« ForrigeFortsæt »
LAW OF KINDNESS.
KINDNESS AND REVENGE.
^ Breathe all thy minstrelsy, immortal Harp!
POLLOCK'S COURSE OF TIME, Book IX.
As like physical causes produce like physical consequences, as vice will most assuredly result in misery, so revenge will call forth hate-for water does not more certainly tend to its level, than the exercise of malice and cruelty rouses the human soul to kindle the fires of anger and opposition. To small purpose has that individual perused the history of the world, who has not discovered that the common process
eradicating evil, has been to meet it with evil, and who has not seen that the pathway of life has been almost universally lighted by the horrible spirit of retaliation. And to as little purpose
has he examined the records of nations and individuals, if he is not convinced that when the law of kindness has been practiced, it has been as much more salutary in its influence and as much more glorious in its results, than those of revenge, as virtue is more salutary and glorious than iniquity. For while retaliation is like the storm which sweeps through the forest in destruction, kindness is like the combined influence of the sun and the rain of the cloud, which germinates seed, unfolding their leaves, flowers and odors.
The spirit of revenge has flooded the world with evil. Millions have been slaughtered, cities have been sacked and burned, nations have been swept from political life, reputations have been ruined, families filled with discord, friends turned into bitter enemies, and all through revenge.
If earth has a demon to dread, it is the power of retaliation. There is no clime but thet has felt its blight, no soul but that has been more or less tainted by its poison. What has caused man to bite and devour his fellow-men with oppression and blood ? What has urged so many nations to slaughter the
captives of their power in cold blood? What brings a great proportion of the cases of litigation to the bar of the judge? What engenders the quarrels existing in every community ?-REVENGE! Hideous principle, murderous passion, which slew the Saviour, and made the sainted Stephen a martyr.
To point out the consequences which have flowed from the practice of the law of revenge, is but to insure its condemnation in every reflecting mind. And if we consider for a moment, how many communities which have been desolated, might have been the abodes of happiness; how many spots on the earth which have been filled with the fury of unhallowed passions, might now be echoing with songs of salvation and virtue, were it not for the law of revenge ; surely, the desire must be strong, and the prayer ardent, that the olive-branch of overcoming evil with good, may take the place of the deadly night-shade of retaliation. It
may be urged, however, that some of the principles of the Mosaic Law sanction the foundation of retaliation, in the requisition of an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth. But it must be remembered that the Mosaic Law, rich as it is in its provisions for the widow and the orphan, for hospitality and for other excellent precepts, introduced the law of retaliation inte
its statutes only as the preventive of an evil which already existed, the same as the lancet and probe of the surgeon are necessary for a diseased limb. The Jews had been thoroughly debased in the Egyptian brick-yards, and the foul airs of idolatry; they had been degraded by ignorance; they were a head-strong, wicked people; they were morally sick; and it was necessary to apply the lancet of fear to them. But this retaliatory principle was not instituted as a universal rule of acţion. For, when the world was properly fitted and prepared, then a nobler law was given in a system which is superior to all other systems in its doctrine and morality
That system is CHRISTIANITY. While the ablest philosophers at the period of its establishment, were, among many excellent principles, advocating some of the worst features of revenge, Christianity, the child of heaven and the friend of lifted up
its voice and proclaimed the divine law, “OVERCOME EVIL WITH GOOD." A comment on this law was given by the Friend of sinners and the Saviour of the world. What was that comment ? Was it like the conduct of David, who stole the wife of his bravest general from his affection, yet whose justice compelled him to indignantly condemn that rich
around him, took by force the only lamb of his poor neighbor ? Was it like the kiss of Judas, the smile of treachery, the sting of ingratitude? Very far from it. Throughout all his ministry, he met his foes with benevolence. And when, by the influence of perjured witnesses, his condemnation was effected ; when he had endured the nailing to the cross ; when his enemies were adding insult to murder, by mocking and jeering him in his agonies; then it was he prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."
This was the Saviour's illustration of the law, "love your enemies.” And the illustration is more sublime, if possible, than the law itself-more glorious in practice than in theory. For who can remember that this prayer was uttered by the Saviour for his foes, when enduring the excruciating pangs of a crucifixion which those very foes had brought upon him, without admitting, not only that he was the “Son of God," but that his conduct was the perfection of kindness.
The interesting question now arises, What influence has this law and its comment upon us ? Brought up and educated in the school of our Saviour; living in a land, which, above all others, calls itself Christianized; existing beneath the banners of the Gospel, incomparably the most noble system of doctrine and moral