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Never was there a term so perverted, so prostituted as this; 'neyer an exalted principle so often and so ingeniously tortured to serve the worst passions, and answer the vilest purposes of the human heart. Without' nobleness of mind there can be no true honour. But where, I would ask, is the nobleness of mind in revenging an injury? Where the nobleness of mind in deliberately spilling a brother's blood ? Where the nobleness of mind in suddenly sending a fellow-creature to appear before his Judge with all his sins upon his head? Where the nobleness of mind in plunging whole families into affliction and disgrace, in causing the affectionate Wife to drink the Widow's tears, and the helpless Orphan to call in
sooner than desert his post. When will this absurd principle, this unchristian feeling be banished from the breasts of men, whose profession entitles them to gratitude and respect, but whose arm is never raised with justice nor with honour except against the enemies of their country? It is, I am convinced, in the power of those who are in authority, to introduce into the army the principle, that it is honourable, in the best sense of the word, to forbear, under the worst provocations, raising the weapon of death against a brother's life.
vain for a Father's blessing ? By attaching honour to deeds, which laws human and divine forbid, which the wisdom of ages has condemned, and at which every sense of justice and every feeling of humanity revolts, we degrade what is good in attempting to connect it with what is evil, and diminish the turpitude of an action in bringing a right principle to justify or palliate what is wrong.
He is a man of Honour, a man of a truly great and noble mind, who is above committing a bad action, who will not do what God has forbidden, though it be to his own temporal detriment, who will not in any way injure his fellow-creatures, and who will not surrender his virtue, nor sacrifice his duty, at the call of fashion and custom, nor barter the satisfaction of a good Conscience before God, for the empty and mistaken applauses of a wicked world. But he who, in defiance of the commands of Heaven, yields to the impulse of a violent passion, and consents to do a wrong action in compliance with a prevailing folly, has no more claim to be ranked among the sons of Honour,
than the unprincipled despoiler of another's property, or the unworthy calumniator of an honest fame.
Duelling has also been called a proof of Courage. Here again a noble quality of the soul is pressed into the service of sin. What ! is it courage to do evil, because we dread the reproaches of a misjudging world ? Is it courage to murder a fellow-creature, perhaps a former friend, in cold blood, because we are afraid of being called cowards ? Is it courage to be ashamed of Christ and his religion ? Is it courage to do that from which nothing but misery and mischief must ensue, and which never can produce, and never has produced, a single benefit to a single individual in any view or shape whatever? No, it is not courage, but cowardice; for he who surrenders his will to wicked actions in order to escape the censure, and receive the approbation, of the thoughtless and profane, gives proof of a little mind, subdued by a false shame, and incapable of bold exertion in the trial of duty. He is the truly courageous man who resists temptations to evil, who fears God more than men, and who, whatever may be, thought or said of him, nobly resolves, and as nobly dares, to discharge his duty, whether it lie in action or in suffering, in obedience to the commands of the Lord his God. Like the oak, he stands firm amidst the storm, defies the impotent blasts that
rage around his head, and outlives the fury that threatened to root him from his soil.
I know the power and inveteracy of prejudice, the difficulty of pouring truths into minds wedded to a favourite error, and the pertinacity with which men adhere to the opinions they have once maintained, how weak soever the ground on which they rest for support:* I am not,
* Some men, and especially those who have yielded themselves servants to obey the authority of this evil custom, will, I am aware, on reading these my observations, turn them into ridicule, and perhaps go so far as to accuse their author of meanness of spirit, and of ignorance of the world; but I feel a full persuasion, that there is not a truly pious man in the kingdom, whether in or out of the army, who will not upon this subject coincide with me in opinion, and acknowledge, that my sentiments are founded upon truth, and drawn from the revealed wisdom of God himself.
therefore, sanguine in my hopes of convincing those, who are somewhat advanced in life, and who think duelling, under peculiar circumstances, unavoidable, that what I have said upon this sub- . ject is strictly true, and agreeable to the Word of God. But I am now particularly endeavouring to instil principles into the minds of the young. Here I have ground to work upon, where, I trust, the seeds of prejudice and error have not yet been sown, or have not yet taken root too deep to be eradicated.
Let me, therefore, exhort you, my young hearers, to permit no consideration whatever, no false sense of honour, no acute feeling of injury, nó absurd plea of necessity, no weak compliance with a wicked custom, no fear of temporal privation or suffering, to induce you to point the weapon of death at the breast of a fellow-creature. Let it be your fixed principle always to fear God more than Men; always be more anxious to avoid his displeasure, than to obtain their applause; to secure his favour, than to incur their condemnation. Do your duty,