Luke 6:27
But to those of you who will listen, I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,
The Legislator on the MountR.M. Edgar Luke 6:20-49
A Persuasive to Love Our EnemiesLuke 6:27-30
A Proof of the Gospel Being from GodLuke 6:27-30
AlmsgivingJ. H. Davies, M. A.Luke 6:27-30
An Illustration of the Influence of Christian Teaching UpC. L. Bruce., R. S. Storrs, D. D. , LL. D.Luke 6:27-30
Bible Precepts to be Spiritually InterpretedH. W. Beecher.Luke 6:27-30
Cloak and CoatE. Stapfer, D. D.Luke 6:27-30
Doing Good to an EnemyC. H. Spurgeon.Luke 6:27-30
Dr. Mather's AmbitionLuke 6:27-30
Example of OrigenLuke 6:27-30
Example of the Early ChristiansLuke 6:27-30
Good for EvilLuke 6:27-30
Literal Obedience; Or, RulesS. Cox, D. D.Luke 6:27-30
Love to an EnemyLuke 6:27-30
Love to EnemiesLuke 6:27-30
Love to Enemies the Outcome of ChristianityEcce HomoLuke 6:27-30
Loving Our Enemies a Christian DutyThomas Whitty.Luke 6:27-30
Mr. Burkitt and His InjurersLuke 6:27-30
Mr. Lawrence's Charge to His SonsLuke 6:27-30
Of Loving Our EnemiesR. South, D. D.Luke 6:27-30
On the Love of EnemiesJ. Balguy, M. A.Luke 6:27-30
Returning Good for EvilLuke 6:27-30
Returning Good for EvilLuke 6:27-30
Returning Good for Evil, the Wisest CourseJ. O. Dykes, D. D.Luke 6:27-30
The Carthaginian ChristiansLuke 6:27-30
The Chinese Monarch and the RebelsLuke 6:27-30
The Difficult CommandmentJ. Burns, D. D.Luke 6:27-30
The Duty of Loving Our Enemies Stated and ExplainedJ. Seed.Luke 6:27-30
The Good Use of an EnemyOwen Felltham.Luke 6:27-30
The Ideal of ChristianityH. W. Beecher.Luke 6:27-30
Turning the Other CheekW. Baxendale.Luke 6:27-30
Seeking the Highest Good from the Highest MotiveW. Clarkson Luke 6:27, 28, 32-35
In these words our Lord commends to us -

I. THE HIGHEST CONCEIVABLE MORAL EXCELLENCE. There are four gradations by which we may ascend from the devilish to the Divine, in spirit and in character.

1. We may hate those who love us. There are bad men bad enough, like enough to the evil one himself, to positively hate those who are trying to redeem them, who repay the devoted efforts of their truest friends with sneers and revilings.

2. We may hate those who hate us. Not only may we do this, we do it. As sin has perverted it, it is in the human heart to return hatred for hatred, blow for blow.

3. We may love those who love us. Most men are equal to that: "Sinners also love those that love them."

4. We may love those who hate us. "I say unto you, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you," etc. Let us understand whom Christ would have us consider our enemies, and whom, as such, he would have us love. These are not only our national enemies; but they are certainly included. To allow ourselves to be carried into the current of bitter animosity against those with whom our country is at strife, so as to rejoice in their suffering and their death, - this is here rebuked by our Master. But our "enemies" are more often found at home. They include all those whose relation to ourselves is likely to provoke ill feeling; e.g. those effectively opposing us in counsel or debate; those successfully contending with us in business; those engaged in vindicating their "rights" (as they seem to them) against us; those whose material interests clash with ours; those who have spoken against us or have taken any active steps to injure us. We must also understand what Christ meant by our loving these. Clearly he could not have intended that we should cherish toward them that full and complete friendship which is the very precious fruit of gratitude and esteem, and which can only be felt toward those to whom we owe great things, or for whom we have a real veneration. That is impossible in the nature of things. But it is not impossible, it is quite open to us, to extract from our heart every root of bitterness toward our enemies, to exclude all desire for their ill fortune; and, going much further than that, to nourish in our souls a positively kind feeling toward them, a readiness to serve them; nay, more, to form the habit of praying for them, and of looking out for an opportunity to show them kindness. Surely this is the supreme thing in human morality. No teacher has summoned us to climb higher than this; no learner has reached a loftier summit. And Christ asks us to do this -

II. FROM THE HIGHEST CONCEIVABLE MOTIVE. We might endeavour after this true nobility because:

1. God positively requires it of us (Mark 11:26; Matthew 18:35).

2. It is the noblest victory over ourself. "He that ruleth his spirit is greater than he that taketh a city."

3. It is the greatest victory over others. "In so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his' head." But there is an incentive higher than these - the highest of all; it is that which our Lord gives us in the text; because:

4. By so doing we resemble God himself. "Ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil." Here is the loftiest aspiration cherished for the loftiest reason. Think kindly of those who are judging harshly of you; feel friendly toward those who are feeling bitterly about you; speak generously of those who are talking disparagingly of you; do deeds of kindness to those who are acting unhandsomely toward you; bend the knee in prayer on behalf of those who are persecuting you; - do this because then you will be breathing the very atmosphere of magnanimity which God breathes in heaven, because you will then be animated by the very spirit by which he is prompted in all he is doing there, because you will then be ruling your humble life by the very principles on which he is ruling his broad and boundless empire. "Love ye your enemies... and your reward shall be great;" indeed, you shall be "the children of the Highest;" the mind that is in him shall be in you, you shall then be perfected (Matthew 5:48), crowning every other virtue and grace of your character, even as God crowns all his other attributes, with the glorious, regal, transcendent excellency of an unquenchable, victorious love. - C.

But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies.
This passage is in earnest. You are to do this. Why? In order that you may come into the family of God. Here is not simply an additional moral maxim, but it is a critical turning thing. Whereas nature says, "Use all your powers of body and mind to repel injuries, and to punish those that are against you"; the spiritual kingdom says, "Use none of them; forgive, love, pray for, bless, help, carry a little heaven in your souls, and make it fair weather around about all those that are your enemies." Is it possible that any such thing as that can take place? I have known some men that came very near to it. One thing is certain — Jesus, whose life was a commentary on His own doctrine, did attain it; and we find Him acting easily, familiarly on that very ground, returning good for evil. Is it a thing, then, that comes with conversion? Men are turned from darkness to light, from selfishness to benevolence; they are said to be converted, but does that state of mind come with conversion? I wish it did, and I know it does not. It is a thing that must be the result of spiritual education in men. Men never come to their graces all at once. It is a law that prevails in the spiritual kingdom as well as in the exterior kingdom, that we come to lower and higher gradations by processes of unfolding, step by step, little by little, continuously through periods of time.

(H. W. Beecher.)

1. By the love which is here enjoined we are not to understand the love of esteem or complacency, which in some respects is unreasonable and impossible; but that of benevolence or good-will.

