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benceforth thou mayest not live unto thyself, but unto Him, who died for thee and rose again. 2 Cor. 5, 15. If thou hast attained these things, the exactions of Christ in his sermon, or in his whole gospel, will not be oppressive; for thy heart and will are in his possession, so that thou canst with him undergo all kinds of sufferings, and through faith in him, always come forth conqueror, as St. Paul says, In all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. Rom. 8, 37.
If thou hast not attained to this; if thou remainest yet in thy nature, not subject to Christ Jesus, thou wilt perhaps be astonished and say, Who then can be saved? Why so? Because thou knowest not the power of God, neither considerest that what is impossible with thee, is possible with God. Mark 10, 24. 26.
Now Christ proceeds, saying, Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill, shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, (as the perfect lawgiver) that whosoever is angry with his brother, shall be in danger of the judgment: but whosoever shall say, Thou
fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. Verses 21. 22.
Now, my dear reader, ask thy own conscience how oft thou hast been angry with thy brother professor, and hast borne in thy heart bitter hatred against him, altho' thou art in danger of the judgment; and not only this, but thou hast out of a malicious heart called him Raca, and frequently wished him all manner of evil, though thou wast in danger of the council: and all this was not enough, but thou hast, out of a malignant heart, not only called him a fool, but hast cursed and sworn at him, and wished his soul at the devil; these, and similar aspersions, thou hast been guilty of, though Christ declares that thou art in danger of hellfire; not to mention that together with all this, thou livest days and years with him in strife and litigation, nay, thou marchest forth against him with deadly weapons, and takest away his life, when thou oughtest to know, that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him (1 John 3, 15.); and whosoever hateth his brother, (though he hath not killed him) is a murderer. And in this ungodly condition thou presumest that thou art a christian, and bringest thy prayer or gift to the
altar of Christ, though he commanded thee that if thou bringest thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee, to leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way (wait not till he cometh, but go thy way) and first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. Verses 23, 24.
Therefore Paul says, Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord. Heb. 12, 14. But thou, having thy heart unsanctified and thy spirit towards thy brother unreconciled, regardest this not; for thy mind is too proud and arrogant to permit thee to humble thyself before thy brother, and solicit him for peace and obtain reconciliation with him, though thou shouldst not let the sun go down on thy wrath, (Eph. 4, 26.) for the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. James 1, 20. Therefore James says in the 3d chapter, If ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from above, is first pure,
then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.
Yea, it is the part of a christian, if possible, to live peaceably with all men he doth not desire to avenge himself, but leaveth vengeance unto the Lord; he overcometh evil with good (Rom. 12.); he is forbearing and compassionate towards his irreconciled brethren, according to the directions and example of Christ.
For it reads further, Agree with thine adversary quickly, (and wait not long) whilst thou art in the way with him; lest at any time (namely at the day of judgment) the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison; verily I say unto thee, thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing. Verses 25, 26.
In the first place it is to be observed, that the righteousness of God, discovered in the law, is our adversary as long as we live in actual transgression and do not humble ourselves under the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ; for God resisteth the proud,
1 Pet. 5, 5. Whosoever is a friend of the world, is the enemy.of God (James 4, 4.): God is his adversary, his righteousness passes sentence of condemnation upon him; therefore it behoves us quickly to be reconciled with this righteousness, and comply with its terms while we are yet in the way with it; that is, to humble ourselves in the day of grace, and be reconciled to God through Christ Jesus, (2 Cor. 5, 20.) lest at any time on the day of judgment this irreconciled righteousness deliver us to the judge, Christ Jesus, who will come to judge the world in righteousness, (Acts 17, 31.) and the judge deliver us to the officer, namely the angels of his power, (2 Thess. 1, 7.) who will cast us into a furnace of fire; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Matt. 13, 41. 42. Chap. 25, 30.
In the second place, if we have obtained this reconciliation with God, and, together with this, have been forgiven the ten thousand pounds which we owed to righteousness, and will not afterwards remit to our fellow servant his debts, and forgive him, as God through Christ has forgiven us, but take him by the neck and evilly treat him; then righteousness