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man evil for evil, we are immediately calld upon, to provide things honest in the fight of all men.
2. The Second Rule is that, of not avenging our felves, but rather giving place unto wratb. By which is meant, that we should by no means take the Cause into our own Hands, and pretend to right our selves, by repaying Injuries and Affronts, with the same, or greater. For which indeed it were an easy matter to produce several Reasons unanswerable, would we but submit to consider them, as becomes Men and Christians: They are, Refentment and Passion, and Partiality, and Phantastical Notions of false Honour, which suggest the direct contrary to this Command; and would almost persuade Men, that they even do well to be angry, and take Revenge, and have recourse to Violence, and the private Sword. Against these vicious Motives I may the better content my self to set the few Arguments now before us, because to Men of Christian Principles They will fuffice; and to Them who are not so, None ever will. In the mean while, for the setting these in a more convenient and distinct view, I shall first observe, how high the Duty is carried, and then the Arguments made use of to enforce it.
3. The Next Pitch therefore of Virtue in this point, I must carry you back for to the 14th Verse, Bless their which persecute you ; bless and curse not.
These are, in signification the same, with those Words of our Blefsed Lord himself, Pray for them that deSpitefully use you, and perfecute you. Supposing then, that even the hottest of our Passions should not fame out fo fierce, as to devour all our Humanity, nor make us satisfied with being the Executioners of Vengeance in our own Persons ; yet is not this enough. Not to revenge or punish may prove our Good-Nature ; but somewhat more is necessary to prove our Christianity. We must not so much as
Matth. V. 44.
wish that Calamity to come from any other Hand, which we decline inflicting with our own.
We must not imprecate upon an Enemy the Wrath of God, for the gratifying a private Reséntment. We must not take any pleasure in the Judgments that befal him, without our wishing; nay, we must wish well to, and intercede with God for him. And, to put the Sincerity of such Wishes past a doubt, we must our selves contribute our Amistance, toward his Comfort under, and Relief from, any Distresses, that shall overtake him.
4. For that's the last Rule at the 20th Verfe: If thine Enemy hunger, feed him ; if he thirst, give him drink. The partaking of the fame Nature, and the same Passions, being liable to the same Wants, and feeling the same Uneasinesses from them, induce an Engagement of a Date without our very Being; One, that begun with it, and cannot be dissolved, but with it too. Since then our Enemy, though an ill or a perverfe Man, is still a Man; no Act of His, which does not make him cease to be so, can make that Obligation cease, which is founded in his being such. And therefore this Duty, as rare as the practice of it is, hath yet its ground-work laid in natural Equity; and we never fail in the performance of it, without violence done to that self-evident Rule, of doing to others, whatsoever we would they fould do to us. Nay, by proportion, we are bound to succour him in any imminent Danger or Extremity, as well as in those of Hunger and Thirst, specified here. To succour him, I say, where our Asistance may be of Service to keep him from perishing; And, even with violence done to our own most angry and most juft Resentments, to let him fee, that it is not possible to deserve so ill at our Hands; that the heavy Hand of God upon his Person, or his Fortunes, should be matter of Triumph or barbarous Joy to us. I only add, in Confirmation of
Prov. XXV. 21.
what was even now said, that the Passage I am upon, is not the Apostle's originally; but cited by him out of the Old Testament, and consequently, a Branch of that Moral Law, to which the Jews were able to discern the fitness of complying. The greater still must the Reproach needs be, upon those Christians, that shall ftand out against it; whose Religion is intended, and excellently fitted, to soften their Hearts, and enlarge their Bowels; and, in all Instances of Humanity and Goodness, of Compassion and Mercy, far to exceed the Righteousness of those that went before them.
St. Paul was very sensible, with what Difficulty these Commands were like to be received, which had a Passion to encounter, as importunate and vehement, as any that Human Nature hath put into our Breasts. And therefore he takes care, not only to introduce and sweeten them, with that affectionate Compellati
Dearly beloved , avenge not your selves, &c. but likewise to back and strengthen them, with very powerful Arguments. The Force whereof is the Last Thing to be considered upon this Occasion.
