On Reconciliation and Vengence


It is with God alone we have to do. There is no offense that is not firstly against God. There is no offense against another, none against ourselves, which is not chiefly wrought with atheism in its intentions. You can surely attempt to be reconciled with another man, that is, to make a temporal peace. There is a sense that this peace is accomplished in the earthly way, that your strivings with another cease because you have recognized and admitted to your faults as it concerns them. This is not a grievous thing and we should encourage all, whether in Christ or outside, to be reconciled to one another because this creates an operable peace and an environment where volatile men can coexist. But the reconciliation, the peace made is only that, an operable peace which is only temporal and earthly. It has no true roots. It is to be compared with the branches that Christ will remove from his vine when he comes at the end that were not rooted in him. There is a behavior, there is a mode in which you can have fruits, branches and produce. But if in your view the only reconciliation that must occur is between you and the offended, then your reconciliation is as good to you and as good to that person as a dark, ominous cloud who sends no rain. It may appear as something to be fruitful, something to bring good, but at the last day, when all is brought before the Lord and his judgment is sent forth, the deed will unravel because it neither saw its true roots nor the true offended party, that is, the triune God. So then, if you seek to be reconciled to your neighbor then you must first be reconciled to God, your heart must be before him in repentance. As David declares to the Lord concerning his sin with Bathsheba and against Uriah, “Against you only have I sinned.” (Psalm 51)
This is why, conversely, for the offended, God declares “Vengeance is mine, I will repay”. When you are on the receiving end of an offense, it is not your place to meet them with justice. The reason for such is that the offense committed against you was not a simple injustice against your person, but instead a treason against the one who established the law. So then it is the duty of all who want true justice to seek the Lord and his justice. Your offense taken, as God would display, has a littleness compared to the offense committed against him. Were you to understand what depth of wrath that rises in the heart of God when one commits an act against you, and were you to understand why that anger burns toward the offender, then you would understand much of David’s psalms. You would learn that what has happened to you, though grievous and painful and needing to be confronted with an earthly justice, is so much more of an offense against your Lord that he would have the person cast into darkness for eternity, for a single offense. You would learn why David repeated declares his anger at his enemies, but attributes his anger to what they have done not simply to him, but firstly to God.

If, then, you desire justice and seek that whatever wrong has been done to you be vindicated, then also, with God alone you have to do. Any justice exercised outside of God is like the reconciliation outside of God. It has no roots, and its fruits will die at the end of all things. It can be considered that even a justice exercised outside of God, that is, not with a view and a heart towards God’s desires, is an injustice in itself. Therefore, if you seek justice, meditate then firstly on what they have done against your Lord, the treason and atheism involved in what they have done. Then meditate upon your own self, and consider how your actions against others, though they may not be of the same degree as the one committed, they are yet a treason against your Lord as well. This is to humble your soul in your approach toward those whom you seek justice, intimating that as you desire mercy for your own wrongdoings, so then, seek the mercy first for their wrongdoings as well. But your desire for mercy should be partnered with a due sense and desire of the justice that God demands. We are not to be ignorant of the justice which God demands and will exercise at the last.

There is one more thing to consider about an offense and the fruit of repentance. Reconciliation is the fruit. Now if reconciliation can be accomplished outside of Christ, it stands that it may not always be concomitant with a heart of Godly contrition, which is the true fruit. But it must be considered that if you declare that you have sought the Lord and yet have not gone and reconciled yourself to the neighbor, then it stands that you seeking of the Lord was in vain. If you say that you truly sought the Lord and repented of your offense against him, then surely such a person would find it of necessity and a peace to be reconciled to the person offended. It may be that the reason for not seeking out the forgiveness of the offended neighbor is your fear of them, but this need not be so. There would not be a place to conjure up courage because the courage needed to approach the Lord is vastly greater than the courage needed to approach an offended party. Your debt to God warranted eternal punishment, your debt to man warranted a temporal punishment, so whatever depths you fear may be between you and your injured, true reconciliation with God will bring about a true reconciliation with the offended party (or at least an attempt, not always will the other party desire to be reconciled).

So then, it is with God alone we have to do.

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