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may deserve our esteem and love, and as partakers of the same nature with us they have a title to some share in our brotherly affection; so the evils they do to us may, if we please to make good use of them, turn to our great advantage; according to the old observation, that our enemies do sometimes do us more real good than our friends. And though they do not design it so, but rather the direct contrary, yet if by God's overruling providence, and our own prudent reflections and good management, it proves so in the event, it is the same thing as to
And therefore our blessed Lord hath commanded us, instead of hating, to love our enemies; instead of rendering evil
for evil, to return good for evil, and to do good to them that hate us, and pray for them that despitefully use us, and persecute us!
And in case of egregious, flagrant wickedness, though if any thing would render a man hateful to us, that would ; yet even here we must distinguish between the sinner and his sin. His vices we ought to hate, and avoid his conversation because guilty of them; but his person we must not hate, but rather pity, and so far love, as to pray for, and endeavour to effect his reformation, according to the blessed example which our gracious God hath set us, who, though he infinitely hates sin, yet in a wondrous manner provided for the conversion and salvation of sinners.
So that nothing, how bad soever in itself, or injurious to us, is the object of our hatred, but sin; and the more perfectly we hate that, as was said before, the less inclinable shall we be to hate any thing else : for every thing, compared with this foul monster, will appear to have something or other in it that may, if not deserve our love, be yet too good for our hate. But if we employ this passion upon any other object, the more we do so, the less shall we employ it where alone it ought to be fixed; till we become like those the prophet Micah mentions, who hate the good, and love the evil m, which cannot but be attended with confusion and every evil work : and this sort of misplaced hatred is reckoned among those works of the flesh, which those that are guilty of shall not inherit the kingdom of Godn.
| Matt. v. 43, &c.
Sin therefore, and sin alone, being the proper object of hatred, upon that let this passion be employed, which seems to be implanted in us for that purpose only; and that it may be the more useful to us, it will be needful to give some directions for the better government of it.
How this passion of hatred is to be regulated. THAT this passion would be exceeding mischievous if placed amiss, and under no restraint, is evident without any proof: in order, therefore, to the due management of it, and to prevent the ill consequences of its being without control, I would recommend the following rules.
First, that we be very careful not to humour ourselves in any unreasonable and fanciful aversions. This is a fault that too many are very much guilty of, and the consequence is great uneasiness to themselves, great breach of charity to others, and mostly for little or no reason; which ends at last in incurm Micah iii, 2.
n Gal. v. 21.
able hatred, and is utterly inconsistent with the temper of Christianity, and often betrays into the greatest violations of all the laws of nature and religion.
Upon some small pique or distaste that we happen to take against any one, how apt are we to nourish it, and ruminate upon it, and aggravate the inconsiderable fault or mistake that was the occasion of it; till at length we have brought it to a prodigious size, and then we grow uneasy in the company of the offender, and at last cannot endure the sight of him, and our aversion rankles into implacable malice, and we set ourselves to do him all the mischief that we can; till by degrees we have carried our resentments so far, as to commit what will bring the greatest mischiefs upon ourselves in the conclusion.
It should be our great care therefore not to conceive dislikes and prejudices against any one, to nip such resentments in the very bud, and endeavour to preserve such a charitable temper, as even in the case of some really disobliging carriage in our neighbour towards us, to hope the best; and by no means to be full of suspicions and jealousies and surmises, which may grow to a settled hatred before we are aware, from a mere imaginary occasion, and thereby abundance of misery and mischief arise from nothing
But suppose we have received a real and considerable injury from another, and with some circumstances of aggravation, yet let us take it as we find it, and not make it worse than it is; which will but add to our own vexation, and provoke us to a revengeful return, the sad consequences of which, both in this world and the next, we cannot be to learn. Whereas nothing is bound more strictly upon us by our holy religion, than forgiveness of injuries, as we hope to be forgiven of God, and love, even of enemies, as God loved us when we were so to him, and made it the indispensable condition of our continuance in his love.
Besides, if we nurse up our resentments till they come to hatred, as they will too quickly do, we bring upon ourselves, not only the present uneasiness that attends this passion when placed amiss, but a very difficult task, which must be effectually performed if ever we expect to be happy; and that is, to undo all that has been done in this matter; to lay aside our resentments and aversions, and to turn our hatred into reconciliation and love.
Now hatred is not only a sudden, quick apprehension of a thing as evil and hurtful to us, and a present vigorous opposition to it, for that is the passion of anger ; but it is a rooted, settled ill-will, cool and deliberate, brought to perfection by degrees, and length of time, and much thought and often rumination; and therefore it is one of the hardest things in the world to root it up effectually; and yet, as we hope to be saved, it must be done; for a breast full of hatred and malice is much fitter for hell than for heaven.
And will the sweetness of revenge, as it is called, countervail for the sharp methods we must undergo, in being cured of that vile passion from whence it springs, or of the infinitely sharper pains of hell if we are not? For our own sakes therefore we should with the utmost care avoid all appearance
of this evil, which is so apt to steal insensibly upon us, and will at last bring infinitely greater miseries upon ourselves than we can ever bring upon those whom we most implacably hate.
And as we should thus guard ourselves against conceiving prejudices and aversions to persons, lest they grow to a settled hatred, as we have seen; so should we likewise against things, and not be too full of our distastes and our dislikes, and by a wanton, wayward fancy make more antipathies than nature designed we should have.
It is by no means desirable, but rather an unhappiness, to have any natural antipathies, and brings a great uneasiness upon life; but to create them to ourselves is a very odd way of proceeding, and is of more ill consequence than people at first sight may imagine. For it naturally tends to sour our temper, and make us nice and humoursome, and difficult to be pleased ; and when we are once come to this pass, from these unreasonable aversions to things, it is an easy and almost unavoidable step to the like aversions to persons; and what the consequence of that is, we saw but now.
An easiness therefore, and candour of disposition, which hath those properties of charity mentioned by St. Paul, 1 Cor. xiii. 4, &c. and suffereth long, and is kind; envieth not, is not puffed up, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil ; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things; such a disposition as this is the best preservative against the passion of hatred. A soul of this excellent temper will have no room for ill-will to any thing but sin, which is the only thing in nature that a Christian should hate; and even in