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If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.
THIs chapter containeth many excellent precepts and wholesome advices, (scarce any portion of holy Scripture so many in so little compass.) From among them I have selected one, alas, but too seasonable and pertinent to the unhappy condition of our distracted age, wherein to observe this and such like injunctions, is by many esteemed an impossibility, by others a wonder, by some a crime. It hath an apt coherence with, yet no necessary dependence on, the parts adjoining; whence I may presume to treat on it distinctly by itself: and without farther preface or circumstance we may consider several particulars therein.
I. And, first, concerning the advice itself, or the substance of the duty charged on us, eipnveiew, (‘to be in peace,” or “live peaceably,”) we may take notice, that whether, according to the more usual acception, it be applied to the public estate of things, or, as here, doth relate only to private conversation, it doth import,
1. Not barely a negation of doing or suffering harm, or an abstinence from strife and violence, (for a mere strangeness this may be, a want of occasion, or a truce, rather than a peace,) but a positive amity, and disposition to perform such kind offices, without which good correspondence among men cannot subsist. For they who by reason of distance of place, non-acquaintance, or defect of opportunity, maintain no intercourse, cannot properly be said to be in peace with one another: but those who have frequent occasion of commerce, whose conditions require interchanges of courtesy and relief, who are some way obliged and disposed to afford needful succor and safe retreat to each other ; these may be said to live in peace together, and these only, it being in a manner impossible that they who are not disposed to do good to others (if they have power and opportunity) should long abstain from doing harm. 2. Living peaceably implies not some few transitory performances, proceeding from casual humor or the like; but a constant, stable, and well-settled condition of being; a continual cessation from injury, and promptitude to do good offices. For as one blow doth not make a battle, nor one skirmish a war; so cannot single forbearances from doing mischief, or some few particular acts of kindness, (such as mere strangers may afford each other,) be worthily styled a being in peace: but an habitual inclination to these, a firm and durable estate of innocence and beneficence. 3. Living in peace supposes a reciprocal condition of being; not only a performing good, and forbearing to do bad offices, but a receiving the like treatment from others. For he that being assaulted is constrained to stand on his defence, may not be said to be in peace, though his not being so (involuntarily) is not to be imputed to him. 4. Being in peace imports not only an outward cessation of violence and seeming demonstration of amity, but an inward will and resolution to continue therein. For he that intends, when occasion is presented, to do mischief to another, is nevertheless an enemy, because more secret and dangerous: an ambuscado is no less a piece of war than confronting the enemy in open field. Proclaiming and denouncing signify, but good and ill intention constitute, and are the souls of peace and war. From these considerations we may infer a description of being in peace, viz. that it is, to bear mutual good-will, to continue in amity, to maintain good correspondence, to be on terms of mutual courtesy and benevolence; to be disposed to perform reciprocally all offices of humanity; assistance in need, comfort in sorrow, relief in distress; to please and satisfy one another, by advancing the innocent delight, and promoting the just advantage of each other; to converse with confidence and security, without suspicion, on either hand, of any fraudulent, malicious, or hurtful practices against either: or, negatively, not to be in a state of enmity, personal hatred, pertinacious anger, jealousy, envy, or ill-will; not to be apt to provoke, to reproach, to harm or hinder another, nor to have reasonable grounds of expecting the same bad usage from others; to be removed from danger of vexatious quarrels, intercourse of odious language, offending others, or being disquieted one's self. This I take to be the meaning of living or being in peace, differing only in degree of obligation and latitude of object, from the state of friendship properly so called, and opposed to a condition of enmity, defiance, contention, hatred, suspicion, animosity. II. In the next place we may consider the object of this duty, signified in those words, “with all men.” We often meet in Scripture with exhortations directed peculiarly to Christians, to be at peace among themselves; as Mark ix. 5. our Saviour lays this injunction on his disciples, eipnvevere čv &\\\\ots, “Have peace one with another;' inculcated by St. Paul on the Thessalonians in the same words: and the like we have in the second Epistle to Timothy, chap. ii. ver. 22. ‘Follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart:’ and to the Romans, (xiv. 19.) ‘Let us therefore follow after the things that make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.' But here the duty hath a more large and comprehensive object; révres à,0pwrot, ‘ all men :’ as likewise it hath in the Epistle to the Hebrews, xii. 14. ‘Pursue peace with all men :’ with all men, without any exception, with men of all nations, Jews and Gentiles, Greeks and Barbarians; of all sects and religions; persecuting Jews and idolatrous Heathens; (for of such consisted the generality of men at that time;) and so St. Paul expressly in a like advice, (1 Cor. x. 32. 