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chance, our Hand be not upon him to Kill him,
as if we had been the actual Executioners, of Ep. Jo. our Revenge upon him. He that hateth bis
Brother is a Murderer, and ye know that no
But besides the Precepts of our Religion, this
lelf, expire, if it have no Adversary to contend with. How
inuch more, when Evil is repaid with Good ? om. 12. And this is St. Paul's Argument
. If thine Eneiny hunger, feed him ; if he thirst, give bim Drink;
for in so doing thou fhalt heap Coals of Fire.on bis Head. Heap Coals of Fire upon his Head! How's that? Does the Apostle mean thou shalt thereby add to his Guilt, kindle the Fire of Hell against him, and increase his Damnation? No, That indeed, (as we are wont to speak) would be Malice with a Vengéance. But, as I conceive, the Meaning is, by doing good to thy Enemy ;:, by relieving his Wants, if he stand in need of thy Charity; by forgiving him the Injuries he hath done unto thee; thou shalt kindle in him that Flame
of Affection, that holy Fire of Love, which will gain him to thy Friendship; which will bring him to Repentance ; which_will make him ashamed of his Wickedness. This, I take to be the most Christian Sense of lieaping Coals of Fire upon his Head ; and it is confirmed by the following Words. Be not overcome of Evil, bút overcome Evil with Good. But
3dly, It is further required in Reconciliation, that we recompense Good unto our offending Brother, if he stand in need of our Affiftance and Charity: It is not enough to forbear the Returns of Evils; to forgive him heartily, but we are obliged to exercise real and positive Acts of Mercy towards him, to feed him if he be hungry, to cloth him if he be naked, to comfort him if he be dejected, and in Affliction. But possibly he needs no such Assistance, his Condition in the World is Wealthy, and Prosperous, or possibly his Malice is such, that he is not to be won by any thing I can do; he will scorn my Tenders of Love and Reconciliation : If so, the Sin lies at his Door, his Blood shall be required, but thou haft des livered thy Soul. But ftill there is a Way left
, whereby thou mayest conquer his ObAtinacy, whereby thou mayest do him Good whether he will or no; thy Prayers are in thy own Power, he can't refuse thé Affiftance of them, he cannot defeat that Charity. Heaven is always open to the Addresses of the Faith G3
ful; send up thy Prayers thither, that the Wickedness of his Heart may be forgiven, and that he may be endued with the Spirit of Peace and Charity. He is a very sorry Christian that can't freely forgive, that can't heartily recommend the greatest Enemy he has in the World to the Divine Mercy. If this Spirit be not in us, we are none of Christ's, we are not fit to have any thing to do with the Matters of his Religion
It is indeed a confiderable Objection against habitual Passion and Revenge, that they cloud and ruffle our Reason, discompose our Spirits, and cast our Minds into a violent Ferment and Intoxication; so that we can neither speak advisedly, nor act consistently, nor converse friendly with Men ; yet this is very little in Comparison of the Mischief they do us upon a Religious Account. What Acts of Pra, dical, or Devotional Piety are such capa ble of performing ?
They are absolute Strangers, to whatever looks like Affability, Condescention, and Courtesy, and to all the Innocent Pleasures, and Virtues of the Social Life; they can never enjoy any Quiet at Home; they know not what it is to be sedate and composed, to tafte the comfortable Reflections, to be refreshed with the calm aud gentle Breezes, to feed continually upon the Voluptuous Feast of a good Conscience; they can neither confider wisely, nor resolve steadily, nor bring their
Ways to a distinct Remembrance, nor bewail their Sins with a just and trye Repentance.
And as to the Masters of Devotion, they are yet more indisposed, and more unworthy. Can such be thought to be under any tolerable Dispositions to Prayer and Thanksgiving, to the making folemn Vows, and entering into Covenant with God; to engage in Sacraments, and the highest Acts of Religious Communion and Love ? No, though we do venture upon the external Performance of these; though we appear in the Ways of outward Worship, though we leave our Gift before the Altar; yet if our Hearts be full of Wrath and naughty Affe&ions ; if we go away without being reconciled to our Brother, our Prayers and Praises, our Vows and Promises, our Sacraments and Oblations, are no better than a vain Piece of Pageantry, mere Deceit and Hypocrisy.
But here it may perhaps be demanded; If this be the Nature of Christian Reconciliation, how long are we to pray, how oft, and to what Degrees, shall our Brother fin against us, and we be still bound to forgive him? till seven times, nay, till seventy times Seven? Must Men be for ever Passive? Must we always yield to Injuries and Reproaches ? And as it was prophecy'd of our Saviour, muft we give our Back to the Smiters, and our Cheeks to them that plucked off the Hair ? Can no Wounds of an Enemy be so great,