Thomas Watson
The Ten Commandments
File 14
(... continued from file 13)

2.6 The Sixth Commandment 
    'Thou shalt not kill.' Exod 20: 13. 
    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. 
    The sin forbidden is murder: 'Thou shalt not kill.' Here two 
things are to be understood, the not injuring another, nor 
    I. The not injuring another. 
    [1] We must not injure another in his name. 'A good name is a 
precious balsam.' It is a great cruelty to murder a man in his name. 
We injure others in their name, when we calumniate and slander them. 
David complains, 'They laid to my charge things that I knew not.' 
Psa 35: 11. The primitive Christians were traduced for incest, and 
killing their children, as Tertullian says, Dicimur infanaticidii 
incestus rei [They charge us with infanticide and label us 
incestuous]. This is to behead others in their good name; it is an 
irreparable injury. No physician can heal the wounds of the tongue. 
    [2] 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been repealed.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: As, 
    (1) Unadvised anger. Anger boils in the veins, and often 
produces murder. 'In their anger they slew a man.' Gen 49: 6. 
    (2) Envy. Satan envied our first parents the robe of innocence, 
and the glory of paradise, and could not rest till he had procured 
their death. Joseph's brethren, because his father loved him, and 
gave him a 'coat of divers colours,' envied him, and took counsel to 
slay him. Gen 37: 20. Envy and murder are near akin, therefore the 
apostle puts them together. 'Envyings, murders.' Gal 5: 21. Envy is 
a sin which breaks both tables at once; it begins in discontent 
against God, and ends in injury against man, as we see in Cain. Gen 
4: 6, 8. Envious Cain was first discontented with God, by which he 
broke the first table; and then fell out with his brother and slew 
him, and thus broke the second table. Anger is sometimes 'soon 
over,' like fire kindled in straw, which is quickly out; but envy is 
deep rooted, and will not quench its thirst without blood. 'Who is 
able to stand before envy?' Prov 27: 4. 
    (3) Hatred. The Pharisees hated Christ because he excelled them 
in gifts, and had more honour among the people than they. They never 
left him till they had nailed him to the cross, and taken away his 
life. Hatred is a vermin which lives upon blood. 'Because thou hast 
had a perpetual hatred, and hast shed the blood of the children of 
Israel.' Ezek 35: 5. Haman hated Mordecai because he would not bow 
to him, and presently sought revenge, by getting a bloody warrant 
sealed for the destruction of the whole race and seed of the Jews. 
Esther 3: 9. Hatred is ever cruel. All these sins are forbidden in 
this commandment. 
    How many ways is murder committed? 
    We may be said to murder another twelve ways. (1) With the 
hand; as Joab killed Abner and Amass. 'He smote him in the fifth 
rib, and shed out his bowels.' 2 Sam 20: 10. (2) With the mind. 
Malice is mental murder. 'Whosoever hates his brother is a 
murderer.' 1 John 3: 15. To malign another, and wish evil against 
him in the heart, is murdering him. (3) With the tongue, by speaking 
to the prejudice of another, and causing him to be put to death. 
Thus the Jews killed the Lord of life, when they inveighed against 
him, and accused him falsely to Pilate. John 18: 30. (4) With the 
pen. Thus David killed Uriah by writing to Joab to 'set Uriah in the 
forefront of the battle.' 2 Sam 11:15. Though the Ammonites' sword 
cut off Uriah, yet David's pen was the cause of his death; and 
therefore the Lord tells David by the prophet Nathan, 'Thou hast 
killed Uriah.' 2 Sam 12: 9. (5) By plotting another's death. Thus, 
though Jezebel did not lay her own hands upon Naboth, yet because 
she contrived his death, and caused two false witnesses to swear 
against him, and bring him within the compass of treason, she was 
the murderer. 1 Kings 21: 9, 10. (6) By putting poison into cups. 
Thus the wife of Commodes the emperor killed her husband by 
poisoning the wine which he drank. So, many kill little children by 
medicines that cause their death. (7) By witchcraft and sorcery - 
which were forbidden under the law. 'There shall not be found among 
you an enchanter, or a witch, or a consulter with familiar spirits.' 
