Pg 194 to 195 – The Life and Adventures of Robinson Crusoe
As long as I kept up my daily tour to the hill to look out, so long also I kept up the vigour of my design, and my spirits seemed to be all the while in a suitable frame for so outrageous an execution as the killing twenty or thirty naked savages … but now, when … I began to be weary of the fruitless excursion which I had made so long, and so far, every morning in vain; so my opinion of the action itself began to alter, and I began … to consider what it was I was going to engage in; what authority or call I had to pretend to be judge and executioner upon these men as criminals, whom Heaven had thought fit for so many ages to suffer, unpunished, to go on, and to be, as it were, the executioners of his judgments upon one another; also, how far these people were offenders against me, and what right I had to engage in the quarrel of that blood which they shed promiscuously one upon another. … How do I know what God himself judges in this particular case? … They do not know it to be an offence, and then commit it in defiance of divine justice, as we do in almost all the sins we commit.
An interesting revelation of Crusoe’s. The context before these passages is that Crusoe had come upon a the remains of a cannibalistic meal on his beach. Understandably the thought and vision horrified him and brought him to justified anger. His goal after seeing this was to catch the “savages” next time they came to “his” island and kill them, saving the “meal”. Reasonable intentions. Luckily for the savages, and probably for Crusoe, there was no other cannibal visit for a while, giving Crusoe time to cool down and think about what he was endeavoring.
Does it seem like God does that in our lives at times? We get all hot and heavy about something, passionately willing to do something, anything; even if it’s the wrong thing? In His wisdom and patience God luckily waits for us to return to a state of mind where he can bring us back to reconsider our passion, and redirect it towards His will rather than ours.
So how is this any different considering that later in the story Crusoe did manage to kill a number of natives? I think part of it is the motive of our hearts. Originally Crusoe was ready to kill the cannibals in the name of Justice. That’s why I like this passage so much, because he realizes his motive and the hypocritical unjust nature of it. Who are we to judge one another in such manners? It has been said many times in the Bible “Judge not” (Luke 6:37, Matthew 7:1) or “Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls.” (Romans 14:4a).
Crusoe then goes a step further and while not questioning God, he marvels at God’s wisdom and unknown will for these individuals. How is he to know God’s will? How is he to know that God isn’t judging the cannibals through each other as they feast on what are most likely other cannibals; or judging through the tribal warfare or disease or any other method? Crusoe realizes that he is not God’s instrument for justice in this case and rightly pulls back.
The question to ask then is, how are we judging others where we shouldn’t be? I can certainly think of cases where I judge “the servant of another”. Whether it’s in financial terms, dietary, or knowledge based. I’m horribly judgemental. It is one of the hardest things, to learn to let God pass His judgement on people without our help. God doesn’t need our help to do that, he just needs us to spread His Love around, not His judgement. A lesson much easier to type then to live and I will admit, I also think it is one of the most critical things in my life.
This post is the final in a short series of commentary based on quotes pulled from The Life and Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, by Daniel Defoe. The book was an enjoyable, pretty short and easy read. Here are some quick links to posts related to this book: Short review of the book itself, all the quotes in one place, and a list of other commentary like this one.