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A Hind Let Loose by Alexander Shields

Whether their impunity is necessary


3.

But though some of these great authors neither give their reasons for what they assert, nor do they extend it to all tyrants that tyrannize by virtue of their pretended authority, yet it will not be difficult to prove, that all, great and small, that murder, destroy, and tyrannize over poor people, are to be punished, though they pretend authority for what they do. And hence, if all tyrants, murderers and destroyers of mankind ought to be punished; then when it cannot be done by public authority, it may be done by private; but all tyrants, murderers and destroyers of mankind ought to be punished: Therefore--. The minor is manifest from the general commands of shedding the blood of every man that sheds it, Gen. ix. 6. of putting to death whosoever killeth any person, Numb. xxxv. 30, 31. of respecting no man's person in judgment, Deut. i. 17. And universally all penal laws are general without exception of any; for under that reduplication of criminal transgressing those laws, under that general sanction, they are to be judged; which admits of no partial respect: for if the greatest of men be murderers, they are not to be considered as great, but as murderers; just as the meanest are to be considered as mean or poor, but as murderers. But I need not insist on this, being sufficiently proved, Head 2. Arg. 9. and throughout that Head, proving that tyrants can have no authority: and, if they have no authority, then authority (which they have not) cannot exempt them from punishment.
The connexion of the major proposition may be thus urged: when this judgment cannot be executed by public authority, either it must be done by private authority, in case of extreme necessity, or not at all: for there is no medium, but either to do it by public authority, or private: if not at all, then the land must remain still defiled with blood, and cannot be cleansed, Numb. xxxv. 33. Then the fierce anger of the Lord cannot be averted, Numb. xxxv. 4. for without this executing of judgment, he will not turn it away, Jer. v. 1. Then must murderers be encouraged, by their impunity, to make havoc of all according to their lust, besides that poor handful who cannot escape their prey, as their case is circumstantiate. Besides, this is point black contrary to these general commands, which say peremptorily, the murderer shall be put to death; but this supposed case, when public authority will not or cannot put them to death, says, they shall not be put to death. In this case then I demand, whether their impunity is necessary, because they must not be put to death? or because they cannot be put to death? To say the latter, were an untruth; for private persons can do it, when they get access, which is possible: if the former, then it is clearly contradictory to the commands, which say, they must be put to death, excepting no case, but when they cannot be put to death. If it be said, they must not be put to death, because the law obliges only public authority to execute judgment: to this I reply, 1. I trust to make the contrary appear from scripture by and by. 2. If the law obliges none but those in public authority


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