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hearts of their enemies themselves would be subdued by their persevering virtue and gentleness. “The eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and His ears are open unto their prayers ; but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil. And who is he that will harm you if ye be followers of that which is good? But, and if ye suffer for righteousness sake, happy are ye; and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled, but sanctify the Lord God

hearts." In this latter argument it is plain that there are two distinct but not inconsistent propositions ; first, that, even in this world, the probability is that the faithful and peaceable follower of Christ will not be molested: secondly, that if it should so happen that we are molested for the sake of our righteousness, we have, on this very account, an additional reason for gratitude to God, and for reliance on His help and blessing.

The first of these assertions (so far as the mere abstract probability of the case extends) might seem at first sight to be a thing so clear as to require very little argument to prove it. Few, even in comparison, are found of a temper so utterly devilish as to desire to injure their neighbour without some received or fancied provocation. But as the consistent follower of righteousness gives no just ground of provocation to any; as, on the contrary, his life, so far as his means extend, is occupied in doing good to all, it might be reasonably hoped that his innocence would, amid the strises and ambuscades of the world, be bis helmet, his sword, and his shield; and that he who was the friend of all would, at least, have no one for his enemy. It is plain, however, from the words of St. Peter himself, that this statement of the case must be taken with very considerable exceptions; since, even while he asks the question, “who is he that shall harm you ?” he hypothetically subjoins, “but and if ye be persecuted." Nay more, when he adds, “if ye be persecuted for righteousness sake,” he admits that they, to whom he was writing, might be exposed to violence and injustice, not only in spite of their innocence, but actually in consequence of it. It is, indeed, not more strange than true, that there is a

own ;


principle in every man's nature, which induces him to diglike whatever differs from himself; and that this dislike is stronger in proportion as we doubt the wisdom of our own choice, and suspect that we are wrong in those circumstances, whereby we are distinguished from such as are of a contrary opinion. It is this which has made many men intolerant towards other and new religions, who all the while have been conspicuously and glaringly negligent of their it is this which, even where the forms of belief have been the same, has continually led the worldly man to revile and detest the superior strictness of his pious neighbour, and to exclaim, in the words of the eloquent author of the apocryphal book of Wisdom, “ He is not for our turn;" he is grievous “unto us even to behold, for his life is not like other men's; his ways are of another fashion."* If ye were of the world,” said He, who well knew what was in

“if ye were of the world, the world would love its own; but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you."Nor can it be a subject of wonder, that from these and other similar passages in the Holy Scriptures, very many have been led to believe that every sincere Christian is inevitably exposed to the scorn and malice of his unconverted neighbours, and have consequently been compelled to explain away, in a most unsatisfactory manner, the expectation expressed by St. Peter, that, even in the present life, and in the present evil world, our following that which is good, is likely to preserve us from injury.

This belief, however, when entertained without due qualification, is, I am convinced, not only a mistaken but a mischievous one. It has led some good and humble men to doubt, very causelessly, of their own spiritual state, and their acceptance with the Almighty, because they have not been able to say with truth, that they were either so unhappy or so much hated among mankind as they conceived to be a necessary evidence of their conformity with the Son of God. It has led some of a more sanguine turn to make much of little sorrows, and glorify themselves as martyrs under little or imaginary grievances, while others

• Wisdom ii. 12. 15.

+ St, John sv. 19.

whose own imprudence or inconsistency have been the cause of the rough treatment they have met with, have been encouraged in their errors, and hardened in their unruly temper, and have appealed to the opposition which they encountered as a proof that they were the genuine followers of the meek and gentle Jesus. And I am anxious, on these accounts, to examine the grounds of an opinion so uncomfortable, and which tends to throw a fresh and unnecessary difficulty in that path of life which is, of itself, sufficiently steep and thorny.

One main part of the error appears to arise from a too strong estimate of the corruption and depravity of mankind. That mankind are, indeed, in a forlorn and fallen condition, that they are, by nature, strangers to God, and very far gone from that glorious likeness of Himself in which He first created them, is, unhappily, most true, and God forbid that we should ever lose sight of it in our sorrowful and daily recollections.

