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which is bad and detestable: it hearkeneth more to them that dispraise and open the faults of others, than to those that praise them and declare their virtues: nor that good and evil must be confounded; but the good as well as the evil must be acknowledged. We have more use ourselves for the observation of their virtues than of their faults; and it is more our duty and were it never so little good that is in them, the right observing of it, at least would much diminish your dislike.
Direct. 111. Learn but to love your neighbour as yourself, and this will make it easy to you both to forbear him and forgive him.' With yourself you are not apt to be so angry. Against yourself you hear no malice, or desire no revenge that shall do you hurt. As you are angry with yourself penitently for the faults you have committed, but not so as to desire your own destruction, or final hurt; but with such a displeasure as tendeth to your recovery; so also must you do to others.
Direct. IV. To this end be sure to mortify your selfishness.' For it is the inordinate respect that men have to themselves, which maketh them aggravate the faults of all that are against them, or offend them. Be humble and selfdenying, and you will think yourselves so mean and inconsiderable, that no fault can be very great, nor deserve much displeasure, merely as it is against you. A proud, self-esteeming man is easily provoked and hardly reconciled without great submission; because he thinketh so highly of himself, that he thinketh heinously of all that is said or done against him; and he is so over-dear to himself, that he is impatient with his adversary.
Direct. v. Be not your own judge in cases of settled malice or revenge; but let some impartial, sober by-stander be the judge.' For a selfish, passionate, distempered mind, is very unlikely to judge aright. And most men have so much of these diseases, that they are very unfit to be judges in their own case. Ask first some wise, impartial man, whether it be best for thee to be malicious and revengeful against such a one that thou thinkest hath greatly wronged thee, or rather to love him and forgive him.
Direct. vi. Take time to deliberate upon the matter, and do nothing rashly in the heat of passion against an
other.' Wrath and malice will vanish, if you bring the matter into the light, and use but those effectual considerations which will shew their sinfulness and shame; I shall therefore next here set down some such considerations, as are most powerful to suppress them.
Consid. 1. Remember first, 'That whoever hath offended you, hath offended God by greater injuries, and if God forgive him the greater, why should not you forgive the less?' The same fault which he did against you, is a greater crime as against God than as against you. And many a hundred more hath he committed. It is a small matter to displease such a worm as man, in comparison of the displeasing of Almighty God: and should not his children imitate their heavenly Father? Doth he remit the pains of hell, and cannot you forbear your passionate revenge? Let me ask you, whether you desire that God should forgive him his sins or not? (both that and all the rest which he hath committed;) If you say, 'No,' you are devilish and inhuman, who would not have God forgive a sinner: if you say, 'Yea,' you condemn, yea, and contradict yourselves. While you say you would have God forgive him, and yet yourselves will not forgive him; (I speak not of necessary correction but revenge).
Consid. 11. 'Consider also that you have much more yourselves to be forgiven by God, or you are undone for ever.' There is no comparison between other men's offences against you, and your offences against God, either for the number of them, or the greatness, or the desert. Dost thou owe to God ten thousand talents, and wilt thou lay hold on thy brother for a hundred pence? See then thy doom, Matt. xviii. 34.; the tormenters shall exact thy debt to God. Doth it beseem that man to aggravate or revenge his little injuries, who deserveth damnation, and forfeiteth his soul every day and hour? And hath no hope of his own salvation, but by the free forgiveness of all his sins?
Consid. 111. Either thou art thyself a member of Christ. or not. If not, thou art yet under the guilt of all the sins that ever thou didst commit.' And doth it beseem that man to be severe and revengeful against others, that must for ever be damned for his own transgressions, if a speedy conversion do not prevent it? Sure you have somewhat else to
think on, than of your petty injuries from men! But if thou be indeed a member of Christ, thy sins are all pardoned by the price of thy Redeemer's blood! And canst thou feel the sweetness of so great a mercy, and not feel a strong obligation on thee to forgive thy brother? Must Christ be a sacrifice for thy offences? and must thy brother, who offended thee, be sacrificed to thy wrath?
Consid. IV. Thou art not forgiven of God, if thou dost not forgive.' For, 1. If ever the love of God and the blood of Christ had come in power upon thy heart, they would undoubtedly have caused thee to forgive thy brother. 2. Yea, God hath made thy forgiving others to be a condition, without which he will not finally or plenarily forgive thee. Thou hast no warrant to pray or hope for pardon upon any lower terms; but "Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us; for if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." Likewise, saith Christ," shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, (even deliver you to the tormenters,) if from your hearts ye forgive not every one his brother their trespasses d." "For he shall have judgment without mercy that hath shewed no mercy, and mercy rejoiceth against judgment *.”
