Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Abortion and the Duty of the Local Church & Christians

by Patte Smith on Monday, April 25, 2011 at 2:51pm

 Of the Sixth Commandment. 

What is the second inference hence?
A. That all that are guilty of this sin, have great cause to be humbled and afflicted: For it is a crying sin, Genesis 4:10. The voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground. Yet not to despair of mercy upon true repentance. Manasseh shed innocent blood, and yet was pardoned, upon repentance; 2 Kings 21:16.
What is the third inference hence?
A. Let all men watch against pride, passion, malice, and revenge, the sin of the heart, from which this horrid sin proceeds; Matthew 15:18-19. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, &c.
What is the first inference hence?
A. That we have great cause to bless God for His protecting Law, and for human laws grounded upon His Law for the protection of our lives; Romans 13:4. For he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doth evil.

In these commands God begins with the NEAREST concern of man, which is LIFE; Job 2:4. Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath, will he give for his life.
How far doth this commandment extend itself ? 
A. It prohibits all cruelty, and commands all help, care, and pity, so far as men’s hearts and hands can go, for the relief and preservation of others; Psalm 119:96. But Thy commandment is exceeding broad.
Doth this command respect only the outward action, or also the inward passion of the soul? 
What is the natural order of these commandments in the second table?

In John Flavel's brilliant exposition of the Shorter Catechism he explores the explicit & implicit duties & responsibilities of men drawn from the commandment "You shall not murder". I have taken the liberty to provide excerpts:

The Moral Law of God is said to be written on the 'Two Tables' containing the Ten Commandments. The first four commandments are the first "table" of the law. These commandments addressed one's obligations to worship God. The last six commandments, are considered the second table & these address our duties to our fellow men. I would like to encourage readers to insert the sin of "ABORTION" into all that is written regarding the sin of murder. And, as you read, consider how you and your fellowship of believers measure up to obedience regarding this 'nearest concern of men', the protection and preservation of the life of your neighbors, the little babies who are being slain by abortion through all nine months of pregnancy. Let us have mercy and remember: the pre-born infants are our neighbors too.

~ Westminster Shorter Catechism
Q. 69. What is forbidden in the sixth commandment? A. The sixth commandment forbiddeth the taking away of our own or the life of our neighbour unjustly, or whatsoever tendeth thereunto.
 Q. 68. What is required in the sixth commandment? A. The sixth commandment requireth all lawful endeavours to preserve our own life, and the life of others. 
 Q. 67. Which is the sixth commandment? A. The sixth commandment is, [Thou shalt not kill.] 

Thomas Watson commented on the 6th commandment:

IN this commandment is A SIN FORBIDDEN, which is murder, 'Thou shalt not kill,' and A DUTY IMPLIED, which is, to preserve our own life, and the life of others.

..We must not injure another in his body. Life is the most precious thing; and God has set this commandment as a fence about it, to preserve it. He made a statute which has never to this day been repealed. 

'Whose sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed.' Gen 9:6. In the old law, if a man killed another unawares, he might take sanctuary; but if he killed him willingly, though he fled to the sanctuary, the holiness of the place would not defend him. 'If a man come presumptuously upon his neighbour, to slay him with guile, thou shalt take him from mine altar, that he may die.' Exod 21:14.

In the commandment, 'Thou shalt do no murder,' all sins are forbidden which lead to it, and are the occasions of it..

Many kill little children by medicines that cause their death.

By consenting to another's death; as Saul to the death of Stephen. 'I also was standing by and consenting unto his death.' Acts 22:20. He that gives consent is accessory to the murder.

By not hindering the death of another when in our power. Pilate knew Christ was innocent. 'I find no fault in Him,' he said, but did not hinder his death; therefore he was guilty. Washing his hands in water could not wash away the guilt of Christ's blood.

By unmercifullness. By taking away that which is necessary for the support of life...by not helping him when he is ready to perish. You may be the death of another, as well by not relieving him, as by offering him violence...How many are thus guilty of the breach of this commandment!

By not executing the law upon capital offenders. A felon having committed six murders, the judge may be said to be guilty of five of them, because he did not execute the felon for his first offence.

 What are the aggravations of this sin of murder?

To shed the blood of a near relation aggravates the murder, and dyes it of a deeper crimson.. He is not guilty of murder only, but of disobedience...and diabolical cruelty. '

To shed the blood of any righteous person aggravates the sin. Hereby justice is perverted. Such a person being innocent, is unworthy of death...He is precious to God. Psa 116:15. He is a member of Christ's body; therefore what injury is offered to him is done to God Himself. Acts 9:4.

To deter all from having their hands defiled with blood, consider what a sin murder is. It is;

(1) A God-affronting sin. It is a breach of His command, and trampling upon His royal edict. It is a wrong offered to God's image. 'In the image of God made He man.' Gen 9:6. It is tearing God's picture, and breaking in pieces the King of heaven's broad seal. Man is the temple of God. 'Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost?' I Cor 6:19. The man-slayer destroys God's temple; and will God endure to be thus confronted by proud dust?

