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what is corrupt in the present state; but SERMON serving God with that fidelity, and behaving to men with that steady magnanimity of virtue, that generous beneficence and humanity, which suits immortal beings, who are aspiring to rise in a future state to the perfection of their nature, in the presence of God.
On overcoming Evil with Good.
ROMANS, xii. 21.
Be not overcome of evil; but overcome evil with good.
IN this world, we all know that we must reckon upon a mixture of goods and evils. Some of the evils are owing to the appointment of Providence in this state of trial; many of them are the fruits of our own guilt and misconduct. The goods and the evils of our state are so blended, as often to render the whole of human life a struggle between them. We have to contend both with the evils of fortune, and with the evils of our own depravity, and it is only he who can in some measure
overcome both, that is to be esteemed the SERMON wise, the virtuous, and the happy man. At the same time, amidst the evils of different kinds which assault us, there is a principle of good, derived from Heaven, by which we may hope to acquire strength, and through Divine assistance be enabled to overcome the evils of our state. This is the subject of the exhortation in the Text, Be not overcome of evil; but overcome evil with good. Taken in its most extensive sense, as respecting the different kinds of evil, which we have to overcome, the exhortation may be understood to comprise the three following particulars. In the first place, Be not overcome by the injuries you meet with in the world, so as to pursue revenge. Secondly, Be not overcome by the disasters of the world, so as to sink into despair. Thirdly, Be not overcome by the evil examples of the world, so as to follow them into sin. But in all those cases, overcome evil with good. Overcome injuries, by forgiveness. Overcome disasters, by fortitude. Overcome evil examples, by firmness of principle. I. BE
I. BE not overcome by the injuries you meet with in the world, so as to pursue revenge. It appears from the context, that this was the primary object which the Apostle had in his view in this exhortation, He refers to the injuries which the primitive Christians were constantly suffering from their persecutors. Instead of being so much overcome by these as to be intent on revenge, his exhortation in the verses preceding the Text is, Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath; for it is 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. But it is not in times only of persecution and general distress, that this exhortation is needful. We must in every state of society reckon upon meeting with unreasonable men, and encountering their bad usage. This is one of the evils inseparable from our present state. No station is so high, no worth so distinguished, no
innocence so inoffensive, as to secure us SERMON entirely against it. Sometimes the violence of enemies, sometimes the ingratitude of friends, will ruffle our spirits. Where we think that we have merited praise, we will be in hazard of meeting reproach. Envy will rise unprovoked; and calumny, from its secret place, will dart its envenomed. shafts against the most deserving. Such is the consequence of the present depravity of our nature, and of the disordered state in which human affairs lie. The fondness of self-love is always apt to amuse us with too flattering prospects of what life is to produce for us, beyond what it produces for others.. Hence our impatience and irritation upon every injury we suffer; as if some new and unheard-of thing had befallen us; and as if we alone were privileged to pass through the world, untouched by any wrong. Whereas, if we were disciplined to think of the world, and of the tempers of those around us, as a wise man ought to think, the edge of this impatience would be taken off. When we engage in any undertaking, we ought to say to ourselves, that in the course of it we Q 4