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THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW - Chapter 5 - Verse 44

Verse 44. Love your enemies. There are two kinds of love, involving the same general feeling, or springing from the same fountain of goodwill to all mankind, but differing still so far as to admit of separation in idea. The one is that feeling by which we approve of the conduct of another, commonly called the love of complacency; the other, by which we wish well to the person of another, though we cannot approve his conduct. This is the love of benevolence; and this love we are to bear towards our enemies. It is impossible to love the conduct of a man that curses and reviles us, and injures our person or property, or that violates all the laws of God; but though we may hate his conduct, and feel deeply that we are affected by it, yet we may still wish well to the person; we may pity his madness and folly; we may speak kindly of him, and to him; we may not return evil for evil; we may aid him in the time of trial; and seek to do him good here, and to promote his eternal welfare hereafter, Ro 12:17-20. This seems to be what is meant by loving our enemies; and this is a peculiar law of Christianity, and the highest possible test of piety, and probably the most difficult of all duties to be performed.

Bless them that curse you. The word bless here means to speak well of or to. Not to curse again, or to slander, but to speak of those things which we can commend in an enemy; or if there is nothing that we can commend, to say nothing about him. The word bless, spoken of God, means to regard with favour, or to confer benefits, as when God is said to bless his people. When we speak of our blessing God, it means to praise him, or give thanks to him. When we speak of blessing men, it unites the two meanings, and signifies to confer favour, to thank, or to speak well of.

Despitefully use you. The word thus translated means, first, to injure by prosecution in law; then, wantonly and unjustly to accuse, and to injure in any way. This seems to be its meaning here.

Persecute. See Mt 5:10.

{k} "pray for them" Lu 23:34; Ac 7:60

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