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the glory of God, but from a clear sight of some particular end, some determinate good which he pursues. 3, Still he cannot speak, unless he be fully convinced, that this very means is necessary to that end; that the end cannot be answered, ut least not so effectually, by any other way. 4, He then doeth it with the utmost sorrow and reluctance; using it as the last and worst medicine, a desperate remedy in a desperate case, a kind of poison never to be used but to expel poison. Consequently, 5, He uses it as sparingly as possible. And this he does with fear and trembling, lest he should transgress the law of love by speaking too much, more than he would have done by not speaking at all.
15. Love "believeth all things." It is always willing to think the best; to put the most favourablp construction on every thing. It is ever ready to believe whatever may tend to the advantage of any one's character. It is easily convinced of (what it earnestly desires) the innocence or integrity of any man; or, at least, of the sincerity of his repentance, if he had once erred from the way. It is glad to excuse whatever is amiss; to condemn the offender as little as possible; and to make all the allowance for human weakness, which can be done without betraying the truth of God.
16. And when it can no longer believe, then Love " hopeth all things." Is any evil related of any man? Love bopes that the relation is not true, that the thing related was never done. Is it certain it was?—" But perhaps it was not done with such circumstances as are related; so that allowing the fact, there is room to hope it was not so ill as it is represented. Was the action apparently, undeniably evil? Love hopes the intention was not so. Is it clear, tbe design was evil too? —" Yet might it not spring from the settled temper of the heart, but from a start of passion, or from some vehement temptation, which hurried the man beyond himself?" And even when it cannot be doubted, but all tbe actions, designs, and tempers are equally evil; still Love hopes that God will at last make bare his arm, and get himself the victory; and that there shall be "joy in heaven over [this] one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons that need no repentance."
17- Lastly: It " endureth all things." This completes the character of him that is truly merciful. He endureth not some, not many things only, not most, but absolutely all
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things. Whatever the injustice, the malice, the cruelty of men can inflict, he is able to suffer. He calls nothing intolerable; he never says of any thing, "This is not to be borne." No: he can not only do but sutler all things through Christ which strengthened him. And all he suffers does not destroy his love, nor impair it in the least. It is proof against all. It is a flame that burns even in the midst of the great deep. "Many waters cannot quench" his "love, neither can the floods drown it." It triumphs over all. It "never failcth," either in time or in eternity.
"Thus, in obedience to what Heaven decrees,
So shall "the merciful obtain mercy;" not only by the blessing of God upon all their ways, by his now repaying the love they bear to their brethren a thousand fold into their own bosom ; but likewise by " an exceeding and eternal weight of glory," in the "kingdom prepared for them from the beginning of the world."
18. For a little while you may say, "Woe is me that I am constrained to dwell with Mcsech, and to have my habitation among the tents of Kcdar!" You may pour out your soul, and bemoan the loss of true, genuine love in the earth: Lost indeed! You may well say, (but not in the ancient sense,) "See how these Christia?is love one another!" These Christian kingdoms, that arc tearing out each other's bowels, desolating one another with fire and sword! These Christian armies, that are sending each other by thousands, by ten thousands, quick into hell! These Christian nations, that are all on fine with intestine broils, party against party, faction against faction! These Christian cities, where deceit and fraud, oppression and wrong, yea, robbery and murder, go not out of their streets! These Christian families, torn asunder with envy, jealousy, anger, domestic jars, without number, without end! Yea, what is most dreadful, most to be lamented of all, these Christian Churches!—Churches (" tell it not in Gath,"—but, alas! how can we hide it, either from Jews, Turks, or Pagans ?) that bear the name of Christ the Prince of Peace, and wage continual war with each other! that convert sinners by burning them alive! that arc "drunk with the blood of the saints!"—Does this praise belong only to " Babylon the Great, the Mother of harlots and abominations of the earth?" Nay, verily; but Reformed Churches (so called) have fairly learned to tread in her steps. Protestant Churches too know to persecute, when they have power in their hands, even unto blood. And meanwhile, how do they also anathematize each other! Devote each other to the nethermost hell! What wrath, what contention, what malice, what bitterness, is every where found among them, even where, they agree in essentials, and only differ in opinions, or in the circumstantials of religion! Who follows after only the " things that make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another?" OGod! how long? Shall thy promise fail? Fear it not, ye little flock! Against hope, believe in hope! It is your Father's good pleasure yet to renew the face of the earth. Surely all these things shall come to an end, and the inhabitants of the earth shall learn righteousness. "Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they know war any more." "The mountain of the Lord's house shall be established on the top of the mountains;" and "all the kingdoms of the world shall become the kingdoms of onrGod." "They shall not [then] hurt or destroy in all his holy mountain;" but they shall call [their] "walls salvation, and [their] gates praise." They shall all be without spot or blemish, loving one another, even as Christ hath loved us.— Be thou part of the first-fruits, if the harvest is not yet. Do thou love thy neighbour as thyself. The Lord God fill thy heart xvith such a love to every soul, that thou mayest be ready to lay down thy life for his sake! May thy soul continually overflow with love, swallowing up every unkind and unholy temper, till he calleth thee up into the region of love, there to reign with him for ever and ever!
UPON OUR LORD'S SERMON ON THE
"Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. "Blessed are the peace-makers : for they shall be called the children of God.
"Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake:
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. "Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute yon,
and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for
"Rejoice, and he exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which Kw before you:' Matt. v. 8—12.
1. 1. How excellent things are spoken of the Love of our Neighbour! It is "the fulfilling of the law," "the end of the commandment." Without this, all we have, all we do, all we suffer, is of no value in the sight of God. But it is that Love of our Neighbour which springs from the Love of God: otherwise itself is nothing worth. It behoves us, therefore, to examine well upon what foundation our Love of our Neighbour stands; whether it is really built upon the Love of God; whether we do "lovehim because he first loved us;" whether we arc pure in heart: for this is the foundation which shall never be moved. "Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God."
2. "The Pure in Heart," are they whose hearts God hath "purified even as He is pure;" who are purified, through faith in the blocd of Jesus, from every unholy affection; who, being "cleansed from all filthiness of flesh and spirit, perfect