« PoprzedniaDalej »
an imperious necessity, which his nobler feelings will not permit him to resist, yet the commission of the prohibited act is a proof, that the brotherly love, the selfconquest, the patient endurance, the forgiving spirit, and the disposition of charity and
peace, which the Gospel enjoins, have failed to influence his conduct. God, in giving us laws, meant that those laws should be obeyed. It cannot, therefore, be right nor safe, under any circumstances, however trying, nor under any provocations, however undeserved, to violate or disregard them.
It is urged, perhaps, that cases are sometimes of so aggravating a nature, and the trials so great and overpowering, that there is no possible way to avert the evil, but by submitting to a degradation past all human sufferance. But in this assertion there is both impiety and error ; impiety, because it contains an inference that God will permit us to be tempted above that we are able ; and error, because it attaches degradation to a forbearance which God has enjoined, and which exalts the creature in his sight. Those,
who advance this plea, should consider, that the stronger the trials, and the greater the privations and sacrifices they require, the richer will be the recompence, *"if we faint not," and "endure unto the end."
Duelling is likewise contrary to the Laws of Man. It has ever been considered by wise Legislators as an evil of the most dangerous tendency, as an enemy to the peace of civil society, and as the bane of every thing that is good in morals, and pure in religion. No pious man could ever bring himself to defend it; no true believer in Christ Jesus has ever written upon the subject, without pronouncing it to be neither more nor less than deliberate murder; without condemning it as an act, that impiously attempts to wrest the prerogative of life and death out of the hands of the Almighty.
As a convincing argument, that the general sentiment is directly against this evil custom, and that every heart in its private sense and judgment condemns it,
* Gal. vi. 9.
+ Matt, xxiv. 13.
suppose that, instead of holding it reprobation, I were now to preach in its defence, and to justify obedience to it, whenever a wrong is done us; what would be the effect I should produce? It would be this. Every ear that heard me'would receive the shock of offence; every good feeling of your hearts would be outraged; and every voice would indignantly proclaim me, the Preacher of unrighteousness, the Advocate of evil, the Minister of Satan, and not of God. I ask you seriously, if this would not be the effect of such defence and exhortation ? What then must that practice be, the vindication of which would do so great violence to the best feelings of your hearts, and draw down so strong an indignation on its Advocate? Must it not be wicked and indefensible in the extreme? Were I indeed to preach in its justification, or to offer an excuse for it in any case whatever, you might be angry with me, and yet not sin.
It has been said to me, by those too for whom I entertain sincere respect, and to whom I have long preached the Gospel
of Christ, that it is right in me, as a Minister of God, to deliver such sentiments from the pulpit; but that, under certain circumstances, and in certain situations of life, the good order and peace of society, and the preservation of individual character, render an obedience to the precept I inculcate, generally inexpedient, and often impossible. There cannot be an argument more fallacious than this. For if it is right in me, as a Minister of God, to enforce a precept; it is right in every one, as a worshipper of God, to obey it. The same obligation that binds me to preach the commandments of my heavenly Master, binds all men to observe them. If I inculcate a duty, I inculcate, not my own private opinion, but the revealed will of God; and it is positively absurd to say, that he has issued a cominand, of which any
circumstance or situation of life can justify a violation. And I have yet to learn, how the good order and peace of society, or how the preservation of individual character, is consulted, by scattering abroad the seed of misery, and contract
ing the stain of uncharitableness and murder. Is there any occurrence of life, any station in which a man may be placed, any necessity of preserving a good name, that can render obedience to God inexpedient or impossible ? Surely they who think thus, cannot be aware of the impiety of their sentiments; for, by this mode of arguing, they do as much as say, that the observance of the Word of God may, in certain cases, be productive of mischief, and consequently that, on pressing occasions, it becomes a duty to act even in opposition to his commands.
But not only is. Duelling contrary to the Laws of God and Man; it is like. wise contrary to the * Law of Honour.
* If an officer refuse to fight a duel, he is branded, it seems, by his thoughtless companions, with the name of coward, and his life is rendered so uncomfortable, that he finds himself under the painful necessity of resigning his commission. He is made to suffer, because he cannot consent to become a deliberate murderer. He is assailed with terms of disgrace, because he has shown himself afraid to disobey his God. Entrust such a one with an enterprise of danger and duty, and I should feel a confidence, that he would be among the foremost in intrepidity, and be content to die