We recently came across these interesting and helpful remarks in the February, 1901 Christadelphian Advocate Editorial Section.
It is unpleasant to have enemies, whether they are enemies sincerely or otherwise. It is quite grievous to have them haggling at one incessantly. Life, comparatively, would be a "pleasant dream" without enemies. But the man who in this tangled life is without enemies is not a man, except, perhaps, in physical form, because ability to discern truth and courage to declare it will, as long as this evil life lasts, make enemies - some of them so by mistake, others so from a perverted ambition, but he will have them at his heels all the time. What is he to do?
Was there ever a servant of the Lord since the fall of man without enemies? Never. Who ever had more enemies that the "meek and lowly Jesus?" Why? Because he dared to do the right and to speak the truth regardless of friend or foe, true as steel to divine principles whatever the consequences.
What was the result? Enemies hagging and hagging incessantly, some of them wickedly because they felt their little candles snuffed out by the brilliance of the shining sun radiating from his mind; others, like Saul of Tarsus, "in all good conscience before God." But our Lord had the advantage of being able to see the heart and to know the motive and so could discriminate. That we cannot do. What then can we do? A thinks that he is all right and that B is the enemy. B thinks the other way; but either can tell, if he is honest with himself, whether in thus thinking he is sincere. That's the thing to look after - the thing of greatest imortance. But where there is sincerity on both sides in thus thinking of each other what is to be done? Here is a question not easy to answer and one which requires a good equilibrium made up of lots of things - modesty, gentleness, tenderness, courage in short, an aggregation of qualities which few men inherit in the blood, and come from "exercise" in spiritual things.
The Scriptures are intended to "thoroughly furnish unto all good works" giving a degree of descretion that will enable one to act wisely in all difficult situations. We must not fret, then, that we have enemies, but rather utilize the fact in our process of training and fitting ourselves for the great work which yet awaits us in the coming day. We must, therefore, pray for our enemies, and strive to turn them into friends - but not by compromise of divine principles. It would be quite easy with principles left out; but with these guarded, that is where the tact and intelligence and spirituality and gentleness and love are all required to be of a high degree - a degree which can be reached only by the aid of a daily adjustment to divine precepts and principles.
Now, perhaps, some one will whisper that in writing this we are assuming that we have reached the ideal, but our enemies are far behind, and some may venture in a faint whisper to call it conceit. Well, of course we believe we are right in the side we take of any dispute on principles. Yes, believe it with all our might. It would be child's play for one to advocate and contend if he did not believe with all his heart that he is on the right side; and he cannot believe himself to be on the right side without believing his opponet to be on the wrong side. A man is not worth a farthing who is without conviction and not worth much more if he has not the courage of his conviction. It is for him to be careful that he does not confound conviction with conceit; and when he is sure he is right he can well afford to let others call it by whatever name they please. If they misjudge they suffer and not he.
So we must try to imitate Solomon - seek wisdom - the right use of knowledge - seek it as for hidden treasures and find it and apply it in all problems the best we can in the fear of God, pleasing our brethren and our fellow men if we can do it by pleasing God. If not thus, then never mind the consequences. God will take care of them. To Him let us fully consecrate our lives, our all, and then we need not fear results.
These are words to take very seriously. Let us not be as those of Jesus' time "who loved the praise of men more then the praise of God". If we take a stand in these trying times when challenges to the Truth come from all directions then we have to be prepared for the fiery darts that will come at us - and come they will. (A.T.)