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derive from this feeling of anger, SERMON ON ANGER.
inore than compensate for the mis. Rom. xii. 19, 20.
chiefs it occasions, these last are so Dearly beloved ; avenge not yourselves, but
numerous and important as to shew rather give place unto wrath : for it is the necessity of restraining that feelwritten, “ Vengeance is mine ; I will re- ing as, much as possible. “Be ye pay,” saith the Lord. Therefore if thine angry, and sin not;" is the Apostle's enemy hunger feed him; if he thirst give precept, and is the best that has yet him drink; for in so doing; thou shalt been given. All that is beneficial in the heap coals of fire on bis head.
effects of anger is thereby permitted, Few of the subjects which occupy all that is hurtful is forbidden; the the attention of all teachers of man common sense of mankind, acquiesces kind, present more difficulties or re- at once in the justice and propriety quire to be treated with more deli- of this command ; and all that remains cacy and caution than the feeling of for other teachers, is to enforce obeanger. On the one hand it is plain dience by the suggestion of such inothat the feeling itself is not only be- tives as have most influence upon
the neficial, but is even essentially ne.
actions of men. cessary to our self-preservation; and It is the peculiar advantage of the were we not impelled by it to resist preachers of the Gospel, to have it immediately some of the assaults in their power to urge the strongest which are made upon us, our exist- of all motives upon their hearers. ence could hardly continue through “ Dearly beloved; avenge not youra single day. It may be observed selves, (let your anger be free from likewise, that, without anger, the ne- all thoughts of revenge) rather give cessary authority which is vested in place unto wrath. For it is written, every superior, whether it be a prince, Vengeance is mine, I will repay saith a master, or a parent, would never be the Lord.” Once knowing that the exerted.
Our individual security right and the power of punishing intherefore, and the welfare of society juries is reserved by the Almighty are greatly indebted to this salutary entirely to himself, no wise and prufeeling; for these and other beneficial dent Christian will ever think of repurposes it was made a part of our venge, lest in any way he should be nature, and not even the mischiefs called to account for presuming to which it occasions could lead us to fight against God. The utility of wish that it might be rooted out from this motive for not avenging ourselves our hearts, if the gratification of such is moreover of the greatest importa wish were possible.
ance, as appears at once from the But though the benefits which we inferences which the Apostle pro. REMEMBRANCER, No. 43." 3 D
ceeds to draw. “ Therefore, if thine ever will, where the sufferer is the enemy hunger, feed him, and if he judge, he becomes the aggressor in thirst, give him drink, for in so doing, his turn, and must be subject to a thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his suitable retaliation. But what a world head." The propriety of these in. would this then become ! how could ferences, and the obligation we are we live in such mutual animosities; under to make our practice conform- and in acts of revenge wbich, when able to them, I shall presently have once begun, it is plain, would know occasion to shew.
no bounds, would find no end ! But first, some observations are Hence it is that as members of civil necessary on this dispensation of society, we find it necessary to comGod, whereby he has taken all ven- mit the power of punishing our enegeance to himself. To men who, mies to the higher orders in the State, like the Romans, had lived so long that the peace of the community may without God in the world, it was a new remain unbroken. and perhaps a hard lesson to hear, Now that which, as members of that they must forego all purpose of civil society, we are content to do; revenge, and therefore the Apostle for our mutual advantage and prostrengthens his exhortation by the tection, as Christians, authority of the Scriptures. “It is commanded to do, that we may not written, (says he) Vengeance is mine, interfere with the prerogative of I will repay saith the Lord.” To us God; we are commanded not to however it ought not to be either a avenge ourselves, but to make our new or hard lesson, since, to take anger give place to the wrath of vengeance is evidently one part God; for “ vengeance is mine," saith of the duties of our Lord and Judge. the Lord, “ I will repay.” It follows For in every enumeration of the indeed of necessity from this declasins which he will punish, we find all ration of the Lord, that we must not those offences by which men become presume to avenge ourselves; as a enemies to each other; and in the very slight consideration will shew. sentence of their condemnation be There can be but one just measure fore him, the exercise of the ven of punishment for an injury, whatgeance of God is evidently and ne ever its nature may be; consequentcessarily implied.
ly, when he that offends is once Merciful and wise are all the dis. punished in due proportion to the pensations of God, and truly grate- Offence he has committed, the claims ful ought we to be that he has been of justice are satisfied. It is repugpleased thus to take out of our nant to our natures, that any one hands, an office which we are so little should be twice punished for the qualified to fill. In whose bands it same offence-Now the Almighty should be placed, there can be no Lord of all, has declared that he will doubt. We know not the nature and repay, that he will render unto every extent of the injury which is done to man according to his deeds; and we us, until we have ascertained all know that, what he has promised he its effects. We know not, either, the will also make good, what he has deintention of the person who injured clared will assuredly come to pass. us, nor, while we rouse his pride by All manner of transgression, and all immoderate resentment, can we ex manner of sin, whether done against pect to know it. Need I proceed any him or against our neighbours, will farther, in shewing the unfitness of be inquired into at the last great day; man to avenge himself, even on his then will he shew his vengeance, then open and avowed enemy? Suppose will he repay-Hence therefore it then, for a moment, that it is admit- follows, that whoever avenges himted as a right. If the measure of self of his enemies, exposes them to resentment exceed the injury, and it a twofold punishment;
and as among
Christians, he that does so, must of “therefore in which is implied its necessity know that vengeance be. connexion with the duty of not avenglongeth to the Lord, and that he willing ourselves; this connexion which repay; in avenging himself he is is natural and important, I shall next guilty of wilful injustice against his endeavour to shew. enemy, for which he stands account. When, in the former part of able before God.
the text, the Apostle exhorts us The peculiar force and the great not to avenge ourselves, he means, importance of this motive in making it is plain, not only that we should us check our anger, and lay aside all abstain from doing harm to our thoughts of revenge are by this time, enemies, but also that we should I trust, made sufficiently plain. We put away as soon as possible all hamay be enjoined to forego our re tred and anger from our hearts, venge, because it is more noble to Nay yet more, that as far as respects forgive, or because we cannot judge the exercise of Christian charity and impartially of the offence, or because brotherly love, we should put them we may endanger ourselves thereby, on a footing with the rest of man. or for other reasons which might be kind. If the precept of the Apostle mentioned. And these are all strong have any meaning, it must mean thus motives, more or less honourable, much at least. And in fact, when he more or less effective; but they are all bids us minister to the wants of our uncertain, and therefore all insuf- enemies, he does but inculcate the ficient. No teacher, who has these mo. duties of a Christian. To “ love tives only to urge, can hope to produce our enemies” is the command of any great and permanent effect. The Christ; to love them as brethren, as slightest acquaintance with human heirs of the same immortality, as nature will convince us that so strong believers in the same God, and looka passion as anger, cannot always be ing to the same salvation. Nature restrained from acts of revenge, by indeed compels us to bear a yet feelings of generosity, of justice, or stronger affection to our relatives and even of interest; it requires the curb friends, to hold them as it were within of resistless authority; it requires a our hearts; nor does Christianity forcommand, such as the text affords, bid this, there was one disciple whom to commit all vengeance to God, Jesus loved. When therefore the lest by invading his prerogative, and Apostle bids us minister to the wants by injustice towards our enemies, of our enemies, he simply enjoins us we draw down displeasure and indig- to discharge that duty which we owe nation on our heads. To avenge to all men and specially unto them ourselves therefore, be it always re that are of the household of faith, a membered is not only an act of un. duty which we are but too apt to necharitableness towards a fellow- glect whenever it respects our ene. creature, and of hostility to the peace mies, and which in their case it would of that society whereof we are mem be impossible for us to discharge, if bers, but it is an offence of infinitely to “ avenge ourselves” were not formore importance, it is an act of dis- bidden. But siuce it has pleased obedience to the commandments of God to take all vengeance into his God.
own hand, our duties towards our To forego revenge, and thus to enemies
enemies remain untouched, and it give place to the wrath of God, is follows necessarily that we are bound not the only precept which my text to minister to their wants, and to do
and it is now time to con. them good whenever it is in our power. sider the other. It is thus expressed, There remains but one passage “If thine enemy hunger, feed him; more to be explained, viz. that with if he thirst give him drink.” This pre- which my text concludes, and in cept is introduced with the word which the Apostle describes the effect
which the kindness shewn to our ene flicted it, never. In this case, inmies will produce; “in so doing deed, the kindness shewn to an thou shalt heap coals of fire upon enemy “heaps coals of fire on his his head.” The whole passage, it is head,” in the worst possible sense; worthy of remark, is taken from the for such obstinate rejection of for25th chapter of the book of Pro- giveness on earth, will necessarily verbs. There are two interpretations add greatly to the wrath laid up in both of which have good authority; Heaven. according to the one, “coals of fire,” But to feed our enemy, and to is a metaphorical expression for the give him drink, when in so doing judgment of God, a sense in which it it is even possible that we may heap is frequently used in the Old Testa- the divine indignation upon him! Is ment, to which, as I have already ob- not this to do good with an evil view ? served the passage belongs. The An objection such as this deserves a other interpretation is less obvious, moment's notice. I have already though more congenial to a Christian observed, that to love our enemies, spirit, viz. that " to heap coals of and to do them good, are included fire,” is a metaphor borrowed from in the duties which as Christians we the practice of those who are em owe to all men; and are here men. ployed in melting metals; and who, tioned of enemies in particular, be. as is well known, heap coals upon the cause most likely to be neglected metal for that purpose-A moment's in that point: to love our eneconsideration will shew that both in- mies is the Christian's virtue, and, terpretations may be true.
