every little

Now in measuring these things, we must not follow the Di&tates of our own Pride, and Corrupted Nature, which account nothing little; which magnify every Indignity, and Provocation into an Unpardonable Fault: These will be ready to whisper to us, that Trespass deserves a Process; every reproachful Word a Stab; And every Adionable Affront a Suit at least, if not a Challenge. But in these Cases, Pride and Anger, and the vain Opinions of Honour and Gallantry, must not be

our Counsellors: These we folemnly renounIced at our Baptisın, when we were made Chri

ftians; These must be Mortify'd and Subdued, or we break Conditions with God, and forfeit the Benefit of that Covenant.

But here a Material Case offers it felf: The Stating and Resolving of which, will not, I fuppołe, be thought a Digression from our present Design, and that is the Case of going to Law about Emergent Differences; and whether that be consistent with this Doctrine of Christian Charity, and Reconciliation. Now I think there is no Question, but that (even upon the strictest Laws of Christianity) it is very Lawful to dispute a Title of Right, and to fix the Bounds of Property ; provided that be done without Malice and Revenge; without Breach of Love and Charity. This appears from the Neceflity of the thing it self; because otherwise, neither Private, nor Publick Interests could be secure. From the Magiftrate's Office, who, by God's Appointment is to distribute Justice; to determine in Doubtful Matters; to put an end to Strife; to protect the Innoçent, and to punish the Evil-Doers. From the practice of our Saviour and St. Paul, who claimed the Benefit, and Appealed to the Juftice of humane Tribunals; for when the Officer, in the presence of the High-Priest, ftruck our Saviour with the Palm of his Hand, he openly complain’d of the Illegallity of the Act,


and Expoftulates for the Redress of it. Jesus Jo. 18. 23. Answered bim, if I bave spoken Evil, bear

Witness of the Evil; i. e. Implead me for it: but if well, wby smitest thom me? And when the Chief Captain commanded St. Paul to be Scourged, Uncondemned; he pleads the Le

gal Priviledge of a Free-born Roman. Is it Acts, 22.

Lawful for you to Scourge a Man that is a Roman, and Uncondemned? So that a Man may be Faultless, who commences a Suit at Law, unless something more comes in to make him a Transgressor. The Offence ljes not in the Nature of the Action, but in the Cause, the, Design, the Manner of its Management, and Profecution. In the Words of the same

St. Paul: We know that the Law is good, if a Tim. 1,8. Man use it Lawfully; and that it is not made

for the Righteous, but for the Lawless and Disobedient. But it is certainly against the foremention'd Precept of Christ, to go to Law upon every little Difference; for every slight Injury: 'Tis very unbecoming the Character and Profession, the Meekvess and Forgiveness of a Chriftian, to contend for Trifles; It argues


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

a great Intemperance of Spirit, a mighty Want of Charity, to engage the Authority of Laws; to trouble the Solemnity ofa Court, with Adions aböüt Petty Squables, or Trespasses, for å passionate, or defamatory Word. In these Cases; "tis utterly'a Fault among you, because ye go to Law one with another : Why do ye niot rather fuffer Wrong? Why do ye not rather suffer yozija I Cor.6.1 selves to be defrauded a

The Result of the Caseis this. If the Damage be so unfupportable, and the Circumstances of the Matter fuch, that other ways of deciding it are found Insufficient ; then it may be Innocent, and Necesfary to appeal to tlre publick Justice of the Law : But even then we must be very careful of preserving the sacred Bond of Christian Peace, Friendlbip and good Neighbourhood. Which when I coólider, how feldome that is done; How Men's Spirits are hereby imbitterd, and render'd implacable; methinks, he that in these Cases sits down under a Wrong, and for Peace fake, récedes something from

his Right, a&s more prudently, I'm sure more Christianly: But above all, it concerns those, who are naturally turbulent, and vexatious ; who take delight in disquieting their Neighbour ; who ftudy Mischief, and ftir up ftrife all the Day long: I say it nearly concerns such to consider how far they are from Christian Reconciliation; and what Account they will be able to give of this Precept to the Prince of Peace. But



[ocr errors]

2dly, In Christian Reconciliation it is further required, that we forgive him that hath Injured us, from our Hearts; without retaining any secret Grudge, or returning it upon him; · tho' it may chance to come into our Power, and we have the opportunity to do it. The Providence of God has given us such Natúres, and put us under such circumstances in this World ; that we have not only tair Opportunities, but the strongest Engagements laid upon us, to Mutual Kindness, and Good-Will. He has made us all of one Stock; we are like one another in the Features, and Proportions of Body; We stand in need of each others. help and Service; We make Voluntary Contracts; And enter into mutual Covenants, as well by the Institution of God, as the Appointments of Men. Love is the very Heart of Civil Society.

It is therefore a very false and fcandalous Account 'which Mr. Hobbs gives us, in his limaginary and Utopian State of Nature : Wherein he represents Mankind as so many Italian Banditti, or Irish Rapperees ; coinmitting the most horrid Plunders, and Massacres one'upon another ; and Resolves all the Principles of humane Society, into those of Force and Fraud. But if Reason and Experience, if the Universal Consent, and Opinion of all Mankind, may prevail against the Confidence and Dicacity of one Ill-natur’d Philosopher, they


were the Generous Obligations of Love, Benevolence, and common Security, which first led Men to Plant Colonies, and to Form Governments ; Were the contrary Perfwasion admitted ; Were Rapine and Cruelty tolerated by

Law, what would follow, but Éternal AnarIchy and Confufion, and the World become a

Field of Blood, and a Den of Thieves? Most certainly the Original Instincts and Efforts of humane Nature, are those of Love and Peace

3 It delights itself in the Offices of Compassion, Friendship, and Courtesie: And upon these our Saviour hath superinduced the Obligations of his Laws, and hath heighten'd, and improv'd those Natural Dictates by his Gospel. I say unto

you, Love your Enemies, Bless them that Cursé you,

and Pray for them that dispitefully use you. So that all Retalliation of Injuries is exprefly Forbidden, and without That, Christian Reconciliation cannot be perfected in us. Indeed there may be Worldly reasons, which restrain us from outward Acts of Violence and Hoftility; It may be we are too Weak to do it ; Or we want Opportunity to execute our Evil Designs; Or it may be against some Interest we are driving on. Now, to forbear Revenge upon such Motives as these, is not Obedience to this Precept of our Saviour, Whose main Design is to Corred the inward Dispositions of our Souls, and requires that Forgiveness be from the Heart. Tho' we should forbear to return Evil upon our Brother ; Tho' per

G 2


« ElőzőTovább »