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the utmost consequence to us, and in this we are all most nearly and intimately concerned.
Let experience then, let example, let reason and religion teach us to avoid it, for the future, as I have proved to you, anger defeats its own end and purpose, hurts our character and reputation, and destroys our peace and happiness; it makes us uneasy to ourselves, hateful to man, and unacceptable to God.
If our health is precious, if reputation is dear to us, if there be any thing dreadful in noise, clamours, and confusion, any thing des lightsul in joy and tranquillity; if we hope, in short, for peace here, and pardon hereafter, let us not be hajiy in our Spirit to be angry, for anger resteth in the bofom of fools.
Let us then place before our eyes the great model and standard of perfection, the example of our blessed Saviour and Redeemer, the meek and humble Jesus; let us behold him languishing under evil, submitting to all the bitterness of reproach, spurned, buffetted, defpised, and rejected of men, oppressed by his enemies and deserted by his friends, yet bearing all with patience and resignation; without anger and invective; angry, he answered not; when he was reviled, he reviled not again.
Finally, then, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, if there be any praise, think on these things; and the God of peace be with you.
Forgive, and ye shall be forgiven. FOR
"ORGIVENESS of injuries may be ranked
.amongst those singular and exalted virtues which all men universally agree to praise and admire, but very few have strength and resolution to practise. It seemeth indeed to foar above the common perfections of our nature, and to shine with a superior luftre, and is therefore highly becoming the purest and most refined religion, the religion of Jesus Chrift; who did himself not only ftrongly enforce it by his doctrine, but most powerfully recommend it also by his own divine example.
But whilst we fo justly admire the peculiar grace, dignity, and perfection of this truly Christian virtue, we cannot at the same time but acknowledge, that there is no small difficulty in the attainment of it: it is a part, and doubtless a very considerable oné, of the duty of self-denial, and in direct opposition to some of our most violent and unruly passions, who will ftrenuously oppose it with all their strength and vigour. The victory over such powerful and conspiring foes cannot, we must own, be
an easy, though it must always prove a glorious conqueft.
Judgment, humility, patience, and fortitude, are all necessary to form a kind and forgiving temper: we must have judgment to distinguish, patience and humility to suffer, generosity and fortitude to contemn injuries, before we can rightly, easily, and heartily forgive them.
In the following discourse therefore i design to enforce and recommend that union and love which are the distinguishing marks of Christianity. I shall endeavour to point out to you the necessity of mutual forgiveness, by convincing you,
First, That revenge is directly contrary to our duty both towards God and towards man: And,
Secondly, That it is contrary also to our interest, and our happiness, both in relation to this life, and that which is to come.
And first, then: Revenge is directly contrary to our duty towards God and man.
To submit ourselves with pious resignation to the will of our Creator, to rely on him under every evil, oppression, and calamity, is the least return which we can make for all the unmerited blettings which he bestoweth on us. When we are injured and oppressed, therefore, it will become us to consider, first, that we are not proper judges either of the nature or degree of the injury received by us, and fe. condly, that though we are not proper judges, God undoubtedly is; to himn therefore, and to
him alone, should be left the estimation and the punishment also.
God, whose mercy is over all his works, hath graciously ordained, that even our wants and imperfections should be of advantage to us, and that both our weakness and our ignorance should contribute to our happiness. Man is neither wise enough to discern, nor powerful enough to punish, all the injuries which are done unto him. Were he indeed to know all those which were intended against him, would only poison his happiness, give him a disguit of human nature, and make him
perhaps out of love with his very being; he would then be perpetually employed either in acts of revenge, or in the design and meditation of them; and no less guilty would he be, were it always in his power to punish them.
There are certain discordant powers in nature, which, if suffered to meet and oppose each other, would shock the frame of things, and destroy the whole universe: these therefore the wisdom of the Almighty hath separated and kept asunder. And in like manner, if all the injuries that are done by man to man were to be fully and amply revenged, there would be nothing but discord and confusion amongst us, and the world would be a perpetual scene of war and bloodshed; but the injured are not permitted to meet and oppose each other. Add to this, that for the most part we are made so dependant one upon another, that we dare not, or so equal in power and abilities that we can not revenge as we
would, and thus are we constrained as it were to be easy and satisfied whether we will or not.
When we look through the glass of human reason, we are very apt to turn the wrong end of the perspective, to diminish and set at distance the favours and benefits, to bring near and to magnify all the injuries which we receive. We make use of false weights and measures, and then unjustly complain that we have been defrauded. We think of ourselves, as St. Paul says, more highly than we ought to think, and consequently over-rate every affront that is offered to us. When men are intoxi. cated with pride, it is no wonder that every injury should appear double: like the unjust steward, instead of putting down forty, we write fourscore; and are resolved to compel the debtor to pay to the uttermost farthing. But on this occasion we should always remember, that the true merit of every action, can only be determined by its motive; and not from the effect, but the design, must arise the guilt of the offender. Such is the uncertainty of all human affairs, such influence have accident and circumstance over all our concerns, that a very great injury hath often been done where very little hath been intended. Unless therefore we had that knowledge, which, whilft on earth, we can never attain unto; unless we could see the hearts and thoughts of men, we can never be proper and adequate judges either of the nature or degree of the injuries which we receive. When therefore we