תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

we ought to see these good things in an Enemy, and it is not possible but that both Esteem and Love will actually follow. The Enmity then must be restrained to fomething that is of an odious Nature in itself, and that must be laid in the balance with all his other good things, and must preponderate, before we suffer our Enmity to fix on the Person. And indeed, before we suffer it to reft upon him at all, there are a great many previous Truths we should be well assured of, e. g. We must be assured, that it is an ill Thing we pretend to fault in him, before we faften our Enmity upon it; for many of those Things are innocent Opinions; and if duly canvassed, very void of that Venom, which at first we took to be in them. There are, I say, a great many such, which by the Prejudice of Education, we have look'd upon with a hideous Aspect, which when we pull off the ugly Vizard in which they were shewed us, are very innocent, nay "fometimes useful and necessary Truths. I do not know whether it be not further a reasonable Postulatum, that ño Enmity be fixed on any Man on account of his Opinions, those not being in his Power, All the Enmity due to Persons on account of the worst Opinions, is, perhaps, only because of their Stubbornness and Obstinacy, and refusing to use the Means of Information : For fuppose they have done all that in them lies, to find out the Truth, but cannot find it, we may charitably judge it is something in their Make and Constitution, fome Flaw or Weakness of Understanding, something that is more their Misfortune, than their Fault, This one Consideration would cut off more than one half of the Enmities that are in the World,

and

and would reduce them into a narrow Compass, viz. That of Immoralities, in which Men act contrary to the Convictions of their own Mind and Conscience. But even in these, there are great Abatements and Allowances to be made. Mens Enmities to us, are often the mere Effect of Misinformation. Often we our felves have given just Provocation, either by offering the first Acts of Hostility, or by doing something liable to Misconstruction; sometimes all the Offence is owing to a sudden Passion, or Inconfideration, which our Enemy, in cool Blood, repents, and would be glad of a fair Offcome, if we would allow it him. His grofseft Immoralities perhaps are such as he is heartily struggling against, and condemns himself for them; he undergoes a severe Punishment from his own Mind and Conscience, and if he recovers, we know not what an excellent Person he may prove. At least, the Consideration of Human Infirmity should dispose us to treat our Enemies with a great Mixture of Compassion, remembring that we have all of us our own Infirmities of some kind or other, and do all want Forgiveness both from God and Man.

2. But, Secondly, Let us consider our Enemies with relation to their Enmity, and try if that Consideration of them will not afford some Work for our Love and Charity. It is true, it is a vexatious thing to have any one's Enmity, and a thing apt to provoke our Anger and Resentment; but

yet if this Anger is governed as it should be, it is not inconsiftent with Love and Prayers, and diverse Acts of Beneficence. Are we not angry with our Children 'when they commit Faults, and do we not sometimes punith them? yet we love

them

Dd 4

them for all this, and pray for them, and do them all the Good that is in our Power. So that there is no such Impossibility as is pretended in loving an Enemy; for though we are troubled at the Injuries they do us, yet we may at the fame time have, án hearty Desire of reconciling them, and of being reconciled to them, which is not to be done any way so readily, as in the way

of Love and Kindness to them. I hope then I shall not be guilty of any Contradiction to good Sense and Reason (however contrary it may be to the wicked Opinions and Practices of the World) if I assert there is something in an Enemy, even considered with relation to his Enmity, that may stir up our Love and Affection ; and that whether

l we consider the Causes or the Effects of this Enmity. As to the Causes of it, if it is occafioned either by ourselves, or him, both ways it calls for our Bowels of Love, and Pity, and Relief. If we our felves occasioned it, then it concerns us extremely, as we would not be the Authors of so great a Mischief, and chargeable with all the evil Consequences of it, to make haste to reconcile the Matter, which cannot be done so well any other way, as by Acts of Love and Kindness. Again, if the Enmity is not oCcafioned by us, but by our Adverfary, then indeed his Condition is so much the more dangerous and deplorable, and calls more loudly for our Love and Charity, to extricate him out of these dangerous Circumstances; which cannot be done so well any other way, as by recovering his Friendship in the way of Love. Then if we consider the Effects of Enmity, what dismal Consequences it is usually attended with, if not timely

stopt

stopt and prevented ; and that there is no way to stop it so effectual, as by not retaliating of Injuries, and by doing Good for Evil, and all this from a Spirit of Love, and unfeigned Sincerity, not Hypocrify, we shall still find great Inducements to this Duty. If it be urged, that though the doing good to Enemies, is a ready way to reclaim them, yet it is impossible inwardly to love an Enemy, considered as an Enemy. This being granted, yet let us love him, both for his other good Qualities, and particularly as capable of being made a Friend by good Usage. So much for the Object of our Love and Charity, our Enemies, those that curse, and hate us, despitefully use and perfecute us.

But how are such Persons to be approached? Or how is it possible to make any good Impression upon them? Is not all Communication cut off, and is it not the best way to manage such People; if we would enjoy Peace and Quiet our felves, to let them alone, and have nothing to do with them ? I confess this is a much better way, than to incense them more and more by Acts of Hoftility. Yet our Saviour fhews us a better way than this, which leads me to the second Thing I observed in this Duty to Enemies, namely,

2. The Acts of Charity, which we are to exercise towards them; We are to love them, to bless them, to do them good, and to pray for them. I shall be but short upon these, both for want of time, and because in speaking of the Object of these Duties, our Enemies, I have shewed how they may be considered in such a way, as to make all these Duties very reasonable to be performed to them. The Duties here mentioned, are these four:

1 Inward

1. Inward Love.

2. Blessing, or good Words. 3. Good Deeds. And 4. Prayers for them.

(1.) The first, is the inward Love of our Enemy. By this I do not understand that highest Degree of Love, Friendship ; that we are to trust an Enemy with the inwardest Secrets of our Hearts, and to communicate to him all our Counsels, and to take a mighty Pleasure and Delight in his Company and Conversation. The chief Exercise of the Love of Enemies, is in that common Love which is due to all Men, that we wish them well; that we be ready to do them all Acts of Justice, Charity, and good Neighbourhood , that we suppress the Spirit of Malice and Revenge; that we observe, and honour, and esteem whatever good Qualities they are poffefsed of; that we acknowledge, love, and commend whatever good Actions we know they have done ; that we be glad to embrace all Opportunities of removing the Occasion of Difference, and of coming to a good Understanding, and perfect Reconciliation.

(2.) The second Duty here mentioned to an Enemy, is Blessing. The Original Word, eurogeite, seems to be of a larger Extent of Signification than our English; for it fignifies all sorts of good Words, whether in speaking of them, or to them. Accordingly it is a very commendable thing to speak well of an Adversary; and likewise as commendable when we speak to him, not to retort one ill Word for another, but to use civil, peaceable, and kind Speech ; as St Peter says, i Pet. iii. 9. Not rendering Evil for Evil, ar Railing for Railing, but, contrariwijë, Blessing.

(3.) The third Duty to Enemies, is Beneficence, Do good to them that hate you; whether they be

good

ز

1

« הקודםהמשך »