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Pierre Nicole: Scripture obliges us to seek and desire the peace of the whole world

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

French writers on war and peace

Pierre Nicole: Peacemakers warrant highest title men are capable of

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Pierre Nicole
From Concerning the Way of Preserving Peace With Men
Translated by John Locke

The Scripture, that requires us to seek the peace of that city where God hath placed us, means equally all these several sorts of cities: i. e. it obliges us to seek and desire the peace of the whole world; of our own country; of the place of our dwelling; of our society; and of ourselves. But since we have more power to procure it in some, than in others of these, we ought to apply ourselves to it in a different manner.

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‘Tis not enough for the preservation of peace, to avoid giving offence to others: but we must also avoid taking offence ourselves, when they fail, on their side, in anything towards us.

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‘Tis a dangerous thing to be in credit with others; to have an influence upon their minds; and to be able to give them what impressions one pleases. For this tempts us to communicate the mistakes we are possessed with; and the rash opinions we have taken up of others. Whereas, those who are not in such esteem, stand clear of that danger.

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There are a thousand little conveniences of life, which are not the commodities of trade; are never bought, nor sold; but are always given: They are the peculiar traffic of kindness; and love alone can purchase them. Besides, communities are made up of particular persons, who are all full of love and esteem of themselves; and if others endeavour not a little to satisfy and sooth those inclinations, societies will prove but herds of malcontents, and hardly hold together. There is need therefore of mutual kindness and respect. Which being of themselves invisible, men have by consent established certain duties, to pass as the marks and pledges of them.

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A Confidant is very little distant from a Counsellor. He that opens his mind to us, does as it were ask our advice: And we cannot afterwards talk with him, without interesting ourselves in his conduct. For our discourse must necessarily have a respect to those thoughts, those passions, he has discovered to us; and cannot choose but make impression on a mind, which by its very laying itself open, was prepared to receive it.

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