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most parts of the world, wherever Christianity came) it may increase your wonder, that devils and men are still so like. Yea, though there be as loud a testimony in human nature against this bloodiness, as almost any sin whatsoever; and though the names of persecutors always stink to following generations, how proudly soever they carried it for a time; and though one would think a persecutor should need no cure but his own pride, that his name may not be left as Pilate's in the creed, to be odious in the mouths of the ages that come after him; yet for all this, so deep is the enmity, so potent is the devil, so blinding a thing is sin, and interest, and passion, that still one generation of persecutors doth succeed the others; and they kill the present saints, while they honour the dead ones, and build them monuments, and say, "If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the prophet's blood." Read well Matt. xxiii. 29. to the end. What a sea of righteous blood hath malignity and persecuting zeal drawn out!
4. Another cause of murder is, rash and unrighteous judgment. When judges are ignorant, or partial, or perverted by passion, or prejudice, or respect of persons: but though many an innocent hath suffered this way, I hope among Christians, this is one of the rarest causes.
5. Another way of murder is by oppression and uncharitableness; when the poor are kept destitute of necessaries to preserve their lives: though few of them die directly of famine, yet thousands of them die of those sicknesses which they contract by unwholesome food. And all those are guilty of their death, either that cause it by oppression, or that relieve them not when they are able and obliged to it ".
6. Another way and cause of murder is, by thieves and robbers, that do it to possess themselves of that which is another man's; when riotousness or idleness hath consumed what they had themselves, and sloth and pride will not suffer them to labour, nor sensuality suffer them to endure want, then they will have it by right or wrong, whatever it cost them. God's laws or man's, the gallows or hell shall not deter them; but have it they will, though they rob and murder, and are hanged and damned for it. Alas! how
James v. 1-5.
dear a purchase do they make! How much easier are their greatest wants, than the wrath of God, and the pains of he ll!
7. Another cause of murder is, guilt and shame. When wicked people have done some great disgraceful sin, which will utterly shame them, or undo them if it be known, they are tempted to murder them that know it, to conceal the crime and save themselves. Thus many a whoremonger hath murdered her that he hath committed fornication with; and many a whore hath murdered her child (before the birth or after) to prevent the shame. But how madly do they forget the day, when both the one and the other will be brought to light! And the righteous Judge will make them know, that all their wicked shifts will be their confusion, because there is no hiding them from him.
8. Another cause is, furious anger, which mastereth reason, and for the present makes them mad; and drunkenness which doth the same. Many an one hath killed another in his fury or his drink; so dangerous is it to suffer reason to lose its power, and to use ourselves to a Bedlam course! And so necessary is it, to get a sober, meek, and quiet spirit, and mortify and master these turbulent and beastly vices.
9. Another cause of murder is, malice and revenge. When men's own wrongs or sufferings are so great a matter to them, and they have so little learned to bear them, that they hate that man that is the cause of them, and boil with a revengeful desire of his ruin. And this sin hath in it so much of the devil, that those that are once addicted to it, are almost wholly at his command. He maketh witches of some, and murderers of others, and wretches of all! Who set themselves in the place of God, and will do justice as they call it for themselves, as if God were not just enough to do it. And so sweet is revenge to their furious nature, (as the damning of men is to the devil,) that revenged they will be, though they lose their souls by it; and the impotency and baseness of their spirits is such, that they say, • Flesh and blood is unable to bear it.'
10. Another cause of murder is, a wicked impatience with near relations, and a hatred of those that should be most dearly loved. Thus many men and women have mur
dered their wives and husbands, when either adulterous lust hath given up their hearts to another, or a cross, impatient, discontented mind, hath made them seem intolerable burdens to each other; and then the devil that destroyed their love and brought them thus far, will be their teacher in the rest, and shew them how to ease themselves, till he hath led them to the gallows, and to hell. How necessary is it to keep in the way of duty, and abhor and suppress the beginnings of sin!
