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using the tremendous name of God in common discourse, that they are unable to deliver any insignificant narrative without inserting an oath or a curse between every two or three words of it; where it is so far from adding any thing to the sense, or heightning the wit, that it breaks the connexion, and turns their discourse into nonsense. What possible reasons can be assigned for this absurd practice, or how can we describe it, but in those severe words of the Apostle-the poison of asps is under their lips: their mouth is full of cursing and bitterness?· For such conversation is neither rational, nor pleasant, nor profitable. The best and the worst we can say for it, is this of the Scripture, that it is constitutional.
So much for the words of men. We come now to their works-their feet are swift to shed blood. This is spoken with allusion to beasts of prey, whose swiftness of foot is given them for purposes of murder and bloodshed; that they may overtake and devour those harmless creatures, which have no strength to resist, nor speed to escape them. Here I am almostconfounded with my subject; and could willingly drop the prosecution of it; for this seems to be an hard saying: yet if we have patience to examine into the fact, I fear that the experi
ence of all countries and of all ages hath shewn, that this part of the human character is, as natural as the rest. And this age has not been wanting in examples of cruelty and blood shedding, with a degree of wantonness and wickedness never heard of before in the world: as the history of what had lately passed in France must abundantly testify. But whence do these things, come, but from the nature of man, of which thirst of blood seems to be a natural appetite? For the first man, who fol lowed nature after its corruption, was a mur derer. Cain slew his brother on the diabolical principle of envy'; envy; because his works were more righteous than his own. Infidelity, whe ther in Jews or Heathens, hath always acted the same part. Let any person consider the treatment of the prophets and messengers of God, the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, the ten dreadful persecutions of the christian Church, and the persecution of Christians by one another since the age of the Reformation, and then. let him judge, whether the feet of men are swift to shed blood; especially the blood of the innocent? But all this it may be said was the effect of superstition, which hath always been bloody minded: be it so: yet it is equally to be lamented, that so baneful a weed should
thrive so naturally in the human heart. However, let superstition be out of the question, and we shall discover another principle, equally pernicious and more irrational; even the principle of honour, as it is called. This directs men to commit homicide upon the slightest provocation; coolly, deliberately and soberly: according to rules received, approved, established: from which no man in a certain rank of life must depart, but at the hazard of his character, and all that is most valuable. If this is the principle of those who call themselves the world, then the world by its own confession is guilty of the charge which the Apostle hath brought against them. They are not only ready to shed blood, but swift to do it; the most trifling cause, a word, a phantom, a shadow (even the honour of those who have no honour) will provoke them to it: their passions will be excited to a blood-thirstiness superior to that of the lion or the tyger: For these beasts, as we are told, will rather seize a brute than a man, if they have the choice of both: but this false honour, like a dæmon that delights in unnatural sacrifices, is satisfied with nothing less than human blood.
If men are subject to the influence of such principles, we shall not wonder at what is said
of them in the next place-destruction and misery are in their ways; and the way of peace have they not known. Deceit and envy, wrath and hatred, ambition and concupiscence, with nothing to restrain them but worldly policy, which more frequently sets them all in motion, must needs have made wild work, and produc ed destruction and misery in every age. What is the civil history of man, but a register of the various operations of these pernicious principles? If we look back, and survey any particular people in their state of barbarism, we find them perpetually at war with one another; dividing themselves into a multitude of little independent principalities, with separate interests; defrauding and plundering one another; subsisting rather by rapine and the sword, than by the profitable and peaceable arts of tillage *. Such
* In Gallia non solum in omnibus civitatibus atque pagis partibusque, sed pene etiam in singulis domibus factiones sunt. Cæs. de Bell. Gall. Lib. 6. § 10.
Aliquod bellum fere quotannis accidere solebat, uti aut ipsi injurias inferrent, aut illatas propulsarent. lbid. § 14. Civitatibus maxima laus est, quam latissimas circum se vastatis finibus solitudines habere. Hoc proprium virtutis existimant, expulsos agris finitimos cedere, neque quenquam prope se audere consistere. Simul hoc se fore tutiores arbitrantur, repentino incursionis timore sublato. Ibid. § 22.
Such were the people whom Julius Cæsar found in Britain, fencing and intrenching themselves in their habitations, that they might. be secure from robbery and murder*. And if we take another view of men, as they approach to a state of civilization, there we find pride prevailing as the universal passion which sets the world on fire. We see the bastard govern ments of Greece and Rome, in which there was an eternal struggle for liberty, a balancing of factions, a perpetual searching for that philosopher's stone in politics, a state of such a form, that all might govern, and none be governed: But it could never be found; yet they, who knew not the way of peace, were weak enough to keep this always in view, as the first and greatest object to men in society; and hence the state was beaten to pieces between the contentions of the upper and lower orders, like a vessel upon a sea where the wind and tide are contrary to each other.
Oppidum autem Britanni vocant, quum silvas impeditas vallo atque fossâ munierunt, quo, incursionis hostium vitandæ causâ, convenire consueverunt. Ibid. Lib. v. § 21.
The natives of America, (I mean the native Indians, who are still in that state in which the Europeans found them,) spend their time in war and hunting.