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This would be such a triumph over yourself, would so humble and reduce your heart into obedience and order, that the devil would even be afraid of tempting you again in the same manner, when he saw the temptation turned into so great a means of amending and reforming the state of your heart.

Again; if in any little difference, or misunderstandings that you happened to have at any time, with a relation, a neighbour, or any one else, you should then pray for them in a more extraordinary manner than you ever did before; beseeching God to give them every grace, and blessing, and happiness, you can think of; you would have taken the speediest method that can be, of reconciling all differences, and clearing up all misunderstandings. You would then think nothing too great to be forgiven; stay for no condescensions, need no mediation of a third person, but be glad to testify your love and good-will to him who had so high a place in your secret prayers.

This would be the mighty power of such Christian devotion: it would remove all peevish passions, soften your heart into the most tender condescensions, and be the best arbitrator of all differences that happened betwixt you and any of your acquaintance.

The greatest resentments amongst friends and neighbours, most often arise from poor punctilios and little mistakes in conduct. A certain sign that their friendship is merely human, not founded upon religious considerations, or supported by such a course of mutual prayer for one another as the first Christians used.

For such devotion must necessarily either destroy such tempers, or be itself destroyed by them: you cannot possibly have any ill temper, or show any unkind behaviour to a man, for whose welfare you are so much concerned, as to be his advocate with God in private.

Hence we may also learn the odious nature and exceeding guilt of all spite, hatred, contempt, and angry passions; they are not to be considered as defects in good nature, and sweetness of temper, not as failings

in civility of manners, or good breeding, but as such base tempers as are entirely inconsistent with the charity of intercession.

You think it a small matter to be peevish or illnatured to such or such a man; but you should consider whether it be a small matter to do that, which you could not do if you had but so much charity as to be able to recommend him to God in your prayers.

You think it a small matter to ridicule one man, and despise another; but you should consider whether it be a small matter to want that charity toward these people, which Christians are not allowed to want toward their most inveterate enemies.

For be but as charitable to these men, do but bless and pray for them, as you are obliged to bless and pray for your enemies, and then you will find that you have charity enough, to make it impossible for you to treat them with any degree of scorn or contempt.

For you cannot possibly despise and ridicule that man, whom your private prayers recommend to the love and favour of God.

When you despise and ridicule a man, it is with no other end but to make him ridiculous and contemptible in the eyes of other men, and in order to prevent their esteem of him. How, therefore, can it be possible for you sincerely to beseech God to bless that man with the honour of His love and favour, whom you desire men to treat as worthy of their contempt?

Could you, out of love to a neighbour, desire your Prince to honour him with every mark of his esteem and favour, and yet, at the same time, expose him to the scorn and derision of your own servants?

Yet this is as possible as to expose that man to the scorn and contempt of your fellow-creatures whom you recommend to the favour of God in your secret prayers.

From these considerations we may plainly discover the reasonableness and justice of this doctrine of the Gospel, "Whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca,


shall be in danger of the council; but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell-fire.

We are not, I suppose, to believe that every hasty word, or unreasonable expression that slips from us by chance or surprise, and is contrary to our intention and tempers, is the great sin here signified.

But he that says Raca," or "Thou fool," must chiefly mean him that allows himself in deliberate, designed acts of scorn and contempt towards his brother, and in that temper 43 speak to him, and of him, in reproachful language.

Now since it appears that these tempers are at the bottom the most rank uncharitableness; since no one can be guilty of them, but because he has not charity enough to pray to God for his brother; it cannot be thought hard or rigorous justice, that such tempers should endanger the salvation of Christians. For who would think it hard, that a Christian cannot obtain the favour of God for himself, unless he reverence and esteem his brother Christian, as one that bears the image of God, as one for whom Christ died, as a member of Christ's body, as a member of that holy society on earth, which is in union with that triumphant Church in Heaven?

Yet all these considerations must be forgot, all these glorious privileges disregarded, before a man can treat him that has them, as an object of scorn and contempt.

So that to scorn, or despise a brother, or, as our blessed Lord says, to call him Raca or fool, must be looked upon as amongst the most odious, unjust, and guilty tempers, that can be supported in the heart of a Christian, and justly excluding him from all his hopes in the salvation of Jesus Christ.

For to despise one for whom Christ died, is to be as contrary to Christ, as he that despises anything that Christ has said or done.

If a Christian that had lived with the holy Virgin Mary, should, after the death of our Lord, have taken

* Matt. v. 22.

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any occasion to treat her with contempt, you would certainly say, that he had lost his piety towards our Blessed Lord. For a true reverence for Christ must have forced him to treat her with respect who was so nearly related to Him.

I dare appeal to any man's mind, whether it does not tell him, that this relation of the Virgin Mary to our Blessed Lord, must have obliged all those that lived and conversed with her, to treat her with great respect and esteem. Might not a man have justly dreaded the vengeance of God upon him, for any scorn or contempt that he had shown to her?

Now if this be plain and obvious reasoning, if a contempt offered to the Virgin Mary must have been interpreted a contempt of Christ, because of her near relation to Him, then let the same reasoning show you the great impiety of despising any brother.

You cannot despise a brother, without despising him that stands in a high relation to God, to His Son Jesus Christ, and to the Holy Trinity.

You would certainly think it a mighty impiety to treat a writing with great contempt that had been written by the finger of God; and can you think it a less impiety to contemn and vilify a brother, who is not only the workmanship but the image of God?

You would justly think it great profaneness, to contemn and trample upon an altar, because it was appro priated to holy uses, and had had the body of Christ so often placed upon it; and can you suppose it to be less profaneness to scorn and trample upon a brother, who so belongs to God, that his very body is to be con sidered as the temple of the Holy Ghost? *

Had you despised and ill-treated the Virgin Mary you had been chargeable with the impiety of despising her of whom Christ was born. And if you scorn and despise a brother, you are chargeable with the impiety of despising him for whom Christ laid down His life. And now, if this scornful temper is founded upon a I Cor. vi. 19.

disregard of all these relations which every Christian bears to God, and Christ, and the Holy Trinity, can you wonder, or think it hard, that a Christian who thus allows himself to despise a brother, should be in danger of hell-fire?


Secondly, It must here be observed, that though in these words, Whosoever shall say, Thou fool, the great sin there condemned is an allowed temper of despising a brother; yet we are also to believe, that all hasty expressions, and words of contempt, though spoken by surprise or accident, are by this text condemned as great sins, and notorious breaches of Christian charity.

They proceed from great want of Christian love and meekness, and call for great repentance. They are only little sins, when compared with habits and settled tempers of treating a brother despitefully, and fall as directly under the condemnation of this text as the grossest habits of uncharitableness.

And the reason why we are always to apprehend great guilt, and call ourselves to a strict repentance for these hasty expressions of anger and contempt, is this; because they seldom are what they seem to be, that is, mere starts of temper that were occasioned purely by surprise or accident, but are much more our own proper acts than we gencrally imagine.

A man says a great many bitter things; he presently forgives himself, because he supposes it was only the suddenness of the occasion, or something accidental that carried him so far beyond himself.

But he should consider, that perhaps the accident, or surprise, was not the occasion of his angry expressions, but might only be the occasion of his angry temper showing itself.

Now as this is, generally speaking, the case, as all haughty, angry language generally proceeds from some secret habits of pride in the heart; so people that are subject to it, though only now and then as accidents happen, have great reason to repent of more than their

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