Two evil extremes

John Calvin:

“. . . there are two evil extremes . . . One of these evil customs is that a man cannot be accepted by the world unless he flatters. Whoever means to be accepted must be one eyed, and must shut his eyes when he sees a number of things in his friends worthy of blame. And yet in the meanwhile, is not such silence a breach of faith? . . . The other evil extreme is when we are so rigorous that every little fault is enough to make us speak in tones of thunder. Since this is so, we shall never have the spirit of meekness… if we are not guided and governed by God’s Spirit . . . And by this a man may see and judge that there is a certain pride lurking within us, by which we take too much to ourselves. To be short, there is never any excessive rigour without cruelty, nor cruelty without pride. Whoever despises his neighbors prizes himself too much, and he that can overlook nothing but is so terribly stern that all sins are in his opinion unpardonable, shows also that there is no humanity in him. So much the more therefore we must bear in mind what St. Paul shows us here which is to know how to forgive. Not that we should approve men’s vices or that they should have license to do evil without rebuke. We should patiently rebuke men’s faults and be sorry for them, but in so doing our duty we must not forget also to bear with the frailty and weakness of our neighbors, so that we do not confound them or drive them into such despondency that they fall into despair, when they see there is no forbearing or forgiving at our hands.”

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