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vain for men to say that they forgive and do good to their own enemies, and only object to kindness shewn to the enemies of Christ : for how can the bitter persecutors of Christians be any other than the enemies of Christ? and did not all those professed Christians, who anathematized, imprisoned, enslaved, starved, burned, or massacred heretics (as they called them,) by tens of thousands, pretend that they were actuated by zeal for the honour of Christ, and against his enemies ? It is to no purpose to adduce a few passages from scripture to sanction such a spirit and conduct : an inspired writer might properly denounce vengeance on the inveterate enemies of God, and utter prophecies respecting them; but such exempt cases do not constitute our rule of conduct: for that must be regulated by the express precepts, and by the example of Christ as he was obedient to the law for us: nor may we follow even a prophet or apostle further than he followed his Lord.

Christian principles, therefore, will teach a man, as far as he is influenced by them, to recede from his right, for the sake of peace and love, in all things that consist with other duties, and to "fol“ low peace with all men, so as “to pursue after “it,” even when it flees from him. The consistent believer will especially aim to promote the peace of the church, and avoid whatever


disturb it. He will, “ if possible, live peaceably with all “ men,” and only deviate from this conduct when compelled to it by duty. He is also a peacemaker, as far as he has influence, both among his brethren and neighbours. He desires to be of one mind and judgment with all who love the Lord;

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and, if he must differ from them in sentiment, he would differ amicably and reluctantly ; for he “ endeavours to keep the unity of the Spirit in “ the bond of peace.” He would “ do all things “ without murmurings and disputings,” and nothing “ through strife and vain glory:" knowing that “ the servant of the Lord must not strive, “ but be gentle towards all men; in meekness “ instructing those that


themselves." He is aware that God alone can “give men repentance “ to the acknowledgment of the truth ;” and that revilings and bitter sarcasms are none of the means which he has instituted, and on which a blessing may be expected. His self-knowledge and experience forbid him to disdain or despair of others; and, so long as he deems it right to address himself to them at atl, he will do it with a hope and a prayer that they may yet be saved by the abounding grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The same principles influence the believer to cultivate an habitual forbearance, and a readiness to pass over and forgive the manifold little faults, mistakes, and petulances, which we must expect to meet with even in the best of men whilst they continue in this imperfect state: for he knows that he himself needs such reciprocal forbearance from them; and, without this mantle of " love covering “ the multitude of faults,” no peace can be expected in human society. He has been taught to bear without much concern those affronts, which proud men deem it a point of honour to resent, whatever consequences ensue: and, if he be ridiculed or reviled for his tameness, he remembers the meekness of Christ amidst the scorn and

cruelty of his enemies. His point of honour is, not to suffer himself to be overcome by any kind or degree of evil; but “to overcome evil with good,” and to subdue his own spirit: and his fortitude is shewn by facing dangers and enduring hardships in the cause and after the example of Christ. But, when he is conscious of having injured or affronted others, he readily submits to the most humiliating concessions or reparation for the sake of peace. His principles also teach him to avoid all irritating expressions, and to stifle every rising of resentment for injuries received; to fear harbouring a prejudice or grudge against any man; (for “anger resteth” only “in the bosom of a

fool;") to watch for opportunity of convincing an obstinate enemy that he bears him no ill will, but would gladly live amicably with him; and to forget, as far as he can, the hard treatment which he has met with, not liking to mention it or to hear others expatiate on it; and only recollecting it in order to pray for the injurious party. But, on the other hand, the same views will lead him to remember and to mention, when proper, the kindness shewn him : for they tend to cherish gratitude, not only to the Giver, but also to the instruments, of all our comforts.

I might enlarge on the candour in judging of men's motives, and of those actions that may admit of a more or less favourable construction, and the courteousness, affability, and affectionate behaviour, which Christian principles proportionably effect; but I must not at present proceed any further. The apostle's description of that charity or love, which is even greater than faith and hope,

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includes all that has been advanced, and much more than I am able to express. As a natural philosopher would define gold by its peculiar properties, which exist as really in a grain as in a talent; so he shews the nature of love itself, without regard to the quantity possessed by any individual. Charity suffereth long, and is kind;

charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself; “ is not puffed up; doth not behave itself un

seemly; seeketh not her own” interest, credit, ease, or indulgence; “is not easily provoked ; “thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but

rejoiceth in the truth ; beareth all things, be“ lieveth all things, hopeth all things, endureth “all things—Charity never faileth.” As far then as Christian principles prevail, peace, harmony, and comfort abound; and, were their influence universal, they would rectify the whole moral state of the world. What then shall we think of those who spend their lives in running them down, or representing them as of licentious tendency? What shall we say concerning those, who take occasion from the gospel to indulge their selfish, sensual, or malignant passions? Or to what shall we ascribe the improper conduct even of true Christians, but to their want of a fuller acquaintance with the tendency of their principles, and a more complete experience of their efficacy?

11 Cor. xiii.





Those dispositions, which a real belief of evangelical truths never 'fails to produce, will be especially manifested by a conscientious attention to the duties of the several relations which constitute human society, according to the precepts and exhortations of the holy scriptures. By this indeed the excellency of our principles is peculiarly displayed, and true holiness distinguished from all counterfeits.

Our natural propehsities are so diversified by constitution, education, habits, connexions, and pursuits, that they sometimes assume the appearance of things spiritually good : for instance, a courageous temper may be mistaken for Christian firmness and fortitude; and an indolent or yielding turn of mind may pass for Christian meekness, pliancy, and compassion. Yet the counterfeit is perfectly distinct from that holy temper which it apparently resembles ; and has very little effect on the general conduct, though it may be very conspicuous in a few detached instances : at the same time it unfits men for several parts of their duty; renders them peculiarly prone to sins which coincide with their natural propensity ; and leaves them even in their best actions regardless of the will and glory of God, and of the true happiness of mankind. Indeed, when the mind is in a measure in

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