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violation of these laws, it is mental uneasiness and unhappiness, frequently terminating in partial derangement, or positive insanity. If it is a neglect of the moral laws, it is a deprivation of the happiness which results from the exercise of the moral powers. If a violation of these laws, it is the misery and unhappiness which follow necessarily. If it is both a neglect and violation of either or all of these laws, then the punishment, as is seen, will be both negative and positive; a deprivation on the one hand, and positive suffering on the other. We trust the subject is now sufficiently plain, and if so, the objection we are considering falls to the ground.
8. Another objection is that, “ According to this theory, much of the punishment, which is experienced by the guilty, consists in remorse of conscience.” - Now,” it is said, “it is well known that by a long-continued course of sin, conscience may become completely paralyzed and inactive, so that it ceases to reproach or . sting the transgressor.” Whether the conscience can ever become entirely dormant and inactive is very doubtful. If there are any cases of this kind, they must be exceedingly rare; and they form exceptions to the general rule. It is true, the Bible speaks of some whose consciences were “ seared as with a hot iron;" but this does not prove that their consciences had become extinct, nor entirely inactive. That the conscience may become measurably dormant is undoubtedly true; but it must be recollected that if there is such a thing as remorse of conscience, there is such a thing as the pleasure derived from a conscience “ void of offence." Conscience not only condemns us for our faults, but it approves us for our virtues. In proportion, therefore, as an individual becomes insensible to remorse of conscience, in that same proportion he becomes insensible to its approving smiles. Now, does he gain anything by this? Is he placed in any better circumstances ? in circumstances more favorable to the enjoyment of happiness ? No. As the inward monitor speaks not to approve, so its warning voice speaks but feebly. In that case, the individual becomes more reckless and daring; less circumspect and cautious, and more bold in his crimes. Of course he is more easily detected, and more exposed to the penalties which are annexed to the laws and institutions which have been established by man. We can imagine no deprivation which can be worse, nor no condition on earth which can be more deplorable, than for an individual to be
destitute of conscience. The fact, then, on which this objection is based forms no real objection to the theory we are advocating.
9. It may be objected that, “ As a part of the punishment of sin consists in remorse of conscience, and as, according to Phrenology, some men have a large share of conscience, and others only a small degree, therefore, those who deserve the least punishment will receive the most, and those who deserve the most will receive the least.” To this we reply : If two men perform the same act, and one of them possesses a great share of conscience, he is guilty in a great degree; if the other has naturally only a small share of conscience, he is guilty only in a small degree. One, therefore, deserves a great degree of punishment, the other only a small degree. This objection, then, only proves that our theory of rewards and punishments is one of the strictest impartiality, equity, and justice.
10. It may be asked, “ How does the self-murderer get his punishment ? " Self-murder! We know of no such crime. Murder implies malice aforethought. But the Bible informs us that "no man ever yet hated his own flesh.” The crime of self-murder is therefore impossible. We know that a certain declaration is often quoted to prove that there is such a crime, namely, “ No self-murderer shall enter the kingdom of heaven.” This declaration is supposed by some to be in the Bible; but it is not. There is no such passage in the book. The word self, and murder, or murderer, are nowhere connected in the whole Bible. By the “self-murderer," we presume the objector means the suicide. If, then, it be asked, “ How does the suicide get his punishment ?” we answer :
The act of suicide is generally, if not always, committed by those who are of unsound minů, those who are acting under the influence of either partial or positive derangement. It is extremely doubtful whether any person of sane mind ever, coolly and deliberately, in the sober exercise of his judgment, put a period to his own existence, Those who commit the act of suicide under the influence of insanity are not responsible; hence, incur 'no guilt, and, consequently, no punishment. But, allowing some do commit this act in the exercise of their reason, what then? The whole difficulty in the mind of the objector may arise from a false view which he entertains respecting the object and mode of divine punishment. If you suppose divine punishment to be retaliatory, – that is, that a cer
tain quantum of pain is inflicted on the transgressor, equal in amount to that which he has occasioned, or that he is made to experience a certain amount of evil equal to that which he has produced, or that he is made to suffer simply and solely because he has committed an evil act, — all this is a very great mistake. No. God punishes to reform and make better. His punishments are disciplinary, emendatory, and salutary. He does not, therefore, inflict pain upon the transgressor simply because an evil act has been committed, but in order that the crime may not be repeated. Again, if the objector supposes that God, in the administration of his moral government, is under the necessity of specially interfering and directly punishing his creatures, this is another very great mis. take. No. God is under no necessity of guarding the interests of his law by penal enactments and penal sanctions. It is a law, as we have seen, which is founded in the nature and fitness of things,
a law written in the very constitution of man. God's law, therefore, unlike all the laws ever instituted by man, does, by its own operation, absolutely secure the reward of virtue and the punishment of vice. God, to be sure, may, at certain times, and in certain cases, inflict direct punishment upon the violators of his law. But this is not his general mode of administration. As a general thing, we know of no penalty annexed to the law of God except the natural and necessary consequences which flow from its violation ; nor any punishment for sin except the natural and necessary consequences which flow from the practice of vice. How strong is the love of life! How instinctively man will cling to it, and shrink from death! How great must be the suffering, and how intense the agony, endured by that mind, which will prompt its possessor to voluntarily cut the strong cord which binds him to earth! But,” you may say, “all this suffering and agony he has brought upon himself by his own voluntary sins.” All this may be very true; and, if so, it is a proof that sin is punished in this life. Of the suicide, then, it may be said, that, by a course of sin and transgression, he has plunged himself into misery, until God uses his own hand as the instrument of his own destruction. He is cut off from life and all its endearments, and his career of wickedness has terminated in untimely death. It may be well to mention here that the Bible nowhere enumerates suicide among the catalogue of crimes, nor the suicide among the catalogue of criminals. We would not now wish to be understood as justifying the act of suicide. Very far from it.
