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OF FORGIVENESS OF INJURIES IN OPPOSITION TO
SECT. 1. Both the law and the Prophets prohibit revenge, and enjoin forgiveness of injuries.-2. A forgiving spirit is an essential part of the character of a disciple of Christ.-3. The Apostles enjoin it in their writings. And 4. Imitating their Lord, recommend it by their example.
SECT. 1. Both the law and the Prophets prohibit revenge, and enjoin forgiveness of injuries.
THOU shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people; but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. If thou meet thine enemy's ox or his ass going astray, thou shalt surely bring it back to him again. If thou see the ass of him that hateth thee, lying under his burden, thou shalt surely help with him. Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth; and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth; lest the Lord see it, and it displease him. Say not, I will do so to him, as he hath done to me; I will render to the man according to his work. Say not thou, I will recompense evil; but wait on the Lord, and he shall save thee. The discretion of a man deferreth his anger; and it is his glory to pass over a transgression'. Let not mercy and truth forsake thee. The merciful iman doth good to his own soul; but he that is cruel, troubleth his own flesh". Deceit is in the heart of them that imagine evil; but to the counsellors of peace is joy'. If thine enemy hunger, give him to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him to drink; for thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head, and the Lord shall reward thee*.
If I rejoiced at the destruction of him that hated me,
§ 1. Lev. xix. 18.
d Prov. xxiv. 29.
* Prov, iii. 3.
* Prov. xxv. 21, 22.
or lift up myself when evil found him; [neither have I suffered my mouth to sin, by wishing a curse to his soul;] if the men of my tabernacle said not, O that we had of his flesh! we cannot be satisfied'; shall not God search this out? for he knoweth the secrets of the heart". Wo is me, that I sojourn in Meshech, that I dwell in the tents of Kedar. My soul hath long dwelt with him that hateth peace. I am for peace; but when I speak they are for war".
SECT. 2. A forgiving spirit is an essential part of the character of a disciple of Christ.
Blessed are the merciful; for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the peace-makers, for they shall be called the children of God". Ye have heard, that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill, shall be in danger of the judgment. But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause, shall be in danger of the judgment; and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council; but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. Therefore, if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee; leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way, first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. Agree with thine adversary quickly, whilst thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. Verily, I say unto thee, thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing". Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth. But I say unto you, that ye resist not evil; but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat; let him have thy cloak also.
1 Job,xxxi. 29, 30, 31.
§ 2. Matt. v. 7.
d Matt. v. 25, 26.
m Psal. xliv. 21.
b Matt. v. 9.
e Matt. v. 38, 39, 40.
» Psal. cxx. 5, 6, 7.
• Matt. v. 21-24.
Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven; for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good; and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust*. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? and if ye salute your brethren only, what do you more than others? do not even the publicans sot? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. And when ye stand praying; forgive, if ye have aught against any; that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. After this manner therefore pray ye, Our Father which art in heaven", forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors'. For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses*. And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise'.
If thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone; if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church; but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican". Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee until seven times; but until seventy times sevea. Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto
Matth. v. 48-48. * Mark, xi. 25.
Matth. vi. 12.
Matth. xviii. 15-17.
See Luke, vi. 27, 28, 29, 35, 37. + See Luke, vi. 32, 33, 34.
* Matth. vi. 14, 15.
Matth. vi. 9.
a certain king which would take account of his servants.
SECT. 3. The Apostles enjoin it in their writings. Dare any of you having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints*?
but brother goes to law with brother; and that before the unbelievers'. Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another; why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded? See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men. Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord'; not rendering evil for evil, nor railing for railing; but contrariwise; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing. I therefore beseech you, that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called; with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice; and be ye kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you: for he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shown no mercy. Bless them which persecute you; bless, and curse not. Recompense to no man evil for evil. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath; for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord'. Therefore, if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink; for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good". Put on, therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another; if any man have a quarrel against any, even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things, put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness". Charity suffereth long, and is kind; is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; beareth all things, believeth ail things, hopeth all
b 1 Cor. vi. 6.
e James, v. 7.