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it away! When and under what circumstances may I not take away life? Never, and under no circumstances, without my permission. --. It is ob. vious that no discretion whatever is here given. The prohibition is addressed to every individual where the law of God is promulgated, and the terms made use of are express and unequivocal. So that life cannot be taken under any pretext, without incurring guilt, unless by a permission sanctioned by the same authority which sanctions the general law prohibiting it.
From this law it is granted there are exceptions. These exceptions, however, do not result from any sovereignty which one creature has over the exist. ánce of another ; but from the positive appointment of that eternal. Being, whose " is the world and the fullness thereof. In whose hand is the soul of every living creature, and the breath of all mankind."
Even the authority which we claim over the lives of animals is not founded on a natural right, but on a positive grant made by the Deity himself to Noah and his sons. * This grant contains our warrant for taking the lives of animals. But if we may not take the lives of animals without permission from GOD, much less may we the life of man, made in his image.
In what cases then has the Sovereign of life giv
* Gen, ix, 3.
en this permission ? IN RIGHTFUL WAR*.-- BY THE CIVIL MAGISTRATE,t and in SELF-DEFENCEI---Beside these, I do not hesitate to declare, that in the oracles of God there are no other.
He therefore who takes life in any other case, under whatever pretext, takes it unwarrantably, is guilty of what the scriptures call murder, and exposes himself to the malediction of that God who is an avenger of blood, and who hath said, the hand of every man's brother will I require the life of man.
Whoso' shedeth man's blood by man shall his blood be shed."
The duellist contravenes the law of God not only, but the law of man also.
To the prohi. bition of the former have been added the sanctions of the latter. Life taken in a duel by the common law is murder. And where this is not the case, the giving and receiving of a challenge only, is by statute, considered a high misdemeanor, for which the principal and his second are declared infamous and disfranchised for twenty years.
Under what accumulated circumstances of aggravation does the duellist jeopardise his own life or take the life of his antagonist,
* 2 Sam. X, 12, Jer: xlvüi, 10, Luke. iii, 14. ^ Ex. xxi: 12. # Ex. xxii, 2,
I am sensible that in á licentious age, and when laws are made to yield to the vices of those who move in the higher circles, this crime is called by I know not what mild and accommodating name. But before these altars ; in this house of God, what is it? It is MURDER---deliberate, aggravated
If the duellist deny this, let him produce his warrant from the Author of life, for taking away from his creature the life which had been sove. reignly given. If he cannot do this, beyond all controversy, he is a murderer i før murder consists in taking away life without the permission, and contrary to the prohibition of him who gave it.
Who is it then that calls the duellist to the dangerous and deadly combat? Is it God? No; on the contrary he forbids it.
Is it then his coun. try? No; she also utters her prohibitory voice. Who is it then? A man of honor. And who is this man of honor? A man perhaps whose honor is a name.
Who prates with polluted lips about the sacredness of character, when his own is stained with crimes and needs but the single shade of murder to complete the dismal and sickly picture.
Every transgression of the divine law implies great guilt, because it is the transgression of infinite authority. But the crime of deliberately and lightly taking life has peculiar aggravations. It
is a crime committed against the written law not only, but also against the dictates of reason, the remonstrances of conscience, and every tender and amiable feeling of the heart.
To the unfortunate sufferer, it is the wanton violation of his most sacred rights. It snatches him from his friends and his comforts. Terminates his state of trial, and precipitates him, uncalled for and perhaps unprepared, into the presence of his Judge.
You will say the duellist feels no malice. Be it so. Malice, indeed, is murder in principle. But there may be murder in reason, and in fact, where there is no malice. Some other unwarrantable passion or principle may lead to the unlawful taking of human life.
The highwayman, who cuts the throat and rifles the pocket of the passing traveller, feels no malice. And could he, with equal ease and no greater danger of detection, have secured his booty without taking life, he would have stayed his arm over the palpitating bosom of his victim and let the plundered suppliant pass.
Would the imputation of cowardice have been inevitable to the duellist if à challenge had not been given or accepted ? The imputation of want had been no less inevitable to the robber if the money of the passing traveller had not been secured.
Would the duellist have been willing to have
spared the life of his antagonist if the point of honor could otherwise have been gained ? So would the robber if the point of property could have been. Who can say that the motives of the one are not as urgent as the motives of the other, and the means by which both obtain the object of their wishes are the same,
Thus, according to the dictates of reason, as well as the law of God, the highwayman and the duellist stand on ground equally untenable ; and support their guilty havoc of the human race by arguments equally fallacious.
Is duelling guilty ? So it is
ABSURD........ It is absurd as a punishment, for it admits of no proportion to crimes: and besides, virtue and vice, guilt and innocence are equally exposed by it, to death or suffering. As a reparation, it is still more absurd, for it makes the injured liable to a still greater injury. And as the vindication of personal character, it is absurd even beyond madness.
One man of honor by some inadvertence, or perhaps with design, injures the sensibility of another man of honor, In perfect character the injured gentleman resents it. He challenges the offender. The offender accepts the challenge. The time is fixed. The place is agreed upon.
The circumstances, with an air of solemn mania are arranged ; and the principals, with their seconds and surgeons, retire under the covert of some solitary