2. The precept of the text evidently disallows and utterly excludes all kinds of revenge and retaliation.

I. THE REASONABLENESS OF THIS DUTY. What can be more agreeable to reason and wisdom than to keep evil, so much as possible, out of the world; and when it is in to use all proper means to drive it out. Instead of this, as enmity lets it in, so revenge keeps it there and propagates it.

II. THE EXCELLENCE OF THIS DUTY. General benevolence is general virtue; the true principle of a rational mind, and the great support and ornament of society. But in benevolence towards enemies there is additional worth, peculiar grace, for it raises men's minds, and exalts their affections to the sublimest pitch.

III. THE ADVANTAGES AND BENEFITS WHICH REDOUND FROM THE PRACTICE OF THIS DUTY. Most evident they are, both in respect of society and every individual.

1. It would be of infinite service to the public if the precept in the text were generally observed and practised. Innumerable broils, feuds, and contentions, would be hereby prevented or soon stopped. Such a disposition, when rooted in the minds of men, would grow up in a firm bank against the overflowings of ill-will and the inundations of strife. The wrongs that were done would slide away gently, without spreading or giving much disturbance to the community; and in a little time be swallowed up and lost in the wide ocean of charity.

2. And as to the private advantages, they are manifestly great and unquestionable. The peace and tranquility of a man's own mind; the delight of exercising benevolence towards enemies, and of conquering a wild affection.

(J. Balguy, M. A.)

Ecce Homo.
The Roman Triumph, with its naked ostentation of revenge, fairly represents the common feeling of the ancients. Nevertheless, forgiveness even of an enemy was not unknown to them. They could conceive it, and they could feel that there was a Divine beauty in it, but it seemed to them not merely, like the other Christians virtues, more than could be expected of ordinary men, but almost more than could be expected of human nature itself, almost superhuman. A passage near the close of the Ajax of Sophocles will illustrate this. As there was nothing of the antiquarian spirit about Greek tragedy, as it probably never occurred to Sophocles that the ancient heroes he depicts belonged to a less civilized age than his own, but on the contrary, as he conceived them to be better and nobler than his contemporaries, we may fairly suppose the feelings described in this passage to be of the highest standard of the poet's own age, the age of Pericles. Ulysses, after the death of his enemy Ajax, is described as relenting towards him so far as to intercede with Agamemnon that his body may be decently buried, and not be exposed to the beasts and the birds. This may seem to be no great stretch of generosity. But the request is received by Agamemnon with the utmost bewilderment and annoyance. "What can you mean?" he says, "do you feel pity for a dead enemy?" On the other hand, the friends of Ajax are not less astonished, and break out into rapturous applause, "but," says Tencer, "I hesitate to allow you to touch the grave, lest it should be disagreeable to the dead man." The impression of strangeness which these words, "Do you feel pity for a dead enemy?" produce upon us is a proof of the change which Christianity has wrought in manners. A modern dramatist might have written the words, if he had been delineating an extremely savage character, but Sophocles is doing no such thing. He is expressing the natural sentiment of an average man.

(Ecce Homo.)

on barbarous customs: — Had the Son of Man been in body upon the earth during the Middle Ages, hardly one wrong and injustice would have wounded His pure soul like the system of torture. The main forces in medieval society, even those which tended to its improvement, did not touch this abuse. Roman law supported it; Stoicism was indifferent to it; Greek literature did not affect it; feudalism and arbitrary power encouraged a practice which they could use for their own ends; and even the hierarchy and a State Church so far forgot the truths they professed as to employ torture to support the religion of love. But against all these powers were the words of Jesus, bidding men "Love your enemies!" "Do good to them that spitefully use you!" and the like commands, working everywhere on individual souls, heard from pulpits and in monasteries, read over by humble believers, and slowly making their way against barbaric passion and hierarchic cruelty. Gradually, in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the books containing the message of Jesus circulated among all classes, and produced that state of mind and heart in which torture could not be used on a fellow-being, and in which such an abuse and enormity as the Inquisition was hurled to the earth.

(C. L. Bruce.)The master-word of Christianity is love.

(R. S. Storrs, D. D. , LL. D.)

From the words we may observe —

I. That innocence is not always a protection from injuries.

II. That Christians must not recompense evil for evil. I shall —

I.Lay before you your PATTERN, and show you how Christ loved His enemies. And then —

II.I shall press the IMITATION of Him in this respect.

I. Our Saviour, the Son of God, when He was here on earth, had His enemies. Infinite purity, and the most extensive engaging goodness could not gain the love of all.

II. Now I am next to show you how our blessed Saviour carried it toward His enemies; what spirit He was of under such indignities. Christ is spoken of in the Word of God as subduing His enemies in a twofold sense.

1. By His vengeance, when they have filled up the measure of their iniquities.

2. There is another sense in which Christ may be said to conquer and subdue His enemies; by His grace, by His Word and Spirit.Let us now inquire how Christ our great pattern manifested His love or good-will towards His enemies, and still shows Himself reconcilable to such as are so.

1. In His bearing their reproaches with meekness, and a tender concern for them, not using them with severity, any farther than He saw needful to convince them of their sin, and to awaken them to repentance. He did not render evil for evil, and railing for railing (1 Peter 2:21, 23).

2. In His forbearing to take vengeance on His enemies, as one that came not to judge the world, but to save the world.

3. Christ showed His love to His enemies in forgiving them, on condition of their sincere repentance.

4. Our blessed Saviour manifested His good-will towards His enemies, His desire of their conversion and salvation, in His labours for their good, His preaching the Gospel to any that would attend upon Him, in His warning, instructing, and entreating them.

5. In His praying for them.

6. In that charge mentioned before, which He gave His apostles after His resurrection from the dead, to preach repentance and remission of sins first at Jerusalem.I shall now close with two or three reflections on what has been delivered.

1. Let not those who have hitherto shown themselves enemies to Christ, despising His love, dishonouring His name, rejecting His gracious offers and abusing His gospel, despair of mercy, and think themselves utterly excluded from His favour.

2. Let the friends of Christ rejoice in their interest in His peculiar love.I am now to proceed to the consideration of the second thing proposed, to press the IMITATION of our Lord in this respect.

1. The first thing to be considered is, who are our enemies. Not ministers who are ordained of God to show men their sins. Nor are rulers, such as bear the sword of justice. Nor are we to be offended with any that tell us of our faults, as if they were our enemies. This is not always a sign of men's disaffection to us, but sometimes of their good-will. Nor, further, are we to reckon all our enemies that differ from us in their opinions about religion. But let us see who may justly be called our enemies. Now, they are such as have ill-will, bitterness and rancour in their hearts against us. Now, how are Christians to behave themselves towards those that hate them, and wrong them? Why, corrupt nature presently dictates an answer; hate them in like manner, recompense evil for evil, take revenge.

2. What is meant by loving our enemies? Not taking complacency and delight in them; not entering into familiarity with them, and making them our intimates, as we would our particular friends. In short, we should be well affected towards them.Thirdly then, how are we to express our love to our enemies?

