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T“ And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take Evay thy coat, let him have thy cloak also.” Verse 40. - There was room and liberty, by the law of Moses, for z man to revenge himself, if he had an injury done to m; but Christ teacheth patient suffering; we are not ) give any offence, but we are to take them quietly for is sake, in which Jesus was an excellent example to us, hose sufferings were not for himself, but for us; he urned his cheek to the smiter, and his face to those that sucked off the hair : but to a man of courage and choler,
iis indeed is no small cross; but he must deny himself, | id take up Christ's cross daily, and follow him, if he ill be his disciple: and as for the law, it is better never • ineddle with it, in a general way; and if thy coat by
w is taken away, thou hadst better give him thy cloak, tan stand out another trial with him : and it is much if hou art not a gainer by so doing. But the gain is not rged as the best motive: but obedience to Christ, our reat Lord, and good master; who said, “ If ye love me, eep my commandments."
i And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go ith him twain." Verse 41.
It can hardly be supposed that any would take the ains to force or violently compel a man to go a mile rith him, unless upon some extraordinary occasion : but hany times through over persuasion, or much invitation, ne may be in that sense compelled to do that which one s not inclined to, and in such case, we are to be liberal n answering the love and good will of our friend, so ompelling us: for love begets love, and cannot easily Je withstood, as in the parable of the wedding, or mariage supper; they were to be compelled to come to it; ve are not to understand by outward constraint, or cru. Ity, but by the force and power of love; divine love has a great power, and is of a compelling nature, according to this distinction, and consideration ; and then we should be unkind, and ungrateful, if we did not answer with suitable returns.
“Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee, turn not thou away.” Verse 42.
We are here to suppose the asker to be in real want and necessity, and the borrower also to stand in need, and the asked to be in a capacity, and of ability to supply and assist the asker, and borrower; and then in such case we are by no means to refuse to give to him that asketh, nor to turn away from him who would borrow of us, and if we are not in a capacity to supply, then to use mild and friendly expressions; for christians should be courteous and kind to all, and particularly to the distressed. And if we think the askers or borrow. ers are not worthy or deserving for their own sakes, we should, if need be, give and lend for Christ's sake, and in obedience to him, though it cross our own inclinations.
“ Ye have heard that it hath been said, thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.” Verse 43.
“ But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them who despitefully use you, and persecute you." Verse 44.
“ That ye may be the children of your Father who is in heaven, for he maketh his sun to rise upon the evih and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just, and on the unjust." Verse 45.
The Hebrews had liberty to hate their enemies, but we have not understood that ever any people, by any dispensation, had any liberty to hate their neighbours or friends: so that those who are in that state, are far be. vond the line of truth. But, says our holy Lawgiver, “ I say unto you, love your enemies.” If we love our enemies, we can in no wise destroy them, although it were in our power. Again, “ Bless them that curse you.” But, alas ! how apt are men (and even those why would think it hard to be told they are disobedient to Christ), to render railing for railing, and cursing for cursing, instead of blessing. (Do good to them who hate you.) If we are sensible of any body who hates us, and have real demonstration of it (for sometimes we imagine it, when it is not so), yet are we to do them all the good turns we can. (And pray for them who de.
itefully use you, and persecute you.) Thus we are t to render evil for evii, bat to overcome the evil with at which is good. Sweet was our Lord's example to s in this, when he said, “ Father, forgive them, for ey know not what they do.” If spiteful persecutors d really know what they do, when they persecute the st, their damnation must needs be very great; but if e do good for evil, as Christ hath taught, then are we · e children of our heavenly Father, “ Who maketh his in to rise on the evil, and on the good, and sendeth in on the just, and on the unjust.”
“ For if ye love them who love you, what reward ve ye? do not even the publicans the same ?” Verse 46.
