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2. But it is not only Revenge that unfits us for Reconciliation ; all Surliness and Moroseness of Temper, all Roughness and Inaccessibleness of Manners, does strangely alienate our Neighbour from us, and obstruct this good Work of Reconciliation. Christian Civility, animated by true Love and Charity, is one of the most necessary Qualifications for restoring Peace, and reconciling Differences. What can be more obliging than Charity, as it is described by St Paul, 1 Cor. xiii
. 4, 5, 7. Charity fuffereth long, and is kind; Charity envieth not, Charity vaunteth not it self, is not puffed up; doth not behave it self unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no Evil; beareth all Things, believeth all Things, hopeth all Things (for the best) endureth all Things. This is a noble Temper, which whosoever is blest with, not only carefully abstains from making Quarrels; but is very ready to accommodate and make them up.
3. Another Qualification necessary for this Duty of Reconciliation, and of great Affinity with the former, is that of Prudence in a good Government of the Tongue; there is nothing wounds so deep, or rather there is no Weapon that doth so much rankle in the wounding, as the Tongue doth; it is like a poisoned Arrow, not only wounds, but wounds in an unfair Manner, that its Wounds are not easily healed. Whosoever would learn to be of a reconciling Temper, must abstain from all provoking Words, either to the Adversary himself, or behind his Back, The Apostle St Paul joins these two together, Tit. iii. 2. To speak evil of no Man, and to be no Brawlers, or Quarrellers, ai pol gos eivas, but gentle,
Jewing all Meekness to all Men. This right Management of the Tongue, the wise Man observes to have a special Virtue in it to overcome the harshest Tempers. A soft Tongue, faith hè, breaketh the Bone, Prov. xxv. 15. and a soft Answer turns away Wrath, Prov. xv. 1. What was it that reconciled Yacob to his Brother Esau, who was an angry Man, and came to meet him in a very bad Temper of Mind? Was it not chiefly the mild Expressions of Jacob, which he put into the Mouth of his Servants ? His calling him my Lord Esau, and calling himself his Servant, did perhaps appease his fierce Spirit, as much as the Presents he presented him with. David's kind Words, joined with the like kind Actions, in fparing Saul's Life, when he had him in his Power, did so gain upon the Spirit of that Haughty Man, that he was melted into Tears of Tenderness and Repentance; for he lifted up his Voice and wept, and said, Is this thy Voice, my Son David? 1 Sam. xxiv. 16. It was by kind Words that Abigail disarmed David and his Men, after he had vowed the Destruction of her Husband, and all his House. Certainly the usual Methods of railing against, misrepresenting, ridiculing, and lampooning our Adversary, are only Means to keep up Feuds; whereas good Words would quickly put an End to them.
4. In Order to Reconciliation with our Neighbour, to good Words we must add kind Actions. First, We are to look upon all Acts of Justice as our Adversaries Due, as well as our Friends ; it is a devilish Maxim of fome People, that an Enemy deserves no fair Play ; and therefore they stick at nothing, so they may satisfie their Revenge by
· hurting him, whether by detracting from his real
Worth; by withholding from him the due Praiso and Reward of his good Deeds; or by raising and propagating all the Calumnies they can of him ; and, in short, taking all the unjustest Methods to do him a Prejudice ; whereas true Justice ought to be equal to Friend and Foe; and the one, as well as the other, ought to be praised, and rewarded according to his Merit. But then it is not bare Justice, which is due to an Adversary; if we intend to comply with this Duty of Reconciliation, we must endeavour to gain him by Acts of Love and Kindness; such as we are frequently exhorted to in the Holy Scriptures. For this I take to the Purport of these excellent Precepts, Exod. xxiii. 4. If thou meet thine Enemy's Ox, or bis Ass, going astray, thou shall surely bring it back to bim again. If thou see the Ass of him that hateth thee lying under his Burden, and wouldt forbear to help bim, thou shalt surely help with him. If thine Enemy Hunger, feed bim; if he Thirst, give him Drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap Coals of Fire upon his Head. Be not overcome of Evil, but overcome Evil with Good, Rom. xii. 20. There are few Enemies so hard-hearted, but that they may be gained by such Methods of Kindness.
5. Towards Reconciliation, there is a notable Method laid down by our Saviour himself, Matt. xviii. 15. If thy Brother trespass against thee, go and tell him his Fault between thee and him alone :
but if he will not bear thee, then take with thee one or two more; and if he fall negle&t to bear them, tell it unto the Church; but if he neglect to bear the Church, let him be unto thee as an Heatben Man, and a Publican. I know there are great
Disputes concerning the Meaning of that Passage; which I have not now Time to consider; but this is plain, that before we give Vent to our Resentments, by blabbing out our Complaints to others; our Saviour recommends a Method, which would confult our Neighbour's Satisfaction and Reputation, and would spare his Modesty by acquainting him, all alone by himself, what it is that offends us; for there often wants no more towards preserving a good Understanding, than that we be discreetly acquainted with the Cause of Offence; that we meet in Time, before Grudges and Jealoufies have taken Root in our Heart; and with the Freedom of Friends, discourse and argue our Matters. And if this First Method fails, the Second of taking One or Two more, provided they be wisely chosen, and friendly to both the differing Parties, is usually very successful. The Affistance of their concurring Reasons, and the Discretion of their Judgment and Arbitration, is an excellent Expedient towards Reconciliation. As to the Third, of telling the Church; that is, as I take it, the Christian Society, or those among them to whom the Deciding or Compounding of Differences was left, he must be a strange Chriftian indeed, that would not submit his Differences to such an Authority. But if there was any such, our Saviour allowed him to be impleaded before the Heathen Courts; that I take to be meant by these Words, let him be unto thee as an Heathen Man and a Publican.
6. If we would comply with this Duty of Reconciliation, we must have a great Care not to be entangled with Party Quarrels
. The Spirit of a Party is what is most opposite to Concord of
any other Thing whatsoever. For there a Man is obliged, tho' he should happen to be satisfied in his own Particular, to espouse the whole System of Differences, which the Party has with the Rest of the World; and instead of one, to involve himself in a great many Controversies; and instead of his own Particular, to make himself a great many publick Enemies, which is the Way to propagate Quarrels to the End of the World.
ģ. Lastly, If we would be reconciled with our Adversary, let us learn carefully to abstain from all the usual Occasions of Differences; whether we regard the Matter of the Difference it felf, or the Manner of managing it; for in both these, great Errors are usually committed. As to the First, the Matter of the Difference, there are some certain Opinions, some curious Questions of little or no Use, but to be Bones of Contention, which, through the Indiscretion of Mankind, or the Cunning of the Adverfary, are usually brought upon the Stage, and set Men by the Ears. All these we thould avoid like so many Wrecks, which point out to us the dangerous Shoals and Rocks, upon which Vessels have been often cast away. And together with these common Occasions of Difference, most Men have some Favourite Humour or Fancy, which they love to indulge; which, while it goes contrary to no Law of God or Man, and does no Harm to our Neighbour, it is a Piece of Moroseness and ill Nature to dispute against, or contradict, only because it is not so agreeable to our Taste and Palate. For Men are commonly very fond of their own Fancies, Humours and Conceptions, and provided they be innocent, it is not worth while