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And therefore all the laws of the world will not free persecutors from the guilt of murder, in their taking away the lives of the martyrs.
2. The taking away of men's lives in an unjust war, Hab. ii. 12. For in such a case an army is but a company robbers and murderers, before the Lord; seeing God puts not the sword in men's hands in an unjust cause.
3. The taking away of a man's life in a set duel or combat, which, whether it fall in the hand of him that gives the challenge, or his that accepts it, is downright murder. There is not the least sort of approbation thereof in the scriptures. And therefore the laws of duelling, like the laws of drinking, are not given by God, but by the devil. David's combating Goliah was by public authority, in a public cause, and besides, from an extraordinary impulse of the Spirit. Duelling is from the devil, as being the effect of pride and rage; a taking into men's heads the disposing of that life which God only is Lord of; it is an usurping of the magistrate's sword, and invading God's right of vengeance, Rom, xii. 19; And the pretence of honour, the usual plea for duels, is as far different from God's laws of honour, as hell is from heaven, Prov. xvi. 32. Matth. v. 44.
Secondly, Whatsoever tendeth to the taking away of our neighbour's life unjustly. This is virtual, interpretative, in direct murder. It is of several sorts, all here forbidden.
1. There is heart-murder; and of that there are several şorts.
1st, Carnal anger and wrath, which is rash, causeless, and excessive, Matth: v. 22. Some people's anger is like a fire in straw, soon blown up and soon out; others like a fire in iron, once kindled, which it is hard to get laid. But of whatever sort it is, it is a short madness; and the longer it is kept, it is so much the worse, Eph. iv. 26, 27. It resteth in the bosom of fools. All murder begins here. a fire that kindles the anger of God, and of our neighbour, against us, and so casts all into confusion. Let us study ineekness; which is what will make us like to Christ, Col. iii. 12.
2dly, Envy, whereby people grieve and grudge at the good of others. It is the devil's two-edged sword drawn to slay two at once; the envious himself, Prov. xiv. 80; for he is like a serpent gnawing its own tail, Job v. 2; and the VOL. III.
party envied, Prov. xxvii. 4. While other sins are entertained for pleasure or profit, this is like a barren field, bringing forth only briers and thorns; there is not a dram of any sort of pleasure in it. But this was it that put Joseph's brethren on a murdering design. A charitable frame of spirit is our duty, Rom. xii. 15.
3dly, Hatred and malice against our neighbour. This made Cain imbrue his hands in his brother's blood. And such as live in malice and hatred go in his way, 1 John iii. 15. It is the sad character of persons estranged from God, that they are hateful, and hating one another,' Tit. iii. 3. But of all hatred, that is the worst which hates good men for their goodness. However, we may hate every man's faults, but no man's person. Love thy neighbour as thyself,' is the express command of heaven.
4thly, Revengeful thoughts and desires; which are so much the worse as they are the longer entertained, Rom. xii. 19. That heart is a bloody heart that longs for a heartsight, as they call it, on those that have wronged them. God sees the most secret wish of ill to our neighbour, and will call us to an account. Let us learn long-suffering and patience, to forgive, a disposition and readiness to be recon. ciled; otherwise our addresses to Heaven for pardon will be vain, Matth. iv. 15.
5thly, Rejoicing at the mischief that befals others, Prov. xxiv. 17, 18. Nothing makes men liker the devil than that murdering disposition to make the ruin of others our mirth, and their sorrow our joy; for man's sin and misery is what affords pleasure to the devil. We should sympathize and weep with them that weep, as well as rejoice with those that do rejoice.
Lastly, Cruelty, an horrid unrelenting disposition, that is not affected with the misery of others, but carries it on, and adds to it with delight. A disposition most inconsistent with the spirit of the gospel, that teaches tender heartedness even to the very beasts, Prov. xii. 10. But those that delight in cruel treating of these, want but an opportunity to exercise it on men.
2. There is tongue-murder. Solomon observes, that the tongue, however little a member it is, is the lord of life and death, Prov. xviii. 21. and xxi. 23. If it be not well managed, then, no wonder it be sometimes found guilty of
murder. The natural shape of the tongue resembles a flame of fire, and therefore in Hebrew one word signifies a flame and the tongue; yea, and it is what it seems to be, a fire, a world of iniquity,' Jam. iii. 6. It resembles also a sword, and so it is oft-times, lvii. 4. and Psal. lix. 7. The mouth and tongue resemble bow and arrow, and so they are, Psal. Ixiv. 3. The rage of an ill tongue must needs be dangerous, then, seeing such an one lays about him with his bow and arrow, and advances with fire and sword, which must needs bring him in blood-guilty. Now, this sword devours several
ist, By quarrelling, provoking, and contentious speeches, Prov, xxiii. 29. Such words have oft-times begun a plea that has ended in blood. And therefore the apostle compares such to beasts, that begin to snarl and bite one another, till it end in the ruin of either or both, Gal. v. 15. Let us make conscience, then, of peaceable, mild, and gentle speeches.
