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your hearts, unless you open them the door, yea, unless it be your own doing. Will you take the dagger which pierced but your skin, and pierce your own hearts with it, because another so much wronged you? If you do, blame no one for it so much as yourselves; blame them for touching your estates or names, but blame yourselves for all that is at your hearts. And if you might desire another's hurt, it is folly to hurt yourselves much more, and to do a greater mischief to yourselves, that so you may do a less to him. If you rail at him, or slander or defame him, you touch but his reputation; if you trouble him at law, you touch but his estate; if you beat him, it reacheth but to his flesh; but the passion and guilt is a fire in your own hearts; and the wrath of God which you procure, doth fall upon your souls for ever! I have heard but of a few that have said openly, ‘I am contented to be damned, so I may but be avenged;’ but many thousands speak it by their deeds. And O how just is their damnation, who will run into hell that they may hurt another | Even as I have heard of some passionate wives and children, who have hanged themselves, or cut their throats, to be revenged on their husbands or parents by grieving them. Consid. x1. “Remember that malice and hurtfulness are the special sins and image of the devil.” All sin is from him as the tempter; but some sins are so eminently his own, that they may be called the nature and image of the devil; and those are principally, rebellion against God, malignity or enmity to good, pride or self-exaltation, lying and calumny, and malice, hurtfulness, and murder; these are above the sins of mere sensuality or carnality, and most Properly denominate men (in whom they prevail) the serpent's seed. I speak but as Christ himself hath spoken, John viii. 44. to those that were esteemed the wisest and most (ceremoniously) religious of those times: “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do; he was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him; when he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.” And what pity is it that a man that should bear the image of God, should be transformed as it were
into an incarnate devil, and by being like to satan, and bearing his image.
Consid. xii. “The person that you are angry with, is either a child of God, or of the devil, and one that must live either in heaven or hell.’ If he be a child of God, will not his Father's interest and image reconcile you to him Will you hate and hurt a member of Christ? If you have any hope of being saved yourselves, are you not ashamed to think of meeting him in heaven, whom you hated and persecuted here on earth ? If there were any shame and griefin heaven, it would overwhelm you there with shame and grief, to meet those in the union of those blessed joys, whom you hated and abused. Believe unfeignedly that you must dwell with them for ever in the dearest intimacy of eternal love, and you cannot possibly rage against them, nor play the devils against those, with whom you must live in unity before God. But if they be wicked men, and such as must be damned (as malice will make you easily believe), are they not miserable enough already, in being the slaves of sin and satan? And will they not be miserable time enough and long enough in hell? Do you thirst to have them tormented before the time? O cruel men O devilish malice Would you wish them more punishment than hell-fire 2 Can you not patiently endure to see a poor sinner have a little prosperity and ease, who must lie in everlasting flames 2 But the truth is, malicious men are ordinarily atheists, and never think of another world; and therefore desire to be the avengers of themselves, because they believe not that there is any God to do it, or any future judgment and execution to be expected.
Consid. x 111. “And remember how near both he and you are to death and judgment, when God will judge righteously betwixt you both.” There are few so cruelly malicious, but if they both lay dying they would abate their malice and be easily reconciled, as remembering that their dust and bones will lie in quietness together, and malice is a miserable case to appear in before the Lord. Why then do you cherish your vice, by putting away the day of death from your remembrance? Do you not know that you are dying 2 Are a few more days so great a matter with you, that you will therefore do that because you have a few more days to live, which else you durst not do or think of O hearken to the dreadful trumpet of God, which is summoning you
all to come away, and methinks this should sound a retreat to the malicious, from persecuting those with whom they are going to be judged. God will shortly make the third, if you will needs be quarrelling! Unless it be mastiff dogs or fighting cocks, there are scarce any creatures but will give over fighting, if man or beast do come upon them that would destroy or hurt them both. Consid. x 1 v. “Wrathful and hurtful creatures are commonly hated and pursued by all; and loving, gentle, harmless, profitable creatures, are commonly beloved.’ And will you make yourselves like wild beasts or vermin, that all men naturally hate and seek to destroy If a wolf, or a fox, or an adder do but appear, every man is ready to seek the death of him, as a hurtful creature, and an enemy to mankind; but harmless creatures no one meddleth with (unless for their own benefit and use): so if you will be malicious, hurtful serpents that hiss, and sting, and trouble others, you will be the common hatred of the world, and it will be thought a meritorious work to mischief you; whereas if you will be loving, kind, and profitable, it will be taken to be men's interest to love you, and desire your good. Consid. xv. ‘ Observe how you unfit yourselves for all holy duties, and communion with God, while you cherish wrath and malice in your hearts.” Do you find yourselves fit for meditation, conference, or prayer while you are in wrath 2 I know you cannot : it both indisposeth you to the duty, and the guilt affrighteth you, and telleth you that ..you are unfit to come near to God. As a fever taketh away a man's appetite to his meat, and his disposition to labour, so doth wrath and malice destroy both your disposition to holy duties, and your pleasure in them. And conscience will tell you that it is so terrible to draw near God in such a case, that you will be readier (were it possible) to hide yourselves as Adam and Eve, or fly as Cain, as not enduring the presence of God. And therefore the Common-prayer book above all other sins, enableth the pastor to keep away the malicious from the sacrament of communion; and conscience maketh many that have little conscience in anything else, that they dare not come to that sacrament, while wrath and malice are in their breasts: and Christ himself saith, “If thou bring thy gift unto the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way, first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. Agree with thine adversary quickly while thou art in the way with him, lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison 8, &c.” Consid. xvi. “And your sin is aggravated, in that you hinder the good of those that you are offended with, and also provoke them to add sin to sin, and to be as furious and uncharitable as yourselves.” If your neighbour be not faulty, why are you so displeased with him 2 If he be, why will you make him worse? Will you bring him to amendment by hatred or cruelty? Do you think one vice will cure another? Or is any man like to hearken to the counsel of an enemy? Or to love the words of one that hateth him 2 Is malice and fierceness an attractive thing? Or rather is it not the way to drive men further from their duty, and into sin, by driving them from you who pretend to reform them by such unlikely, contrary means as these ? And as you do your worst to harden them in their faults, and to make them hate whatever you would persuade them to ; so at present you seek to kindle in their breasts the same fire of malice or passion which is kindled in yourselves. As love is the most effectual way to cause love; so passion is the most effectual cause of passion, and malice is the most effectual cause of malice, and hurting another is the most powerful means to provoke him to hurt you again if he be able; and weak things are ofttimes able to do hurt, when injuries boil up their passions to the height, or make them desperate. If your sinful provocations fill him also with rage, and make him curse, or swear, or rail, or plot revenge, or do you a mischief, you are guilty of this sin, and have a hand in the damnation of his soul, as much as in you lieth. Consid. xv.11. ‘Consider how much fitter means there are at hand to right yourself, and attain any ends that are good, than by passion, malice, or revenge.' If your end be nothing but to do mischief, and make another miserable, you are to the world as mad dogs, and wolves, and serpents * Matt. v. 23-25.
to the country; and they that know you, will be as glad when the world is rid of you, as when an adder or a toad is killed. But if your end be only to right yourselves, and to reclaim your enemy, or reform your brother, fury and re venge is not the way. God hath appointed governors to do justice in commonwealths and families, and to those you may repair, and not take upon you to revenge yourselves. And God himself is the most righteous governor of all the world, and to him you may confidently refer the case, when magistrates and rulers fail you ; and his judgment will be soon enough and severe enough. And if you would rather have your neighbour reclaimed than destroyed, it is love and gentleness that is the way, with peaceable convictions, and such reasonings as shew that you desire his good. Overcome him with kindness, if you would melt him into repentance, and heap coals of fire on his head. If thy enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: this is overcoming evil with good, (and not by beastly fury to overcome him); but when you are drawn to sinful passion and revenge, you are overcome of evil". If you would do good. it must be by good, and not by evil. Consid. xviii. “Remember also how Hittle you are concerned in the words or actions of other men towards you, in comparison of your carriage to yourselves and them.’ You have greater matters to mind, than your little sufferings by them; even the preserving of your innocency and your peace with God. It is your own actions, and not theirs that you must answer for. You shall not be condemned for suffering wrong, but for doing wrong you may. All their injuries against you, make you not the less esteemed of God, and therefore diminish not your felicity: it is themselves that they mortally wound, even to damnation, if they impenitently oppress another; keep yourselves and you keep your salvation, whatever others do against you. Consid. xix. “Remember that injuries are your trials and temptations; God trieth you by them, and satan tempteth you by them. God trieth your love, and patience, and obedience; that you may be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect, and may be indeed his children, while you “love your enemies, and bless them that curse you, and do * Rom. xii. 19-21.