« PreviousContinue »
To complete the system of rewards and punishments, it is necessary that a provision be made, both of power and of willingness to reward and punish. The Author of our nature hath provided amply for the former, by entitling every man to reward and punish as his native privilege. And he has provided for the latter, by a noted principle in our nature, prompting us to exercise the power. Impelled by that principle, we reward the virtuous with approbation and esteem, and punish the vicious with disapprobation and contempt. And there is an additional motive for exercising that principle, which is, that we have great satisfaction in rewarding, and no less in punishing.
As to punishment in particular, an action done intentionally to produce mischief, is criminal, and merits punishment. Such an action, being disagreeable, raises my resentment, even where I have no connection with the person injured; and the principle mentioned impels me to chastise the delinquent with indignation and hatred. An injury done to myself raises my resentment to a higher 'tone: I am not satisfied with so slight a punishment as indignation and hatred: the author must by my hand suffer mischief, as great as he has made me suffer.
Even the most secret crime escapes not punishment. The delinquent is tortured with remorse : he even desires to be punished, sometimes so ar
dently as to punish himself*. There cannot be imagined a contrivance more effectual to deter one from
* Mr John Kello, minister of Spot, in East Lothian, had an extraordinary talent for preaching, and was universally held a man of singular piety. His wife was handsome, cheerful, tender hearted, and in a word possessed all the qualities that can endear a woman to her husband. A pious and rich widow in the neighbourhood tempted his avarice. She clung to him as a spiritual guide; and but for his little wife, he had no doubt of obtaining her in marriage. He turned gradually peevish and discontented. His change of behaviour made a deep impression on his wife, for she loved him dearly; and yet she was anxious to conceal her treatment from the world. Her meekness, her submission, her patience, tended but to increase his sullenness. Upon a Sunday morning, when on her knees, she was offering up her devotions, he came softly behind her, put a rope about her neck, and hung her up to the ceiling. He bolted his gate, creeped out at a window, walked demurely to church, and charmed his hearers with a most pathetic sermon. After divine service, he invited two or three of his neighbours to pass the evening, at his house, telling them that his wife was indisposed, and of late inclined to melancholy; but that she would be glad to see them. It surprised them to find the gate bolted, and none to answer: much more when, upon its being forced open, they found her in the posture mentioned. The husband seemed to be struck dumb; and counterfeited sorrow so much to the life, that his guests, forgetting the deceased, were wholly interested about the living. His feigned tears, however, became real: his soul was oppressed with the weight of his guilt. Finding no relief from agonising remorse, and from the image
from vice, than remorse, which itself is a grievous punishment. Self punishment goes still farther: every criminal, sensible that he ought to be punished, dreads punishment from others; and this dread, however smothered during prosperity, breaks out in adversity, or in depression of mind: his crime stares him in the face, and every accidental misfortune is in his disturbed imagination interpreted to be a punishment: “And they said one "to another, We are very guilty concerning our "brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul, "when he besought us; and we would not hear: "therefore is this distress come upon us. And "Reuben answered them, saying, Spake I not un"to you, saying, Do not sin against the child? "and ye would not hear; therefore behold also his blood is required* t.".
of his murdered wife constantly haunting him, he about six weeks after the horrid deed went to Edinburgh, and delivered himself up to justice. He was condemned upon his own confession, and executed 4th October 1570.
Genesis xlii. 21.
+ John, Duke of Britanny, commonly termed the Good Drike, illustrious for generosity, clemency, and piety, reigned fortythree years, wholly employed about the good of his subjects. He was succeeded by his eldest son Francis, a prince weak and suspicious, and consequently liable to be misled by favourites, Arthur of Montauban, in love with the wife of Gillies, pro
The Usurper, Oliver Cromwell, found to his dire experience, that the grandeur which he had attained with so much cunning and courage, did not contribute to his happiness; for with happiness K 2
guilt ther to the Duke, persuaded the Duke that his brother was laying plots to dethrone him. Gillies being imprisoned, the Duke's best friends, conjured him to pity his unhappy brother, who might be imprudent, but assuredly was innocent ;-all in vain. Gillies being prosecuted before the three estates of the province for high-treason, was unanimously absolved; which irritated the Duke more and more. Arthur of Montauban artfully suggested to his master to try to poison; which having miscarried, they next resolved to starve the prisoner to death. The unfortunate Prince, through the bars of the window, cried aloud, for bread; but the passengers durst not supply him. One poor woman only had courage more than once to slip some bread within the window. He charged a priest, who had received his confession, to declare to the Duke, "That seeing “justice was refused him in this world, he appealed to Heaven; "and called upon the Duke to appear before the judgment"seat of God in forty days." The Duke and his favourite, amazed that the Prince lived so long without nourishment, employed assassins to smother him with his bed-clothes. The priest, in obedience to the orders he had received, presented himself before the Duke, and with a loud voice cited him in name of the deceased Lord Gillies to appear before God in forty days. Shame and remorse verified the prediction. The Duke was seized with a sudden terror; and the image of his brother, expiring by his orders, haunted him day and night. He decayed, daily without any marks of a regular disease, and died within the forty days in frightful agony.
See this subject further illustrated in the Sketch, Principles and Progress of Theology, chap. 1.
guilt is inconsistent. Conscious that he deserved punishment for his crimes, and dreading its being inflicted upon him, all around appeared to him treacherous friends or bitter enemies. Death, which with intrepidity he had braved in the field, was now timorously apprehended from assassins. With a piercing and anxious eye he surveyed every new face. He wore armour under his clothes, and never moved a step without his guards. Seldom he slept three nights together in the same chamber; nor in any but what had a back door, at which centinels were placed. Society terrified him by reflecting on his unknown enemies, numerous and implacable. Solitude astonished him by leaving him without protection. Can all the glory and power that this earth can afford be a counterbalance for such misery?
No transgression of self-duty escapes punishment, more than transgression of duty to others. The punishments, though not the same, differ in degree more than in kind. Injustice is punished with remorse impropriety with shame, which is remorse in a lower degree. Injustice raises indignation in the beholder, and so doth every flagrant impropriety: slighter improprieties receive a milder punishment, being rebuked with some degree of contempt, and commonly with derision *.
See Elements of Criticism, chap. 10.