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Recompense to no man evil for evil.

HERE is no virtue which is more fre. SERM.

XVIII. quently and strongly inculcated in the gos. pel, than the forgiveness of those who have injured us. Good will towards his enemies is an indespensable requisite in the forma: tion of the character of a Christian; it is the condition on which alone his own faults can be pardoned, and his imperfect obedience meet with acceptance. The truth of this assertion is so glaring, that it is scarce.. $ 4


SERM. possible to read a page of the New Testa. XVIII.

ment, without being convinced of it; yet has it happened from various causes that there is no law of our religion, which is more openly or more frequently violated, The greatness of the provocation the want of duty, or proper respect, in the person who has offended us-his ingratitude, the dread lest he should triumph in our forbearance, and be encouraged to new insults—the apprehension of the scorn and contempt of the world, are all alledged as excuses for resentment and retaliation: passion and pride are, in this instance, combined against virtue: the one is raised instantly, and prompts us to inflict pain on the person from whom we have received it; the other operates more leisurely, but, unhappily, with greater effect; it forbids us to forgive, though we are no longer enraged; it commands us to revenge, though we wish for reconciliation,


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Among the many errors in the opinions SERM.

XVUI. of mankind, there is none which is productive of more unhappiness, and perhaps of more guilt, than that which has annexed the idea of meanness and cowardice to a quiet submission to an injury; the party offended scarce, perhaps, on some occasions, feels the offence, on others he would be willing to overlook it, but the eye of the world is upon him, he fancies that he is expected to exert himself, and is revengeful from regard to his reputation.

From the weakness of human nature, from the various competitions of men, from all desiring to obtain that which can only be the property of a few, it must necessarily happen, that offences will often be given, injuries frequently be done; no command therefore could be more worthy of him, at whose birth peace was proclaimed upon earth, than to forgive: forgiveness puts a sudden stop to the most material


SERM. consequences of an injury, it prevents it XVIII.

from extending beyond its natural effects, it composes the mind of him who is aggrieved, and probably induces the repenta ance of the aggressor. Whereas, if the person offended were at liberty to avenge the offence, if he were free to return what he had suffered, himself the judge, it is scarcely possible that he should so measure his revenge, as not to exceed the pain he had received; his adversary, at least, will never allow the justice of his punishment; the same malicious or overbearing temper, which excited the first injury, will put him on justifying it; be, in his turn, will have recourse to retaliation, and a continued series of hostilities will be the consequence. Into what a state then would society be reduced! at home the gnawings of malice, the gloom of hatred, and sullen meditations, on revenge; abroad, secret calumnies, open reproaches, violence, and, not unfrequently, bloodshed.


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