Deut 18: 10, 11. (8) By having an intention to kill another; as 
Herod, under a pretence of worshipping Christ, would have killed 
him. Matt 2: 8, 13. So, when Saul made David go against the 
Philistines, he designed that the Philistine should have killed him. 
'Saul said, Let not mine hand be upon him, but let the hand of the 
Philistines be upon him.' I Sam 18: 17. Here was intentional murder, 
and it was in God's account as bad as actual murder. (g) 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. (10) 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. (11) By unmercifullness. By 
taking away that which is necessary for the support of life; as to 
take away the tools or utensils by which a man gets his living. 'No 
man shall take the upper or the nether millstone to pledge, for he 
taketh a man's life.' Deut 24: 6. Or 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. If thou dost not feed 
him that is starving, thou killest him. How many are thus guilty of 
the breach of this commandment! (12) 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? 
    (1) To shed the blood of another ceaselessly; as to kill 
another in a humour or frolic. A bee will not sting unless provoked, 
but many when not provoked, will take away the life of another. This 
makes the sin of blood more bloody. The less provocation to a sin 
the greater sin. 
    (2) To shed the blood of another contrary to promise. Thus, 
after the princes of Israel had sworn to the Gibeonites that they 
should live, Saul slew them. Josh 9: 15. 2 Sam 21: 1. Here were two 
sins bound together, perjury and murder. 
    (3) To take away the life of any public person enhances the 
murder, and makes it greater, as to kill a judge upon the bench, 
because he represents the king's person. To murder a person whose 
office is sacred, and comes on the King of heaven's embassage; the 
murdering of whom may be the murdering of many. Herod added this sin 
above all, that he shut up John the Baptist in prison, much more to 
behead him in prison. Luke 3: 20. To stain one's hands with royal 
blood. David's heart smote him because he did but cut off the lap of 
king Saul's garment. I Sam 24: 5. How would David's heart have 
smitten him if he had cut off Saul's head? 
    (4) To shed the blood of a near relation aggravates the murder, 
and dyes it of a deeper crimson. For a son to kill his father is 
horrid. Parricides are monsters in nature. Qui occidit patrem, 
plurima committit peccata in uno. Cicero. 'He who takes away his 
father's life, commits many sins in one;' he is not guilty of murder 
only, but of disobedience, ingratitude, and diabolical cruelty. 'He 
who striketh his father or mother, shall be surely put to death.' 
Exod 21: 15. Then how many deaths is he worthy of that destroys his 
father or mother! Such a monster was Nero, who caused his mother, 
Agrippina, to be slain. 
    (5) To shed the blood of any righteous person aggravates the 
sin. Hereby justice is perverted. Such a person being innocent, is 
unworthy of death. A saint being a public blessing, lies in the 
breach to turn away wrath; so that to destroy him is to pull down 
the pillars of a nation. 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. 
    Though, however, this commandment forbids private persons to 
shed the blood of another, unless in their own defence, yet, such as 
are in office must punish public offenders, even with death. To kill 
an offender is not murder, but justice. A private person sins if he 
draws the sword; a public person sins if he puts up the sword. A 
magistrate ought not to let the sword of justice rust in the 
scabbard. As he should not let the sword be too sharp by severity, 
so neither should the edge of it be blunted by too much levity. 
    Neither does this commandment prohibit a just war. When men's 
sins grow ripe, and long plenty has bred surfeit, God says, 'Sword, 
go through the land.' Ezek 14: 17. He encouraged the war between the 
tribes of Israel and Benjamin. When the iniquity of the Amorites was 
full, he sent Israel to war against them. Judges 11: 21. 