1. We must suppress all immoderate anger and passion.

2. We must express our good-will to our enemies by just faithful reproof.

3. We must not envy our enemies their ease and prosperity, nor wish that their circumstances were altered into worse, that God would lift up His hand against them, afflict and blast them. In the fourth place, we should be so far from desiring the adversity of our enemies, that we should pity them in their distress.

4. We must pray for our enemies.I am now to offer to your consideration some motives to this duty.

1. Consider the excellency of this duty. It is difficult indeed, but then there is a peculiar beauty in it, which tends greatly to adorn Christianity.

2. This is a duty expressly commanded in the gospel of Christ.

3. By such a disposition of mind as is recommended in the text we should be conformed to God.

4. We have the example of Christ our Lord.

5. We have also the example of the apostles of Christ, who themselves practised this duty.

6. Hatred and malice, when they lie fretting in the heart, and break out in their unchristian inhuman effects, can do no good, but must needs be unprofitable and unpleasant. Lastly, you shall not lose your reward. "My prayer," says David, "returned into my own bosom" (Psalm 35:13). "Love your enemies and do good; and your reward shall be great" (Luke 6:35).

(Thomas Whitty.)

I. Then, I am to STATE THE NATURE AND EXTENT OF THIS PRECEPT. There are two kinds of love which we must distinguish here; the love of approbation or esteem, and the love of benevolence or good-will. The love of approbation and the love of benevolence are, then, very distinct in their own nature. Our Saviour, at the same time that He expressed His disapprobation and dislike of Jerusalem for stoning the prophets, yet exemplified a very benevolent and compassionate regard for it, for He wept over it. Even resentment does not exclude benevolence, and we are very often angry at a person for committing a fault, even because we love him. And as our Saviour loved and compassionated the Jews, though He abhorred their ungenerous treatment of Himself and the prophets; so we ought, with the same god-like generosity of soul, to love the man at the same time that we detest his vices; just as we may have an affectionate regard for a person that lies ill, but have an aversion to the disease he labours under. As to the extent and degrees of this duty, the Scripture nowhere enjoins an undistinguishing beneficence to men whether friendly or injurious. We ought to do the most good we can. Now, by singling out men of fortune, whatever relations may endear them to us, as the objects of our favour, we contribute little or nothing to their real enjoyments; but by being, what God is in a higher degree, the helper of the friendless and forlorn, we make the heart of one that was ready to perish sing for joy. In the former ease our bounty is like a shower to the ocean; in the latter it is like a shower to dry and thirsty ground. This is a very important rule, viz., that the extreme necessity of even our enemies, much more of other persons, is to take place of the mere conveniency of friends and relations, and that we ought rather to relieve the distressed than to promote the happiness of the easy; however the practice of it be disregarded by the world. But to proceed; the Scripture does not require any acts of kindness to our enemy which are confessedly prejudicial to our own interests: for we are not to love our neighbour better than ourselves. Our mercy to our enemies must not be so far extended as to expose us to the mercy of our enemies.

II. Having thus stated the nature and extent of this duty, I proceed, secondly, TO SHOW THE REASONABLENESS OF IT.

1. The great law of nature is an universal, active benevolence to the whole body of rational beings, as far as the sphere of our power extends. We were all sent into the world to promote one another's happiness, as being all children of the same Father, our Father which is in heaven. What Moses said to the contending Israelites is applicable to all mankind: "Why do ye wrong one another, since ye are brethren? " And no injuries can take away or cancel that unchangeable relation. For, do we do good to our nearest and dearest relations only because they are deserving? Do we not think ourselves obliged to serve them merely because they are relations? This relation is always a strong reason for doing good, when there is no stronger reason to supersede or set it aside. And this may serve to show, that however for. ward persons of the first distinction in civil and military offices may be to engross to themselves the character of heroism or any uncommon degree of virtue; a man in a private capacity may be as truly a hero in virtue, as they can be in a larger and more public sphere of action. He is like one of the fixed stars, which though, through the disadvantage of its situation, it may be thought to be very little, inconsiderable, and obscure by unskilful beholders; yet is as truly great and glorious in itself as those heavenly lights, which, by being placed more commodiously for our view, shine with more distinguished lustre. For he shows, by his complacency, that he would have done the same if his abilities had been equal to his inclinations.

2. An argument may be drawn from the consideration of our own happiness. Now to cultivate the sweet and kindly passions, to cherish an affectionate and social temper, to beget in ourselves, by repeated acts of goodness, a settled complacency, good will and benevolence to all mankind in general, is a constant spring of satisfaction. To contract an unrelenting malice, sullenness, and discontent, to let a sudden discomposure of mind ripen into a fixed aversion and ill-will, to have a savageness of nature and an insensibility to pity; what is this but to make our breast, which should be the temple of God, as it were a den of savage passions? In acts of severity, even when necessary, there is always something that is irksome to a gentle and compassionate spirit, something of a harsh and ungrateful feeling within accompanies them; like armour, which, though we may be obliged to put it on for our necessary self-defence, yet always fits uneasy, cumbrous, and unwieldy. Some cool-thinking villains there may be, who can lay plots to injure others with a steadfast and sedate malice, and with an untoward complacency; their minds being like those nights, which are very calm, silent, and close, and yet very black and dark; nights in which there reigns a sullen stillness. But men of this stamp are very rare: the generality of mankind, when they strive to make others uneasy, certainly disquiet themselves, and work out the ruin of other men, as they should do their own salvation, with fear and trembling.

3. A third argument for the love of our enemies may be drawn from the forgiveness of them. Now, the forgiveness of our enemies is a duty incumbent on us: because, in the first place, malice is, as I showed before, destructive of our happiness: because, secondly, we cannot with any reason ask that of God which we are not willing to bestow: because, thirdly, all private revenge, and consequently the desire of it too, is in the nature of the thing unlawful; since if it were allowed, it would draw a fatal train of consequences after it, and make the world an Aceldama, or field of blood. We know that the malignity of the offence rises in proportion to the dignity of the person whom we offend: now, most people are inclined to think themselves much greater than they are; and consequently to think the offence committed against them to be so too; the consequence of which is obvious, if we were commissioned to revenge ourselves. The mists of passion would represent injuries bigger than they are, and it would be impossible to proportion the punishment to the indignity. In short, it can never be reasonable, that one man's reputation, fortune, or life should be sacrificed to another man's passion and malice. How are we to behave ourselves to those whom we forgive? Are we to behave ourselves to them as to enemies? Not as to enemies: for then we do not sincerely forgive them. Besides, it is unnatural to have a cold indifference to the happiness or misery of our fellow-creatures, when our minds are divested of all rancour towards them. Benevolence will naturally shed abroad in our heart its kindly and gentle beams, when the clouds, which the unfriendly passions cast over the soul, are removed and dispersed.

4. A fourth argument may be drawn from the nature of God. No creature ought to counteract his Creator.

III. I proceed to show THE PRACTICABLENESS OF THIS DUTY. And here two sorts of men fall under our consideration:

1. Men of cool and deliberate malice, who, like lions lurking in secret places, can wait a considerable time, till, a convenient season offering itself, they spring to vengeance, and crush their unwary foe. Their resentment is like a massive stone, slowly raised; but, when once it is raised, on whomsoever it falls, it will grind them to powder.

