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for another thing. For when we confider what we ourselves owe to God, how much we are beholden to him and how much we depend upon his grace; and when we think upon ourselves as chriftians, as relieved by Christ, and what thereby we are enjoined by our Saviour towards our brethren; then (I say) it will not become us to appear in the defence of strict right, where equity is on the other fide; without moderation, clemency, compaffion and dealing with our brethren as we ourselves are dealt withal by God. And when we fhall thus confider, we shall find it neceffary to abate of that which we call our due. It is this that the apoftle chargeth upon us in the 5th verfe of this chapter, where the word that is tranflated moderation (let your moderation be known to all men) is let your equity, your candor, your ingenuity, your fair dealing, your giving allowance to all things confiderable in a cafe; let this be known. And I am fure if we do not thus ufe this fairness and candor, but ftand upon ftrict right, and upon the utmoft terms that poffibly we may demand; we not only depart from the nobleness and ingenuity of a gospel-fpirit, but we take a course that a cancelled obligation may return upon us. And upon this confideration I offer to you the cafe in the xviiith of Matthew, from the 23d to the 35th verfe; where you have a parable of a lord that had forgiven to his fervant a debt; this man hath a fellow-fervant that was indebted to him, he falls upon his debtor with violence, uses extremity, and will abate nothing, not remembring what his lord had forgiven him but his lord calls him to an account and was wroth with him, and delivered him
to the tormenters till he should pay all that he was due unto him. Our Saviour meant thus: we ourselves are greatly indebted to God, we pray for pardon and forgiveness and for grace, and we do obtain it; and God doth expect that we should express the sense thereof, by dealing with others tenderly and compaffionately; if we do not, we provoke God to deliver us over to punishment: So likewife shall my heavenly father do alfo unto you, if you from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trefpaffes. Let a man therefore take heed; for fins that were in a fair tendency toward forgiveness, may return upon a man by his extremity. I am fure we expect other meafure from God in all our deprecations. Pfalms cxxx. 4. there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayft be feared. And the ciii. Pfalm hath many verfes together, highly to be valued and confidered by us all. It begins at the 8th verfe; the lord is merciful and gracious, flow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. ver. 9. he will not always chide, neither will he keep his anger for ever. ver. 10. He hath not dealt with us after our fins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquity. ver. 11. For as the heaven is high above the earth, fo great is his mercy towards them that fear him. ver. 12. As far as the eaft is from the west, so far hath he removed our tranfgreffions from us. ver. 13. Like as a father pitieth his children, fo the Lord pitieth them that fear him. ver. 14. For be knoweth our frame, he remembreth that we are duft. ver. 15. As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, fo he flourisheth. ver. 16. For the wind paffeth over it, and it is gone, and the place thereof shall know it no more. ver. 17. But the mercy
of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteoufnefs unto childrens children, &c. It is not poffible that any man should read this fcripture and confider it, and reflect upon himfelf and think how much it is his own cafe, how much he is indebted to God; but he must needs think himself obliged to all acts of clemency, of forbearance and forgiveness, all pity and compaffion; for thus God is to all finners, and we are all finners before him; and can we expect this from God, and exprefs ourselves quite contrary towards our fellowcreatures? In Dan. ix. 16. Daniel prayeth; O Lord, according to all thy righteoufnefs, I beseech thee let thine. anger and thy fury be turned away, &c. Obferve how the feptuagint glofles upon these words, according to all thy righteousness; thus the feptuagint, according to thy benignity, clemency and compaffion. God's righteoufness we expect in such a conjunction, Psalm li. 1. Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness, according to the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my tranfgreffions. Nehemiah ix. 32. Now therefore our God, the great, the mighty, and the terrible God, who keepeth covenant and mercy. So that he is very little mindful of the weakness and infirmity of human nature, who is not moved to bowels of pity and compaffion, and fair and equal confideration : he doth not confider how much he is engaged to God, nor doth he confider the infirmities of human nature, that doth not afford fair allowance. Pfalm cxlv. 7. Men fhall abundantly utter the memory of thy great goodness, and shall fing of thy righteousness. verle 8. The Lord is gracious, and full of compaffion, flow to anger, and
and of great mercy, verfe 9. The Lord is good to all; and his tender mercies are over all his works. I have faid enough to engage all men to measure strict right by that which we call ingenuous, noble, equal, fair. Let us afford one another the measure that we our felves depend upon and expect from divine goodness, or we are undone for ever.
Now to speak to my argument. Two things lie before me to fhow you.
1. The rule and measure of just and equal.
2. The difference between thefe two, what is just, and what is equal. There is that which may be called just and right; of which if a man will abate nothing, the law will allow it; it may be done and an- . other cannot hinder it, nor none can call him an unrighteous perfon if he will have it. And there is that which is equal and fit and good to be done, and which becomes a good man to do. This diftinction * you have in Rom. v. 7. where the apoftle calls one a righteous man, and another a good man: for fcarcely for a righteous man will one die, yet peradventure for a good man fome will even dare to die. The righteous man is a man of ftrict right, he will do no wrong, but he hath hardly that largeness of spirit to do good,. he will do nothing but what the law will admit, that which another can neither hinder it nor call him in queftion for doing it but the other, the good man, he will do that which is equal and fit; he will abate of ftrict right, he is willing to do courtefies, to perform all mutual good offices: for this good man, (he is fo lovely a perfon, fo highly valuable,) a man would even venture his own life to fave this goodi A 3
man's life, he is so beneficial to his neighbours.
1. That is juft, which may be done; and if it be, no wrong is then done. And,
2. That is juft, that must be done, and ought to be done. Or in fhort thus: there is, just if it be; and just, that it must be.
I will make improvement of this diftinction; for this diftinction will give a well-meaning-man relief about the justice of God, which we dread to think. of, because we ourselves are obnoxious and liable: we are wont to lay, it is just with God to punish fins; I will grant 'tis true in the one sense, but I hope not in the fecond it is juft with God to punifh fin; wherever he thinks fit to punish a finner, he doth that which is juft. Nehemiah ix. 33. Howbeit thou art juft in all that is brought upon us; for thou hast done right, but we have done wickedly. But I will not fay, just that it must be done; then were we all undone, and our repentance and faith in vain ; and if God then use patience and forgiveness upon repentance or upon any other terms, then God in pardoning is not true to his justice. So it is juft with God to punish finners, where God thinks fit to inflict it; and no body can fay any thing to the contrary: but thanks be to God, not just in the latter fenfe, that God is bound to it, that he ought to do it, that he must do it. Now, that it is not just with God to punish fin in this latter fenfe, is, because God is Lord and mafter of his own right, and he may depart from his right if he pleafes. For thus I will ftate the case we are all