    Use one. It should be for a lamentation that this land is 
defiled with blood. Numb 35: 33. How common is this sin in this 
boasting age! England's sins are written in letters of blood. Some 
make no more of killing men than sheep. 'In thy skirts is found the 
blood of the poor innocents.' Jer 2: 34. Junius reads it, in alis; 
and so in Hebrew, 'in thy wings' is found the blood of innocents. It 
alludes to the birds of prey, which stain their wings with the blood 
of other birds. May not the Lord justly take up a controversy with 
the inhabitants of the land, because 'blood toucheth blood'? Hos 4: 
2. There are wholesale murders. And that which should increase our 
lamentation is, that not only man's blood is shed among us, but 
Christ's blood. Profane flagitious sinners are said to 'crucify the 
son of God afresh.' Heb 6: 6. (1) They swear by his blood, and so, 
as it were, make his wounds bleed afresh. (2) They crucify Christ in 
his members. 'Why persecutes thou me?' Acts 9: 4. The foot being 
trodden on, the head cries out. (3) If it lay in their power, were 
Christ alive on earth, they would nail him again to the cross. Thus 
men crucify Christ afresh; and, if man's blood so cries, how loud 
will Christ's blood cry against sinners? 
    Use two. Beware of having your hands imbrued in the blood of 
    But such a one has wronged me by defamation, or otherwise; and 
if I spill his blood, I shall but revenge my own quarrel! 
    If he has done you wrong, the law is open; but take heed of 
shedding blood. What! Because he has wronged you, will you therefore 
wrong God? Is it not doing wrong to God to take his work out of his 
hand? He has said 'Vengeance is mine; I will repay.' Rom 12: 19. You 
would undertake to revenge yourself; would be plaintiff, and judge, 
and executioner, in yourself. This is a great wrong done to God, and 
he will not hold you guiltless. 
    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. Clamitat in coelum vox sanguinis [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. By 
saying to our first parents, 'Ye shall not die,' he brought death 
into the world. 
    (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. Phocas, to get the empire, put 
to death all the sons of Mauritius the emperor, and then slew the 
emperor himself; but he was pursued by Priscus, his son-in-law, who 
cut off his ears and feet, and then killed him. Charles IX, who 
caused the massacre of so many Christians at Paris, died from blood 
issuing out of several parts of his body. Albania killed a man and 
made of his skull a cup to drink in. His own wife, soon afterwards, 
caused him to be murdered in his bed. 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. The Papists make nothing of massacres, because theirs is a 
bloody religion; they give a dispensation for murder, if it be to 
propagate the Catholic cause. If a cardinal puts his red hat upon 
the head of a murderer going to execution, he saves him from death. 
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. 
    [3] We must not injure another in his soul. This is the 
greatest murder of all, because there is more of God's image in the 
soul than in the body. Though the soul cannot be annihilated, it is 
said to be murdered when it is deprived of its happiness, and is for 
ever in torment. How many are soul murderers! 
    (1) Such as corrupt others by bad example. The world is led by 
example; especially by the examples of great ones, which are very 
pernicious. We are apt to do as we see others before us, especially 
those above us. Such as are placed in high power, are like the 
pillar of cloud; where that went, Israel went. When great ones move, 
others will follow them, though it be to hell. Evil magistrates, 
like the tail of the dragon, draw the 'third part of the stars after 
    (2) Such as entice others to sin. The harlot by curling her 
hair, rolling her eyes, laying open her breasts, does what in her 
lies to be both a tempter and a murderer. Such a one was Messalina, 
wife to Claudius the emperor. 'I discerned a young man, and there 
met him a woman with the attire of a harlot; so she caught him and 
kissed him.' Prov 7, 10, 13. Better are the reproofs of a friend, 
than the kisses of a harlot. 
    (3) Ministers are murderers, who either starve, or poison, or 
infect souls. [1] That starve souls. 'Feed the flock of God which is 
among you.' 1 Pet 5: 2. These feed themselves and starve the flock; 
either through non-residing, they do not preach, or through 
insufficiency, they cannot. There are many in the ministry so 
ignorant that they had need to be taught the 'first principles of 
the oracles of God.' Heb 5: 12. Was he fit to be a preacher in 
Israel, think ye, who being asked something concerning the 
decalogue, answered he never saw any such book? [2] That poison 
souls. Such are heterodox ministers, who poison people with error. 
