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wipe from his eye the tear of affliction. If unable to render him actual services, cherish at least the desire of doing so. Instead of insulting Heaven by horrid imprecations on his head, which are generally the rash dictates of impotent hatred; instead of calling down upon him the vengeance of Heaven; say rather with Stephen, « Lord, lay not this sin to his charge;" I call not on thy avenging arm to punish, but on thy mercy to pardon the injury that has been done me.
Here, my brethren, is the true meaning and spirit of this Góspel law. But you will ask, is this law really practicable in its utmost extent? If we reason dispassionately on the subject, I trust the obstacles on this head will gradually disappear. The only plausible pretext for indulging sentiments of hatred and revenge, is this, that we may ultimately inflict upon an enemy some chas. tisement for his offence. Now this chastisement must either affect his fortune, his reputation, or his person. To injure his property would be the action of a villain; to defame his reputation the conduct of a slanderer; characters supremely despicable even in the eye of the world, and discountenanced by the established laws of honour, which in these cases bear testimony to the precepts of the Gospel. In these instances, therefore, even worldly men will acknowledge their propriety and obligation. But when personal chastisement is the question, then the world and the Gospel are immediately at variance. Even in this case, however, few can carry their vengeance into effect, and few, of course, can have plausible grounds for indulging the sentiment. The whole of the female sex, and all the labouring classes of society, appear to be happily exempted froin the maintenance of what is ridiculously called the point of honour. This imaginary phantom, this bloody Moloch, is worshiped solely by them, who consider themselves, or wish to be considered, as GENTLEMEN. With re. spect to these there exists a sanguinary law, prescribing for certain offences, nothing short of mutual and deliberate assassination. In Christian countries, and by Christian professors, this law is systematized, approved, and practised. Men of enlightened minds. submit to its folly; men who would spurn at the idea of slavery, bow down, without a blush, to this tyranny of opinion; men who revere religion and its author, in this instance, deliberately bid defiance to both.
* How often, in fact, have humanity and religion wept over the melancholy and infatuated spectacle of warriours renowned for their moderation and wisdom, coolly debasing themselves to the character of gladiators; and thus tarnishing their reputation for intrepidity and courage, by an open avowal of their submission to unquestionable prejudices? Upon the issue of a single combat they risk those lives so often preserved amidst the carnage of
• Inserted on the occasion of General Hamilton's death, killed in a duel with Colonel Burr,
war; and expose to legal infamy the glory which they had purchased amidst torrents of blood? As men of enlightened minds and feeling hearts, they reprobate the despotism of those extravagant and barbarous maxims, which have confounded all the ideas of heroick vaiour, and savage ferociousness; maxims unknown to the most splendid ages of the world, and the hateful offspring of Vandalism and Gothick barbarity. As Christians they behold the uplifted hand of the Almighty ready to strike them; they shudder at the sight, and deplore the sacrifice exacted at their hands: but the world attaches to it a senseless notion of honour. With minds confused, and agitated, and wrung with desperation, they overlook every idea of family wretchedness and personal guilt. They rashly encounter the danger of rushing into their Maker's presence, in the very act of offending him, and purchase by a most bitter, and I fear, very frequently, an everlasting repentance, the esteem of a murdering world, which will now be nothing more to them.
You will readily perceive, my brethren, that these general reflections on this criminal and barbarous custom, may in some de. gree be applied to a recent catastrophe, which has excited in every well regulated bosom the keenest sorrow and regret. Amidst the sighs, however, which we heave at the loss of such a man as ALEXANDER HAMILTON, on whose transcendent abilities and disinterested patriotism, in any other place than this, we might dwell with fond delight and national exultation; let a source of great consolation spring up in a Christian assembly, that time was allowed him for repentance; and that he employed those precious moments in exhibiting every evidence in his power, of a sound be. lief in the doctrines of the Gospel, of a Christian spirit of magnanimous forgiveness, sealed by the sacrament of love, of a firm and entire reliance on the mercies of the Redeemer, and of an utter detestation and abhorrence of the wicked principles and inhuman practice, to which he fell on ever-to-be-lamented victim.
