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on, sets the World on Fire, like the Plague; be scatters his. Infe&tion, wherefoever he goes, and involves others in the fame: Guile and Condemnation with himself. For these Reáfons, our Saviour made the Doctrines of Peace and Reconciliation, the Subject of his First Sermon to the World. He opens it, with propouncing Benedi&tions- upon those that should endeavour after these Things. Blessederetbe Poor in Spirit,
for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. Blefsed are the Menk, for they sball inberit the Earth. Blessed are the Merciful, for tbey fall obtain Mercy. Blessed are the peace-makers, for they shall be called the Children of God. And in order to the effecting of this, he hath given us sundry Precepts suitable to the Obligation, and Difficulty of the Duty, particularly one plain Rule, which if carefully attended unto would prevent, or compofe all poflible DiffeTences betwixt Man and Man'to whore Reasonableness, and Equity, all the World readily subscribe, though unhappily differ in the Application of it. Tis that Comprehensive Rule, laid down in the Seventh Chapter of this Gospel, and the Twelfth Verse. Whatfocueryé mould that Men fhould do unto you, do ye even fo unto them. This is the true Foundation of Human Society, and" by Consequence, of Peace and Interest, and Self-preservation. For if you love your self, so does every one besides ; if you be uneasy under an Affront, cor Injupy, or an uykind Returp 3-jųft so is your Neigh
bour. And I appeal to the most Partial, whethey all are like to agree, in what only takes care for one ; or whether any other Rule makes fo large; and equal Provision for all Perfons, and Cases, as this does: So that it has not only as much of abstracted Reason, but of private Intereft, and Safety, as,'tis possible for any general one to have ; and puts Men into that State and Order, in which God and Nature placed them. And to add a yet more Religious Veneration to its Observance this is not only to a&t agreeably to the most improved Reason, but also to Divine Revelation ; not mecrly to follow the Laws of Nature, but over and above that, the positive Commands of God : For this is the Law and the Propbets. In pursuing, therefore, the Argument I am now upon, from the Reason and Authority of this Precept, "I shall lay down these two Rules.
1. That we ought not to make other Mens Dealing with us, the Standard and Mcafura of our Dealing with them.
2. That we are not to be govern d by our own private Will and Opinion, but by the general Reason and Truth of Things.
First, That we ought not to make other Men's Dealing with us, the Standard and Mea[ure of our Dealing with them. For the Rule is nat, whatsoever. Men do to you, but wbat
foever ye would they should do unto you. The Truth is, moft Men think it a warrantable Excufe, and a fufficient Apology, for their worst Adions in this Kind, if they can but fay, I did just to him, as he did to me; and as they are wont, prophancly enough, to fpeak, I gave him as good as he brought. But where are our Endeavours after Reconciliation? Where's our Charity? Where's our Christianity the mean while? Thus Reproaches are multiplied ; Animosīties fomented, and kept on Foot; Injuries bandied backward and forward, and contrary to all other violent Motions, lofe nothing, but rather Strength in the Rebound. Now it is certain, that another Man's Injustice or Cruelty (except it be in the fingle Case of fe Dee fendendo, wherein extreme Necessity, and the Laws of Self-prefervation must bear me out) cannot justify, or legitimate mine : Though he gave the Occasion, and was first in the Offence, yet no Reason, I'm sure no Precept of Chriftianity will allow me to follow him therein: Tho' he may juftly deserve Punishment, yet my Hands are tied ; I have no Authority or Right to inflict it that Way. And the Reason is plain, if we do but consider what a Partial, and unconscionable Judge, Passion is; what cruel and unmerciful Executioners Men would be in their own Causes; And upon this Account it is, that private Revenge ftands convicted, by all the Laws of God, Nature, and civil Society. If I can't otherwise be secured, 1 must have recourse, and make my Appeal, and yield up my Cause, to the Impartial Sentence of the Community, and to the Justice of that God, who hath said, Vengeance is mine. Well! But how far must bis Precept be extended? Does the Obligation lie all on one Side ? Must I forgive, thomy Adverfary makes no Steps towards e Reconciliation Nay, though he continues obstinate and provoking In Anfwer to which, it will be necessary, briefly to consider two Things, viz.
1. The Number and Continuance of the Injuries. 2. The Heinousness and Provocation of them.
Mat. 18. 21.
1. As to the Number, and Continuance of Injuries, which may be offered unto us. This Case is, I think, exadly put by St. Peter, and fully resolved by our Saviour, when we read that St. Peter came to Jesus, and propounded this Question to him. Lond bow oft fall my Brotber. Sin against me, and I forgive him till feuen times (the mention of which particular Number, by St. Peter, seems to be grounded upon a Jewish Tradition, that no Man was obliged to forgive his Neighbour, or his Adversary aboye seven times, and that too for small and trivial Offences) In opposition to which, our Saviour Answers. I fay not unto ibee, until foven times, but unrżl seventy times seven, Numerus certus pro in certo, firices pro
ponitur, as one glofseth upon the Words. By which our Saviour intended not to fix any certain, or determinate Number, or to set Bounds and Limits to our Forgiveness, but rather that it should be boundless and unlimited, that no Transgression of our Christian Brother ought to exclude hisn from our Charity, or to place him beyond the Terms of Reconciliation
2dly, As to the Heinoufnefs and Provocation of our Brother's Offences. And here also, it is plain, that no Degrees of Guilt can put him out of the reach of our Pardon, unless - we would be content that God should exclude us from all Hopes of Pardon ; for with wbat Meafiere you meet in this Matter, it hall be measured unto
you again: 'If ye forgive Men their Trespalses your Heavenly Fatber will also forgive
you ; but if you forgive not Men their Trespaljes, neitber will your father forgive your Trespasfes. But still it will be said, is not this hard and unreasonable ? Doth it not contradict the strongeft Inclinations of Human Nature Is nor the Rule, so interpreted, impracticable ? By no means. For consider we the apparent Reasonableness of it, which has all possible Evidence and Convi&tion to recommend it to the Practice of Mankind; and though our Saviour gave it a New Sanction, yet the Reason of it was Eternal. Therë is no Rule more unexceptionable, and (feting Revenge and Malice afide) more agrecable to the pure Didates