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word shall on all occasions, as if it were a matter of universal acquiescence. The omission of any further attempt to meet our reasoning on this point, we receive and note as a virtual admission that there is nothing more to oppose to it. We are content to abide the judgment of every candid intelligence.
Next, respecting the preposition beth, which our opponents render by " ("by man shall his blood be shed") but which was shown to be at least equally susceptible of various other significations; whereas the" by " was not only essential to constitute the command upon human responsibility or agency, but almost indispensable to our opponents to fortify their imperative application of the future. We expressed a preference for among, as its intended sense, with Le Clerc; though the point of our argument was simply to overthrow the translation "by" as necessary in the text. He says that "among" would not diminish the force of the statute as an injunction, because, “in all probability the magistracy itself is referred to "-in the court of justice, among or in the presence of witnesses, judges, &c.—or as a public spectacle. In all probability," it means rather, as was fully stated, among men, in human society, under the operation of the general principles of human nature, in the course of God's providence acting through human events; and harmonizes perfectly with that general declaratory or denunciatory sense in which, in common with many eminent authorities, we read the passage. Sometimes through the hands of men, at others through all the countless modes of violence, the general denunciation will execute itself, as a general principle of the divine government of the world, (ws inì To noù, in the words of Le Clerc), though not always practically carried into effect,-precisely as it is said in the Psalms, that "Bloody and deceitful men shall not live out half their days."
Mr. Cheever then goes on to say, (nunc pro tunc, as before remarked): My opponent has asserted with astonishing hardihood, that the Septuagint translation is in favor of this rendering." We had simply referred to the Septuagint (as in the Article of our last Number), negatively as decisive
against the "by"; but were so far from imputing to it the rendering of "among," that we expressly stated that given by it, dri, or for--having before us the entire Greek passage, which it is unnecessary again to quote. And in the avri of the Septuagint, he chooses to see a support to his imperative injunction (with the aid of the "shall" which, begging the whole question, he continues coolly to assume), while it evidently has no force beyond the idea of the divine retribution, involved in that principle of the providential government of the human race, which we contend for as being at least a perfectly natural and proper signification of the passage. It thus harmonizes with the preceding declaration of God, that He will require the blood that has been shed at the hand of both the beast and the man that may have shed it. The sole extent and object of the argument on one side is to negative the assumption on the other, that it imposes any imperative duty on men to take into their hands the infliction of that retribution, as a human_punishment of "blood for blood." To us it seems a shocking mode of infusing into the sacred text meanings wholly gratuitous, so as to force it into harmony with an opinion or sentiment in the mind of the commentator for which support is needed, when we read such an inferential exposition of this verse as the following-all based upon the word ivri, which is as innocent of any such meaning as any other imaginable two syllables in the language: "It is not a prediction that in the course of Divine Providence the murderer will die, but it is a statute, that instead of the person murdered, the murderer's blood shall be shed, that is, deliberately, designedly, speedily."
Mr. Cheever goes on to remark on an allusion made to Calvin, in a manner which we must pronounce unpardonable in its unfairness and disingenuousness, which certainly would not have been allowed to pass uncontradicted had it in fact been uttered, as it would here seem to the reader to have been. We give it entire :
"My opponent has also gone so far as to assert that Calvin's opinion was against the common interpretation of this passage. Now, so far is this from being the case, that Calvin distinctly says, that in this
statute God arms the magistracy with the sword for the punishment of murderers. Calvin renders the phrase which in our common translation is rendered by man,' in homine, in man, and he does this simply because he thinks this phrase was used to mark more expressly the atrocity of the crime of murder. He says that he does not deny that the punishment of murder with death, by the judges, is here meant, but that more is meant. God prepares other providential executioners of his law, at the same time that he arms the magis tracy with the sword, in order that the blood of man may not be shed with impunity. The opinion of Calvin, in his Commentary, is so clearly and so strongly in favor of this statute as an injunction, that I cannot account for the manner in which my opponent has hazarded his credit in appealing to this distinguished writer."
