Whoever sheds man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.
The terms of the passage are too general to make any narrowing of them down within family limits legitimate. They contain the very advanced truth that every man belongs to every other man; that there is but one great human family; and that our action is not according to the will of God when it is conducted on lines of exclusion. Whether we see it or not, the fact is everywhere assumed in Scripture that that which is good for the whole humanity is good for each member of it. Our policy is to be broadly sympathetic. In Church, in State, religiously, politically, everywhere. The charge is put upon us to preserve human life, not simply our own individual life, but to do all we can to preserve human life everywhere. And this is every man's duty. "The life of man," what is it? The true human life, what is it? That which is fitting and proper to you and me and all men, what is it? Because that is the life we have to preserve. We are not allowed to live in the front of great human problems we never so much as touch with the tip of our finger. Almighty God will not have that. It is contrary to His idea of man and his responsibility. But how many, how very many, even now, in these Christian times, live on a very much lower plane than that! How often do we find ourselves saying, "It's no concern of mine whether people are this, that, and the other; if only I can be let alone to do my own business and enjoy my own life, that is all I ask." But that is not all that God asks; it is not all of which our nature is capable; and every man is accountable to God for the capability within him. We live in a world indefinitely improvable. In a right condition of society we live in a world capable of supporting an almost countless population. Now, in this movement the Christian Church has a very important place to fill, and for this simple reason, that it is the trustee of the truth which is to leaven the mass of human opinion and feeling. No life ever yields comfort to its possessor until it is conformed to the idea which He had for it who originally gave it. Everything has its state of fixity, and there is no content and no satisfaction until that state is reached. This is specially and emphatically true of the life of man. We are members of a great human race, in every one of whom there is the feeling of something attainable which has not yet been attained. As to what the something is there is endless diversity of opinion. Now, the Church has something more to do than to take care of itself. Very little good can it do on the principle of simply caring for itself. It has to sound in the ear of humanity, of men everywhere, the truth that is in these words, "At the hand of every man's brother will I require the life of man." It has to illustrate by its spirit and temper and by its deeds this fact, that all men belong to all other men. Missionary it must be or die. It has to declare God's ideas, God's favour, God's will to the world, as these have come to us in Jesus. It has to live those ideas before the world, and thus gradually but surely renew the world. It has to be the leaven in the meal. It must be that every man is accountable for the right use of the noblest ideas which ever come into his soul. Quench them he must not. Stifle them he must not. He must nourish them into growth, or his soul will be a graveyard in which are buried the murdered innocents which would have grown into manhood but for the strangling hand of his scepticism. And so, while I speak of the Church as the collective of all God-inspired souls, I beseech you to note that in our text there is no absorption of the individual into the mass. "At the hand of every man's brother will I require the life of man." The whole life of man concerns each of us — all of us. That is the truth at the base of universal suffrage. We are responsible for the high or low tone of the life of man in the community in which we live, in the town, in the city, in the state, in the nation. "At the hand of every man's brother will I require the life of man." Why, says one, should I be punished for what another man does? Because we are all partakers of one life, and are related, and are a family, and the law is that if one member suffer, all the members shall suffer with it. And so, if there be small-pox in the poor streets, you who live in the better streets begin to be concerned. You don't ask, What have I to do with that man's small-pox? You say to the authorities, "Get the man off to the hospital; disinfect his house. Go in and do it." But what right have you to enter that man's house and haul him away to the hospital? What right have you to send the health officer with his disinfectant? You see, your doctrine of individualism breaks down in presence of a contagious and desolating disease, and very properly so. But is it not a miserable confession to make, that we have to learn the doctrine of our relationship to others on the lowest side of it, because we will not recognize it on its highest side? Soul and body are so closely married in this life that no one can divorce them. They act and react on each other. Organization does not produce life; life produces organization. We cannot separate the material and the spiritual. The life of a man is too much of a unit to allow us to do that. And, says the Almighty One, "At the hand of every man's brother will I require the life of man." We are part of a nation's life. All its questions are our questions; all its struggles are our struggles; all its failures are our failures; all its triumphs are our triumphs. Not till the regenerated brotherhood of the Church rises above its sectisms and boldly puts itself in the fore-front of the nation's life as the truth teller, the evangelizer, claiming the life of man for Christ, and testing everything by the principles of life He has given us, does it do its duty or fulfil its mission.
Parallel VersesKJV: Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.