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self in these innocent and humane passions ; but, where there was danger of transgressing, as there is in no passion more than that of anger, he was continually upon his guard, and governed himself with great care, and never gave way to it, but upon evident and juft occafion; and was never transported to any undue degree. And
yet he lived and died almost under continual provocations to it; not only from his friends and followers, but from all sorts of persons, provocations of the highest nature; if the most spiteful reproaches and injurious usage, and the most cruel persecutions and sufferings, from the hands of those whom he had by all ways endeavoured to oblige ; if the contradictions of sinners whom he came to fave; in a word, if the greatest malice, accompanied with the highest ingratitude; if any, if all of these be provocations of a high nature, he was almoft continually, living and dying, exercised with these. And how did he demean himself in the midst of all these provocations ? With the greatest meekness and mildness imaginable, answering their bittereft reproaches and cruellest usage, ei. ther with calm reasonings, or with meek filence; that, by the reasonableness and meekness of his answers and car. riage, he might either convince or mollify them! When his enemies charged him with the profanation of the fabbath, he only reasons the matter fairly with them, asking them, whether it was lawful to do good, or to do evil on the fabbath-day ? telling them, that ihe fabbath was made for man, and not man for the fabbath; bidding them go and learn what that meant, I will have mercy, and not facrifice. When they accused him for being a magician, and cafting out devils by the prince of the devils; he convinceth them by reason, that this was malicious and groundless charge, telling them, that a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand; and that, if he, by Satan, caft out Satan, his kingdom was divided against itself, and must fall. When they upbraided him for companying with publicans and finners; he justifies the thing, by telling thein, that the whole have no need of the physician, but the fick; that he came not to call the righteous, but finners to repentance. When they charged him with blafphemy, for saying to the man fick of the palsy, Thy
fins be forgiven thee-; he only asks them this question, Which is easier to say, Thy fins be forgiven thee; or, Take up thy bed and walk ? When they called him by the odi. ous name of impostor and seducer of the people, he makes no sharp answer, but appeals to his miracles, and the works which he had done umong them, as an unquestionable testimony that he came from God. When they took up stones to throw at him, he opposed to this hard usage, only soft, gentle words, if, by that means, he might stay their rage, John X. 32. Many good works have I sewed you from my Father ; for which of these works do you Aone me? Thus, upon all occasions, he answers their malice and rage, not with boisterous passion, but by calm reason and argument: and, näiwithstanding it had little effect, he continues this way to the last; and, as the inalice of his enemies was invincible, so was his meekness. In his last sufferings, when he was so rudely and injuriqully treated at his trial, and one of the High-priest's officers struck hiin, in the open face of the court, he only says to him, If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil ; but if well, why smiteft thou me? What could be said more meekly? What more reasonably? And when, in the extremity of his sufferiogs, the High-priests, and the soldiers, and the people, all joined together to revile him, and insult over his misery, in the most barbarous and cruel manner ; instead of breaking out into pas. Sion in this anguish of his soul, he pours out his prayers to God on their behalf, and makes the most charitable excuse and apology for them that their crime was poslībly capable of: Father, forgive them ; for they know nit what they do. While he felt the bitter effects of their malice, he imputes it to their ignorance. Here is an example of meekness fit for the Son of God to give, and much more fit for the sons of men to follow; for, as the wise son of Syrach says excellently, Pride was not made for men, nor furious anger for him that was born of a
And, having such an example left us of this great virtue, let us do likewise, Ance, as St Peter tells us, he fuffered, with all this meekness and patience, to leave us an example, that ye might follow his steps; who, when
he was reviled, reviled not again : when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judge eth righteously. When we consider this example, can we resent fo highly every petty injury and provocation; and, upon every nighting word, proceed to a challenge and a quarrel, and entertain fierce and implacable thoughts of revenge?
When the Son of God, with so much meekness, endured the continual contradictions of sinners, and put up such outrageous affronts and indignities from his creatures, those ungrateful wretches whom he had made, and whom he came to save, and for whom he offered to give that very blood, which they fo cruelly and maliciously shed, for the expiation of their guilt.