Now surely a custom thus reprobated by so enlightened a mind, a tyrannical law so wicked in itself, and so mischievous in its consequences, must be founded in some deep-rooted and master depravity. Yes, my brethren, it is founded on that immoderate love of self, which like the fabled box of Pandora, discharges on our race the whole train of moral evil. “ Take away this principle,” says Bernard, an ancient father, “ and you destroy the empire of the devil,” you annul all the laws which his authority has sanctioned, you put an end to that monstrous usurpation which he has established over the laws of God and society, by placing in the hands of inconsiderate individuals, that exercise of vindictive justice, which must belong exclusively to them.
All the maxims and precepts of the Gospel aim principally at the extinction of this fatal love of self, and to plant the love of God in its stead. That any man, therefore, professing a belief in this Gospel, and an assent to its sanctions, should still cherish a principle opposed so diametrically to both, is a wicked inconsistency,
too glaring for any rational person to maintain. But when once
excited, this master-passion of our nature scruples not to set reaEu Son and conscience at defiance; by an excessive overvaluation of
character, it teaches that worldly credit is to be preserved at any rate, and disgrace at any rate to be avoided; even by deliberately preferring the estimation of man to the favour and approbation of God.
It would only be a waste of time to pursue this subject any fur: ther. Till men of honour, as they call themselves, can plead some special exemption from the laws of charity and forgiveness,
in vain will they offer any plausible apology for this barbarous - practice; in vain will they allege the preservation of their honour Els as a pretext for their vengeance. It appears to be the effect of byz' some special subtilty in the grand enemy of our race, that in this 10 poing only men should feel so delicately any affront to their ho.
nour; for a very little observation will discover, that many who
are so sore upon this solitary point, as to risk without remorse me their lives and salvation, on many others abandon without scruple este in the most obvious rules of honourable duty. For we daily behold
men of this description prostituting their honour to some worldly
interest, which renders them false and hypocritical in their consto versation, faithless to their promises, ungrateful, frivolous, and a inconstant in their behaviour; which makes them court the favour El of the powerful, or of the multitude, by notorious falsehood, dis
* simulation, and baseness! So that they can sacrifice, without blushning, their honour to the world, to interest, to pleasure, to ambi
tion; while to refuse this sacrifice to the laws of God and society; is deemed the part of an honourable man.
The duties of forgiveness thus thwarting so evidently the dice tates of self-love and the sanctions of worldly prejudice, would certainly transcend the powers of human nature, did not the same blessed religion which enjoins them, furnish us with motives sufficiently strong to enforce and render them practicable. These motives, therefore, we are bound to apply. They spring from the inward energies of divine grace, which, like a gentle dew, extinguish the flames of hatred and vengeance, appease the murmurs of irritated nature, calm hostility into peace, and rage, like that of lions, into lamblike meekness and composure; they change a pupil of the world into a disciple of Christ. The forgiveness of injuries, which the world deems so unreasonable, rests, nevertheless, upon the two grand motives of human action; to wit: upon duty and upon interest, upon what we owe to God, and what we owe to ourselves. We surely owe to God an unlimited obedience; and what is his command on this subject? « But I say unto you, love your enemies. This is the law, clear and explicit: but selflove whispers, it is too extensive and universal. Let us, however, call to mind, that to enjoin a suppression of the sentiments of re
venge, surely bears lighter upon our nature, than to command a • tender Father to sacrifice every sentiment of affection, and immo.
late his beloved and only Son.