2. The men of fire and fury, who immediately discharge the malignity of their passion in words or actions. As to the first set of men: it is certain that the same power of mind, which enables them to suspend the prosecution of their revengeful designs till a commodious opportunity, enables them likewise to get the better of their revengeful desires; for a passion so importunate and clamorous in its demands as revenge, if it cannot be curbed and controlled, cannot be suspended, and put off; and if it can be controlled, it can likewise be quelled and overcome. As to the second set of men, viz., the men of passion and fury, they indeed will tell you, "God forgive them, it is their infirmity which they cannot help: they are apt to be transported into unseemly words and actions; but the storm is soon over." These are the excuses of those, who, when their anger has spent itself, are very good-natured; and continue so, till fresh recruits of spirits enable their passions to take the field again. But the misfortune is, these notable excuses are quite spoiled, if we consider that these men can be, and are very often, upon their guard. They will not fall into an unseemly rage before a great person, whom they dread and revere. After all, it must be owned, that a provocation may be so shocking and flagrant, that nature may rebel against principle, and a desire of revenge may as naturally hurry away the soul as a whirlwind does the body. This is an extraordinary case, and no doubt a gracious God will make allowances for it. It is a common saying, that few people know their own weakness; but it is as true a one, that few people know their own strength till they are put to it, and resolved in the prosecution of any design. It has been often observed that our hatred is most implacable when it is most unjust.

IV. And lastly, TO CONCLUDE WITH SOME PRACTICAL ADVICE. Let US reflect, that we cannot expect to be benefited by our Saviour, as a full sacrifice for sin, unless we imitate Him, as a complete model of virtue; and this we cannot do without forgiving and loving our enemies. Can a mind think anything here worth an implacable animosity, whose comprehensive views are raised as high as heaven, and extended as far as eternity? Let us think what would become of us at the last decisive day, a day decisive of our eternal happiness or misery, if God should deal with us with the same unforgiving disposition as we would deal with others.

(J. Seed.)

I. WHAT IS NOT THAT LOVE WHICH WE MUST SHOW OUR ENEMIES: this we shall find to exclude several things which would fain wear this name.

1. As first, to treat an enemy with a fair deportment and amicable language, is not the love here enjoined by Christ. Love is a thing that scorns to dwell anywhere but in the heart. The kindness of the heart never kills, but that of the tongue often does. Was ever the hungry fed, or the naked clothed, with good looks or fair speeches? These are but thin garments to keep out the cold, and but a slender repast to conjure down the rage of a craving appetite. But we are not to rest here; fair speeches and looks are not only very insignificant as to the real effects of love, but are for the most part the instruments of hatred in the execution of the greatest mischiefs. For it is oil that whets the razor, and the smoothest edge is still the sharpest: they are the complacencies of an enemy that kill, the closest hugs that stifle, and love must be pretended before malice can be effectually practised. In a word, he must get into his heart with fair speeches and promises, before he can come at it with his dagger.

2. Fair promises are not the love that our Saviour here commands us to show our enemies. For what trouble is it to promise, what charge is it to spend a little breath, for a man to give one his word, who never intends to give him anything else? And yet, according to the measures of the world, this must sometimes pass for a high piece of love. In a word, I may say of human promises, what expositors say of Divine prophecies, "that they are never understood till they come to be fulfilled."

3. But thirdly and lastly, to advance a degree yet higher, to do one or two kind offices for an enemy is not to fulfil the precept of loving him. It is like pardoning a man the debt of a penny, and in the meantime suing him fiercely for a talent. Love is then only of reality and value when it deals forth benefits in a full proportion to one's need: and when it shows itself both in universality and constancy. Other. wise it is only a trick to serve a turn, and carry on a design. The skilful rider strokes and pleases the unruly horse, only that he may come so near him, as to get the bit into his mouth, and then he rides, and rules, and domineers over him at his pleasure. So he who hates his enemy with a cunning equal to his malice, will not strain to do this or that good turn for him, so long as it does not thwart, but rather promote the main design of his utter subversion, For all this is but like the helping a man over the stile, who is going to be hanged, which surely is no very great or difficult piece of civility.

II. And thus having done with the negative, I come now to the second general thing proposed, namely, to show POSITIVELY WHAT IS INCLUDED IN THE DUTY OF LOVING OUR ENEMIES. It includes these three things.

1. A discharging the mind of all rancour and virulence towards an adversary.

2. To love an enemy is to do him all the real offices of kindness that opportunity shall lay in our way. Love is of too substantial a nature to be made up of mere negatives, and withal too operative to terminate in bare desires.

3. The last and crowning instance of our love to our enemies, is to pray for them. For by this a man, as it were, acknowledges himself unable to do enough for his enemy; and therefore he calls in the assistance of heaven, and engages omnipotence to complete the kindness. He would fain outdo himself, and therefore finding his own stores short and dry, he repairs to infinity. Prayer for a man's self is indeed a choice duty, yet it is but a kind of lawful and pious selfishness. But when I pray as heartily for my enemy as I do for my daily bread; when I strive with prayers and tears to make God his friend, who himself will not be mine; when I reckon his felicity among my own necessities; surely this is such a love as, in a literal sense, may be said to reach up to heaven. For nobody judges that a small and trivial thing for which he dares to pray: no man comes into the presence of a king to beg pins.

III. I come now to the third and last thing, viz., TO ASSIGN MOTIVES AND ARGUMENTS TO ENFORCE THIS LOVE TO OUR ENEMY; and they shall be taken —

1. From the condition of our enemy's person, For the first of these, if we consider our enemy, we shall find that he sustains several capacities, which may give him a just claim to our charitable affection.(1) As first, he is joined with us in the society and community of the same nature.(2) An enemy, notwithstanding his enmity, may be yet the proper object of our love, because it sometimes so falls out, that he is of the same religion with us; and the very business and design of religion is to unite, and to put, as it were, a spiritual cognation and kindred between souls.(3) An enemy may be the proper object of our love, because, though perhaps he is not capable of being changed and made a friend by it (which, for any thing I know, is next to impossible), yet he is capable of being shamed and rendered inexcusable.

2. A second motive or argument to the same shall be taken from the excellency of the duty itself. It is the highest perfection that human nature can reach unto. The excellency of the duty is sufficiently proclaimed by the difficulty of its practice. Nothing certainly but an excellent disposition improved by a mighty grace, can bear a man up to this perfection.

3. The third motive or argument shall be drawn from the great examples which recommend this duty to us.

(R. South, D. D.)

, one of the earliest writers, in his "Apology" to the heathen in behalf of the Christians, says, "We who once hated and murdered one another, we who would not enjoy the hearth in common with strangers, on account of the difference of our customs, now live in common with them, since the appearance of Christ; we pray for our enemies; we seek to persuade those who hate us unjustly, that they may direct their lives according to the glorious doctrines of Christ, and may share with us the joyful hope of enjoying the same privileges from God the Lord of all things."