“ And if ye salute your brethren only, what do you ore than others? do not even the publicans so ?” Verse 7. Our virtue is much more shining in loving those who
not love us, than in loving those who do; and it is tural for us to love them who love us, and we should ? ungrateful if we did not; but the reward is greater,
we love them who do not love us, which must be manifested in deeds, as well as words: for saying and bing sometimes are two things, which made the apose say, “ Our love must not be with word, and with ngue only, but in deed and in truth.” Also publicans nen by the Jews ranked with sinners, when they said, e eateth with publicans and sinners), they do so. i. e. bve those who love them.
And as to friendly and hearty salutations, that may e necessary or needful, we should not only manifest nem to our brethren, but as occasion requires to all, it eing a shining virtue in christians to be kind to straners, and to shew forth a generous and loving temper nd deportment to such as may not be of us; though hot by a flattering, modish, or complimental way, yet earty and respectful, according to the plainness of Christ, and the simplicity of his gospel, without respect of persons, respect being generally, or too generally, shown to high, more than to them of low degree. As ve are not to refuse our friendly salutations to the great, M
or the rich, so we are not to neglect the poor, for the publicans do so.
“ Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” Verse 48.
Christ would have us to be perfect in the practice of his doctrine, and to live up to it in perfect obedience, according to the best of our judgements and understandings, and not to do his work by halves, but honestly and perfectly, according to the measure of grace receiv. ed, some have received twice, some thrice so much as some others, as the parable of talents plainly showeth: so that what discoveries or manifestations of grace, light, or truth, we have received, we ought to walk up to them perfectly; “Even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” As the Almighty is perfect in his love, justice, mercy, grace, and truth, unto poor mortals, in Christ Jesus, his only begotten, and in all his works; so ought we to be perfect in our known duty: as it is written, “ Ye shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.” So must we be according to our degree of grace received.
It is supposed that no body will imagine that any mortal can come up in degree with the Almighty, but according to our measure, gift, and degree of grace received, we are to be holy and perfect, as God, our heay. enly Father, and Christ, our dear Lord, are so in ful
“ Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them, otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven." Chap. vi. verse 1.
“ Therefore when thou dost thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do, in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men: verily I say unto you, they have their reward." Verse 2.
“ But when thou dost alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doth :” Verse 3.
“ That thine alms may be in secrct, and thy Father which seeth in secret, himself shall reward thee openly." Verse 4.
The christian religion, in its purity, according to the doctrine of the founder of it, is a compassionate religion, and full of pity, as well as piety. It is a holy composition of charity, and goodness. The apostle thus describes it : “ The pure religion, and that which is undefiled before God and the Father, is this, to visit the fatherless, and widows, in their affliction ; and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” This is pure religion, and this is the christian religion : happy are those who walk up to it, and live according to the precepts of him who dictated them ; then the widows and the fatherless would not be neglected : the poor would be very generously taken care of, and our garments kept clean, and all done as secretly as may be. For when we proclaim our alms-deeds, and charity, we lose our reward from our heavenly Father. Also when alms is given it ought to be done in the spirit of love and meekness, and so received ; else the receiver loses a second benefit, and the giver his heavenly reward. To give to the poor is to lend to him that made us, and we shall have good and greater measure returned us again. If we hope to have the gates of Christ's kingdom opened to us at last, our hearts must also be opened to the poor and needy, when in distress : remembering the words of Christ, where he says to some who were waiting for, and wanting an entrance into the kingdom, saying, “ Lord, Lord, open unto us ;" he tells them, “ I was hungry, and ye gave me no meat; I was naked and ye clothed me not. I was sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.” They answered, “ Lord, when saw we thee hungry, naked, sick, or in prison, and did not feed thee, clothe thee, and visit thee ?” He answers, “ In as much as ye did it not to one of these which believe in my name, ye did it not to me." He sympathiseth with his poorest and meanest members, whatever others do, and takes that done to them, as done to himself, whether it be good or bad. We should be good to all, but especially ta Christ's members, or the household of the faithful keepers of his commandments : and alms-deeds have the approbation of goodness from the universal testimony of