Εικόνες σελίδας
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

solently requires his countrymen to submit their in. terest, when connected with his own, to the adjudica. tion of his passions. Claiming, and sharing, all the blessings of civilized society, he arogates, also, the savage independence of wild and brutal nature; wrests the sword of justice from the hand of the magistrate, and wields it, as the weapon of an assassin. To him government is annihilated.

Laws and trials, judges and juries, vanish before him. Arms are his laws and a party his judge; his only trial is a battle, and his hall a field of blood.

All his countrymen have the same rights which he has. Should they claim to exercise those which he claims, what would be the consequence ? Every controversy, every concern, of man would be terminated by the sword and pistol. Civil war; war, waged by friends and neighbours, by father, sons, and brothers ; war, of that dreadful kind, which the Romans denominated a tumult; would spread through every country : a war, in which all the fierce passions of man would be let loose ; and wrath and malice, revenge and phrenzy, would change the world into a dungeon, filled with maniacs, who had broken their chains, and glutted their rage with each other's misery. Thus duelling universally adopted, would ruin every country, destroy all the peace and safety, and blast every hope, of mankind. Who but å fiend

a would willingly contribute to this devastation ?

The guilt, begun in the violation of the laws of man, is finished in the violation of the laws of God. This awful Being who gave us existence, and preserves it, who is every where, and sees every thing; who made, and rules the universe ; 'who will judge and reward, both angels and men ; and before whom, every work, with every secret thing shall be brought into judgment, with his own voice proclaimed to this bloody world, froin Mount Sinai, • Thou shalt not kill.' The command, as I explained it the last season in this place,


forbids killing absolutely. No exception, as I then observed, can be lawfully made to the precept, except those, which the Lawgiver has himself made. These I further observed, are limited to killing beasts, when necessary for food, or plainly noxious; and putting men to death by the sword of public justice, or in self defence; whether private or public. This being the only ground of justifiable war.

As these are the sole exceptions, it is clear that duelling is an open violation of this law of God. The guilt of duelling in this view is manifold ; and

! in all its varieties is sufficiently dreadful to alarm any man, whose conscience is susceptible of alarm, and whose mind is not too stupid to discern, that it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

If the duellist is a mere creature of solitude, in whose life or death, happiness or misery, no human being is particularly interested ; if no bosom will glow with his prosperity, or bleed with his sufferings; if no mourner will follow his hearse, and no eye drop a tear over his grave; still he is a man. As a man, he owes ten thousand duties to his fellow men; and these are all commanded by his God. His labors, his example, his prayers, are daily due to the neighbor, the stran

poor, and the public. He cannot withdraw them without sin. The eternal Being, whose wisdom and justice have sanctioned all these claims, will exact the forfeiture at his hands; and inquire of the wicked and slothful servant, why, in open defiance of his known pleasure he has thus shrunk from his duty, and buried his talent in the grave.

Is he a son? Who licensed him in rebellion against the fifth command of the decalogue, to pierce his parents hearts with agony, and to bring down their grey hairs with sorrow to the grave? Why did he not live to honor his father and his mother ; to obey, to comfort, to delight, and to support them in their declin. ing years ; and to give them a rich reward for all their

ger, the

toil, expense, and suffering, in his birth and educa tion, by a dutiful, discreet, and amiable life, the only reward which they ask? Why did he shroud the morning of their happiness in midnight; and cause their rising hopes to set in blood? Why did he raise up before their anguished eyes the spectre of a son, slain in the enormous perpetration of sin; escaping from a troubled grave; or coming from the region of departed spirits, to haunt their course through declining life, to alarm their sleep, and chill their waking moments, with the despairing, agonizing cry,

"Death! tis.a melancholy day.

"To those that have no God."