Origen, one of the greatest scholars and theologians of the Christian Church in the third century, when he was cruelly persecuted by Demetrius, and through his efforts excommunicated by the synod, beautifully exhibited the same mild and forgiving spirit. Speaking in his defence against the synod, he mentions wicked priests and rulers thus: "We must pity them rather than hate them, pray for them rather than curse them, for we are created for blessing rather than cursing."

In the time of a great pestilence, , Bishop of Carthage, in the third century, exhorts his flock to take care of the sick and dying, not only among their friends, but their foes. "If," says he, "we only do good to our own people, we do no more than publicans and heathens. But if we are the children of God, who makes His sun to shine and His rain to descend upon the just and upon the unjust, who sheds abroad His blessings, not upon His friends alone, but upon those whose thoughts are far from Him, we must show this by our actions, blessing those who curse us, and doing good to those who persecute us." Stimulated by their bishop's admonition, the members of the Church addressed themselves to the work, the rich contributing their money and the poor their labour. Thus the sick were attended to, the streets soon cleared of the corpses that filled them, and the city saved from the dangers of a universal pestilence.

Mr. Burkitt observes in his journal, that some persons would never have had a particular share in his prayers but for the injuries they had done him!

Mr. Lawrence once going, with some of his sons, by the house of a gentleman who had been injurious to him, charged them that they should never think or speak amiss of that gentleman on account of anything he had done against him, but, whenever they passed his house, they should lift up their hearts in prayer to God for him and his family. This good man had read our text to some purpose.

Negative holiness is short of Christianity more than the one half. It is not enough that we do others no ill, but we must do them good as we have access. Nor is it enough that we fly not out in passion and revenge on those who have wronged us, but we must love them.

I. We shall consider THE DUTY OF LOVING OUR ENEMIES. And here I shall show who are to be understood by our enemies. In general, it aims at those about whom there is least to engage our love to them.

1. Does not the psalmist say, "Do not I hate them, O Lord, that hate Thee? And am not I grieved with those that rise up against Thee? I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies"? (Psalm 139:21, 22.) And does not Jehu the son of Hanani the seer say to King Jehoshaphat, "Shouldst thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the Lord?" (2 Chronicles 19:2.)(1) There is a hating of one's way and course, and a hating of one's person. It is not the latter that is meant in these passages, but the former.(2) There is a hatred opposite to a love of complacency, and a hatred opposite to a love of good will: the former is what we should bear to the enemies of God, and is there meant; the latter is not. Are not the prayers of the Church bent against the enemies of Christ?

1. Yea they are, and for them too, in different respects; the former in respect of their wicked works, the latter in respect of their persons.

2. It is to be understood of those who are adversaries to us, or are against us any manner of way, whether they in that matter be against God or not. And so it takes in —(1) Those who are not truly and properly our enemies, but in our account and reckoning only are enemies to us.

(a)Those whom we take for our enemies, but are really only smiting friends.

(b)Those whom we take for our enemies, but are only competitors with us in a lawful way. There is so much selfishness in the world, and so little regard to the interest of our neighbour, that a great many imaginary enemies are made this way.(2) Those who are indeed our enemies, whom we reckon so, and who are truly what we reckon them.

1. Stated public enemies, who, in their principles and by open profession, are opposite to us, and practise accordingly. Such were the unbelieving Jews, particularly the Scribes and Pharisees, to the followers of Christ, inwardly hating them, openly cursing them. This party-enmity is frequent in the world, and it is the bane of the Church.

2. Stated private enemies, who set themselves in a course of enmity against such and such persons. Such enemies were Herod and Pilate to one another (Luke 23:12). Such had Joseph's brethren against him, Ahab against Micaiah, and Absalom against his brother Amnon. This is frequent everywhere, spreading itself like venom among neighbours, yea, among relations, and among neighbours of all sorts.(1) Occasional enemies, who, upon particular emergent occasions, do wrong to us; but not from a stated enmity against us. If we are to love our stated enemies, much more these (Colossians 2:13). Both these kinds of enemies are of three sorts.

1. Heart-enemies, who in their hearts are set against us, burning with grudge, malice, and rancour at us. The text is plain as to our duty in that case, "Do good to them that hate you."

2. Tongue-enemies, who employ their tongues against us like swords, arrows, fire, and scourges. "Bless them that curse you." These are very dangerous enemies, and sometimes give very deep and galling wounds (Psalm 57:4). And tongue-love will not pay that debt, it must be heart-love (Proverbs 10:18). Wit may furnish the former, but true wisdom must furnish the latter in that case.

3. Hand-enemies, who in their actions and deeds are enemies to us; not only in their hearts wishing us ill, and with their tongues speaking ill of us, but to their power, and as they have occasion, doing ill to us"Pray for them that despitefully use you, and persecute you." Our Lord binds us even to love these, and that while they are doing against us. The corrupt heart's motion is to do ill for ill, but by grace we must do good for ill: that is heaven's exchange.

II. I come to show WHAT THAT LOVE IS WHICH WE OWE TO OUR ENEMIES; We must love them. It is necessary to explain this, both negatively and positively. First, Negatively. We are not bound to love them —

I. So as for their sakes to be reconciled to and at peace with their sin. We must love and strive to please one another, but to edification, not to destruction.

2. Neither does this love bar seeking redress of wrongs in an orderly way. If God had meant that men should be in the earth, like the fishes in the sea, where the greater swallow up the lesser, without possibility of redress, nothing being left to the weaker but to yield themselves, He had never appointed the magistrate, "a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil" (Romans 13:4).

3. Neither doth it bind us to a love of complacency in them. That is, we are not obliged to take delight in them, make them our intimate and familiar companions, associate with them as our friends, being in a course of enmity against God. Jehoshaphat was reproved for that (2 Chronicles 19:2). David makes it a mark of his sincerity, that he abstained from it (Psalm 139:21). Solomon tells us, "He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed" (Proverbs 13:20). Secondly, Positively. There is a threefold love that uses to be distinguished.First, We owe to our enemies, our real enemies, a love of good-will (Romans 13:9).

1. We must not wish them ill as ill to them (Psalm 40:14). We must pluck up the roots from which ill wishes to them do spring up. Envy, which looks with an ill eye on their welfare, and would eat it up (James 3:16); hatred, which blocks up all good from us to them (Leviticus 19:17); grudge, which is a train lying within the heart, ready to be blown up on occasion for mischief to them (Leviticus 19:18); and malice, which like a burning fire pursues them with ill-will (Ephesians 4:31). Our ill wishes Can do them no ill, but they do ourselves much. Every ill wish is an item in our accounts before God, and the reigning root of ill-will to our neighbour proves one to be naught (1 John 2:11). But this extends not to these two cases.(1) The wishing one an ill for good to him, e.g., the losing of such an one's favour, the having of which is a snare to his soul.(2) The wishing evil to a person for the good o! many, as that one who is a corrupter of others, and incorrigible in it, may be taken out of the way.