as Christians, we must do them It is an undoubted fact, that while good. The effect produced on them we continue to resent an injury, and is not in our power; if it were we to pursue our enemy with a view to should not have heard this objec. revenge, we can neither hope nor ex- tion, for to do good to an enemy, pect to convert him to a friend. If, with a view to his future everlasting indeed, we are the stronger, he may destruction, is a crime from which be restrained from farther offence by our nature recoils. In the Christian fear, but his hatred against us, will religion, to take a parallel case, we be proportionably increased. But are plainly instructed in the nature if, on the contrary, we banish all of our offences, in the causes from thoughts of vengeance, and shew him which they arise, and in the means kindness particularly when he needs by which they may be avoided. it, we shall in the best sense, “beap This, and more than this, was done coals of fire on his head," and melt for us, yet being enemies; and if, him into sorrow and gratitude; sor- by obstinacy, by weakness, or by row for ever having done us barın, neglect, we turn these mercies to no and gratitude for kindness, so season- account, they will in like manner able, so unlooked for, so undeserved. heap coals of fire upon our beads. It may be, however, though we will Now, if the objection be just, that hope, that it rarely is the case, that we may be said to do good to our kindness to an enemy has not this enemies with an evil view, beeffect. There are men, who avow feel- cause by their obstinacy our kindings which disgrace our nature, who ness may draw down God's indigoaobstinately refuse all offers of recon- tion upon them; think for a mociliation,and persist in suffering to the ment of the force of this reasoning, utmost, rather than receive kindness when applied to the Christian relifrom one whom they have wronged, gion. It is too impious to express, it too truly illustrating that well known is a direct contradiction, nay, even an maxim, that he who receives an in- inversion of Christ's gracious declajury may soon forget it, he who in- ration: “I came not to destroy
men's lives, but to save them." To “ Remember thy end, and let ena Christian such an objection needs mity cease; remember corruption Do farther refutation.
and death, and abide in the comMany and indeed nearly all of the mandments.”-“ Let all bitterness, most important reflections on this and wrath, and anger, and clasubject, I have already laid before mor, be put away from you, with you; I have only now to exhort all malice; and be ye kind one to you, that as by this dispensa. another, tender hearted, forgiving tion of Almighty God, taking all one another, even as God for Christ's vengeance unto himself, the line of sake hath forgiven you." our duty to our enemies is plain and
T. F. easy, therefore carefully follow it.
To the Editor of the Remembrancer. thods of denoting the same events. SIR,
This may soon be made evident.
At the opening of the first seal (vi. The Book of Revelation contains 2.) St. John says, “ I saw, and be. many prophecies, so closely (as it hold, a white horse: and he that sat appears to us,) applicable to the on him had a bow, and a crown was Papal Apostacy, denouncing its de- given unto him, and he went forth, fection from the faith, and predict. conquering and to conquer." This ing its fipal overthrow, that our cu- image can only be applied to a prosriosity is naturally excited to know perous time of Christianity, viz. that what the Romanists have to say for of its first diffusion. At the sounding themselves upon the subject. Still of the first trumpet (viii. 7.) “There more, when they take up the Apo- followed hail and fire mingled with calypse as a weapou of offence, and blood, and they were cast upon the endeavour to apply its description of earth, &c.” Here a period of slaughter antichristian powers to the Protes, and distress is clearly denoted. This tants, we must be anxious to exa- may be sufficient to prove (without mine the arguments which they pursuing the comparison further,) bring forward for the support of that the periods of the seals, and their interpretation,
those of the trumpets, do not corThe prophecy of the destruction respond with each other. of Protestantism, which you state, Secondly, without entering upon (p. 299,) to be in the possession of a discussion of the question, whethe Catholics of Ireland, must cer. ther the five months during which tainly be a curious document: and the locusts were to prevail, allude should it obtain public notice, will, merely to the period of the year in I have no doubt, be fully answered which those insects make their ap. by more able pens than mine. But pearance, or whether they denote in upon perusing
your account of Pas- the prophetic sense, one hundred and torini's work, I cannot refrain from fifty years; we have no warrant for noticing one or two striking : errors, supposing that the five months menwhich appear to me entirely to up: tioned in verse 5. and verse 10. of set bis interpretation.
chapter ix. are two separate periods. In the first place, the seven seals, The obvious sense of the passage is, and the seven trumpets, relate to that the words in the latter verse distinct periods of the history of the are nothing else than a repetition of Church, and are not different me what was stated in the foriner. The