Consid. v. Remember also that you have need of forgiveness from others, as well as they have need of it from you.' Have you wronged none? Have you provoked none? Have you not passions which must be pardoned? And a nature which must be borne with? Can so corrupt a creature as man is, be no annoyance to those he liveth with? Sure all the sins which burden yourself, and displease the Lord, must needs be some trouble to all about you: and he that needeth pardon, is obliged the more to pardon others.
Consid. vi. Nay, it is the unhappiness of all mankind, that their corruptions will in some measure be injurious to all that they have to do with;' and it is impossible for such distempered sinners to live together, and not by their mistakes, or selfishness, or passions, to exercise the patience and forbearance of each other. Therefore you must either
e Matt. vi. 14, 15.
d Matt. xviii. 35.
James ii. 13.
be malicious and revengeful against all mankind, or else against none on such accounts as are common to all.
Consid. VII. Observe also how easily you can forgive yourselves, though you do a thousand fold more against yourselves, than ever any enemy did.' It is not their wrongs or offences against you that you are in any danger of being damned for; you shall not suffer for their sins, but for your own. In the day of judgment, it is not your sufferings from others, but your own offences against God that will be charged upon you: and if ever you be undone, it will be by these. Men or devils can never do that against you, which by every sin you do against yourselves. No robber, no oppressor, no persecutor, no deceiver can ever hurt you so much as you hurt yourselves. And yet how gently do you take it at your own hands! How easily do you pardon it to yourselves! How lovingly do you think of yourselves! So far are you from malice or revenge against yourselves, that you can scarce endure to hear plainly of your sins! But are more inclined to bear malice against those that do reprove you. Judge whether this be equal dealing; and loving your neighbours as yourselves?
Consid. VIII. Consider how great a crime it is, for a worm to usurp the authority of God, and censure him for not doing justice, and to presume to anticipate his judgment, and take the sword as it were out of his hands, as all do that will be their own avengers.' It is the magistrate and not you that beareth the sword of public justice; and what he doth not, God will do in his time and way. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath; for it is written, Vengeance is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him ; if he thirst, give him drink; for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, (that is, the evil that is done against you,) but overcome evil with good." He that becometh a revenger for himself, doth by his actions as it were say to God, Thou art unjust, and dost not do me justice, and therefore I will do it for myself. And shall such an impatient, blaspheming atheist go unpunished?
Consid. 1x. Consider how much more fit God is than
f Rom. xii. 19-21.
you, to execute revenge and justice on your enemies.' He hath the highest authority, and you have none: he is impartial and most just, and you are unrighteous and perverted by selfishness and partiality. He is eternal and omniscient, and seeth to the end, and what will be the consequent; and therefore knoweth the fittest season and degree; but you are shortsighted creatures, that see no further than the present day, and know not what will be to-morrow, and therefore may be ignorant of a hundred things, which would stop you and change your council if you had foreseen them. He is most wise and good, and knoweth what is fit for every person, and how to do good with as little hurt as may be in the doing of it; but you are ignorant of yourselves, and blinded by interest and passion, and are so bad yourselves, that you are inclined to do hurt to others. At least, for aught you know, you may miscarry in your passion, and come off with guilt and a wounded conscience; but you may be sure that God will not miscarry, but will do all in perfect wisdom, and righteousness, and truth.
Consid. x. Do you not understand that your passion, malice, and revenge, 1. Do hurt yourselves much more than they can hurt another, and 2. Much more than any other can hurt you?' Would you be revenged on another; and will you therefore hurt yourselves? The stone of reproach which you cast at him, doth fly back into your face, and wound yourselves. Do you not feel that the fire of passion and malice, are like a scorching fever, which overthrow your health and quietness, and fill you full of restlessness and pain? And will you do this against yourselves, bécause another hath abused you? Did not he that offended you do enough against you? If you would have more, why are you offended with him? If you would not have more, why do you inflict it on yourselves? If you love disquietness, why do you complain of him that doth disquiet you? If you do not, why do you disquiet yourselves? and that much more than he can do? He that wrongeth you toucheth but your estates, or bodies, or names; it may be it is but by a blast of wind, the words of his mouth; and will you therefore wound yourselves at the very heart? God hath locked up your heart from others; none can touch that but yourselves. Their words, their wrongs cannot reach