The basilisk poisons herbs and flowers by breathing on them; so the 
breath of heretical ministers poisons souls. The Socinian, who would 
rob Christ of his Godhead; the Armenian, who by advancing the power 
of the will, would take off the crown from the head of free-grace; 
the Antinomian, who denies the use of the moral law to a believer, 
as if it were antiquated and out of date - poison men's souls. Error 
is as damnable as vice. 'There shall be false teachers among you, 
who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, denying the Lord that 
bought them.' 2 Pet 2: 1. [3] That infect souls by their scandalous 
lives. 'Let the priests which come near to the Lord sanctify 
themselves.' Exod 19: 22. Ministers who by their places are nearer 
to God, should be holier than others. The higher the elements are, 
the purer they are; air is purer than water; fire is purer than air. 
The higher men are in office, the holier they should be. John the 
Baptist was a shining lamp. But there are many who infect their 
people with their bad life; they preach one thing, and live another. 
Qui Curios simulant et bacchanalia vivunt [They make a show of 
goodness, but live a life of riot]. Like Eli's sons, they are in 
white linen, but have scarlet sins. Some say, that Prester John, the 
lord of Africa, caused to be carried before him a golden cup full of 
dirt; a fit emblem of such ministers as have a golden office, but 
are dirty and polluted in their lives. They are murderers, and the 
blood of souls will cry against them at the last day. 
    (4) Such as destroy others by getting them into bad company, 
and so make them proselytes to the devil. Vitia in proximum quamque 
transiliunt [Our vices leap on to the man next to us]. Seneca. A man 
cannot live in the Ethiopian climate but he will be discoloured with 
the sun, nor can he be in bad company but he will partake of their 
evil. One drunkard makes another; as the prophet speaks in another 
sense. 'I set before them pots full of wine, and cups, and said unto 
them, Drink ye wine;' so the wicked set pots of wine before others, 
and made them drink till reason be stupefied, and lust inflamed. Jer 
35: 5. Such are guilty of the breach of this commandment. How sad 
will it be with those who have not only their own sins, but the 
blood of others to answer for! So much for the first thing forbidden 
in the commandment, the injuring of others. 
    II. THE second thing forbidden in this commandment is, injuring 
ourselves. 'Thou shalt not kill:' thou shalt do no hurt to thyself. 
    Thou shalt not hurt thy own body. One may be guilty of 
self-murder, either 1. Indirectly or occasionally. Or, 2. Directly 
and absolutely. 
    [1] Indirectly and occasionally; as 
    (1) When a man thrusts himself into danger which he might 
prevent. If a company of archers were shooting, and one should put 
himself in the place where the arrows fly, so that an arrow kills 
him, he is accessory to his own death. In the law, God would have 
the leper shut up, to keep others from being infected. Lev 13: 4. If 
any should be so presumptuous as to go to a leper, and get the 
plague of leprosy, he might thank himself for his own death. (2) A 
person may be guilty of his own death, in some sense, by neglecting 
the use of means for preserving life. If sick, and he uses no 
remedy; if he has received a wound, and will not apply a cure, he 
hastens his own death. God commanded Hezekiah to lay a 'lump of figs 
upon the boil.' Isa 38: 21. If he had not done so, he would have 
been the cause of his own death. (3) By immoderate grief. 'The 
sorrow of the world worketh death.' 2 Cor 7: 10. When God takes away 
a dear relation, and any one is swallowed up with sorrow, he 
endangers his life. How many weep themselves into their graves! 
Queen Mary grieved so excessively for the loss of Calais, that it 
broke her heart. (4) By intemperance or excess in diet. Surfeiting 
shortens life. Plures periere crapula, quam gladio [More perish by 
drink than by the sword]. Many dig their grave with their teeth. Too 
much oil chokes the lamp. The cup kills more than the cannon. 
Excessive drinking causes untimely death. 
    {2] One may be guilty of self-murder, directly and absolutely. 