The First of These relates to Almighty God, The Second to our Enemies, The Last to our Selves. To Each I shall speak something very briefly.
That more immediately concerning Almighty God, we have in those Words, It is written, Vengeance is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord. Here we are put in mind, that God is the Judge and Governor of the World; that none of the Wrongs done to us, escape his Observation; that He hath reserved to himself the Prerogative of calling to account, and making the Injurious smart for them ; that He will not be wanting in this Part of His Justice and Power ; that He hath appointed Methods, proper for the exercise of both those Attributes ;
and that, for Us to go out of those Methods, by taking the Matter into our own Hands, and carving out to our selves such Satisfaction, as Rage and angry Resentments suggest, is to usurp upon Him; and a presuming to do that, which no private Man upon Earth hath Commission to do.
Now the Methods provided by God for this End, are, Either the Interposition of Laws and Governors, Or else the Dispensations of his own Providence, by which the Fortunes and Events of Men are all ordered and disposed. From the Former we are allowed to seek for convenient Redress, where the Case is of weight to bear us out; Where the Consequence affects the Publick Good and Safety, Where the Impunity of the Offender would render his Wickedness insolent and insupportable. As often as any of these is the Case, we are permitted, and upon some of these accounts we are even obliged, to see, that Mens Injustice be chastised, and made an Example of, for the restraint of their own Sins, and for the prevention of the like in others. But here we must be very careful, that the Principle we go upon, be right; that the End we propose from such Proceedings, be our own fit and necessary Reparation, not the gratification of our fretted Spleen; that our Desire of such Punishment be determined, to the Amendment of the Transgressor, the common Security, the Honour of Justice, and Preservation of Order; not to the Detriment or Shame, the Vexation or Mischief of the Sufferer, but only so far forth, as these may contribute to such commendable Purposes.
The Latter, that of God's immediate Providence, is a Remedy for us to depend upon, where the ordinary one of Human Laws and Punishments have either made no provision, or such, as cannot conveniently be had. But this dependance must be limited, by the Conditions juit now mentioned. It must not
be such, as takes actual satisfaction, in contemplating and promising to our selves, the Judgments of God, or the Miseries of our Brethren, considered abstractedly as such. Rather indeed this Argument should center in a Confidence of our own Safety, and certain Protection from Above. For nothing can yield more substantial Comfort, to them who endure wrongfully, than that their being content fo to do, and to wait His Time and good Pleasure, rather than to seek for Relief irregularly, is a committing of their Cause to God; a making it from thenceforth His Cause; and, that the doing such meek and patient Sufferers reason, is an Act of Justice done to himself.
The Second Argument, brought here against Revenge, and even for Acts of Kindness to our Enemy, when his Calamities have reduced him to the need of them, is contained in those Words, For in so doing thou Malt heap Coals of fire upon his head.
A Phrase of doubtful Import, and capable of Two Significations. Both supported by great Authorities, Both very apposite to the Design of the Place. The One, That, by our Courtesy and Charity we are much more likely to reduce them that hate, and have dealt ill by us, to a Sense of their Fault; and by our Kindness melt them down effectually into deep Remorse, fincere Repentance, and suitable Returns for so generous a Compassion. There are, it is to be hoped, but few Instances, of Tempers so inflexibly obstinate and perverse, as not to be won by Gentleness unmoved, and Pity undeserved; as not to feel, and improve upon, the Reproaches, of a Behaviour so unlike their own, when preserved by those very Persons,
whose Harm and Destruction themselves had wished · and laboured. Whereas, repaying Affront with Affront, and Force with Force, serves only to inflame angry Minds the more, to sharpen the Contention, and perpetuate the Quarrel. And thus Some under