2dly, By bitter words. These are the impoisoned arrows that tongue-murderers shoot at their neighbour, Psal. Ixiv 3. 4. Their tongue are dipt in gall, and they pierce to the heart, and give a home-thrust like a sword, Prov. xii. 28. They become not the disciples of the meek Jesus. Lay aside these as ye would not be reckoned murderers in the sight of God, Eph. iv. 31.
3dly, By railing and scolding. This was Shimei's murdering deed, 2 Sam. xvi. 5, 6, 7. for which he died as a murderer in Solomon's days. Thus men and women manage their tongue-battles with eagerness, making their doors or the town-gate the field of battle, where words pierce like swords to the heart. These are the plagues and the pests of society, whose bloody mouths proclaim their hearts fearless of God. Hear ye what the Lord says, 1 Pet. iii. 9. Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise, blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called; that ye should inherit a blessing.'
4thly, By reviling, reproachful, and disdainful speeches. Men think little of these; they are but words, and words are but wind. But they are a wind that will blow people to hell, Matth. v. 22. They are the devil's bellows to blow up the fire of anger; which may make fearful havock ere it be quenched, Prov. xv. 1.
5thly, By mocking scoffing, and deriding speeches. These are reckoned among the sufferings of the martyrs, Heb. xi. 36. Others had trial of cruel mockings.' The soldiers mocking of Christ, John xix. 3. is compared to the baiting by dogs, Psal. xxii. 16. See how children paid for this usage to the prophet Elisha, 2 Kings ii. 23, 24.
Lastly, By cursings, imprecations, and wrathful wishings of ill and mischief to our neighbour's; which is but throw. ing up of hellish fire on others, that comes down and burns him that threw it, Psal. cix. 18.
3. There is eye murder, which vents itself by a wrathful countenance, and all gestures of that kind, such as high and proud looks, and fierce looks, Prov. vi. 17. The spirit of God takes notice of Cain's countenance, Gen. iv. 5. As there is adultery in looks, so there may be murder in them, not only angry looks, but looks of satisfaction on the mise ries of others, which God knows the meaning of, Obad. 12. gnashing with the teeth, and all such gestures of a person, denoting a heart boiling with wrath and revenge, Acts vii.
4. There is hand-murder, even where death killeth not. And people may be guilty of this two ways.
1st, By way of omission, when we with-hold and give not help to those that are in distress, to save their life or living, Judg. v. 2, 3. neglecting the sick, not visiting and helping them as need requires, Luke x. 31, 32. not affording means of life to the poor in want, Jam. ii. 15, 16. for those put out the flame of life that do not feed it. We should then put on bowels of mercy and charity, in imitation of Job, chap. xxxi. 16. &c. It is observable, that the sentence against the wicked runs on unmercifulness to the poor members of Christ, Matth. xxv. 41, &c.
2dly, By way of commission. And so men are guilty, (1.) As they strike against the living of others, their means and way of subsistence. This goes under the general name of oppression, a crying sin, Ezek. xxii. 7. Thus this command is broken by extortion, landlords racking of their lands so as labourers cannot live on them, tenants taking others lands over their heads, sometimes to the ruin of honest families, masters not allowing servants whereupon to live; and, generally, by all kind of oppression, which in God's ac count is murder, Isa. iii. 14, 15. Micah. iii. 3.
(2.) As they strike against the body and life itself, Thus men are guilty, by fighting, striking, and wounding others, Exod. xxi. 18, 22. How many have been guilty as murderers in the sight of men, that have had no design to go the full length, when they fell to fighting?
Persecution is a complication of all these; and therefore the better the cause is, the worse is the deed. It is a main engine of him who was a murderer from the beginning. And God will reckon with them as murderers at the great day, Mat. xxv. 41, 42, &c.
Lastly, Men may be guilty of the blood of others other. wise. As,.
(1.) By sinful occasioning in others those things whereby bur neighbour sins against his own soul, Quod est causa causa est etiam causa causati. So people sin by occasioning in others discontent, fretfulness, immoderate sorrow, &c. 1 Sam. i. 6. Wherefore we should beware of that, as we would not be guilty of their blood..
(2.) By all the ways we said men co-operate to the de stroying of other souls, they may be guilty of killing others bodies; as by commanding, counselling, or anywise procur ing the taking away of men's living or lives unjustly. So David murdered Uriah by the sword of the Ammonites. So informers against the Lord's people in time of persecution are murderers in God's sight, Ezek. xxii. 9. Yea, the approving, or any way consenting to it, makes men guilty,
Acts viii. 1.
Now, Sirs, examine yourselves in this matter; and who will not be brought in blood-guilty, guilty of their own and their neighbour's blood, the blood of their souls and bodies! God's law is spiritual, and sees the guilt of blood where we plead Not guilty. Let us be humbled and convinced, and apply to the blood of Christ, that we may be washed from it.