2. We must not take pleasure in any ill that befalls them, as ill to them (Proverbs 24:17).

3. We must heartily wish them well (1 Timothy 1:5). "Pray for them," says the text. We must wish them the best things, that they may be for ever happy; may have favour and peace with God (Luke 33:34); and that for that cause God may grant them faith, repentance, and all other saving graces. For it is a vain wish, and worse than vain, to wish people happy, living and going on in their sins.

4. We must wish them well, as well to them (Psalm 122:8). Men may wish well to their enemies, from a mere carnal principle, not as being well for them, but for themselves. That is, they may wish them repentance, dec., for their own ease, not from any love to their souls.Secondly, We owe to our enemies, our real enemies, a love of beneficence, whereby we will be ready to do them good as we have access; and therefore says the apostle (1 John 3:18).

1. We must not practise revenge upon them, by doing one ill turn for another they have done us (Romans 12:19).

2. We must not withhold from them the good that is due to them from us by any particular tie; but must be sure to be in our duty to them, though they be out of their duty to us, "Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it" (Proverbs 3:27).

3. We must be ready to do them good as Providence puts an opportunity in our hand. "As we have opportunity, let us do good unto all men" (Galatians 6:10). Now we must be ready to do them good —(1) In their temporal interest. "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" (Romans 12:20).(2) In their spiritual interest, contributing our utmost endeavours as we have access for their eternal happiness (Proverbs 11:30).(a) To speak for their good: for a good word is often of such usefulness to men, that it may be reckoned among good deeds.(b) To act for their good (Romans 12:20).


1. The living in malice and envy against any, is an evidence of one in the black state of nature, a child of hell. Hence says the apostle (Titus 3:3).

2. To love our friends and hate our enemies, is nothing above the reach of nature, corrupt as it is.

3. The want of it will evince the person to want the true love of God; and he who wants that, surely is not a child of God, but a child of the devil.

4. It is a necessary consequent of regeneration, and without that no man shall see heaven (1 John 3:9, 10).

5. If we love not our enemies, we are not like God; and if we be not like Him, we are not His children: for all His children have His Spirit in them (Galatians 4:6). And they all bear His image (Colossians 3:10).

6. If we love not our enemies, we have not the Spirit of Christ, and so are none of His (Romans 8:9).

7. Without this we are murderers in the sight of God, and so have no share in eternal life. "Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer" (1 John 3:15).This shows us that —

1. It is not easy to be a Christian indeed, however easy it is to take on the name and profession of it.

2. Christianity lies in a Christian or Christ-like disposition of heart, and a conduct of life agreeable thereto (James 1:22).

3. Those who pick and chose in religion, taking the easier, and not meddling with the difficult duties thereof laid before them, do but deceive themselves.

4. Christianity is the best friend of human society. O how happy might the world be if it should obtain! What peace, safety, and ease would there be among nations, in neighbourhoods, and in families? It would be an effectual quench-coal to all the fightings, quarrellings, jarrings, strifes, and wrongs, that take away the comfort of society.

5. There are few Christians in the world: the children of God's family are very rare; even as rare as they are who love their enemies. Hereby ye may discern, whether ye are the children of God or not. This is an evidence proposed by Christ Himself, the elder brother of the family. But ye may safely take the comfort of love to your enemies —(1) If it be a loving of them in deed and in truth, and not in word and tongue only (1 John 3:18). Men for their own sake may give their enemies their best words and wishes, while these are but a white cover of black hatred.(2) If it be evangelical in its spring and rise. A good humour, some particular interest of men's own, may go far in the counterfeit of this. But the true love to our enemies rises from gospel principles.(3) If it be universal, not extending to some only for whom we retain a particular regard, but to all whom we take for our enemies. For if the spring of it be evangelical, it will be universal: since in that case the reason for bearing that love to one, is a reason for bearing it to all; for being in charity with all the world.To press this, let me suggest the following motives.

1. It is the command of God and His Son Jesus Christ.

2. Ye were baptized in the name of God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, all of you, and many of you have communicated in the Lord's Supper. Since ye have taken on the external badge of the family, walk as becomes members of that holy society.

3. The more ye have of this, ye are the more like God; the less ye have of it, ye are the more unlike Him. Here is your true glory.

4. This is the way to be useful in the world.

5. It will be much to your own advantage.

6. Your claim to the family of God depends on it.I shall conclude with a few directions.

1. Come to Christ, and unite with Him by faith (Hebrews 11:6).

2. Bear up in your hearts a deep sense of your sinfulness, with the faith of pardon thereof.

3. Ply your hearts with the believing thoughts of the beneficence of God to His enemies, and the love of Christ dying for His enemies to redeem them from wrath.

4. Consider that even your enemies were made originally after God's image (Genesis 9:6), and they may be for all you know the objects of everlasting love; for whom special favour is secured by the eternal transaction.

5. As there are readily none, but they have something desirable about them; so fix ye upon that, and love them for it, as ye will love gold, though ye should find it in a mire. Beware lest the faults of others and their blemishes blind your eyes to their beauties and excellencies.

6. Consider them rather as objects of pity and compassion, than of hatred.

7. Consider the shortness of time, their and your own (Ecclesiastes 9:6). We have no time to spend in these petty quarrels of this world.

(T. Boston, D. D.)

Thus, with intimate knowledge of our common life, does Jesus trace the workings of revengeful irritation down from the buffet which burns upon the cheek, to the neighbour who only pesters us with his borrowing. Everywhere he bids us substitute for the passion which calls for retaliation that nobler charity which repays evil with good. Shallow or selfish hearts are apt to say this is to put a premium on aggression, and meekly invite a repetition of it. No doubt there are foolish ways of yielding a literal obedience to this law, which would have no better effect than to provoke a second blow on the other cheek. Yet love is wise, not foolish; and often wiser in its generous confidence than selfishness in its calculating suspiciousness, which it terms prudence. God has made human souls more susceptible, on the whole, to kindness than to any other moral force; and such kindness as this, which can net only forgive, but suffer, offence, is fit to melt the rock and to tame the brute. Good, by the simple and lovely strength of its own goodness, does in the end overcome evil; or if it does not, it is because evil cannot be overcome. At all events, when a patient lover of men is trying, by unaffected meekness and unrequited generosity, to wear out the evil-doing of the bad and shame them into penitence, he is only taking the course which both God's wisdom has prescribed and God's own love has followed. It is not by His words only, but much more by His acts, that Jesus has fulfilled this law which substitutes generosity for revenge. In His person we see the supreme example of His own rule.

(J. O. Dykes, D. D.)

