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OVERCOME EVIL WITH GOOD. A FEW years ago, in the neighbourhood of B- , a farmer and a manufacturer resided; but though they were near neighbours, they were very different men in their principles and habits. The one was a true Christian, who while he believed in the Lord Jesus Christ for life and salvation, made the precepts of the New Testament the rule of his conduct. He knew by experience what it was to be an enemy of God, and what it was for self-love to rule the heart; but being delivered from this state by the grace of God, he pitied and prayed for those who still remained in their natural condition. One precept of the New Testament, was often upon his lips, and oftener in his heart, and he daily sought grace from God, to carry it out in his life: it was this, “ Be ye kind one to another.” Ephes. iv. 32.
He often had an opportunity afforded of carrying out this precept among the poor around him, but especially by his selfish neighbour. He opened his house for the
of God, and this gave great offence, as his neighbour could not bear the Method
worship of God opened his house for the ists, and all were Methodists with him, who worshipped God anywhere but in the Parish Church, or had any more religion than himself. Now it so happened that our friend had a horse, that was in the habit of breaking out from its own pasture, and wandering into the farmer's fields. Instead of complaining, or sending the horse home, he impounded it, and made his neighbour pay damages ; and this he did three times, and the last time the damages were heavy. Still the Saviour's precept was considered binding, and “Be ye kind one to another" ruled his neighbour's conduct. Nor could he forget that it was written, “Vengeance is mine ; I will repay, saith the Lord. 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. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.”-Rom. xii. 19, 21.
Well, shortly after the horse was impounded the third time, one morning as the labourers came to their work, they saw a lot of sheep belonging to the selfish farmer, in the very field, into which the horse used to be turned out. Away they hasten to their master, full of life and desire for retaliation, and said, “Now, master, you have got the chance of making Farmer -- pay, for there is a lot of his sheep in your field.” The good man made no reply, but went in-doors, and wrote a note nearly as follows:
“Dear Sir, you are not aware of it, but there are some of your sheep in my field, I will thank you to send one of your men to take them out.
I am, yours truly, &c." Having written the note, he immediately sent it by one of his men. The farmer received it, and read it with astonishment. He could scarcely believe his own eyes. He went and looked, there were the sheep in the field, sure enough. Three times he had impounded his neighbour's horse, because it was found on his farm, and had made him pay heavy damages; and now he sends a kind note to inform him that his sheep were trespassing in his field, and requests him to send some one to fetch them home. He felt confounded -bewildered. “Well,” said he, “if this is Methodism I will never say anything against Methodism again.” And he never did, nor was he ever more annoyed at the religious services which were held on his neighbour's premises, as before; but a friendship sprung up between him and his neighbour, which existed ever after, and a neat Baptist chapel was erected on the ground of the conqueror, which remains to this day.
Reader, mark the power of real religious principle, how it conquers our proud revengeful nature. It stays the mind on God, prompts us to imitate the holy life of Jesus, and enables us by kindness to overcome our bitterest foes. If professors of religion did but experience the power of religion, and if instead of yielding to the flesh they would carry out the precepts of the Gospel, we should see the infidel silenced, the persecutor paralysed, and many an opponent converted. No one that professes the religion of Christ should expect to succeed in anything, but as he carries out the commands of Christ; for he is expected to be what he professes to be, and if he calls the Saviour Master, he is required to do whatsoever he has commanded him. He is not to say, “I will do unto him as he hath done to me;" but, “I will do unto him, as I have reason to believe Jesus would do if he was in my circumstances.” Every one that takes the name of Christian, is bound by the law of Christ, an epitome of which is, “ All things whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you do ye even 80 to them: for this is the law.”-Matt. vii. 12. Nor is this less so, “Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, bless them which curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.”—Luke vi. 27, 28. So is this, “ Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing."-1 Pet. iii. 9. Instead therefore of such a case as that I have narrated being uncommon, it ought to be of constant occur. rence. Love is the spirit of true religion, and the practice of true religion is but love carried out into all the circumstances of life. Religion is not a creed, or a ceremony,
or a form, or a profession. Religion is having the spirit of Christ, imitating the conduct of Christ, and always and everywhere walking by the law of Christ. Religion in the world is just making the commands of Christ visible. O may we have grace to carry out the exhortation of the Apostle Paul, “ Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice: and be ye kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake bath forgiven you."-Ephes. iv. 31, 32. As also that of Peter, “ Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speaking, as new-born babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby : if so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.”—1 Pet. ii. 3.
Beloved, the religion that does not make us like Christ is not the religion of Christ; it is a counterfeit. For while we are justified by his obedience, and pardoned through his blood, we must be sanctified by his Spirit; and the sanctification of the Spirit alone, is satisfactory proof that our sins are pardoned, or our persons justified. Hence our Lord and Master said, “ Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles P Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit, but a corrupt tree evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth