But I say to you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you,…
You cannot make language more explicit, yet I say that to carry it out literally would be to pervert human society so that there could be no such thing as Christianity in this world. I affirm this, not theoretically, but as the result of the revelation of God's providence among men, and as a fulfilment of God's teaching in revelation — that great unending perpetual revelation that is going on in the human raze. It would destroy the whole framework and order of society. That in a far-off state, that in the ripeness of human development, the law of non-resistance will have a universal application, I think to be more than likely; but that it should have a universal application now is not possible. Take another point, that of almsgiving. Do our friends, the Quakers, who insist upon the literal translation of the passage on the subject of non-resistance, take a literal view of this passage also? Do they put their hands in their pockets for all that ask of them, and draw them out full? No. "This," they say, "you are to take in its spirit." Yes, I say that you are to take it in its spirit, and not in its letter. A literal interpretation of it would slay mankind, almost. It would well-nigh destroy the business-life of organized society. It would break up fellowship between man and man. It would promote the very opposite of that which it is the object of the New Testament to inculcate. Take the spirit of the command. Interpret it as enjoining the practice of generosity, of helpfulness, of kindness one toward another. Accept it as inculcating a disposition in every man to look, not on his own things, but on the things of others. That is to say, make it a principle adaptable according to your feeling and judgment.
(H. W. Beecher.)
Parallel VersesKJV: But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you,