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spirit of the gospel, we must cease from wrath against him ;-we must “ forgive him from our hearts, his trespasses against us." And having thus obtained a victory over ourselves, not less arduous than it is necessary, we shall find this precept to attract our notice in a very peculiar manner. For, if to “ feed” those who “ hunger,” and “give drink” to those who “ thirst,” be in general the dictate of humanity, as well as a prime duty of the Christian life, how vastly must the luxury of doing good be heightened by the consideration that
“enemy” is the object of it?—If magnanimity can be ascribed to this peaceful and retired virtue, where the “left hand” is not to “know” what“ the right hand doeth;' surely it is here! If an evidence is to be had of unusual self-command, of subdued character, of vanquished pride, and of a serene and heavenly spirit-surely it is here !-And if, of the things done in the body, a memorial is to ascend before the tribunal of Christ, at the awful investigation of the last great day, what shall be so prominent—what shall carry with it such a solemn and genuine emphasis, as that obedience to the law of Christ, “ do good to them that hate you,” combined, as far as it can go, with the imitation of the life of Christ, who prayed for mercy even on his murderers:-“ Father, forgive them, they know not what they do!” In the instance now before us, the very same good might be done by many in the world, from many different motives, and “the hungry,” and “the thirsty,” as far as may concern their temporal wants, equally profit by it; but suffer me to request your serious attention to this important truth, that no other motive to do such good, than that which has first eradicated enmity from the heart, will reverberate with saving effect
the character of him who does it, nor bring him an immediate and substantial reward in the renovation of his own spirit, and of his own temper, and in the consolation that will not fail to accompany it, of having done what is right under the most forbidding circumstances, and in the face of a world which often brands such conduct with hypocrisy, and weakness, and pusillanimity, and which would give its sanction and applause to the very reverse.
But as the Apostle, in another place, exhorts us, “ let no man seek his own, but every man another's wealth," so whilst we seek and promote the highest improvement of our own souls, in the faithful practice of the precept in the text, we have reason to indulge a no illfounded hope of extending the same blessing
to those very persons, whose temporal necessities we are there exhorted to relieve“for, in so doing,” says the Apostle, “thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.” It is not the pressure of bodily distress that the Christian should be most anxious to remove. His most glorious office, and his most glorious reward lie in “ turning many unto righteousness.". And, in the present instance, how shall he be able to do this ?-By the influence, and by the beauty of his example. other instances, he might shew equal kindness without attaining the same desirable end. He might relieve the distress of the stranger, the orphan and the widow, whom he had never known, and never seen, without awaking in them the smallest sense of right or wrong, or even of gratitude, and leave them in these respects, (as it too often happens) just as worthless as he found them. But when it is to an “enemy,” to one who hates him, and who continues, perhaps, unrelenting in his hatred, that such generosity is extended; when getting the better of his private feelings, and of every selfish affection, he is beheld hastening to the aid of such a person, as it were to an afflicted friend or brother ;-how must the blush of shame glow in the face of that enemy, at the painful recollection of having entertained, or of still persisting in his animosity ;-how must he exchange his cold, and cheerless, and self-corroding malice, for the warmth of gratitude pervading his inmost soul, and how must the sense of such love and unmerited kindness, as it were, of “coals of fire” heaped “ upon his head,” soften and melt down every opposition of his entire nature into reciprocal love and kindness towards him who could be so compassionate, and so liberal, and so magnanimous as to forgive and to forget every insult and every wrong, on beholding the distress and sorrow of the very man whom he had been mourning over, and whom the world would have acquitted him in rejoicing over, or, at least, in passing by as an alien and an Thus it is, that a truly Christian spirit can produce peace upon earth where peace was least to be expected; and that the coal which burned only for the excitement and the supply of the angry passions of greater hatred, and of more enduring strife, may be consecrated to the sacrifice of these most malignant passions of the mind.
I have now set before you one of the most difficult duties of the Christian code ; one which involves the entire regulation of the Christian man--and one which (from the
conduct of the world at large) appears the most revolting to flesh and blood. It is no less than the unnatural duty of “love your enemies, do good to them which hate youbless them which curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you ;”-a duty which the infidel and the scoffer deny in principle as well as in practice. It is the painful duty, unknown to philosophy and to worldly wisdom, of “ turning the left cheek,” of “giving up a coat or a cloak,” of being “ reviled, and reviling not again," which is accounted folly, and pusillanimity, and cowardice, by all who “know not Christ," nor “ the power of his resurrection, nor the fellowship of his sufferings;"—a duty which is questioned and softened down, and, at best, reckoned among the “hard sayings,” difficult to “bear," even by some who profess Christ, but “who stop short in the principles of the doctrine of Christ," and seek not to “go on unto perfection.” But to endeavour after perfection in this way is sound philosophy, “the wisdom of the simple,” as far surpassing the “wisdom of the wise,” as Christ and the little volume of “all he did and taught,” excel the whole host of human sages, and all that has been ever written, said or printed, since the day he was first announced as the Saviour of