Page images

ers, saying, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do;" Luk. xxiii. 34; and he gave his life a ransom for the race which so cruelly treated him, and some of his very murderers were saved by the efficacy of the blood which they shed. This argument is used by the apostle Peter. "Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:-who when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judg eth righteously;" 1 Pet. ii. 21, 23. Would we then follow the example of Christ, which it is our duty to imitate; we must avoid the indulgence of all those passions which have been mentioned, and be long-suffering, kind, and compassionate, forgive one another, and live in love. Especially is this incumbent on professed christians, who avowedly take Christ as their pattern.

3. The example of the saints afford an argument against the indulgence of these passions. For we are exhorted to "be followers of them who through faith and patience, inherit the promises;" Heb. vi. 12. Joseph, instead of hating his brethren, though they provoked his hatred; and instead of revenging himself upon them, though he had them fully in his power, returned good for evil. Stephen, when his enemies were stoning him to death, kneeled down and prayed, "Lord, lay not this sin to their charge;" Acts. vii. 60. And Paul speaking of himself and his fellow apostles said, "being reviled, we bless; being persecuted we suffer it; being defamed, we entreat;” 1 Cor. iv. 12, 13. The same temper and conduct have been manifested, in the different ages of the church, by those of whom the world was not worthy, and who were persecu ted even unto death.

4. Another argument against the indulgence of these passions, is, that we have done much to offend God, and yet we hope for his forgiveness and love. Shall we, for every trifle, be angry with our fellow creatures, and seek their hurt, when God is so patient and long-suffering towards us? Can it be right to exercise hatred towards our brother, when we expect the Lord to exercise infinite love towards us? Is it not unreasonable, that we should be unmerciful and refuse to be kind and compassionate to our brother, when we are continually dependent on the merсу of God for every breath, every comfort of life, and

all our hopes of future salvation? Is it not manifestly wrong that we should thirst for vengeance upon those, whom we suppose to have injured us, when we deserve every moment to have the vengeance of God fall upon us for our sins, and yet it is withheld? Must it not be very wicked, to refuse to be reconciled to those with whom we are at variance, when God is willing to be reconciled unto us, who are altogether the offending party, and gave his Son to die to render a reconciliation consistent with his perfections, and condescends to beseech us to be reconciled? And must it not be exceedingly offensive to God, that we should refuse to forgive our brother who hath trespassed against us; when we have so much need of forgiveness from God, and when we have so much more to be forgiven than we can forgive? Our brother's offences against us, be they ever so great, bear a far smaller proportion to our offences against God, than the hundred pence to the ten thousand talents in the parable. And has our Lord forgiven, or do we hope he will forgive us, the ten thousand talents which we owe him; and shall we refuse to forgive our brother the hundred pence which he may owe us? Surely our situation with respect to God, and what we need and hope for from him, most forcibly teach us the duty of exercising a similar temper towards our brethren of mankind.

5. The Scriptures abundantly teach that the indulgence of these passions is wrong, and that men ought to maintain an opposite temper and conduct. They inculcate love, kindness, gentleness, peace, reconciliation, and forgiveness of injuries; as in the following texts among others, John xiii. 34. "A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another." John xv. 12; "This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you." John xv. 17; "These things I command you, that ye love one another." 1 John iv. 21; "This commandment have we from him that he who loveth God, love his brother also. Rom. xii. 10, 14, 17, 18, 19, 21; "Be kindly affectioned one to another; with brotherly love. Bless them which persecute you: bless and curse not. Recompense to no man evil for evil. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath. Be not over

come of evil, but overcome evil with good." Eph. iv. 1, 2, 3, 32; "I beseech you, that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called; with all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavouring to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace. Be ye kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you." Col. iii. 12, 13; "Put on therefore (as the elect of God holy and beloved) bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye." Mat. v. 23, 24; If thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee, leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way, first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift." Mat xviii. 21, 22; "Then came Peter to him and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee until seven times; but, until seventy times seven." And Mat. v. 44; "I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you, and persecute you." In these, and many other texts we are taught that it is our duty to exercise love, compassion, gentleness, kindness, and longsuffering; to live in peace; to forgive those who have of fended us; and to be reconciled to those with whom we may be at variance. And in these are doubtless clearly implied, a prohibition to indulge the contrary passions of anger, hatred, and the like.


clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice." Col. iii. 8; "Put off all these, anger, wrath, malice." Thus God has expressly and repeatedly in his word, forbidden the indulgence of these passions; and if we regard the authority of God we will guard against it, and habitually maintain the contrary temper. The texts of Scripture on this subject are very numerous; and I have been the more particular in quoting a considerable number of them, because even professing christians are prone to transgress in this respect.

6. I mention one other argument to dissuade from the indulgence of these passions; and that is, that they who live in them or habitually indulge them cannot be the people of God but are children of wrath. The word of God excludes them from the kingdom of heaven, and consigns them to eternal perdition. That such persons cannot enter heaven, appears from the very nature of things. Heaven is a place of perfect harmony and love. They therefore who are filled with anger, hatred, malice, or revenge, or who habitually indulge an unforgiving temper, certainly are entirely unfit for admission into heaven. But the Scriptures are express on this subject, and as decidedly exclude such persons from the kingdom of God, as they do the habitual drunkard, liar, profane swearer, and such like sinners. The Scriptures frequently teach that the exercise of the opposite temper of love, &c. is essential to the christian character. Thus we read, John xiii. 35.

By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." Gal. v. 22, 23. "The fruit of the Spirit is love, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, meekess." Jam. iii. 17. "The wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits." 1 John ii. 10. "He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him." 1. John iii. 14. We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren." 1 John iv. 7. "Beloved, let us love one another; for love is of God: and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God." And 1 John v. 1. "Every one that loveth him that begat, loveth him also that is begotten of him." Hence we learn that love towards our brethren is an essential trait of the christian character; and therefore they who are desti

tute of this love, and much more they who indulge the contrary temper, cannot be christians. And the Scriptures not only by consequence teach this, but also most explicitly and directly declare it. Thus we read in our text, "Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer; and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him." Of the same import are the following texts in the same Epistle. 1 John ii. 9. 11. "He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now. He that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness." 1 John iii. 10, 14. "In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil; whosoever doth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death," And 1 John iv. 8, 20. He that loveth not knoweth not God. If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen." Gal. v. 20, 21. The Apostle enumerates the works of the flesh, and includes in the catalogue, "hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, and strife;" and adds, "Of the which, I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God." And Jam. iii. 14, 15, 16. We read, "If ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not and lie not against the truth.This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work."

And as habitual hatred excludes from the kingdom of heaven, so also does an unforgiving temper. In the Lord's prayer Christ teacheth us to offer up this petition-"Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors." Mat. vi. 12. Here we are evidently taught to expect forgiveness, only as we forgive; and every time we say the Lord's prayer, while there are any whom we have not from the heart forgiven, we do virtually pray for our own destruction. Again our Saviour has expressly declared, Mat. vi. 15. "If ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your father forgive your trespasses." And Mark xi. 25. "When ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have aught against any that your father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive,


« PreviousContinue »