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The circumstances of the cases now mentioned seem to require and demand suitable relief and assistance from thos; who are capable of giving it. But tho it will be readily allowed, that there is a natural fitness and decency in the practice of mercy towards such as have never deserved ill of us; yet perhaps some may be ready to object against the fitness thereof with respect to those, who have rendered themselves obnoxious to our resentment by an unkind and injurious treatment of us. "Enemies, fay they, "ought to be treated as enemies; /. e. "prosecuted with hatred and revenge; "they have no right to a mild and gena tie usage from us, who breathe no"thing but wrath and fury against us; "to put up affronts and forgive injuries, '* is to act the part of a coward and not "of a man, to expose one's self tofresti "insults, and greater injuries." This is the language of those who think that mercy ought not to be extended to enermies.
Now to take off the force of this objection, let it be considered first, that in cafe of repentance it doth not seem at all unfit or unreasonable, that an enemy should be forgiven. On the contrary, it
seems seems agreeable to reason so to do: for he who repents of an evil action,. doth what in him lies towards the undoing of "it, and therefore ought not any longer to be treated as having done- if.. - Secondly, An enemy, even tho he persist in his enmity, ought not to be consider'd only in that character. Whilst we remember that he is an enemy, we ought not to forget that he is a man. His paiv taking of the fame nature with ourselves, is an argument against cruelty and barbarity towards him. Tho his enmity against us may deserve resentment, yet it ought not to produce hatred : rho prudence should restrain us from taking him into our bosom, and conversing with him as a friend, yet humanity should teach us to pity him when in distress, and afford him rkedful succour.
To put up affronts, and forgive injuries, is so far from being a mark of cowardice, that it argues true greatness of mind. Not he who overcomes his passions, but who is overcome by them, is a coward. The angry and revengeful man therefore deserves that name; who gives himself up to the conduct of violent and impetuous passions j not the gentle and good-naS tured tured person, who manfully fights against them, and labours to repress and subdue them. Such an one shews himself to be of a noble and heroick spirit, and deserves more honour than great potentates and succeisful warriors. For in the opinion of the wisest os men, he who is flow to anger is better than the mighty; and he who ruleth his spirits than he who iaketh a city; Prov. XVI. *2i' r-fl!"' . nth:. - :c*7<-«
And whereas it is said that to forgive past injuries is the ready way to expose one's self to more and greater: I answer, that tho this is a possible case, and which doth sometimes happen, yet iris not a certain and neceflary consequence of the thing. So far from that, that it hath a tendency to produce the contrary effect, and frequently doth. There is something in mercy and goodness, which is apt to melt down the hardest temper. Who can persist in enmity against that man,who endeavours so overcome evil with good; and who instead of persecuting his enemy with hatred and revenge, heaps benefits upon him? Bad as the world is, there are few to be found of such a stubborn and implacable temper. But supposing the worst that can happen j that a person is not to be won over by acts of kindness, but is obstinately bent upon requiting evil for good, and hatred for all our love: tho in that case it may not be expedient to continue our guod offices, or confer any more favours upon him, yet it cannot be unfit that we should abstain from acts of cruelty and revenge. Nay, it is fit that we should abstain from them; becaule, as members of society, we have given up all right to private revenge. By liv'mg in society, and partaking of the benefits and privileges of it, we do as it were consent to be governed by those laws by which the community is governed. Now, inasmuch as the laws of lbcietv have restrained us from being our own avengers, and provided for the redress of grievances and the punishment of offenders, in a legal and publick way; it is quite wrong to offer any private violence to our enemies, either in their body or tstates. We ought rather to put them into the hands of the civil power, and leave them to those punishments which the wisdom of the legislature hath thought fit to inflict upon such cries as theirs. And with reS 2 gard gard to such injuries as do not come un-. der the cognizance of human laws; it will be sufficient if we only decline familiar converse with the authors of them, keep a watchful eye over their conduct, and take the most prudent measures that we can, as private persons, either to asswage their malice, or prevent their doing any further mischief. , .; ; Thus I have done with the first argument; whereby I proposed to prove the righteousness of the practice of mercy, viz. the natural fitness and decency
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2. It is what we ourselves desire to receive from others when we stand in need of it: and therefore it is righteous and fitting that we ourselves should practise it. Should not we, if we were afflicted with bodily diseases, or oppressed with poverty, jar perplexed with difficulties, or wounded in spirit, desire to be pitied by Qur neighbours? Should we not wish for the charitable relief and the wholesome advice of those, whose affluence of this; world's good enables them to feed the hungry, and clothe the naked, and whose understanding and skill qualify them for giving counsel in diffi