It was the opinion of Diogenes, that our life had need either of faithful friends, or sharp and severe enemies. And indeed our enemies oftentimes do us more good than those we esteem our friends; for a friend will often pass over ordinary failings, and out of respect, connivance, or self-interest, speak only what shall be grateful, or, at least, not displeasing; while aa enemy will catch at every error, and sets himself as a spy upon all our actions, whereby, as by a tyrant governor, we are kept impaled within the bounds of virtue and prudence, beyond whose limits if we dare to wander, we are presently whipped by him into the circle of discretion. Like the sergeant of a regiment, if we be out of rank, he checks us again into the place and file appointed us. To a fool, he is the bellows of passion; but to a wise man, he may be made a schoolmaster of virtue. An enemy also, not only hinders the growth and progress of our vices, but enkindles, exercises, and exalts our virtues. Our patience is improved, by bearing calmly the indignities he strives to load us with; our charity is enflamed by returning good for ill, and by pardoning and forgiving the injuries he does us; our prudence is increased by wisely managing ourselves in our demeanour, so as not to give him opportunity to wound us; our fortitude is strengthened by a manful repelling of scorns, and by giving occasions for the display of an undaunted courage in all our actions; our industry is strengthened and confirmed by watching all his attacks and stratagems; and by our contriving how we may best acquit ourselves in all our contests. And doubtless we ought, in another respect, to be thankful for an enemy. He causes us to show the world our parts and piety, which else perhaps might go with us to our dark graves, and moulder and die with us, quite unknown; or, could not otherwise well be seen, without the vanity of a light and ostentatious mind. Miltiades had missed his trophy, if he had missed an enemy in the Marathonian fields. Our enemies, then, are to be reckoned in the number of those by whom we may be rendered better if we will. As the hardest stone is the most proper for a basis, so there is not a better pedestal to raise a trophy of our virtues upon, than an outward enemy, if we can but keep ourselves from inward enemies, our vices and our weaknesses.

(Owen Felltham.)

Difference between man's way of doing it and God's way. When we do it we fail in various ways.

1. Sometimes it is done through sycophancy or cowardice.

2. Through weakness or easy indulgence; we "return good" to a spoilt child (or dependant) for evil which requires checking, by selfishly or idly ignoring it.

3. Through indifference or apathy, want of sensitiveness and real abhorrence of evil; we "take no notice," we condone and are tolerant of it, thinking thus to "return good."

4. We calculate that our good-returning will pay us; in praise and influence or reputation for instance.

5. We do it at the wrong time (i.e., what is good for the evil-doer at one time is bad for him at another); or we return a wrong (i.e., unsuitable) kind or form of good and in the wrong way; so that it is perverted and misunderstood, and becomes evil.

6. We do it so as to encourage the evil-doer to repeat his injury on another, perhaps more helpless; we harden him by impunity, we refuse to help him against himself. There is thus nothing more vitally important in returning good for evil than to be sure that it is good in the highest sense of the word; God's own good, not our selfish or shallow or one-sided notions of it.


1. The objects — "Enemies."

2. The feelings we must exercise towards them — " Love. "

(1)So as deeply to compassionate them — feel for them — and sincerely pity them.

(2)That we forgive them.

(3)That we pray for them.

(4)That we are ready to relieve them, and do them good.

(5)That we are willing to receive them to favour and friendship on signs of repentance.


1. On the ground of Christ's indisputable authority.

2. On the ground of Christ's blessed example.

3. Our acceptance with God is suspended upon

4. It is essential to true religion here, and to happiness hereafter.

III. ANSWER OBJECTIONS. It is objected —

1. "That it is incompatible with self-love." We reply, that we are not to love the injury, but the injurer; and the soul's sweetest felicity will thus be produced.

2. "Revenge is sweet." It is so to demons, and wicked men who possess the spirit of the wicked one. But mercy and pity only are really sweet to those who are renewed in their hearts by the saving grace of God.

3. "Revenge is honourable." It is false honour — the honour of a bad world, and of depraved hearts. It is the glory of the blessed God to forgive us, who have been enemies to Him; and it is our highest dignity to be conformed to His holy image.

4. "It is impossible." So it is to the carnal mind, without Divine aid, without crucifying our own carnal self. Stephen prayed for his murderers. And the blessed Jesus, who knows what is in man, and what he is capable of doing, and whose yoke is easy, has enjoined it; and therefore, however difficult, it is evidently possible.

(J. Burns, D. D.)

During the American Revolutionary War there was living, in Pennsylvania, Peter Milier, pastor of a little Baptist Church. Near the church lived a man who secured an unenviable notoriety by his abuse of Miller and the Baptists. He was also guilty of treason, and was for this sentenced to death. No sooner was the sentence pronounced than Peter Miller set out on foot to visit General Washington, at Philadelphia, to intercede for the man's life. He was told that his prayer could not be granted. "My friend!" exclaimed Miller, "I have not a worse enemy living than that man." "What," rejoined Washington, " you have walked sixty miles to save the life of your enemy? That in my judgment puts the matter in a different light. I will grant you his pardon." The pardon was made out, and Miller at once proceeded on foot to a place fifteen miles distant, where the execution was to take place on the afternoon of the Same day. He arrived just as the man was being carried to the scaffold, who, seeing Miller in the crowd, remarked: "There is old Peter Miller. He has walked all the way from Ephrata to have his revenge gratified to-day by seeing me hung." These words were scarcely spoken before Miller gave him his pardon, and his life was spared.

Henry Clay once replied to some sneering allusion to the character of American Evangelical Christianity: "I do not know practically what the Churches call religion. I wish I did. But I do know what it effects." And then reciting the case of a bitter feud between two neighbouring families in Kentucky which had kept the community in a ferment for years, but at last had been settled by the conversion of both parties, he said: "I tell you that whatever will change a Kentucky feud into a fellowship so soon and effectively is of God. No power short of His could do it."

In the old persecuting times there lived in Cheapside one who feared God and attended the secret meetings of the saints; and near him there dwelt a poor cobbler, whose wants were often relieved by the merchant; but the poor man was a cross-grained being, and most ungratefully, from hope of reward, laid as information against his kind friend on the score of religion. This accusation would have brought the merchant to death by burning if he had not found a means of escape. Returning to his house, the injured man did not change his generous behaviour to the malignant cobbler, but, on the contrary, was more liberal than ever. The cobbler was, however, in an ill mood, and avoided the good man with all his might, running away at his approach. One day he was obliged to meet him face to face, and the Christian man asked him gently, "Why do you shun me? I am not your enemy. I know all that you did to injure me, but I never had an angry thought against you. I have helped you, and I am willing to do so as long as I live, only let us be friends." Do you marvel that they clasped hands?

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Arcadius, an Argive, was incessantly railing at Philip of Macedon. Venturing once into the dominions of Philip, the courtiers reminded their prince that he had now an opportunity to punish Arcadius for his past insolences, and to put it out of his power to repeat them. The king, however, instead of seizing the hostile stranger and putting him to death, dismissed him loaded with courtesies and kindnesses. Some time after Arcadius's departure from Macedon, word was brought that the king's old enemy was become one of his warmest friends, and did nothing but diffuse his praises wherever he went. On hearing this, Philip turned to his courtiers, and asked, with a smile, "Am not I a better physician than you?"

