If you are going to open a door in the statute for the great procession of circumstances in a period of nineteen centuries to pass through, can you not open it wide enough to carry the gallows out?
If “circumstances” have changed so much since this command was delivered, that it is not safe for an individual to kill the murderer, perhaps they have changed so much that you and I can get rid of the gallows altogether.
Suppose you had made a statute for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts
; suppose you had passed the Maine Liquor Law
, and six months afterwards the authorities in some town in the Commonwealth
should refuse to execute it, should make exceptions to it, and when they were remonstrated with they should say, “Yes, certainly, those were the circumstances in March, but in November they have changed, and we are going to change the statute, the legislature would undoubtedly like to have it done,” --what would you think of their reasoning?
If this is a statute at all, it is a statute until God alters it. If one man has a right to say that “circumstances” have dispensed with one half of it, another individual has a right to say that “circumstances” have dispensed with it altogether.
, you know, cut out all the parts of the New Testament to which he objected, and said of the remainder, “This
is my New Testament.”
There was no objection to it, except that different people might take out different parts, and there would be no New Testament left.
Just so with Dr. Cheever
. “Circumstances” have not dispensed with the statute, “Thou shalt worship the Lord
thy God,” “Thou shalt love thy neighbor;” none of the ten commandments are dispensed with,--how is it that “circumstances” have dispensed with one half of this statute?