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For the army, where the point of honour is cultivated with exquisite attention and refinement, I would establish a Court of Honour, with a power of awarding those submissions and acknowledgments, which it is generally the purpose of
a chalMi lenge to obtain; and it might grow into a fashion,
with persons of rank of all professions, to refer their quarrels to this tribunal.
Duelling, as the law now stands, can seldom be overtaken by legal punishment. The challenge, appointment, and other previous circumstances, which indicate the intention with which the combatants met, being suppressed, nothing appears to a court of justice but the actual rencounter ; and if a person be slain when actually fighting with his adversary, the law deems his death nothing more than manslaughter.
Litigation. " If it be possible, live peaceably with all men ;'* which precept contains an indirect confession that this is not always possible.
The instances* in the fifth chapter of St. Matthew are rather to be understood as proverbial methods of describing the general duties of forgiveness and benevolence, and the temper which we ought to aim at acquiring, than as directions to be specifically observed; or of themselves of any great importance to be observed. The first of these is, " If thine enemy smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also;" yet, when one of the officers struck Jesus with the palm of his hand, we find Jesus rebuking him for the outrage with becoming indignation ; " If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil; but if well, why smitest thou me ?” (John xviii. 23.) It may be observed, like
* “Whoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also ; and if any man will sue thee at the law, and tate away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also ; and whosoever shall cempel thee to go a mile, go with him twain."
against it, could have no other effect, than to put a con refuge in the laws of his country, and in the privi. Na to ir prosecution; so that where the injury is small, what repetition of the injury, or where the expense of an in
wise, that the several examples are drawn from in. stances of small and tolerable injuries. A rule which forbade all opposition to injury, or defence the good in subjection to the bad, and deliver one half of mankind to the depredation of the other half; which must be the case, so long as some con. sidered themselves as bound by such a rule, wbilst others despised it. St. Paul, though no oné inculcated forgiveness and forbearance with a deeper sense of the value and obligation of these virtues, did not interpret either of them to require an unre. sisting submission to every contumely, or a neglect of the means of safety and self-defence. He took leges of a Roman citizen, from the conspiracy of the Jews, (Acts xxv. 11.) and from the clandestine violence of the chief captain. (Acts xxii. 25.) And yet this is the same apostle who reproved the litigiousness of his Corinthian converts with so much severity. Now, therefore, there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded?”
1. For the establishing of some important right. Alle pe
On the one hand, therefore, Christianity excludes all vindictive motives, and all frivolous causes,
of where no good purpose of public example is an. swered, where forbearance is not likely to invite a action becomes a punishment too severe for the offence; there the Christian is withholden by the authority of his religion from going to law.
On the other hand, a lawsuit is inconsistent with no rule of the gospel, when it is instituted
2. For the procuring a compensation for some considerable damage..
8. For the preventing of future injury, But, since it is supposed to be undertaken simply with a view to the ends of justice and safety, the prosecutor of the action is bound to confine himself to the cheapest process which will accom. plish these ends, as well as to consent to any peace. able expedient for the same purpose ; as to a refe.
s'ence, in which the arbitrators can do, what the law - cannot, livide the damage, when the fault is muLa qual; or to a compounding of the dispute, by acceptwing a compensation in the gross, without entering
into articles and items, which it is often very difticult to adjust separately.
As to the rest, the duty of the contending parties may be expressed in the following directions :
Not by appeals to prolong a suit against your own conviction.
Not to undertake or defend a suit against a poor adversary, or render it more dilatory or expensive than necessary, with the hope of intimidating or wearying him out by the expense. Not to influence evidence by authority or expecta
Nor to stifle any in your possession, although it make against you.
Hitherto we have treated of civil actions. In cri. Šminal prosecutions, the private injury should be for
gotten, and the prosecutor proceed with the same
temper, and upon the same motives, as the magisé trate; the one being a necessary minister of justice
as well as the other, and both bound to direct their conduct by a dispassionate care of the public wel. fare.
In whatever degree the punishment of an offender is conducive, or his escape dangerous, to the interest of the community, in the same degree is the party against whom the crime was committed bound to
prosecute, because such prosecutions must in their = nature originate from the sufferer,
Therefore great public crimes, as robberies, forgeries, and the like, ought not to be spared, from an apprehension of trouble or expense in carrying on the prosecution, from false shame, or misplaced compassion.
There are many offences, such as nuisances, neglect of public roads, forestalling, engrossing, smuggling, sabbath-breaking, profaneness, drunkenness, prostitution, the keeping of lewd or disorderly houses, the writing, publishing, or exposing to sale, lascivious books or pictures, with some others, the prosecution of which, being vi equat
concern to the whole neighbourhood, cannot be charged as a peculiar obligation upon any.
Nevertheless, there is great merit in the person who undertakes such prosecutions upon proper motives ; which amounts to the same thing.
The character of an informer is in this country undeservedly odious. But where any public advantage is likely to be attained by information, or other activity in promoting the execution of the laws, a good man will despise a prejudice founded in no just reason, or will acquit himself of the im. putation of interested designs by giving away his share of the penalty,
On the other hand, prosecutions for the sake of the reward or for the gratification of private enmity, where the offence produces no public mischief, or where it arises from ignorance or inadvertency, are prohibited under the general description of applying a rule of law to a purpose for which it was not intended. Under which description may be ranked an officious revival of the laws against Popish priests, and dissenting teachers.
EXAMPLES of ingratitude check and discourage voluntary beneficence : and in this the mischief of ingratitude consists. Nor is the mischief small; for after all is done that can be done, towards providing for the public happiness, by prescribing. rules of justice, and enforcing the observation of them by penalties or compulsion, much must be left to those offices of kindness, which men remain at liberty to exert or withhold. Now not only the choice of the objects, but the quantity and even the existence of this sort of kindness in the world de pends, in a great measure, upon the return which it receives; and this is a consideration of general im. portance.
A second reason for cultivating a grateful tem per in ourselves, is the following: The same prin ciple, which is toached with the kindness of a hu
man benefactor, is capable of being affected by the divine goodness, and of becoming, under the influ. ence of that affection, a source of the purest and most exalted virtue. The love of God is the sublimest gratitude. It is a mistake, therefore, to imagine, that this virtue is omitted in the Christian scriptures; for every precept which commands us
to love God, because he first loved us,” presupposes the principle of gratitude, and directs it to its proper object.
It is impossible to particularize the several ex. pressions of gratitude, in as much as they vary with the character and situation of the benefactor, and with the opportunities of the person obliged ; which variety admits of no bounds.
It may be observed, however, that gratitude can never oblige a man to do what is wrong, and what by consequence he is previously obliged not to do. It is no ingratitude to refuse to do, what we cannot reconcile to any apprehensions of our duty; but it is ingratitude and hypocrisy together, to pretend this reason, when it is not the real one: and the frequency of such pretences has brought this apology for noncompliance with the will of a benefactor into unmerited disgrace.
It has long been accounted a violation of delicacy and generosity to upbraid men with the favours they have received; but it argues a total destitution of both these qualities, as well as of moral probity, to take advantage of that aseendency, which the conferring of benefits justly creates, to draw or drive those whom we have obliged into mean or dishonest compliances.
SLANDER. SPEAKING is acting, both in philosophical strictness, and as to all moral purposes ; if the mischief and motive of our conduct be the same, the means which we use make no difference.
And this is in effect what our Saviour declares, Matt. xii. 37 : “ By thy words thou shalt be justi