We mention this fact because it is a fact, and the reader will bear in mind it is a fact for which we are not responsible. If the objector, therefore, is disposed to cavil, let him cavil at the Bible, not with us. We
suppose the reason why the Bible does not speak of suicide as a crime, is because the scripture writers, all of them, took it for granted that it was an act which would not be very frequently committed, and very seldom indeed, if ever, by a person in the sober exercise of his reason and judgment.
11. But the objector may say, “Suppose a man to murder a fellow-being, and the next moment turn round and kill himselfhow is he punished for this double crime, committed in the very last moment of his life?" We frankly confess that this is, to all appearance, one of the greatest difficulties, in the way of our theory, which can possibly be stated. We admit it to be a very plausible objection. But, supposing that no satisfactory reply can be made to it, — what then? Let it be borne in mind that this objection is founded on an extreme case. How many of the human family are guilty of this crime? Not one to an hundred thousand. Must it not be a rery strong theory against which only one difficulty out of many can be presented, which we, short-sighted mortals, cannot remove ? Must not that theory be considered absolutely invulnerable against which only one objection out of many can be urged, which cannot be satisfactorily answered; especially when even that one objection is founded on an extreme case,
a case which rarely happens among men ? But we are not afraid to meet this objection in the very face. To murder a human being, and then for the murderer to turn round and kill himself, is an unnatural crime. Charity would lead us to suppose that no man would be guilty of such an act without extraordinary provocation. The man who could cominit such a deed must be under the influence of the most powerful animal excitement. His passions, for the time being, must have the complete ascendency over him, and be absolutely uncontrollable. Now, is it not a well-known fact that some men have not that government and control of their passions that others bave ? And should not these be mitigating circumstances in the case of persons guilty of killing a human being and themselves at the same time? We know that in the eye of those laws instituted by man they would not be. But, we ask, how will they be looked on in the eye of that great law of love which God has instituted for the government of his creatures ?. We do not ask, how will these
persons be looked on by the eyes of men ; but we ask, how will they be looked on by the eye of that God who “sees not as man sees," who is acquainted with all the thoughts of his creatures, their motives and intentions ? He also is acquainted with our frailty, our liability to err, the circumstances in which we may be placed, and all the influences with which we may be surrounded. He is our Lawgiver and our Judge; and his law, by its own operation, secures to the violator of it all the punishment he thinks him to be deserving of. We ask, again, how will persons guilty of the crime we are considering, under the mitigating circumstances we have named, be looked upon in the eye of that charity which “suffereth long, and is kind,” and which requires of mankind that they look not too severely upon the faults and foibles of their fellow-men ? That heart must be callous indeed, and insensible to the feelings of humanity, which will prompt its possessor to look on the agonies and sufferings of the suicide, which have been the cause of his raising the hand of destruction upon himself, or upon the miseries endured by that man whose passions are so violent and ungovernable as that he can commit such a crime as the one we are considering, and then say, “It is not enough!" If persons guilty of these crimes deserve our censure, they also deserve our pity and commiseration. If they are guilty, they are also unfortunate.
But they deserve our pity no more than does that man who would add one single iota to the pangs and sufferings which they endure. The punishinent of those guilty of the crime under consideration, consists in their suffering the natural consequences of sin. A course of sin and folly, after having destroyed the happiness of the unfortunate being, and after he has suffered the pangs and sorrows of the transgressor, has terminated in untimely death.
Such, reader, are the arguments in favor of the doctrine of present rewards and punishments. And such are the objections against it. We now appeal to your candor, and ask, which of the two theories we have had under consideration is most consistent with reason, with common sense, and the Bible? It is of the utmost importance that you should decide this question. If you decide in favor of the theory which we have advocated, you are safe. Sin will have for you no charms, and temptation no power. You will avoid sin as you would avoid the jaws of death, or the poisonous fangs of the serpent; and you will cling to virtue as your only, your chiefest, and your greatest good.