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Thus, would we remember, that in the Neighbourhoods, and Societies of the World, we do not converse with Angels, but with Men of the fame Infirmities with our felves; that we are all frail and inconstant in our Passi ons and Humours; not always under the Conduct of a Sedate, and considerate Temper ; but that an unwary Expression, or a sudden Provocation, or an inproper Application, may sometime fall from us, without any malicious Intention or Defign; and if it be so with us,
why should we not make the fame AllowanGal. 6.1. ces to others ? Considering our selves, left we
also be tempted.
Again, we should do well to remember what little Reason we have, to fall into such fudden Fits of Anger, and Heats of Rage against our offending Neighbour ; when God is so patient and forgiving towards us, notwithstanding our daily Provocations against him, in Thought, Word, and Deed: How continually do we stand in need of his Favour and Pardon ; that if he should be extreme to mark what we have done amiss, we should not be able to answer him one of a Thousand ; and shall
our Heavenly Father forgive us Pounds, and Talents, all that Debt, because we desired him ; and shall we take our Fellow Servant by the Throat, insist upon the utmost Farthing, cast him into Prison, till he have paid the Debt?
Perhaps it will be said, Our Neighbour was first in the Transgression; he was the Aggressor ; be did us wrong without any Provocation on our Part; well, supposing that, he is the greater Object of our Compassion and Pity. And here comes in the Obligation, and the Reward of Christian Forgiveness. Bear ye v. 2. one another's Burdens, and so fulfil the Larei of Cbrift. Brethren, if any do err from the Ja. 19. 20 Pruth, and one convert bim, be fhall save a Soul from Death, and bide' a Multitude of Sins.
But to take off the whole Force of the Obje&ion, it ought to be further, and chiefly conGidered ; that the Forgiveness of Injuries, is only a Rule to Christians, in their private Neighbourhoods and Conversations; in Matters of less Moment and Concern. To this Purpose, that Law of Forgiveness in the Seventeenth of St. Luke (which seems to bear hardeft upon our Natures) If thy Brother tref- v. 4 pass against thee Seven times in a day, and
seven times turn again to thee, saying, I repent ;
thou foalt forgive bim; is by fome Versions rendered. Si peccaverit frater tuus in verbo. If thy Brother trespass against thee in a Word, in a Rajh, and Passionate, or in a disrespectful, and contumelious Expression, thou shalt forgive him. But as to Matters of a Higher,' and more enormous Nature; if he fin against thee;' by assaulting thy Life, by invading thiy Right; by circumventing thee in tlay Property, thou payeft have recourse to secular Courts and Ju
dicature. The Law is open; there are proper Judges, where Christians may implead one another, only without Malice, and Breach of Charity
Thirdly, By virtue of this Precept, we are above all obliged to serve our Neighbour in his Spiritual Wants, and the much dearer Interests of his Salvation ; by all the Methods of Christian Zeal, Perswasion, and Charity; by our Prayers, by our Instructions, by our Reproofs, by our Example, by our Authority; O or if there be any other way, whereby a truly ad good Man may be serviceable to the Soul of his Neighbour.
This is certainly a Piece of Charity we all in owe to our Neighbour, very necessary in our converse in this World, as it unites us toges ther, both in Civil, and Religious Society. But alas ! How rare is this Virtue in this Age? And
yet how many Obligations do we lie under to practice it? How Inoffensively, how Successively might it be carried on, if Men would put on a little Pious Discretion and Resolution ? For indeed there is much Prudence and Caution to be used in this Matter
tho Religious Advice be always Good, it is not always Seasonable nor Profitable: Many who stand in need, are not always disposed to receive Instruction. But there are the Mollia temporaz fandi, which must be observed : We must watch their fober Moods and Intervals, take Advantage of their Morning Thoughts,
and dispassionate Hours, when their Confciences are open and awake," at liberty from the Pleasures, or the Cares of this world. Thus, if Men be naturally of Religious Tenpers, and Dispositions, but unhappily over-fway'd to Wickedness, by Custom, and Evil Examples; how proper, how acceptable would it be, (at convenient Seasons) to shew them their Error, by discoursing unto them, of the unspeakable Satisfaction of Christian Faith ; the Pleasures of Devotion, the Security of a good Conscience, that constant Serenity of Mind, and chearfulness of Life, they enjoy, who unfeignedly love and Fear, and worship God; which they who live in Wickedness know nothing of. Thus again, If their engaging upon a wicked Course, proceeded from groundless Mistakes, and false Principles, from want of due Information, from youthful Incogitancy, from the Prejudices of an unhappy Education; as if when Men take upon them the Yoke of Christ, they must bid Adieu to all the Pleasures and Relaxations of human Life; be tied down to the Rules of the Ascetick Discipline, to perpetual Devotion, Mortification, and Self-denial; here it will be seasonable, and necessary, to acquaint them with the true Genius, and Spirit of the Christian Religion ; that its Commands are neither difficult nor greivous, but its whole Service is the most perfect Freedom in the World ; that it is no Enemy to true Honour, or true Pleasure, may serve God, and maintain their
just Esteem, and Character ; use all the Innocent Hospitalities of Humane Conversation, and enjoy them with the purest Relish, and the most lasting Satisfaction. Once more, If their Condition be afflicted, disconfolate, visited with some Calamitous Providence : Or, if through natural Melancholy of Body, or accidental Despondency of Spirit, they mourn under the Apprehension, and the heavy Burden of the Divine Desertion : Ah! here we should sympathize with them, in the tenderest Bowels of Christian Aslistance and Charity. By our most pathetical Intercessions, and Pleadings with God for them at the Throne of Mercy, by our best Advices, Admonitions, and Consolations ; laying before them the natural Clemency of God to all his Creatures, the exceeding Love of Jesus Christ to the Contrite, and broken in Spirit, the Comfort of the Christian Promises, the Glorious, and Eternal Rewards of Heaven. These are Inftances of Christian Duty we owe to our Neighbours, and to the whole Race of Mankind, by Virtue of this Precept.
From what hath been discoursed, I presume you are sufficiently instructed, as to the Meanins, the Extent, and Obligation of this Com
ndment : Whom we are to understand by our Neighbour; what Degrees are implied in loving him as our selves, and what Instances of Charity, ve are to extend to him, which was the General t. Tead laid down to be spoke unto. It may be now time very briefly to proceed to.