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very account, it might poffibly be repeated) than to
enter into a hazardous and fevere profecution of the
offender; fince, in a chriftian light, this might in-
flame the paffions of revenge, and the defire of re-
turning evil for evil. Even in a prudent light, it
might be safer to defift; fince it might coft more
to get justice, than any satisfaction for such an injury
would be worth. And our Bleffed Lord knew well,
that those to whom he was difcourfing would un-
derstand the force of his expreffion, because it is
written in the book of their prophet, (Ifaiah 1. 6.)
I gave my back to the fmiters, and my cheeks to them
that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame
and Spitting. Again, in Lamentations iii. 30. He
giveth his cheek to him that fmiteth him; expreffions
indicating the utmost degree of MEEKNESS; and ab-
folutely prophetic of the Meffiah's own conduct. As to
the fecond paffage, that if any one will, (that is, is de-
termined) to fue thee at law, and to take away thy coat,
or under garment, (or as it may be interpreted, will
enter into a fuit with thee, for a trifle) let him have
thy cloke alfo, or a still more useful or valuable part
of thy drefs. Herein again, a leffon of mere pru-
dence is ftrongly enforced upon chriftian, principle.
Not that it would be unlawful, or wicked, to go to
law in defence of our rights; but that the lofs of
two fuch trifles, would be very inconfiderable, in
comparison of those vexatious fnares and expences,
which would probably attend the charge of the
fuit. We must take notice likewife, that our Sa-
vior is here training young converts to chriftianity,
and warning them from involving themselves in
difputes, wherein their enemies would probably
have the advantage, from fuperiority of power.
Further, Let not thy left-hand know what thy right-
hand doth, is plainly a proverbial expreffion of ftri&
care to keep an action from being too publicly
known. It does not mean, that we are on no ac-
count to let men fee or know of our good works, by



which our Heavenly Father is glorified, in giving us the heart to perform them; it only intimates, that boasting of our virtuous deeds, takes off from the value of them, fince by fo doing, we feem to flight the principle of faith in God's knowledge, who, as he feeth in fecret, will reward us openly; and it would be the excefs of abfurdity, to receive it in any other fenfe, because our Savior declares, that by their fruits, his truly faithful fervants can only be known. In regard to cutting off, or getting. rid of those limbs, or organs of fenfe, that are faid to be inftruments of offence, that is, occafions of our falling into any particular fins, a perfon must be void of common fenfe, to fuppofe the words to be taken literally, because fin being feated in the heart, the maiming or blinding ourselves would not effectually promote the cure. They must therefore be admitted as ftrong figurative expreffions only; to reprefent the necefity of parting with any darling luft or paffion, though as dear to us as a right-hand or right-eye, (which are in general productive of the most accurate fervice) rather than by the indulgence of forbidden pleafures, to forfeit the happinefs of our fouls. And the comparison is natural, ftrong and beautiful; for it fhews it to be as absolutely expedient, to mortify all the inclinations of finful nature, as it is to part with a disordered member, to prevent the death of the whole body: indeed it is as much more fo, as the foul is the most valuable part of man, and to last for ever*. As to the

And as being particularly fpoken to the people of that day, when chriftianity had fo many foes, we may ufefully interpret it in this fenfe likewife: that though our friends and kinsfolk be naturally as dear to us, as right-hands and right-eyes (being members, in a manner, of the fame body) and fo valuable to us, in the various effential happiness of life, yet if we are in danger of being weaned by them from God, and the profeffion of our faith in Chrift, that is, if one or the other inuft neceffarily be given up; if they are nemies to the cause which alone can refcue us from the powers of


