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of reasonable Nature. For, I pray, Is it not more reasonable to give good Words than Bad; to be more forward to Comfort than to Vek and Torment; to make Peace, rather than to fow Division , to lift up, rather than tocaft down; to conceal, rather than to expose Infirmities? In these, and the like Instances, what can carry a greater Conviction than that the one is more Excellent than the other? And if so, if these be the main Things required of us by this Rule, why should we complain of it as unreasonable or difficult, or Impracticable ?
2. Another Rule in this Cafe is. That we are not to be governed by our private Will and Opinion, but by the general Reason and Truth of Things. So long as we judge of Injuries by our own Wills and Passions, there can be DO Hopes of Reconciliation ; because these misrepresent and magnify every little Affront, into a heinous and unpardonable Crime. And therefore necesfary it is, that the Reason and Truth of Things be enquired into, by knowing, indifferent, and disinterested Men. Hence it is, that the Wisdom of Nations hath enacted general Laws, and erected publick Courts of Judicature, to hear, examine, and determine Matters of Right and Property; of Queftions and Disputes, which, if left to private Arbitrationis of Interested Persons would be endless and irreconcileable. Hence likewife it is, that to avoid Expence, and Trouble, and Loss of Charity by a Publick Hearing at Law, Peaceableminded Men are willing to interpofe their good Offices; to give their Advice and Affiftance; and to take upon them the Blessed Work of Reconciliation. Bleffed, I call it, for so the Saviour of the World has done before me, at the Ninth Verse of this Chapter. A Practice truly. Laudable and Christian ; and it were much to be wished, that when Differences do happen, Men would put them Peaceable, and Chriftian Issue. For what
way more Easie, more Just, more Advantagious, to both parties than this.
1. What Way more easie, 'Tis many times in the Power of an honest and judicious Neighbour, 10 make a truer Judgment of those Mifțakes, and Misunderstandings, which are generally the Occasions of Contention then our selves, and so may be a proper Judge to appeal unto, and a happy Instrument of Peace. By an impartial Representation of Matters; hy smoothing a little the Fierceness and Cruelty of Men's Tenipers ; by inducing each to mutual Abatements and Condescentions, they are easily brought, first to a right Understanding, and then to terms of Agreement. For in truth (without a Metaphor) there is much of Fire in the Passions of Men; take them at the firft kindling, and you may easily suppress, and finother them : but suffer them to break out
into a raging Flame, and they will defie all your Endeavours.
2. What more Just, than thus to compose, and reconcile Differences in Matters of Doubt and Controversy? It is a Piece of Justice, which every one owes to Justice, and to himself, to conlider impartially, what may be said on both Sides. For to take up Prejudices, to cherish Disaffections, to espouse Quarrels, without Atridly considering whether there be a just Ground, or no, argues great Folly, but greater Obstinacy. Besides, can a Man be supposed a competent, and equal Judge in his own Cause; especially, when under the Dominion of Pal on, and exasperated by Revenge ? Are we not senfible how these Things tinčure and distort the Judgments of Men ? And therefore when Occasions of Difference happen, 'tis highly ne cessary, to appeal from Mens private and angry Passions, to some more publick and sedate
and who more fit than those that are Men of experienc'd Knowledge, Moderation, and Probity ; who stand upon much higher Ground, and have a more large and indifferent Prospect of Things? And had Men a truly peaceable, and Gospel Spirit, they would either sit down patiently under lesser Injuries, or take this Christian Way of composing greater. For what Harm, what Difparagement, what Inconvenience, what Difadvantage can there be in this to either Party?
13. Is it not the most Advantagious Way to both ? For not to mention the Un-neighbourly Offices, the Ill-turns, the reciprocal Depredations, and Spoils, which such Practice towards each other; nor the far greater Expences of Law-Suits, and i publick Trials, and long Joumeysiz
, together with the neglect of other Business: What a great deal of Vice; and Sin, is hereby happily prevented ? Unchristian Distances, and Alienations of Affedion, implacable Hatreds, and immortal Returns of Recrimination and Slander; Frauds, je Briberies, Subornations, Perjuries, with that whole Train of Iniquity, which is the Reproach of Civil Society and the deplorable Scandal of Christian Religion. From what has been faid under these two Heads, 'tis easy to gather what is to be done by contending Parties, in order to Peace and Reconciliation, and how, easy, (where Men are well disposed) that is to be effected.
And now : after all, I wilb. I could, in the Clofe of this Discourse, fo improve and apply what has been said, as to make it effectual upon the Pra&ice of Men. Certain it is that it is the greaty the particular Law and Duty of Christianity 3 aird therefore, 'tis fome Wonder to me, that Men commendably ftriin other Duties, should seem to lay but very little Stress upon this: They suffer the Tides of their Paffions, and Malice to run high, and make little Gonscience of being Surly, Uncharitable,
Litigious, and Revengeful. Now. inay. I defire such to consider with me a little further these few Things.
1. That God prefers this Christian, and Charitable Disposition of Spirit, before the outward Acts of Worship. I will have Mercy, and not facrifice, says God, and in the Text, it is rather required than voluntary Oblations, which no doubt, are meant by the Gift brought to the Altar. Not that the Discharge of this, which is but a Duty of the Second Table, is to be preferred before Piety towards God, which is the great Duty of the first; but before the Observation of outward Worship, Sacrifices, Oblations, Abftinences, Pennances, and the most Ceremónious Devotion. And we may observe, that the Scriptures, both of the Old and New Testament, are far
more frequent and pun&ual, in ftating the : mutual Offices of Justice and Charity wę
owe to one another, than in the outward Expressions of our Devotions towards God. God seldom expostulates the Want of these, but the Defects of the other fill the Law and the Prophets, and the Gospel too. How often does he exhort Men to thew the Truth of their Religion, that Faith, and Fear, and
Love, they bear to him, rather than in the 2 Ads of Mercy and Justice, in the most pompous Oblations: And our Saviour pro-Mati 25. I
portions 35. ult.