« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
the Lamb while yet an emblem of innocence, have a disposition to strike with the forehead, and to anticipate in play the exercise of those powers with which nature has armed them for their defence. Was the paw or the tooth given to the Lion and the Tyger, or the tusk to the Boar to be useless or burthensome appendages to their situation? If these were bestowed, as I trust there can be no doubt, for wise and good purposes, is Man, a being formed in the image of God, and endued by him with this principle, equally at least with the brute creation, a principle which manifests itself almost before the appearance, and certainly long before the maturation of the rational faculties; and furnished by Providence with powers both of mind and body to render it effectual, forbid to use it for his self-preservation? He might with equal reason and good sense expose his throat to the Wolf as forbear resistance to the Assassin or the Enemy. The sixth commandment would be more effectually violated by such dastardly conduct than it could be even by active aggression.
Your late discourse has produced the recapitulation of the above, and indeed the subsequent reflections which perhaps may be thought by some too plain to be mistaken, too necessary to be enforced, and too obvious to be repeated. But the avidity which your discourse has been sought after, and the effects which it has manifested, answer all these objections. Plain and obvious truths require to be insisted on and inforced, when they are openly doubted or denied. Great Philosophers have not deemed it beneath their dignity or unworthy their labour to compose elaborate treatises to prove the existence of themselves and the visible world, which the rage of paradox, or the affectation of novelty, had pretended to deny or disprove.
On the same grounds, then I take up
the cause of self-defence, and endeavour to shew not only that it is consistent both with natural and with revealed Religion, but that it is, as far as is consistent with the nature of such precepts, enjoined by both.
It is a maxim in every kind of philosophy, which has for its object the investigation of truth not the prolongation of argument, that first principles must be taken for granted, and are incapable of proof, as there is nothing more plain by which they may be demonstrated.
The same may be said of self-evident propositions respecting human natureshould a man deny that he feels the common impulses that in time of real or supposed danger lead to self-preservation, or even if a man, educated as other men are, was to express a total indifference for his property, we should be inclined to suppose, and a Court of Justice would form the same conclusion, that such a person was disordered in his understanding, or had at least so perverted it as to render it useless towards the common purposes of life. Legislators- therefore divine as well as human, have taken this principle for granted, and instead of attempting to extirpate, it, have built upon
it as the means of giving efficacy to their precepts.
“ What hast thou done with thy brother Abel?” was the first expostulation in behalf of humanity; and the answer, which the guilty brother returns, proves he had not the only apology to make which could be admitted. The brevity of the history has left this transaction rather obscure; but we have reason to think that it was jealousy of his brother's offerings finding favour and acceptation with God when his own were rejected, that prompted this wickedness. The Almighty seems to have personally expostulated with this first-born of man in order to moderate bis anger, by showing him his brother's inferiority, and promising him his submission; but deaf to such representations, he appears to have laid a plan of malicious mischief against his innocent and as the Scripture calls him
righteous” brother. He invited him into the field, and there unprovoked* rose up against him and slew him. The guilty conscience of Cain announced to him that he had forfeited the rights of society, and that any one who found him would have a right to *kill him, and although the Almighty in his special providence, chose to take him under his protection respecting his life, it might be, were we allowed to suggest reasons for the decrees of Providence, that his punishment might be more conspicuous and exemplary in his continuing a fugitive and a vagabond on the face of the earth. The feelings of Cain were doubtless dictated by nature, and would not have suggested themselves to his brother Abel, had Сain fallen in his brother's necessary defence of his own life.
* Και ειπε Καϊν προς τον αδελφον αυτου, διελθωμεν εις το πεδιον, Genes. c. IV. v. 8.
ανεςη Καϊν επι Αξιλ τον αδελφον αυτου, και απέκτεινεν αυτον. Ιbid. This word (aves») is observed by Parkhurst when used in this tense, to signify to rise up, to commence hostilities or opposition.--Mark, c III. v. 26. Acts, c. VI. v. 9,