    (1) By envy. Envy is tristitia de bonis alienis, 'a secret 
repining at the welfare of another.' Invidus alterius rebus 
macrescit opimis. 'An envious man is more sorry at another's 
prosperity, than at his own adversity.' He never laughs but when 
another weeps. Envy is a self-murder, a fretting canker. Cyprian 
calls it vulnus occultum, 'a secret wound;' it hurts a man's self 
most. Envy corrodes the heart, dries up the blood, rots the bones. 
Envy is 'the rottenness of the bones.' Prov 14: 30. It is to the 
body what the moth is to the cloth, that eats it and makes its 
beauty consume. Envy drinks its own venom. The viper, which leaped 
on Paul's hand, thought to have hurt Paul, but fell into the fire 
itself. Acts 28: 3. So, while the envious man thinks to hurt 
another, he destroys himself. 
    (2) By laying violent hands on himself, and thus he commits 
felo de se; as Saul fell upon his own sword and killed himself. It 
is the most unnatural and barbarous kind of murder for a man to 
butcher himself and imbrue his hands in his own blood. A man's self 
is most near to him, therefore this sin of self-murder breaks both 
the law of God, and the bonds of nature. The Lord has placed the 
soul in the body, as in a prison; and it is a sin to break open this 
prison till God opens the door. Self-murderers are worse than the 
brute-creatures, which will tear and gore open one another, but not 
destroy themselves. Self-murder is occasioned usually by discontent, 
and a sullen melancholy. The bird that beats itself in the cage, and 
is ready to kill itself, is a true emblem of a discontented spirit. 
    Whence comes this discontent? 
    This discontent arises - (1) From pride. A man who swells with 
a high opinion of himself, and thinks he deserves better than 
others, when any great calamity befalls him, is discontented, and in 
a sudden passion will make away with himself. Ahithophel had high 
thoughts of himself, his words were esteemed oracles, and he could 
not bear to have his wise counsel rejected. 'He put his household in 
order, and hanged himself.' 2 Sam 17: 23. (2) From poverty. Poverty 
is a sore temptation. 'Give me not poverty.' Prov 30: 8. Many have 
brought themselves to poverty by their sin; and when a great estate 
is boiled away to nothing, they are discontented, and think it 
better to die quickly, than languish in misery, and the devil soon 
helps them to dispatch themselves. (3) From covetousness. Avarice is 
a dry drunkenness, a horse-leech that is never satisfied. The 
covetous man is like behemoth. 'Behold he drinketh up a river,' and 
yet his thirst is not allayed. Job 40: 33. The covetous miser hoards 
up corn; and if he hears the price of corn begins to fall, he is 
troubled, and there is no cure for his discontent but a halter. (4) 
From horror of mind. A man has sinned a great sin, has swallowed 
down some pills of temptation the devil has given him, and these 
pills begin to work in his conscience, and the horror becomes so 
great, that he chooses strangling. Judas having betrayed innocent 
blood, was in such an agony of conscience, that he hanged himself; 
as if, to avoid the stinging of a gnat, any one should endure the 
bite of a serpent. I can see no ground of hope for such as make away 
with themselves; for they die in the very act of sin, and cannot 
have time to repent. 
    Hurting our own souls is forbidden in the command, 'Thou shalt 
not kill.' Many who are free from other murders, are guilty here. 
They murder their own souls. They wilfully damn themselves, and 
throw themselves into hell. 
    Who are they that murder their own souls? 
    (1) They wilfully murder their souls who have no sense of God, 
or the world to come, and are past feeling. Eph 4: 19. Tell them of 
God's holiness and justice, and they are not at all affected. 'They 
made their hearts as an adamant stone.' Zech 7: 12, 'The adamant,' 
says Pliny, 'is insuperable, the hammer cannot conquer it.' Sinners 
have adamantine hearts. When the prophet spake to the altar of 
stone, it rent asunder, but sinner's hearts are so hardened in sin 
(I Kings 13: 5), nothing will work upon them, neither ordinances nor 
judgements. They do not believe in a God; they laugh at hell. Thus 
they murder their own souls, and throw themselves into hell as fast 
as they can. 