33. ‘Give no offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God; even as I please all men.") And I may add, by evident parity of reason, with men of all degrees and estates, high and low, noble and base, rich and poor; of all tempers and dispositions, meek and angry, gentle and froward, pliable and perverse; of all endowments, wise and foolish, virtuous and vicious; of all judgments and persuasions, orthodox and heretical, peaceable and schismatical persons: this universally vast and boundless term, “all men,’ contains them all. Neither is there any evading our obligation to this duty, by pretending about others, that they differ from us in humor and complexion of soul, that they entertain opinions irreconcileably contrary to ours; that they adhere to sects and parties which we dislike and disavow ; that they are not so virtuous, so religious, so holy as they should be, or at least not in such a manner as we would have them: for be this allegation true or false, it will not excuse us; while they are not divested of human nature, and can truly lay claim to the name and title of men, we are by virtue of this precept obliged to live peaceably with them. III. We may consider the qualification of the duty here expressed, and what those words mean; ‘If it be possible,” “as much as lieth in you.” To which purpose we may advert, from our description of living peaceably, that it consists mainly of two parts: one active, or proceeding from us, and terminated on others—to bear good-will, to do good offices, to procure the profit, delight, and welfare, to abstain from the displeasure, damage, and disturbance of others: the other passive, issuing from others, and terminated on ourselves—that they be well affected toward us, inclinable to do us good, and nowise disposed to wish, design, or bring any harm, trouble, or vexation on us. Whereof the former is altogether in our power, consisting of acts or omissions depending on our free choice and counsel; and we are directly obliged to it, by virtue of those words, rô & ipov, “as much as lieth in you:” the latter is not fully so, yet commonly there be probable means of effecting it, which we are hence bound to use, though sometimes they may fail of success. For the words ei Suvarðv, “if it be possible,' as they signify the utmost endeavor is to be employed, and that no difficulty (beneath the degree of impossibility) can discharge us from it; so they intimate plainly, that sometime our labor may be lost, and our purpose defeated; and that by the default of others it may be impossible we should arrive to a peaceable condition of life with all men. However, by this rule we are directed not only ourselves not to infringe the terms of peace toward others, but to endeavor earnestly by all honest and prudent means to obtain the good-will, favor, and respect of others, by which they may be disposed to all friendly correspondence with us, and not to disturb the quiet and tranquillity of our lives. Having thus by way of explication superficially glanced on the words, we will proceed to a more large and punctual review of them ; and shall consider more distinctly the particulars grossly mentioned : and, I. What those especial duties are, included in this more comprehensive one of living peaceably with all men; both those which are directly required of us, as the necessary causes or immediate results of a peaceable disposition in us toward others; and also those which are to be performed by us, as just and reasonable means conducible to beget or preserve in others a peaceable inclination towards us: these I shall consider promiscuously: and, 1. We are by this precept directly obliged heartily to love, that is, to bear good-will to, to wish well to, to rejoice in the welfare, and commiserate the adversities of all men: at least not to hate, or bear ill-will to, to desire or design the harm, to repine at the happy success, or delight in the misfortunes of any: for as it is very hard to maintain peace and amicable correspondence with those we do not truly love; so it is absolutely impossible to do it long with those we hate: this satanic passion (or disposition of soul) always prompting the mind possessed therewith to the contrivance and execution of mischief; whence he that hates his brother is said to be a murderer, as having in him that bitter root, from whence, if power and occasion conspire, will probably spring that most extreme of outrages, and capital breach of peace. Love is the only sure cement, that knits and combines men in friendly society; and hatred, the certain fountain of that violence, which rends and dissolves it. We cannot easily hurt or strive with those we love and wish well to : we cannot possibly long agree with