« VorigeDoorgaan »
would generally have given wrong ideas; where it gave at all. The sacred writers were no system makers; they spoke and wrote naturally from their feelings; and suited their expressions to all the various cases which came before them.
If we keep this in mind, and make the proper allowances for it, I imagine that we shall find a sufficient agreement between the sacred oracles and our investigation of nature and fact.
In considering such agreement, it will be proper to pursue our wonted method; taking first those expressions of scripture which describe the Nature of Resentment, next those which point out its Effects, and lastly those which give any rules for its Regulation. -If the words in our Translation are not always exactly the same with those in modern use, that can make no material difficulty.
3. First then with regard to the Nature of Resentment;
The difference between harm and injury must have appeared to the sacred writers. When St. Peter says, "Who is he that will harm you if ye be followers of that "which is good?" Pet. iii. 13.-When our Lord declares, that if believers "drink any deadly thing it shall not hurt them;" Mark xvi. 18.-When in a vision he says to Paul, "no man shall set on thee to hurt thee; Acts xviii. 10.-the idea of harm or hurt, seems perfectly distinct from any notion of injury.
But when St. Paul says to the Galatians, "ye have "not injured me at all;" Gal. iv. 12.-When the Psalmist says of Jehovah "he suffered no man to do "them wrong:" Psalm cv. 14.-and the housholder to his labourer, "friend I do thee no wrong" Matt. xx. 13. the natural evil suffered is not properly the object of attention, but the moral violation of rights; the injury. Sometimes the sense of a word is in a good measure denoted by others with which it is joined. In the present case, oppression, fraud, persecution, are
terms which exemplify our interpretation.
says, whose ox have I taken; or whose ass have I "taken? or whom have I defrauded, whom have I "oppressed?" 1 Sam. xii. 3.-St. Paul, blaming the Corinthians for going to Law, says, "Why do ye not " rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer "yourselves to be defrauded?" 1 Cor. vi. 7.—and else where he joins "injurious" with "persecutor." 1 Tim. i. 13.
4. A violation of right effected by culpable negligence has the nature of an injury; and therefore expiation or atonement, is ordered for such violation, in the Law of Moses; that is, atonement is enjoined, "it any "one of the common people sin through ignorance, "while he doeth somewhat against any of the com"mandments of the Lord, concerning things which ought not to be done." Lev. iv. 27.-And leaving an ox at liberty that has been "wont to push with his horn "in time past," Exod. xxi. 29. is even a capital offence; supposing the ox to have killed any person.
Resentment has, by us, been called a malevolent sentiment; particularly because it excites to punishment. The Psalmist says, "Leave off from wrath and let go displeasure; fret not thyself, else shalt thou be moved "to do evil." Psalm xxxvii. 8.
That the natural effect of injury is punishment, appears from those passages where punishment is spoken of as following wrong actions of course; as confessedly annexed to them.. Sarai says to Abram, when he treats her with unmerited contempt, "My wrong be upon thee"; Gen. xvi. 5. so the Jews, when Pilate has cleansed himself from the blood of our Lord, cry out, "his blood be on us, and on our children:" Matt. xxvii. 25. Acts xviii. 6. Similar expressions occur several times." O Lord, thou hast seen my wrong: judge thou my cause". Lam. iii. 59. Here judgment is annexed to injury; and to the same effect the Magistrate is called by St. Paul, "a revenger to execute "wrath upon him that doeth evil". Rom. xiii. 5.Job says, "Be ye afraid of the Sword: for wrath bring
"eth the punishments of the sword, that ye may know "there is a judgment". Job. xix. 29.
6. We may see from these instances, that the word wrath is much in use in our translation; but the word anger is also used; and, to express its warmer emotions, rage and fury; much as we use them at present. Enmity also bears the same meaning in scripture as in modern writings. Anger and wrath seem sometimes to be general terms, sometimes to denote the quick and sudden species of anger: the latter sense seems implied when we are exhorted to be slow to anger, and to wrath. Prov. xvi. 32. James i. 19.
Naaman, when the simple prescription is given him to bathe himself in the river Jordan, turns and goes away in a rage. 2 Kings, v. 12. Jehovah pours out his fury on the adversaries of pure religion; and in his fury tramples them under his feet. Nor does the word displeasure need any particular explanation.
