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thrown around us, which blunts or turns aside the shafts of prejudice and unkindness.
To more considerable faults, however, we are to oppose LONG-SUFFERING, which differs from the former grace chiefly as it may seem to regard continued and more harassing infirmities, or even injuries done us by others. Meekness bears with the daily and ordinary mistakes of those around us; long-suffering endures protracted and heavier evits. It is
espe cially when we are before the eyes of others and have the hope of speedy relief, to meet a short and occasional inconvenience with a Christian temper. But a long and unremitted annoyance, something that crosses our turn of mind or interferes with our plans, that presses hard upon us, that wounds us in the most tender part, that seems to us to be the most grievous and painful occurrence possible; this is often a rigorous trial of religious principle. To exercise long-suffering on such an occasion, to view the hand of God in the permission of it, to pray for the right use of it in extinguishing our undue love of the world and confirming our disposition of submissive obedience to the will of God, is a triumph of divine grace and an indication of a Christian mind.
But the servant of God may at times have to encounter wicked and contumelious persons, and then the preceding principle of lowliness
of spirit must appear in the FORGIVENESS OF INJURIES, which may be considered as including the spirit of the remaining duties of our text, forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any. Where the fault committed against us is not outrageous, we must exercise forbearance; where it has proceeded to an open breach, we must endeavour to repair the evil by forgiveness.
FORBEARANCE is the act of enduring to the utmost the provocations which we may suffer in word or deed. It appears to relate to troubles and difficulties more considerable and bitter than those which are strictly within the reach of meekness and long-suffering. When we are assailed by such greater injuries, we are not immediately to rise to punish the offender, but we must try in the first instance, to conquer him by lenity, and to bring him back to a reasonable mind by kindness. We must avoid a hasty judgment and an irritated temper. We must hope all things. We must show that the offence does not throw us off our guard, and vex and fret our minds; we must proceed to remedial measures, and rather err on the side of delay, than on that of precipitation. Ye have heard, said our Saviour, that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth. But I say unto you, resist not evil; but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to hin
the other also. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good. He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.
It is, however, possible that our duty to God may forbid our any longer forbearing another ; the injury may occasion an open breach of friendship, and we may be reluctantly compelled to appeal to the protecting arm of authority. We are then called to the exercise of FORGIVENESS, forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any. More is contained in this than in the former. For a man may possibly bear an injury because he cannot revenge it, or because he judges it to be inexpedient to do so, though the desire of revenge may still rankle in his heart. The Apostle, therefore, commands us, not only to endure injuries, but also to eradicate the very desire of revenge from the mind, to love the offender, and to act towards him as if the fault had never been committed. Lawful methods of obtaining security against malicious persons, and of guarding against their assaults, are, indeed, allowed to us.
But the disposition to forget and forgive the provocation, however great, and to testify that forgiveness in every way not inconsistent with other duties, is an indispensable command. We are constantly to pray, Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us. After delivering
the striking parable of the ten thousand talents and the punishment inflicted on the unrelenting servant, our Lord adds, So likewise shall my heavenly Father do unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their. trespassess.
The expression, Forgiving one another, implies that we are all in danger of committing injuries against our neighbour, and that therefore we should exercise that pardon to others which each needs himself by turns : whilst the indefinite statement, if any man have a quarrel against any, seems designed to guard against those evasions by which we endeavour to elude the real force of the duty. All is here put universally. If any man, whoever he may be, whether a relation or a stranger, a superior or inferior-have a quarrel, any cause of complaint on account of an injury done, or supposed to be done, in word or deed-against any, in whatever connexion, or under whatever circumstances he
It is impossible to escape these general and comprehensive terms. Forgiveness of injuries is a fundamenta! grace of the Christian character, froin the obligation of which nothing whatever can release us.
Are, then, these things so: Does the statement we have been making describe the temper of a Christian. Must he be tender, meek, forgiving ; must he be distinguished by compassion when
he meets with afflictions, by lowliness of spirit, when he is assailed by inconveniencies, and by a readiness to forgive when he suffers injuries ; must he put on these lovely virtues and appear clad in them continually; must be mortify the natural unkindness, pride, and love of revenge which brood in his heart; and must all this be done habitually and towards all persons ? Then, what motives can be proposed sufficient for such a series of duties; of duties so opposite to the corrupt bias of his nature :
This leads me to consider,
II. THE CHRISTIAN MOTIVES BY WHICH THE APOSTLE ENFORCES THESE VIRTUES.
The motives are three: our Christian profession, the love of God, and the forgiving mercy of Christ.
THEIR CHRISTIAN PROFESSION is a motive which the Apostle urges on the Colossians, in the first words of the text, Put on, THEREFORE. This has the force of an inference. The Apostle had been speaking of Christians being risen with Christ, of their setting their affection on things above, of their being dead, and their life being hid with Christ in God, and of their future appearing with him in glory. He had just stated to them that the wrath of God came on the children of disobedience for those things in which they had lived before their conversion ;