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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." This may touch his heart, may consume his wrath, while revenge will only increase it. It is said that coals are heaped on the head of a crucible for the melting of metals, and that from thence the idea is taken; and therefore it means that you will melt his heart, and soften his feelings, and remove his enmity, by acts of kindness and benevolence.

The apostle concludes in the words of the text, Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good. Be not induced to return evil for evil, but endeavour to return good for evil. The former will be to your own injury, the latter will turn the misconduct of others to your benefit. This is the surest way of vanquishing an adversary without being injured ourselves.

But let us consider the text in a more extensive sense than as relating to the evil conduct of others. Let us view the precept as applicable to sin in general. This is truly the greatest of evils, on account of which the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together.98 From this general evil all particular evils follow in its train. It has brought into the world all the diseases and pains to which mankind are subject,

97 Proverbs xxv. 21, 22.

98 Romans viii. 22.

and death itself, the most tremendous of them all. Did we look upon sin as the cause and the forerunner of death, what a different aspect would it bear in our view from that which it usually does. Could we behold, together with the pleasing temptation, the deadly poison which is mixed up with it, though concealed, we should dread the commission of that which has such fatal consequences attending it. We naturally wish to avoid danger, but who takes equal pains to avoid sin? What an infatuation must there be in that which deceives the whole human race? Who that knows himself, does not lament the influence which sin holds over him, and his liability to fall into its snares? The proneness of mankind to do that which is displeasing to God, or which He has forbidden, affords a full proof of our fallen state, that we are not in the state of uprightness in which man was created. It is because men are overcome of evil, are the slaves of sin, are led aside by the enticements of the flesh, by the snares of the world, and by the suggestions of the devil, that they seek happiness independently of God, that their affections are set on other objects more than on Him in whom we live, and move, and have our being.99 But the example of numbers in the commission of sin, will not excuse or prevent the punishment

99 Acts xvii. 28.

1 Exod. xxiii. 2.

21 Cor. xi. 32.

of the workers of iniquity. It is therefore commanded, Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil. Those who are overcome by the evil of the world, will be condemned with the world. The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrha is held forth as a warning or ensample to those that after should live ungodly,' that sin will not go unpunished. It is on account of sin that the world and all things therein will be burnt up. The openly avowed wickedness that there is in the world, the hardened impiety which some manifest, is a proof of the power which Satan exercises. We have need to watch and pray that we enter not into temptation,* that our spiritual enemies may not obtain the advantage over us to the destruction of our peace, and if Divine grace prevent not, to the eternal ruin and loss of our souls. Let us take unto ourselves, and put on the whole armour of God, that we may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil, praying with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance, and then we shall find that Divine strength will be made perfect in our weakness, and we shall be preserved from the evil which dwells in our hearts, and by temptations to which we are surrounded on every side. Let us remember that it is because we are sinners, that we are exposed to suffering and pain, to

3 2 Pet. ii. 6. 4 Mat. xxvi. 41. 5 Eph. vi. 11, 18. 6 2 Cor. xii. 9.

affliction and trouble, to various calamities in this life, to the death of the body, and to eternal death hereafter; and this will convince us that sin can be no light evil, when it brings such miseries in its train. Were there no sin there would be no death. As long, therefore, as we see people dying around us, there is full and sufficient evidence afforded of the displeasure of God against sin; and we have reason to fear being overcome of this evil, lest the dreadful consequences of sin in eternity should be our portion; which must be the case of all who die in their sins. If we are the children of God, we shall dread being overcome by the evil of sin, because it is displeasing to God, and on account of it His wrath cometh on the children of disobedience. And we shall also endeavour not to return evil for evil to those who have injured or opposed us. We shall not revenge ourselves of them, because it is contrary to the will of our heavenly Father that His children should manifest such evil dispositions. And we shall beware of all sin, and watch against it, praying earnestly that we may not at any time be overcome by the world, the flesh, or the devil, our spiritual enemies, whose dominion over us was renounced in our name at our baptism, and whom we must resist, stedfast in the faith,o all the days of our life, if we would obtain the

7 Colossians iii. 6.

8 1 Peter v.


salvation of God, or be admitted into His eternal kingdom and glory.

But the apostle exhorts us in the text, not only to avoid being overcome of evil; but, further, to overcome evil with good; or to endeavour to show kindness in return for unkindness; and not to harbour resentment even against those who may do us injury, but to be ready to do them any good offices in our power. How delightful is it to see Christian principle rising superior to the maxims of the world, and the feelings of our selfish nature; and exercising benevolence towards those who have proved themselves unworthy of it. Such an example has been set before us by our blessed Lord, who, when He was reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered, He threatened not; but instead of acting in the manner in which we should naturally be disposed to act, He prayed for His murderers, Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.10 And, further, He Himself died for the ungodly, so that, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son." Never was such an example of love to enemies before manifested. Let us endeavour in some measure to imitate it, in all that we may be called to endure from others. And let us overcome evil with good also, by showing in all our conduct the superiority of the

91 Peter ii. 23. 10 Luke xxiii. 34. 11 Romans v. 6, 10.

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