Our remark upon Calvin was substantially what is repeated on page 231 of our last Number. It was expressly stated, that while he approved of capital punishment, and justified it on this passage, he yet condemned as "forced" the translation "by man,"-giving to the particle which is so rendered the mere force of an emphatic amplification. That he was against the "common interpretation" of "by man," Mr. Cheever does not deny. "But all these interpretations are forced," are the words of Calvin, after speaking of the two versions given by some, "in the presence of witnesses," and "by man." Respecting the general scope of the whole passage, we certainly said nothing going beyond the statement which may be found, (together with the citation of Calvin's own words in the original), on the page above referred to: And Calvin, expressly, in his commentary on the whole passage, interprets it rather in a denunciatory than in a merely legislative sense." The question was between the sense contended for on the one side as an express law for human government, and on the other, the larger and broader sense of a divine denunciation, and declaration by God of a great principle of His providential government, involving, of course, a permission. Calvin, as we stated, took this larger and broader view, at the same time that he was a good friend to capital punishment, and had little disposition to allow the authority for it which the passage afforded, to sleep idle or unimproved. He was not spoken
of as either opposed to capital punishment, or to the application of this passage to its support and justification, but simply as taking our own enlarged and higher view of it (as a question of Biblical interpretation) which justifies us in not inflicting it, when we believe it to be no longer either necessary or expedient, though to him, habitually believing in both its necessity and expediency, it afforded full divine authority for its severest infliction. How far we were justified in this remark on the passage-though the readers of Mr. Cheever's page will never know-those of the present one may judge from the following words of Calvin himself:"As regards the full force of the passage (summam rei), those are in error, in my opinion, who consider this as simply the enactment of a civil law, that homicides should be put to death. I do not indeed deny, that upon this declaration of God (sententia) is founded the punishment which both the laws declare and the judges execute; but I say that the words embrace more. It is written, Men of blood shall not live out half their days. And we see some perish in the streets, others in the haunts of vice, the greatest number in wars," &c. It is a small matter, but, as characteristic of the spirit of ingenuity brought to bear even in minute detail on the task of propping the tottering "institution" now the subject of attack and defence, we will point to the mode in which Calvin is represented as saying "that he does not deny that the punishment of murder with death, by the judges, is here meant," as if he spoke of it as a law and command to men in the sense in which Mr. Cheever and his reader would have in mind; while his words are, as already quoted, "I do not indeed deny that upon this declaration of God is founded the punishment," &c. (in hac sententia Dei fundatam esse pœnam, &c.) This is one of those nice evasions of the exact truth-made to come very near it, and in fact to graze it like an arrow, but still to miss it, and hit another object of ulterior aim-which in some men might be called the perfection of small cunning, but which in the present instance we impute simply to the warping influence of a bias, deepened by feeling and the spirit of controversy almost into a passion. Another somewhat similar instance, by the way,
occurs a few lines further on, imposing successfully on ninety-nine in a hundred readers, where he says: "and Le Clerc, to whom my opponent refers, observes that the Hebrew preposition here used may everywhere (passim) signify per, by or through; though, as in some peculiarities of Hebrew construction, the sense of inter or among may be admitted, he prefers that sense in this place." How much the force of the facts of a story depends on the telling and the teller! By judiciously strengthening the lights here, and deepening the shadows there -now striking in a bold and salient outline, and now throwing the lines back into vague and ill-defined dimness -a skilful hand in this line of art may transpose and transform the whole truth of every scene out of its just proportions into any effect he desires to produce. The instinctive subtlety of deep prejudice,unconsciously intent, less on candid truth than on the indulgence of itself and the attainment of its own aim, is often seen to act in precisely the same way. Now the word "passim" simply means that it is constantly to be found in the sense referred to, not that it
may everywhere signify per, &c.," because there are abundant cases where it cannot have that meaning; and he goes on to say about it here: "Nevertheless, according to the most frequent usage of the Hebrew language, it would have been said, BJAD ADAM, by the hand of man. Yet it is always read baadam, or in man, or among men;" in which sense he also says, that it "often occurs in the books of Moses." However, all this is very small -le jeu ne vaut pas la chandelle; only we will not let Mr. Cheever escape this point, that the translation "by man" is not only unnecessary, but against the weight of the authorities. Le Clerc's reason gives it a fatal blow. It is conceded that BETH has numerous meanings, and that various authorities give it various senses in this passage. Calvin himself expressly condemns it. And the authority of the Septuagint (in view of the time and circumstances of its authorship) crushes it. Mr. Cheever may cling to it, for his whole cause hangs on this text; but though his ingenuity would exhaust possibility for its support
"si Pergama dextra Defendi possent, etiam hac defensa fuissent!"
yet even he cannot save it from before the inexorable eye of a just and searching criticism.
Mr. Cheever makes one more struggle on the point of this preposition-(not so much for his reading "by," as against that for which, among the several open to adoption, we expressed a preference)
of which we will give him the full benefit, both for the sake of entire justice to his argument, and as a fair specimen of the coolness with which (we mean in the way of logic and controversy, without personal offensiveness), he deals about his assumptions and epithets, unchecked by the rectifying influence, or the subsequent punishment, of reply from the opponent thus cavalierly treated:
"The climax of absurdity to which the proposed reading would reduce the whole statute on a mere prediction, is so great, that it is surprising it should find a single The Divine Being has just advocate. been uttering the solemn declaration that
at the hand of man he would require the blood of man. Now if the question be asked, How will he require it? How will this threat be fulfilled? this proposed interpretation gravely replies, Whoso sheddeth man's blood, that manAMONG MEN! Wonderful conclusion, most wonderful! The murderer will, in God's providence, die; and not only so, but among men he will die! And this is the way in which God will require the blood of the murderer at the hands of man! And not only so, but the murderer will thus die among men, because in the image of God made he man! In fact, neglecting the context, and attempting to change the common and natural translation of this
statute, so as to make it other than a command, you fall into such absurdities, that it is only necessary to state them in order to strengthen tenfold the assurance of every reader of the Bible in the faithfulness and accuracy of the translation as it stands."
