Since men became enemies to God, they have been very ready
to be enemies one to another. And those that embrace religion, must expect
to meet with enemies in a world whose smiles seldom agree with Christ's.
Recompense to no man evil for evil. That is a brutish recompence, befitting
only animals, which are not conscious of any being above them, or of any
existence hereafter. And not only do, but study and take care to do, that
which is amiable and creditable, and recommends religion to all with whom
you converse. Study the things that make for peace; if it be possible,
without offending God and wounding conscience. Avenge not yourselves. This
is a hard lesson to corrupt nature, therefore a remedy against it is added.
Give place unto wrath. When a man's passion is up, and the stream is strong,
let it pass off; lest it be made to rage the more against us. The line
of our duty is clearly marked out, and if our enemies are not melted by
persevering kindness, we are not to seek vengeance; they will be consumed
by the fiery wrath of that God to whom vengeance belongeth. The last verse
suggests what is not easily understood by the world; that in all strife
and contention, those that revenge are conquered, and those that forgive
are conquerors. Be not overcome of evil. Learn to defeat ill designs against
you, either to change them, or to preserve your own peace. He that has
this rule over his spirit, is better than the mighty. God's children may
be asked whether it is not more sweet unto them than all earthly good,
that God so enables them by his Spirit, thus to feel and act.