On Thou Shalt Not Kill

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September 27th
On Thou Shalt Not Kill

Consider first,
that this commandment does not only forbid all wilful murder, unjust shedding of blood, beating, or doing anything else that may hasten one's own or any other person's death, but also all thoughts that have any tendency that way, all wishes or desires of the death of any one, whether through malice or envy, or for some temporal convenience or interest; as also all manner of hatred and rancour of heart to any one living. For it is written, 1 John iii. 15, 'whoseoever hateth his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.' Christians, look well to yourselves, and carefully examine into the true state of your interior in this respect. You have perhaps hitherto flattened yourselves that you have nothing to reproach your conscience with on the score of the horrible sin of murder; but have you never wilfully entertained any hatred, envy, or malice to your neighbours? If you have, know that all this is like murder in the eyes of God. O take heed of living in any such malicious dispositions to any one person upon earth, lest you should be excluded thereby from any share in eternal life, to which murderers have no title.

Consider 2ndly, how the Son of God himself has explained to us the extent of the obligations of this commandment, Matt. v. 21. & c., 'You have heard,' saith he, 'that it was said to them of old, Thou shalt not kill, and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment. But I say to you, that whosoever is angry with his brother shall be in danger of the judgment. And whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, (a word expressing indignation and contempt,) shall be in danger of the council, (a higher and more severe tribunal,) and whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell-fire.' By which our Lord would have all Christians to understand that this divine law was not only designed to restrain the hand from killing, but also the heart from wilfully entertaining the passion of anger or the desire of revenge; and much more from suffering out wrath to break out into words on indignation or contempt, much less into downright affronts or injuries, which might either rob our neighbour of his honour or of the peace of his mind, or, as it too commonly happens, of the grace of God, by provoking him also to passion and sin.

Consider 3rdly,
how the Holy Ghost also declares himself in like manner against the murdering crime of passion and revenge, Ecclus. xxviii. 'He that seeketh to revenge himself,' saith he, 'shall find vengeance from the Lord, and he will surely keep his sins in remembrance. One man keepeth anger against another, and doth he seek to be healed by God? He hath no mercy on a man like himself, and doth he entreat for his own sins? He that is but flesh nourished anger, and with what face doth he ask forgiveness of God? Who shall obtain pardon of his sins? Forgive thy neighbour if he have hurt thee, and then shall thy sins be forgiven to thee when thou prayest. Remember thy last things and let enmity cease. Remember the fear of God, and be not angry with thy neighbour. Remember the covenant of the most high, and overlook the ignorance of thy neighbour. Refrain from strife, and thou shalt diminish thy sins,' & c. O let us imprint these divine lessons deep in our souls, and we shall fulfil this great commandment.

Conclude, if thou desirest to keep thyself far from the guilt of murder, to banish far from thy soul every thought that has any tendency to malice or revenge. O learn from the doctrine and practice of thy Saviour rather to suffer in thy person, in thy honour, or in thy worldly goods, than, by seeking revenge, to endanger the loss of thy soul by losing thy God and his grace.
 
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