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and Christian charity. On the other hand, that it is lawful to seek the aid of the magistrate against those who do us injury is evident hence; 1. Because God himself, who approves nothing contrary to charity, hath ordained magistrates and tribunals. 2. Because laws in all well organised states are enacted for the repairing of injuries; which laws would remain absolutely useless if it was unlawful to recur to their assistance against evil-doers. 3. Because it is profitable even to evil-doers themselves, that they should be punished for their crimes, and that the plunder they obtain by doing injury to others should be taken from them : Hence it may sometimes happen, that charity requires us to take vengeance of the wicked : for he is overcome with the advantage of victory on his side, says Augustine, from whom the liberty of doing injury is taken away. August. Epist. 5, ad Marcell. As to what our Saviour says and the other similar passages of Scripture, we maintain that they should be interpreted according to the context. Thus, when you shall be smitten on one cheek, turn the other, that is, rather than break out yourself into revenge, and inflict the same injury upon another. We say, too, that such passages are to be understood with this limitation : Do so as often as the glory of God and the good of our neighbour seems to require it. These, therefore, are necessary precepts (as the Schoolmen say out of Augustine,) as far as the preparation of the mind is concerned; and they are to be followed in the outward act, as often as the glory of God and the good of our neighbour requires. See more on this point in Augustine, Epist. 5, ad Marcellinum.
Even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.] Supply the word forgive. The example of Christ ought to have with Christians both the force of an argument for persuasion and of a rule for direction, as far as forbearing and forgiving are concerned; the force of an argument; because the members ought to correspond to their head. A proud or a feeble member is inconsistent with a head which is humble and crowned with thorns. Hence by Christ himself and his Apostles, the example of Christ is urged principally in those things which relate to charity and the humility of liis
sufferings. If I have washed your feet, ye ought also to wash one another's feet: for I have given you an example, John xiii. 14. Christ hath suffered for us, leaving us an example, 1 Pet. ii. 21. He that saith he abideth in him, ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked, 1 John ii. 6. The example of Christ has, moreover, the force of a rule in directing us, inasmuch as it contains the most perfect model of virtue. Hence Bernard says, What have you to do with virtues, who are ignorant of the virtues of Christ ? Where, I beseech you, will ye find true prudence, but in the doctrine of Christ? where true temperance, but in the life of Christ? Where true fortitude, but in the passion of Christ? But let us evince this in our acts of forbearing and forgiving : in which we have a perfect rule for imitation, whether we regard what Christ bore and forgave, or from whom, or, in fine, in what manner he bore and forgave.
As to what he bore and forgave? It was curses, and those the most grievous and bitter: for he was called a glutton and a wine-bibber, a friend of publicans and sinners, one possessed of a devil, one using the assistance of dæmons, a madman, a blasphemer, an impostor ;* and, in fine, what not? He suffered evil entreatment too, being spit upon, being beaten with rods, lastly, being crucified. Yet all these so many and so great injuries he bore and forgave.
From whom? From the chiefs of the people, from the people themselves, from the ignorant, from the wicked, from strangers and from countrymen, from Jews and Gentiles; in short, being injured by every description of men, he bore with them all, he pardoned them all.
In what manner? Not from such infirmity as rendered him unable to resist; but from humility and voluntary obedience, which made him willing to suffer. Isa. liii. 7; Matt. xxvi. 53. Not with a treacherous and deceitful intention, meditating and seeking future vengeance; but with a pure heart inflamed with love, intreating from God the Father a gracious forgiveness for his enemies ; Luke
* Matt. xi. 19; John vii. 20 ; Luke xi. 18.
xxiii. 34. Such was the perfect bearing of injuries and the forgiveness of Christ, of which the Apostle speaks in saying, As Christ has forgiven you, so also do ye. We ought therefore, to compare ourselves with this example; and although we cannot attain to its perfection, yet we should remember always to propose to ourselves its imitation.
We derive the following instructions ;
1. It behoves a Christian to be certain of the pardon of his sins through Christ: since this pardoning is the rule and measure of pardoning others; but a rule ought to be fixed and certain.