Is he a Husband? He has broken the marriage vow; the oath of God. He has forsaken the wife of his youth. He has refused to furnish her sustenance; to share her joys; to sooth her sorrows; to watch her sick bed; and to provide for his children, and hers, the means of living here, and the means of living forever. He has denied the faith and is worse than an infidel Where, in the fatal, guilty moment, when he resolved to cast away his life, were his tenderness to the partner of his bosom; the yearnings of his bowels towards the offspring of his loins; his sense of duty; his remembrance of God? In every character, as a dependant creature, as a sinful man, his eternal life and death were suspended on his forgiveness of his enemies. He who alone can forgive sins, and save sinners, has said, If ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your heavenly father forgive you. He has gone farther. He has forbidden man even to ask pardon of God, unless with a forgiving spirit to his fellow men. In vain can the duellist pretend to a forgiving temper. If he felt the spirit of the cross, could he possibly for an affront, an offence lighter than air, shed the blood of his neighbor. Could he plunge the friends of the sufferer into an abyss of

anguish; sink his parents into irrecoverable despair; break on the wheel the hearts of his wife and children; and label on the door posts of his house-mourning lamentation and woe?


Satisfaction for a professed injury is the very demand which he makes; the only basis of his contest. Is this the language of forgiveness? It is an insult to common sense, it is an outrage on common decency, to hold this language; and yet profess this temper. The language is the language of revenge. The spirit is the spirit of revenge. The varnish, notwithstanding it is so laboriously spread, is too thin to conceal the gross materials, or to deceive the most careless eye. Revenge for a supposed affront, revenge for wounded pride, for disappointed ambition, for frustrated schemes of power, dictates the challenge, seizes the weapon of death, and goads the champion to the field. Revenge turns the heart to stone, direets the fatal aim, and gloomily smiles over the expiring victim. Remove this palliation, miserable as it is, and you make man a fiend. A fiend would murder without emotion; while a man is hurried to the dreadful work by passion only.

But what an image is presented to the eye by a man, thus dreadfully executing revenge? A worm of the dust; a sinful worm, an apostate, who lives on mercy only; who could not thus have lived, had not his saviour died for him; who is crimsoned with ten thousand crimes, committed against his God; who is soon to be tried, judged and rewarded, for them all; this worm raises its crest, and talks loftily of the affront it has received, of injured honor, of wounded character, and of expiation by the blood of its fellow-worm. All this is done under the allsearching eye, and in the tremendous presence of JEHOVAH; who has hung the pardon of this miserable being on his forgiveness of his fellow. Be astonished, O heavens, at this! and thou earth, be horribly afraid!

Nor is this crime merely an execution of revenge" it is a cold deliberate revenge. The deliberate killing of a man is murder, by the decision of common sense, by the decision of human law, by the decision of God. How few murderers have an equal opportunity, or equal advantages, to deliberate? By a mind informed with knowledge, softened with the humanity of polished life, enlightened by revelation; conscious of a God, and acquainted with the Saviour of mankind, a cool, deliberate purpose is formed, cherished, and executed, of murdering a fellow creature. The servant, who forgave not his fellow servant his debt of an hundred pence, but thrust him into prison, was delivered over to the tormentors by his Lord, until be should pay the ten thousand talents, which he owed, when he had nothing to pay? What will be the destiny of that servant, who in the same circumstances, for a debt, an injury, of a tenth part of the value of an hundred pence, robs his fellow servant of his life? Had an Apostle; had Paul; amidst all the unexampled injuries, which he suffered, sent a challenge, or fought a duel, what would have become of his character, as an apostle, or even as a good man. This single act would have destroyed his character, and ruined his mission. Infidels, would have triumphantly objected this act, as unquestioned proof of his immorality, of his consequent unfitness to be an Apostle from God to mankind, and of his destitution, therefore, of inspiration. Nor could christians have answered the objection. But can that conduct which would have proved Paul to be a sinner, consists with a virtuous character in another man?

[ocr errors]

Had the Saviour of the world (I make the unnat

*It is I believe univerfally admitted by Christians, that the conduct which would have been finful in Chrift, confidered merely as placed under the law of God, and required to obey it, is finful in every man acquainted with the gofpel; and that the conduct of Chrift as a moral being, is in every cafe, which is applicable to our circumstancos, a rule of duty to us. I have

[ocr errors]
« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »