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our country, which is still, and in many respects pre-eminent among the nations, with all that blood which her former sanguinary code shed on the scaffold of the thief, which has run in torrents on many an ensanguined battle-field, which circulated in the veins of her patriotic martyrs, and which, from her present relaxed and dangerously uncertain system of criminal prosecutions, has besmeared many a domestic hearth. To bring home this most serious charge against the first nation in the world, against a nation first in military glory and Christian privilege, is, we freely admit, making a strong demand on public patience, while it imposes the ungracious task of specifying some of the various kinds of this heinous crime, and tracing its present frequent perpetration to sources of a literary, and even a popular religious character. If such a charge be substantiated, it then becomes a pressing, a patriotic, a religious duty to ring the alarm-bell, and invite the nation to a solemn consideration of the demonstrated most certain exercise of the retributive justice of Him who declares, “Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made He man.'

While, then, on the one hand, we frankly concede that the abolitionist, to a very large extent, and in a practically intelligible sense, is

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actuated by some of the more amiable, although we must insist on it, perverted feelings of our common humanity; yet we do think it both reasonable and right, if he is resolved on a fair and judicious discussion of capital punishment in the case of the convicted murderer, that he fix not his eye on the deeply humbling spectacle of the corpse of a fellow-creature swinging in the air, to the exclusion of the pandemonium of the murdering-room-that he dwell not upon the dark drapery of the gibbet by throwing into the shade the darker and demoniacal glories of that fearful struggle and revolting tragedy in which the unhappy culprit played the principal part.




MR THOMSON, author of Punishment and Prevention,' says: The ten commandments

• are the pure and pristine source of criminal law; and it is happy for us that they enter largely in spirit, as well as in letter, into the body of British Jurisprudence.' We would fondly entertain a higher estimate of the moral intellect and feelings of the abolitionists, who urge their claims on the professed plea of morality and humanity, than to suppose that they would ignore, or treat with irreverence, a formal appeal to the divine law on this confessedly moral and profoundly interesting question of capital punishment. We will not do either them or ourselves the injustice of even harbouring the suspicion, that they sympathize with the spirit, or adopt the letter of the Colensian creed, which, from its more than equivocal utterances on the proper inspiration of the Bible, makes the ground shake under the feet of the pure moralist, and loosens the recognised hold-fast of British ethics. On the other hand, we are happy to assume, and even to indulge the conviction, that the abolitionists, or at least those of them with whom we care to hold friendly reasoning, frankly admit the inspiration of the Scriptures, in the common and intelligible acceptation of that phrase; and that they merely dispute the exposition of them adopted by those who plead for the capital punishment of the convicted murderer. Upon this distinct understanding then, we propose submitting the following preliminary remarks on the divine law, or the decalogue, which are intended to settle first principles, and to comfortably deliver the discussion of the question from painful prolixity, and the frequent use of what might be viewed as harsh and unseemly vocables.

No serious disadvantage will attach to our adoption of the common and practically intelligible definition of the term law, as the formal expression of the will of the lawgiver, and as constituting the rule of the belief, and the directory of the conduct, of the subject. The divine law, then, is the expression of the will of God; is the rule, while it is also the reason, of

our practice; and is from its authority necessarily of binding force. Now we know, that

• what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law.'

While this definition respects law whether human or divine, still, and as bearing upon our present subject, we require to carefully distinguish betwixt those laws which are naturally fixed and those which are temporary. And this distinction, so patent in every page of inspiration, has been converted into the battle-field of the present question, and of many others of a cognate character which have long involved politicians, moralists, and theologians in serious feuds. The distinction adverted to has been variously designated. For all practical purposes it is sufficient to state, that what is called the moral natural law, because it is the transcript, the written image of God's nature, must necessarily be permanent for all moral beings, in all climes, and throughout all ages. This moral law of God is the decalogue, the law of the ten commandments, and admits not of being repealed. On the other hand, the moral positive law of God, because it springs from, and has been dictated by, the will, the sovereign will of the Divine Lawgiver, respects dispensational purposes, and is of temporary duration. This temporary divine law is called the Mosaic, and

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