2. He who does not freely pardon others, never feels in his heart the benefit of Christ pardoning his sins : neither can he who has not resolved to forgive his neighbour, conclude that his own sins are forgiven of God,
3. In vain does the mind eager for revenge excuse its own malice by the extent of the injury done, and by the loss to the man's own character if revenge be neglected, and other points of the like nature, by which men are accustomed to inflame themselves with revenge. All these considerations vanish if we attend to the rule laid down by the Apostle, As Christ hath forgiven you, so also do ye.
4. It is, therefore, a diabolical opinion, which has posséssed the minds of almost all those who lay claim to gentility, that they cannot bear, even a reproachful word, without the loss of their honour and their reputation ; but are under the necessity of seeking revenge in a duel, at the manifest peril of their own lives, and a plain attack upon the life of another.
This more than heathenish opinion can be refuted by many arguments :
1. We pull down the very foundation of what we are striving to build, by laying down this maxim. It is not a sign of a cowardly or ignoble mind, nor disgraceful or mean in a Christian, to bear injuries, but to inflict them. This was briefly proved above, when we were reasoning on meekness, patience, and their acts : we will now add, that this was even approved by the very heathens, especially the wiser among them. Socrates, as we find in Plato (in his
Gorgia) draws the conclusion, that every injury is dishonourable and infamous to the inflictor of it, not to him who suffers it ; and that, as he says himself, for the strongest and most solid reasons, σιδηρούς και αδαμαντίνοις λόγοις. Aristotle follows the same opinion in his Ethics 5. cap. 11, giving this reason; To inflict un injury is the effect of dishonesty; and on that account dishonourable and infamous : but to suffer one with equanimity is the effect of virtue, and therefore glorious. Seneca, in that book where he professedly considers whether an injury can affect a wise man, writes; We ought to despise injuries, and what I may call the shadow of injuries, contumely, whether they fall deservedly or undeservedly upon us. If deservedly, it is not contumely, but judgment given ; if undeservedly, it is for him who did the injury, and not for me to be ashamed of it. That we may not accumulate more from profane authors, we have the opinion of Christ himself, Matt. v. 11, Blessed are ye when men shall revile you.
2. Should we grant that injury or contumely has been cast upon us, and that to do this is criminal ; nevertheless it by no means follows, that it is lawful to repel it by means of a duel: and that for these reasons;
1. No one ought to be judge in his own cause; and, least of all, one who is disturbed with anger, violence, and the passion of revenge. Tertullian, De patient. says, What hare I to do with a passion, which I cannot govern through impatience ?
2. Individuals do injury to God and his vicarious representative, the magistrate, when they seek to revenge themselves by private means. Vengeance is mine, and I will repay, saith the Lord, Deut. xxxii. 35; and Rom. xiii. 14, Paul says of the magistrate, He beareth not the sword in vain. But he would bear it in vain, if it was allowed to an individual to draw the sword at his own pleasure.
3. Duellists would punish every injury with the same punishment, namely, death ; which is not the judgment of a generous man, but of a madman. Now every punishment inflicted by one possessed of all his faculties, ought to be coinmensurate with the offence.
We shall conclude with the saying of Christ. Matt. xxvi. 52, All they that take the sword shall perish with the sword; that is, as Augustine interprets it, Every one who without legitimate authority granted to him, or enjoining him so to do, shall arm himself against the life of any man, shall perish
either by the sword of man, or that of Divine vengeance. · From all these reasons it appears clear, that they are abso
lutely madmen, who follow the opinions of the many, renouncing the doctrine of Christ : so that they may retain the name of Gentlemen, they do not fear the title of homicide ; and, finally, so that they may avoid a suspicion of false infamy, they leap into the very pit of hell itself. Thus much of those virtues which we practise towards such persons as are hostile and injurious to us : We next come to those which refer to all without distinction.
The Apostle has exhorted the Colossians to put on meekness and long-suffering, and also to exercise these virtues: now he proceeds to advise them to put on charity also, which is the root, parent, and mistress, as well of these, as of all other virtues. This verse has two parts: the exhortation to put on charity; and the commendation of charity, which contains the force of an argument for putting it on.
Above all these things charity.] First, let us consider this virtue of charity itself; secondly, its pre-eminence, or the prerogative which belongs to it. The Apostle speaks of charity towards one's neighbour; this, however, is always to be understood to spring from love towards God. Now it is thus defined by Clemens Alexandrinus; The extension of benèvolence with just reason to the advantage of one's neighbour. Strom. 2. But I am better pleased with the follow