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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 an 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 kept-mistresses and prostitutes, contributes more perhaps to discourage that condition of life, and prevents greater numbers from entering into it, than all the considerations of prudence and religion put together.
We are likewise allowed to practise so much caution as not to put ourselves in the way of injury, 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 of favour, we are at liberty to prefer those who have not offended us to those who have ; the contrary being nowhere 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
D equal chance, whether the punishment fall 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 compensation 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 ?
See a View of the Internal Evidence of the Christian Religion.
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 peril 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 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 I 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. Prosecutions for such offences, by the trifling damages that are recovered, serve only to make the sufferer more ridiculous.— This ought to be remedied.
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 challenge 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.
ANNOTATION. In a work entitled Expedition to the Interior of New Holland (Bentley), the subject of Duelling is fully treated of; the arguments on both sides being stated clearly and fairly. It is there pointed out that public Opinion (on which alone Duelling rests) might easily be so directed as to compel every man, on pain of losing his place in Society, to conduct himself correctly as to certain points ; instead of giving him—as now—the alternative of either doing so, or else fighting.
Among the advantages of such a course would be these two : (1) That the rule would extend to certain classes of persons who are now, by custom, exempt from the (supposed) salutary check provided by Duelling; and (2) that the offending and offended parties would not be—as now-placed on the same level.
"TF it be possible, live peaceably with all men ;' which precept
I contains an indirect confession that this is not always possible.
The instances in the fifth chapter of Saint 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. 43.) It may be observed, likewise, that the several examples are drawn from instances of small and tolerable injuries. A rule which forbade all opposition to injury, or defence against it, could have no other effect, than to put 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 considered themselves as bound by such a rule, whilst others despised it. St. Paul, though no one 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 unresisting submission to every contumely, or a neglect of the means of safety and self-defence. He took refuge in the laws of his country, and in the privileges of a Roman citizen, from the conspiracy of the
1. 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 take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also; and whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.'