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absurd, as to admit of no pretence or shadow of justification.

But, since custom and false honor are on the side of retaliation and revenge, when the resentment is natural and just; and reasons are sometimes offered in justification of revenge in these cases; and since love of our enemies is thought too hard a saying to be obeyed; I will show the absolute unlawfulness of the former; the obligations we are under to the latter; and then proceed to some reflections, which may have a more direct and immediate tendency to beget in us a right temper of mind towards those who have offended us.

In showing the unlawfulness of revenge, it is not my present design to examine what is alleged in favor of it, from the tyranny of custom and false honor, but only to consider the nature and reason of the thing itself; which ought to have prevented, and ought now to extirpate every thing of that kind.

First, Let us begin with the supposition of that being innocent which is pleaded for, and which shall be shown to be altogether vicious, the supposition that we were allowed to render evil for evil, and see what would be the consequence. Malice or resentment towards any man hath plainly a tendency to beget the same passion in him who is the object of it, and this again increases it in the other. It is of the very nature of this vice to propagate itself, not only by way of example, which it does in common with other vices, but in a peculiar way of its own; for resentment itself, as well as what is done in consequence of it, is the object of resentment. Hence it comes to pass, that the first offence, even when so slight as presently to be dropt and forgotten, becomes the occasion of entering into a long intercourse of ill offices. Neither is at all uncommon to see persons, in this progress of strife and variance, change parts; and him, who was at first the injured person, become more injurious and blameable than the aggressor. Put the case, then, that the law of retaliation was universally received and

allowed, as an innocent rule of life, by all; and the observance of it thought by many, (and then it would soon come to be thought by all) a point of honor: this supposes every man in private cases to pass sentence in his own cause; and likewise, that anger or resentment is to be the judge. Thus, from the numberless partialities which we all have for ourselves, every one would often think himself injured when he was not, and in most cases would represent an injury as much greater than it really is; the imagined dignity of the person offended would scarce ever fail to magnify the offence. And, if bare retaliation, or returning just the mischief received, always begets resentment in the person upon whom we retaliate, what would that excess do? Add to this, that he likewise has his partialities.-There is no going on to represent this scene of rage and madness: it is manifest there would be no bounds, nor any end. "If the beginning of strife is as when one letteth out water," what would it come to when allowed this free and unrestrained course? "As coals are to burning coals, or wood to fire," so would these "contentious men be to kindle strife." And, since the indulgence of revenge hath manifestly this tendency, and does actually produce these effects in proportion as it is allowed; a passion of so dangerous a nature ought not to be indulged, were there no other reason against it.

Secondly, It hath been shown that the passion of resentment was placed in man, upon supposition of, and as a prevention or remedy to, irregularity and disorder. Now, whether it be allowed or not, that the passion itself, and the gratification of it, joined together, are painful to the malicious person; it must however be so with respect to the person towards whom it is exercised, and upon whom the revenge is taken. Now, if we consider mankind, according to that fine allusion of St Paul, "as one body, and every one members one of another," it must be allowed that resentment is, with respect to society, a painful remedy. Thus, then, the very notion or idea of this passion, as a remedy or prevention of evil,

and as in itself a painful means, plainly shows that it ought never to be made use of, but only in order to produce some greater good.

It is to be observed, that this argument is not founded upon an illusion or simile, but that it is drawn from the very nature of the passion itself, and the end for which it was given us. We are obliged to make use of words taken from sensible things, to explain what is the most remote from them: and every one sees from whence the words, prevention and remedy, are taken. But, if you please, let these words be dropped: the thing itself, I suppose, may be expressed without them.

That mankind is a community, that we all stand in a relation to each other, that there is a public end and interest of society which each particular is obliged to promote, is the sum of morals. Consider then the passion of resentment, as given to this one body, as given to society. Nothing can be more manifest, than that resentment is to be considered as a secondary passion, placed in us upon supposition, upon account of, and with regard to injury; not, to be sure, to promote and further it, but to render it, and the inconveniences and miseries arising from it, less and fewer than they would be without this passion. It is as manifest, that the indulgence of it is, with regard to society, a painful means of obtaining these ends. Considered in itself, it is very undesirable, and what society must very much wish to be without. It is in every instance absolutely an evil in itself; because it implies producing misery; and, consequently, must never be indulged or gratified for itself, by any one who considers mankind as a community or family, and himself as a member of it.

Let us now take this in another view. Every natural appetite, passion, and affection, may be gratified in particular instances, without being subservient to the particular chief end, for which these several principles were respectively implanted in our nature. And if neither this end, nor any other moral obligation, be contradicted,

such gratification is innocent. Thus, I suppose, there are cases in which each of these principles, this one of resentment excepted, may innocently be gratified, without being subservient to what is the main end of it: that is, though it does not conduce to, yet it may be gratified without contradicting that end, or any other obligation. But the gratification of resentment, if it be not conducive to the end for which it was given us, must necessarily contradict, not only the general obligation to benevolence, but likewise that particular end itself. The end for which it was given is, to prevent or remedy injury; i. e. the misery occasioned by injury; i. e. misery itself: and the gratification of it consists in producing misery; i. e. in contradicting the end for which it was implanted in our nature.

This whole reasoning is built upon the difference there is between this passion and all others. No other principle, or passion, hath for its end the misery of our fellow creatures. But malice and revenge meditates evil itself; and to do mischief, to be the author of misery, is the very thing which gratifies the passion: this is what it directly tends towards, as its proper design. Other vices eventually do mischief; this alone aims at it as

an end.

Nothing can with reason be urged in justification of revenge, from the good effects which the indulgence of it were before mentioned* to have upon the affairs of the world; because, though it be a remarkable instance of the wisdom of Providence, to bring good out of evil, yet vice is vice to him who is guilty of it. "But suppose these good effects are foreseen; that is, suppose reason in a particular case leads a man the same way as passion; why then, to be sure, he should follow his reason in this as well as in all other cases. So that turn the matter which way ever you will, no more can be allowed to this passion, than hath been already.†


* Ser. viii. p. 119.

† Ser. viii. p. 119.

As to that love of our enemies which is commanded; this supposes the general obligation to benevolence or good will towards mankind: and this being supposed, that precept is no more than to forgive injuries; that is, to keep clear of those abuses before mentioned; because, that we have the habitual temper of benevolence, is taken for granted.

Resentment is not inconsistent with good will; for we often see both together in very high degrees, not only in parents towards their children, but in cases of friendship and dependence, where there is no natural relation. These contrary passions, though they may lessen, do not necessarily destroy each other. We may therefore love our enemy, and yet have resentment against him for his injurious behaviour towards us. But when this resentment entirely destroys our natural benevolence towa him, it is excessive, and becomes malice or revenge. The command to prevent its having this effect, i. e. to forgive injuries, is the same as to love our enemies; because that love is always supposed, unless destroyed by


"But though mankind is the natural object of benevolence, yet may it not be lessened upon vice, i. e. injury?" Allowed: but if every degree of vice or injury must destroy that benevolence, then no man is the object of our love; for no man is without faults.

"But if lower instances of injury may lessen our benevolence, why may not higher, or the highest, destroy it?" The answer is obvious. It is not man's being a social creature, much less his being a moral agent, from whence alone our obligations to good will towards him arise. There is an obligation to it prior to either of these, arising from his being a sensible creature; that is, capable of happiness or misery. Now this obligation cannot be superseded by his moral character. What justifies public execution is, not that the guilt or demerit of the criminal dispenses with the obligation of good will neither would this justify any severity; but, that his life

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