Page images

and at the same time that we make known the meekness of our disposition by forgiving his ill offices, we approve our resolution by not attending to the consequences of his anger. If our enemy is worth the gaining, Forgiveness is the best and most approved method to accomplish that end; if he is not, Forgiveness is the best method of punishing him, as it serves most effectually to disappoint his aim, to shew that his malice cannot reach us, and to gall him with that thought which men can least bear, that we hold him in contempt, and think him beneath our notice,

A falsc notion of honour may represent to us the conquering of an enemy as a great and glorious action; but true reason will tell us, that to conquer ourselves, and forgive an enemy, is much more great, and, as it is more difficult, more honourable likewise. This is indeed a fpecies of ho. nour which will scarce find its way into the breast of a Hero, and meet with a favourable reception from those who call raihness courage, and disgrace the name of Honour by applying it improperly. Consider the present acceptation of that word; we might imagine that it was the sworn foe of Honesty, Reason, and Religion, instead of being the genuine offspring of them all. A modern Man of Honour (as He calls himself, and as the World will be complaisant enough to call him) lives to Paffion, and not to Reason; He lives in a constant subjection to the opinions of others, nor for a moment suffers himself to have an opinion of his own; he takes things upon trust from those whom he ought least to depend upon; he fears shame more than guilt, the imputation of crimes more than being criminal; he trembles at reproach



(though undeservd) more than at danger, or even death, and prides himself on his courage at the very instant that he gives the strongest proof of his being a Coward. To revenge, even in what we miscall an honourable way, is an effort which many a Coward hath against his nature forced himself to make, but we cannot meet with a single instance where he could induce himself to forgive. This is a task left for men of great and generous dispositions, for men who are as much above fearing, as doing ill, for men who have a true sense of Honour, and, in consequence thereof, doing every thing which They ought to do, fear nothing but what They ought to fear.

Another, and no weak motive to the forgiveness of our enemies, is that quiet, and satisfaction of mind which naturally results from it. The man of a revengeful spirit lives in a perpetual storm, he is his own tormentor, and his guilt of course becomes his punishment. Those passions, which prompt

him to wreek his vengeance on his enemies, war against his own soul, and are inconsistent with his peace. Whether he is at home or abroad, alone or in company, They still adhere to him, and engross his thoughts; and Providence hath with the greatest reason ordained, that whosoever meditates against the peace of another shall, even in the design, lose his

The thoughts of Revenge break in upon his most serious and important business, embitter his most rational entertainments, and forbid him to relish any of those good things which God hath placed within his reach; ever intent on the contrivance of mischief, or engaged in the execution, mortified with disappointments, or, his designs accomplished, tortured with reflection,



he lives the life of a devil here on earth, and carries about a hell in his own breast. Whereas the meek man, who lives in a constant course of good will to all, who gives no man cause to be his enemy, and dares to forgive those who are so without a cause, hath a constant spring of pleasure in himself; let what will happen from without, he is sure of peace within. So far from being afraid to converse with himself, he seeks and is happy in the opportunity of doing it, and meets with nothing in his own breast but what encourages him to keep up

and cherish that acquaintance. The Passions which he finds there, instead of being tyrants, are servants; he knows the danger of obeying, and the impossibility of rooting them out; and, whilst he forbids them to assume an undue influence, makes them the instruments of promoting his happiness. Happy in himself, he is easy to


« PreviousContinue »