In the third place, gentlemen, it is a singular fact, that if this be the law, “Whosoever sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed,” it has never been obeyed.
If this be the meaning of the statute, that every civil government that exists is bound to kill every human being who has taken life, it has never been obeyed.
It is a strong argument against that interpretation, that practice has never conformed to it. Moses
took the life of an Egyptian; God did not order him to be killed.
According to this statute, Moses
ought to have been killed.
David killed Uriah; David was not killed.
So you can find in various parts of the Old Testament, accounts of several ancient worthies who took life,--took it, too, in a way that in modern society would subject them to punishment; yet they were not punished, though, according to this statute, they ought to have been put to death.
Then look at another point.
Did you ever hear of a civil government that did not locate in some portion of its arrangements the pardoning power?
Did you ever hear of a government that did not give either the king, or the legislature, or the governor, or the council, or somebody, the pardoning power?
If a jury shall condemn a man to death, the governor may interpose and save his life.
Where does he get this power under this statute?
God does not say, “Whosoever sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed, provided the governor does not pardon him,” --that proviso is not there.
If this is a statute of the most high God, you have got to obey it, obey it literally; and every man who is convicted of homicide is to be punished capitally.
No considerations of mercy, no pity for his family, no consideration of darkness of mind, his want of education, ought to make him a fit subject for pardon.
There is no proviso for pardon in this statute; what right, then,