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VOL. ferred into and impressed upon our souls, is of 1.
unspeakably more worth than all the wealth of both the Indies. For a man to bear that temper of soul in himself, and to be able on reflection to conclude, though he be assaulted on all sides by the unjust displeasure of men, that there are yet no other but good propensions of kindness and mercy, tenderness and compassion, and a readiness to do them all the good he can, as soon as ever he has an opportunity; the pleasantness of such a temper, if known and experienced, no one would change for the greatest advantage this world could afford him. How happy is it to be able to say. with the Apostle, Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it; being defamed, we intreat As if he had said, he that looks into our ways, nay into our breaits, shall be able to discern nothing but calmness there; even an undifturbed composure of spirit, and benignity towards them who are full of malignity to us. And
(2) This is that temper of spirit also to which the blessed God hath particularly promised a reward. If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat ; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink : for thou shalt beap coals of fire upon bis head, and the Lord shall reward thee!. It may be the perfon himself will not reward thee for fo much good done to him. Concern not thy self for that; if he will not, God will. The Lord will reward thee for all that good which thou haft done, in lieu of the evil which he has done to thee. And I add,
LASTLY, 1 Cor. iv. 12, 13. " Proy. XXV, 22, 23, Rom. XII. 20.
LASTLY, In this way you may quite conquer SÉRM. him at last, to whom you exercise love to that XVI. height. And how glorious a conquest is this ! The Apostle says in the forementioned place, which is quoted from the Proverbs, that you shall by this means, (by returning good for evil) beap coals of fire upon his head. I know there is a controverfy about these words; some understand them in a good, others in an eyil sense. Some fay thereby is méánt, that you shall ingage God on your fide, and his wrath and vengeance shall vindicate your quarrel. Others think that we may understand by coals of fire, the melting warmth of love; which will diffolve and mollify the obdurate, malicious spirit of the unjust adversary. And I for my part make little doubt but that is the meaning, and I am the more induced to believe it from what we find conjoined in both these Scriptures. It is in the Proverbs, The Lord Ball reward thee, as one that hast been a subordinate benefactor to him
who doth good to those, who carry it very ill towards him. But to this paisage quoted by the Apostle is fubjoined this ex.iortation; Be not overcome with evil, bui overcome evil with good ". Your goodness makes you glorious conquerors, and will melt down your enemy; and subdue him to you at the long run.
And there is no-way wherein we can contribute so much to the accomplishment of God's promise, to wit, If a man's ways please the Lord, be will make his enemies be at peace with him", U 2
VOL. And we have the most reason (though we are not I. to limit God as to the time or method of work
'ing things) to promise our selves an happy issue and success this way, that is, to make our enemies at peace with us; when we in our whole deportment express and hold forth nothing but benignity, kindness, and sweetness to them, however harsh in their words and actions they are to us.
And we ought to bethink our selves too (with which I shall conclude) that let us be put to forgive them never so much, God has forgiven us more. It is impossible they should ever offend us so much as we have transgressed against him. Therefore let us not grudge to extend our love to our enemies, for if God had not done so to us, what had become of us ? Miserable creatures had we been! When we were enemies Christ died for us. It was for enemies he laid down his life, and exposed himself to those cruel sufferings which he underwent. And when we expect eternal life by him, who hath done so much for enemies; will we not at his word, and upon the obligation of his own law, conform our spirits and practice to our utmost herein? For it is impossible we can have any enemies fo injurious to us, as we have been to Christ; all which injury and wrong he is yet willing to bury in everlasting oblivion.
Preached December 13, 1676.
1 JOHN IV. 20. He that loveth not his Brother, whom he hatb feen; how can be love God, whom be bath not seen?
HE truth which we have more lately handled from these words is this;
That their preţence to the love of God is both false and absurd, who do not conjoin with it love to their brother.
We have insisted a little upon this doctrine, and have made some progress in the use, which was mainly intended to be this: namely to animadvert upon the common practice of the world ; and especially to put us upon animadverting on our own practice, wherein it is contrary to the law of that love, which we are required to exercise towards our brethren, considered as men, and as Christians. We have already in the
FIRST place, shewn and complained that there is but little of that love which ought to be exercised to men, as men, and we have particularly spoken to two cases, wherein many would plead an exemption ; namely the case of those
VOL. who are profligately wicked, and of those who 1.
are their particular enemies : And we have fewed you how reasonable and necessary it is that love should be exercised to them as men, notwithstanding either of these circumstances. We are now to speak
SECONDLY, According to the other and more restrained notion of Brother, to that love which we should have for one another as Christians; or which should be generally exercised by us upon a Christian account, And is it not worth our while to take notice, how the law of such love is most commonly violated among them who bear the Christian name, and to give instances hereof? We will do this in two kinds. That is, we shall give you both privative and positive instances, and let you see by both, how the law of love is too frequently broken and intrenched upon, even as if it were not a sacred thing
I. We shall give you some privative instances of this, wherein persons appear not to do what the law of love doth require, As
1. When the object of this love is mistaken; that is, either stated with too much latitude, or else is too much narrowed and limited.
(1) I SAY when it is stated too largely, and men do give exorbitant measures of Christianity. There is a love to be exercised to all, as you have heard before; but there is, many times, a very unwarrantable extension of the notion of Chri.