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"If ye forgive men their trespasses, your hea venly Father will also forgive you but if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. "" And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors,. till he should pay all that was due unto him: so likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses. "Put on bowels of mercy, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering; forbearing one another, forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye."-" Be patient towards all men, see that none render evil for evil to any man."" Avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore, if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good."
I think it evident, from some of these passages taken separately, and still more so from all of them together, that revenge, as described in the beginning of this chapter, is forbidden in every degree, under all forms, and upon every occasion. We are like. wise forbidden to refuse to an enemy even the most imperfect right; "if he hunger, feed him if he thirst, give him drink ;"t which are examples of imperfect rights. If one who has offended us, solicit from us a vote to which his qualifications entitle him, we may not refuse it from motives of resentment, or the remembrance of what we have suffered at his hands. His right, and our obliga tion which follows the right, are not altered by his enmity to us, or by ours to him.
On the other hand, I do not conceive that these prohibitions were intended to interfere with the pu
* Matt. vi. 14, 15. xviii. 34, 35. Col. iii. 12, 13. 1 Thess. v. 14, Rom. xii. 19-21.
† See also Exodus, xxiii. 4. "If thou meet thine enemy's ox, f his ass, going astray, thou shalt surely bring it back to him again: thou see the ass of him that hateth thee, lying under his burden, and wouldest forbear to help him, thou shalt surely help with him.".
nishment or prosecution of public offenders. In the eighteenth chapter of St. Matthew, our Saviour tells his disciples; "If thy brother who has trespassed against thee neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as a heathen man, and a publican." Immediately after this, when St. Peter asked him, "How oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times ?" Christ replied, "I say unto thee until seventy times seven;" that is, as often as he repeats the offence. From these two adjoining passages compared together, we are authorized to conclude that the forgiveness of an enemy is not inconsistent with the proceeding against him as a public offender; and that the discipline established in religious or civil societies, for the restraint or punishment of criminals, ought to be upholden.
If the magistrate be not tied down with these prohibitions from the execution of his office, neither is the prosecutor; for the office of the prosecutor is as necessary as that of the magistrate.
Nor, by parity of reason, are private persons withholden from the correction of vice, when it is in their power to exercise it; provided they be assured that it is the guilt which provokes them, and not the injury; and that their motives are pure from all mixture and every particle of that spirit which delights and triumphs in the humiliation of an adversary.
Thus, it is no breach of Christian charity to withdraw our company or civility when the same tends to discountenance any vicious practice. This is one branch of that extrajudicial discipline, which supplies the defects and the remissness of law; and is expressly authorized by St. Paul (1 Cor. v. 11.); "But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such a one, no not to eat." The use of this association against vice continues to be experienced in one remarkable instance, and might be extended with good effect to others. The confederacy amongst women of character, to exclude from their society keptmistresses and prostitutes, contributes more per
haps to discourage that condition of life, and pre vents greater numbers from entering into it, than all the considerations of prudence and religion put together.
We are likewise allowed to practice so much caution as not to put ourselves in the way of inju ry, or invite the repetition of it. If a servant or tradesman has cheated us, we are not bound to trust him again: for this is to encourage him in his dishonest practices, which is doing him much harm.
Where a benefit can be conferred only upon one or few, and the choice of the person upon whom it is conferred is a proper object favour, we are at liberty to prefer those who have not offended us to those who have; the contrary being no where required.
Christ, who, as hath been well demonstrated,* estimated virtues by their solid utility, and not by their fashion or popularity, prefers this of the forgiveness of injuries to every other. He enjoins it oftener; with more earnestness; under a greater variety of forms; and with this weighty and peculiar circumstance, that the forgiveness of others is the condition upon which alone we are to expect, or even ask, from God, forgiveness for ourselves. And this preference is justified by the superior importance of the virtue itself. The feuds and animosities in families and between neighbours, which disturb the intercourse of human life, and collectively compose half the misery of it, have their foundation in the want of a forgiving temper; and can never cease, but by the exercise of this virtue, on one side, or on both.
DUELLING as a punishment is absurd; because it is an equal chance, whether the punishment fall
* See a View of the Internal Evidence of the Christian Reli gion.
upon the offender, or the person offended. Nor is it much better as a reparation; it being difficult to explain in what the satisfaction consists, or how it tends to undo the injury, or to afford a compensa tion for the damage already sustained.
The truth is, it is not considered as either. A law of honour having annexed the imputation of cowardice to patience under an affront, challenges are given and accepted with no other design than to prevent or wipe off this suspicion; without malice against the adversary; generally without a wish to destroy him, or any other concern than to preserve the duellist's own reputation and reception in the world.
The unreasonableness of this rule of manners is one consideration; the duty and conduct of individuals, while such a rule exists, is another.
As to which, the proper and single question is this whether a regard for our own reputation is, or is not, sufficient to justify the taking away the life of another?
Murder is forbidden; and wherever human life is deliberately taken away, otherwise than by public authority, there is murder. The value and security of human life make this rule necessary; for I do not see what other idea or definition of murder can be admitted, which will not let in so much private violence, as to render society a scene of pe ril and bloodshed.
If unauthorized laws of honour be allowed to create exceptions to Divine prohibitions, there is an end of all morality, as founded in the will of the Deity; and the obligation of every duty may, at one time or other, be discharged by the caprice and fluctuations of fashion.
"But a sense of shame is so much torture; and no relief presents itself otherwise than by an attempt upon the life of our adversary." What then? The distress which men suffer by the want of money is oftentimes extreme, and no resource can be discovered but that of removing a life which stands between the distressed person and his inheritance. The motive in this case is as urgent, and the means much the same, as in the former yet 温 this case finds no advocate.
Take away the circumstance of the duellist's exposing his own life, and it becomes assassination; add this circumstance, and what difference does it make? None but this, that fewer perhaps will imitate the example, and human life will be somewhat more safe, when it cannot be attacked without equal danger to the aggressor's own. Experience, however, proves that there is fortitude enough in most men to undertake this hazard; and were it otherwise, the defence, at best, would be only that which a highwayman or housebreaker might plead, whose attempt had been so daring and desperate, that few were likely to repeat the same.
In expostulating with the duellist, I all along suppose his adversary to fall. Which supposition I am at liberty to make, because, if he have no right to kill his adversary, he has none to attempt it.
In return, I forbear from applying to the case of duelling the Christian principle of the forgiveness of injuries; because it is possible to suppose the injury to be forgiven, and the duellist to act entirely from a concern for his own reputation where this is not the case, the guilt of duelling is manifest, and is greater.
In this view it seems unnecessary to distinguish between him who gives, and him who accepts, a challenge: for, on the one hand, they incur an equal hazard of destroying life; and on the other, both act upon the same persuasion, that what they do is necessary, in order to recover or preserve the good opinion of the world.
Public opinion is not easily controlled by civil institutions; for which reason question whether any regulations can be contrived, of sufficient force to suppress or change the rule of honour, which stigmatizes all scruples about duelling with the reproach of cowardice.
The insufficiency of the redress which the law of the land affords, for those injuries which chiefly affect a man in his sensibility and reputation, tempts many to redress themselves. Persecutions for such offences, by the trifling damages that are recovered, serve only to make the sufferer more ridiculous.-This ought to be remedied.