Page images

will forgive us : our prayers will find acceptance at the throne of grace: the hands that are undefiled with cruelty and revenge may be lifted



mercy; while the unfeeling sinner, who has been implacable toward his fellow servants, shall in vain apply to God for that pardon which he knew not how to grant.

But farther; as we are to forgive the faults of others, we are to be careful not to commit any act of injustice ourselves. Receit, and oppression, and fraud, are the declared enemies of peace : and indeed, much of the confusion we see in the world arises from the evil designs of those, who scruple not to advance their own worldly interest by undermining and defrauding their neighbours. These are the arts of the sons of Mammon, which deserve to be avoided and abhorred by every sincere disciple of Jesus Christ. . Pride, as I have before observed, is the great disturber of the world; but it becomes worst of all when it is joined with covetousness. The man who would appear to be every thing, when he is nothing, only makes himself ridiculous: but when he would not only be every thing, but have every thing, he becomes a torment to himself, and a nuisance to his neighbours.

It appears then, that the virtues of humility, patience and justice, are naturally productive of peace : and they will generally be found to answer the purpóse, I say generally ; for the apostle hath expressed himself as if the success would be doubtful in some

Some natures are so savage and untractable, that it is impossible to live at peace with them. There ever were and will be those, who are enemies unto peace; who like wolves and tygers will always be growling; and delight more in strife, than in brotherly love and quietness.' There is a sort of men in the world (God forbid there should be many of them) who measure their wit by their wealth, and their greatness by their ability to do mischief: who think they make no figure in life, but so far as they are troublesome to other people. The royal Psalmist, addressing himself to one of this stamp, gives to every malicious person such an odious character of himself as he would detest and fly from, if he had the grace to see and understand it.--" Why boastest " thou thyself, thou tyrant, that thou canst do mis" chief? Whereas the goodness of God endureth yet


daily.” The greatness of God is measured by his goodness: his power is exercised in communicating light, and comfort; he openeth his hand, and the whole creation partakes of his bounty. Being perfect in love and beneficence, he is therefore perfect in greatness. But look on the other hand, and you will. find that mischief distinguishes the power of Satan : his greatness consists wholly in crossing the merciful plan of redemption, and counteracting the divine benevolence: the propagation of discord and disorder is necessary to the keeping up of his grandeur, and to the increase of his kingdom. They who follow such methods of making themselves considerable, may know of whom they have learned them, and with whom they will associate, when God shall cast out of his kingdom all things that offend. Different men have different talents, and may be appointed to different ends. Some may be ordained to try the patience of others, and thereby promote the glory of God without intending it, as toads, vipers, and vermin are answering some good purpose in the natural creation; and we ought rather to adore the wisdom which hath made them, and to give thanks that there

are such, than be offended with the Providence which permits them to live. What account can we give of such a perverse disposition, but this ; that they who are thus at enmity with mankind are first at enmity with God. The wicked man, having quarrelled with God and his own conscience, is not able to agree with any body else. As there is no peace to the wicked, there is none to be found with them. They are troubled with that distemper of the mind, which blackens every object they look upon, and renders them discontented, implacable, and unmerciful. So that to sum up all I have said in a few words, be good Christians, be at peace with God and your own hearts, and then you will be at peace with all the world.

The rules I have laid down, if men did but follow them, would almost make an heaven upon earth. Every one might then sit undisturbed under his vine and under his fig-tree, in a quiet possession of his own rights. The helpless traveller need not then be afraid of those who lie in wait to plunder and destroy. The man who endeavours to deal justly and uprightly, would be secure in his property and his reputation: there would be no decay, no leading into captivity, and no complaining in our streets. Happy would the people be who were in such a case! but this is a state we can never hope to attain in this life. So long as there is ambition, extortion, and luxury above us; poverty, idleness, profaneness, and dishonesty below us, no perfect peace is to be enjoyed. But let not these things discourage us: our good endeavours, with the blessing of God, will be sure to succeed in a great measure: and if they should not answer our wishes, here, we shall certainly be the better for them hereafter, Blessed are the peacemakers, saith our Lord, for they shall be called the children of God. He that came down from heaven to promote the great work of peace, will own those as children to God, and brethren to himself, who have been encouraged to follow his example.

Grace and peace, saith St. Peter, be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of our Lord Jesus Christ : teaching us in these words, that peace will be multiplied among us, through the knowledge of God and of our Lord Jesus Christ : whose word informs us, that we are all brethren descended from the same Father, and have one faith and one Redeemer; we are all fellow-travellers upon the same road to a better world, and ought not to fall out one with another by the way. And here, who can help lamenting, that religion, which ought to unite men, should ever be the means of dividing them; that the bond of peace should ever become the instrument of discord. It is to be wished, that we were all of the same profession; that with one mind and one mouth we might glorify God. But as this can never be, it is the part of the peaceable man to find out and esteem what is valuable in all professions, and what may serve in a certain degree as a bond of peace to all. If then there be any man who worships Jesus Christ as God, and depends upon him as his Saviour, and loves the wisdom of Scripture, aud sees the vanity of the world, every sincere Christian is a friend to that man. As to the errors there may be in his profession, he has another master to whom he is accountable for them; and it is wiser to lament them with compassion, than to reprove them with bitterness; for that very seldom does any good. Any persons whatsoever, who are seriously disposed to religion, and of a peaceable temper, may find something to agree in, some seat to sit down upon together, if they have but the patience to look for it: and how much better is it for them so to do, than to make sport for unbelievers by their jealousies and disputes. Let us then resolve to follow the Apostle's advice, and do all that lieth in us to live peaceably with all теп,

for the sake of that present comfort and edification which peace brings with it, and the glorious reward that shall crown it at last. For though we are not able to attain to perfect peace in this disorderly world, they who labour after it shall at length find it, in that holy and heavenly Jerusalem, which will be built as a city that is at unity in itself : peace shall be within her walls, and plenteousness within her palaces. Then shall the flock of God's pasture be unmolested in the land of righteousness; and shall enjoy that perfect rest which remaineth for the people of God, under the direction of that shepherd, who is the king of righteousness and of peace.

« EelmineJätka »