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S maritan; because it was intended to make Jews feel, that it must be right for a Jew to assist a Samaritan in distress. Indeed, were the declarations of the old Scriptures less explicit than they are, the nature of the thing would be sufficient to prove, that Moses could never mean to enjoin hatred to enemies: conduct towards enemies is a part of our moral duty; which must continue invariably the same in all ages: whatever therefore Moses might permit for a time, on account of the hardness of men's hearts, he could not enjoin at one time, what would be wrong at another,
It is at all times an unwarrantable liberty in interpreters to separate a direction from all its circumstances, and make it a general moral precept: and in the present instance there is something blamable in the Jews, and incorrect, in taking a maxim collected from what was supposed to be the general tenor of the Mosaic law, and joining it with another, clearly expressed. Were any man to read the twofold direction, Thou "shalt love thy neighbour and hate thine enemy", for the first time, he would naturally suppose that both parts, the love and the hatred, were grounded on the same authority; and as that is not the case, whatever makes them appear to be so, is a misrepresentation and deception: one which, as in the former instances, is to be imputed to the Scribes and Pharisees; and to the encouragers of traditional interpretation.
31. Having then seen what our Saviour meant to set aside and supersede, we may consider, in the next place, what he intended to inculcate. "I say unto
you, love your enemies". As Christians, we are only concerned to see the true meaning of this precept; its authority we cannot doubt; or its reasonableness; nevertheless we may for the sake of those who hesitate concerning the truth of our holy religion, fix our thoughts for a while on the rational ground of a Duty, which has sometimes been deemed extravagant. We have already recommended, from principles of Natural Law, putting Resentment under the guidance of benevolence; and have examined the agreement of scripture with this direction: (Part v. 21. Part vi. 25, 26.)
We have also balanced the motives for and against forgiveness; but have not said any thing directly pointed at the love of enemies, either as to its meaning, or our obligation to encourage it. The meaning of love towards enemies seems to be, not that we are to love them because they are enemies, but notwithstanding they shew themselves disposed to commit injuries against
The principle of benevolence is to be constant and universal: it is that through which we were brought into being; it is that without which we cannot exist to any good end; injuries may make us feel resentment ; and resentment may, on some occasions, rightly prompt us to punish; but nothing must ever destroy our benevolence we must always desire the happiness of every sensible being; we must aim and intend to make even punishment an instrument of happiness; we must never do an act, the ultimate tendency and design of which, is to promote evil, or misery. Nothing can be more clearly our Duty than this; and yet if we observe this, we must love our enemies; to distinguish between love and benevolence, or charity, though not difficult, is by no means necessary in popular language, such as that of the Holy Scriptures. No passion can be meant to promote evil on the whole. Whether a man accustoms himself to act from moral or religious motives, he must endeavour to maintain a perpetual, never ceasing benevolence. No one is incapable of comprehending, that to it the happiness of man is chiefly owing, that without it we should be hurried by our unkind passions into evil and misery, ever spreading, ever increasing, ever more and more embittered. Every one can see, that if we bite and devour one another, we must, in the end, be consumed one of another. Gal. v. 15.
And if a man accustoms himself to aim at pleasing the Supreme Being by his conduct, he must constantly endeavour to execute the benevolent designs of Heaven, and be the instrument of communicating happiness to his brethren, who are, equally with himself, children of his heavenly Father, subjects of the universal Lord. If in practice any one should find this most reasonable
Duty difficult, he might receive some assistance from considering, that the injurious man cannot but be an object of pity; as one who is taking the most direct way to lower, and finally to ruin, himself, in the estimation of every good man, of every man of worth and fidelity; and of that God on whom all things depend, and whose judgement must determine whether he is to be happy or miserable for ever and ever.