(2) It is a crying sin...The voice of blood cries to Heaven. There are three sins in Scripture which are said to cry. Oppression. Psa 12:5. Sodomy. Gen 18:21. Bloodshed. This cries so loud, that it drowns all the other cries. 'The voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto Me from the ground.' Gen 4:10. Abel's blood had as many tongues as drops, to cry aloud for vengeance. This sin of blood lay heavy on David's conscience; though he had sinned by adultery, yet, what he cried out for most was, this crimson sin of blood. 'Deliver me from blood-guiltiness, O God.' Psa 51:14. Though the Lord visits for every sin, yet He will in a special manner make 'inquisition for blood.' Psa 9:12. If a beast killed a man it was to be stoned, and its flesh was not to be eaten. Exod 21:28. If God would have a beast stoned that killed a man, which had not the use of reason to restrain it, much more will he be incensed against those who, against both reason and conscience, take away the life of a man.

(3) Murder is a diabolical sin. It makes a man the devil's first born, for he was a murderer from the beginning. John 8:44.

(4) It is a cursed sin. If there be a curse for him that smites his neighbour secretly, he is doubly cursed that kills him. Deut 27:24. The first man that was born was a murderer. 'And now art thou cursed from the earth.' Gen 4:11. He was an excommunicated person, banished from the place of God's public worship. God set a mark upon bloody Cain. Gen 4:15. Some think that mark was horror of mind, which, above all sins, accompanies the sin of blood. Others think it was a continual shaking and trembling in his flesh. He carried a curse along with him.

(5) It is a wrath-procuring sin. 2 Kings 24:4. It procures temporal judgements. ..Vengeance as a bloodhound pursues the murderer. 'Bloody men shall not live out half their days.' Psa 55:23. It brings eternal judgements. It binds men over to hell...Let all impenitent murderers read their doom in Rev 21:8: 'Murderers shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.' We read of 'fire mingled with blood.' Rev 8:7. Such as have their hands full of blood must undergo the wrath of God. Here is fire mingled with blood, and this fire is inextinguishable. Mark 9:44. Time will not finish it, tears will not quench it.

The positive duty implied in the command is, that we should do all the good we can to ...others.

To communicate to the necessities of others is not left to our choice, but is an incumbent duty. 'Charge them that are rich in this world that they do good; that they be rich in good works.' I Tim 6:17, 18. This is not only a counsel, but a charge. Shall we be harder than the stones, not to obey God when he charges us to 'be rich in good works?'

God supplies our wants, and shall not we supply the wants of others? 'We could not live without mercy.' God makes every creature helpful to us: the sun to enrich us with its golden beams; the earth to yield us its increase, veins of gold, crops of corn, and store of flowers. God opens the treasury of His mercy; he feeds us every day out of the alms-basket of His providence. 'Thou openest thy hand, and satisfies the desire of every living thing.' Psa 145:16. Does God supply our wants, and shall we not minister to the wants of others? Shall we be as a sponge to suck in mercy, and not as breasts to milk it out to others?

Herein we resemble God, to be doing good to others. It is our excellence to be like God. 'Godliness is Godlikeness.' When are we more like Him than in acts of bounty and munificence? 'Thou art good, and does good.' Psa 119:68. 'Thou art good,' there is His essential goodness; and 'doest good,' there is His communicative goodness. The more helpful we are to others, the more like we are to God. We cannot be like God in omniscience, or in working miracles; but we may be like Him in doing works of mercy.

Hardheartedness to others in misery reproaches the gospel. When men's hearts are like pieces of rock...they unchristianize themselves. Unmercifullness is the sin of the heathen. 'Unmerciful.' Rom 1:31. It eclipses the glory of the gospel. Does the gospel teach uncharitableness? Does it not bid us 'draw out thy soul to the hungry'? Isa 58:10. 'These things I will that thou affirm, that they which have believed in God, might be careful to maintain good works.' Tit 3:8. While you relieve not such as are in want, you walk in opposition to the gospel; you cause it to be evil spoken of, and lay it open to the lash and censure of others.

There is nothing lost by relieving the necessitous... Such as are helpful to others, shall 'find grace to help in time of need.' Such as pour out the golden oil of compassion to others, shall have the golden oil of salvation by God poured out to them; for 'a cup of cold water' they shall have 'rivers of pleasure.' God will make it up some way or other in this life. 'The liberal soul shall be made fat.' Prov 11:25. It shall be as the loaves in breaking multiplied; or, as the widow's oil, increased in pouring out.

To do good to others in necessity keeps up the credit of religion. Works of mercy adorn the gospel, as the fruit adorns the tree. When 'one light so shines that others see our good works,' it glorifies God, crowns religion, and silences the lips of gainsayers. Basil says nothing rendered the true religion more famous in the primitive times, and made more proselytes to it, than the bounty and charity of Christians.

The evil that accrues by not preserving the lives of others, and helping them in their necessities. God often sends a secret moth into their estate. 'There is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty.' Prov 11:24. 'Whose stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor, he also shall cry himself, but shall not be heard.' Prov 21:13. 'He shall have judgement without mercy, that has shewed no mercy.' James 2:13. The rich man who denied Lazarus a crumb of bread was denied a drop of water. 'Depart from Me, ye cursed; for I was an hungred, and ye gave Me no meat.' Matt 15:41. .. By all this, be ready to distribute to the necessities of others. This is included in the commandment, 'Thou shalt not kill.' Not only thou shalt not destroy another's life, but thou shalt preserve it by ministering to his necessities.

It is implied that we should endeavour to preserve the souls of others: counsel them about their souls; set life and death before them; help them to heaven... If we see our neighbour's soul going astray, we should use all means to bring him back to God by repentance

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