11. And sometimes covetousness hath caused murder, when one man desireth another man's estate. Thus Ahab came by Naboth's vineyards to his cost. And many a one desireth the death of another, whose estate must fall to him at the other's death. Thus many a child in heart is guilty of the murder of his parents, though he actually commit it not; yea, a secret gladness when they are dead, doth shew the guilt of some such desires while they were living; and the very abatement of such moderate mourning, as natural affection should procure, (because the estate is thereby come to them as the heirs) doth shew that such are far from innocent. Many a Judas for covetousness hath betrayed another! Many a false witness for covetousness hath sold another's life; many a thief for covetousness hath taken away another's life, to get his money; and many a covetous landlord hath longed for his tenant's death, and been glad to hear of it; and many a covetous soldier hath made a trade of killing men for money. So true is it, "That the love of money is the root of all evil;" and therefore is one cause of all this.
12. And ambition is too common a cause of murder, among the great ones of the world. How many have dispatched others out of the world, because they stood in the way of their advancement! For a long time together it was the ordinary way of rising, and dying, to the Roman and Greek emperors; for one to procure the murder of the emperor, that he might usurp his seat, and then to be so murdered by another himself; and every soldier that looked for preferment by the change, was ready to be an instrument in the fact. And thus hath even the Roman seat of his mockholiness, for a long time and oft received its successors, by the poison or other murdering of the possessors of the desi
red place. And alas, how many thousands hath that see devoured to defend its universal empire, under the name of the spiritual headship of the church! How many unlawful wars have they raised or cherished, even against Christian emperors and kings! How many thousands have been massacred! How many assassinated, as Henry the third, and Henry the fourth, of France! Besides those that fires and inquisitions have consumed and all these have been the flames of pride. Yea, when their fellow-subjects in Munster, and in England, (the Anabaptists and Seekers) have catched some of their proud disease, it hath worked in the same way of blood and cruelty.
But besides these twelve great sins, which are the nearest cause of murder, there are many more which are yet greater, and deeper in nature, which are the roots of all; especially these:
1. The first cause is, the want of true belief of the Word of God, and the judgment and punishment to come, and the want of the knowledge of God himself: atheism and infidelity.
2. Hence cometh the want of the true fear of God, and subjection to his holy laws.
3. The predominance of selfishness in all the unsanctified, is the radical inclination to murder, and all the injustice that is committed.
4. And the want of charity, or loving our neighbour as ourselves, doth bring men near to the execution, and leaveth little inward restraint.
By all this you may see how this sin must be prevented. (And let not any man think it a needless work. Thousands have been guilty of murder that once thought themselves as far from it as you.) 1. The soul must be possessed with the knowledge of God, and the true belief of his Word and judgment. 2. Hereby it must be possessed of the fear of God, and subjection to him. 3. And the love of God must mortify the power of selfishness. 4. And also much possess us with a true love to our neighbours, yea, and enemies for his sake. 5. And the twelve forementioned causes of murder will thus be destroyed at the root.
II. And some further help it will be to understand the greatness of this sin. Consider therefore, 1. It is an unlaw
ful destroying, not only a creature of God, but one of his noblest creatures upon earth! Even one that beareth (at least, the natural) image of God. "And surely, your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it; and at the hand of man; 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"." Yea, God will not only have the beast slain that killeth a man, but also forbiddeth there the eating of blood, verse 4., that man might not be accustomed to cruelty.
2. It is the opening a door to confusion, and all calamity in the world; for if one man may kill another without the sentence of the magistrate, another may kill him; and the world will be like mastiffs or mad dogs, turned all loose on one another, kill that kill can.
3. If it be a wicked man that is killed, it is the sending of a soul to hell, and cutting off his time of repentance, and his hopes. If it be a godly man, it is a depriving of the world of the blessing of a profitable member, and all that are about him of the benefits of his goodness, and God of the service, which he was here to have performed. These are enough to infer the dreadful consequents to the murderer, which are such as these.
III. 1. It is a sin which bringeth so great a guilt, that if it be repented of, and pardoned, yet conscience very hardly doth ever attain to peace and quietness in this world; and if it be unpardoned, it is enough to make a man his own executioner and tormenter.
2. It is a sin that seldom escapeth vengeance in this life: if the law of the land take not away their lives, as God appointeth, Gen. ix. 6., God useth to follow them with his extraordinary plagues, and causeth their sin to find them out; so that the bloodthirsty man doth seldom live out half his days. The treatises purposely written on this subject, and the experience of all ages, do give us very wonderful narratives of God's judgments, in the detecting of murderers and bringing them to punishment. They go about awhile like Cain, with a terrified conscience, afraid of every one they
Gen. ix. 5, 6.