תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

and Benefactors, if they should come to be in want, but likewise to gain and recover our Adversaries. But, 2. Secondly, the next Impediment I mentioned, is, from remainders of Covetousness, which is a greater Enemy to Charity than the other. For our Occasions, though a little extravagant, may be all answered and satisfied at last; but Covetousness will never be satisfied, it is an unquenchable Thirst after the World ; and what comes from the Covetous Man, comes fo aukwardly and unwillingly, that the least shew of an Impediment obstructs it, and therefore it will hardly amount to Charity to Friends, far less

to this noble Degree of Charity to Enemies. But • as to this Principle of Covetousness, I shall only

say this, that whoever is in the least acquainted with the Christian Religion, as it is taught in the Gospel, must see the absolute necessity of Conquering and Overcoming it, before he can hope to get to Heaven. Our Saviour argues this excellently in this fame Sermon on the Mount, in which he has many touches at it; but particularly it is handled at large in the vi. Chapter of this Gospel, from the 19. Verse to the End of the Chapter, to which I refer you, as being full of excellent Arguments against this Vice, and so I leave it. 3. But lastly, among the Impediments of this Duty in my Text, I reckoned the remainders of Malice and Resentment, which often lie hid in the Bottom of the Heart, and are not easy to be discovered, till we find this backwardness to relieve him that has injured us, in his Distress. For it is a much more easy thing, verbally to forgive an Injury, and, for our own ease, to forbear Revenging of it, than it is by any costly Acts of Charity, to shew our Cc4

Adversary

Adversary that we are perfectly reconciled to him. But then is the proper Time, and these are the surest Circumstances, in which we can both fatisfy our selves and the World, that we have no Malice and Resentment; namely, when our Adversary wants our Affistance, and we are in a Condition to afford it, if we Thew our selves then to be of a generous bountiful Disposition to him, and easily exorable to all his just Requests of that Nature.

2. These are the usual Impediments of this bounty, on the part of the injured Person from whom this Bounty in the Text is required. There are some other Impediments of it likewise on the part of the injurious Person who wants this Re: lief; my Text says, give to him when he asks thee. Now some there are so stout, that they would sooner starve, than either ask or accept of a favour from one they have disobliged. It is often observed, that they who have done the Injury, are the hardest to be reconciled, and are so far from being gained by the offer of a kindness, that it doth but renew the Enmity; and while they continue in that irreconcileable Temper, perhaps it is better to let them alone, till they come a little to themselves, and the fury of the Storm is spent : With these Men we must choose the eafy Times of Access; 'the Mollia tempora fandi, before we offer them so much as a Gift or Courtefy. It would seem, by my Text, there must be some advances on their Párt, they must, by them selves, or their Friends in their Name, defire favours, before they can expect they will be bestowed on them by their Adversary whom they have injured. Give to him when he asketh thee, or

depreth

defreth a favour of thee. So much for the giving or desiring part.

III. I come now in the third and last Place, to shew, that though our Adversary is not properly in such indigent Circumstances as to want our Charity to supply him by the way of Gift, he may perhaps want our help by way of Loan, or other such like Courtesy; and in that Case, we are not to turn away from him, that is, we are not to treat him in a Scornful, Hard-hearted, Inexorable, or unfriendly Manner, but in a Courteous and Friendly way, readily to afford him our Relief. Give him when he asketh thee, and when he would borrow of thee, turn not away from him. For still, as I observed before, I am of Opinion that our Saviour is pursuing the same Subject of Difcourse concerning the way of behaving our felves to one that has injured us. For besides downright giving, there are many ways by which Men deal in good Offices one with another, affording their mutual Help and Assistance by lending Money to one another, and laying out their Credit, Authority,Countenance, and Interest for one another’sBenefit. Now in all this fort of traffick of good Offices, our Saviour wills us to be ready to assist the Man who has injured us, and by that means to perfect the Friendship and Reconciliation. The Expression too of not turning away, when we are addressed to upon these Occasions, points at the Manner in which such Services are to be done. For sometimes Men turn away in a Passion from those who desire favours of them; the contrary of which is here enjoined ; namely, that in a kind, gentle, courteous Way, such Persons and their Addresses should be received. Again, turning a

way

way implies a Stiffness, and Inexorableness, a Resolution not to yield or grant one's Request; the contrary of which is here recommended, namely, that our favours to them who have injured us be real in good Deeds, as well as in good Words ; thus to distinguish them from the kindness of the World, which evaporates in Complement, but there is nothing real under it. Thirdly, turning away implies at least a Backwardness and Unreadiness to grant, an off-put and want of Determination; which often spoils the Gracefulness of a Grant; in opposition to which, a Readiness and good Grace in granting is recommended; which is of. ten more taking and obliging than the Grant itself, and tends exceedingly to gaining the Heart of the Adversary.

I have now explained what I take to be the true Scope and Design of the Text: My next Business Thall be briefly to exhort you to a study of this excellent Temper, that instead of revenging Injuries, ye reward Good for Evil. I shall offer you a few Arguments to this purpose, and so have done.

1. First, We have the Example of Almighty God, who, notwithstanding our great Provocations, treats us with a marvellous Kindness, in heaping upon us all sorts of Mercies and Favours. But I shall not infist upon this Argument at prefent, because it will properly fall in to be confidered shortly, at the 45th Verse, where it is brought in by our Saviour, as an Argument for the Love of Enemies.

2. A Second Argument I shall use to the fame purpose, is the Efficacy of this Method towards the reconciling an Adversary. The not revenging

of Injuries is a good Beginning of this work, but the following it with a constant Train of other good Offices, carries it on to perfection. If the Adversary is ever so obdured, this melts him down to Repentance and Reconciliation : Whereas, by neglect, the old Enmities sprout out like Weeds in a neglected Garden ; or by the least Repetition of Injuries, all old Quarrels are revived.

3. This kind treating of an Adversary in his Want or Distress, is reconcileable enough with the Customs and Maxims of the more generous Sort of Combatants in the World ; who fo foon as they have subdued their Adversary, and brought him to any Terms of Submission, immediately forgive him, and afterwards shew him what favour and kindness lies in their Power. What is this but extending Charity to him if he is in want, and other good Offices, as he has Occasion for them?

4. This is one of the best Signs of the good Temper of our own Souls, and that we are in a right State of Grace, especially if we do it with a single Eye to God, in Obedience to his Laws, and not from a Prospect of any worldly Benefit or emolument it will fetch in to ourselves, St James tells us plainly, that without Works of Charity, Faith is dead, being alone, James ii. 17. And the Works he is there speaking of, are the very same Works I have been describing. If a Brother, or Sister, says he, be naked and destitute of daily Food, and one of you say unto them, depart in Peace, be warmed and filled; notwithAtanding ye give them not those Things which are needful to the Body ; 'what doth it profit ? Even fo Faith, if it hath not Works, is dead, being alone.

5. Let

« הקודםהמשך »