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think, it becomes them to revenge; or bear Evils they can so easily avert. In short, the Doctrine of our Saviour does not suit with their Humour, and therefore they will not be oblig'd by it. The Inconveniencies, that must necessarily attend the Observers, may fufficiently, they hope, excuse the Observance of it.
Now though no Injunction can be more positive than that in the Text, Refft not Evil, usher'd in with Words which challenge the utmost Attention, but I say unto You; yet least this Precept fhou'd either by weak Men be misunderstood; or afford Advantage to bad Men from the Readiness of such as are of a quiet and easy Temper to comply with them; least Infolence and Injustice, which ought ever to be suppress’d, shou'd find Encouragement, and the best Rule be perverted to the worst of Ends ; least Men shou'd do Evil, and hope notwithstanding to go unpunish'd ; It may not be thought altogether unnecessary to Thew, how the Words, Refif not Evil, are to be taken. For it is not here to be suppos’d, that we shou'd lay ourselves open to the Insults of all, who wou'd willingly grieve, or oppress us ; It is not to be imagined, (so necessary is Self-Preservation) that we shou'd not provide against Dangers, which threaten us, or
fence off Evils, we see coming upon us; it Therefore I shall consider
First, the Nature of those Evils, which we may lawfully resist, and the Course we are to take in resisting them.
Secondly, what we are commanded not to relist, and the Motives to this Duty.
But before I proceed to treat of these Heads, I shall lay down this general Rule; That no private Revenge, let the Injury be what it will, is at any Time, or upon any Account justifiable.
Indeed to stand upon our own Defence is not only allowable, but very often requisite and neceffary; but personally to revenge ourselves is unlawful.
Which will appear from the following obvious Reasons. : 1. No one certainly ought to assume a Power which does not belong to Him. It is only for the Powers that are ordained of God, to execute the Authority that is given by God. Since then we are sensible, that Vengeance is of the Lord alone, or of such as have a Power delegated to them from Him; we must not encroach upon their Prerogative, and take their Office upon us, 'who alone are pofsefsd of the Sword of Juf
tice for the Punishment of Evil-doers. For all private Persons, let the Constitution of the Government they are in be what it will, are so far upon an Equality, that no Consideration will warrant their revenging themselves one upon another.
2. Moreover, we know, that Revenge is properly a Judicial Act, and no one is ever allow'd at the same Time to be a Party and Judge. For in Case of Injuries receiv'd, when we appeal to a Person, who can do us Justice, we are not therefore redress’d, because we think our Complaint just, but because He whom we appeal to, finds we have been wrong’d. We may very likely have the Right, but we must leave another to give it, on our Side. Let Him decide the Cause, whom God has made Judge ; Let Him put the Laws in Execution, whom God has entrusted with so great an Office.
3. Another Reason to be given against private Revenge is, That it can never answer the End, which shou'd be propos’d in taking it. For in revenging Injuries a special Regard ought to be had to these Things. That it may have such an Influence upon
the injurious Perfon, as to make him sensible of his Fault. That it
may discourage others from making the like Attempt. - That it may be a Security for the future to the Person injur'd.
But He who takes private Revenge, is not likely to compass any of these Ends, but on the contrary rather provokes, and enrages his Adversary, gives Offence to Others, and brings more Trouble
upon Himself. So that if we had no Respect either to Chriftianity, Reason, or Justice, the bare consulting our own Ease, and Quiet, Thou'd so far prevail upon us, as to make us harbour no Thoughts of private Revenge.
But if this was once a receiv'd Opinion, and the Law wou'd give Way to it, That every
Man might, when he conceiv'd Himself to be injur’d, without making an Appeal to another's Judgment, redress Himself as he thought fit, either
Craft, or Violence; the Sacred Ties of Religion wou'd soon be diffolv'd, Virtue utterly extirpated, and Iniquity establish'd. Confusion, Desolation, Rapine, and Blood, and even worse Consequences than these, if worse can be conceiv'd wou'd quickly ensue. For if Men were to fit Judges in their own Cause, and no Law restrain'd them from doing themselves Right in their own Way; if all, who thought they had Reason to complain, might put their own Sentence in Execution, not only Right to our Pofsession, wou'd be precarious, but even our Lives always in Danger.
This therefore being premis’d, and provid, That all private Revenge whatsover is utterly unlawful, I come now to consider,
1. What those Evils are, which we are allow'd to refift, and the Way we are to take in resisting them.
Herein are included all Such in general as are too great' to be born, Such as Christianity does not forbid, right Reason directs, and common Justice obligeth us to refift:_Such as, though levelld at a private Man, strike at the Foundation of Government, and tend to the Violation of Laws, without which there can be no Security in any Common-Wealth:-Or, in short, all such Injuries as shall be judg’d, by the Wisest and Best of Men, not fit to be pass’d by.
It is necessary that the violent shou'd be reAtrain’d, and the unjust punished, as well that They may be reclaimed, as that Others, observing their ill Success may be prevented from finning. For as Men seeing others finning prosperously, meeting with neither Punishment, nor Reprehension, are apt to follow the same Course, expecting to meet with the same Indulgence ; So it holds on the other Side also, that they are frequently deterrid from doing ill, when they consider the Shame and Punishments, that are both the Attendants,