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23

Verse 23

23.If I have spoken evil. That is, “If I have sinned, accuse me, that, when the cause has been tried, I may be punished according to the offense; for this is not a lawful mode of procedure, but very different order and very different modesty ought to be maintained in judicial courts.” Christ complains, therefore, that a grievous injury has been clone to him, if he has committed no offense, and that, even if he has committed an offense, still they ought to proceed in a lawful manner, and not with rage and violence.

But Christ appears not to observe, in the present instance, the rule which he elsewhere lays down to his followers; for he does not

hold out the right cheek to him who had struck him on the left,
(
Matthew 5:39.)

I answer, in Christian patience it is not always the duty of him who has been struck to brook the injury done him, without saying a word, but, first, to endure it with patience, and, secondly, to give up all thoughts of revenge, and to endeavor to overcome evil by good, (Romans 12:21.) Wicked men are already too powerfully impelled by the spirit of Satan to do injury to others, in order that nobody may provoke them. It is a foolish exposition of Christ’s words, therefore, that is given by those who view them in such a light as if we were commanded to hold out fresh inducements to those who already are too much disposed to do mischief; for he means nothing else than that each of us should be more ready to bear a second injury than to take revenge for the first; so that there is nothing to prevent a Christian man from expostulating, when he has been unjustly treated, provided that his mind be free from rancour, and his hand from revenge.

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