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in so doing, they serve God, and promote the ends of his justice in their respective callings.
2. Those also break this command who give any kind of advice or assistance in promoting murder, injury, or provocation; or give any occasion to these, that is, who incite one against another, or are defamers and tale-bearers, thereby murdering a man's honour; who plunder or set fire to houses, or who compel men to drink above measure; by which means, though the life is not always taken away, yet it is shortened, and persons rendered miserable.
3. Unjust judges too, violate this precept, who through bribery, or their connections by kindred, or by flattery, or through fear, either justify, or do not condemn the guilty. Such judges are, in another sense, insufferable murderers, because those very men sacrifice justice, from whom she ought to find protection. With a similar kind of guilt are they also chargeable, who having power to prevent murder and injury, do not exercise it; for example, they know of an evil plot, but do not reveal it, or they conceal thieves about them, or seeing a fight do not try to separate the contending parties, or do not assist in extinguishing a conflagration, or do not give help to the drowning. In this list we must also include those who do not try to comfort such as are falling into de
spair, or to prevent the accomplishment of evil intentions, or who, possessing abundance themselves, permit the poor to die of hunger, or cold, or seeing another suffering in disease, do not give assistance though it is in their power; with many similar circumstances.
4. Such masters are also guilty as overburden their subjects with labour, or correct with cruel punishments, or lay upon them unreasonable taxes. For such conduct is nearly allied to murder.
5. This commandment also forbids all that paves the way to murder, and that by degrees leads to an untimely death; as, for instance, anger, contention, quarrelings, disputings, remembrance of injuries, hatred, envy, revengeful dispositions, and ferocity. In condemning these vices, the following virtues are enjoined; kind and sincere behaviour, meekness, forgiving of injuries, patience, magnanimity, mercy, and a sincere love of all these. To the same purpose the word of God admonishes us: " Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any; even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.” Col. iii. 12, 13.
6. This commandment also strongly forbids suicide. For our life and breath are not our own, but are at the disposal of God; he alone has the power of life and death; and as we did not give to ourselves life, so we have no right to take it away. Therefore we ought to wait the command of our Maker to leave this world. On the contrary, self-murder is a daring infringement of the prerogative of the Almighty, and an appropriation of that power which belongs to him alone; and such an audacious breaker of the divine law, willingly rushes upon certain punishment.
Those also should be considered as self-murderers, who rush upon evident danger of death; for example, if any one attempts swimming across a river at an evident risque of drowning, or without necessity exposes himself in that quarter where the plague is raging, and in other similar circumstances.
In the seventh commandment, under the general name adultery, is forbidden every sinful fleshly lust; and therefore it enjoins upon us, that we shall either spend our lives in honourable matrimony, or in holy and virgin celibacy.
When God created man, he made them male
and female, to multiply the human race, and for their mutual help and comfort in life. Therefore the happiness of society requires, that the man and wife should love and respect each other, that they should preserve their bed undefiled, and not break the holy laws of matrimony. For such transgressions, exclusive of shame, dishonour, and remorse of conscience, cause great confusion and disorder in the world, and infect society like the worst of plagues.
Who transgress against this command
This holy commandment is broken, First, by adulterers, fornicators, polygamists, incestuous persons, and those who indulge in the various other unlawful fleshly lusts. Secondly, By all those who encourage sinful sensual gratification, and who promote the shameful sins of adultery and whoredom. Among incentives to these sins are the following: Drunkenness, idleness, wantonness, impure language, improper jests, shameful gesticulations, shameful modes of dress and of adorning the body, lascivious scenes and spectacles, lewd dancing, obscene songs, books, &c. But the lustful look itself, and the internal improper emotions, are condemned in the gospel.
"Whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her, hath committed adultery with her already in his heart." Matth. v. 28.
In order to avoid the above sins, we ought to keep in remembrance the important advice of the apostle, 1 Cor. vi. 18, " Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. What! know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost, which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price ; therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's."
Therefore the purity of the Christian's calling requires, that we should spend our lives in purity and chastity; either in honourable and irreproachable matrimony, or in virgin celibacy. For the blessed Paul denominates "marriage honourable, and the bed which is undefiled." Heb. xiii. 4. But virgin celibacy he regards as superior to that. For thus he writes, 1 Cor. vii. 38. "He that giveth his virgin in marriage doth well; but he that giveth her not in marriage doth better." And our Lord confirmeth the same thing; Matth. xix. 12, " And there are eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake."