« Prev SECT. XII. Concerning those duties of humanity… Next »

SECT. XII. Concerning those duties of humanity which owe to our neighbour, though he has injured us.

THE duties towards our neighbour, required of us, are also of the like sort. The Mahometan religion, which was bred in arms, breathes nothing else; and is propagated by such means only. Thus, Aristotle takes notice of, and blames, the laws of the Laconians,271271   Polit. vii. chap. 14. “Like unto these are some, who afterwards declared their opinions in their writings. For in praising the government of the Lacedæmonians, they commend the design of the lawgiver, because the whole establishment tended to power and war: which may easily be confuted by reason, and is now confuted by fact.” Euripides, in Andromache, said it before Aristotle,    ———“If war, and glory,
And the sword, were from the Spartans taken,
There’s nothing excellent that would remain.”
(which were so highly commended above any other in Greece, even by the oracle of Apollo), because they tended directly to force of arms. But the same philosopher affirms, that war against barbarians was lawful: whereas the contrary is true amongst men, who were designed by nature for friendship and society. For, what greater iniquity can there be, than to punish single murders, but expose to public view, in their triumphs, whole nations whom they had slain, as a glorious exploit?272272   To this purpose is the 96th epistle of Seneca, and book ii. chap. 8. concerning anger; and the second epistle of Cyprian. And yet that most celebrated city of Rome, how 102did it procure that title, but by wars, and those many times very unjust;273273   Petronius:—    ———” If any secret holes,
If any land, did shining gold contain,
They war proclaim.”
as they themselves confess concerning the wars against Sardinia274274   See Polybius, hist. iii. and Cyprus?275275   Florus, book iii. chap. 9. “So great was the report, and that very justly, of its riches, that, though they were a people that conquered nations, and were accustomed to bestow kingdoms, yet, at the instance of Publius Clodius the tribune, it was given in charge, to confiscate the king, though alive, and their ally.” Plutarch mentions the same thing in his life of Cato, and Appion, book ii. of his politics; and Dion, book xxxviii. See the same Florus, in his war of Numantia and Crete. And in general, as the most famous compilers of annals have related, very many nations did not account it infamous to commit robberies out of their own bounds.276276   Thucydides, book “Formerly the Greeks, as well as the barbarians, whether they lived on the continent near the sea-shore, or whether they inhabited the islands, after they began to hold correspondence with one another by sailing, fell to robbing, led on by great men, either for the sake of gain to themselves, or to procure victuals for them that wanted. And happening upon cities which were not walled, but inhabited like villages, they plundered them, and the greatest part made their advantage of them, being not ashamed as yet of doing thus, but rather accounting it glorious. This is evidently the practice of some that dwell upon the continent now, who account it honourable to do thus; and, amongst the ancient poets, it is very frequent for them who met sailors, to ask them if they were pirates; knowing that they who were so asked would not disown it; nor they who asked them think it any reproach. Nay, they robbed one another, upon the very continent; and a great many of the Greeks live now in this ancient manner, as the Ozolan Locrians, the Ætolians, the Acarnanians, and those of the adjoining continent.” The question Thucydides here mentions is in Homer’s Odyss. T´. Upon which the Scholiast says, “To plunder was not accounted infamous, but glorious, by the ancients.” Justin, book xliii. chap. 3. concerning the Phocensians: they were more diligent in occupying the sea than the land, in fishing, and trading; and very often they spent their lives in plundering,” (which at that time was looked upon as honourable). Concerning the Spaniards, see Plutarch in Marius; and Diodorus, book v. concerning the Tyrrhenians. Servius on the eighth and tenth Æneids, Cæsar, Tacitus, and Saxo-Grammaticus, concerning the Germans. Executing of revenge is, 103by Aristotle and Cicero, made a part of virtue.277277   Aristotle’s ethics to Nicomacbns, iv. 11. “Such a one seems to be no ways affected or concerned, nor to revenge himself, unless provoked; but it shews a mean spirit to bear contemptuous treatment.” And Tully, in his second book of Invention, places revenge amongst the duties that belong to the law of nature: “Whereby, either in our own defence, or by the way of revenge, we keep off force or reproach.” And to Atticus: “I hate the man, and will hate him: I wish I could revenge myself upon him.” And against Antony: “I would revenge every single crime, according to the degree of provocation in each.” The gladiators tearing one another to pieces was one of the public entertainments amongst the heathens:278278   See Lactantius, book vi. and Tertullian, concerning shews, chap. 19. and to expose their children was a daily practice.279279   See Justin’s second Apologetic, chap. 27. and Lactantius’s Institution, chap. 20. and Terence’s Hecyra. The Hebrews, indeed, had a better law, a more holy discipline; but yet there were some things overlooked or allowed in that people, whose passion was ungovernable; such as the giving up to their power seven nations,280280   Exod. xxxiv. 11, 12. Deut. vii. 1, 2. though indeed they deserved it: with which they not being contented, persecuted with cruel hatred all that differed from them;281281   R. Levi ben Gerson tells us they were to endeavour to injure them any manner of way. Bechai says, that what was taken from them by theft was not to be restored. the marks of which remain even to this day, in their prayers uttered against Christians:282282   See a little book of prayers, put out at Venice, in a small volume, page 8. and a German book of Antonius Margarita, and Maimonides on the thirteen articles, where he says, they are to be destroyed who do not believe them. And it is a frequent saying in the mouths of the Jews, “Let all sectaries suddenly perish.” The like saying we find in R. Isaac’s Bereschith Rabba, and the Talmud in Baba Kamma, and Baba Bathra. and the law itself allowed a 104man to revenge an injury by the punishment of retaliation,283283   Lev. xxiv. 20. Deut. xix. 21. and that a man-slayer might be killed by the private hand of the next relation. But the law of Christ forbids requiting any injury that hath been done us, either by word or deed;284284   Matt. v. 38-44. lest, by imitating that malice we condemn in others, we should on the contrary approve it. It would have us do good, in the first place, to those that are good; and then to the bad also, after the example of God, from whom we receive, in common with all other men, such gifts as the sun, the stars, the air, the winds, and the rain.285285   Matt. v. 45.

« Prev SECT. XII. Concerning those duties of humanity… Next »
Please login or register to save highlights and make annotations
Corrections disabled for this book
Proofing disabled for this book
Printer-friendly version


| Define | Popups: Login | Register | Prev Next | Help |