« AnteriorContinuar »
how often our offences have been the effect of inada vertency, when they were construed into indications: of malice; the inducement which prompted our adversary to act as he did, and how powerfully the fame inducement has, at one time or other, operated upon ourselves ; that he is suffering perhaps under a contrition, which he is alhained, or wants opportunity to confess ; and how ungenerous it is to triumph by coldness or infult over a spirit already: humbled in fecret"; that the returns of kindness are: sweet, and that there is neither honour, nor virtue, nor use in resisting them for some persons think themselves bound to cherish and keep alive their ins dignation, when they find it dying away of itself." We may remember that others have their passions, their prejudices, their favourite aims, their fears, their cautions, their interests, their sudden impulses, their varieties of apprehension, as well as we: we may recollect what hath sometimes passed in our minds, when we have got on the wrong side of a quarrel, and imagine the same to be pafling in our adversary's mind now; when we became senlible of our misbehaviour, what palliations we perceived in it, and expected others to perceive; how we were affected by the kindness, and felt the superiority of a generous reception and ready forgiveness ; how persecution revived our spirits with our enmity, and seemed to justify the conduct in ourselves, which we before blamed. Add to this, the indecency of extravagant anger; how it renders us, wbilst it laits, the scorn and sport of all about us, of which it leaves us, when it ceases, sensible and alhamed ; the inconveniencies, and irretrievable misconduct into which our irascibility has sometimes betrayed us'; the friendships it has lost us ; the distresses and embarrassinents in which we have been involved by it ; and the fore repentance which on one account or other it always costs us.
But the reflection calculated above all others to allay that haughtiness of temper which is ever
finding out provocations, and which renders anger so impetuous, is that which the gospel proposes; namely, that we ourselves are, or shortly shall be, fuppliants for mercy and pardon at the judgment seat of God. Imagine our secret fins difciosed and brought to light ; imagine us thus humbled and exposed ; trembling under the band of God; casting ourselves on his compassion; crying out for mercy-imagine such a creature to talk of latisfacti. on and revenge ; refusing to be entreated, disdaining to forgive ; extreme to mark and to resent what is done amiss ; imagine I say this, and you can hardly fcign to yourself an instance of more impious and unnatural arrogance.
The point is to habituate ourselves to these reflections, till they rise up of their own accord when they are wanted, that is, instantly upon the receipt of an injury or affront, and with such force and colouring, as both to mitigate the paroxysms of our anger at the time, and ar length to produce an alteration in the temper and dispolition ittelf.
CH A P.
A LL pain occasioned to another in consequence A of an offence, or injury received from him, farther than what is calculated to procure reparation, or promote the juft ends of punishment, is so much revenge.
There can be no difficulty in knowing when we occasion pain to another ; nor much in diftinguishing whether we do so, with a view only to the ends of punishment, or from revenge ; for in the one case we proceed with reluctance, in the other with pleafure.
It is highly probable from the light of nature, that a passion, which seeks its gratification iminediately and expressly in giving pain, is disagreeable to the benevolent will and counsels of the Creator. Other passions and pleasures may, and often do, produce pain to some one; but then pain is not, as it is here, the object of the passion, and the direct cause of the pleasure. This probability is converted into certainty, if we give credit to the authority which dictated the several passages of the Christian scriptures that condemn. revenge, or what is the same thing, which enjoin forgiveness.
We will set down the principal of these passages; and endeavour to collect from them, what conduct upon the whole is allowed towards an enemy, and what is forbidden.
“ If ye forgive men their trespasses, your heaven“ ly Father will also forgive you ; but if ye forgive « not men their trespasses, neither will your Father “ forgive your trespasses." And his Lord was wroth, “ and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should
“ pay all that was due unto him: so like: ise, ha!! “ my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from " your hearts forgive not every one his brother their " trespasses.” “ Put on bowels of mercy, kisdrets, “ humbleness of mind, meekness, long suffering, “ forbearing one another, forgiving one another; if “ any man have a quarrel against any, even as Ch: it “ forgave you, so also do ye.” “ Be patiert (1) “ wards all men ; see that none render evil for esil “ unto any man.” “ Avenge not yourselves, but “ rather give place unto wraih: for it is writer, “ vengeance is mine, I will repay, faith the Lord
Therefore if thine enemy lunger, feed him ; ifte " thirst, give him drink; for in to doing, thou lha't
heap coals of fire on his head. Be not oictcome " of evil, but overcome evil with good."
I think it evident from fome of these paílagos ta. ken separately, and fill more so, from all of them together, that revenge, as di scribed in the begin.i.i' g of this chapter, is forbidden in every degree, undir ail forms, and upon any occasion. We are likewise forbidden to refuse to an enemy even the most im. perfect right; “ if he hunger, feed him; if he thirti, “ give him drink," + which are examples of imper. fcct rights. If one who has offended us, folicit from us a vote to which his qualifications enuile him, we may not refule it from motives of resentment, or the remembrance of what we have suffered at his hands. His right, and our obligation which follows the signs, is not altered by his crimity to us, or by ours to him.
• Mall, vi. 14. 15. xviii 34, 35. Col it. 12, 13. 13.1 5. 14. 15 Rom. xi 19. 20. 21.
+ Se allo Ludus xxii, 4. * l' thou meetphone meny's nr. ** or his nis, going aftraw, thou fait lurei bijep it to * zain: it it ou lee the mis or him that ha'cinii: lving or. ** his buren, and wouideat forbui toh.lp hledky llom ska
b " beip with him."
On the other hand, I do not conceive, that there prohibitions were intended to interfere with the pu. nishment or prosecution of public offenders. In the eighteenth chapter of St. Matthew, our Saviour tells his disciples, 66 if thy brother who has trespassed " against thee, neglect to hear the church, let him " be unto thee as an heathen man, and a publican." Immediately after this, when St. Peter asked him, “ how oft shall my brother fin against me, and I 66 forgive him ? till seven times?" Christ replied, " I say not unto thee until seven times ; but until • seventy times seven ;” that is, as often as he repeats the offence. From these two adjoining pallages compared together, we are authorized to con. clude that the forgiveness of an enemy is not in. consistent with the proceeding against him as a public offender; and that the discipline established in religious or civil societies, for the restraint or pu. nishment of criminals, ought to be upheld.
if the magistrate be not tied down by these pro. hibitions from the execution of his office, neither is the prosecutor ; for the office of the prosecutor is as necessary as that of the magistrate.
Nor by parity of reason, are private persons withheld from the correction of vice, when it is in their power to exercise it ; provided they be assured that it is the guilt which provokes them, and not the injury; and that their motives are pure from all mixture and every particle of that spirit which delights and triumphs in the humiliation of an adversary..
Thus it is no breach of Christian charity, to withdraw our company or civility, when the same tends to discountenance any vicious practice. This is one branch of that extrajudicial discipline, which sup. plies the defects and the remissness of law; and is espressly authorized by St. Paul, (1 Cor. v. 11.) “ But now I have written unto you, not to keep « company, if any man, that is called a brother, “ be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a “ railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; wita