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Baubles, or Chickens about a Worm or a Barley-corn. —We should next consider the present State and Condition of human Nature, and the Relation we stand in to our Maker, and Fellow-Creatures. We are all the unhappy Offspring of unhappy Parents, a weak, unconstant, trifling, giddy Generation, the Children of Vanity and Corruption, though Heirs to immortal Lise and Glory. The best and wisest Man amongst us has his peculiar Foible, his particular Infirmity, The Sin that eajily besets him, his unguarded Hour, his forgetful Moment, exposed to numberless Temptations, and never secure from falling. Think, now, what Degrees of Charity, Compassion, and Christian Forbearance every Man ought to shew to his offending Brother. Should God be extreme to mark what the very best of us has done amiss, what Flesh could be faved! And mould all Mankind agree in the rigorous Demands of Justice, what could be expected but univerfal Confusion and Desolation \ Now, what Reason has any Man to expect Forgiveness either from God or Man, who will shew none to those who have injured or offended him? Can we reasonably hope to receive what we refuse to give? Can we expect for ourselves what we deny to others I No, surely: It is, therefore, our indispensible Duty, as reasonable Creatures, as freely to forgive, as we hope to be forgiven.
But the Obligation is still much stronger upon us, as we are (or prosess to be) Christians. The Blessed Jesus, whose Difciples we prosess to be, who is the sole Fountain of Light and Lise, Truth and Honour, and who best understood its true Nature, has taught "Us, throughout his whole Gospel, that the only true L 4 Honour Honour of a Christian is to resemble his Father which is in Heaven. This is the only true Greatness of Mind which ought to distinguish a true Christian. It is on this Account that he commands and charges this Duty of Forgiveness upon us. And, that no Man may plead Ignorance or Inability, in bar to this great and important Duty, our blessed Master has exemplified, in his own Lise, every Action and Branch of Duty in which true Christian Honour, and Greatness of Mind, does consist. Every thing that the deluded World calls great and honourable, all the little Advantages of Birth and Fortune, Wealth and Power, which are the Idols of wrong Heads, and corrupt Hearts, he despised and rejected. He, who was Lord of Lords, and King of Kings, whom all the Host of Heaven worjhip, before whom all the Princes and Nations of the Earth are but as the Drop of a Bucket, and are counted as the small Dust of the Balance: He, who might, if he had pleased, have made his Appearance in the World with all that Pomp and Magnificence which Heaven and Earth could furnish for our Sakes, and, for our Instruction and Example, chose to make his Entrance upon the Stage of this Lise with all the Types of Humility, Abjection and Poverty; to be born of a poor Virgin, in a Stable, in Want of all the common Necessaries which even the poorest generally enjoy on such Occasions; and the whole Tenor of his Lise was asreeable to this Beginning. Riches, and Honours, and Pleasures, which are the supreme Happiness of little Minds, and unsanctified Hearts, he absolutely renounced, and chose Contempt and Labour, Reproaches and Poverty for his Portion, whilst he went about doing Good, and healing all the bodily and spiritual Infirmi
tics of those who had Faith to be healed; for all which he received no other Recompence from his ungratesul Countrymen, than to be treated as a Malesactor, and to be put to the most painsul and ignominious Death: In which last Scene of Lise he exhibited the most illustrious Specimen of true Greatness of Mind, in the Forgiveness of his Murderers: Father (fays he) forgive them, for they know not what they do!
Judge, now, can Ignorance and Vice, Intemperance and Lewdness, Violence and Fraud, Irreligion towards God, and Injustice towards Man, have the most remote Pretension or Relation to true Honour? Can any little, trifling, vain, ungratesitl Creature be truly honourable? Can any Spark of Honour so much as glow in a proud, malicious, spitesul Heart? Can that Man have any tolerable Pretension to true Greatness of Mind, who is a Slave to Intemperance, Lust, and Folly? Can any thing truly honourable, great, and noble, proceed from a sordid, sneaking, niggardly, penurious Soul? We may, with as much Reason, expect the Soul of a Brute, the Spirit of a Devil, and the Persections of an Angel, to meet in the fame Person.
I .know not any Instance in modern Story so applicable to .this Point, as that we find in the Lise of the famous Gaston Marquis de Renty. This illustrious Nobleman was a Soldier and a Christian, and had a peculiar Felicity in reconciling the seeming Opposition betwixt the two difserent Characters. He had a Com • mand in the French Army, and had the Misfortune to receive a Challenge from a Person of Distinction in the fame Service. The Marquis returned Answer, by the Person who brought the Challenge, that he
was was ready to convince the Gentleman that he was in the wrong, and, if he could not fatisfy him, he was ready to ask his Pardon. The other, not fatisfied with this Answer, insisted upon his meeting him with his Sword; to which he sent this Answer: That he was resolved not to do it, since God and the King had forbidden it, otherwise he would have him know, that all the Endeavours he had used to pacify him did not proceed from any Fear of him, but os Almighty God, and his Displeasure; that he jhould go every Day about his usual Business, and, if he did assault him, he would make him repent it. The 2ngry Man, not able to provoke him to a Duel, and meeting him one Day by chance, drew his Sword, and attacked him, who wounded and difarmed both him and his Second, with the Assistance of a Servant that attended him; but then did this truly Christian Nobleman shew the Difference betwixt a Brutish and Christian Courage; for he led them to his Tent, refreshed them with Wine and Cordials, caused their Wounds to be dressed, and their Swords to be restored to them, and dismissed them with Christian and friendly Advice, and was never heard to mention the Affair asterwards to his nearest Friends. It was a usual Saying of his, That there was more true Courage and Generosity in bearing and forgiving an Injury for the Love of God, than in requiting it with another; in suffering, rather than revenging, because the Thing was much more difficult: That Bulls and Bears had Courage enough, but it was a brutijh Courage; whereas ours jhould be such as jhould become reasonable Creatures and Chrijtians.
I beg leave to conclude with this solemn Declaration. In Obedience to the Commands, and Imitation of the Example of my blessed Master, by whose Merits and Intercession I expect to receive the sull and free Remission of all my Sins, I do freely and absolutely remit and forgive all Injuries and Wrongs, Affronts and Ofsences, that have at any Time, by Treachery or Violence, by wrong Heads, or malicious Hearts, by falfe Friends, or open Enemies, been acted or intended against me; and pray God they may never be laid to their Charge; and hope, by the Grace of God, I shall ever be ready to return Good for Evil to the greatest Enemy I have in the World.