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purloining their master's property, or a disrespectful conduct towards him; and it requires a deep sense of religion to maintain an undeviating consistency amid these and many other allurements to what is wrong. But the virtue of resisting and overcoming such temptations, in proportion to the difficulty of its acquirement and exercise, will be approved and rewarded by Him who looks with the same impartial eye on all his creatures, and who will judge every man according to his works. The victory won in such a situation by a truly christian servant over the evil feelings of envy and discontent, is far greater in the estimation of Him who weigheth the spirits, than that of those whose moral trial is less severe, and who are less assailed by incentives to sin. Christian servants are required to be faithful in the discharge of their engagements, not so much from the consideration that their neglect or violation may be punished as a breach of justice, as from the higher motives of the fear of God, and the authority of Christ.
“ Servants,” says the Apostle Paul, “ be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, in singleness of heart, as unto Christ ; not with eye-service as men-pleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; with good will doing service, as to the Lord and not to men; knowing that whatsoever good thing a man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free."
Masters, also, have duties to perform to their servants, which, by the laws of justice, they are bound to discharge. There are temptations to neglect their
fulfilment, at least, to neglect their uniform and complete fulfilment. From the power over others which is given and assumed, will there not be an inducement to ask more from them than they can reasonably perform ; to bear towards them an unfeeling demeanour, to disregard with unchristian apathy their moral and religious wants ? Are not masters sometimes in danger of placing before their servants, by their example and otherwise, temptations to a neglect of duty, to dishonesty, and to the indulgence of a disrespectful conduct towards their superiors ?
They,” it has been remarked, “are capable of enjoyment, like ourselves; and there are many enjoyments of which we may legally deprive them, by the constraints to which they have submitted themselves, according to the common usage of such personal contracts—but which are not incompatible with the fulfilment of all their duties to us; and which it would therefore, morally, be as wrong to prevent, as it would be to prevent a similar amount of enjoyment, when the power of preventing it was not legally ours. He who, to the utmost of his power, converts the freedom of domestic service into slavery—who allows no liberty-no recreation, no pleasure, which he can interdict, has all the guilt of a tyrannical master of a slave; or rather, has a guilt that exceeds the guilt of such oppression, because it is an oppression that is exercised in a land of freedom. Every indulgence, therefore, which does not interfere with the domestic duties, and which does not tend to vitiate the character, is a duty which the master owes. “ Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a
master in heaven, and that there is no respect of persons with him.”
In a word, should we at any time feel uncertain as to some of the duties which we owe as children and parents, as masters and servants, as teachers and taught, -as inferiors, superiors, and equals; or, though not uncertain as to their nature, yet reluctant to perform them, we have only to imagine ourselves in the situation of others, with their views and feelings made our own, and we shall find that our self-love will powerfully enforce the claims of benevolence and justice. That inordinate regard to our own interests and gratifications, which, by perverting our views in judging of the rights of our neighbour, forms the chief obstacle in the way of our duty towards them, is thus brought to plead on their behalf; and having been led to decide for them with the same scrupulous fidelity which we would have employed for ourselves, we cannot, without doing violence to our own convictions, do otherwise than act agreeably to our decisions. All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them *.
* See the Author's work on Personal and Family Religion, chap. iii. iv. v.
THE DUTY OF REFRAINING FROM INJURING THE PERSONS
OR LIVES OF OTHERS.
Ir is difficult to enumerate the various ways in which man can inflict an injury on man, and in which, consequently, he transgresses the will of his Maker, and violates the obligations of eternal justice. He is clearly bound to respect the life, property, and character of others—his promises, asseverations or oaths, contracts, subscriptions to articles of belief, made in reference to them,--and their virtue and happiness.
We begin with the consideration of our obligations to abstain from injuring the persons or lives of others. The divine law has clearly defined this duty, and enforced its observance by the most awful sanctions. " Thou shalt not kill. Surely your blood of your lives will I require ; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of men; at the hand of every man's brother will I require the life of man. Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God made he man.”
God alone is the giver of life; he gives the law to guard its preservation; and in no case can it be innocently taken away when he does not grant the permission. Though he has given to man a dominion over the inferior animals, this power would not entitle him to deprive them of life, unless the great Lord and Ruler of all had so defined it. This is allowed himn
in the two following cases: first, when he intends to use them for food. “ The fear of you, and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered. Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things.” Secondly, when they are destructive and dangerous. That we are at liberty to deprive them of life in such circumstances, is clear from the passage now quoted, and from the inherent right of every man to defend his person and property.
With these exceptions, we are bound to refrain from injuring the lives, or impairing the enjoyments of the lower animals; and, consequently, to avoid all those brutal modes in which this defenceless part of the creation is distressed and tortured. We cannot but condemn, as immoral in its nature and tendency, a practice to which children are sometimes habituated, that of exercising the most wanton cruelty to animals, and of employing their ingenuity in inflicting sufferings. Irrespectively of the amount of suffering which they thus create, merely for their amusement, the practice is calculated to deaden every better feeling, and fit them for perpetrating hereafter, on a wider theatre, deeds of criminal selfishness, inhumanity, if not of still greater atrocity. If it be the characteristic of a righteous man that he regardeth the life of his beast, we cannot but consider the contrary conduct as the mark of the unfeeling and the wicked.
As there are exceptions to the general law concerning life-preservation with respect to the inferior