Billeder på siden

he immediately bethought himself of reftitution, and said, * Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold. And this is the more necessary, because where such false dealing or open injustice has been done, restitution is the first step which must be made in order to reconciliation: We can't expect an injured man should be appeased without it; nor is it pofsible to make him due fatisfaction, so long as he continues under the real effects of the injury, and we detain that from him, which he only ought to enjoy or to difpose of. In other cases (particularly the offences of the tongue, censorious reviling or detraction, and the like) we are to make him what amends we can.

(2.) By reparation to his esteem and credit in the world; endeavouring to do him justice in as publick a manner as we have injured him; retracting our unworthy censure and suspicions of him; 'acknowledging the fault of that reviling language we have given him, and doing all that lies in our power to reverse the undeserved character we have exposed him in; or if deserved, to soften it according to the rules of charity; thus labouring, as far as is possible, (in effect at least) to unsay what we have faid, and undo the mischief we may have donc him, that he may not suffer by our unchristian passion and indiscretion. 'Tis feldom we can effettually make him amends, and set him right this way; which therefore should make us keep the stricter guard upon our tongue, that we be not guilty of offences and mischiefs that are so hard to be rectified; because the ill-nature of mankind is apter to take in and nourish the ill impressions of our spleen, and the bad character we give, than any after-vindications or apologies we can make to foften or re

* Luke xix. 8. e


tract them: but it is, however, the only way that we can set our felves to reparation in this matter; and therefore we are bound in conscience to it, and let it avail as far as it can to that purpose. Again,

(3.) Where the injury is of a lower rate, or when an affront is only in the case, reconciliation may be effected by begging of pardon. This is the least we can offer to an offended brother; and therefore we should never be backward in it, when it will be accepted. Perhaps we may think it a little disgraceful to us; but if it be a disgrace, the fin of an ill tongue is brt very gently punished by the shame of acknowledging it. And as pride was the main principle of that contempt, or other rudenesses in our language, from which the offence arose; even natural equity suggests, that no satisfaction can be answerable, which does not apparently disclaim and mortify that pride, the insolence of which is to be made amends for by a contrary act of humility and submission. But after all, I

. Shall beg leave to think it no disgrace, but an argu; ment of an ingenuous temper, to ask pardon: and that whatever the vain maxims of the world may teach, he is certainly the most a gentleman, as well as most a Christian, who reflects upon it as a greater shame to have been guilty of such ill-manners, than to retract it ; and therefore is always ready with a generous submission to revoke what he has faid or done unworthily.

Now which foever of these three forts of satisfaction shall become reasonable, according to the nature of the offence, and necessary towards a reconciliation, our Saviour presses it here upon us, to lose no time, to make no delays, but immediately

, to set about it; and that for two very good reafons; The first is, That our devotions to God will be all unacceptable, and odious in his fight, till this be done. This is sufficiently hinted in those words: If thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there remembrest that thy brother hath ought against thee : Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy ways, first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. It is in vain to hope that God will accept us, so long as, having given our neighbour juft occasion of resentment, our Minds continue the abuse by an averseness to give him due satisfaction, or so long as we shall needlesly delay to offer it. And therefore upon the first remembrance of what we have said or done to grieve him, even tho’we should be then going to the private or pubdick services of religion, we are oblig'd, if an opportunity can be had at that time, to go to him and make up the quarrel presently, by performing or promising such fatisfaction as the laws of Chriltianity require; or if for want of opportunity it be impracticable, then we must prepare our selves for it, by a readiness and sincere resolution at least to do it as soon as possibly we can: And the one or the other of these is so indispensable a duty, that our prayers will be but a mocking of God without it. The second reason urged by our Saviour, is drawn from prudence, as the first was from religion. Agree with thine adversary quickly, whilst thou art in the way with him; left at any time thy adversary deliver thee to thee judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. Verily I say unto thee, thou shalt by no means come out thence till thou hast paid the uttermoft farthing. The laws of every nation protect the persons, goods, and reputation of every single subject that belongs to them, and will revenge the injured. If therefore I have been so wicked as to have done a wrong to my neighbour, my wiseft course is by a timely submission and repentance to restore him to this right, and prevent a suit at law, which will force

Q z


me to it otherwise at a great expence and trouble. And thus the present duty inculcated in this paragraph of our Saviour's sermon, is an instance amongst many others which might be produced, that true religion and true wisdom are inseparable; the precepts of Christianity being also principles of prudence, and providing as well for our peace and interest in this world, as for our eternal happiness in the next. But the argument which ought to weigh most with us, in engaging our practice of this or

, , any other christian duty, is the authority of our lawgiver Christ Jesus.

[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

Of CHASTITY, and of needless SE

PARATION after Marriage.

MATTH. V. 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32.
Te have heard that it hath been said by them

of old time, Thou shalt not commit adul

tery. But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh

on a woman to lust after her, hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out,

and casi it from thee ; for it is profitable for thee, that one of thy members should perish,


and not that thy whole body should be cast

into hell. And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off,

and cast it from thee; for it is profitable. for thee that one of thy members

. Mould per rish, and not that thy whole body should be

cast inte hell. It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away

his wife, let him give her a writing of di

vorcement. But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put,

away his wife, saving for the cause of for. nication, causeth her to commit adultery 3 and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced, committeth adultery.

[ocr errors]

ROM improving of the sixth, our Lord

here goes on to the seventh command-

ment, which he fortifies by some new
and necessary outworks; not only denies

us entrance into this city of Sodom, but guards us off from any near approach to it; extending purity to a more excellent latitude,reducing marriage to the strictness of its original institution, and putting a stop to the beginnings of adultery in this, as he had taken away the occasions of murder in the former; that a Christian may have all his appetites in due subjection, that he may be angry and sin not, that he may marry and not offend. This we may suppose to be the true meaning and design of this paragraph, as much as if our Saviour had express'd himself in the following manner.

“ The Law forbids adultery, and ye do not de-
it does fo; but beware left ye deceive your

Co selyes

[ocr errors]
« ForrigeFortsæt »