    (2) They wilfully murder their own souls who resign themselves 
to their lusts, let what will come of it. The soul cries out in you, 
I am killing myself; I am murdering myself. They 'have given 
themselves over to work all uncleanness with greediness.' Eph 4: 19. 
Let ministers speak to them about their sins, let conscience speak, 
let affliction speak, they will have their lusts, even though they 
go to hell for them. Do not these murder their own souls? As 
Agrippina, mother of Nero, said, occidat modo imperet, let my son 
kill me, so he may reign; so many say in their hearts, let our sins 
damn us, so that they but please us. Herod will have his incestuous 
lusts, though it costs him his soul; and for a drop of pleasure men 
will drink a sea of wrath. Do not these massacre and damn their own 
    (3) They murder their souls who avoid all means of saving them. 
They will go to plays, to drunken meetings, but will not set their 
foot in God's house, or come near the sound of the gospel-trumpet; 
as if one that is diseased should shun the bath for fear of being 
healed. These are self murderers as much as one who has the means of 
cure offered him, but chooses rather to die. 
    (4) They voluntarily murder their souls who take false 
prejudices against religion; as if it were so strict and severe that 
they must live a melancholy life, like hermits and anchorites, and 
drown all their joys in tears. It is a slander which the devil casts 
upon religion, for there is no true joy but in believing. Rom 15: 1, 
3. No honey is so sweet as that which drops from a promise. Some men 
foolishly take up a prejudice against religion; they are resolved 
never to go to heaven, rather than go through the strait gate. I may 
say of prejudice, as Paul to Elymas, 'O prejudice, thou child of the 
devil, thou enemy of all righteousness,' how many souls hast thou 
damned? Acts 13: 10. 
    (5) They wilfully murder their own souls who will neither be 
good themselves, nor suffer others to be so. 'Ye neither go [into 
the kingdom of heaven] yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are 
entering to go in.' Matt 23: 13. Such are they who persecute others 
for their religion. Drunken meetings may escape punishments from 
them, but if men meet to serve God, all severity will be used. They 
are resolved to shipwreck others, though they themselves are cast 
away in the storm. Oh! take heed of murdering your own souls. No 
creature but man willingly kills itself. 
    III. THE positive duty implied in the command is, that we 
should do all the good we can to ourselves and others. 
    [1] In reference to others. We should endeavour to preserve the 
lives and souls of others. [2] In reference to ourselves. We should 
preserve our own life and soul. 
    [1] In reference to others. We are to preserve the life of 
others. We should comfort them in their sorrows, relieve them in 
their wants, and like the good Samaritan, pour wine and oil into 
their wounds. 'I was a father to the poor.' Job 29: 16. 'The 
blessing of him that was ready to perish came upon me.' Ver 13. It 
is a great means of preserving the life of another to relieve him 
when he is ready to perish. When there was a great dearth in Rome, 
Pompey provided corn for its relief; and when the mariners were 
afraid to sail thither in a tempest, he said, 'It is not necessary 
that we should live, but it is necessary that Rome be relieved.' 
Grace makes the heart tender, it causes sympathy and charity. As it 
melts the heart in contrition towards God, so in compassion towards 
others. 'He has dispersed, he has given to the poor.' Psa 29: 9. 
This commandment implies that we should be so far from ruining 
others, that we should do all we can to preserve the lives of 
others. When you see the picture of death drawn in their faces, 
administer to their necessities; be temporal saviours to then; draw 
them out of the waters of affliction with a silver cord of charity. 
That I may persuade you to this, let me lay before you some 
arguments: - 
    (1) Works of charity evidence grace. As Faith. 'I will show 
thee my faith by my works.' James 2: 18. Works are faith's letters 
of credence. We judge of the health of the body by the pulse where 
the blood stirs and operates; so Christian, judge of the health of 
thy faith by the pulse of charity. The word of God is the rule of 
faith, and good works are the witnesses of faith. It evidences also 
Love. Love loves mercy; it is a noble bountiful grace. Mary loved 
Christ, and how liberal was her love! She bestowed on Christ her 
tears, kisses, and costly ointments. Love, like a full vessel, will 
have vent; it vents itself in acts of liberality. 