But that, in this depravity of the natural man, no kind or amiable quality remains, that he is so far sunk below the beasts that perish, as that pity cannot move, nor justice awe, nor kindness conciliate him, that he universally, or even usually, delights in evil for evil's sake, and that where no prejudice or interest intervenes, he is unkind, uncourteous, or ungrateful, is certainly that which I find no where written in the Book of Truth, and against which, the book of nature and experience appears to bear abundant testimony. The very weakness of man indeed (and his weakness is, in this instance, a blessing) forbids his being consistent and uniform in vice any more than in virtue. And there are many countervailing circumstances, such as the weight of public opinion, the vacillation of men's own opinions, the feelings of worldly prudence, and the approbation, often involuntary, of whatever in other men is disinterested, kind, and lovely, which will very often be the means, under God's providence, of making the enemies of the righteous man his friends, and keeping the followers of that which is good from being materially harmed by any one.

I say under God's providence, because it must be further borne in mind that, however wicked man may be, and however entirely his heart may be bent on mischief, still that heart is in the hand of the Lord, the same Lord whose eyes are over the righteous, and His ears open unto their prayers, whose defence and shield may well be trusted for the safety and happiness of them that love Him. It is His apostle, it is His Holy Spirit who speaks to us in the words which I have quoted, and, with whatever exceptions these gracious assurances may possibly be qualified, the righteous man may yet found on them a probable hope, even in this life, of seeing good days, and being safe from those that would harm him.

I know it will be answered, that both reason and Scripture are, on the whole, against our conclusion.. In private life even the best of men have their enemies, their slanderers, their revilers; and the general history of religion we find to be made up of little else than a series of horrors and cruelties inflicted by the wicked.on the righteous; and sometimes on no other account, so far as man can discern, than that silent reproach which their good examples have given to the opposite lives of their persecutors.

The first murder which the world ever saw was occasioned by a difference of this kind. The prophets of ancient times, of whom the world was not worthy, were scourged, imprisoned, sawn in sunder, and slain with the sword. St. John the Baptist lost his head because he persisted in warning Herod of his wickedness; and the best and wisest of beings, the Son of God Himself, who went about doing good, and against whose pure and perfect character the malice of His enemies could find no colour. able aspersion, was taken in His innocency and doomed to a death of torture. Accordingly the same Divine Lord has left as a legacy to His disciples the painful reversion of His stripes, His thorns, His agony, His bitter tears, and commanded each of us, as a pledge of our sincerity in His service, to “take up the cross,” before we can presume to account ourselves His followers.

I answer, that these cases of persecution for righteousness sake are exceptions, and very great and awful ones, from the general rule which St. Peter lays down; but still they are exceptions only. They apply to a body of persons numerous, indeed, in themselves, but, thank God! very small in proportion to the total number of that mighty multitude who are redeemed from sin and misery by the blood of the Lamb, and the sanctification of the Holy Spirit. Of these by far the greater number will be found to have gone down to their graves in peace and in favour with both God and man; too happily obscure for the axe, the sword, or the fire, or protected from such dangers by the prevalence, the nominal prevalence at least, of those very doctrines, to plant which their heroic precursors thought their blood a trifling sacrifice.

Even in the age when martyrs were most numerous, a few thousands out of the whole populous family of Christ, afford no very formidable aggregate ; and how many ages have since passed away in which martyrdom has been unknown, and the mighty of the earth have, from the oppressors, been transformed into the nursing fathers of Christ's religion! It is, doubtless, true, that Christ speaks of His cross, in general terins, as that condition of His service which we must be all of us prepared to encounter, and bear with us boldly and cheerfully. And it is also true that the uniform manner of our Lord (as it would be the manner and the duty of every experienced person preparing another for the duties and dangers of a new profession) is to state those duties broadly and strongly, to the end that no one might treasure up disappointment for himself by too flattering and easy a picture of the arduous undertaking before him.

But if I were preparing a young seaman or soldier for the toils he must expect to undergo, if I were painting to him the various bitter accidents of food or field, the wounds and the watchings, the hunger and cold, the toil and thirst, the storms, the rencontres, the defeats and the captivities, the

dura navis,
Dura fugæ mala, dura belli,

would it be fair to understand me that all these or any of these calamities were necessarily to befall the individual whom I was addressing ; that no seas were ever calm, ne

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