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a few murderers preserves the lives punishment. The nature of re. of thousands, who would otherwise venge does not lie in the amount of be murdered. The question for the evil inflicted. We may revenge legislator to decide is, whether, in ourselves, contrary to the precepts view of the retributions of the of Christianity, by
of Christianity, by a light blow with future world, he ought to leave the the hand, by a significant shake of community in such a defenseless the finger, by a sneer.
To suppose, state, that multitudes of people will therefore, that these precepts are be suddenly hurried into eternity, addressed to the State as well as to by the hand of violence; or, on the the individual citizen, is laying the other hand, prevent most of these axe at the root of civil government. sudden deaths, by the capital pun. It is even a plain denial of the right ishment of the murderer. And he of God to govern His creatures, by should reflect, too, that death by the the infliction of evil for evil; for if hand of the executioner, is, in this society cannot punish country, less sudden than most oth without malice, neither can God. er deaths. It has no claim to be But there is manifestly no incomcalled a sudden death. When the patibility between the infliction of murderer is arrested and bound civil penalties and a spirit of kindover for trial, he has his first warn. ness, of good will, of lively com. ing to prepare for eternity ; when passion toward the criminal, on the he is convicted and sentenced to part of the makers and administrators be executed, he receives another, of the law. Benevolence is not a which points him forward to a de. blind impulse, but an intelligent refinite period when he must die, gard for happiness.' It impels us affording him ample opportunity, in to inflict evil for a greater good, not the interval, for every religious otherwise attainable ; it steadies the duty. It is hence far from evident hand of the surgeon; it gives firm. that imprisonment, which is propo- ness, in a just war, to the voice of sed as a substitute for death, is command which may extinguish more favorable than capital punish the lives of thousands; it presides ment, to the spiritual interests of in the discipline of the family; it is the criminal. The contrary seems “a terror to evil doers” in the State ; to be the fact, judging both from it shines most luminously in the observation and from the nature of retributions of eternity. Benevo. man. Who that knows his own lence looks to the good of all, to heart, can doubt that, if he were the greatest good, and perceiving condemned to death for the crime that the peace and security of the of murder, he would address him. community at large will be sacriself to a preparation for another ficed to the violence of a murderer, world, with more serious earnest- unless he is cut off, it calls for his ness, than under a sentence of mere blood. And if it should be inquired, imprisonment ?
what then is the meaning and appli.. Another objection of a moral and cation of the precepts against renderreligious nature, against capital pun. ing evil for evil, the answer is, they ishment, is founded on the duty of are not meant to apply to the cogniforgiving injuries. The precepts zance which society takes of crimes, which inculcate this duty, are said nor to seeking redress for injuries to be binding on society as well as before tribunals of justice ; but are on individuals. Society must not, directed solely against the intolerable it is contended, return evil for evil. evil of that state of society in which But it is obvious that if this class of each individual presumes to be judge, precepts forbid capital punishment, jury and executioner, in all cases to they forbid also every other kind of which he is a party; and they also
inculcate the virtues of forbearance jections now urged against capital and forgiveness.
punishment might have been urged It will be perceived that all these with equal or greater force during denials of the moral right of capi- the Mosaic dispensation. The pun- , tal punishment, as well as the ab- ishment of death then as well as surd notion that the design of pun. now, deprived the criminal of any ishment is the reformation of the further opportunity of repentance ; criminal, involve a denial of the and as it was the practice of the lawfulness of civil government. Hebrews to inflict the punishment They all result in this, that man immediately after conviction, he had ought to be left to the restraints of even less opportunity to prepare conscience and religion alone; that for death. Capital punishment was to restrain him from crimes, or to then as well as now irrevocable, punish his crimes, is a usurpation admitting of no redress in case of of the authority of his Maker. This its unjust infliction. Then imprisconclusion is sufficiently startling, onment offered itself as a substitute we would hope, to supersede the ne- for the punishment of death, and cessity of any further notice of them. was as likely as now to be an equal
We therefore turn the attention of ly efficient protection to the comthe reader to the Scriptural evidence munity. Then, if ever, capital pun. of the right or lawfulness of inflict- ishment was inconsistent with the ing the punishment of death for the law of benevolence to the injurious, crime of murder.
