Page images

Transactions, is an excellent Means to compose our Minds to a Regularity of Thought, and to a serious grave Deportment upon all Occasions. Let us learn then, with the Psal-' mit, To let the Lord always before us, and to behave ourselves as in his Sight and Presence, to whom nothing is a more lovely Spectacle than a good Christian, by the Assistance of his Grace combating all his own Corruptions and Temptations, and doing all the Good that poffibly he can.

12. Lastly, The great Means of all for keeping out of Evil-Thoughts, and for supplying the Mind with good ones, is the frequent, or rather constant Addressing of ourselves to God by Prayer and Thanksgiving. All our own Endeavours are but like so many Cobwebs in Comparison of the Assistances obtained from God by Prayer. Now there is first, a sort of sudden ejaculatory Prayers, which hinder no Business, but are to be intermixed, to sanctify all our Thoughts and Actions. To these we should accustom our selves, as being as necessary in a spiritual Life, as Breathing is in the Natural : And these, our Minds are never so out of Frame, but that we can put them up, as requiring no great Application or Study. But then there is the more Solemn Exercise of those Duties, which requires the Opportunities of a more fixed good Temper : All which Opportunities we should carefully watch, as being the Seasons for furnishing ourselves with such Supplies of Grace, as may enable us to cultivate good Thoughts on all Occasions.


Most of these Things are of that Consquence, that they deserve to have been more largely infifted on; but I was willing to have regard to your Time and Patience. Now God bless what ye have heard ; and to this great God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, let us render, as is due, all Praise, Honour, and Glory for ever and ever. Amen.

M 4



MATT. V. 23.

Therefore if thou bring thy Gift to the Altar, and

there remembrest that thy Brother bath ought

against thee; V. 24. Leave there thy Gift before the Altar,

and go thy Way, first be reconciled to thy Brother, and then come and offer thy Gift.

The First Sermon on this Text.


T appears from the first Word, Therefore,

that this is a Corollary or Consequence drawn from the foregoing Doctrine of our Saviour's Explication of the Sixth Commandment. And it is no hard Matter to perceive the Dependance of the one upon the other. For if every Degree of rash Anger is so very dangerous, as to incur an high Degree of Punishment in the World to come, then certainly it is yet more dangerous, to let Anger go on till it boils up to the heighth of Malice and Resentment, and therefore it behoves us, laying aside all other Business, though of ever so great Consequence, if there is any Quarrel begun with our Neighbour, or any occafion given for it, especially by us, in the first Place to take Care to reconcile ourselves to him,


and then to go on with our other Duties of Religion, and Businesses of Life. This I take to be the chief Scope and Purport of the Words. In speaking to them, I shall endeavour these Three Things.

1. To explain the Duty of Reconciliation with our Neighbour.

2. To consider the Rank here assigned it, being made preferable to the Offering of our Gift upon the Altar.

3. To make Application of this Doctrine towards the Rectifying the Opinions, and amending the Manners of Men.

I. First then, I am to explain the Duty of Reconciliation. It supposes fome Antecedent Offence, or Occasion of Offence, which we are aware of; it is not expressed whether this Offence was given by us, or by our Neighbour, or whether it was occafioned by the Imprudence or Wickedness of a third Person ; but whatever way it was occafioned, the Duty is enjoined upon every one of us, to endeavour to remove it; and to be reconciled to our Brother. In general then, by the Duty here enjoined, we are not, as the Way of the World is, to stand upon the Point of Honour, as they call it; which requires that the injuring Party should make the first Motion towards Reconciliation. In strict Justice indeed it ought to be fo ; but the more perfect Law of Charity requires both Parties to use a Readiness and Forwardness to this good Work of Reconciliation and encourages

likewise all other Persons to be good Instruments in restoring Peace and Friendship, and in making up Differences. This is the Duty in general ; it includes a great


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


many Particulars under it, for mollifying our

Tempers, and as necessary Prerequisites for removing all Obstructions of Peace and Reconciliation.

It may not be amiss, and it will help us to a more distinct Apprehension of the Duty, to mention some of the Chief of them.

1. First then, As to the Disposition of our Minds, we must not be of a cruel or revengeful Temper, but inclinable to pardon and forgive Injuries. I speak not of that common Pardon, which even wicked Men pretend to be willing to grant upon their Death-beds to all that have ever injured them. It is an easie thing to pardon at our Death, when we have taken full Satisfaction in our Life. But the pardoning Temper I speak of, is such a Temper as feeds not it self with any Thoughts of Revenge ; but for love of Peace, is willing rather to remit something of our just Right, than to run into Quarrels and Divisions. There is nothing more opposite to this Temper than Pride, and Passion. Pride is apt to suggest, that all Thoughts of receding from any Part of our just right, are dishonourable ; that it is below us to make the first Steps towards Reconciliation; and that it is a sufficient Discharge of our Duty, if when we are humbly sued to for Pardon, and all other reasonable Satisfaction is made us that we can desire, we are then willing to be reconciled. And Passion, without giving us Time to think, or deliberate what is proper to be done, hurries us into Quarrels and Contentions before we are aware: and by fresh Injuries, feeds the Quarrel, till there is no Choice left to the Adversary, but to fight it out to the last.

2. But

« PreviousContinue »