To all which I shall add," his readiness to forgive injue' sies, considering the temptations he had to wrath and re-venge, from the fpiteful reproaches, and injurious calunnies, and continual persecution of his bitter and implacable enemies, without a cause; who purfued him with inceflant
rage and malice, and never gave over till they had wrought his ruin, and, by false accusations, and a moft violent perfecution, and seditious tumults and clamours, they had forced the Roman governor, contrary to his in-' clination, and the convictions of his own mind and con. science, and against all reason and justice, to pass sentence: upon him, when he declared, he saw nothing in him worthy of death, and to condemn him to a most painful and ignominious death. Nor did their malice end here; but they aggravated his fufferings with scurrilous taunts and reproaches, and all the rudeness and indignities inagirable : and yet all this injurious and cruel usage did not provoke hiin to one revengeful thought ; could not extort from him so much as one peevith or misbecoming, or threatening word. When he was reviled, he reviled not again; when he fuffered, 'he threatened not. But, notwithstanding all this provocation, he was more ready to forgive the injuries and indignities they put upon him, than they could be to offer them, and implored the mercy and forgiveness of God for them, as hear. tily and earnestly as they had solicited his death and destruction,
It is easy to give precepts of forgiveness, to bid men love their enemies, bless them that curse them, do good to them that hate them, and pray for them that despitefully use them, and persecute them; and to forgive our brother that offends us, not only to seven times, but to seventy times seven, without stint and limit: But the practice of this is exceeding difficult; for how hard do we find it to pass by a little provocation, and, upon a very small affront and indignity offered to us, to suppress the thought and desire of revenge, and to command our pasfon from breaking out in word or deed ? But much more difficult is it perfectly to forgive, to love our enemies, to pray for them, and to be ready to do them good. Such a difficult virtue as this had need of all sorts of inducements to engage us to the practice of it. And, therefore, our blessed Lord did not think it enough strictly to enjoin it, and to enforce it upon us by the moft powerful confiderations, teaching us, in our daily prayers, to beg mercy and forgiveness of God upon this condition, that we forgive vthers, and not to hope for it upon other terms; telling us, that, as we demean' ourselves toward one another, in this case of injuries and provocations, fo God will deal with us ; if ye forgive men their trespases, your heavena ly Father will also forgive you : but if ye forgive not men their trespasjes, neither will your heavenly Father forgive you your trespases. Nothing can be urged upon greater
force than this duty is, because, upon our practice and performance of it, all our hopes of mercy and forgiveness from God are suspended. But yet it is difficult after all this, and, therefore, to allure us more powerfully to the practice of it, our Lord hath given us the example of it in the whole course of his life : in which, being continually assaulted with injuries and provocations, he had perpetual occafion for the practice of forgiveness; and that in greater instances, and upon occae fion of greater injuries, than any of us are capable of receiving. He who could never ftand in need of forgiveness from men, who needed none from God, who had it always in his power to have revenged, with ease, and to the utmost, all the provocations and affronts that w.re offered to him; he who had none of those powerful ina
ducements to forgiveness which we have, was thus ready to forgive; and did it perpetually, upon the greatest, upon innumerable occasions ; he forgave his enemies all their ill-will toward him, and all their vile and malicious usage of him throughout his whole life: but most remarkably at his death, when the provocations were greatest and not violent, when they fell thick and in storms upon him, and when they were more grievous and piercing, in the very agony and anguish of his suffering; in these hard and pressing circumstances, he was so far from breathing out threatening and revenge against the authors of his cruel sufferings, that, with his last breath, he did most effectually declare his free forgiveness of them, and perfect charity towards them, by his fervent prayer to God for them; Father, forgive them, for they know not what they . do.
5. And lastly, Our Saviour is likewise a pattern to us of the most needful virtues, and for the practice whereof there is the greatest and most frequent occasion in human. life..
Several of thefe I have already mentioned under the former heads, as sincerity, which hath an universal influe ence upon all our actions; and is a principal ingredient into all the duties and services which we are to perform to God and men; humility and meekness, for the exercise whereof there is almost continual occasion in all our conversation with others. Thefe have been spoken to, I shall therefore instance in some others, which are likewise of great and frequent use in human life.
(5.) The great humanity of his carriage and deporte ment, of which he gave manifold instances, in his free and familiar conversation with all forts of people. He did not despise the meaneft. How familiarly did he talk with the woman of Samaria ? ipsomuch that his disciples were offended at it, and marvelled that he talked with her. He did not decline the conversation of the worst of men, where he had any hope of making them better by it; and though his companying with publicans and finners. was often objected as matter of scandal to him, yet he would not, for that reason, neglect any opportunity of doing good. He was affable to his inferiors, to the