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jects them to commit the crime of murders and to endure its tremendous punishment !
The second text, which commands us to turn the other cheek to the smiter, is perhaps of all the precepts of the Bible, the most humbling to the pride of the human heart. It is nevertheless the command of our blessed Savior, and cannot be rejected unless we reject his authority. I am willing to concede, however, that the text is somewhat figurative, and that as a blow on the cheek was given more for insult than injury, (as in John xviii. 2d. and in Acts xxiii. 2d.) the injunction is that we should patiently endure insults. What is so likely to make the aggressor ashamed of his conduct, as thus calmly to turn the other cheek? I believe the greatest miscreant would be ashamed to repeat the blow. Even heathen philosophers have shewn, both by precept and example, that it is more glorious to pass by an insult, than to revenge it. I remember many anecdotes of heathens and men of the world to this purpose, and perhaps hereafter I may relate some of them. If then the revenging of an insult be unlawful to a Christian, how much more so is the severe retaliation of taking life, which ever
goes beyond the saying of " those of old time, an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth,” which our blessed Lord forbids his disciples to imitate. But if it is criminal in an individual, how much more in a nation, to make war on account of an insult, however premeditated and offensive, by which many persons innocent and ignorant of the offence, must suffer death in its most horrid forms.
It may be said that these texts inculcate passive obedience and non-resistance. If they do, then passive obedience and non-resistance are the doctrines of the Bible. But they do not imply non-resistance in every
If I can, by physical force, disarm my enemy, and prevent him from injuring me or any other person, it is my duty to do it, but without any feelings of revenge or retaliation. But if I can disarm him by moral force, by turning the other cheek ; by returning good for evil; or by convincing him of his error, I gain two victories ; one over him, and the other over myself, often the most difficult. “The discretion of a man deferreth his anger, and it is his glory to pass over a transgression.
ON BEARING INSULTS WITH PATIENCE.
In a late communication, I intimated that I should, when convenient, relate a few anecdotes of heathens and men of the world, who by passing over insults and returning good for evil, have put nominal christians to the blush, by coming nearer to the commands of their divine Master, than they. The following are principally from memory.
When Xerxes invaded Greece, there was, in the Greek councils, a difference of opin-, ion, concerning the best place for engaging the enemy. Themistocles urging his opinion with some warmth, Eurybiades lifted up his cane over him, in a menacing manner.
Strike,” says the Athenian general, “but hear me." The Lacedemonian, admiring his command of temper, bade him speak what he had to say. Plutarch
of Pericles, 6. Such was his self-command, that when a vile and abandoned fellow loaded him a whole day with reproaches and abuse, he bore it with patience and silence, and continued in public,
for the despatch of some urgent affairs. In the evening he walked gravely home, the blackguard following and insulting him, with the most scurrilous language, the whole way. An as it was dark, when he came to his own door, he ordered one of his servants to take a torch and light the man home.”
How do the manners of these unenlightened heathen put to the blush the conduct of our great men, who for a wry word challenge, fight and kill each other, regardless alike of their country's laws and welfare, and the commands of God. Yet such men are exalted to the highest stations, and thus the nation becomes a participator in their crimes, forgetting that “ he who ruleth his own spirit is better than he who taketh a city.”
Two young gentlemen, I believe officers, were playing at backgammon, in a public coffee room, in Paris, when one thoughtlessly replied, to the observation of the other, “O what a story!” The other, immediately snatching up the tables, gave his friend a blow on the head, and, as if stupified and astonished at his rashness, sat down, regardless of the consequence. The injured man arose and addressed the company in these
words: “Gentlemen, you think that I shall take the life of my friend, for this rash act of his. But, could I now see his heart, I should find it torn with anguish and sorrow, for what he has done, and that he suffers a thousand times more pain, than I do, from the blow I have received. I shall therefore not take his life, but I will take the life of any one of you, who dare to utter the least reflection on my honor.” All were silent for a moment.
Bravo! exclaimed an old knight of St. Lewis. Bravo ! echoed round the coffee room, and the friends resumed their
game. A part of the story is worthy the imitation of christians, but the beauty of the action is spoiled by the concluding threat.
Two bloods of the highest order were bantering one another at a coffee house, when one dared the other, to go and spit in the face of an officer of high rank and tried courage, who sat in a box reading a newspaper. No sooner said than done. The officer calmly took his handkerchief, and wiped his face and said, “Young man, could I wipe your blood from my conscience as easily as I can your spittle from my face, I would instantly put you to death; but I disdain to stain my conscience or my sword with your blood."