This is amusingly cool, and, doubtless, a very satisfactory mode of argument, when all on one side, to the person employing it, and to those who share his prejudices and feelings on the subject of controversy. What right have we to ask at all, "How will He require it? How will this threat be fulfilled?" The announcement is equally made that He will require it also of "every beast that sheddeth the blood of man." If the question is made, the
answer is obvious in the one case as in the other, that it will be in his own good though inscrutable way-sometimes, doubtless, by moral penalties in this world or the next; though superadded to them is the operation of this general principle, in the providential government of human society (" among men"), of the probable and usual consequence of violence and bloodshedding, provoking retaliatory return from natural human resentment, and creating habits of character and life which will generally lead to a violent end. The reason for the solemn and warning annunciation of this truth is given, being founded on the essential sanctity of the mysterious "image of God" in man. In our former Article, we sufficiently, though briefly, showed the absurd consequences of the mandatory and absolute rendering of the passage maintained by our opponents, and the perfect reasonableness of our own, (i. e., as either declaratory, or else permissive in case of necessity), and its harmony with various passages and facts of scripture authority and history, with which the other construction is utterly
But again, we say, enough of thisand more than enough! The impatient reader must bear with us awhile, in consideration of the nature of this part of this great controversy-of the profession and course of the opponent whose attitude in it in relation to us has been explained in the opening of this Article-and of the circumstances attending the publication of the present volume.
We have neither space nor design to go here into any general argument in favor of the abolition of Capital Punishment; nor to notice numerous points in the course of the volume before us, on which we should be glad of an opportunity to do justice. We will confine ourselves to the statistical argument, on which Mr. Cheever makes a most ostentatious parade of pretended triumph-on the strength of ingenious evasions, on some points; and on others, of the production of imposing exhibitions of figures from a Belgian report, brought forward at the close of the concluding evening, in that immunity from the sifting process of reply, to the privilege of which throughout he had clung so tenaciously. It was a sagacious instinct which prompted that
course-at least so far as regards this branch of the argument.
A single preliminary hint of the three principal reasons of the fact established by this evidence. The first is found in the increased certainty of punishment when it is changed from death to one which, while certainly formidable enough in prospect and severe in suffering, is neither irremediable in case of error, nor in itself so revolting to human feeling. It is a well settled axiom, that it is less the severity than the certainty of punishment that restrains crime. The second is to be found in the general indifference of men to prospective and contingent risks of life, making the threat of the possible penalty of death no more efficacious than that of a long and hard imprisonment-even if as much so. And the third, in the demoralizing influence of the present law, hardening and brutalizing the heart, and suggesting the high social example of the death-punishment, to the too ready imitation of private resentments, just or imaginary,-making the practice itself the indirect cause of many of those very imitative acts of vindictive killing, from which it derives a large proportion of its victims.
There were four main masses of historical or statistical evidence, adduced in favor of the proposed reform. These were, (1) the evidence exhibited in the publications of the London Society for the Diffusion of Information on this subjeet, of the effect of the British mitigations of the penal code in 1830 and succeeding years; (2) that of Russia; (3) that of Belgium; and (4) that of Tuscany. We will briefly review these in their order.
1. The following table exhibits the statistics of a number of offences from which the death-penalty was either wholly removed or greatly miti gated at the several times referred to; showing the number of the respective offences committed in each of the two adjacent periods of equal length before and after the change. Those who are accustomed to regard the fear of that penalty as so useful and efficacious to restrain the conduct of men, will of course expect to find, on the removal of that great restraining terror, that the crimes in question had multiplied in frequency. Yet the reverse of this was remarkably the fact:
But, it might be asked, were not other offences-was not crime in general-in like manner on the decrease in this second period, under the operation of Sunday schools, temperance, and other causes? The answer was, No; so far from decreasing, crime in general underwent a very considerable INCREASE, as was shown by the Home Office Returns, annually laid before Parliament. The fact was thus established upon unequivocal testimony-the evidence of the Government Records-that, in the same country-among the same people-and at the same time-under circumstances, therefore, precisely the
Three years, ending with 1829,
Three years ending with 1829,
Three years ending with 1829,
108 120 102
Offences for which the punishment of death was abolished in 1832–3.
Offences for which the punishment of death continues to be inflicted.
ABSTRACT OF THE CRIMINAL COMMITMENTS FOR ENGLAND AND WALES, DIVIDED INTO THREE CLASSES.
same, while crime in general was increasing, there was a decrease of those offences for which the punishment of death was partially discontinued or altogether abolished, and another penalty substituted.
In another table the same point was illustrated in a still more striking manner, by the contrast between the increase on the one hand, of those offences in the punishment of which no change had taken place, and on the other hand the simultaneous decrease of those in which the change now proposed had been made.
1,705 2,236 2,247