shows what the first meant, and shows that Moses
thought that, according to this passage in Genesis, the blood of the murderer (whether the act were committed with malice aforethought or not) should be taken by the nearest of kin of the murdered person.
Gentlemen, that is what a lawyer would call an interpretation from contemporaneous practice.
Here is the practice of fifteen hundred years under that statute, and the man who commits murder, with aforethought or unawares, is to be slain by the nearest of kin of the murdered man. If that was the original command, obey it. We have only the statute of Genesis; we have no thirty-fifth chapter of Numbers, with its limitation,--that was addressed to the Jews.
We have no “cities of refuge.”
A man cannot go to Worcester
, and stay there a year, by way of punishment, or atonement for his offence.
We have not the exception; we have only the statute.
Now, gentlemen, are the reverend gentlemen willing to say that you shall annul the distinction between murder and manslaughter in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts
,--that if a man kills another unintentionally, without malice, he shall be punished with death, under the covenant with Noah
If they will not, what right have they to come here and tell you to obey that statute?
If that is a statute of God, what right have they to make exceptions?
avoids this dilemma, and how?
He allows that this command was addressed to individuals.
He allows that it cannot be obeyed by individuals now, --that it would derange all society, upset all government; and what does he say?
He says, we cannot obey the statute as it was originally given; because there is such an entire change of circumstances since the time of Noah
But Dr. Cheever
can interpolate “circumstances” into the law of God; and if he can, cannot