Sunday, November 09, 2008

In the following quote from Isaac Watts’s book “Improving the Mind”; he addresses how we should take into consideration all circumstances surrounding an action; the persons, the time, place, manner, the purpose, etc. He uses a great little illustration to make his point. Now please, dog lovers don’t be prejudiced by the first line….

“Let me give a plain instance for the illustration of this matter. Mario kills a dog, which, considered merely in itself, seems to be an indifferent action: now the dog was Timon’s and not his own; this makes it look unlawful. But Timon bid him do it; this gives it an appearance of lawfulness again. It was done at church, and in time of Divine service; these circumstances added, cast on it an air of irreligion. But the dog flew at Mario, and put him in danger of his life; this relieves the seeming impiety of the action. Yet Mario might have escaped by flying thence; therefore the action appears to be improper. But the dog was known to be mad; this further circumstance makes it almost necessary that the dog should be slain, lest he might worry the assembly, and do much mischief. Yet again, Mario killed him with a pistol, which he happened to have in his pocket since yesterday’s journey; now, hereby the whole congregation was terrified and discomposed, and Divine service was broken off, this carries an appearance of great indecency and impropriety in it: but, after all, when we consider a further circumstance, that Mario, being thus violently assaulted by a mad dog, had no way of escape, and had no other weapon about him, it seems to take away all the colors of impropriety, indecency, or unlawfulness, and to allow that the preservation of one or many lives will justify the act as wise and good.
Now, all these concurrent appendices of the action ought to be surveyed, in order to pronounce with justice and truth concerning it.

There are a multitude of human actions in private life, in domestic affairs, in traffic, in civil government, in courts of justice, in schools of learning, etc. which have so many complicated circumstances, aspects, and situations, with regard to time and place, persons and things, that it is impossible for any one to pass a right judgment concerning them without entering into most of these circumstances, and surveying them extensively, and comparing and balancing them all rightly.”
Photo from Internet


Joseph Pulikotil said...

Hi Fred :)

Great post!

It is true that very often we casualy pass judgement on others without knowing the facts of the case.

For some people gossip mongering is a great past time and in the process they unnecessarily cast aspersion on other people and spoil their reputation.

Best wishes :)

Mel said...

I love this post! I've seen it played out in my own life over and over again. Hear a story from one person's perspective and sympathize with them, take up their offense and be offended against the person they're offended against. Then hear the same story from the other person's perspective and realize that there's way more to it than first met the eye.

Anymore, I like to tell people I consider myself Switzerland--neutral territory. It's not even worth the energy to judge or criticize someone else or be offended against them, because I know for a fact that if I were aware of every detail of the situation, I'd feel completely differently.

It's actually quite a freeing place to be... Because even if we, as humans, know every detail of a story that can be seen or understood with the human mind, there are still all of the complex mysteries involving thoughts, motives, desires and histories that only God could ever possibly know. So why not just leave it in His hands, and set ourselves to the more important tasks in our lives--loving God, and loving people... Loving, not judging.

Yours in Christ,

FCB said...

Hi Joseph, yes, I agree, and I thought what would one think if they were driving by this scene and just saw a few seconds of the action. Or if their view was partly blocked, what would they think?
Best wishes,

Hi Mel,
your scenario so illustrates this post. I think we have all been there many times but I must confess I haven't found Switzerland often. Usually I end by throwing my hands up and walking away from both in confusion.

Your thought--
"there are still all of the complex mysteries involving thoughts, motives, desires and histories that only God could ever possibly know"
Now that is the truth isn't it.
So much that can never be understood, bewildering.
God bless,