the paffage from St. Paul, it is a moft lively transcript of the Master's own fpirit, teaching us to avoid all manner of revenge, and to fhew every poffible degree of love towards our very enemies; but by no means compelling us to that fort of affection towards them, which a virtuous conduct in others demands from us, for that would be inconfiftent with pious principle, which cannot poffibly entertain the fame regard for a bad action, as a good one; but it only recommends fuch an inward benevolence, and outward beneficence, as the neceffities of a fellow creature may require. Further, it is not, therefore, reasonable to fuppofe, that while the Apostle advises so much pofitive kindness, he would encourage a private with of its producing greater mischief; therefore, by keaping coals of fire on them, we may conclude he means to exprefs figuratively the power of a forgiving, charitable temper, which is capable, by fuch unexpected and generous conduct, of melting our enemy into repentance, and a better frame of mind. He fuppofes by fuch treatment, that he will be fo fenfibly touched, that he will no more be able to ftand out against this noble conduct, than to bear on his head burning coals, without feeling the effect of them. Whatever other interpretation these words may bear, it can never be allowed, in a contradictory fenfe, to the pure fpirit of the gospel: and as it is very certain, many an enemy has been gained by this god-likę behavior, it is profitable to chriftians to give it this conftruction. These particular paffages are purposely enlarged upon, to fhew you what little foundation

darkness, we ought to renounce them all, rather than hazard our own fouls; for whofe loveth father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me (faith the Mafter); thefe words prove the value of this interpretation: but we must remember at the fame time, that thefe words were spoken only of those who were enemies to the cross of Chrift, and the doctrine he delivered, and that they by no means difcourage a natural affection, and incumbent duty towards our friends and relations.

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there is in reafon, for any objection to them, and that you may thereby form a judgment of any other difficulties or exceptions that profane critics fhall prefume to advance, which, depend upon it, are equally eafy to be defended.


All perfons who really defire to profit by the study of God's word, must restrain the carnal mind from dwelling too much upon the outward letter; and by applying with humility, endeavor to find out the inward meaning. Human criticism, and modern elegance, must give place to the dictates of God's Holy Spirit. The divine judgment cannot We mult, therefore, be cautious not to oppofe the fentiments of our own narrow wisdom, but always keep in mind, that however uncouthly the terms of fcripture may found, in fome particular relations, the only poffible fault muft be in the tranflation, or the times. We must always recollect, that it is the word of the Moft High; and was doubtlefs fuited to the capacity, manners, and profit of the different periods of time, when the different prophets wrote it. The facred reverence paid to it in their times, by wife and holy men, prove that no fuch objections then exifted, as modern infidels have. vainly and rafhly raised. We must remember, that the love of God, by whofe word all things in heaven and earth are created, governed, and preferved, hath provided it, the God of gods, and Lord of lords, the Invifible, Almighty, Eternal and only God, he hath spoken it. Nothing but truth can proceed from the fource of all truth. Nothing but wifdom can flow from the fountain of all knowledge. However, therefore, (through want of grace) the fons of men may weakly conceive, or profanely talk of God's moft holy word, let us fubmit to be directed, according as his goodnefs has permitted the inftruction to defcend to us; and that we may escape the fnare that is fpead for us, in listening to our own imaginations, we fhall do well to attend


to the prophet David's character of the happy man, in the Ift Pfalm; it is extremely applicable to the prefent fubject, both in the light of caution and encouragement: Bleffed is the man who has not walked in the counfel of the ungodly, nor food in the way of finners, and hath not fat in the feat of the fcornful: From this text the Pfalmift plainly points out three dangerous characters he would have us avoid, if we would fecure the bleffings of a peaceful confcience, and the favour of our God. Now under these three characters we have a full defcription of all manner of wickedness, and offences against God. By the ungodly, we are to understand all fuch as have no fixed rule of faith, who are not governed by the influence of a holy love and fear of the Almighty, but who act according to the maxims of this world, whofe chief ftudy is to accomplish their temporal defigns, who facrifice to the pleasures of fenfe, and the pride of life, without making God and heaven the objects of their thoughts. By finners, in a degree worse than thefe, the prophet does not mean fuch as fall through ignorance, weakness of nature, or furprize of temptation, for who then could be bleffed? who, Chrift excepted, ever lived upon earth without fin? Even the juft man is faid, by way of comparifon, to fall feven times, and to rife again, Prov. xxiv. 16 and as St. John affirms, If we fay that we have no fin, we deceive ourfelves, and the truth is not in us; but though the righteous may fall (in that all flesh is frail), yet they walk not in wilful and malicious wickedness!: they do not continue in fin, they do not delight in it, they do not perfevere, like the thoughtless and unenlightened finner, in adding fin to fin, without any fear of God's just punishment; but rifing higher in the ufe of every future degree of caution, from every accidental or fudden fall, through the power of God's grace and infinite mercy, they gain ground of their infirmities, and are enabled to



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