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define the matter, because by this test alone can we judge whether it is, or is not, according to the will of God: for we hold, that nothing which is not consonant to the will of God, can be really beneficial to mankind'. You, then, in talking of our exalting ourselves, instead of giving the glory to God," suppose a distinct wrong, by no means necessary; for we may thank God who has entitled us to the approbation of our fellows, by making us the happy instruments of his benefits, for the benefits conferred, and for the due sense given to others of those benefits. Successful obedience cannot be called an "encroachment upon the prerogative" of him who is obeyed. The conduct of the gallant soldier, though applauded by the whole army, detracts nothing from the merit of the general who directed, the parents who educated, or the country which produced him: his honour is their honour. men are so far regenerate as to feel in consonance with the Spirit of God, his approval and theirs are one. You say, that "whatever is opposite to, or even different from, worldly interests
So, where the minds of
'It must of course be understood, that I cannot mean this to apply to any acknowledged evil instrument, through whose involuntary agency Divine Wisdom may still work a result ultimately beneficial.
and pursuits, will be deemed needlessly precise," (p. 168.) This is one of those assumptions so often used in default of argument. But be it so. It does not prove the converse meant to be implied, that all that we deem needlessly precise, must, therefore, be genuine Christianity. You now, Sir, in p. 168, assume the question, and immediately cede it again, for the second time, in the course of the two following pages. In p. 171, you again return to the charge, under the head of " generally prevailing notions opposed to those of Scripture :" calling that a misconception, which is no misconception on our part at all, as you yourself confess in the following page, (p. 172), but merely a fact of imperfection of practice, which we do not, because we cannot, deny. Dishonour, disgrace, or shame, may be either real or unreal; but we conceive that one great object of Christianity, and the example of Jesus, was to teach us to distinguish right from wrong, in this particular especially, and that the manner of the sacrifice of atonement was public execution, for this very purpose.
You next bring two proofs, as you call them, of our false notions, (p. 173); but, in fact, they are no proofs of our opinions, but, as usual, of our imperfect practice. They prove merely that we do not sufficiently command our tempers, and that we are too apt, in our outward conduct, to heed more
the thoughtless approbation of the world, than what we know to be the command of God. see the right, but yet the wrong pursue." In the instance of duelling, I must confess, you might still convict some portion of society of false notions; yet it might make a plea to your favour, methinks; for, ere we begun to rationalize in religion, when our faith was stronger, it was considered as a judicial ordeal. 66 Dieu defend le droit!" But, to be serious. It is a remnant of barbarism, which, like war, Christianity has as yet only ameliorated, not exploded, and, like war, it is not wholly without its uses, though its evils dreadfully preponderate. But this is all I have to say for it'. Duelling is unnecessary: it is in our own power, and at our own choice, to put an end to it; and I, for one, can only beg you, Sir, to accept my cordial thanks for the very excellent and Christian remarks you have made upon the subject, and to allow me to add even my heathen prayer to yours, that, by the blessing of God, they may be universally and speedily attended to. I acknowledge the justice your admirable remark, (p. 175), upon the guilt
1 The best defence of duelling I ever met with, is in Arthur Mervyn's letter in Guy Mannering. But this only extenuates the individual drawn in by adverse circumstances, but is no excuse for the state of legislation, which renders such circumstances possible.
of habitual determination to commit the crime when called upon: nor can I see any real difficulty in the scheme proposed in your note, nor why, in the ordinary classes of instances, it should not be effectual. The very jockey-club is a warrant that it might be so. Indeed, I can sincerely and gratefully compliment you upon all respecting this matter, but in your having suffered yourself to be deterred from bringing the subject before Parliament. Your fears, I think, were groundless: you would have had every woman, and every thinking man in the country, with you; and even of your opponents, one half would have been secret wellwishers. I do not say you would have carried it at once; the slave trade was not conquered in a session: but the cause would have been much advanced, if not actually carried, ere now, and religion and public decency had been spared some recent insults, to which they have been unhappily exposed, and which, still more unhappily, have given such sanction to the practice, as would ensure to its advocates, at this moment, the united support of a powerful political party.
Nevertheless, though I perfectly agree with you upon the abstract question of duelling, and admit that it results from an abuse of the passion for approbation, yet I cannot concede, that therefore the love of esteem is "of base extraction, and
springs from vanity and selfishness," (p. 176). This passion, like all other passions and propensities, was implanted for good ends, though, like all others, it may be perverted to evil. Say not, therefore, springs from," but "is often polluted and distorted by selfishness and vanity." It is really worse than idle, to sit down to calculate minutely, as you do, every possibility of evil that may result from the abuse of propensities, which form actually a part of our very nature. What is religion for, but to teach us how to discriminate between the use and the abuse, and to induce us to regulate our passions? You may destroy any member of your body that you may deem dangerous, and thereby effectually bar evil from that quarter; but prove a passion of the mind what you will, you cannot eradicate it from your own mind, much less, from that of mankind. When you come to "true your Christian's conduct in relation to this principle," (p. 178), you not only do not attempt to do so, but even say, "The favourable opinion and praises of good men are justly acceptable to him." When? "where they accord with the testimony" of what? "of his own heart." A dangerous maxim enough! However, if this means any thing, it must mean just what we are contending for, that the passions in question are good in their use, though evil in their abuse and thus you cede the question for