Despitefulness, by the manner in which it is introduced, appears to signify a lofty species of anger, for which I do not recollect a modern name. (a) The Psalmist says, "Our soul is filled with the scornful re"proof of the wealthy, and with the despitefulness of "the proud." Psalm cxxiii. 4. And our Lord, in his Sermon on the mounf, " pray for them which despitefully. "use you, and persecute you." Mat. v. 44. The persons here meant are such as have power to persecute; such as we can benefit only by prayer. St. Paul also, when enumerating the sins of the heathens, joins together the words despiteful and proud. Rom. i. 30. Yet the word spite, in familiar language, seems to be used when some particular mischief is contrived against some person, who is intended to be mortified, disappointed, lowered by it: its meaning comes near to that of malice, when used strictly.
And as things are often explained by opposition and contrast, it may be worth while to observe the scriptural negations of resentment. Forgiveness is a negation of any resolution to punish:-reconciliation is something more; it implies a return of old affections, the course of
which has been interrupted by some seeming injury. Love of enemies denotes that constant benevolence, which is continued to men even whilst they are in a state of enmity.
Of enmity we have given scriptural instances under Hatred. In the law of Moses, a man is an enemy who seeks the harm of another; Numb. xxxv. 23. To do another harm may not be injurious; but to seek, to aim at, and design ultimately the harm of another, cannot but be so. And the idea of constancy, or continuance, which we made a part of our idea of enmity, is expressed in the enmity of Saul to David. "And Saul became David's enemy continually." 1 Sam. xviii. 29.
7. Revenge, as a word, occurs but rarely in scripture; (b) but the idea of desiring to punish for the sake of evil, rather than with a view to any good effects of punishment, may be found. In the dying benediction of Jacob we have these words; "Cursed "be their anger, for it was fierce; and their wrath, for "it was cruel." Gen. xlix.7. Here is nothing like punishing with a view to good; (Part v. 21.) the effect of anger, in this case, had been murder. It might indeed be sudden anger; but whilst it continued, it was malicious.
That revenge which is fixed and settled in the mind for å length of time, is forbidden in the Mosaic Law: "Thou shalt not avenge nor bear any grudge "against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love "thy neighbour as thyself: I am the Lord." Lev. xix. 18. Here the word grudge shews the continuance of the anger, or revenge, which may be supposed to have been unknown to its object. And that which is opposed to the fault, serves to describe its nature. This indeed, as was now observed, is commonly the case; if we had no other description of revenge but that which is contained in the mention of the virtues opposed to it, that would be sufficient.
St. Paul makes freedom from wrath and doubtings, (c) necessary for rightly performing acts of devotion,
that is, fredom from malice and grudge, and all malicious machinations; this must imply what is commonly called revenge. He also twice, Eph. iv. 31. Col. iii. 8. reckons anger and malice together. And the word bitterness, Eph. iv. 31. conveys the idea of continued malevolence aiming at no good: what we call rancour seems bitterness in a high degree.
Punishment in scripture means the same as we have defined it to mean that which makes retribution for injury; (before, we spoke of it as the effect of anger). In the description of the general judgment it is said of the wicked, these shall go away into everlasting pu"nishment." Matt. xxv. 46. And the Apostle to the Hebrews compares the punishments due for rejecting the Mosaic and Christian Religions. If a man deserved such a punishment for apostacy from the religion of Moses, "of how much sorer punishment suppose ye, "shall he be thought worthy who hath trodden under"foot the Son of God?" Heb. x. 29.
The scriptural sense of vengeance approaches nearer to the idea of punishment than to that of revenge. We may conceive it to be punishment inflicted with warmth, and to be more discretionary than usual.— Chastisement is always understood to be punishment inflicted, merely with a view to the good of the offender.
8. The word Peevishness does not occur in Scripture; but the fault and the feeling seem to be recognized. Sometimes the state of mind seems to be called fretting; sometimes we judge from circumstances, that the sort of anger which is indulged would by us have been called by our term. We read of Hannah, the mother of Samuel, that "her adversary provoked her sore, for to make her fret," 1 Sam. i. 6. the subject was, Hannah's not bearing children; as Peninnah did.
"It is better to dwell in the wilderness than with a "contentious and angry woman". Prov. xxi. 19."The contentions of a wife are a continual dropping" Prov. xix. 13.-wear the temper, as a continual dropping wears a stone. "Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them". Col. iii. 19." Moses,