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drooping grace of love to his enemies was quickened into new life, and bloomed with its wonted beauty and fragrance.
Justin Martyr, 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, Cyprian, another of the early Christians, who was bishop of the church in Carthage in the third century, thus 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 admonitions, 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 universal pestilence.
Such are the various happy fruits which follow on our obedience to this maxim of the divine Founder of Christianity, “ Love your enemies." We perceive from these that the command was not meant to be a dead letter, or to be understood only as a figure of speech. What Christ himself, and the first martyr of his church, Stephen, did, we also must do, if we would follow in the footsteps of our Saviour, and share in the possessions he has purchased for us with his blood. But, even if we take up lower ground, we find that the
results are in themselves an abundant reward—“that wisdom's ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.” By every motive that can influence the best feelings of our nature, we are impelled to forgiveness, charity, and love.
HERE are certain men whose names mark the
great epochs of important changes in the
progress of the world ; and among these that of Howard is familiar to all, as the memento of that remarkable change in the opinions of men, which introduced the mighty power of love as a counterpart to crime, a corrector of violence, and a subduer even of the madman in his chains. The idea of the philanthropist entering the dungeon of the criminal, or the cell of the insane, armed with no other means of influence or of defence than the firmness and tender compassion of a benevolent and well-regulated heart, seemed at one time too extravagant a fancy to enter