Lev. xix: 18. The Mosaic code recognizes and The supposition by which it is establishes the propriety of capital sought to weaken the force of this punishment.
to argument, namely, that the Mosaic whom the sixth commandment was code, the only code of civil law given, written by the finger of God which God himself has given to a on a table of stone, thought it un. people, is founded on a defective questionably proper to inflict the morality, is at least sufficiently aspunishment of death for various tounding to merit a reluctant assent. crimes. And what is still more de. It is said that the morality of the cisive, God himself expressly in. Old Testament is inferior to that of structed Moses, Ex. xxi: 12-17, the New, and that capital punishthat murder, smiting one's father or ment is a part of this defective mo. mother, man-stealing, and several rality. But the truth is, the system other crimes, Ex. xxii: 18, 19, of morality contained in the ancient should be capitally punished. The Scriptures, is the same which is Mosaic code, it is true, was made taught only with more explicitness for the Hebrews, and as such is not in the New Testament.
It is a binding on other nations. Still it grand standing error of fanatics, that establishes the essential morality of Christ in his sermon on the mount capital punishment; it shows that inculcates a more elevated morality the sixth commandment is not pro- than that of the decalogue. We need hibitory of it, and that human life is not enter at length into the proof of not in its nature inviolable; that, in the identity of the moral codes of the short, God may require the infliction two dispensations ; it is enough that of the punishment of death for the Christ has expressly declared that good of society. And what was supreme love to God and impartial then a desirable provision of the love to man, the sum of all human penal code, may, for aught that ap- obligations, are required by Moses pears, be equally conducive to the and the prophets. The argument public good in every age,
and in favor of capital punishment from try. It is remarkable that the ob- the place it held in the penal code of
Moses, cannot therefore be set aside appropriate badge of the civil ruler. by the assumption that that code was He bears the sword not in vain but framed on the basis of a lax morality. for good. Can this imply any thing
Another argument, however, on less than that he is justly invested which writers on this side of the with the power of life and death, question place far more reliance and in the exercise of that power than on that which we have drawn inflicts the punishment of death on from the Mosaic code, remains to malefactors for the good of society? be noticed. It is founded on Gen- Other intimations to the same effect esis ix : 5, 6, where the infliction might be referred to, were it not of capital punishment for murder more likely to weary than inform seems to be sanctioned by our Ma- the reader. ker. The passage is this : “And We are not prepared however to surely your blood of your lives will say that we regard capital punishI require : at the hand of every ment for murder as of absolute and beast will I require it, and at the invariable obligation : so that it can hand of man; at the hand of every never be right to exercise the parman's brother will I require the life doning power in the case of a murof man.
Whoso sheddeth man's derer. The fact that the magistrate blood, by man shall his blood be bears the sword by divine appointshed: for in the image of God ment only makes it plain that he made he man.” This is addressed may rightfully inflict the punishto Noah and his whole posterity—to ment of death in defense of society, men of all nations to the end of time. and not that he must inflict it upon It is not, as some have dreamed, a all murderers. And if we turn to mere prediction of the violent death the argument from the Old Testaof murderers, but a requirement of ment, it is manifest that the existGod, a demand which He makes on ence of this penalty in the Mosaic society to deliver up the murderer code, proves only that the punishto death, for the crime of shedding ment of death may properly be the blood of man. This passage is inflicted if the good of society can decisive in favor of capital punish- be promoted or secured by it. In ment, unless in a subsequent age any subsequent age if it can be the authority thus given was with- shown that circumstances have so drawn. But in no part of the Bi. far changed that this mode of punble is capital punishment prohibited. ishment can safely be superseded The only pretense is, that the spirit by a milder penalty, there is nothing of the New Testament is opposed to in that ancient example to forbid a it. But the spirit of divine legislation departure from it. The only quesis invariably the same; and were it tion is, whether the instructions giv. not, it is a correct rule that a law re- en to Noah are to be considered as mains in force until it is repealed. a rule of civil government of abso
We turn, however, to the New lute, permanent, and invariable obTestament. It may be a source of ligation. If the passage admits of satisfaction to those who look with exceptions in particular cases; that
; peculiar reverence on the Christian is, if society may for reasons exerScriptures to know that even there cise the pardoning power towards the propriety of capital punishment individual murderers, then the rule is recognized. The declaration in is not of invariable obligation, but Rom. xiii: 4, that the magistrate only a general rule. This it apbeareth not the sword in vain, and pears to us is the fact. For that ex. other parallel passages, are conclu- ceptions to the execution of known sive intimations of this right. An murderers may lawfully be made instrument of death is used as an hardly admits of a doubt. The Vol. I.
