More particularly in this ingeminated opposition, be pleased to observe,
The sin specified, in these words, 'He that hateth his brother.' [1 John 2:9-11]The state of the sinner described in the rest of the words: and thatImaginary, wherein he supposeth himself to be, 'He saith he is in the light.'Real, in which indeed he is; set forth in several characters, in the end of the 9th, and the greatest part of the 11th. 'He is in darkness even until now;' and again, 'He is darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes.'1. The first of these is the hinge upon which the antithesis turneth, and therefore I shall be the more large in unfolding it. To which end I shall discuss it two ways, by way of restriction and by way of enlargement; and accordingly discover exclusively what hatred is not within the compass of this sin, and then extensively how far this hatred reacheth, which is here declaimed against.The exclusive restriction of this hatred will appear in these ensuing propositions.
1. There is a positive and there is a comparative, there is an absolute and there is a relative, hatred. It is very observable, that Jacob's loving Rachel more than Leah is called in the very next verse hating Leah, Gen. xxix. 30, 31. That which we less love than another, we are said to hate in comparison of that love we bear to the other; and thus it is not sin but a duty to hate our brother, to wit, in comparison of Christ. It is our Saviour's own assertion, Luke xiv. 26, 'If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, his own life also, he cannot be my disciple:' an expression seemingly very harsh, but easily understood. If compared with the other evangelist, St. Matthew, chap. x. 37, where he brings in Christ, saith, 'He that loveth father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me, and he that loveth son or daughter more than me, is not worthy of me.' We ought then to hate our nearest relations, that is, not love them more, nay, which is the meaning of the phrase, love them less than Christ. Hence it is, that when Christ's glory and truth cometh in competition with the dearest of our relations, we must neglect children, cast off parents, reject the wife of our bosom, rather than deny Christ; yea, w must be averse to them if they go about to direct us from Christ. Thus that devout Paula, as St Jerome [Hier. Ep. xxvii. c. 8.] saith, Nesciebat se matrem, ut Christi probaret ancillam, that she might approve herself Christ's handmaid, forgot that she was a mother. And that same father elsewhere asserteth it [Hier. Ep. i. ad Hetrod.], Pietatis genus est impium esse pro domino, it is a part of piety to be in some sense impious, and, out of love towards God, to hate our brother, and therefore this is not here to be understood.
2. It is one thing to hate our brother, and another thing to hate the sins of our brother; it is solidly determined by Aquinas [Aquin. 2da 2dæ Quest. 34. Art. iii.], love is due to my brother secundum id quod a Deo habet, in respect of that which is communicated to him by God, whether nature, or grace, or both; but it is not due to him secundum id quod habet a seipeo et diabolo, according to that which he hath from himself and the devil, to wit, sin and wickedness; and therefore it is lawful to hate my brother's sin, but not his nature, much less his grace. Laudabile odium odisse vitia, saith Origen [Orig. in Rom.], to hate evil is a commendable hatred, and that wherever we find it, not only in the bad but the good, the enormities of the one, but the infirmities in the other; not only in strangers and enemies, but kindred and friends, spying beams, nay, motes, in these as well as those, and abhoring them; we must hate this serpent wherever we find it, though in a garden, nay, though in our own habitations. Indeed, as Aquinas excellently, Hoc ipsum, quod in fratris amorem, this hatred of the vice in an effect of love to the person; so much is intimated when it is said, Lev. xix. 17, 'Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thy heart, thou shalt in anywise rebuke him, and not suffer sin upon him.' By shewing hatred to his sin in rebuking, we shew our love to him; and if we wish good to him, we cannot but hate what we see evil in him. This hatred is so far from being sinful, that it is not only lawful and laudable, but excellent, not a wicked but a pious, yea, a perfect hatred. According to that of St. Austin [Aug. in Ps. cxxxix.], Perfectio odii est in charitate cum nec propter vitia homines oderimus, nec vitia propter homines amemus, it is at once the perfection of hatred and an argument of love, when we neither hate the man for the sin's sake, not yet love the sin for the man's sake, but fix our love on the man, and our hatred on the sin.
3. There is odium abominationis, and odium inimicitiæ, an hatred of aversion, and an hatred of enmity; by the one we fly from, by the other we pursue after. Look as in love there is a benevolence whereby we will good to, and a complacence whereby we take delight in, another; so in hatred there is a strangeness whereby we avoid the society, and an enmity whereby we seek the mischief, of another. The former of these is not forbidden, but required and practised. Godly David saith of himself, Ps. xxvi. 5, 'I hated the congregation of evil doers, and will not sit with the wicked;' and that of his practice was justifiable and imitable, since we must not only fly from the sin, but the sinner; yea, that we may shun the one, we must avoid the other. Timon was called μισάνθρωπος, a man-hater, because he kept not company with any man save Alcibiades [Cic. de Amicit], and we should all of us be haters of wicked men, shunning all needless converse and much more familiar acquaintance with them. It is St Paul's counsel to the Ephesians, chap. v. 11, 'Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works' (he meaneth workers [Operibus, i.e. operatoribus]) 'of darkness;' yea, it is the strict charge he layeth upon the Thessalonians, 2 Thes. iii. 6, 'Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly.' We ought as much to hate familiarity with the wicked, as to tread upon burning coals, or go into an infected house; and therefore this kind of hatred is not here intended.
4. Once more, all hatred of [or?--Ed.] enmity, in respect of others, is not to be condemned, if they be enemies, not so much to us, as to the church, yea, God himself; and this not out of ignorance but malice, and so implacable. We may, we ought, to be enemies to them. Holy David hath set us a pattern hereof. When speaking to God he saith, Ps. cxxxix. 21, 'Do not I hate them, O Lord, that hate thee? and am not I grieved with them that rise up against thee? I hate them with perfect hatred, I count them mine enemies.' Hence, no doubt, are those imprecations and curses with we meet with in the Psalms, Ps. Iix. 12, 13, lxviii. 1, 2, wherein we find that holy man wishing, not only disappointment to the hopes, infatuation to the counsels, but destruction to the persons of Zion's adversaries. And surely thus far we may and ought to imitate him, as in general to pray against, and wish the ruin of all the church's irreconcilable adversaries; though as to particulars we must take heed of going too far in this way, it being difficult if not impossible for us determinately to assert concerning any one that he is an implacable enemy of God and religion; and yet when we see one who with Julian hath professed himself to be a Christian brother, and so far apostatising as openly to prosecute Christianity with utmost fury, notwithstanding manifold convictions; or who still, pretending to be a brother, oppungneth (with no less virulency though more subtilty) the Christian religion in its orthodox profession, swallowing up her revenues, forbidding her public services, stopping the mouths of her preachers, suffering blasphemies and heresies to obscure her, plucking up the pillars which should uphold her, and persecuting all that embrace her; and all this against clear convictions, which he either hath, or might have, did he not shut his eyes; together with frequent and multiplied admonitions. Since we can have very little or no hopes of such a man's conversion, we may and ought to desire of God (if he will not please to convert him) to confound not only his devices but his person, and to cut him off from the land of the living; only we must take heed to the frame and temper of our spirit, that this our hatred of, and wishing ill to him, purely proceed from a love to God's church, and a zeal for his glory, not out of any personal or private respect to our own revenge.
Nathanael Hardy, The First General Epistle of St. John the Apostle, Unfolded and Applied (Edinburgh: James Nichol, 1865), 194–195.