When we view a man as an object of our pity, we are softened; our desire is, rather to relieve than to hurt him: we are approaching, in the strict sense of the word, to love him. Moreover, when a Duty seems at first sight too arduous and sublime, or too refined and delicate, for common men, we may do some good by taking it as a thing to be aimed at, as something which we may begin to attempt, though without much prospect of soon arriving to perfection. He who should attempt to feel kindness or compassion for his enemies, with this desire of gradual and progressive improvement, would soon find himself more advanced than he had seen reason to expect. Nay, at the very outset he would be in a moral situation far removed from that of the man who was endeavouring to hate his enemy, in opposition to the returning kindness, and relenting tenderness of human
32, What has now been said may put us into a method of studying the excellence of our Saviour's ge. neral doctrine, Love your enemies". For this seems to be a general precept, and those which follow, seem to be particulars comprehended under it. The first particular direction is, that if our enemy shew his malevolence by curses or execrations, we may shew our benevolence with the greatest propriety by returning blessing, or benediction. In the strictest sense, blessing and cursing mean calling upon superior beings, capable of influencing human happiness, to pour down good or evil on the persons whom we bless or curse. Should our enemy in this way endeavour to bring evil upon our heads, by the intervention of superior beings, our part and duty is, to invoke the same beings to shower down good upon him: and no direction can be more reasonable for this is a kind of attack which requires no de
fence; the only person who can be hurt by an imprecation is he who utters it; and if we wish to save him from the evil which he is bringing upon himself, the most natural method is, to apply to the source from which the evil springs.
Sometimes blessing and cursing mean no more than gentle and harsh speaking; but our reasoning will extend to this sense; for to return 66 railing for railing can do no good; it cannot punish or amend; it can hurt only the person who is guilty of it; whereas mild and gentle language, if returned with proper dignity and prudence, may prevent much evil: the soft answer which turneth away wrath, may avert its long and complicated train of mischiefs.
33. If our enemy hate us, our part is, to do him good. In any case our enemy may be conceived to hate us; in the case last mentioned, he is supposed to exert his hatred in a particular manner; but in the present case no effect of his hatred is specified: we are led by such a supposition to view the passion as only in the mind of our enemy: yet he would exert it if he could; this thought directs our attention to such enemies as want power to hurt us; that is, to our inferiors. We e can easily imagine a train of mischief in the mind of our enemy, which may always be ready to explode; and which may burst forth occasionally; but the occasions on which an inferior can hurt us, being extraordinary, the more just conception is, to view his malevolence as being only mental. Now it frequently happens that, without bad intention, we have excited resentment in the minds of our inferiors; we have overlooked them, we have preferred others to them; if we are invested with authority, perhaps we have punished them; but it is quite enough if we have taken some advantage from them, however justly, which they have been accustomed to enjoy. In such cases, if we find that a man is nourishing hostile imaginations against us, it seems as if we ought not to confine ourselves to satisfying our own consciences, we should go farther, and indulge the weakness of others, so as to endeavour to satisfy them also. Yet perhaps we cannot lay open all
our motives of action; it may be inconsistent with prudence, or with fidelity. Here the excellency of our Saviour's direction begins to appear; what need hinder us from doing good to our enemy? and what reasonings or explanations can have such an effect on his mind as an open, disinterested act of kindness? It says to him, in a language to which he will not turn a deaf ear, 'I am concerned that I have offended you; it was not ever my intention to incur your displeasure, or occasion your ill-will; I may have erred, or appearances may have been unfortunately against me; but I am earnestly desirous to convince you, that whatever have been my errors, in whatever light my conduct may have appeared, I always meant well to you; and shall always be glad to prove to you my friendly dis. position, whenever I can do it consistently with my duties towards other men', (See Part v. Art. 24. 4th Rule. And Part vi, 29.)
34. In the third and last place, our Saviour tells us, that if our enemy should use us despitefully and persecute us, our duty is, to pray for him :-to offer that species of prayer to the Deity on his behalf, which is called Intercession. Here the passion of our enemy is supposed to be accompanied with power in him whom it impels.
The word despiteful has been shewn (Part vi. 6.) to denote, in our translation of the Bible, a lofty kind of resentment, mixed with pride and insolence. Persecution also, of itself, implies superiority and influence : for how can any persons persecute us but such as are more powerful than ourselves? to such the last mentioned duty, of doing them good, is inapplicable; the inclination which prompts them to persecute us, would prevent our services from gaining acceptance, and the Superiority by which they are enabled to oppress us, would make our petty benefits to be of no significance; still our benevolence is to remain; and we are to exercise it in the best and most effectual manner we are able: How can we better prove that our love is without dissimulation than by interceding for our persecutors with Him, who is their judge, and might be our aven