    (2) 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. If God 
should lay a charge upon the inanimate creatures, they would obey; 
if he should charge the rocks, they would send forth water; if he 
should charge the clouds, they would melt into showers; if he should 
charge the stones, they would become bread. And shall we be harder 
than the stones, not to obey God when he charges us to 'be rich in 
good works?' 
    (3) 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? 
    (4) 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. 
    (5) God remembers all our deeds of charity, and takes them 
kindly at our hands. 'God is not unrighteous to forget your labour 
of love which ye have shewed towards his name, in that you have 
ministered to the saints.' Heb 6: 10. The chief butler may forget 
Joseph's kindness, but the Lord will not forget any kindness we show 
to his people. 'I was an hungred and ye gave me meat; thirsty, and 
ye gave me drink.' Matt 25: 35. Christ takes the kindness done to 
his saints as done to himself. God has a bottle for your tears, and 
a book to write down your alms. 'A book of remembrance was written 
before him.' Mal 3: 16. Tamerlane had a register to write down all 
the names and good services of his soldiers; so God has a book of 
remembrance to write down all your charitable works; and at the day 
of judgement there shall be an open and honourable mention made of 
them in the presence of the angels. 
    (6) Hardheartedness to others in misery reproaches the gospel. 
When men's hearts are like pieces of rock, or as the scales of the 
leviathan, 'shut up as with a close seal,' you may as well extract 
oil out of flint, as the golden oil of charity out of them. Job 41: 
15. 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 
    (7) There is nothing lost by relieving the necessitous. The 
Shunammite woman was kind to the prophet, she welcomed him to her 
house, and she received kindness from him another way; he restored 
her dead child to life. 2 Kings 4: 35. 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. I Kings 17: 16. An estate may 
be imparted without being impaired. 
    (8) 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. 
    (9) 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. Dives denied Lazarus 
a crumb of bread, and Dives 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. Christ says not, 'Ye took away my meat;' but 'Ye gave me no 
meat;' ye did not feed my members, therefore 'depart from me.' 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. In the law, if one met his neighbour's ox 
or ass going astray, he must bring him back again. Exod 23: 4. Much 
more, if we see our neighbour's soul going astray, we should use all 
means to bring him back to God by repentance. 
    [2] In reference to ourselves. The commandment, 'Thou shalt not 
kill,' requires that we should preserve our own life and soul. It is 
engraven upon every creature that he should preserve his own natural 
life. We must be so far from self-murder, that we must do all we can 
to preserve natural life. We must use all means of diet, exercise, 
and lawful recreation, which, like oil, preserves the lamp of life 
from going out. Some have been tempted by Satan to believe they are 
such sinners that they do not deserve a bit of bread, and so they 
have been ready to starve themselves. This is contrary to the 
commandment, 'Thou shalt do no murder,' which implies that we are to 
use all proper means for the preservation of life. 'Drink no longer 
water, but use a little wine for thy stomach's sake.' 1 Tim 5: 23. 
Timothy was not, by drinking too much water, to overcool his 
stomach, and weaken nature, but to use means for self-preservation - 
to drink 'a little wine,' &c. 
    This commandment requires that we should also endeavour to 
preserve our own souls. Omnia si perdas animam servare memento 
[Though you lose all else, remember to save your soul]. It is 
engraven upon every creature, as with the point of a diamond, to 
look to its own preservation. If the life of the body must be 
preserved, much more the life of the soul. If he who does not 
provide for his own house is worse than an infidel, much more he who 
does not provide for his own soul. 1 Tim 5: 8. A main thing implied 
in the commandment is a special care for preserving our souls. The 
soul is a jewel, a diamond set in a ring of clay; Christ puts the 
soul in balance with the world, and it outweighs all. Matt 16: 26. 
The soul is a glass. in which some rays of divine glory shine; it 
has in it some faint idea and resemblance of a Deity; it is a 
celestial spark lighted by the breath of God. The body was made of 
the dust, but the soul is of a more noble origin. God breathed into 
man a living soul. Gen 2: 7. 
