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Sword.-Who ever deemed this, a mean-fpirited or fneaking Behaviour? All Ages have admired it, as the Refolution of a difcreet and gallant Man, who was fenfible of his own Importance, and knew how to treat the petulant and revengeful Humour of a difcontented Adversary with its deserved Contempt.
Barely to lofe our Life, is the fmalleft of thofe Evils, which attend this mifchievous Practice.-It is pregnant with a long, an almost endless Train of difaftrous Confequences to Parents, Wives, Children, Friends, Affociates, and the Community.-It is an infallible Expedient, to be deprived of the Favour of the infinite GOD, and to be excluded from the Joys of his eternal Kingdom.-It is the ready Way, to become an Object of Abhorrence to the Angels of Light; and be made the Laughing-ftock of Devils, in their Dungeons of Darkness *. Shame, everlafting Shame, shall be the Reward of fuch Gallantry, the Promotion of such Fools †.
*Let me tell You with Confidence," (fays an excellent Perfon, addreffing Himself to one of these unhappy Defperados)" that all Duels, or fingle Combats,
are murderous; blanch them over (how You lift) with "Names of Honour, and honeft Pretences, their Ufe is "finful, and their Nature devilish." See the select Works of Bishop Hall, in one Volume, Fol. pag. 526. Where the Reader will find a happy Mixture of true Oratory, and found Divinity; a rich Vein of Fancy, and a fweet Spirit of Piety; Contemplations upon the Hitories of Scripture (which, I think, are our Prelate's Mafter-piece) almost as entertaining and inftructive, as the Subjects illuftrated are important and wonderful.-Notwithstanding a few ftiff or antique Phrases, I cannot but efteem the Works of this Author, among the most va luable Compofitions extant in our Language.
+ Prov. iii. 35.
Ther. With regard to this Point, I am entirely of your Opinion, Afpafio; however I may differ in other Particulars.
Afp. Say You fo, Theron! Would You then tamely fubmit to Affronts, Infults, and Affaults?
Ther. As to the trifling Affronts of a peevifh incontinent Tongue, I would treat them with a fuperior Scorn. When thus treated, they are fure to recoil, with the keenest Edge, and severest Weight, upon the impotent Malice which offers them. The Wretch fhould fee, that I could pity his Mifery, and smile at his Folly.But with regard to Affaults, especially those of a capital Nature, the Cafe is otherwife. Should any one offer Violence to my Perfon, it is at his Peril. He would find, and perhaps to his Smart,
Et Nos Tela Manu, Ferrumque haud debile Dextrâ Spargimus, & noftro fequitur de Vulnere Sanguis *.
Here, the fundamental and everlasting Law of Selfprefervation calls upon Us to play the Man. And I am fure, Chriftianity does not require Us, to yield our Throats to the Knife, or open our Breafts to the Dagger.
But to retire to deliberate-to fit down-and indite a formal Challenge-feems to me altogether as favage and iniquitous, as to assault on the Highway. -He that demands my Money on the Road, or extorts it by an incendiary Letter, or decoys me into the Snare by a forged and counterfeit Note; is ftigmatized for a Villain; is abhorred by every Perfon of Integrity; and, when detected, is rewarded with a Halter. Why should We reckon the Head-strong
Bravo lefs injurious? Who makes his Attempt upon my very Life; and thirfts, with insatiable Fury, for my Blood?
Afp. He allows You a fair Chance; it is faid.
Ther. A Chance! Of what?-Either of falling a Sacrifice to his Rage, or of imbruing my Hands in his Blood. Which is neither more nor lefs, than reducing me to a Neceffity, of launching into Damnation myself, or of tranfmitting a Fellow-creature to eternal Vengeance.-And is this an Extenuation? This a mitigating Circumftance? It really proves the Practice fo inexcufably wicked, that nothing can be pleaded in its Defence. The very Argument, used to juftify the horrid Deed, inflames its Guilt and aggravates its Malignity.
'Tis Pity, but the legislative Authority would interpofe, for the Suppreffion of fuch a flagrant Wrong to Society, and fuch a notorious Violation of our benign Religion. Why fhould not the Laws declare it Felony, to make the first Overture for a Duel? Since it is always more heinous, and frequently more pernicious. Is always Murder in the Intention, and frequently iffues in double Deftruction: the One, inflicted by the Stab of Violence; the Other, executed by the Sword of Juftice.
Might it not, at least bé branded with fome Mark of public Infamy, or fubjected to a fevere pecuniary Mult? So that a Gentleman of Spirit and Temper might have it in his Power to return the Compliment of a challenging Letter with fome fuch Anfwer;
"However meanly You may think of Your Life, "I fet too high a Value upon mine, to expose it as
"a Mark for undisciplined and outrageous Paffions. -Neither have I fo totally renounced all that is humane, benevolent, or amiable, as to draw my "Sword for your Deftruction, because You have "FIRST been overcome by precipitate and unreafonable Refentment.-You have given me an Opportunity of acting the Gentleman and the "Chriftian. And this Challenge I accept, as a "Note under your Hand for five hundred Pounds *; which will very foon be demanded, according to Law, by
Afp. But to refume the proper Subject→→the Nature of our Engagement. Which I now recollect, and which was explained, when I ventured to give, what you call the Challenge.-As it is not my Theron, but the Obftacles of his Faith, and the Enemies of his Felicity, which I am to encounter; perhaps, I fhall have Courage to stand my Ground.
Might not the Refufer of a Challenge be dignified with fome honorary Diftinction, refembling the Civic Crown among the antient Romans? Since, by his cool and temperate Bravery, He faves one Life from the Sword, another from the Halter.-Was fome honorary Distinction on the one hand, united to a pecuniary Forfeiture on the other, I cannot but think, they would prove an effectual Method to check the Progrefs of this deftructive Evil. It would break the Teeth of Malice with her own Weapons, and turn the Artillery of Revenge upon Herself. Thofe deteftable Paffions would be loth to indulge themselves in this horrid Manner, if it was made the fure Way to ennoble and enrich the Object of their Rage.-N. B. The Civic Crown was an Ornament affigned to thofe Soldiers, who had in Battle rescued a Fellow-citizen from impending Death.
And, inftead of violating all the Obligations of Equity, Honefty, and Confcience, I fhall certainly evidence my Love to my Friend; nay poffibly promote his trueft Good.
Ther. I don't fee, how this can be effected, by your late Attempt. You attempted to run down all Works of Righteoufnefs, as abfolutely unable to find Acceptance with GOD, and equally infufficient to recommend Us to his Favour.-It is for the Credit of thefe, which Afpafio has depreciated, that I enter the Lifts.
Afp. I attempted to prove, That no human Works fhould pretend to the Honour of juftifying Us, either in Whole, or in Part. Becaufe-this would be an Ufurpation of the REDEEMER's Office-this would overthrow the Gofpel-method of Juftification, which is by imputing Righteousness without Works* this, inftead of excluding, would introduce Boafting. And oppofe, if not defeat, the grand Defign of JEHOVAH, in the Salvation of Sinners; which is, to display the infinite Riches of his Grace.
When any Works are attended with fuch Circumftances, I cannot but wonder, to hear them called Works of Righteoufnefs. I am at a Lofs to conceive, how they can themselves be acceptable; much more, how they can recommend a Tranfgreffor to the Favour of GOD.-Nay, I hear our divine MASTER pofitively and peremptorily declaring, that they are, not good, but evil. The World hateth me, because I testify of it, that the Works thereof are evil +.
* Rom. iv. 6.
+ John vii. 7.