SIX VOLUMES IN ONE
BY THE DISTINGUISHED EXPONENTS OF CATHOLICISM
REV. HENRY DODRIDGE, D. D.
REV. HENRY EDWARD MANNING, D. D.
REV. F. LEWIS, of Granada
REV. STEPHEN KEENAN
REV. BERNARD VAUGHAN, S. J.
REV. THOMAS N. BURKE, O. P.
THE FIFTH COMMANDMENT.
Q. Which is the fifth commandment?
A. Thou shalt not kill.
Q. Is it always unlawful to kill another?
A. No; only where murder is committed.
Q. What is murder?
A. It is a voluntary taking away a person's life, by private authority.
Q. In what cases is killing no murder?
A. When it is done by public authority, as when malefactors are punished with death by the magistrates, and in time of war.
Q. What other things are forbidden by this precept ?
A. Interior thoughts of murder, or the desire of any person's death; anger, and study of revenge; injurious words, that provoke persons ; quarreling, striking, and maiming another. Matt. v. 38. To desire one's own death; to procure abortion, etc.
Q. Is it lawful to kill one's self, or to hasten one's own death, by excesses in drinking, etc., or expose one's self to danger of death ?
A. Suicide is murder, because God alone is master of life and death. When excesses manifestly hasten death, or the dangers are manifest, and persons expose themselves to them without just cause, there is a kind of murder.
Q. Do not Catholics hold, that it is lawful for them to kill and murder heretics ?
A. Not at all: this is a mere calumny imposed upon them. Matt. v. 44., for we know that we are commanded to love them, Rom. xviii. 20. and help them in their necessities, and to wish them all the good we wish ourselves, even when they would oppress and persecute us. And, as the Church prays for their conversion, so ought we, after the example of our Saviour Christ and all his saints, to have great compassion for them, and pray to God for them, that he may mercifully enlighten and bring them to the knowledge of the true faith, that we may all make one fold under one shepherd. Luke xxiii. 34. 1. Tim. ii. 1.
Q. What do you say as to nursing out children, and overlaying them?
A. The fathers exclaim against putting them out to nurse; and when it is necessary, wholesome, virtuous, and good-natured nurses are to be provided; otherwise the child may be ruined. The same care is required in not overlaying; for many children are smothered.
Q. What say you to ignorant physicians, surgeons, etc.?
A. They are often guilty of murder; although they do not do it on purpose, but by gross and culpable ignorance; for ignorance is esteemed malice, in him who is obliged to know.
Q. You say, that anger, hatred, revenge, injurious words, fighting, quarreling, etc., are forbidden by this commandment: if so, what must a Christian do when he is affronted ?
A. St. Peter says " he must not render evil for evil, nor railing for railing." i Eph. iii. 9. Our Saviour says, " Bless them that curse you; do good to them that hate you; pray for them that persecute you." Matt. v. 44. He must therefore receive the affront with humility, meekness, and patience.
Q. But must a Christian quietly permit himself to be beaten, wounded, killed, and the like ?
A. No: in all these cases, a necessary and moderate defence is lawful; and as long as the assault continues, he may do his utmost to defend himself. But, if once the attack ceases, it is no longer a defence, but an unjust revenge, to use any further violence against an assailant.
Q. You have said enough concerning the murder of a man's body ; pray let me hear what you have to say of the murder of a man's soul; and who those are that are guilty of it.
A. You do well to inquire into this point; for alas ! there are but few to be found, who duly weigh, and well consider, what a great crime it is, to murder a man's soul. One murdered body gives alarm to a whole country; all that hear it are concerned, for fear the case may shortly be their own, if it should escape unpunished : and therefore they pursue the murderer, that he may rather die, than do so any more. But though the number of poor murdered souls be much greater, yet there are many so profanely wicked, as to make it their diversion; and few so truly good, as to be struck with horror at the thoughts of it. A man who makes his neighbor drunk, is a downright murderer of his soul; and yet so stupid and wicked, as to laugh at his exploit, and triumph in his iniquity. All those are guilty of this murder, who, either by word, or ill example, incite others to sin, or divert them from doing good; so that a man who thus gives scandal to his neighbor, and draws him into any great sin, " it were better for him, that a mill-stone were hanged about his neck, and that he were cast into the sea." As often as he makes his neighbor guilty of some grievous sin, so often he multiplies the heavy weight, which will one day, sink him into the pit of hell. Such a man not only deserts God, and serves the devil, but as many men as he engages in his wickedness, so many volunteers he raises for the same service; and these raise as many more to fight the cause of hell, against the God of heaven: and thus the murder of men's souls increases and multiplies to the end of the world.
Q. What is commanded by this commandment ?
A. To defend our own and innocent neighbor's life, to exercise works of charity, both spiritual and corporal, as our neighbor's need requires; to render good for evil, and to pray for our persecutors, as Christ commands us. Rom. xii. 14.