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minently appears in, Forgiveness of Sin? (For He is said to be Merciful and gracious, Now to
Anger, and abundant in Goodness, reserving Mercy for Thousands, and forgiving Iniquity, Transgression, and Sin.) Can we look back upon the old World, and consider how long his Spirit strove with Man, stopping the Course of Vengeance, as long as it wou'd stand with the Honour of his Justice to forbear? Can we recall the many and great Provocations the Israelites gave Him in the Wilderness, and that He notwithstanding bore with them fourty Years? Can we turn our Thoughts upon our own daily presumptuous Sins, and at the same Time upon God's waiting, that He may have Mercy? Can we reflect upon that infinite Distance between Him and us, and his Readiness to remit all that we have done in open Defiance almost of his Divine Majesty ? Can we think of that inestimable Benefit, the Redemption of Mankind, that stupendous Way of reconciling us to Himself by the precious Blood of his only begotten Son, who gave us so eminent a Pattern of Meekness, Patience, and Long-Suffering; Whom not the greatest Agonies, not the most bitter, and ignominious Death cou'd divert from being sollicitous, and praying for, not only those who brought, but even inficted the Punishment, he
underwent, upon Him? Can we call to Mind . all this, and not forgive one another light Of-:. fences ?
One of the best Reasons we can give for the Resistance of Evil is, that it is the readiest Way to prevent it. — But if God Thou'd take this Course, and not call back his Anger, but stir up all his Wrath; if He, to put a Stop to the Growth of Sin, shou'd immediately cut off a Sinner, our Destruction wou'd be as well very fudden, and general, as very deplorable. For we all, by the Corruption of our Nature, aggravated by the most insolent Presumption of daily repeated Sins, have so far offended Him, that if He shou'd be extreme to mark all that is done amiss, we must be of all Creatures living most miserable. But we find, that even those, who presume most on his Kindness, and seem to make his Mercy, which shou'd lead them to Repentance, the Occasion of their finning; even Those, 'who sin the more because his Grace abounds, God, who is flow to Anger, and of great Goodness, is pleased to bear with, as long as it is consistent with his Justice.
Let us therefore strive to be like God, who when He descended in the Cloud, pass'd before Moses, and proclaim'd his Name, made use of Words to represent Himself, not expressive of
Majesty, Dominion, and Power, [Such as, Who stretched out the Heavens like a Curtain, who layeth the Beams of his Chambers in the Waters, who maketh the Clouds his Chariot, who walketh upon the Wings of the Wind, who maketh bis Angels Spirits, and his Ministers a flaming Fire, and the like ;] but Mercy and Tenderness, [The Lord, the Lord God, Merciful and Gracious &c.
And here it may be observ'd, and it will be, I believe, generally acknowledg’d, that a generous Clemency, so far as is consistent with the publick Good, is a most amiable, and commendable Quality in God's Delegates here on Earth; in Those, who are entrusted with the Administration of the Laws, and who imitate the Lenity of them, by allowing even to great Offenders the Sanctuary, and Protection due to Innocence, till evident Proof, and absolute Necessity shall extort the Sentence of Condemnation.
And let it be the Praise, and Glory of us all to be ready to forgive one another, as God for Christ's Sake forgave us. For there can be no surer Pledge to our Souls, that our Sins are forgiven by God, than that Readiness, which we find in ourselves, to remit those that have injur'd us. If we forgive Men their Trespasses, our Heavenly Father will also forgive us. a Mat. 6. 14.
Says the Son of Syrac: • One Man beareth Hatred against another, and doth He seek Pardon from the Lord? He neweth no Mercy to a Man, who is like Himself, and doth be ask Forgiveness for his own Sins ? If He that is but Flesh, nourisheth Hatred, who will intreat for Pardon of His Sins ? - Unless therefore we, who stand in so much Need of a favourable, will make the rigourous Judgment our Choice; or unless we can be so extravagantly presumptuous, as to think of finding Mercy, when we have shewn none, let us not resist Evil, when Forbearance is more becoming, and wou'd, as in many Cases it wou'd, be a more effectual Remedy. - And this I shall urge as · Another Motive sufficient, one wou'd think, if we had not so great a Pattern to copy after, to prevail upon us to observe the Duty enjoin'd.
Oftentimes the Malice of an Enemy, which is by Resistance more enflam'd, is by Meekness afswag’d. - This, I know, is quite contrary to the Sense of Men, who are unable to moderate their Passions, or preserve their Temper. They place their Security in, what gives them present Satisfaction, Revenge. Which only makes their Safety so much the less, the more it increases their Enemy's Fear ; for this stirs up the Fire, a Eccluf. 28.
which, in all Probability, wou'd otherwise have been extinguish'd. — But we find the opposite Effects of Patience, or Forbearance; which always lefsens the Contention, and either makes a Friend, or puts the Enemy to Shame. So much Good-Nature, and Benevolence is there in the most considerable Part of Mankind, that they are backward in oppressing those that are ready to suffer; or give Ground for Complaints to such as are unwilling to make any. So much Force and Prevalence there is in Compliance, that every one, who has not entirely shaken off his Humanity, must surely be wrought upon by it. This can scarce fail to influence the worst Difposition, and soften the hardest Temper.
So that we perceive this Virtue, which, many perswade themselves, most subjects Men to Contempt and Affronts, is most likely to prove their greatest Defence. Which we shou'd be perhaps more fully convinc'd of, if we wou'd let this Consideration go along with us; That it is the Fear of the injur'd Party's Resentments, which commonly induceth the Injurers to pursue their Hatred. But when Those are willing to forget the Affronts, that have been put upon them, These can hardly be so ungenerous as to repeat them.
Yet it has been made an Observation, and perhaps justly, that though the Injured forgive,