good of society seems to require it which the exercise of clemency for the better conviction of gangs of may be compatible with public murderers, by holding out the pro- safety, and serviceable to the state. mise of safety to any one who will We freely admit that the evil of too turn state's evidence against his ac- frequent and undiscriminating parcomplices; and it certainly allows dons is the tendency of the age ; it where murder has been commit- yet the other extreme of making ted by a large body of men: the the execution of every murderer execution of a part of them an- without exception a matter of conswering every purpose of the law. science and moral obligation, seems Other cases may be supposed in to us to have no support.
STERN winter cometh, with his freezing breath,
And brow all lowering, and black with storm ;
And darkness mantleth round his awful form.
And with him go his ministers of wrath,
Fling fearful ruin round their rapid path.
That rises beetling o'er the northern pole;
But the spring will come
In the glad young year,
Fresh flowers shall wear;
And the earth be gay,
On his joyous way;
And the sky-lark sing,
Shall be glad in the spring.
That lie all cold, and stiffened 'neath his breath ;
And melt away the influence of Death.
Ye lovely daughters of the untrodden plain;
And deck it with the lily, cold and pale:
The dead year sleepeth in his new-made grave,
UNIVERSALISM EXAMINED, RENOUNCED, AND EXPOSED.*
“ There is joy in heaven over one From the moment of Mr. Smith's sinner that repenteth.” There is decided renunciation of Universaljoy likewise among the redeemed on ism, he was made the object of bitearth whenever one is rescued from ter and unscrupulous hostility by his the enslaved host of Satan and num. former associates and friends. His bered among the free sons of God; private character was assailed, his and their joy is great in proportion lectures interrupted by Universalist to the completeness and apparent ministers and others, his person exhopelessness of his former thraldom. posed to violence, and his family in. This truth was illustrated about two sulted. The foul-mouthed organs years since, when it became known of that abusive sect set upon him in to the Christian community in New full bay, and all sorts of reproach England, that Matthew Hale Smith, and calumny were heaped upon him. who had been a popular preacher He was pronounced a liar, a knave, of Universalism at Hartford and Sa- and a madman. Taking advantage lem, had renounced the destructive of an alienation of mind which he errors of that sect, and by divine manifested when under the comgrace had been led, as was hoped, bined influence of disease and great to receive and obey the truth as it mental anxiety and agitation, their is in Jesus, and to devote himself to most common charge was that he the upbuilding of that faith, which was insane. But he has given what, for twelve years he had destroyed. to them at least, should be convinc.
After the agitation in Mr. Smith's ing evidence of his sanity. He has mind incident to such an entire written an exposure and refutation change in his views, and to the pe- of their system of delusion and sopheuliar internal and external conflict istry, which they cannot answer, or which he had experienced, had sub- evade, or withstand. sided, his Christian friends, thinking These lectures are seven in numthat his practical knowledge of the ber, with an address to Christians system and the influence of Univer- warning them against various artifi. salism, would enable him most effec- ces of Universalists. The style is tually to expose it, advised and re- perspicuous, and easy, and some. quested him to deliver a series of times forcible, though somewhat diflectures for that object. According- fuse and repetitious, owing probably ly he lectured in Hartford, New Ha- to their being prepared for delivery ven, Boston, Salem, and many other to a popular audience, rather than places, to crowded and interested for the press. Even in the most assemblies, and with great effect. argumentative parts, the work par
We were among those who listen. takes so largely of the nature of a ed to those lectures, and our wishes, record of personal experience-the and doubtless the wishes of all the author expresses himself with so friends of evangelical truth, have unaffected a sense both of his forbeen gratified by their publication. mer bondage to error and of his * Universalism Examined, Renounced,
emancipation by the truth that the Exposed; in a series of Lectures, embra: reader's attention, kept alive by cing the experience of the author during a sympathy with the writer, rarely ny of Universalist ministers to the dread. thus announces his object : ministry of twelve years, and the testino. flags for a moment. The author ful moral tendency of their faith; by Matthew HALE ŚMith. Boston, 1842. “The design of the present course of 12mo. pp. 396.
lectures, is to present the reasons which