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Every consideration of justice and equity SERM,

XVIII. is on the side of forgiveness : there is no no man but who must be conscious of his own frailty, and of the need in which himself stands of remission of offences: sometimes, perhaps, he has been injurious to his fellow-creature, and certainly often rebellious against his Creator ; let him then exert an indulgence, which he expects—let him forgive, as he hopes to be forgiven, Why should he look, in his own case, for the allowance which he is not willing to grant in the case of others? How dare he presume that his own frailties will be passed by, while himself is extreme to mark what is done amiss ? It is in vain that he alleges greatness of provocation, or height of ingratitude; he is not the proper judge; whilst he is under the dominion of his resentment, he ought to sus, pect that it is not probable he should be just; he may feel more, perhaps, of the

v

SERM. injury than was intended, his self-love may
XVIII.
no represent it to him in aggravated colours;

what was possibly merely the effect of mis-
take or negligence, he may attribute to
design; he is encompassed indeed on every
side with error, which he can only hope to
escape by subduing his resentment :

But, grant that you have been indeed
provokingly treated and heinously wrong.
ed, are you to give up the government of
your temper, and to yield yourself a prey
to the torments of rage, because your
enemy has been" unjust ? are you to en-
danger your eternal salvation, because
your friend has been ungrateful ? Alas!
this is to revenge the faults of others on
yourself; it is to swell the bulk, and in-
crease the acrimony, of their offences; it
is to confer on them a fatal importance,
which they could receive from none but
yourself. The utmost that the malice of
man can do affects only the body-extends

not

not beyond this world; it is ourselves alone SERM. that can cast both body and soul into hell, no

You remember the treatment of the servant in the parable, who, after having received from his lord a generous forgive. ness of a large debt, went and used the utmost severity against one of his fellowservants, who owed him a small debt."O thou wicked servant (said his lord) "I forgave thee that debt because thou “ desiredst_me: shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellow,

servant, even as I had pity on thee? And the lord was wroth, and delivered

him to the tormentors, till he should “pay all that was due unto him.” Precisely in the same case stands the unmerciful, unforgiving man. : If God were extreme to mark what is done amiss, which of us should live another day, to be offended or to offend ? He created us, he pre

serves us, and he redeemed us; yet we are CV

constantly

SERM. constantly injuring-perpetually provoking XVIII.

him. Of what ingratitude towards us can our earthly brother be guilty, in comparison of what we are guilty towards our heavenly Father!

Let us beware, then, lest by our own rigours we create a precedent against our. selves. “With what judgment we judge, " we shall be judged; with what measure " we mete, it shall be measured to us “ again.” When we are inclined to be un: forgiving, let us remember the menace to which we expose ourselves : after our Sa: viour had related to his disciples the se. verity which was exercised against the unmerciful servant, he immediately added“ So likewise shall your heavenly Father “ do unto you, if ye from your hearts for“ give not every one his brother their trespasses."

If example have any sway with us, all that there is of great or good in the uni

verse is on the side of mercy and forgive- SERM. ness. Though his majesty be so daringly violated, though his commands be so rebelliously disobeyed, though we are continually provoking him by our insults and iniquities, yet is the Great Governor of heaven and earth slow to anger, and eager to forgive; time, warning, assistance to repent and regain his favour, are all amply bestowed on ungrateful man. " God-de“ sireth not the death of a sinner, but « rather that he should turn from his “ wickedness and live.” Hostile as he is to every species of iniquity, and boundless as is his power to punish it, his most fa. vourite title is the Father of Mercies. If we look to the conduct of the Son of God, the virtue of forgiveness is also eminently conspicuous; his whole life indeed was one continued instance of it: - in return for reproaches he bestowed instruction, in return for personal insults he put up peti.

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