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The circumstances of the cases now mentioned seem to require and demand suitable relief and affistance from those who are capable of giving it. But cho it will be readily allowed, that there is a natural fitness and decency in the practice of mercy towards such as have never deferved ill of us; yet perhaps some may be ready to object against the fitness thereof with respect to those, who have rendered themselves obnoxious to our resentment by an unkind and injurious treatment of us. “ Enemies, say they,
ought to be treated as enemies; i. e. « prosecuted with hatred and revenge:
they have no right to a mild and gen« tle usage from us, who breathe no" thing but wrath and fury against us:
to put up affronts and forgive injuries, « is to act the part of a coward and not " of a man, to expose one's self to fresh “ insults, and greater injuries." This is the language of those who think that mercy ought not to be extended to enemies.
Now to take off the force of this objection, let it be considered first, that in case of repentance it doth not seem at all unfit or unreasonable, that an enemy should be forgiven. 'On the contrary, it
seems His para
seems agreeable to reason fo to do : for he who repents of an evil action, doth what in him lies towards the undoing of it, and therefore ought not any longer to be treated as having done it.. Secondly, An enemy, even tho he persist in his enmity, ought not to be confider'd only in that character. Whilst we remember that he is an enemy, we ougho not to forget that he is a man. His taking of the fame nature with ourselves, is an argument against cruelty and barbaricy towards him. Tho his enmity against us may deserve resentment, yet it ought not to produce hatred : tho pru. dence should restrain us from taking him into our bosom, and conversing with him as a friend, yet humanity Thould teach us to pity him when in distress, and afford him needful succour.
To put up affronts, and forgive injuries, is so far from being a mark of cowardice, that it argues true greatness of mind. Noç he who overcomes his passions, but who is overcome by them, is a coward. The angry and revengeful man therefore deserves that name ; who gives himself up to the conduct of violent and impetuous pafGions ; noc the gentle and good-na
tured person, who manfully fights against them, and labours to repress and lubdue them. Such an one shews him self to be of a noble and heroick spirit, and deserves more honour than great potentares and succeisful warriors. For in the opinion of the wiseft of men, be who is flow to anger is better than the mighty; and he who ruleth his spirit, than be who taketh a city; Prov. XVI. 32.
And whereas it is said that to forgive past injuries is the ready way to expose one's self to more and greater : 1 answer, that tho this is a possible case, and which doth sometimes happen, yet it is not a certain and necessary consequence of the thing. So far from that, that it hath a tendency to produce the contrary effect, and frequently doth. There is something in mercy and goodness, which is apr to melt down the hardest temper. Who can persist in enmity against that man,who endeavours to overcome evil with good ; and who instead of persecuting his enemy with hatred and revenge, heaps benefits
him? Bad as the world is, " there - are few to be found of such a stubborn and implacable temper. But
supposing the worst that can happen ; that a person is not to be won over by acts of kindness, but is obstinately bent upon requiring evil for good, and hatred for all our love : tho in thar case it may not be expedient to continue our good offices, or confer any more favours upon him, yet it cannot be unfit that we fhould abstain from acts of cruelty and revenge. Nay, it is for that we should abstain from them ; because, as members of society, we have given up all right to private revenge. By living in society, and partaking of the benefits and privileges of it, we do as it were consent to be governed by those laws by which che community is governed. Now, in asmuch as the laws of society have restrained us from being our own avengers, and provided for the redress of grievances and the punishment of offenders, in a legal and publick way ; it is quite wrong to offer any private violence to our enemies, either in cheir body or eftates. We ought rather to put them into the hands of the civil power, and leave them to thofe punishments which the wisdom of che legislature hath thought fit to inflict upon such cries as theirs. And with re
gard co fuch injuries as do not come un-. der the cognizance of human laws; it will be sufficient if we only decline familiar converse with the authors of them, keep a watchful eye over their conduct, and take the most prudent measures that we can, as private persons, either to al (wage their malice, or prevent their doing any further mischief.
Thus I have done with the first argument; whereby. I proposed to prove the righteousness of the practice of mercy, viz. (he natural fitness and decency of it.
2. It is what we ourselves delire to receive froin others when we stand in need of it: and therefore it is righteous and fitting that we ourselves should practise it. Should not we, if we were afflicted wich, bodily diseases, or oppressed with poverty, or perplexed with difficulties, or wounded in spirit, desire co be pițied by qur neighbours ? Should we not with for the charitable relief and the wholesome advice of those, whose affluence of this world's good enables them to feed the hungry, and clothe the naked, and whose understanding and skill
quas lify them for giving counsel in diffi