    (1) The soul is excellent in its nature. It is a spiritual 
being, 'it is a kind of angelical thing.' The mind sparkles with 
knowledge, the will is crowned with liberty, and all the affections 
are as stars shining in their orb. The soul being spiritual, it is 
of quick operation. How quick are the motions of a spark! How swift 
the wing of a cherubim! So quick and agile is the motion of the 
soul! What is quicker than thought? How many miles can the soul 
travel in an instant! The soul, being spiritual, moves upwards, it 
contemplates God and glory. 'Whom have I in heaven but thee?' Psa 
73: 25. The motion of the soul is upward; but sin has put a wrong 
bias upon it, and made it move downward. The soul, being spiritual, 
has a self-moving power; it can subsist and move when the body is 
dead, as the mariner can subsist when the ship is broken. The soul, 
being spiritual, is immortal (Scaliger), aeternitatis gemma, 'a bud 
of eternity.' 
    (2) As the soul is excellent in its nature, so in its 
capacities. It is capable of grace, it is fit to be an associate and 
companion of angels. It is capable of communion with God, of being 
Christ's spouse. 'I have espoused you to one husband that I may 
present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.' 2 Cor 11: 2. It is 
capable of being crowned with glory for ever. Oh! then, carrying 
such precious souls about you, created with the breath of God, 
redeemed with the blood of God, what endeavours should you use for 
the saving of these souls! Let not the devil have your souls. 
Heliogabalus fed his lions with pheasants: the devil is called a 
roaring lion: feed him not with your souls. Besides the excellence 
of the soul, which may make you labour to get it saved, consider how 
sad it will be not to have the soul saved; it is such a loss as 
there is none like it; because in losing the soul, you lose many 
things with it. A merchant in losing his ship, loses many things 
with it: he loses money, jewels, spices, &c.; so he that loses his 
soul, loses Christ and the company of angels in heaven. It is an 
infinite loss - an irreparable loss; it can never be made up again. 
'Two eyes and one soul.' Chrysostom. Oh! what care should be taken 
of the immortal soul! I would request but this of you, that you take 
as much care for the saving of your souls as you do for getting an 
estate. Nay, do but take as much care for saving your souls as the 
devil does for destroying them. Oh! how industrious is Satan to damn 
souls! How does he play the serpent in his subtle laying of snares 
to catch souls! How does he shoot the fiery darts! He is never idle; 
he is a busy bishop in his diocese; he 'walketh about seeking whom 
he may devour.' 1 Pet 5: 8. Now, is it not a reasonable request to 
take as much care for saving your souls as the devil does for 
destroying them? 
    How can we have our souls saved? 
    By having them sanctified. Only the 'pure in heart shall see 
God.' Get your souls inlaid and enamelled with holiness. I Pet 1: 
16. It is not enough that 'we cease to do evil;' which is all the 
evidence some have to show, and lose heaven by short shooting; but 
we must be inwardly sanctified. Not only the 'unclean spirit' must 
go out, but we must be filled with the Holy Ghost. Eph 5: 19. This 
holiness must needs be, if you consider God is to dwell with you 
here, and you are to dwell with him hereafter. 
    God is to dwell with you here. He takes up the soul for his own 
lodging. 'That Christ may dwell in your hearts.' Eph 3: 17. 
Therefore the soul must be consecrated. A king's palace must be kept 
clean, especially his presence chamber. The body is the temple of 
the Holy Ghost. I Cor 6: 19. The soul is the sanctum sanctorum; how 
holy should it be! 
    You are to dwell with God. Heaven is a holy place. 'An 
inheritance undefiled.' I Pet 1: 4. And how can you dwell with God 
till you are sanctified? We do not put wine into a musty vessel; and 
God will not put the new wine of glory into a sinful heart. Oh, 
then, as you love your souls, and would have them saved eternally, 
endeavour after holiness! By this means you will have a fitness for 
the kingdom of heaven, and your souls will be saved in the day of 
the Lord Jesus.

Watson, The Ten Commandments
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