Assisted by divine grace, Abraham obeyed without hesitation; her and the same Almighty succour will not be wanting to us. It will me convince us feelingly and effectually, of the folly of bringing upon ourselves a degree of wretchedness infinitely greater than any enemy can inflict. It will induce us to reason thus with our consciences:- What the world will say of me, I know not; but this I kohe know, that Jesus says explicitly, “ this is my commandment, love some your enemies." Weigh against this positive injunction, the mighty prevalence of publick opinion, all the pretensions of pride, lion all the interests of self-love, all the repugnances of nature, all the Jaws and usages of the world, and then calmly tell me, which should preponderate. But love, you will say, cannot be a subject Windo of command; your heart cannot love what it does not conceive to from be lovely; but God, who has given you this heart, who has formed . it with his own hand, who knows all its springs, and has a sove. Han Teign right to control all its motions, God proclaims this law, ks « love your enemies;" love them, not for their own sakes, indeed, but for His sake, for the sake of his beloved Son, who poured out his blood for them and for you.
It is not therefore in the name of an enemy, although a fellow. creature and a member of one family, but in the name of our common Saviour, that we press upon you this Christian duty; but when in doing this we bring to your view all the mighty claims which he has on your hearts, let it not be forgotten that he has transferred these claims to our fellow-men, without exception. Every object of our hatred and vengeance has a right to our for. giveness, founded on our obligations to our common Redeemer. To dispute this right, is to renounce these obligations, to give up the interest purchased for us in the plan of man's redemption, to exclude ourselves from the pardon and acceptance of God.
And here we see that the obligation of duty is enforced by the motives of interest. “ Forgive, and ye shall be forgiven;" but, assuredly, not otherwise. « Cast the hard-hearted servant into outward darkness.” Nay, we are ordered to pray for pardon on this condition only: Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our icon debtors." In vain, therefore, shall we address our most ardent, devotions to the throne of mercy, in vain will be all our professions of faith, all our protestations of duty: unless we forgive our ene. mies, we shall always find God to be as inflexible and inexorables as ourselves for he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath showed no mercy*.” Thus our esscntial interests dictate a se compliance with this duty. What pretext has passion to counter balance them? If you plead inability, did not Christ, the Captain of our salvation do so before you? But he was a divine person, you will say, and I but a frail mortal. What will you reply, how. ever, when you read and hear of so many Christians who have observed this law? Did not Stephen, in the agonies of death, cry 12
* James ü. 13.
with a loud voice, “ Lord, lay not this sin to their charge?” Have not thousands of persecuted saints expressed similar sentiments? Do you stand in need of solicitations to this duty? Jesus uttered them on the cross:He conjures you by the blood which he shed for your redemption. Do you look for a reward? The Eternal opens to you the treasures of his munificence and glory. Are you to be actuated by menaces? The Sovereign Judge lights up the flames of hell to consume the dissentions and malice of mor
To conclude: My brethren, all that God requires of us is the sacrifice of a sentiment which it is in our power to control. What is it that you apprehend? Are the remarks of men more to be dreaded than the anger of God? What is it you seek? Is it reputation or fortune? How empty the first, how imaginary a good, if the soul be finally condemned for the guilty means of obtaining it? And as to the goods of fortune, they are ever making to them. selves wings and flying away, while eternity remains unchangeable. Yield, therefore, my brethren, and strive to apply this Christian grace to making your election sure. Be reconciled to your enemies, and you will become the friends of God.
CONCLUSION OF A SERMON.
Preached at Boston, before the Massachusetts Society for Pro. moting Christian Knowledge, November 27th, 1811, by the Rev. Eliphalet Pearson, LL. D.
If the readers of this very sensible, spirited, and devout discourse, can, in any degree, be pleased and edified, as the Editors were in perusing it, they will not regret the insertion of its concluding paragraphs in their Journal.
BUT some persons may perhaps be ready to say, such cxertions were doubtless necessary in the infancy of Christianity, and may be proper now with respect to Heathen nations; buc What is the occasion for special exertions in a country, where the Gospel has been long embraced? What need of Societies for pronoting Christian knowledge among ourselves? To such queries "might be replied, that in our own country there are many indiduals, nay families, that are destitute of the Bible, and many
uşands, that scarcely own another religious book. But the evil, mich called for a special remedy, is more alarming, and of wider extent. Had not the cause of divine truth, during the last half century, been attacked in a manner systematick, insidious, and successful, beyond former example; the Society, now present, had