— A man was seen one day going in a boat on a river with a large dog, which he wished to get rid of by drowning. He succeeded in throwing the animal into the water; but the creature sought to re-enter the boat. As the man was attempting to beat off the dog from the boat, he fell overboard, and would have been drowned, had not the dog seized him by his coat, and brought him to the shore.

A few poor Cherokee women, who had been converted to Christianity, formed themselves into a society for the propagation of the gospel, which was now become so dear to them. The produce of the first year was about ten dollars, and the question was, To what immediate object this should be applied? At length a poor woman proposed that it should be given to promote the circulation of the gospel in the Osage nation; "For," said she, "the Master has told us to love and do good to our enemies, and I believe the Osages are the greatest enemies the Cherokees have."

— It was the laudable ambition of Cotton Mather to be able to say, that "he did not know of any person in the world who had done him an ill office, but he had done him a good one for it."

— A Chinese emperor being told that his enemies had raised an insurrection in one of the distant provinces, "Come, then, my friends," said he, "follow me, and I promise you that we shall quickly destroy them." He marched forward, and the rebels submitted upon his approach. All now thought that he would take the most signal revenge; but were surprised to see the captives treated with mildness and humanity. "How," cried the first minister; "is this the manner in which you fulfil your promise? Your royal word was given that your enemies should be destroyed; and behold you have pardoned them all, and even caressed some of them!" "I promised," replied the emperor, with a gracious air, "to destroy my enemies. I have fulfilled my word; for, see, they are enemies no longer; I have made friends of them!" Let every Christian imitate so noble an example, and learn to overcome evil with good.

versus principles: — It is said that many years ago an eminent minister of the gospel, who had been a great athlete in his youth, on returning to his native town soon after he had been ordained, encountered in the High Street an old companion whom he had often fought and thrashed in his godless days. "So, you've turned Christian, they tell me, Charley?" said the man. "Yes," replied the minister. "Well, then, you know the Book says, If you're struck on one cheek, you're to turn the other. Take that"; and with that he hit him a stinging blow. "There then," replied the minister, quietly, turning the other side of his face toward him. The man was brute enough to strike him heavily again. Whereupon the minister said, " And there my commission ends," pulled off his coat, and gave his antagonist a severe thrashing, which no doubt he richly deserved. But did the minister keep the command of Christ? He obeyed the letter of the rule: but did he not violate the principle, the spirit, of it? Hear the other story, and judge. It is told of a celebrated officer in the army that, as he stood leaning over a wall in the barrack-yard, one of his military servants, mistaking him for a comrade, came softly up behind him, and suddenly struck him a hard blow. When the officer looked round, his servant, covered with confusion, stammered out, "I beg your pardon, sir; I thought it was George." His master gently replied: "And if it were George, why strike so hard?" Now which of these two, think you, really obeyed the command of Christ? the minister who made a rule of it and kept to the letter of the rule, or the officer who made a principle of it, and acting on the spirit of it, neglected the letter? Obviously, the minister disobeyed the command in obeying it, while the officer obeyed the command in disobeying it. And here we may see the immense superiority of a principle over a rule. Take a rule, any rule, and there is only one way of keeping it, the way of literal obedience, and this may often prove a foolish and even a disobedient way. But get a principle, and there are a thousand ways in which you may apply it, all of which may be wise, beneficial to you, and no less beneficial to your neighbour.

(S. Cox, D. D.)

— A Swiss colporteur entered a three-story house, in which, according to the custom of the country, three different families lived. He began with the highest story, and sold copies of the Scriptures in this and in the next. On inquiring about the family on the ground-floor, he was warned not to enter, but he did enter. He found both the man and his wife at home. He offered his Bibles; his offer was replied to with abuse, and a positive order to leave the house instantaneously; he, however, stayed, urging them to buy and read God's holy Word. The man then rose in a violent rage, and struck him a severe blow on the cheek. Up to this moment the colporteur stood quietly with his knapsack on his back. He now deliberately unstrapped it, laid it on the table, and turned up the sleeve of his right arm, all the while steadily looking his opponent in the face. The colporteur was a very strong man. Addressing his opponent he said, " Look at my hand — its furrows show that I have worked; feel my muscles — they show that I am fit for work. Look me straight in the face; do I quail before you? Judge, then, for yourself if it is fear that moves me to do what I am about to do. In this Book my Master says, When they smite you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. You have smitten me on one cheek; here is the other! Smite I I will not return the blow." The man was thunderstruck. He did not smite, but bought the Book which, under the influence of God's Spirit, works marvels in the human heart.

(W. Baxendale.)

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.)

The Jews of the first century always wore the tunic and mantle or robe. These were the two indispensable garments. The tunic was of linen. It fitted the figure, had sleeves and came down to the feet. It was worn next to the skin, or over an under-garment of linen very full and long. That of the rabbi, scribe, or doctor, was specially large, and yet was not to be visible more than a handbreadth under the mantle. The mantle or robe was worn over all. A man must be very poor to have only one cloak, and yet this is what Christ enjoined on His disciples. According to Luke's Gospel He said one day, "If any man will take away thy cloak, forbid him not take thy coat also." This precept can be understood; a robber would naturally lay hold first of the outer garment. But Matthew puts it the other way. Under this form it is harder to understand, and we may well suppose that in transcribing [Matthew's version] the copyist may have misplaced the two words coat and cloak.

(E. Stapfer, D. D.)

Many of you know the name of William Law, the author of the "Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life." He was one of the best of clergymen, and was bent on leading a life of Christian obedience in the most thorough and unshrinking manner. He and two rich friends agreed to live together, and to spend as little as possible on themselves, and to give away almost their joint income. They did so by relieving all who applied to them and who represented themselves as in want. The result was that they attracted crowds of idle and lying mendicants. For a long time Law shut his eyes to the evil of which he and his friends were thus the occasion; until at last his fellow-parishioners were driven to present a memorial to the magistrates, entreating them in some way to prevent Mr. Law from thus demoralizing their parish. A sad and pathetic incident illustrating the perplexities and contradictions of human life! The best men are not above the need of learning wisdom from experience. The real Christian duty of these good people was not to be less self-denying and liberal, but to consider anxiously how they might lay out their means so as to do the most good and the least evil. If you give sixpence to a poor creature, when you know, or may know, if you think or inquire, that the sixpence will be turned at once into intoxicating drink, you are putting a stumbling-block or occasion of falling in the way of a brother or sister for whom Christ died. What is it that forbids you to do this? Is it political economy? Perhaps, but it is certainly also Christian duty, Christian love. I once heard an excellent clergyman say, "Warn as you will, if I were to refuse help to the apparently hungry woman who begs me to give her food, I could not eat my own dinner in comfort." My answer to such a remark would be, "What does it matter whether you eat your own dinner in comfort or not? This is a very secondary consideration, compared with the question of doing good or harm to the brother or sister for whom Christ died." People are imposed upon, as we say, not unfrequently: when they find it out they are vexed; but too often their regret is limited to their own humiliation, to their own insignificant loss; and they fail to reproach themselves for having in their carelessness put an occasion of falling in the way of the weak brother for whom Christ died.

(J. H. Davies, M. A.)

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