us distinctly consider each of these cases.
1. It is lawful for the civil magistrate to take away life. This is especially true in the case of wilful murder. Whether the divine law warrants it in any other case I shall not undertake at present to discuss. It is at least doubtful. And the moral right of the civil magistrate to take away the life of even the wilful murderer has been denied by some. But this right is evident from the word of God, in which the civil magistrate is authorized and commanded to do it. And no rulers have a right to enact laws, dispensing with the divine law in this matter. If we look into the Jewish code of laws, given by God himself, we shall find frequent commandments on this head : as in the following texts, Ex. xxi. 12, 14 : “ He that smiteth a man, so that he die, shall be surely put to death. If a man come presumptuously upon his neighbour, to slay him with guile ; thou shalt take him from mine altar, that he may die.” Lev. xxiv. 17 ; "He that killeth any man shall surely be put to death.” And in the appointment of cities of refuge, of which we read in the 35th chapter of Numbers, to which the manslayer who had killed another by accident, or without design, might flee and be safe, special care was taken that the wilful murderer should receive no benefit from the provision, but in case he escaped into one of these cities, he was to be brought thence and put to death. In the same chapter it is repeated a number of times, “ the murderer shall surely be put to death.” And we also read, “Whoso killeth any person, the murderer shall be put to death by the mouth of witnesses. 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. 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.”
And this law that the murderer should be punished with death was not peculiar to the Jews, nor did it belong to the ceremonial code, which was to be done away under the gospel dispensation ; but it was strictly moral, and intended to be binding on all natious and all ages ; for it was given long before the ceremonial law, and long fore the nation of the Jews had existence. It was giv
by God to Noah, the father of the world since the
1; as we read, Gen ix. 6 ; “ Whoso sheddeth man's d, by man shall his blood be shed."
2. We proceed to consider the second exception to the general law, viz. lawful war. And here a question will arise, whether any war is authorized by the divine law ? On this question there have been different and contrary opinions. With diffidence, I would answer the question in the affirmative. It is true there are many wars which are highly wicked in the sight of God; such are all those which are undertaken to gratify the pride, ambition, revenge, or avarice of kings, or rulers. And from such causes have most of the wars proceeded, which have scourged and desolated our world. But when one nation is attacked by another, what is the injured nation to do, if they have not a right to defend themselves and repel force by force? The principle of self-preservation, undoubtedly implanted within us by the Author of our being, teaches us that such defence would be right. Besides there is no other way of maintaining the rights of a nation against an unjust, oppressive, and invading foe. Among individuals, the civil law maintains the rights of each. But there is no such way to maintain the rights of nations, and prevent one from injuring and destroying another; and hence, if it be right for nations to maintain their rights, it is right to defend them when invaded by opposing force to force.
These remarks go to justify defensive war, when important rights cannot otherwise be maintained.
We may further remark, that what may be called offensive war, may perhaps also in some cases be lawful; for such provocations may possibly be offered by one nation to another, as that the safety and tranquillity of the nation receiving the provocations may require them, without delay, to commence hostilities. This however is properly a defensive war.
It is true, war arises from sin, and is one of the consequences of the fall; and if nations were universally actuated by the principles of justice and charity, wars would cease; and we believe that the time will come, when according to the predictions of prophecy, wars and rumours of wars will cease, and the nations will learn war no more, but beat their swords into plough-shares, and their spears into pruning-hooks. But notwithstanding this, that there are just wars, appears not only from the right which nations have to maintain their rights, but also fr Scriptures, in which we read of many wars be
carried on by divine direction. War, therefore, in cer. tain cases is lawful, and consequently it is lawful in this way to take life. But at the same time, war ought not to be engaged in, if it can be avoided, consistently with the rights of nations. Every possible means ought first to be used to heal differences, and prevent bloodshed. And when war is unavoidable and must be engaged in, the object ought to be not to gratify a spirit of revenge, but to bring our enemies to respect our rights; and it ought to be conducted with humanity, and all cruelty be sed. uously avoided.
3. Another case in which it is lawful to take away life is for individual self-defence. When a person is actually attacked by another, with the intention to take his life, it is certainly lawful, if he can in no other way preserve his own life, to slay the assassin. That this is right is taught by that natural principle, and first law of nature, self-preservation. And it is confirmed by the following text, Ex. xxii. 2; “ If a thief be found breaking up, and be smitten that he die, there shall no blood be shed for him.” But here it will be proper to remark, that it is lawful in self-defence to take away the life of another only for the preservation of our own lives ; and this too, when we are actually assaulted, and when we can discover no other way to save ourselves.
In these three cases, viz. public justice, lawful war, and necessary self-defence, it is lawful to take away life, but in every other case the taking away of life is contrary to the sixth commandment.
Murder is the greatest crime which we can commit against our neighbour, as it deprives him of his most valuable temporal property-his life, and with it every temporal enjoyment.
This crime, in itself very great, may be much aggravated by circumstances. If it be the effect of deliberate premeditation; if it be accompanied with acts of cruelty : if it be committed against the unoffending and the helpless ; if the life of the murdered be valuable, and important to church or state ; and if it be against one connected by the ties of blood or affinity, such as a brother or sister, a parent or child, or a husband or wife-these and such like circumstances greatly enhance the guilt of this ime.
Murder is a most heinous sin in the sight of God. This he has shown, by directing that the severest of human punishments should be inflicted upon the murderer, even death. “Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed;" Gen. ix. 6. “Ye shall take no satisfaction for the life of a murderer, which is guilty of death : but he shall be surely put to death;" Num. xxxv. 31. He has also shown his marked abhorrence of this crime, by following murderers and their posterity with his judgments, where they have escaped human punishments; and even visiting whole communities, with judgments for this sin, where the person who committed it had been suffered to escape with impunity. Thus David after the murder of Uriah was visited with judgment after judgment; and the Lord declared that for this deed the sword should never depart from his house. Thus the land of Israel was visited with a three year's famine in the time of David for Saul's murder of the Gibeonites. And the murders which the Jews had committed on the prophets of former ages, were visited on that generation which lived in the time of our Saviour. God has further shown his abhorrence of this crime, by the terrors and remorse with which he has frequently filled those who have committed it, before they have been legally convicted of it, and by leading in his providence to the discovery of murderers who had long been concealed. History furnishes us with many instances, of the discovery of murderers, who had long escaped detection; and this too in a way, which most forcibly indicated the peculiar providence of God in effecting the discovery. All these things show the exceedingly heinous nature of this sin.
Under the head of murder we must include, taking a. way the life of an antagonist in a duel, or single combat. It is murder in the sight of heaven. It is a direct violation of the sixth commandment, “ Thou shalt not kill." It comes under the description of murder against which death is denounced in many other texts. Such are the following, “Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed. The duellist who kills his antagonist sheds man's blood, and therefore by man should his blood be shed. “ He that smiteth a man that he die shall be surely put to death. He that killeth any man shall surely be put to death. Whoso killeth any person, the mur