1 Peter 2:18-25
Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the fraudulent.…
I. WHAT IS IMPLIED IS THIS DUTY.
1. The not entertaining the impression of injuries with acrimony of thought and internal resentment.
2. The not venting any such resentment in virulent vindictive language.
II. WHENCE IT IS THAT THIS DUTY COMES TO BE SO EXCEEDINGLY DIFFICULT.
1. From the peculiar provoking quality of ill language.
2. Because nature has deeply planted in every man a strange tenderness of his good name, which, in the rank of worldly enjoyments, the wisest of men has placed before life itself. For, indeed, it is a more enlarged and diffused life, kept up by many more breaths than our own.
III. BY WHAT MEANS A MAN MAY WORK HIMSELF TO SUCH A COMPOSURE AND TEMPER OF SPIRIT, AS TO BE ABLE TO OBSERVE THIS GREAT AND EXCELLENT DUTY. And here, when we consider what obstructions are to be conquered and removed, we must acknowledge that nothing under an omnipotent grace can subdue the heart to such a frame. To discommend this, of returning railing for railing, slander for slander, both to our practice and affection, I shall fasten only upon this one consideration; namely, that it is utterly useless to all rational intents and purposes.
1. The first reason that would induce a man, upon provocation, to do a violent action by way of return, should be to remove the cause of that provocation. But the cause that usually provokes men to revile, are words and speeches; that is, such things as are irrevocable. Such a one vilified me; but can I, by railing, make that which was spoken, not to have been spoken? Are words and talk to be reversed? Or can I make a slander to be forgot, by rubbing up the memory of those that heard it with a reply?
2. Another end, inducing a man to return reviling for reviling, may be by this means to confute the calumny, and to discredit the truth of it. But this course is so far from having such an effect, that it is the only thing that gives it colour and credibility; all people being prone to judge, that a high resentment of a calumny proceeds from concernment, and that from guilt; which makes the sore place tender and untractable.
3. A third end for which a man may pretend to give himself this liberty is because in so doing he thinks he takes a full and proper revenge of him that first reviled him. But certainly there is no kind of revenge so poor and pitiful; for every dog can bark, and he that rails makes another noise indeed, but not a better.
(R. South, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward.