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cause we ourselves are compassed with infirmity, and may stand in need of that indulgence which we refuse to other people. Human nature being so' prone to offences, it must needs happen that our own persons and interest will be touched upon some occasions by those with whom we have to do; and then it will appear, whether that spirit of patience and moderation which most men would be thought to possess, is real or affected. We know how to excuse those that offend others; but if the same persons offend ourselves, then we can give as many reasons why we ought to be revenged on them, as why they ought to be pardoned in all other
In order to correct this mistake, let us consider, that when any injury is forgiven, all the ill consequences which might have followed, and which are generally ten times worse than the injury itself, are prevented in the beginning. Affronts and injuries are like venomous serpents, which creep about to spread poison and destruction among mankind: and here, it is not so much the injury itself (which perhaps is a mere trifle) that does all the mischief, but the evil thoughts and passions which are stirred up in the heart. The hurt is not owing to the teeth of the viper; which give but a very small wound,
but to the venom which they communicate to the mass of blood. Let an injury be rated according to its real value, and this evil will be prevented.
There is another advantage in this, of a much higher nature for if we are ready to forgive others, we have reason to expect that God in like manner will forgive us: our prayers will find acceptance at the throne of grace: the hands that are undefiled with cruelty and revenge may be lifted up for mercy; while the unfeeling sinner, who has been implacable toward his fellow servants, shall in vain apply to God for that pardon which he knew not how to grant.
But farther; as we are to forgive the faults of others, we are to be careful not to commit any act of injustice ourselves. Deceit, and oppression, and fraud, are the declared enemies of peace and indeed, much of the confusion we see in the world arises from the evil designs of those, who scruple not to advance their own worldly interest by undermining and defrauding their neighbours. These are the arts of the sons of Mammon, which deserve to be avoided and abhorred by every sincere disciple of Jesus Christ. Pride, as I have before observed, is the great disturber of the world; but it becomes worst of all when it is joined with covetousness. The
The man who would appear to be every thing, when he is nothing, only makes himself ridiculous: but when he would not only be every thing, but have every thing, he becomes a torment to himself, and a nuisance to his neigh bours.
It appears then, that the virtues of humility, patience and justice, are naturally productive of peace and they will generally be found to answer the purpose, I say generally; for the apostle hath expressed himself as if the success would be doubtful in some cases. Some natures are so savage and untractable, that it is impossible to live at peace with them. There ever were and will be those, who are enemics unto peace; who like wolves and tygers will always be growling; and delight more in strife, than in brotherly love and quietness. There is a sort of men in the world (God forbid there should be many of them) who measure their wit by their wealth, and their greatness by their ability to do mischief: who think they make no figure in life, but so far as they are troublesome to other people. The royal Psalmist, addressing himself to one of this stamp, gives to every malicious person such an odious character of himself as he would detest and fly from, if he had the grace to see and understand it." Why boastest "thou thyself, thou tyrant, that thou canst do "mischief?
"mischief? Whereas the goodness of God en"dureth yet daily." The greatness of God is measured by his goodness: his power is exercised in communicating light, and comfort; he openeth his hand, and the whole creation partakes of his bounty. Being perfect in love and beneficence, hs is therefore perfect in greatness. But look on the other hand, and you will find that mischief distinguishes the power of Satan : his greatness consists wholly in crossing the merciful plan of redemption, and counteracting the divine benevolence: the propagation of discord and disorder is necessary to the keeping up of his grandeur, and to the increase of his kingdom. They who follow such methods of making themselves considerable, may know of whom they have learned them, and with whom they will associate, when God shall cast out of his kingdom all things that offend. Different men have different talents, and may be appointed to different ends. Some may be ordained to try the patience of others, and thereby promote the glory of God without intending it, as toads, vipers, and vermin are answering some good purpose in the natural creation; and we ought rather to adore the wisdom which hath made them, and to give thanks that there are such, than be offended with the Providence which permits
permits them to live. What account can we give of such a perverse disposition, but this ; that they who are thus at enmity with mankind are first at enmity with God. The wicked man, having quarrelled with God and his own conscience, is not able to agree with any body else. As there is no peace to the wicked, there is none to be found with them. They are troubled with that distemper of the mind, which blackens every object they look upon, and renders them discontented, implacable, and unmerciful. So that to sum up all I have said in a few words, be good Christians, be at peace with God and your own hearts, and then you will be at peace with all the world.
The rules I have laid down, if men did but follow them, would almost make an heaven upon earth. Every one might then sit undisturbed under his vine and under his fig-tree, in a quiet possession of his own rights. The helpless traveller need not then be afraid of those who lie in wait to plunder and destroy. The man who endeavours to deal justly and uprightly, would be secure in his property and his reputation: there would be no decay, no leading into captivity, and no complaining in our streets. Happy would the people be who were in such a case! but this is a state we can