command, “Thou shalt not kill ;” but here is an exception, according to this theory.
Get rid of this sentence, and there is no trouble anywhere else in the Bible
Now, I say, that if that was a command to control all governments, to trample under foot all circumstances, it would be natural to conclude that God would have expressed it more clearly.
But, leaving this point, to whom is this command addressed?
Is it to governments?
No, gentlemen, it is addressed to individuals.
When God spoke to Noah
, there was no government.
The address was to individuals, and it was so interpreted for more than fifteen hundred years. It was addressed to each individual man; and when the Jews were organized into a nation, they found this original command, according to this interpretation, resting on each man, to kill whoever had killed his nearest relative.
You know that all through the Pentateuch you have frequent references to the old right, before government existed, of each man to kill the person who had taken the life of his nearest of kin. This command then is addressed to individuals,--it is a command to the nearest of kin to kill whoever slays his relative.
If this is a command of God, it is addressed to you and to me. Suppose that Mr. Rufus Choate
, or some other eminent lawyer, should procure the acquittal of a murderer, and that the brother of the person murdered should seek out and shoot down the murderer; and when he is brought before the court for sentence, suppose that he should say to the judge: “ ‘ Whosoever sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed.’
Every pulpit in Massachusetts
interprets that as a command of God.
I believe that it is
a command of God addressed to individuals.
God has never taken it back.
It is addressed to me, then, just as much as to Noah
; there is no time with the Almighty.
He is speaking that seatence ”