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Rom. xii. 20.
THEREFORE, IF THINE ENEMY HUNGER, FEED HIM; IF HE THIRST, GIVE HIM DRINK; FOR, IN SO DOING, THOU SHALT HEAP COALS OF FIRE ON HIS HEAD."
These words are quoted literally by the Apostle Paul, from the 25th chapter of the Book of Proverbs, and afford a signal evidence that the same Divine Spirit which inspired the author of this epistle, spoke also to the understanding, and to the heart of him who wrote that truly profound book. For the sentiment contained in these words, forms a distinguishing and characteristic feature of that mind, and of that morality which God only enlightens and approves, whilst it passes a repeal on such rigorous precepts as “an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth,” which was the decision, not only of retributive justice under the Mosaic law, (accommodated as that law was to the hardness of the human heart) but which
is more or less, the natural propensity, an the serious intention of every heart, whic the exhortation in the text has not broug! under its benign influence. Nor is this exho. tation confined to the negative prohibition forbearing to retaliate. It does not merel soften down the severity of feelings, whic: might plead a sort of justification in the unprovoked injuries that may have excited them. or in the repeated aggravations they may have endured. It makes no stipulation in behalf of insulted honour, nor any compromise for the indulgence of a little wrath. But forbidding every limitation to generosity, it nobly transcends those barriers beyond which, the pride and the selfishness, and the vindictive temper of our fallen nature would seldom permit any of us to pass, and silencing every rising opposition of the heart, it teaches us to look upon our enemies with the eyes and with the compassion of a friend, when circumstances avise by which they may be recommended to our commiseration, and to our relief ;“ if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink.” What a world would this wicked world become, did all who call themselves Christians, and who profess to take the word of God for the rule of their conduct, act in a manner thus worthy of such a word,
12 ind of such a rule! Enmities and wrath, and
oferestrife, would cease, whilst the return of good e ter or evil would finally produce a reciprocity . ce lof good! And we are assured, that thus it repair shall be before this world has fulfilled the I dgreat destiny towards which it is in
progress, T of a when, (as the Prophet Isaiah most eloquently istifa expressed it,) “ the wolf shall dwell with the hare: lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the Fions the
kid ; and the calf, and the young lion and zlato: fatling together, and a little child shall lead
them ;”-when “they shall not hurt nor desempre Br: troy in all my holy mountain saith the Lord.”
Men, more hostile and unrelenting, and un
forgiving towards their fellow-men, than are whis
the beasts of the field, which a blind instinct exasperates, shall all partake of the same kind and gentle nature; and the earth which they inhabit, no longer under curse, shall be called “ the holy mountain of the Lord.” This is that happy period, which, in scholastic theology, is called the millenium, or the thousand years of an earthly paradise, but which, in
Scripture language, designates only a long o be
space of time to commence at an appointed season, previous to the dissolution of this present world. And how is this great change to be effected? This also, is distinctly mentioned by the Prophet, “ for, the earth,” says
he, “shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.” It is “ the knowledge of the Lord,” or the general prevalence of Christian truth “ which shall perform this.”
My Christian friends, we may lay it down as a maxim, or self-evident truth, that the instrument by which the Lord effects any thing, at any time, is equally powerful in his hand, to do the same thing, at all times. It is not surprising then, that although the instances of its effectnal operation may
precept in the text should even now have some to respect it, and some to obey it, and that moral actions, more especially of this nature, should find, in the religion of Christ, their appropriate and most powerful, and in many instances, their only support. I shall proceed to illustrate this important truth, in the case before us.
We are here enjoined to give meat and drink even to an enemy suffering under the want of both these primary necessaries of life, “if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink,” and to this is annexed what may at first sight, and in its obvious import, appear a motive little suited to such an end,
for, in so doing, thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head."
There is, however, in the text, though it is